The Bewildered Bride by Vanessa Riley

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.

The Bewildered Bride by Vanessa Riley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

After an elopement and brief marriage, Ruth and Adam are attacked by highwaymen, the bride and groom each thinking afterward that the other is dead. Four years later, Ruth is considering a possible marriage of convenience to another man, especially for the benefit of her young son. Adam returns after years of impressment to find Ruth alive, but the danger around them and secrets between them begin to mount in The Bewildered Bride by author Vanessa Riley.

I appreciate authors who can amaze me in little ways. It doesn’t necessarily have to be big, blaring plot twists, but remarkable turns of phrase and gripping imagery can go a long way. This author’s style keeps me on my toes.

Now, I’ll admit the unpredictable rhythm in parts of this novel made the emotional flow a bit difficult to follow at times, so I couldn’t always make heads or tails of the characters. But the hero and heroine are interesting people who work well together for this story. Their romantic chemistry and physical relationship are prominent and intense but nothing R-rated.

I particularly empathized with some of Ruth’s frustrations over personal injustices and relished a moment leading to the climax where she truly stands up. However, I had to suspend my disbelief to go along with one of the major plot points that doesn’t quite add up.

Although I’ve not read any of the other novels in this series yet, this book stands alone just fine, and I couldn’t resist it—not with that divinely grape, stunning book cover. And I “flew” through the entire read in a day. Quite a rare occurrence for me and novels of this length.

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In the Shadow of Croft Towers by Abigail Wilson

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. BookLook Bloggers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

In the Shadow of Croft Towers by Abigail Wilson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Coming to Croft Towers to be a companion to a Mrs. Chalcroft, Sybil Delafield brings along internal questions about her veiled background. But it seems most everyone at the Towers has something to hide, including Mrs. Chalcroft’s godson, Mr. Sinclair. With private messages Sybil must deliver for Mrs. Chalcroft, Mr. Sinclair’s double life, and unexplained murders cropping up, Sybil is drawn deeper into a web of secrets…In the Shadow of Croft Towers, a novel by author Abigail Wilson.

A Gothic Regency romance with mystery and danger? Yes, please! I’ll admit it took some time for me to get into this story, but I became more engrossed as the web of secrets here became more intricate. The intrigue carries through right to the end of the novel.

Now, I didn’t quite take to the heroine. I would’ve liked to see more compelling flashes of quickness or fire from her, but she seems so nervous, bumbling, and naïve much of the time, stammering and getting cut off, with romantic feelings bubbling for one man and then the next, even within a few minutes.

As for some of the climactic moments in the last chapters, the characters are too quick to take a crucial piece of information as absolute fact, by word of a villain’s mouth, without concrete proof or receiving confirmation from another source. Also, though it’s pretty common in mysteries, I’ve never been a fan of villain monologues toward the finish. The more a villain puts into coherent words in the eleventh hour, the more it feels like an info-dump to wrap up everything the good guys couldn’t or wouldn’t otherwise figure out before the book is over.

Nevertheless, this novel has much for fans of clean historical romance to enjoy.

 

The Gentleman’s Quest by Camille Elliot

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

The Gentleman’s Quest by Camille Elliot

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

And yet he never quite felt he deserved to be anything other than alone.
Alone was where he was comfortable… Alone was where he belonged.
It was hard to remember that here, talking to Honoria…

Christopher has stayed away from Honoria since the accidental death of her brother, Christopher’s best friend. But when a man is murdered on Christopher’s property, Honoria may hold the evidence that will prove Christopher’s innocence in The Gentleman’s Quest by author Camille Elliot.

I don’t read a ton of Regency romances. But I enjoy them from this author because the main characters command a level of respect, and there’s always danger mixed in. Higher stakes than just questions about who’s going to court or marry whom.

This romantic suspense tale doesn’t shy away from the characters’ harsh realities. Honoria is feminine without being wispy or weak, and the British spelling throughout the novella is a nice touch.

Now, the emotional development seems a little awkward and hard to follow at times, and the characters’ thoughts wander on a bit long, here and there. Also, it’s not my favorite thing when a plot climaxes or resolves with “all of a sudden” information. When a momentous detail near the height of the story isn’t tied to some detail or hint from earlier, or a character has a key memory that doesn’t pop up until the end to make it all clear, it gives the resolution a thrown-together feel.

Nevertheless, other fans of inspirational and historical romantic suspense may want to check out this quick and entertaining read.

 

A Bittersweet Moment by Vanessa Riley

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

A Bittersweet Moment by Vanessa Riley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Theodosia aspires to have her own business someday, selling choice flowers to perfumers, but she wants to learn better diction first. Ewan, the second son of an abusive earl, agrees to help Theo while she encourages him in his own dream: to earn his independence with a living as a playwright. But when Theo and Ewan begin falling for each other, their already unusual arrangement becomes even more precarious in A Bittersweet Moment by author Vanessa Riley.

So. While anticipating reading a Regency romance, The Bittersweet Bride, I came across this little prequel number and decided to read it first.

This is one of the authors whose books I dive into with or without at least skimming the book blurb beforehand, so it was an extra treat for me to find out Ewan is a writer. I mean, sensing the agony he feels in the midst of “the odor of the death of words”–you have me right there, from the first page, Mr. Fitzwilliam. Then add to that his sentiment regarding the ignorant way that “men of little vision deal with paper.” Good gracious, I love reading about writers.

Even with her determination, her feisty streak, and her reluctance to trust, Theo isn’t all sharp edges, which is a plus. Her meeting Ewan isn’t an insta-love connection, though when their affection for each other does come up, it does so suddenly, and the descriptions and declarations of love become pretty excessive from there.

Nevertheless, the vocational and romantic plight of these characters has whetted my appetite the more for the related novel.

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