Amazon discontinued the ability to create images using their SiteStripe feature and in their infinite wisdom broke all previously created images on 12/31/23. Many blogs used this feature, including this one. Expect my archives to be a hot mess of broken book cover images until I can slowly comb through 20 years of archives to make corrections.

Monday, May 20, 2024

Carb Loading: Unusual Historicals for May 2024

I'm going to keep this introduction short and sweet. Have you carb loaded? Hydrated? Limbered up? Well if not I suggest you do because this month's Unusual Historicals post features 15 titles. No, I did not stutter. 1-5.  See you at the finish line Romancelandia!

Unladylike Rules of Attraction by Amita Murray

Anya Marleigh is a singer and sitar player in Queen Charlotte’s court. She is left a fortune by Dowager Countess Budleigh, one of her elderly clients who used to hire her for musical evenings. But there is a condition attached. Anya must marry before her next birthday if she wants to see any of the fortune. The executor of the will is an insufferably conceited man who must consent to her marriage—if he doesn’t give his consent, the fortune reverts to him.

But Damian Ashton is only part of the problem. The Budleigh family see Anya as a usurper. They believe the fortune is rightfully theirs, and they will do all in their power—including accusing Anya of murder and Damian of some dubious and criminal dealings—to get their hands on the fortune. Now Anya must do everything she can to thwart their efforts, save herself from the gallows, and at the same time, resist the powerful attraction she feels towards Damian—who surely is only interested in keeping the Budleigh money.

Can Anya sort out the tangle—or must she lose her heart to find her fortune?   

The second book in The Marleigh Sisters series features a musician heroine in Queen Charlotte's court being left a windfall in an elderly client's will - and since this is Regency England y'all know there's a catch - namely a hero who has to approve of any marriage she makes and her benefactor's back-biting vile family. Mo' money, mo' problems AMIRITE?!

You Should Be So Lucky by Cat Sebastian

The 1960 baseball season is shaping up to be the worst year of Eddie O’Leary’s life. He can’t manage to hit the ball, his new teammates hate him, he’s living out of a suitcase, and he’s homesick. When the team’s owner orders him to give a bunch of interviews to some snobby reporter, he’s ready to call it quits. He can barely manage to behave himself for the length of a game, let alone an entire season. But he’s already on thin ice, so he has no choice but to agree.

Mark Bailey is not a sports reporter. He writes for the arts page, and these days he’s barely even managing to do that much. He’s had a rough year and just wants to be left alone in his too-empty apartment, mourning a partner he’d never been able to be public about. The last thing he needs is to spend a season writing about New York’s obnoxious new shortstop in a stunt to get the struggling newspaper more readers.

Isolated together within the crush of an anonymous city, these two lonely souls orbit each other as they slowly give in to the inevitable gravity of their attraction. But Mark has vowed that he’ll never be someone’s secret ever again, and Eddie can’t be out as a professional athlete. It’s just them against the world, and they’ll both have to decide if that’s enough.

1960s era baseball and make it queer. This is the kind of high stakes conflict I feel is lacking in a good many romances these days and here's hoping the author gets the baseball stuff right or else my head is going to explode.

The Prince's Bride by Charis Michaels

Lady Marianne “Ryan” Daventry was betrothed to an obscure French prince when she was just a baby. Years later, the young prince entered exile and was never heard from again. Lady Ryan considers the betrothal off; she can hardly marry a dead man. Now another French royal has inherited the princedom and he claims the old betrothal still stands—with himself as the bridegroom. Rather than fight the cruel new prince, Lady Ryan sets out to reveal him as an imposter. She needs only to locate the original lost prince and prove he’s still alive.

Prince Gabriel d’Orleans is still living, but he’s very difficult to find. He goes by the name of Gabriel Reign and lives in the forest, working as a horse trainer for wealthy clients. He’s hardly a pauper, but he’s also not a prince. His life in the woods conceals his true identity and keeps him safe—but also alone.

Using an old childhood letter as her only guide, Lady Ryan sets out for Savernake Forest to find the missing prince. When danger thrusts them together unexpectedly, Lady Ryan is shocked at his rustic life and his commitment to his new identity. More shocking is her fierce attraction to the rugged horseman. Meanwhile, Gabriel never planned to be discovered and he certainly never planned on falling in love. But passion has a way of upending the most careful of plans, and even the strictest boundaries are no match for a love story that is meant to be.

A heroine betrothed to an exiled French prince nearly at birth has to find the man or else she's doomed to walk down the aisle with his odious usurper. One small problem, the exiled prince isn't all that keen to be found nor step into his old life.

The Marquess's Year to Wed by Paulia Belgado

A convenient marriage…

an inconvenient passion

Notorious rake the Marquess of Ashbrooke has a deadline. One year to marry and sire an heir or lose his title and wealth. But luck is on Ash’s side! The vexing and alluring mathematician Violet Avery must also wed to save her family from ruin. The disintegration of his parents’ marriage means Ash believes only a convenient marriage is practical. Until passion ignites, and he’s left to decide if he should risk his heart or his fortune…

A rake hero being forced to wed or lose it all strikes a bargain with our heroine, a mathematician!, who also finds herself under the "you must marry or your family will be ruined" gun.  He's determined to keep the marriage strictly convenient - which means he's obviously never read a single romance in his entire life 🤣

A Gamble at Sunset by Vanessa Riley

Georgina Wilcox, a wallflower with hidden musical talents, is furious when her reclusive older sister—the recently widowed Viscountess—refuses sorely needed help from the Duke of Torrance, the only gentleman who has shown kindness to the bereft Wilcox sisters. Georgina decides to get back at her sister and shock the Viscountess by kissing the first willing stranger she meets in the enchanting gardens of Anya House. Unfortunately, her sister is not the sole witness. A group of reporters and the ton’s leading gossips catch Georgina in a passionate embrace with a reticent composer, Lord Mark Sebastian.

The third son of an influential marquis, the tongue-tied Mark is determined to keep the scandal from ruining Georgina’s reputation and his own prospects of winning the celebrated Harlbert’s Prize for music. Under the guise of private voice lessons, the two embark on a daring gamble to fool the ton into believing that their feigned courtship is honorable while bolstering Georgina’s singing genius to captivate potential suitors. Sexist cartoons, family rivalries, and an upcoming ball test the fake couple’s resolve. Will their sudden fiery collaboration—and growing attraction—prove there’s nothing false about a first kiss and scandalously irresistible temptation?

The premise of Riley's new Betting Against the Duke series is certainly different. A Duke discovers the love of his life was tricked into marrying someone else. She's now widowed and in an attempt to win her back he promises to secure husbands for her two sisters. Our musically talented heroine has definite feelings about this and ends up hitching her wagon to the composer hero to limit the collateral damage to their plans and reputations.

A Viscount for the Egyptian Princess by Heba Helmy

An unforgettable meeting in Paris

An unexpected reunion in Egypt

Viscount Louis Wesley is captivated by the beautiful woman he meets at the Louvre. He never expects to see her again, but then he arrives in Egypt for his royal best friend’s wedding and discovers she’s the bride, Princess Mervat! Learning it’s a convenient match that both intend to avoid, Louis vows to help. The stakes may be high, but Louis’s biggest challenge will be resisting falling for the princess himself!

Helmy's second stand-alone romance for Harlequin Historical features a hero captivated by a woman he meets at the Louvre, only to discover she's his BFF's intended bride! It's a marriage neither bride nor groom are keen for and naturally our hero is happy to help.

His Fiery Angel by Cynthia Wright

Proudly going her own way

Camille St. Briac cares nothing for her own natural beauty, nor is she interested in the London ton. Instead, she bravely fights to save innocent birds from feather thieves who would kill them to decorate fashionable women’s hats.

Escaping from his past

Brooding, rakish ornithologist Benedict Hawke travels the world in search of new species of birds... and the farther that takes him from England and his unforgivable father, the better.

But Pa’s sudden illness forces Benedict to abandon a dream expedition and return to Cornwall. When feather hunters invade the cliffs near his cottage, Benedict clashes with Camille, a fiery crusader for the beleaguered gulls called kittiwakes. Although she mistakenly believes he is one of the villains, neither can deny their combustible, mutual attraction... and the harder they struggle against it, the hotter it flares!

A heroine wanting to save birds from extinction thanks to a silly fashion fad spars with an ornithologist hero forced back to Cornwall by an unforgiving father who has fallen to a sudden illness. Sparks, naturally, fly.

From her rescuer…

…To her husband?

When a braying mob attacks her home in the night, heiress Annis Flemming seeks shelter with her enigmatic neighbor Sir Bennet Thorne. With her life at risk, Ben escorts her to safety at Henry VIII’s Hatfield House. Though they grow closer on the journey, Annis’s distrust of men makes her wary, and Ben still grieves for his late wife. But when they realize the threat has followed them, there’s only one means of true protection—marriage!
Marriage of convenience in Tudor England!  A heroine in danger finds protection from her closest neighbor, a man still mourning the death of his late wife.

The newly titled Earl of Castlebury, Crawford is under a lot of stress. New title responsibilities, pressure from his mother to find a suitable wife, his late father’s shipping empire to run. The last thing he needs is a feisty female pretending to be a deal porter down at his shipyard. She’s obviously in hiding for a reason, and try as he might, he cannot refuse his attraction for the spirited brunette. Soon he can’t keep his hands off her, either, even knowing he can never offer the common born beauty a future. He can offer her his body, his passion, and his patronage . . . but never his title or his heart.

Heiress to an ancient dukedom, Sadie Crisp is in hiding from her awful Cousin Archibald, who wants her dead rather than married, so that he can keep her fortune for himself. Disguised as a young male deal porter at the docklands, all is smooth sailing until the new owner of the Castlebury’s shipyard appears. Everything she’s ever wanted, Crawford ignites her passion and sets new hope aflame. Yet she cannot dare tell him of her deepest secret for risk of discovery. And she dare not love him for risk of her heart.

A newly titled hero who must marry a respectable wife falls for a woman masquerading as a man and working as a deal porter in his shipyard. Naturally she's an heiress hiding from a vile relation. There's a neighborhood in Romancelandia devoted to Chick in Pants stories and this one sounds just bananapants enough to intrigue me.

He’s her protector

She’s his forbidden temptation!

Sir Leopold’s first mission is supposed to be a chance to prove his valor. But tasked with safely escorting Lady Arianwen to her husband-to-be, Leo finds he is little but a glorified bodyguard. Only, the seemingly simple mission goes awry when Ari proves that she’s willing to do anything to get away from her impending nuptials. As attraction sparks between them, can Leo choose knightly duty over love and deliver Ari to her wedding?
The first book in a new trilogy by Matthews featuring "the King's trusted knights." Our hero, determined to prove himself on his first mission is basically tasked with glorified bodyguard duty to our heroine who he's taking to her pending nuptials. Slight problem with that - she's willing to do just about anything to escape the impending marriage. 

After two years of widowhood, Felicia Maitland, nee Vale, is ready to take on the world at cards and to indulge in a discreet romantic liaison. In short, she attends the Blackhaven Assembly Ball looking for fun – and she finds it.

When the dazzling and gifted Felicia offers Bernard Muir partnership in her scheme to fleece the man who beggared her late husband, he is swept into her adventures and falls wildly in love. Determinedly, he sets out to win her heart.

But Felicia will not play for keeps. Never again will she submit to the authority of a husband – not even Bernard, who intrigues her, laughs with her, and excites her as no one else ever has.

They make a rare and dangerous team. But can they stay together long enough to defeat the cheat who robbed her husband and now threatens Bernard’s family?

The fourth book in the One Night in Blackhaven series features a heroine looking for revenge taking on our hero as a partner, and like a dope he falls head over heels. Naturally our card-sharp heroine isn't all that anxious to rush down the altar for a second time. 

Sir Theobald Norwood finds himself embroiled in a mission of loyalty and love as he stands by Empress Matilda in her pursuit of the throne. As he and her army head to Winchester, he stumbles upon a mysterious woman named Mistress Ingrid Seymour, hiding in the woods with her own quest in mind. What starts as a test of her worthiness quickly transforms into a profound connection.

As they join forces on the battlefield, Theobald and Ingrid face not only the challenges of war but also the enemies lurking in the shadows. Ingrid's identity is called into question, shaking the very foundation of her existence, while Theobald grapples with his own emotions. Amidst confusion, they must find a way to let love blossom and unite their hearts.

But with forces working against them, will Theobald and Ingrid be torn apart by the unpredictable tides of fate? Can they overcome their differences and trust one another, or will the mounting chaos consume their chances at happiness?

This second book in a medieval series set in England during The Anarchy and features a hero fighting in Empress Matilda's army who has his life upended when he meets a mysterious woman, the heroine, hiding in a forest. 

Adam Seymour, Duke of Gilroyd, make a vow and he’s not going to break it. Probably.

After all, when he made that vow never to marry, it was in the depths of grief. Losing his wife so suddenly had never been the plan—and so throwing himself into serving the Crown was the obvious choice to forget the pain.

Which was easy, until Mr. Smee forced a new partner on him: Yates.

And not a Mr. Yates, either. No, the woman with the striking blonde hair and mischievous way with knives couldn’t be described as a Mr. Yates…

Dottie Yates isn’t wholly enamoured with Adam either, but she needs a man to pretend to be her husband. Preferably one with good connections. A duke will do.

Thrust into a fake marriage, spying in Brighton, and misunderstandings that threaten to reveal secrets of their past, neither Adam nor Dottie are ready to give up hunting down the Glasshand Gang—or the traitor who is apparently in their midst.

But as tensions heat and passions rise, it’s easy to forget spies, traitors, and vows when faced with growing love. A love that could end their growing friendship—and their mission.

Part of the long-running Dukes in Danger series features a spymaster hero taking on a new partner, a mere female, who needs a man to pretend to be her husband, preferably one with good connections. I mean, a guess a Duke will do? 

As a powerful Highland chief, Alex MacKinloch bears the responsibility of his clan—but he doesn’t know how to heal the invisible wounds of his marriage. He loves his wife, but over the years, they have drifted apart.

After a heart-wrenching loss, Laren finds solace in making stained glass, a secret she has kept from everyone. Her painful shyness makes it difficult for her to be lady of the clan, and she struggles to find her own strength.

But Alex is determined to bridge the distance between them and rekindle the love they once shared . . . even if it means seducing her back into his bed!

Another self-published reprint from Willingham that was first published by Harlequin Historical in 2011, this second book in the author's MacKinloch Clan series is a Marriage in Trouble romance featuring a heroine who is a stained glass artist.

He is London's most notorious rogue.

Richard Grey is renowned for his escapades in the bedchamber. But he's hidden the truth for years: that wicked reputation is a public front to hide his political machinations.

She is a politician's daughter.

Anne Sheffield's life is dictated at the whims of her domineering father. Considered an asset for her remarkable memory, Anne is privy to top-secret intelligence – so he's determined to keep her close. Desperate to escape, she presents Richard with a trade: help her seduce a husband of her choosing in exchange for political secrets.

Love and scandal are a dangerous combination.

As Anne learns Richard's scandalous ways, she finds herself on the verge of losing her heart. And as it turns out, sharing secrets can lead to dangerous consequences…
The listing on this series is kind of a mess, but, in short, originally self-published in 2018-ish, they've been picked up by Bloomsbury who has repackaged all four titles, of which this is number four.  He's a rogue up to political shenanigans and she's a politician's daughter under the thumb of her domineering father. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

Whew! Rehydrate, stretch, maybe take a cool shower. You just ran the Unusual Historicals 5K! What books are you looking forward to reading?


azteclady said...

Too many, my head is spinning! (I hope there isn't a quiz coming up later)

Jen Twimom said...

No quizzes Az! That would be cruel.

azteclady said...


Wendy said...

I put this post together and I don't want a quiz! 😂