Welcome to another round of mini reviews! This is a bit of a “reading update”, with several of these titles part of my TBR-conquering reading challenge over on IG (#backlistbooks23).
Per usual, please visit the Goodreads links in each title to learn more about each book!
The King’s Mercy by Lori Benton | 1747 North Carolina Colony | Historical Fiction/Romance
Another fantastic early American story (by way of Scotland) from a fav author! Mercy in many forms is a big theme, as well as worth and survival. I love seeing how this ties into later Benton stories, having finally gone back now to read it. Alex and Joanna are wonderfully suited through their friendship and romantically, and the secondary characters are, at turns, fierce, endearing, compassionate, and villainous. Also a fantastic audiobook.
Love Practically (The Penn-Leiths of Thistle Muir #1) by Nichole Van | 1839 Scotland | Historical Romance
Love Practically is everything a marriage of convenience should be! In Nichole Van’s unmistakable style, a story of deep emotions and romance unfolds against a lush Scottish backdrop with an immersive countryside setting.
Mr. DANDY, the hilarious cat, is a fantastic character of his own!!! I love how little Madeline chases after him.
Leah is a faceted and deeply caring heroine, and I love seeing her take a chance on a different life. Fox is a cinnamon. roll. of a hero. He’s soft on the inside, if a bit practical and bitter outwardly. His relationship with Leah helps him to recognize the weight and strife he’s fed in his own heart and to overcome. I really love that they’re both in their late 30s (a little older for a Regency era histfic).
At the moment in the story where Fox takes an action akin to a grand gesture, it is a heart-melting moment of tenderness and care he demonstrates for Leah, whose role up until that point has been caretaker extraordinaire of many things. It’s a small moment, but it hit me with all the feels and is a great example of a hero recognizing exactly how to show his love for a heroine in a way that will most impact her heart.
Adjacent But Only Just (The Penn-Leiths of Thistle Muir #2) by Nichole Van | 1844 Scotland | Historical Romance
Adjacent But Only Just might be a different kind of title, but it absolutely fits the poetic and writerly elements of the story! Things of note:
-LOVED continuing with the Penn-Leiths in their story world
-Ethan is charming; Malcolm is steady, thoughtful, & my type 🙂
-Viola! Fierce, determined, lovely. I love how she’s discerning & sees character beyond the surface of everyone, especially the hero
-Return of familiar favs from the Brotherhood of the Black Tartan series!
-Humor, cows (coos), rather profound thoughts on grief, a lovely swing, and a melting & quite memorable first kiss scene
-I didn’t like 1 deceptive element of the storyline (true feelings withheld from a key character) but I can see mechanically how earlier honesty would’ve impeded the complexity of the conflict.
First to Fall (Lost Story Bookshop #2) by Jenny B. Jones | “Sugar Creek”, Arkansas | Contemporary Romantic Comedy
First to Fall is a hilarious, witty romcom that’s self-aware of its many romance tropes, including enemies to lovers and, my fav, marriage of convenience. The leads have snarky banter and grudging hostility which leads to believable off-the-charts chemistry (and some great romantic kissy moments). At its heart is a tender story of risking spontaneity and rejection to find hope and acceptance. The Arkansas setting is transportive and wonderfully shown, in the mentions of the Ozark seasons and in the fictional “Sugar Creek” which nods to the idyllic northwest region I happen to call home.
Facing the Enemy (Roxbury Heirs #1) by Paige Edwards | Scotland | Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Things of note! :
-MI6 + modern aristocracy, and a great UK setting (I have a new Scottish bucket list destination: Tay Forest Park)
-second chance romance + single parent hero
-I like the friendship and understanding between Harry and Elise, especially the way he values her strengths
-later half has interesting survival and high stakes action sequences
Have you read any of these stories? What have you checked off your TBR list lately?