Perks of Loving a Scoundrel by Jennifer McQuiston

Miss Mary Channing can think of nothing more lovely than an early morning spent in the garden reading a book. She is not perturbed by the prospect of spinsterhood or a life of quiet and solitude. Her sister, unfortunately, is set on making her be social and experience something outside of her small little world.

Mary finds herself called to London and thrown into society unceremoniously. But not before she encounters a drunken Lord in the back garden who can only be a terrible rogue, the likes of which she has only read about in her precious novels.

When Mary finds herself thrown into a conspiracy with the very gentleman she is trying to avoid, and no one will believe them about a possible plot to assassinate a prominent government official or perhaps even a member of the monarchy, Mary Channing’s life takes a very exciting turn, full of ladies of the night, corruption, scandal, duels, espionage and intrigue.

Will Mary survive her London adventures? Can she spend time one on one with a scoundrel Lord with her dignity and virtue intact? If you enjoy novels of the bodice-ripper genre, you will love this amusing, easy weekend read. Perfect for a rainy day in your favorite blanket.

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

The Maisie Dobbs series was an accidental slip of fate which I’m pleased to have stumbled upon. Like many of you, I have Netflix. Also like many of you, I tend to watch an entire series consecutively (night after night) once I’ve begun watching. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries was one such Netflix find. I was also happy to discover that there is indeed a book series by Australian author Kerry Greenwoodbook series by Australian author Kerry Greenwood, about a sassy flapper-era female detective who is no stranger to adventure and intrique–Miss Phryne Fisher. Unfortunately, my library didn’t have any of the Phryne Fisher books and it wasn’t available as an ebook on Overdrive either. Which means if I want to read the Phryne Fisher books, I’ll have to buy them. And it’s a long series. Anyways, I came across an article which listed authors you should try if you like the Phryne Fisher books-historical mysteries with a plucky female heroine. Which is how I encountered the Maisie Dobbs books.

Maisie Dobbs is not a flapper-era female detective but she is a detective of sorts. She is a well-educated British ex-nurse who opens her own detective agency with interest in helping people. She’s not a scandalous, sassy flapper, she’s a lady with dignity and composure and a strong sense of decorum.

The first novel in the series by Jacqueline Winspear is simply called Maisie Dobbs, and it’s her first case after the Great War ends and she comes back home. She investigates a sort of commune in the country where wounded war veterans are going to get a break from the outside world and live together in peace and harmony among other men who understand them…The problem is that they never seem to come back, and there are some very suspicious deaths out there in the commune. When a close friend in the aristocracy asks for Maisie’s help finding out what is going on out there, Maisie doesn’t hesitate to jump on board.

If you like historical mysteries, definitely try the Maisie Dobbs series. Worth reading.

Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carriger

Sophronia is back in the third installment of the Finishing School series, set in Victorian England in a world full of Werewolves, Vampires, and secret spies bedecked in all things steampunk. The Finishing School series is a Young Adult series which I highly recommend to teenage girls or those adults out there who just enjoy a good supernatural fiction novel.

Waistcoats and Weaponry centers around Sophronia’s group of friends, who decide to go on a mission to save Werewolf-kind, prevent the Vampires from taking over the world, and evade the Flywaymen in the process. Naturally this would include commandeering an air dinghy (dirigible) and a passenger train in the process. And let’s not forget, the ladies have recently learned the art of flirting during their studies at finishing school, so naturally they must put their new skills to use to help in their endeavors.

Gail Carriger is a favorite author of mine-I love steampunk, but more than that, I just adore the silly humor laced into the stories, which mash up the world of Mary Poppins and Indiana Jones and ties it together with automatons, various robots and flying contraptions and all that comes with steampunk genre. If you’ve been meaning to get a Gail Carriger novel but haven’t gotten around to it I highly recommend that you do so. You won’t regret it.

 

Jane Austen’s First Love by Syrie James

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If you know me at all, you already know that I am a HUGE Jane Austen fan. Sadly, she only has a few novels to choose from…But that doesn’t stop me from being a die-hard devotee, thanks to the many authors out there who love her as much as I do. One wonderful thing about the legacy of Jane Austen is that it opens up a world of spin-off literature. Tribute sequels to the novels are wildly popular, and authors enjoy speculating on the life of the author herself, too.

Fans of Jane Austen will already know that Jane never married in her lifetime, and spent most of her life acting as a companion to her father. Her many novels about Edwardian love send out the message that despite her celibacy, she may have had some idea of love, herself. We love to speculate that Jane might have had a lover once, too. Jane Austen’s First Love, by Syrie James, is a devoted follow-through on this very fantasy.

Jane Austen is 15 years old, one step behind her debutante sister and desperately hoping for love and adventure, despite being very much under her mother’s thumb. Enter Edward Taylor (Yes, Edward-if you read Austen, you will immediately think of Sense and Sensibility), a college-bound young man who saves Jane when her carriage gets stuck in the mud (sounds like Emma, doesn’t it?) The politics of marriage and courting are exhibited in Jane Austen’s First Love just as well as they are in the novels by Austen, herself, and fans will not be disappointed. Definitely worth picking up for your fellow Austen lover as a Christmas gift this year.

If you enjoy Jane Austen’s First Love, and other Austen spin-off literature, please also be sure pull up this Goodreads List of Jane Austen Spin-offs and check them out!

What a Wallflower Wants by Maya Rodale

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Maya Rodale is one of my favorite smutty romance novelists. Her heroines are always plucky little things, very spirited and cheeky, and her tales are full of comedy and warmth. The “Bad Boys and Wallflowers” series has been a fun collection to sprinkle among my more intense reading choices in the last year or so. What a Wallflower Wants is no exception.

Miss Prudence Merryweather is approaching her 4th year as a debutante, and she is the only graduate of her finishing school to be unwed after so many seasons, much to her mortification…But Prudence has a complicated past and a dark secret that keeps her away from eligible bachelors, until she finds a gentleman who is willing to offer her a marriage of convenience that will solve both of their marriage woes without compromising their mutual secrets. Unfortunately while they are on their way to finally be wed, a highwayman stops their carriage and her deplorable fiancé throws her out of the carriage in offering to the blackguard-and she decides that he is no man she could possibly spend her life with…And she is alone on a country road, with no idea where she is, walking for hours before a handsome gentleman pulls up beside her in his carriage…But can she trust this man? What are his intentions? Is he who he claims to be?

This story is full of fun, the bad guys always get what they have coming, and love always wins….So if you haven’t tried Maya Rodale and you love bodice rippers, pick up her Bad Boys and Wallflower series and you won’t regret the purchase.

The Brides of Wishmore series by Cathy Maxwell

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Cathy Maxwell has two new books out in her brand new Brides of Wishmore series: The Bride Says No, and The Bride Says Maybe. These novels are best read back-to-back, because they feature the inevitable love stories of two sisters, Lady Tara Davidson, and Lady Aileen Davidson. When, once again, the father of these two young ladies has put himself in a dire financial situation, he decides it is time, for once and for all, to put his daughters to good use…By marrying them off, of course. The ladies are heartbroken, but little do they know, true love is on it’s way, and it comes from the most unexpected of places… If you like bodice rippers or historical romance novels with happy endings, and you need a good weekend read, be sure to pick up the new Brides of Wishmore series today!

Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt

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The 6th novel in the Maiden Lane series is here, and it’s out in audiobook too! Duke of Midnight, by Elizabeth Hoyt, is a bodice-ripper with a gothic twist.

Artemis Greaves is serving as a lady’s companion to her aristocratic cousin Penelope when they are accosted by some street hoodlums. Before they succumb to the evil men, they are rescued by a masked stranger who can only be the legendary “Ghost of St. Giles”. He is gone before they can get much information from him, but Artemis ends up with a ring from his finger-a ring that can only belong to an aristocrat. Who IS this Ghost, and why does he wander the dirty, booze-ridden streets of St. Giles if he comes from a noble family? Artemis is determined to find out more.

The Duke of Wakefield, Maximus Batten, has a secret second life, spending his days in Parliament and his nights seeking clues in the darkness to solve the murders of his parents, decades ago. No one can ever know the truth about his double life, so he keeps a safe distance from everyone but his faithful manservant. But the time has come for Maximus to find a suitable Duchess-someone from a titled family with a nice dowry would be ideal…So why does he find himself so captivated by Artemis Greaves…?

I was surprised by Duke of Midnight, mostly because it had a darker twist to it-madness, the corruption of the aristocracy and Bedlam, murder and revenge…If you want a nice, tidy bodice-ripper where boy meets girl and they simply banter back and forth until they inevitably fall into bed together, this one is not going to be that novel. If you want something with a little more bite, however, be sure to pick up Duke of Midnight, by Elizabeth Hoyt, today-and the audiobook version by Hachette Audio is impeccably narrated, so if you like to listen to your romance novels, this one is a keeper.

Rutherford Park by Elizabeth Cooke

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Downton Abbey lovers, don’t miss Rutherford Park, by Elizabeth Cooke! This novel takes place in 1913, when Lady Octavia Cavendish learns a painful secret about her own husband on the same night that a servant in the house attempts suicide. Rutherford Park will never be the same place again as the family struggles to stay together amid turmoil and changing times.

Will Lady Cavendish find happiness for once and for all, or will she settle for what she has always had and accept her fate? Will her son come clean to his parents about his own deep dark secrets? Will her daughter be allowed to marry for love? And what about the servants of the house-will they stay on at Rutherford as things change around them? If you love historical fiction, especially of the early 1900s era, you will adore Rutherford Park.

The Queen’s Lover by Francine du Plessix Gray

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In popular culture, Marie Antoinette is very well-known for being the Queen who was beheaded by her people.  She is also portrayed as having her own tidy collection of male admirers. One such man considered himself above the rest -Count Axel von Fersen was a friend to the royal family, soldier, diplomat, and bodyguard. He served his queen in many ways, but considered himself her one true love and considered her his own true love. This does not, however, mean that he remained faithful to the queen during the long separations caused by politics of the time period stretching over years, through her crowning, the American Revolution, and later, the revolution of her own country. Faithful or not, however, he always returned and he always supported her in every situation.

This unique novel has taken the story of Marie Antoinette and put it into the eyes and mouth of her lover, giving you a perspective that feels exclusive and personal, without idealizing the woman or her behavior in any way.  More than anything, the novel discusses the politics of the world during the life span of Marie Antoinette and the period following her overthrow.

This is NOT a bodice-ripper, although it has its share of scandal. If you like historical romance more than you like HISTORY, then don’t bother with this one. If you want to learn more about the events leading up to and following the death of Marie Antoinette, however, this novel will be very interesting for you.  Give it a try and see what you think!