Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Two Recommended Historical Romances

I read two excellent historical romances last week that any historical romance fan should buy. Both are short and easy reads. One has a tender and sweet romance, the other more on the erotic side. Both will whet your appetite and leave you wanting more.

It’s pretty much a given I’ll read anything by Courtney Milan. I bow down to her writing skills. Yup, I’m a total Milan fan girl. Her latest novella, The Governess Affair is a prequel to her new series, The Brothers Sinister. What’s great about this book, and her ones prior to it, is that Courtney doesn’t rely on the typical historical romance tropes fans of this genre expect and have become used to. Courtney may have characters who are peers of the realm involved in the plot, but the way she writes average, everyday misters and misses in a Regency or Victorian setting is really outside the bubble most historical romances find themselves to be in.

In The Governess Affair, former governess, Serena Barton is in a bind. She was let go from her last position and now lives with her agoraphobic sister. Her  situation is dire and she wants the man responsible, the Duke of Clermont, to admit his wrong doing. As a form of revenge, she sits on a bench outside his house every afternoon until he’ll speak to her. Clermont thinks Serena is a pest and asks his man of business, Hugo Marshall to get rid of her before she can cause him more embarrassment. Hugo is a former coal miner's son who plans on becoming a very rich man. He already has respect working for Clermont by helping him get out of debt. This former pugilist is known better as the Wolf of Clermont and refuses to let a woman like Serena ruin his chances at reaching his dream. He thinks he’ll be able to handle Serena, but then when he sits down next to her on the bench and they talk, he knows things won’t go according to his master plan. He finds out Clermont has done a great injustice to Serena and he wants to make restitution even if Clermont won’t accept responsibility.

The Governess Affair doesn’t have a great deal of tension or overall drama, but it does set into motion a wonderful new path for both Serena and Hugo that surprises them both. This is a dialogue driven book, and Courtney succeeds so well with this because the conversations between Hugo and Serena are rich with witty banter between the two. The secrets Serena hides are slowly unraveled because of Hugo’s understanding and willingness to listen and not judge. And when he figures out what Clermont did to Serena, he’ll do whatever he can to make certain she isn’t a victim ever again.

There's a twist regarding the events that lead to Serena being sacked from her job and what Clermont did to her. It was unexpected and not the stereotypical plot I was expecting. Hugo is a dream worthy hero. He’s haunted by his past and is trying to outrun it. Serena shows him his own self worth.  Even in the short time these two know one another, it comes across as very believable regarding their attraction and budding relationship. Some may feel their declaration of love is too sudden, but I found it be real and acceptable.

The Governess Affair is another winner from Courtney. At .99 cents, you’re getting a steal. This is one recommended romance that left me with a smile on my face and anxious for The Duchess War (coming this summer) featuring Clermont’s son Robert. (Self-Published)

Final Grade: B+

A few other The Governess Affair reviews:
Brazen Bookworm
Under the Covers Book

Juliana Ross’s debut, Improper Relations is too short but oh so good. This historical romance is on the spicier side with a poor, plain widow who knows nothing of passion until she spies her late husband’s cousin, Leo, the black sheep of the family, and a maid getting down and dirty in the library. The widow, Hannah is turned on by Leo and wants to experience the passion the maid apparently has enjoyed. Leo knows Hannah was watching and he’s more than willing to introduce her to sex, all types of sex that has her panting and finding satisfaction she never found with her husband. She becomes Leo’s willing student and soon not a day goes by where they aren’t engaging in various levels of sexual intimacy together. But Hannah knows one day, perhaps sooner than she wants that she and Leo will have to go their separate ways because his mother has plans for him to marry a beautiful woman with substantial means.

Juliana really knows how to pen a scorcher of a read. The tone of the novel really works here in the first person POV of Hannah, a woman caught in a oppressive position because she has to rely on the goodness of her deceased husband’s relations in order to survive. One wrong move on her part could be disastrous for her. When she and Leo being their affair, she’s putting a great deal on the line, but the results are well worth it. These two aren’t just using one another for pleasure; they’re building an intense connection. Leo may come across as a cad and rogue, but what you see isn’t necessarily what you get.

The ending seems a bit rushed. I wanted to read more between these two regarding the path to their HEA that ends up being very emotional after all they have done together.

Juliana Ross is a new historical romance author to keep your eye on. The love scenes in Improper Relations are very titillating and erotic, and perfect for those readers who want a little more naughty in their reading material. (Available for $2.69 from Carina Press)

Finale Grade: B+

A few other Improper Relations reviews:
Lush Book Reviews
Tracy's Place



Mandi said...

Loved and adored Governess Affair. Can't wait for that trilogy!

I didn't like Improper Relations so much. It felt more like a sex-ed class than romantic.

KB/KT Grant said...

Sex ed class done smutty Regency style? ;)

Dot S.( said...

I had to go immediately and get both of these. Thanks KT!