Monday, September 21, 2020

Review: The Rebel Heiress and the Knight

The Rebel Heiress and the Knight Book Cover
The Rebel Heiress and the Knight by Melissa Oliver is her debut novel, having gotten "the call" as part of Harlequin's So You Think You Can Write initiative. It was on my to-read list for all the unusual historical reasons, but when the Romantic Novelists' Association awarded Oliver with their Joan Hessayon Award (for new writers), I moved it up the queue.

Hugh de Villiers, a knight in service to King John (yes, the Magna Carta / Robin Hood King John...) is at Tallany Castle to deliver a message from the King to the widowed Lady Eleanor and the woman has kept him waiting for three days.  He's got better things to do than wait around, listening to one cockamamie excuse after another delivered by her steward on why she cannot see him.  But he's a knight, loyal to his King, and if the King wants this message delivered to Lady Eleanor, there's nothing for it.  Hugh waits.

Lady Eleanor survived a disastrous first marriage that was, naturally, arranged by the King and has successfully avoided court since her odious husband died of dysentery.  She's not exactly eager to receive some knight, loyal to an odious King, who is delivering a message for said odious King.  But she realizes that she can't will him to go away, so she bites the bullet and receives him.  Only to open the message and learn that the King expects her and this knight to be wed.  Well, bother!

Hugh is just as shocked as Eleanor.  He isn't exactly all that keen to marry - but Lady Eleanor is obviously the King's way for thanking him - Hugh having saved his majesty's life on the battlefield.  Eleanor is about as eager for this union as getting all her teeth pulled but there's no defying a King's order.  This marriage is going to happen and Hugh recognizes his bride-to-be is less than enthralled by the prospect.  So he does what all good romance heroes do - he sets out to woo her and win her over.

Eleanor is a woman recovering from an abusive first marriage that left her both physically and emotionally scarred, but with a fighting spirit still intact.  She's an heiress whose lands are to the north, and strategically it is logical that John - who is having a devil of a time with the Rebel Barons - would marry her off to a man who is loyal to him.  The other reason for the union?  There are outlaws running amok in the area, stealing taxes meant for the King.  Hugh, an accomplished knight is meant to track them down.  Of course little does he realize that his new wife is aiding and abetting said outlaws.

What I like about medievals is that there is often high stakes conflict centered around loyalty.  If you place your bet on the wrong horse - loyalty could, in fact, get you very dead.  King John is a suitably villainous villain, and Hugh - while loyal to a King who hardly deserves it - is an honorable, worthy romance hero who holds no illusions as to what kind of King John is.

Eleanor is haunted, vulnerable and feisty all at the same time.  She's the kind of heroine who verbally spars with the hero, and yet is scared that she may have pushed too far - given her first husband's cruel abuse.  It's Hugh's job to woo her - to show her he's an honorable, decent man and that not all men are like her first husband, who Hugh knew and had no admiration for.  This is all well good - but Eleanor seems a little too superhuman.  The fiery spirit doesn't always mesh well with the haunted vulnerability.  She's scarred from her first marriage yet somehow seems amazingly well-adjusted. She pushes back with the outlaws, she pushes back with Hugh - sometimes secretively (which makes sense) and sometimes brazenly out in the open (which, does not).

The other problem is the outlaw storyline.  Naturally Hugh eventually learns the truth about his wife's role - and he's angry.  I get this.  But his anger comes and goes - he's incandescent with rage, at first, but then the edges smooth out, and then he's back to anger again once he finally confronts her.  Hugh's not a fool. He knows King John is an asshole - but the asshole is his boss.  And Eleanor, a woman in 13th century England with very limited power (yeah, she's an heiress but STILL!) has put him in a very precarious position.  On one hand he's got his boss who can execute him with a snap of his fingers and on the other he's got his wife, who he has sworn to protect and who he has fallen in love with.  I mean, consistent anger and hurt isn't too much to expect here.  I get he's a nice, decent man but dude - she's put you in a very difficult position!

It's a good, solid debut that looses a little footing for me with a heroine who seems to be great at everything despite all she has endured and the wrap-up of the outlaw subplot.  Not perfect, but I was entertained, intrigued, happily engrossed, and Oliver creates an interesting world while laying groundwork for a second book (featuring Hugh's friend Will) that I will readily pick up.  

Final Grade = B-

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

#TBRChallenge 2020: Terms of Surrender

Terms of Surrender Book Cover
The Book: Terms of Surrender by Leslie Kelly

The Particulars: Contemporary romance, Harlequin Blaze #616, 2011, Out of print, Available digitally

Why Was It In Wendy's TBR?: I have an autographed print copy and my cataloging notes indicate I got it at RWA 2011.  Yes, I'm aware that was 9 years ago.  It was also Wendy's Librarian of the Year year!  Anyway, Wendy at a conference, category romances being given out like Halloween candy, of course this was buried in the depths of my TBR.

The Review: For this month's Dress for Success theme I was thinking of going with a glitzy Harlequin Presents, but as I was randomly grabbing at books in my Harlequin TBR pile (yes, I have my own cabinet just for the Harlequins because of course I do....) I randomly picked up this book featuring a Navy pilot hero who has ambitions to become an astronaut.  A man in uniform?  Well that certainly applies to this month's theme!  And he's quite the hero!  Too bad I wanted to smack the heroine into next Tuesday.

Marissa Marshall has a newly minted PhD in psychology and needs a job. She wrote two successful humorous self-help books thanks to her dating blog Mad-Mari.com but the money is running out and a girl's gotta pay rent, eat, you know important stuff.  She's on her way to a job interview at the Naval Academy where she'd be a civilian contractor, teaching cadets. Her PhD was on the the effect a military life can have on relationships and families - so she ends up getting the job.  She also ends up finding Mr. Perfect.

Mr. Perfect is Danny Wilkes, Navy pilot.  But when Mari meets him he's dressed like a mechanic and that's what she takes him for.  They spend time together, sparks fly, sexy times occur, and it's all going great guns until Danny arrives outside her classroom (for reasons) wearing his dress whites (needing to make a good impression and needing to apologize to Mari for reasons).  Crap - he's a Navy man?!  Because apparently meeting him at the Naval Academy and him mentioning his "dress whites" in passing wasn't enough to clue her in.  This will not do.  Yes the sex was fantastic, yes he's got a dream personality, yes he's hot enough to peel wallpaper - but Mari has sworn to never, ever get involved with a man in uniform because - you guessed it - Mommy and Daddy.  Daddy who was career military and couldn't keep it in his pants.  Mommy who melted down, had her own affair, then promptly left Daddy and abandoned her three children.  Mari, being the oldest, raised her two younger siblings - because while Daddy could provide he wasn't a demonstrative father.

So we all know where this is going right?  Danny is literally Dreamboat Hero material but Mari tars and feathers him because of her childhood. Never mind that Danny does absolutely nothing over the course of this story to make anyone with two brain cells to rub together think that he is anything REMOTELY like Dear Old Dad.  When this guy screws up, he apologizes, he explains, he's contrite.  And his screw-ups are of the variety of "oh crap I dropped my phone in the harbor and lost your phone number" not "oh crap my penis fell into a 21-year-old I met at the bar."

A series of circumstances soon find Danny and Mari spending time together - they genuinely like each other, the sex is great, their feelings are growing stronger and then we get to the end.  When Mari stomps all over Danny's heart on the night he gets REALLY BIG NEWS and she scurries off because of Dear Old Dad and Abandonment Mommy.  Even though Danny is LITERALLY PERFECT! I JUST CAN'T WITH THIS CHILD!

Anyway, the one saving grace here is that Danny fires back with both barrels, calls her a coward, and gives a speech that distilled down to it's essence is basically, "I'm done."  Now this would be the part of the story where most readers with taste would want Mari to go running back to Danny, in bare feet over broken glass, to grovel mightily.  No.  Instead she types it up on her blog that she's a frickin' moron, Danny reads it, and then HE goes to HER!  And then they live happily ever after and I want to punch someone in the face.

Sigh.

Also, there's a lot of pop culture references a la 2011 that just aren't going to age well the longer time marches on (Britney Spears, Dancing with the Stars, Twilight, the heroine making money off her blog....).  Authors and editors seem to think this makes a story more hip and "relatable," especially to the coveted younger reading demographic and really?  All it does is age a contemporary story at a rapid, exponential pace.  A peeve of mine - maybe not for everybody.

Gif: How do you do, fellow kids?

But it is fast and breezy with a lot of banter.  I read it in one sitting which is a dang miracle right now.  But this heroine y'all.  I just couldn't with this child. 

Final Grade = D

Friday, September 11, 2020

Reminder: #TBRChallenge Day is September 16!

A reminder that #TBRChallenge day is Wednesday, September 16.  This month's (always optional) theme is Dress for Success.

A completely new theme for this month's challenge that I suspect participants are like, "Really Wendy?!"  Interpret this one how you will - but I'm thinking glitz, glamour, costume balls, historicals with pretty dresses, gazillionaire tycoons wearing suits, blue collar heroes in work clothes - just run with it folks!

However, if you're suffering from Pandemic Brain (aren't we all?) and this is too much to ponder during The Longest Year Ever, that's OK!  Remember, the themes are always optional.  The goal is to read something out of your TBR pile 😁

You can learn more about the Challenge and see the list of participating folks on the Information Page.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Review: The Enticing Of Miss Standish

The Enticing of Miss Standish Book Cover
On paper, The Enticing of Miss Standish by Julia Justiss has everything I want in a historical romance: an independent, forthright heroine, a self-made, non-titled hero, class conflict, a slow burn romance, set in the early Victorian era when the Industrial Revolution was becoming A Very Big Deal.  This is all stuff I love - so why then didn't I love this book?  Let me explain....

This is the third book in the author's Cinderella Spinsters series but stands alone well.  With her two best friends now married, Sara Standish's hope that they'd all get a house together, live independently, to work on their various interests and projects is somewhat dashed.  Oh sure, she's happy for her friends - she just needs to convince her demanding aunt and "invalid" mother that traipsing her around London trying to land her a husband is futile. Sara just isn't that interested nor does she (or any eligible gentleman it seems) find herself all that interesting.  What she wants to do is continue her political activism work on behalf of child mill workers.  So when an opportunity to serve as a companion to Lady Trent as her committee tours mills out in the country, Sara calls up all her powers of persuasion and gets her aunt to agree.

Cameron Fitzallen was an indigent orphan who worked in the mills as a child, but his curiosity and intelligence were recognized by the owner who sent him to school.  Cameron is mechanical gifted, having several patents to his name and is now taking over ownership and operation of the mill.  Naturally, having been a mill child himself, his mill far exceeds the reforms set in place by the Factory Act - which means it's an early stop for Lady Trent's committee.  Cam has strong feelings about gentry do-gooders and immediately butts heads with Sara - who finds him attractive, albeit insufferable.  Cam soon realizes he's been an ass, so when an opportunity presents itself to smooth things over with Sara, he does.

That's basically it.  The conflict revolves entirely around class - Sara being gentry and Cameron most assuredly not.  There's a pompous earl's son who sneers and Lady Trent who very bluntly tells Sara that yes, the man is charming and intelligent but it just won't work and naturally Sara and Cam can't stay away from each other.  It's always there, and a problem, but it's not a real driving force in the story until the very end.  So that leaves a couple hundred pages to fill up with other stuff - which is Sara visiting the mill schools, musing on her attraction to Cam and knowing it's no good but oh she's can't help it, Cam having those same musings about Sara, running his mill, and his own passions for improving mill machinery and making life better for his workforce.  Oh, and there's a train ride to Birmingham.

It's all very boring.  The conflict lacks punch, and the characters, while admirable and interesting, exhibit more passion for their, uh, passions than they do for each other.  There's some decent tension, but it's inconsistent.  When I finally think we're going to get some oomph to the conflict and a suitably climactic finish?  It's like a balloon slowly being deflated.  The author sets up a dynamite finish, where Sara could declare her independence, confront her aunt and mother, and ride off into the sunset to live the life SHE wants to and claim Cam.  Instead?  There's no confrontation with auntie or mama and the sweeping declarations of love between our romantic couple are rather muted.

The parts just don't add up to a whole - which is a shame because this is a historical with some actual history in it, Sara and Cam are both admirable interesting characters, and for a change of pace issues of class aren't swept under the rug - well, until they actually are.  Because while it's a given that Sara's BFFs will stand by her side as she marries ::shudder:: an entrepreneur, the fact that auntie has a miraculous change of heart was a bit too much for me to swallow.

Your mileage may vary, but sadly this one never elevated itself above "OK" for me.

Final Grade = C

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Review: Cinderella Unmasked

Cinderella Unmasked Book Cover
Janelle "Nelle" Lassen is back in the Bay Area to lick her wounds after her finance job on the east coast flamed out in spectacular fashion. She's landed a job at a non-profit thanks to a friend vouching for her, but the executive director lets it be known that Nelle is on a very short leash.  That's why she's at a swank masked ball at San Francisco's historic Ferry Building. A lot of wealthy folks will be there and the non-profit needs donors to survive.  Sure, Grayson Monk being honored at the gala that night is less than ideal, but what are the odds she'll run in to the man who ruined her family?

Grayson Monk is a hedge fund wunderkind who is worth a bazillion dollars (so basically a Harlequin Desire hero).  Anyway, he decides that tonight is the night to drop the bomb - he's turning over the hedge fund to his partners and stepping down.  What he isn't ready to announce yet?  His father, a long time member of the House of Representatives is stepping down due to health issues, which will trigger a special election.  Grayson plans to run for his father's seat, thereby continuing the family political dynasty.

Thanks to an errant glass of red wine, Grayson finds himself changing out of his tuxedo into a borrowed costume.  Annoyed at first, he soon realizes that it might be great fun to mingle among the guests completely in disguise.  That's when he meets Nelle.  Sparks fly, a midnight kiss that could peel wallpaper is shared and then the masks come off.  Nelle is horrified to realize that she was climbing a Monk like a jungle gym and takes off - Grayson never getting her name.

Of course Nelle still has a job to do and her boss knows that she knows Grayson Monk (remember: donors, money, non-profit).  Also the Cinderella-like kiss ends up getting splashed all over the local society pages and Interwebs thanks to paparazzi.  Nelle is still freaked about keeping her job - so yes, it's an impromptu visit to Grayson's soon to be former office to talk turkey with the man.  

I really enjoyed Erwin's debut novel and this, her second book, populates the same universe but stands alone well.  I have a low tolerance for family feud conflict in contemporaries - but Erwin tweaks it here.  Nelle is all set for push-back from Grayson when he finds out what her last name is - but both he and his half-sister are like "Who?! What?! Huh?!"  Which leads to Nelle wondering how much her father spun "The Monk Family Done Us Dirty" shtick to make himself the hero of his own story.  This conflict eventually picks up steam in the later chapters, but for the majority of the book it's about Nelle making contacts, bringing in donations, to keep her job and Grayson pushing back on his sister, his campaign manager, who wants to milk the Cinderella story as much as she can for his campaign.

This book never goes in the direction you think it will, and frankly that's what makes it so good.  I was thinking, "oh sure, the hero will protest, and he'll spend time with Nelle and they'll fall in love and then Nelle will overhear half-sister talk about the Cinderella campaign, she'll be hurt and run off and that will be the black moment."  Um, no.  Nelle does overhear that conversation but doesn't fly off the handle, mainly because Grayson keeps trying to put his sister in her place.  But inevitably Nelle does agree to help the campaign because she likes Grayson, he likes her, and why not see where this attraction takes them?

While I have a low tolerance for politicians and political backdrops in fiction in the best of times, Erwin counteracts this by making Grayson a decent man.  Tired of reading about heroes who change bed partners like they change their socks?  Early on in this book Grayson lets it be known that he's not a one-night, casual-sex kind of guy.  He's not wired that way.  He's smitten with Nelle right from the start and legitimately wants to get to know her, spend time with her, and explore the chemistry that's shooting off sparks all around them.  He's not one of those, "Let's burn up the sheets and just get it out of our system" sorts.  

The pace if fairly leisurely for most of the story and Grayson and Nelle are nice people who share some sizzle.  Also, the author keeps the reader guessing for a while as to the nature of the "family feud" and the question of how much there really is to it.  And the ending?  It's grand gesture territory and so darn dreamy I nearly swooned.  

To be honest the Cinderella trope is not usually one of my favorites in romance, because it's too much Rescue Fantasy for my tastes - but while Nelle is at a low ebb to start this book she's working to claw her way out of it.  Grayson doesn't rescue her so much as give her the opportunity to rescue herself.  And Grayson, despite the silver spoon upbringing and running for office, is a genuinely nice guy.  Not a jerk.  Not a playboy.  A nice guy.  Someone pass me my smelling salts.

This story felt like a warm hug with sexy times thrown in the mix.  I really enjoyed it, and Erwin lays groundwork to write more books in this world.  Frankly Desire needs to giver her another contract because if I don't get a romance featuring Grayson's sister I'm going to burn everything to the ground.  

Final Grade = B

Friday, September 4, 2020

Retro Review: The Sheriff

This review of The Sheriff by Nan Ryan was originally published at The Romance Reader in 2006. Back then I rated it 1-Heart (F Grade) with an R-rated sensuality rating.

+++++

Nan Ryan’s latest book reminds me a lot of the western romances I read and enjoyed as a teenage girl. However, I have since grown up, and simply telling me a story doesn’t cut it anymore. 

Kate VanNam (not Kate Quinn as the back cover copy suggests), has just gotten word that a great-aunt she didn’t know has died and named her as sole beneficiary in her will. When the elderly uncle who raised her dies, Kate takes what meager savings he had left and boards a ship for Fortune, California. Her auntie not only left her a gold mine, but also a majestic Victorian mansion. 

However when she arrives, Kate discovers that her gold mine is reportedly worthless and the Victorian is uninhabitable. No matter, she is sure with a little hard work that she’ll find gold and make her fortune! Too bad the insufferable town sheriff keeps getting in her way. 

Travis McCloud (not Travis McLoud as the back cover copy suggests), sees trouble the minute he sees Kate. The men outnumber the women in Fortune 50 to 1. Worse still, Kate is a lady. The kind of lady that the rough-hewn miners will kill each other over just for a wink and a smile. No doubt about it, he’s going to have to protect her for her own good. 

Readers looking for a romance are going to find something on par to the novels published back in 1985. Kate and Travis do not spend any time together, and when they do, they bicker. Their “courtship” consists of arguing, her seeing him with no shirt on, arguing, him spying her skinny-dipping in a mountain lake and more arguing. Then they end up in bed together and all of the sudden it’s true love. They can’t live without each other! 

This lack of courtship and romance might be able to be overlooked if there were actual character development to distract the reader. Travis remains an enigma, spending the bulk of the story either bedding his mistress or being annoyed that he’s attracted to Kate. When the author does decide to reveal a nugget from his past, she dashes it off in a paragraph. Not a paragraph where Travis is talking to Kate, a mere descriptive paragraph where the author is telling instead of showing. In fact, the entire book is riddled with this sort of lazy writing. Instead of unfolding the romance and story before the reader’s eyes, the author just tells it. 

Kate has one nice moment in the story where she saves a Chinese man from being beaten by ruffians, but other than that, this girl was obviously dropped on her head a few times as an infant. When she discovers the Victorian has no windows or doors, she decides to make the front parlor her living space. She tidies up that room and lives in it. It never occurs to her that she might want to replace the doors or windows. It never occurs to her that she might want to be able to lock up now that she’s living in a male-dominated town full of desperate, uncouth, and horny miners. No, it’s up to Travis to board up her windows, and replace her doors (coincidentally this is when she sees him with no shirt on). He even has to order her to keep the doors locked at all times. Frankly, people this stupid deserve whatever happens to them – but Travis has some perverse desire to protect Kate and the reader is forced to suffer along. 

There is nothing to motivate the reader to care. Kate is a dingbat with a blind optimism that smacks of stupidity. Travis wouldn’t be bad if the author spent time actually exploring his previous life in Virginia instead of relaying it. Even the villains are bland, and naturally, Kate doesn’t realize she’s in danger because the villain is so darn charming and nice. Even the climactic finish lacks an actual climax, and the whole thing is over in four sentences. There are several spicy love scenes, but given that the reader doesn’t know, care much, and isn't privy to any sort of courtship, it’s hard to care about them, let alone read them without skimming. Lazy characterization with an equally lazy “telling” writing style make The Sheriff a tedious read. Pass it on by.

+++++

Wendy Looks Back: Books like this are the reason that I have a running theory about long lost and/or inherited mines in historical western romances.  My theory?  If the plot involves one the book is likely to be terrible.  Seriously. I've read a disproportionate number of bad westerns featuring defunct mines.

Also, I used to write pretty good reviews.  I think if I slogged through this book today and then tried to write a review it would be a lot of incoherent, unintelligible muttering.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Wendy's Unusual Historical Picks for August 2020

Lady of Disguise Book Cover
We’re almost through 8 months of the hellscape that is 2020, congratulations I guess? It’s something to wake up every day and wonder what new WTF’ery awaits us, and given the stress of, you know, life right now I’m doing my best to snatch moments of joy where I can. Which, hello, books are my go-to for that. Well, and wine - but books aren’t bad for my liver. So let’s look at what indulgences caught my eye this month: 


Death and deception are the backbones of war.​ 

Find a way to make a difference for the Union. This is the agreement Ruth Allen made with her best friends. The reason she disguised herself as a man and enlisted as a soldier in the War among States. The reason she met Gabriel, a Confederate deserter. Logic told her to kill him, but something wouldn't let her. 

Gabriel Bailey couldn't continue killing for a cause he didn't believe in. He didn't have a plan when he left his regiment and went on the run, but fate did. Ruth should have killed him. Instead, she spared him. For now. 

Can two people from opposite sides of the divide put aside their differences to find love despite being enemies? 

This is the second book in Carr’s Ladies of the Civil War series and honestly this plot can go one of two ways: it’ll either be a disaster or full of all sorts of awesome. Looking at that cover? I’m hoping for awesome. Plus I’m curious to find out why our hero is fighting for the Confederacy when he doesn’t believe in the cause - there’s a story there for sure! 


It's been two months since Will Darling saw Kim Secretan, and he doesn't expect to see him again. What do a rough and ready soldier-turned-bookseller and a disgraced, shady aristocrat have to do with each other anyway? 

But when Will encounters a face from the past in a disreputable nightclub, Kim turns up, as shifty, unreliable, and irresistible as ever. And before Will knows it, he's been dragged back into Kim's shadowy world of secrets, criminal conspiracies, and underhand dealings. 

This time, though, things are underhanded even by Kim standards. This time, the danger is too close to home. And if Will and Kim can't find common ground against unseen enemies, they risk losing everything. 

Set post-World War I, Charles’ second book in the Will Darling series finds our bookseller hero separated from aristocrat of dubious reputation, Kim Secretan for two months - only to have the man reappear at the most unexpected moment. 


Separated by class 

Brought together by passion 

Having finally fulfilled her dream of opening a hairdressing parlor, Nellie Regan has no interest in love ruining her plans. After Nellie is caught mocking landowner Dominic Lockhart’s lifeless engagement to Lady Cecily, she’s not expecting him to defend her in a tavern brawl. Now the frustratingly handsome gentleman must recuperate in her home! Close quarters stir simmering attraction…but Nellie’s determined to follow her head, not her heart. Is Dominic willing to do the same? 

OMG, a working heroine who owns her own hairdressing salon? I honestly can’t think of the last time I’ve seen that in a historical romance (OK, never). I’m a sucker for a cross-class romance and Shepherd is a new-to-me-author. This looks promising. 


A meeting of minds… 

But a most unsuitable match! 

When lady’s companion Sara Standish meets Cameron Fitzallen, he has his jacket off and he’s mending mill machinery. He is manly, capable—though it’s most improper for him to set her heart aflutter! He is a mill owner—trade—after all. They share the same aim to help impoverished children, but in the eyes of the ton, she must not mix with him. That doesn’t stop her craving his company, or his touch… 

Justiss has a long backlist and is a reliable writer, having enjoyed her books in the past. This third book in the Cinderella Spinsters series features a lady’s maid falling for a mill owner. More cross-class conflict - sign me up! 


A feisty counterfeiter and a cocky British agent clash in this sultry Secrets and Spies novel by K. C. Bateman, whose witty, intelligent, and sexy historical romances have become her signature. 

As Sabine de la Tour tosses piles of forged banknotes onto a bonfire in a Paris park, she bids a reluctant farewell to her double life as a notorious criminal. Over the course of Napoleon’s reign, her counterfeits destabilized the continent and turned scoundrels into rich men, but now she and her business partner must escape France—or face the guillotine. Her only hope of surviving in England is to strike a deal with the very spy she’s spent her career outrunning. Now after meeting the arrogant operative in the flesh, Sabine longs to throw herself upon his mercy—and into his arms. 

Richard Hampden, Viscount Lovell, is prepared to take any risk to safeguard England from the horrors of the French Revolution. To lure the insurgents out from the shadows, he’s even willing to make a pact with his archenemy: Philippe Lacorte, the greatest counterfeiter in Europe. But when a cheeky, gamine-faced beauty proves herself to be Lacorte, Richard is shocked—and more than a little aroused. Unlike the debutantes who so often hurl themselves at him, this cunning minx offers a unique and irresistible challenge. Richard will help her. But in return, he wants something that even Sabine cannot fake. 

Originally published by Loveswept in 2017 (check your TBR!) rights have reverted back to the author and we’ve now got a self-published edition. This is the third book in a series that I obviously missed the first go-around. Yes, the hero is a spy blah, blah, blah - but a counterfeiter heroine! And naturally the hero is such a man it doesn’t cross his mind that the notorious counterfeiter he has spent a career hunting is….well, a woman. HOW DID I MISS THIS THE FIRST TIME AROUND?!?! 

What Unusual Historicals are you looking forward to reading?