Book Review: A Week to be Wicked

Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 9.10.03 PM.pngI absolutely love this book. It has everything: likable characters, a great plot, hilarious scenes, and visible chemistry. Tessa Dare is one of my favorite authors and she outdid herself with this book.

This book was actually one of the very first Regency romance novels I read—I just re-re-re-read it this past week.  I like to think of this book as a gateway drug to the addicting world of Dukes, ladies, and bastards that define the Regency genre.

The hero of this book is Lord Payne, a Viscount stuck in Spindle Cove at the mercy of his cousin who refuses to give him any money to return to London (where Payne can drink and sleep-a-round a lot). Lord Payne just has a few months left until he comes into his inheritance he can stop relying on his cousin (who by the way is a very decent fellow trying to get Payne on the straight and narrow). He is bored, restless, and absolutely desperate to leave.

Meanwhile, Minerva Highwood is also desperate to escape Spindle Cove—but just for a week so she can attend a geology symposium. After all, if she can just make it to the symposium, she can reveal the fossil of a great lizard footprint (in modern-day-we-know-science lingo a dinosaur) she found in a cave to the world! Oh, and win the sick 500 guinea prize for best research.

Minerva presents Lord Payne with a deal: If he can get her to the conference (in Scotland), she will give him the 500 guineas. The deal is set, and off Minerva and Lord Payne go!

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I want to applaud Dare on Lord Payne’s backstory. So often, authors use a bad childhood experience backstory to excuse and justify the terrible and selfish actions of heroes. Lord Payne wasn’t like that: he was very self-aware of his own flaws and strove to fix them even before he met Minerva. Dare does an amazing job of not falling into the typical “girl fixes bad boy” romance trope. Furthermore, other than their first interaction, Lord Payne always treats Minerva with the utmost respect.

Also… Lord Payne is just a really entertaining dude. He is super funny, considerate, and gets him and Minerva in the craziest situations. 10/10 would date.

But Minerva is the real gem of this book. Writing a good romance heroine is hard work and Dare executes Minerva’s character amazingly. Minerva is smart, stubborn, and dedicated—not to mention wildly courageous. Her dedication to her research is admirable, but her dedication to the people she loves is even more so.

With two amazing characters, and a plotline set up for success, Dare delivers on witty banter, scenes that leave you giggling out loud, and actual investment in the story.

Also, this quote exists:

“Surely it can’t be,” he said, his hand stealing over her thigh, “that this intrepid explorer of underwater caverns hasn’t explored her own little cove?” 

That quote, no joke, make me laugh for a solid five minutes. I don’t know how Minerva continued hooking up with him after that. That would have killed the mood so hard.

Rating: 4.8/5

Book Review: What Happens At Christmas

Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 4.25.14 PM.pngWhat Happens at Christmas was my very first Victoria Alexander book. I enjoyed it so much that I immediately bought the other four books in the series!

Just by the premise of the book alone I knew I would love it. Lady Camille Lydingham is a wealthy young widow with her eye on Prince Nikolai Prunzinsky of Greater Avalonia. Mostly because he is hot and is a Prince. Deciding to capitalize on the information that the Prince has always wanted to experience a traditional English Christmas, Lady Camille decides to invite him to her family manor for Christmas. However, Lady Camille has a problem: her family is seriously embarrassing. So what is a resourceful rich woman to do? Hire a troop of actors to their place!

Grayson Elliot has just returned to England after building a fortune in America. Years ago, he and Camille were best friends. But when he decided to tell her that he loved her the day because her wedding the friendship (obviously) fell apart. When he discovers Lady Camille’s charade, however, he sees his perfect opportunity to worm his way back into her life — by pretending to be her cousin!

I think I smiled or laughed my way through this entire book. That is not to say that the book was perfect: both Lady Camille and Grayson weren’t the easiest characters to fall in love with. Lady Camille was selfish and shallow, and Grayson definitely acted like an idiot at times. Yet the chemistry between the two characters was sizzling and their personalities matched seamlessly.

However, what made this book so special were the supporting characters: especially the acting trope! I don’t want to spoil the jokes, but just trust me that whenever the acting trope is involved in a scene you will laugh.

Rating: 4/5

Book Review: Too Wilde to Wed

Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 4.19.04 PMOver the course of the past year I have read over 150 regency romances. Amazon sells thousands of regency romances — many too poorly written to be worth reading. Thus, I find myself most often choosing what books to read based on authors.

Eloisa James is my absolute favorite. I truly believe that (other than the first desperate duchesses book that felt vaguely mildly incest-y) that she can do no wrong. Her book ‘When Beauty Tamed the Beast” is my go-to recommendation for regency romance novel virgins.

That said, while I liked “Too Wilde to Wed” I found it slightly underwhelming. The book tells the story of North and Diana — two characters introduced in James’ previous book “Wilde in Love.”

In “Wilde in Love” North, the heir to a dukedom, is engaged to Miss Diana — a seemingly docile beautiful woman. Despite awkward conversations and the obvious reality that Diana simply wasn’t into him, North fancies himself in love with Diana. To a reader, it is pretty clear that North is thinking with his dick on this one. At the end of the book, Diana jilts North and flees. In response, North runs off to the Americas to go find in the Revolutionary War.

The book starts off two years later after North returns home and discovers that Diana is working as a governess at his house! She is caring for her young nephew (although he suspects for a while that the boy is her son). Immediately sparks fly as North discovers that Diana is not docile at all while Diana discovers that North is not nearly as stuffy as she thought (i.e. he doesn’t always wear heels). I’m not going to spoil the rest of the book, but I will let y’all know that it has a happy ending (but then again, what regency romance novel doesn’t?).

The writing style is Eloisa James at her best: full of humor, witty banter, and sizzling chemistry. For that reason alone, the book is a must read for summer. However, like I mentioned earlier, the book was remarkably underwhelming: neither North nor Diana were particularly likable, and I found their story ridiculously inconceivable (and not in the everyone is getting kidnapped and this isn’t remotely historical accurate way…I love those kind of books).

As a reader, you are excepted to believe that North feel in love with Diana at first sight. He loved her as a quiet, blushing woman under her mother’s thumb who went out of her way to avoid him. And, despite going to war, never fell out of love with her. When he meets her again, he realizes she is a dramatically different person than he originally thought — full of fire, snarky comebacks, and a burning desire for independence. And yet he never seriously doubts his love towards her despite this monumental shift in her personality. This seriously bothered me. I mean, I’m all for Diana’s newfound confidence, but North’s unwavering devotion makes me think that the only reason North wants Diana at all is her looks — that he didn’t give a damn about her personality.

My other issue with this book resided in the character of Diana. I tend to really enjoy books that feature spunky heroines who defy societal expectations, but Diana made decisions that were simply irresponsible and, frankly, stupid. James paints Diana as a woman devoted to her nephew, and yet the choices Diana makes are selfish and not in the child’s best interest.

All that said, I would recommend one reads “Too Wilde to Wed” if they have the chance. The ending of the book is truly unique and I smiled at the lighthearted humor the entire duration of the book. However, it is definitely not James best.

Rating: 3.7/5