07-21-18 Patricia Sargeant

Monday, May 19, 2014

Summer Reads for Historical Romance Lovers

by Christy Carlyle

It is hard to believe that summer is just around the corner. It seems only yesterday that I was brushing snow off my car, but I must say I'm thrilled with the warmer weather, the sight of trees and flowers blooming, and the opportunity to take a book and glass of iced tea out on the veranda for a bit of reading in the sun.

Can it come as any surprise that my summer reading list is full of 19th century historical romance? Two of my favorite authors have just released new books, and they shot right to the top of my To Be Read list. For different reasons, I loved them both and heartily recommend them.

Fool Me Twice by Meredith Duran captured me from the opening paragraph. I have been in love with Duran's writing since I picked up another of her historical romances, Written on Your Skin, years ago. Her characters are unexpected, unique, and come vibrantly alive almost from the first chapter, and her books are full of conflict that is never simple or easy for her heroine and hero to overcome. Her happy endings are hard won and the characters' journeys to their happy ending is always page-turningly engaging and filled with secondary characters as vivid and interesting as the hero and heroine. Fool Me Twice is no exception.

Set in the late Victorian era, Fool Me Twice pits secretary turned housekeeper, Olivia Holladay, against the infamously autocratic and possibly mad Duke of Marwick. Both have their own agendas—Olivia needs certain letters in the duke's possession and Marwick is set on revenge—and come from different classes, different worlds, yet they might actually be exactly what the other needs.

Olivia and Alastair were such poignant, complicated characters that I fell in love with them in a way that means they've stayed with me after finishing the story. To me, that is the hallmark of great writing. I highly recommend Meredith Duran's book for those who love the Victorian era, damaged heroes, and heroines that are as complicated and conflicted as the men they love.

Another recent favorite that I highly recommend for summer reading is the fun, tender-hearted romance, Wallflower Gone Wild , by Maya Rodale. Rodale is another of the historical romance authors on my Must Read list, and this book, the second in her Wallflower series, features my favorite kind of hero—the man with a dark, dangerous past who turns out to be quite different than his dastardly reputation.

Rodale's book is set early in the 19th century, at the tail end of the Regency era, and features a heroine, Lady Olivia Archer, who has always lived her life in such a rule-bound manner that she's come to be known as Prissy Missy and one of the least appealing prospects on the marriage mart. However, her straight-laced propriety sounds just right to Phinn, Lord Radcliffe, whose first wife broke every rule and caused him no end of misery.

Olivia's attempts to avoid his interest are humorous, and the silliness that she and her friends, all graduates of the same finishing school, get up to is laughable. However, the most compelling aspect of Rodale's story is her hero. Phinn struggles with a tarnished reputation and the belief by some in his social circle, including his potential bride, that he murdered his first wife. While Phinn is initially drawn to Olivia because of her very proper behavior, he continues to pursue her even after her behavior is less than perfect. In essence, both the hero and heroine have been labeled by society—he as the Mad Baron and she as Prissy Missy—and both give each other the chance to be loved for who they truly are.

What's on your Must Read list for summer?


Sarah Raplee said...

I love Victorian Romance! I will definitely put these on my summer reading list! Thanks, Christy!

Christy Carlyle said...

Great! I'd love to hear how you like them, Sarah.

Diana McCollum said...

Thanks for the suggestions! I'm putting "Fool me Twice" on my list. Love reading stories set in that era.

Judith Ashley said...

I'm currently reading Linda Needham, "My Wicked Earl"; have Vivienne Lorret's "Daring Miss Danvers"; Paty Jager's "Secrets of a Mayan Moon" and your novella "A Scandalous Wager" to download. Now I've two more to add to my growing TBR pile-somehow I don't get it whittled down at all!