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Sands is not an author I normally read, but I had some spare time and a strong desire for something mindless. Based on a SBTB review, I gave this a whirl.

Let's just say if you require a lot of accuracy in your historical fiction, this is probably not necessarily where you want to be reading.

Sands' heroine was married without having a Season after her father nearly lost the estate to gambling and somebody showed up to marry off his eldest daughter and pay the debt. The daughter (secretly) had a substantial dower from another relative, and after the marriage, the man stops with the Oh You Are My Lovely Rose and switches to being a verbally but not physically abusive asshole who isolates her from her family and friends. But you don't really get to know him in person, because he is mostly present in the book as an inconvenient body, a la Weekend at Bernies or The Trouble with Harry.

Spoilers, ho! If you don't want spoilers, well, leave before you are shipped off to the Colonies as an indentured servant. Or something.

We never do find out who poisoned the asshole husband. Apparently that is divulged in book 2 or 3, which I probably won't read, because this is one of those retell it from the other person's perspective things and a lot of the later books repeat the earlier books.

I haven't read other books by the author, so I don't know if her relatively heavy-handed pop psychology is typical. But it is relatively heavy-handed. It's not that I disagree with her; it's that I have trouble imagining the historical characters thinking that way.

Aside from the unsatisfactory resolution re: who poisoned the asshole, the book is a romp. Lots of misunderstandings and physical comedy, especially surrounding intimate encounters. The twin of the dead husband and the heroine really do wind up having sex in part on a bed where they have forgotten they have stashed the dead guy. Which is why I read the book in the first place, so if that makes you snort, this is probably a good choice for you. Otherwise, probably give it a pass.
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I haven't been blogging the dozens of JAK/Quick/etc. books I've been (re)reading over the last few months. But this one is new, so I figured I'll mention it.

SPOILERS! RUN AWAY or Hubbard will stab stab stab you

Ursula Kern (don't you just love these names) used to be someone else, but after being the co-respondent/attempted rape victim of the husband in a high profile divorce case -- she was working as a paid companion to the wife, who was more or less setting her up for this role -- she changed her name and started a secretarial/typewriting agency for women (historical romance novel, Victorian London). Now one of her friends and employees has supposedly suicided, but left behind odd things for Ursula to find that lead her to believe it may have been murder. Ursula attempts to take a break from her own current assignment cataloging artifacts found by a gentleman-archaeologist, Slater Roxton and asks for advice from him on the way out the door. Roxton decides to help her out on the case since he cannot dissuade her from investigating despite the risk (so, basically the usual plot). Roxton's backstory has some mystery martial arts and time stuck on an island after nearly being killed as an ancient temple self-destructed around him. He has put together a tile labyrinth in his basement. His father is dead. His mother (dad's mistress) is alive, as are his father's second wife and his step-siblings. Roxton is managing the money for the heirs, so he's got a lot of attention from the press.

Unsurprisingly, Ursula's identity is uncovered by none other than Gilbert Otford, late and later again of the Flying Intelligencer, so he actually gets some on page time (his articles appear in other Quick novels set in the same time and place). Obvs, the friend _was_ murdered and there's a complex, trans-atlantic drug, blackmailing and prostitution scheme that has to be dismantled. If you read JAK/Quick, a lot of this is familiar material (right down to the unemployed theater people working as domestics in Roxton's household, just like Desdemona's theater family in a JAK novel). If this is the kind of thing you like, well, here it is. If you find this all somewhat confusing, just move along.
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I believe this to be the last in a series (the Turner series, maybe?). This is Smite ("Lord Justice") Turner's story.

I have no idea why anyone would read my review of a Milan novel because there are so many other people writing so many better reviews of her books than I do. So if you don't know me and you just landed here, you should probably go somewhere else.

The back story on the Turner clan is kinda horrifying. I can't seem to figure out what happened to dad, but mum was "mad", and scary abusive. The boys' sister died as a result, and Lord Justice has that "I Don't Deserve/Can't Afford Happiness" sort of thing going on that is realistic (abuse really is all-too-often internalized in exactly that way, and no matter how smart the person, they just build some complex cognitive structure to make sure they can't ever be happy). The story is a little too close to the annoying Finding the Right Person Will Fix Me meme, but escapes it narrowly. Turner actually has great relationships with his brothers and their families. What he is looking for is someone whose personal background shares some of the terrifying lows and amazing successes that he experienced (essentially: a life history of bipolarity to mimic the parental bipolarity likely suffered by his mum and her dad).

Enough of the psychodrama. What actually happens? Miranda is living in a Temple Parish in Bristol in the mid 19th century. A decade-ish back, there were terrible riots, violently suppressed, and in the aftermath of that, a Patron arose to dish out rough justice in Temple, since the Magistrates couldn't be bothered. As is often the case with overlapping and neighboring jurisdictions, there is some competition between the Patron and the Magistrates and that competition gets way worse as Smite Turner attempts to actually provide Real Justice (TM) in Temple Parish. Miranda (you saw this coming) is in debt to the Patron and she is caught in the middle.

And the next component of my irritation is now relevant: Miranda likes Bad Boys and she is very articulate about this. That is what got her in debt to the Patron and that draws her to Turner. And she will describe this at paragraph length. That's mostly okay. Turner understanding her desire for high risk stuff is also kinda cool. That actual details of what he does for her I have a little more trouble with. I actually _get_ the whole sex in public thing (wow, memories), but what they did was insanely over the top risky and it sure did not need to be.

As always, Milan has created emotionally compelling characters with dark history, a powerful drive to make the world better, a genuinely funny sense of humor and believable attraction. There is kind of a lot of plot here, but it mostly works. I don't know if I will read more, however, all the indications are that I will read more Milan in the future, if not this series than another. I mean, everyone loves here, so it seems inevitable.

No vampires, magic, Sidhe, cyberdogs, airships or anything funny like that. Historical romance. And I am not interested in hearing about the unrealistic dialogue, clothing, etc.
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I went over to Smart Bitches to find some fun fiction. And I am so glad! This is the first entry in a Regency series set in Spindle Cover/Spinster Cove. In a small English coastal town, as the war with Napoleon continues in Spain, a young woman has set out to attract other girls and women who Don't Fit In, and to create a pleasant environment for them to Be Themselves. Her father is an eccentric inventor of weapons. The love interest arrives with a cousin and aide-de-camp (?) in town, with the goal to convince someone to let him go back to the war, despite significant ongoing problems from being shot in the leg.

Several things happen. Rycliff starts a militia. Dad prototypes another cannon. The women attempt to protect their Way of Life from the Men. The Men try to Have Some Fun. Antics ensue. There is a significant Medical Care of the Regency Era Was Awful theme. Oh, and they shoot on Thursdays. I did not believe the having sex in the sea scene. I've done things like this. Between the cold, the salt, and the lack of lube, yeah, no. Fortunately, Tessa Dare is not one of those authors who attempts to produce believable period dialogue. Even more fortunately, she _is_ an author who embeds consent deeply into all the sex scenes. Yay!

The tale takes a Dark Turn towards the end, but there is, obvs, an HEA and it is emotionally satisfying. I intend to read more in this series and probably other series by this author.
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No paranormal in this entry. The woman protagonist is in her mid 20s with a sister. The former had a compromised reputation event at age 19 (nothing happened, few details given); the latter married a psychotic guy who fortunately died and left her all his money and the house. While in the Caribbean, Our Heroine rescues Our Hero, who has been shot and heroically wants her to deliver a letter for him. Instead, she saves his life and gets him back onto the ship where they continue their journey. Back in London, rumors further compromise her reputation (this time with Our Hero) and as a result, she is targeted by a serial rapist/murderer known as the Bridegroom.

Our Heroine is a globetrotter with a book in the works, a travel guide for ladies. She is deeply concerned that the negative publicity will scupper her efforts to get published. Our Hero shows up and they devise a fake engagement and convince the guy from the Yard to let them help with the investigation. So the foursome (Our Hero, Our Heroine, her sister, and the Inspector/love interest for sis) poke around to identify the perpetrators of the attack on Our Hero (Russian foreign agents trying to get hold of a solar powered cannon, or at least the plans for same) and the identity of the Bridegroom. There's also a disgruntled ex-lover of Our Hero in the background. Everything ties up _very_ neatly. Throughout, Our Heroine deploys her tessen, a Japanese battle fan. This is pretty awesome and highly reminiscent of some of Tamora Pierce's books.

I read a lot of this author under her various names. This isn't a bad entry -- it has a couple of nerds getting together, which is always a good thing. Also, he tells her that sometimes she clanks, which is high realism, given all the stuff she carts around with her, and as a former occasional D&D player, I am all over the clanking.
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I read one previous book by Lafoy based on K.'s recommendation; it was a contemporary and I initially had a ton of reservations about it but it turned out to be amazingly good. Ditto, here.

This Victorian romance starts out with Our Hero, the new Duke of Ryland, formerly a regimental officer named Drayton Mackenzie (but Scottish by heritage some generations back, so if you're allergic to Scottish romances, don't worry about that here; if you're _looking_ for Scottish romances, you won't find it here), arriving on the doorstep of Our Heroine's dress shop. She is the illegitimate daughter of the late Duke of Ryland (not Drayton's father), and There is a Will.

The will is really sort of interesting. Lafoy went to some effort to actually make the whole thing plausible. The late Duke married a rich woman from Austria, and she got (enough) control of her property to make real trouble for him. Her will (she predeceased) required him to track down his three illegitimate daughters, have them recognized (by Queen Vic), and give them dowries and find them suitable husbands. Or he didn't get any of her money, which of course he desperately needed because he did such a crap job managing his estates and gambled as well.

The beginning of the book is collecting the three young women: the next two are a 14 year old (picked up at a brothel where her mother worked until she was murdered) and an 11 year old (raised by relatives and not treated well). Then off to the country house. The beach house is truly falling apart (a wall fell into the sea and the furniture has been stolen). The town house is better. The country house -- where the agricultural land is -- is in pretty good shape and the staff is good with the exception of the managers of the rental receipts and the harvest. They've both been shaving to the tune of 50% collectively. One of Drayton's first actions is to collect evidence of same and find an honest enough magistrate to try them. They had stashed a lot of their ill-gotten gains in accounts and it was thus recoverable.

Meanwhile back at the house, Caroline (our heroine who ran a dress shop) puts her skills to work fixing the country house up for company and getting some dresses on the girls. Drayton has a couple friends from the regiment who are younger sons; they descent to become part of his entourage, and Aubrey brings along his mother, who brings along a horde of titled whack jobs. Lady Aubrey is supposed to make the whole thing respectable and preserve everyone's reputation, but in practice is quite snobby and critical and serves two purposes in the novel. (1) She drives Caroline and Drayton repeatedly into each other's arms. (2) She's a prudish hypocrite to highlight the truly depraved antics of the rest of the houseguests. (3) She opens Drayton's eyes to the hidious politics of his friend Viscount Aubrey and the conservatives as a whole. Caroline and Drayton might well have just continued to ignore politics entirely, or based their political opinions on whatever the somewhat decent people around them believed. But with everyone telling them they can't marry because if they marry other people, they can lay hands on so _much_ more money, they eventually start asking why it is that they are supposed to be so miserable for something they don't particularly need.

And that is what really raises this book up. You could definitely complain about anachronistic language. Easily. But the political waters navigated by Caroline and Drayton are implicitly present in plenty of other romance novels, and generally speaking the behavior of the characters is framed as the Conservatives would frame it, and any exceptions are made "for love". Lafoy also chose to clearly depict Caroline as doing work in the household that previous generations of women in titled families would have engaged in, but which had become unacceptable in a world in which status was defined primarily by idleness. And she chose to depict Drayton working in the harvest -- and both Drayton and Caroline as unwilling to take labor away from where it was truly needed to do work that they could as easily do themselves.

I really enjoyed this. There are issues with it as a "historical" novel, but as a historical romance, it was a ton of fun and much less annoying than a lot of its sort are.
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Subtitled a Bisexual Regency Romance. Anne Herendeen

That subtitle should prevent anyone from complaining about surprise about what they were getting into. Just in case they missed that subtitle, the opening scene is of a hungover Andrew waking up in bed next to Kit, whose name he has forgotten, and who he realizes he should never have brought home.

After my extensive post about _Coulters' Woman_ (yes, Coulter brothers sharing one woman), a friend sent me a pointer to a review she'd read of this book, thinking I might be interested.

Let me just say, Thank You. Both to the friend, and to the reviewer, and to the author, and to everyone else involved in this book existing. That was amazingly fun. The author did a certain amount of research, which was really cool, and then made some reasonable decisions about using that research (choosing to not limit herself to period slang terms for private parts, for example). The author appears to have read. A Lot. I mean, like, a whole lot. She managed to pack into this admittedly long novel nearly every possible Regency novel convention. We've got the low-class family from which virginal heroine springs, complete with dead military dad. City kids with gutteral English are welcomed into the household and taught to read. (Wait -- she missed one: no dogs! Dang! And the horses are only mentioned in passing.) Society folk who present themselves as respectable but who are sleeping around on each other. The trip to the modiste which is amazingly efficient. It includes the sophisticate helping the country girl. The slut overriding the chaste woman's taste. The new husband finding out and getting all up in an uproar. A bet at White's.

I could go on. There's even a younger brother with pockets to let because he keeps losing his allowance betting. But I'll just stop and say that every convention of regency romance makes an appearance here (except dogs. No dogs.).

Andrew (rich, will be a peer) decides to get married and reproduce, despite his definite preference for men. He elicits the help of the brotherhood of the title, which are other men who feel similarly. Not the best way to find a wife in some ways, but in others, quite reasonable. Phyllida, the bride, has published one gothic romance and has another in proof sheets. In the wake of her first sexual experiences with her new husband (his preference isn't _that_ definite), she does a little rewriting. A subplot involving a would-be spy and blackmailer introduces a substantial amount of Misunderstanding. Andrew is Dear John'ed by his three years in the military young man and meets a new beau, Matthew. Phyllida's younger sister arrives to have her Season. Phyllida gets knocked up. Antics ensue.

The triangle is a V. Unlike the star configuration of _Coulters' Woman_, Phyllida getting knocked up does not mean that no one gets laid. Very unlike _Coulters' Woman_ in that there is man-on-man action and no action involving all three at once in the titular relationship. (In fact, no three ways occur on page in the book, altho John Church does wander off with Monkton and Verney near the end.) Well, unless you count Phyllida watching Matthew and Andrew, and her lap-surfing at the wedding.

More typical romances often involve subplots in which other, established relationships are shown developing, and othe relationships develop. Similarly, the established three-way (a complete triangle, in every way, but not shown on page) between Lord and Lady Isham and Archbold; the new three-way (I think it's a three-way) between Kit, Nan and Philip. You'll notice a theme. Just as in typical romances everything is one-man/one-woman, in this atypical romance, it's all two-men/one woman, and the vertex is one of the men. Unless you count the Church/Verney/Monkton three-way, which looks like a one-night stand.

Regular readers of this page will not be surprised at my reaction to the post-pregnancy depiction of Phyllida. She chooses to nurse Sophia herself and when her sister-in-law gives her crap about it, she tosses it right back at her. And when George's portrait of her winds up being her wearing only the rubies, reclining, feeding Sophia. Heh. Gotta love that.

Given the content of this book, it's not nearly as graphic as _Coulters' Woman_. It really is mostly about the relationship developing. While there's a fair amount of sexual activity not involving the main players, that, too, is clearly in service of the plot.

RHI a regular publisher has picked this up and will be bringing it out this year. We'll see if that proves to be true.

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