Because you know you want to.
I have decided that this summer is The Summer of Romance Novels. Yes, I'll be reading other things, as well, but it's hot and humid and I want some goddamn ripped bodices, IS THAT TOO MUCH TOO ASK?
Since my, uh, tastes tend to run into historical and fantasy romances, let's start there, shall we?
A note before we start: Historical romances fall into the following general categories: 90% Regency/Victorian Era (for people who wished Jane Austen's books had a lot more banging. Also, they fucking love corsets.), 8% Highlander/Scottish Rogue (Kilts, obviously. 75% of all protagonists of any gender have red hair) and 2% 'Other'. Other can mean knights of non-Scottish persuasion, Crusade Knights falling in love with Indian princesses, pirates, and, most rarely, a historical romance that does not take place in Great Britain. I think I saw one (maybe two?) that took place in China.
A DARING LIAISON
Official Synopsis: Tasked with covertly investigating a string of suspicious deaths, Charles Hunter finds himself reunited with Georgiana Huffington, darling of the ton, who broke his heart many years before. She's a woman with a mysterious past—mere days after taking their vows, Georgiana's two husbands have perished under dubious circumstances.
As Charles works with Georgiana to prove her innocence, she finds herself captivated by the man he's become. Still devilishly handsome, he's now more guarded, more...dangerous. Georgiana fears she's losing her heart to him, but will her love make Charles the killer's next victim?
My Official Stance: 6/10. So. We've got a lady whose husbands and fiances keep dying mysterious deaths. A man charged with unofficially investigating her as the possible murderer. Bonus, they have a 'history' together. And they are, of course, immediately drawn together with powerful feelings that they must resist. Classic 'Possible Black Widow' story. Mystery easily solved. Love scenes adequate. No desire to buy physical copy. For once, I want to read a story where the lady is totally a black widow. And she tells the investigator after a night of passion. And then she promptly kills him.
THE LAST DE BURGH
Synopsis: Nicholas De Burgh, a Knight returning from the Crusades, encounters a man who needs his help and disappears. Nicholas vows to help the mysterious man's brother (who is ACTUALLY MM's twin sister in disguise) find the mysterious man. Obviously, Nicholas develops CONFUSING feelings for this very pretty boy. But all is explained and discovered and woo'd and whatnot. This was not an official synopsis.
My Official Stance: 1/10. BOOOOO. Do you know how hard it is to find Knight and Lady stories? And this one blows. Also, love scenes non-existent. A cheesy Templar conspiracy and a Saracen assassin do NOT make up for the lack of torn bodices and secret rendezvouses. GET WITH THE PROGRAM.
THE CAGED COUNTESS
Official Synopsis: Eight years ago Claudia, Countess of Ulverdale, said goodbye to her husband, Anthony, when he left to fight against Napoleon.
Now, both working as spies, they find their separate missions bring them together by chance in a Parisian brothel. Claudia's independence—and her virtue—are compromised.
Claudia finds herself caged within a marriage bed full of lies as fiery anger inflames the rising passion between them. It is only a matter of time before Claudia gives in to a husband she hardly knows—but one she can't resist....
My Official Stance: 5/10. Heroine falls in love with husband a midst pretty crappy danger. C'mon. Napoleon is on the loose! You started the book in PARIS. There was even a scene in a brothel. Didn't finish.
A STRANGER'S TOUCH
Official Synopsis: When Morwenna Morgan defies her brother's orders and rescues a shipwreck victim from a Cornish beach, she doesn't expect an instant attraction to the injured stranger. This is the kind of man Morwenna can imagine falling for—not the unpleasant suitor her brother's forcing on her!
Except the stranger is Lord Rupert Melford—a government agent sent to entrap the Morgan family! He has to believe that Morwenna is part of a smuggling plot, but her sweet nature and devotion to nursing him speak only of her innocence....
My Official Take: 0/10. Would not bang. Look at that cover. That cover is promising things the book did not deliver. I get it. Some heroines would be fine with being a well-kept mistress to get away from her crappy home life. But they fell in love when he was all "I know not who I am, but I'm def sure I'm rich. So let's totally do it, because EVEN THOUGH I DON'T KNOW WHO I AM I AM OBVIOUSLY TOO GOOD TO MARRY YOU. But I'll keep you as my mistress." There were love scenes but they were wrong. And also happened way too quickly and unorganically. I was not feeling this couple. Totally didn't finish. Just, no.
THE FIRELORD'S LOVER
If his powers are discovered, his father will destroy him...
In a magical land ruled by ruthless Elven Lords, the Fire Lord's son Dominic Raikes plays a deadly game to conceal his growing might from his malevolent father, until his arranged bride awakens in him passions he thought he had buried forever.
Unless his bride kills him first...
Lady Cassandra has been raised in outward purity and innocence, while secretly being trained as an assassin. Her mission is to bring down the Elven Lord and his champion son. But when she gets to court she discovers that nothing is what it seems, least of all the man she married...
Then Dominic and Cassandra together discover an unspeakable evil, one that threatens the destruction of the magical realm they would give their souls to save...
My Official Stance: 9/10. Got this from Felicia Day's Book Club. I think this is what happens when an author would like to know what would happen if Legolas was real in 1700s London, slightly more of a cold-faced bastard, and liked to have lots and lots of sex. I'm not complaining. It reads like a basic fantasy novel but with lots more sexytimes. And dress porn. So much dress porn.
A NOTORIOUS COUNTESS CONFESSES
Synopsis AND My Official Stance: 10/10. I loved this one. First, the protagonists are named Adam and Eve. I'm not even ashamed it took me half the book to pick up on that (in my defense, I'm not really 'thinking' when I read these.) Eve is a former actress and courtesan (!) who married an Earl after he won her in a card game (!!). And Adam, our manly male lover? Is a vicar. A VICAR. So Eve moves into this smallish town after the unfortunate death of her Earl husband. Do you know how the book says he dies? BY TOO MUCH SEX. Well, they call it 'marital activity' but there are delightful jokes where the Earl must have a died a happy man. Do you see why I thoroughly enjoyed this? Anyway, Eve arrives at this town and her reputation precedes her and all the ladies refuse to have anything to do with her. Because, you know, courtesan cooties. But the Vicar, well, he can't leave a member of his parish to suffer, can he? NOPE. So Adam and Eve get closer together, despite all the town ladies telling him to stay away lest he be shunned as well, and it's amazing. There are pillows gifted to the Vicar with anti-lust proverbs embroidered on them. There is a crotchety old lady who is essentially The Dowager Countess from Downton Abbey except with more swears and deathbed confessions of adultery. Bonus? The love scenes are pretty hot. Go read this.
That's it for now. I'm pretty sure I read more but they pretty much left no impression on me after I finished them, so they have been promptly forgotten. Wait, there was a delightfully cheesy Scottish one with a Lady Laird trying to get knocked up by an enemy chieftain to bring the two clans together, and obviously THEY WERE IN LOVE THE WHOLE TIME no matter how hard she tried to keep it all business, all the time. Ooo, and in my pile of future books I have one where the seas have been attacked by a pirate, who is secretly a lady pirate. If that one doesn't have some good ravaging I will be very, very disappointed.