It did so for the physical world with two of the supporting characters.
One was a detective working the case of the robot that'd killed.
The other programmed that kind of robot.
( Their conversation turned to development. )
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This HaBO is from Seraph, who wants to find a historical romance based on some limited details:
This might probably be a long shot since I never actually even read the book…
It’s definitely a historical romance/regency novel. The only main thing I remember is that they’re using a book about the art of war, but applying it to courtship instead. I believe it’s the heroine using it to make the duke/earl/marquess fall for her, but not 100% sure.
I’m unsure if the book is strategy-based or is actually The Art of War by Sun Tzu.
If the Duke Demands by Anna Harrington is $2.99! This is the first book in the Capturing the Carlisles. Readers loved the mistaken identity element that kicks of the hero and heroines deal to help each other woo other people. Though readers warn that the hero does kiss another woman, which I know some readers don’t like.
A LESSON IN SEDUCTION . . .
Miranda Hodgkins has only ever wanted one thing: to marry Robert Carlisle. And she simply can’t wait a moment longer. During the Carlisle family masquerade ball, Miranda boldly sneaks into his bedchamber with seduction on her mind. Soon she’s swept into rock-hard arms for the most breathtaking kiss of her life. But when the masks come off, she’s horrified to find herself face-to-face with Sebastian, the Duke of Trent—Robert’s formidable older brother.
Shocked to find Miranda in his bed, Sebastian quickly offers her a deal to avoid scandal: He’ll help her win his brother’s heart if she’ll find him the perfect wife. But what begins as a simple negotiation soon spirals out of control. For the longer this reformed rake tries to make a match for Miranda, the more he wants to keep her all to himself.
The Duke of Deception by Darcy Burke is 99c! This is the third book in The Untouchables series, but it can be read as a standalone. Readers loved that the heroine wanted nothing to do with marriage and actively tried to avoid it, but others said the book has some pacing issues. It has a 4.1-star rating on Goodreads.
After five years on the Marriage Mart, Miss Aquilla Knox is ready for spinsterhood until a benefactress steps in to help her secure a husband. Only Aquilla doesn’t actually want to marry—her failure is entirely on purpose. When the earl she’s nicknamed the Duke of Deception sets his sights on her, she refuses to be drawn in by her attraction to him. If there’s one thing she knows it’s that a gentleman is never what he seems.
Edward Bishop, Earl of Sutton, has a reputation for courting young misses and dropping them without a second thought. This has earned him a reputation for deceit, a description he can’t refute because he does in fact, harbor secrets and will do anything—deceive anyone—to ensure they don’t come to light. As he comes to know the charming Miss Knox, his resolve is tested. However, trust comes at a price and Ned won’t pay with his heart.
The Art of Sinning by Sabrina Jeffries is $3.99! This historical romance came out last summer and is the first in a new series. Readers loved the pairing of an American artists and a London heiress. However, a few reviewers mentioned that this lacks the passion and pace of Jeffries’ previous titles. It has a 3.8-star rating on Goodreads and several more books of hers are available for $3.99 or less.
American artist Jeremy Keane refuses to return home and take over his father’s business. He’d much rather sample bevvies of beauties abroad, in search of a model for the provocative masterpiece he’s driven to paint. When he meets Lady Yvette Barlow at a London wedding, he realizes she’s perfect for his work—and determines to capture the young heiress’s defiant spirit and breathtaking sensuality on canvas.
No stranger to scandal, Yvette agrees to be Keane’s subject—in exchange for his help gaining entry to the city’s brothels he knows intimately, so she can track a missing woman and solve a family mystery. But when their practical partnership leads to lessons in the art of sinning, can they find a bold and lasting love?
Slouch Witch by Helen Harper is 99c at Amazon! This urban fantasy looks all sorts of fun and I’ll definitely be buying it. Readers say it’s on the lighter side of urban fantasy, but others wanted more of a mystery to create some forward momentum. Anyone else interested?
Hard Work Will Pay Off Later. Laziness Pays Off Now.
Let’s get one thing straight – Ivy Wilde is not a heroine. In fact, she’s probably the last witch in the world who you’d call if you needed a magical helping hand. If it were down to Ivy, she’d spend all day every day on her sofa where she could watch TV, munch junk food and talk to her feline familiar to her heart’s content.
However, when a bureaucratic disaster ends up with Ivy as the victim of a case of mistaken identity, she’s yanked very unwillingly into Arcane Branch, the investigative department of the Hallowed Order of Magical Enlightenment. Her problems are quadrupled when a valuable object is stolen right from under the Order’s noses.
It doesn’t exactly help that she’s been magically bound to Adeptus Exemptus Raphael Winter. He might have piercing sapphire eyes and a body which a cover model would be proud of but, as far as Ivy’s concerned, he’s a walking advertisement for the joyless perils of too much witch-work.
And if he makes her go to the gym again, she’s definitely going to turn him into a frog.
This HaBO comes from Lindsay and she’s searching for a bonkers, time-travel historical romance:
I’ve been looking for this one for a while now. I read it about five years ago on my B&N Nook, and have been back through every book in my account and cannot find it, so I’m hoping someone out there knows what it is.
Our heroine, whose name I don’t remember, falls in love with the laird of the castle (maybe early to mid-nineteenth century?). I’m pretty sure his name was Ian/Iain. I don’t remember how, but she somehow gets sucked back in time at the magic castle and winds up in prehistoric Scotland, where she shacks up with a caveman in a village that sounds a lot like Skara Brae. She’s really into Mr. Caveman, but also desperately misses Laird Ian-What’s-His-Name, and when Mr. Caveman has to go to war, he sends her back to the nineteenth century. Obviously, our heroine has some ‘splainin’ to do, and she and the Laird reach a Laird-Caveman/Time-travel-time-share agreement, which both dudes–who never meet– seem weirdly cool with.
Like I said, this one is like a crazysauce-covered sundae, and I would love to find it again.
I’m kind of a sucker for love triangles turning into super cool triads.
The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare is a fairytale Regency that blends Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella and Batman.
Seriously. And it’s amazing.
I actually read it twice. The first time I was at home on a Friday night, enjoying a few rum and Cokes and unwinding. Apparently I can have exactly two drinks before I start loving everything and then forgetting I loved it.
I woke up the next morning surprised to see that Drunk Elyse gave it five stars on Goodreads because I didn’t remember the end. I opened it up to a random chapter and was like, “Who the fuck is Trevor?”
So I read it again. But Drunk Elyse was right the first time. The Duchess Deal is full of Feels, and a hero who has his head up his ass, but is not completely oblivious to it. And it’s laugh-out-loud funny.
Emma Gladstone was kicked out of the house by her vicar father when she was found having sex with a young man. She walked all the way to London on a frozen winter night (losing a toe in the process) and pieced her life back together as a seamstress.
When the book opens she’s just completed the wedding dress for the Duke of Ashbury’s bride-to-be; unfortunately the wedding was canceled and Emma shows up at the Duke’s door to demand payment for the dress she spent so much time on.
Ash pays her, and offers her another deal as well. He was horribly wounded when a rocket went off near him at Waterloo, and as a result one side of his body and face is badly scarred. His fiancée broke their engagement off when she saw his injuries, and now he’s torn between wanting to spend his time brooding in the dark and knowing that he still needs an heir.
So he proposes to Emma. Sort of.
He sets the rules:
Emma agrees because she doesn’t feel like dying in poverty when she gets old and her eyesight fails and she can’t sew anymore, but she immediately goes about making their marriage an actual partnership rather than the nonsense he’s proposing.
I love it when a hero is being all broody and struggling with his man-feels and the heroine is like, “Right, you can go sulk in the corner if you want, but I’ve got stuff to do.”
He’s all like “Look at my horrible, monstrous visage!” and she’s all, “They’re scars dude, chill the fuck out. You’re upsetting the cat.”
Emma is never appalled or frightened by Ash’s appearance. She accepts it almost immediately and as she begins to fall in love with him, it barely registers. It’s Ash who can’t move past the way he looks.
And while Ash does spend time sulking, he’s still pretty upbeat all the things considered. I got the impression that he liked the idea of being a monster rather than actually being one.
Like the rest of Dare’s books, The Duchess Deal is full of snappy banter and teasing and moments of utter and delightful silliness.
Such as feline interuptus. Emma and Ash are about to consummate their marriage when Ash senses an intruder in the room:
How the devil had someone slipped in?
Never mind, he told himself. That question could wait. The more pressing inquiry at hand was this: How was he going to kill the bastard? He mentally ran through the available weapons in the room. The fireplace poker would be most effective, but was out of reach. The sash of his dressing gown could make a decent garrote, in a pinch.
If needed, he’d fight hand-to-hand. His only concern was keeping Emma safe.
He rolled to his side and came to his knees, putting his body between her and the threat. “You have three seconds to leave the way you came,” he ordered. “Or I vow to you, I will snap your craven, knavish neck.”
The intruder struck first, leaping forward with a fiendish yowl.
Something that felt like a dozen razor-sharp barbs pierced straight through his nightshirt, digging into his shoulder and arm. He gave a stunned shout of pain.
Emma flung back the bedclothes. “Breeches! Breeches, no!”
Claws. Teeth. Hissing.
I don’t think I’ve ever read a romance novel yet where the hero and heroine have been interrupted by their pet, which is wild because I’m pretty sure everyone with a cat or dog has experienced this delight.
I also liked the fact that even though Ash spends a fair amount of time having a pity party for himself, he’s still pretty aware of the people around him and he’s never intentionally hurtful.
In this scene he and Emma are preparing to go to the theatre (a huge step for him):
She remained at the top of the staircase, hesitant. Well, and why wouldn’t she be. She was about to go out in public accompanied by a hideous monster in evening attire. One who flung hats and walking sticks about at random intervals.
“If you’d rather not,” he said, “it’s all the same to me. I’ve a report from the Yorkshire estate to look over.”
“Would you prefer to stay home?”
“Only if you prefer it.”
“I want to go. I should say, I’d hate to waste Mary’s efforts.” She touched a gloved hand to her hair.
What a horse’s ass he was. She wasn’t hesitating because she was concerned about his appearance. She was waiting for him to compliment hers.
A moment later:
Ash offered her his arm, and she took it. He escorted her down the staircase and out to the waiting carriage, mindful of her voluminous skirts, but never pausing. He refused to give any appearance of reluctance.
Tonight, it didn’t matter that he was scarred and hideous and would prefer to hide from society.
Emma deserved to be seen. And this night was for her.
I also liked that there was a really solid foundation for Ash’s Wounded Feels that didn’t come entirely from Ash being self-conscious regarding his scars.
And because we’re not done with the awesomeness, Emma becomes friends with some amazing (slightly eccentric) ladies who live nearby and are clearly sequel-bait. Female friendships FTW.
Now, I bet you’re thinking “But Elyse, you mentioned Batman earlier. Please explain.” When he’s brooding Ash walks the streets at night and, after chasing off some thugs who are robbing a woman, gets named the Monster of Mayfair by the press. The Monster’s nightly appearances get either exaggerated or entirely made up, and earn Ash the affection of a boy who is determined to be Robin to his Batman. It’s all adorable.
So I totally recommend reading The Duchess Deal, but preferably while sober so you can really appreciate all of it. It’s the perfect blend of two of my favorite fairytale tropes, it’s got a hero who never an alpha-hole, it’s funny, and it’s got female friendship. What more could you want?
RECOMMENDED: His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik is $2.99! Carrie mentioned she started reading this in a previous Whatcha Reading and there were many comments about how great this book is. We also have an early review of this book by Candy, who says it’s “utterly goddamn awesome.”
Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors ride mighty fighting dragons, bred for size or speed. When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes the precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Captain Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future – and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature.
Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.
RECOMMENDED: The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick is $2.99! This is a price-matched Kindle Daily Deal and the rest of today’s deals are also pretty good, including a Susanna Kearsley book. Sarah enjoyed the emotional journey of this book and gave it a B in a Lightning Review:
In the end, his realization that his life mattered, that he was loved, and that he had more to give the world before he died, too, was terribly poignant and made me sniffle for quite awhile after I closed the book.
Sixty-nine-year-old Arthur Pepper lives a simple life. He gets out of bed at precisely 7:30 a.m., just as he did when his wife, Miriam, was alive. He dresses in the same gray slacks and mustard sweater vest, waters his fern, Frederica, and heads out to his garden.
But on the one-year anniversary of Miriam’s death, something changes. Sorting through Miriam’s possessions, Arthur finds an exquisite gold charm bracelet he’s never seen before. What follows is a surprising and unforgettable odyssey that takes Arthur from London to Paris and as far as India in an epic quest to find out the truth about his wife’s secret life before they met—a journey that leads him to find hope, healing and self-discovery in the most unexpected places.
Featuring an unforgettable cast of characters with big hearts and irresistible flaws, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a joyous celebration of life’s infinite possibilities.
Wild Card by Karina Halle is $2.99! This is the first book in the North Ridge series and I’m really excited about this one. I like Halle’s writing and I really like the cover too. This is a second chance, former friends to lovers romance, which was a huge selling point for many readers. But huge trigger warnings as there’s a backstory of abuse and suicide.
Black Sheep by Zara Cox is $1.99! This is a dark erotic romance and count me interested! This is the second book in the Dark Desires series. It can be read as a standalone and there’s no cliffhanger. Readers say this is a rather intense romance and is not for those looking for a more lighthearted book.
In a family of cold-hearted black sheep,
I, Axel Rutherford, am the blackest.
My father has hated me since the day I was born. The feeling was mutual. In the shady underworld that was my legacy, Cleo McCarthy became my light. She was beautiful, passionate, and my whole world. So naturally my father had to destroy us. First he sent me away. Next he claimed Cleo as his own. But now I’ve returned, and nothing will stop me from taking back everything that is rightfully mine.
He was the love of my life – when my life was still my own.
We were young enough to believe we would last forever, Axel and I. But neither of us realized how cruel life – and our families – could be. Now I’m trapped in a gilded cage: desired by Axel, who must never know the full truth, and controlled by his father, who would sooner see me dead than free. And I wouldn’t even care, except that it’s no longer only my life at stake.
Squee from the Keeper Shelf is a feature wherein we share why we love the books we love, specifically the stories which are permanent residents of our Keeper shelves. Despite flaws, despite changes in age and perspective, despite the passage of time, we love particular books beyond reason, and the only thing better than re-reading them is telling other people about them. At length.
If you’d like to submit your reasons for loving and keeping a particular book for Squee from the Keeper Shelf, please email Sarah!
My favourite romance novels of all time are the four books of Jude Deveraux’s Velvet series: Velvet Promise, Highland Velvet, Velvet Song and Velvet Angel. I first read them when I was about fourteen, and the impact of these books on my reading, my writing, and probably my love life cannot be overstated. My friends and I sat in our boarding school dorm and devoured—lived, breathed, slept, dreamed, ate up—these books and their one-for-each-of-us heroes: Gavin, Stephen, Raine, and Miles. The names still dredge up a sigh of contentment, of nostalgia for a simpler life when we could dream of meeting boys who would miraculously be just like them (spoiler alert: I married Raine).
All these years later, I have found that every hero of every romance novel fits one or a blend of two of these brothers. The hero of my first manuscript is Gavin mixed with Miles; book 2’s guy is Raine. Book 4’s is Stephen. Not because I’m copying these books, but because Ms. Deveraux gave us heroes with different strengths and flaws which make for good stories no matter what era you set them in. It’s like getting a lesson in character arcs and having a rollicking good time while you’re at it.
That’s not to say that, like 99% of Eighties romances, there aren’t serious issues with the plots these four gents and their feisty, abundantly-haired heroines get into. I’ll get to that. But Ms. Deveraux gave me a blueprint not only for how a woman should be treated (yeah, like I said, I’ll get to that), but the emotions that a good romance should evoke in a reader. I’ll be applying those rules for the rest of my life. The heroines in these books are strong-willed women who wield power in their own way. While they sometimes have to submit to the mores of the time, they figure out ways to turn them to their advantage, and generally take very little shit from the heroes. The heroes are… well, let’s get to that.
In Velvet Promise, Judith, who has been brought up to become a prioress, is forced to marry Gavin Montgomery instead. Gavin is your basic alpha male. You’d be forgiven for thinking his name is Hawk because that’s what she describes him as most often. Gavin runs the family property (and this is the best bit) badly, although he runs around like a headless chicken (hawk?) trying his best, poor lamb. Judith is used to running her awful father’s lands and so comes in and instantly makes Gavin’s life better. But first he hits her and then he rapes her. Sigh. I know. Eighties, right? He’s all kinds of sorry in a macho ‘I could have done better than that her first time’ way the next morning, but there’s no getting away from the fact that he’s a total asshole at this point in the story.
BUT. (Okay, there’s never a ‘but’ where rape is concerned, but I’m going to ask you to go with it for now.) We are given so much of Gavin’s background that all his missteps, and there are many, are kinda sorta understandable (okay, not the rape part, but stay with me). He’s been left with almost no female company his whole life, except for the manipulative and godawful Alice, who has become his version of what the perfect woman is. We know Alice is a money-grubbing harpy who’ll have people killed to get her way, but to Gavin she’s a simpering miss who wells up in big pretty tears whenever he gets close to figuring out who she really is. She didn’t even show any signs of pain the first time they had sex. She swore it was her first time. It thoroughly wasn’t. Alice likes rough, violent sex and the power she can wield through it. She is the benchmark of comparison by which the intelligent, upstanding, red-haired Judith is judged and found wanting. Even when Gavin acknowledges that Judith kicks butt, he’s all confused because he thinks he’s in love with Alice.
Eventually, Judith loses a baby because of Alice and Gavin learns what real love, and real grief, is. He realizes his mistake and is genuinely lovely to Judith. Alice can’t stand it, goes nuts and nearly kills Judith, scarring herself in the process. It’s a great book about redemption, though Gavin is remarkably stupid at first.
Highland Velvet is about Stephen, the blond one. He is sent by the king to marry Bronwyn MacArran, who unusually has been made laird of her clan. This is the Hot Scot plot with a twist—she’s the hot scot and she schools him in so many ways it’s just… delightful. Stephen goes from being the arrogant Englishman, off to teach the heathen Scots the correct way to go about their business, to being a man proud of his wife’s power, and ready to be her helpmate in any way she needs. He embraces her clan, and her culture, body and soul. Plus he’s got awesome legs in that plaid.
But more awful things happen to people in their families, partly coordinated by Alice, who is still scarred and still nuts. She married into the Chatworth family and because of her actions, and those of her brother-in-law, the families become deadly enemies. Raine, the third brother, retaliates against the Chatworths and is declared an outlaw (because you would be, wouldn’t you).
A woman who has lusted after Raine for ever, and caught him once, is jealous of Alyx and contrives to have her thrown out of the camp for stealing. No one defends Alyx because they know she looks down on them. Raine is about to leave with her, which would leave him open to arrest as soon as he leaves the forest (oh, yeah, Robin Hood anyone? You UK peeps will remember Robin of Sherwood was on TV at about this time and, I’m just sayin’, Michael Praed. Le Sigh.) So Alyx kisses another guy (her only friend) in front of Raine and pretends she never loved him so he won’t leave with her. “‘Have I been a fool?’” he says, and we all weep.
She and her friend leave and end up as minstrels at the house of the Chatworths. Alyx is heavily pregnant and has been helping out the poor people she meets on the road. See? Satisfying character arc! At the Chatworths a bad guy recognizes Alyx and kidnaps her to get Raine out in the open; at the same time they kidnap Elizabeth Chatworth, beautiful sister-in-law of crazy Alice, and decide it would be a great lark to deliver her to Miles, the last brother, whom I used to wish REALLY HARD was real.
Alyx is nearly burned at the stake, Raine’s gang rescue her, but oh noes, he hates her because she tricked him. Eventually she sends their daughter to him and that breaks the ice, and it’s all good, but let’s move on because Miles.
The Velvet Angel in question is Elizabeth, who is delivered to Miles naked in a rug. Elizabeth is pathologically afraid of men, and with good reason. Her psychotic brother, whom Alice married, would place bets with his friends on which of them could take her virginity, so she learned long ago how to fight them off, literally.
Miles sets out to break through Elizabeth’s fear and it’s a splendid third of the book where his actions and those of his men, who aren’t assholes either, teach her that some men can be trusted. Of course, he’s hot as molasses in July and when Elizabeth gets drunk one day, off they go. Now, you could, and perhaps should, have a problem with all the times Miles was touching her, holding her on his horse, kissing her (she wipes it away each time) and generally getting in her personal space without permission. But… if he’d sat on the other side of the room and made his points with flowcharts it wouldn’t have been quite the same story. When they do come together (*snigger*) her release of all that fear and pain is superb.
But of course that can’t be the end of the story. Elizabeth’s slightly-less-awful brother (although whether you forgive him for what he did in Book 2 is up for discussion) comes for her and she leaves with him so he won’t kill Miles. Miles thinks this is a bad idea, to put it mildly.
One of the things that makes this more than a run-of-the-mill romance is that Elizabeth’s choices are not clearcut. She has Miles, yes, but her brother has a whole other side to the story, and she doesn’t know who to believe for a while. The plot jumps the shark here a little, but the misunderstandings and reconciliations are well laid out. In the end, the women band together and save Miles from Alice’s last and most trumped-up scheme. It’s all wrapped up with a lovely bow and the promise of future books. Which I didn’t read because after Miles, there was nowhere else for me to go.
And there you have it. Four men, four women, four stories, infinite permutations. Gavin is the alpha male who needs to be schooled. Stephen, the thoughtful beta who will fight to the death for those he considers his people. Raine is the educated mountain man looking for beauty in art. And Miles is the strong, silent type whom you just can’t resist once he turns his eyes on you. I give you the Montgomery brothers. You are welcome.
The Velvet Montgomery series comes from Kimberly Ash’s Keeper Shelf! Kimberley Ash is a writer, mom, and British ex-pat, who has lived in and loved New Jersey for twenty years. When not cleaning up after her two big white furry dogs, she writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction, and contemplates ex-pat life. You can find her on her website, and on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.
The Velvet Montgomery series are on her keeper shelf because they are the benchmark for emotional trauma and hotness factor against which all other romances are compared. Also, if she hasn’t mentioned it yet, Miles.