Friday, September 4, 2015

Three Quick Reviews

From time to time, I binge-read books that I also need to review. And then I don't have a ton of thoughts to share about them. In the case of today's trio of books, I was a little on the fence about each of them, for different reasons. I'll try to explain why, and then you can tell me why I should love them. 

Today we're looking at a pair of very different historical romances, and a contemporary romantic suspence.

Romance is in the air! 

The title of each book links to their Goodreads page, if you want to check out other reviews and the books' blurbs!

The Great Estate
Sherri Browning
Book 3 in the Thornbrook Park series
Sourcebooks Casablanca

3.5 stars

Thornbrook Park's Lord and Lady are the focus in this third book set in the Edwardian period. Gabriel and Sophia have a marriage in dire need of some romance. These two have never been on the most solid ground, but after the passing of their newborn son, they drift farther apart until their marriage is on the rocks. Now, both are determined to cross the distance and repair their marriage.

I read and reviewed the second book in the series, An Affair Downstairs, in January and, at the time, wondered how Sophia would fare as the heroine in her own romance. I found her so irksome and unlikeable in that book, I didn't know how the transition would work. Now, I can say that it worked by suggesting that having Sophia's perspective makes her much more sympathetic. In fact, she's given a year apart from her husband to develop into a deeper, more self-aware person. While this is a 'fair enough' tactic, I don't know how I really feel about it. While it's been awhile (and many books in between) since I read the earlier book, I have this sense that, if put side-by-side, these two Sophias would be jarringly dissimilar. And that's really the source of my 'meh' with this book. 

What I did like is that this is historical romance set in a period that doesn't get enough love. I liked that this is a married couple who are both taking responsibility for their marriage, and for their happiness as individuals and as a couple. If you haven't read this series yet, try this one first!


The Highlander's Bride
Amanda Forester
Book 1 in the Highland Trouble series
Sourcebooks Casablanca

3 stars

The Highlander's Bride is another historical romance giving some love to a period that doesn't get much. Set in 1359, this book tells the tale of Sir Gavin Patrick, a Highlander returning home from France with Lady Marie Colette and her considerable dowry. Yes, he's been enlisted to escort this sheltered woman to her Scottish fiance, and of course, the two are attracted to each other and the journey is long...

I actually love this kind of story--when forced proximity makes it impossible to keep the lid on good chemistry, resulting in an unlikely, but wonderfully romantic match. Where this story went a little wrong for me is that it felt really slow. It's a long trip, and while that does provide time for the romance to realistically build, it was just too slow for me. I also had niggling questions about the historical accuracy, which I'll admit is unusual for me. Normally I just roll with it, but because the book was slow, I guess I got to wondering about a few details. This isn't to say that the book doesn't get the details right! Just that I guess I wasn't very into the story. Probably simply a case of this book not being my cup of tea.


Too Hard to Handle
Julie Ann Walker
Book 8 in the Black Knights Inc. series
Sourcebooks Casablanca

3.5 stars

So, Too Hard to Handle is the first book in the Black Knights Inc. series that I've read. And it works as a standalone, I think. The other members of the Black Knights do figure into this book, but I didn't feel that I was really missing out on any important information as I read.

The story focuses pretty solidly on Dan "The Man" Currington and Penni DePaul. These two ran into each other a few months ago on a mission that horribly wrong. They shared a strong connection, then went their separate ways, and now Penni's back, keen to see if that connection was more than just a one-off.

Too Hard to Handle is very successful when it comes to action scenes. There's lots of great agent-vs-agent material, and I quite enjoyed all of that. The story moves very quickly, and the romance was... okay? I found some of it predictable, which, really, is not unusual when it comes to romance novels but I was very conscious of it feeling predictable on the romance front. I wasn't swept away, I guess. 

Also, strangely, I found some of the language used in the narration during the sex scenes as written from Dan's perspective to be oddly, ah, delicate when compared to his usual banter. It was just a strange contrast to me, when he was presented as being fairly crude and blunt. 

I recommend this one if you're looking for some decent action sequences alongside a hot romance. And if you've read some of the earlier books in the series, let me know what you thought of them! Should I go back and read some of them? Might it help me love this one more, if I had some of that context?


  1. I would suggest a Hannah Howell Romance called Highland Promise as a substitute for the second book in the review. It is a fantastic read.

    1. I've read Howell's "If He's Daring" (and reviewed it) and didn't love it. I found it really dragged on the inner monologue front. :(

    2. Her Highlander series of books were much better. Her later stuff got worse. I just don't like her new stuff at all. Then again I like the period of her Highlander Novels so that may be all that it is.