The best writers are the best readers, or so they say. I know I could stand to be a much better reader! I am so impressed by those Instagram arrays of a dozen books or so that an individual reads in a month. They are inspirational, but I'm lucky to get through four books a month between parenting my rambunctious kiddos, running my household, and getting sucked into a death-scrolling time trap on Facebook or Instagram or Imgur. (Please tell me I'm not the only one!)
I try to read the way I eat ice cream: slowly, with my full attention, savoring each morsel. Although while I try to do this I am more often than not trying to read while breastfeeding an absurdly cute child who refuses to sit still or keep her hands to herself.
I will try to post reviews monthly, and now that you have that in writing, feel free to hold me accountable! Without further ado, here are the last several clean, wholesome romances I've read:
1. The Captain's Confidant, a sweet Regency romance by Ashtyn Newbold.
Synopsis: For as long as Bridget Northcott can remember, she has loved her brother's closest friend, Colin Foster. When she finally sees Colin again a few years later, he has changed. Once carefree, he is now cold, hard, and distant. Determined to unravel the mysteries of Captain Foster, Bridget writes her thoughts in a note she never meant to send. As a hesitant friendship grows between them through their letters, Bridget determines to keep her heart uninvolved. But when faced with a choice between loyalty and selfishness, love and letting go, Bridget must find the strength to confide her own feelings in Captain Foster before the man she loved is lost forever.
This book was a lot of fun once it got going!
By the time the hero and heroine were really getting to know one another I was really enjoying it. There were some times when it felt a bit heavy and serious for my tastes--I like a few more jokes and silly moments easing tension and lightening the mood--but it was very well done. The emotions of the characters were well-developed and the pain felt by the heroine and hero were real and tangible. The whole book was relatable and it ended so very happily!
It's totally clean and appropriate, but there was this one amazing kiss (if you've read it, you know the one I mean!) that totally took my breath away and gave me the giggles and swoons. Exceptionally well-crafted. :)
If you're ever having a crappy day and you want a book that relates to your pain and helps vicariously lift you out of it, this would be a great one for you to pick up.
I was sent a free ebook to review but a positive review was not required.
2. Dear Clara, a sweet Regency romance, by Shelly E. Powell
Synopsis: For the first time in her life, Clara Everton has done something truly improper. She has written to a gentleman she hardly knows, simply to avoid an unwanted marriage proposal and perhaps to prove to herself that her first London season was not such a disappointment after all. As one letter grows into many and her feelings for James Thayne deepen, Clara begins to wonder whether a letter is as innocent a thing as she once thought. Meeting Mr. Thayne in person shakes her hopes, and she must reconcile herself to the unexpected truth. Yet, as circumstances continue to bring them together, Clara can't help but question whether opening her heart to Mr. Thayne is riskier than protecting it.
Dear Clara has that magical je ne sais quoi that makes you feel like you're the only one in the world who knows these characters. There is a strange and delightful intimacy to the read, and I was unprepared for how deeply I would relate to the super embarrassing moment she undergoes midway through the book. (I don't want to spoil it for you!)
She obviously takes some time to recover, and as Mr. Thayne buckles down and tries his best to win her heart, he becomes an utterly delicious hero! I loved him. He was charming and sweet and sensitive and reading about his devotion to the darling, relatable heroine was as pleasant and comforting as a nice hot bath. *Ahhh*
I didn't want to book to end, but of course I had to stay up late to read it as quickly as possible in order to discover what happened. So if you live for that sort of frustration, this book is perfect for you!
3. Engaging Sir Isaac, a sweet Regency romance by Sally Britton
Synopsis: Millicent Wedgwood will never obtain her rightful place in Society, because of her sister's scandalous elopement. But if she can win the trust of the baronet who insulted Lady Olivia and betray him, Lady Olivia will sponsor her return to high society. Sir Isaac Fox returned from war with one less arm and a weight upon his soul. Where once he easily charmed Society, he now prefers to remain quietly alone at home. When Millie realizes her game of winning over Sir Isaac has put her own heart in jeopardy, she risks losing everything she has so desperately sought to replace in her life.
This book took a little while to really get going (and I got distracted by life, so take that with a grain of salt . . .), but I did love the awkward early meeting between Millicent and Sir Isaac! Their first impressions were sweet to read. There is some tension toward the beginning of the book where Sir Isaac has a clear aversion to Millie, but when he turns his feelings around, he turns ALL the way around! I love that he is an impulsive, passionate, decisive person--to a foolish extent sometimes. Impulsive romance is rarely punished in novels, so I loved that his behavior had some repercussions!
I love the minefield of social dangers Millie needs to walk through, and all the ways the war-weary Sir Isaac cheers her through her own battles and tries to lend a hand where he can. I also loved that Lord Neil's character was introduced in a more positive light. It made me excited to read his story, too, which I haven't had the chance to read yet!
I wanted the resolution at the end to come even quicker, but when the two perfectly suited main characters ended up together I was as contented as two snuggly ducklings in a nest.
4. A Fall from Grace, a sweet Regency romance by Jennie Goutet
Synopsis: Selena Lockhart comes with neither fortune nor connections after her father gambled away his fortune, causing Selena’s betrothed to break off the engagement. It comes as no surprise that her new neighbor, Sir Lucius, treats her with disdain. He is not married, but he may as well be, considering he is expected to escort his widowed mother to watering holes, round out the numbers at his married sister’s dinners, and come to the aid of his scapegrace younger siblings. It doesn’t help that single women and matchmaking mamas jostle each other for his face, fortune, and title so that he’s left without a moment’s peace. When Selena shows up at Lucius’s doorstep looking for help, he is sure it’s another ploy aimed at cutting up his prized bachelor existence. Although his prejudice does not last long, Lucius fears his first reaction might have ruined his chances with her. How can he save her from Society’s teeth when she continues to hold him at arm’s length?
Okay, I'll be completely honest: I read this one some time ago, and I'm having a hard time remembering specifics about it! But what I do remember about this one, even months later, is that it was a solid, dependable, enjoyable read.
I love the romance trope of a man thinking a woman is trying to entrap him when she's not. That's oddly specific, I know, but it's been done so well by so many authors! It reminded me of Georgette Heyer's Arabella. I found Sir Lucius endearing, and I felt frustrated along with Selena. She was so powerless in her situation as a companion for a cranky older woman, and I know we've all felt like that at one point or another! I love reading awkward, painful situations when I am not going through them myself. The catharsis of reading about a heroine who overcomes an awkward situation like that is wonderful.
I won't spoil the ending, but I also enjoy the occasional story that emphasizes that forgiveness is easier to come by than permission! A little bit of scandal to follow both one's heart and conscience is always easy for me to forgive. ;)
5. Engaging Mr. Darcy, an Austen-inspired romantic comedy by Rachel John
Synopsis: After a standoff in the pizza parlor, Elsie Bennet has decided Fitzwilliam “I-Throw-Fitz” Darcy is the worst customer she’s ever encountered. Also the best looking, but that’s beside the point. She’s horrified to discover Will is not just passing through her small town, he’s her new neighbor. Will Darcy has all the money and time he could ask for, and yet life never seems to meet his expectations. When his best friend, Charlie, starts dating Jane Bennet, Will becomes their unhappy third-wheel. The solution? Bring along Jane’s sister, Elsie, a girl who challenges him, makes him laugh, plagues his thoughts, and hates his guts. Will might control a lot of things, but he won’t control her. Elsie’s already been warned away by her new friend, Jeff Wickham, who found out the hard way that Will is not someone to be crossed. Things would be so much simpler if she was attracted to Jeff. But she’s not. She’s attracted to Will, and the tug-o-war between her mind and her heart is going to drive her mad.
Breaking the theme a bit here and going for a contemporary romance, but it is *inspired* by the mother of all Regency romance, Miss Austen herself. This is one of my FAVORITE Austen adaptations. I mean, better than Clueless, you guys. Okay, maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. I love Clueless. But it's seriously on par with Clueless! I was impressed by the creative ways she found to transfer all the pain and awkwardness and annoyance and--yes, pride and prejudice--of the original work into the modern day.
I loved how industrious Elsie was, and how she was always the one to bail out her reckless sisters. I especially loved the SUPER AWKWARD but also swoony first date between Will and Elsie at his house with Caroline hovering over everything. Ooh, isn't that a character you just love to hate? I know I do.
I loved the way Lydia was both endangered and rescued, and Will is a true, modern Mr. Darcy--quietly heroic, despite not giving an amazing first impression. Excellent! Highly recommend! Haven't read all her other adaptations, but I know her Sense and Sensibility remake is on sale at the moment!
That's all for now, folks! I'll try to make another book review post soon. If you'd like me to review your book, please reach out to me on any of my platforms or via email! I'd be happy to do so, especially if you can send a review copy to my low-budgeted self. :)