Caitlin’s Favorites of 2018

by Caitlin

I read some really wonderful romances (and some romances that I did not love quite so much) in 2018. Some of them were novels that came out this year, while sometimes I caught up on an author’s backlog (Jennifer Ashley and Elizabeth Hoyt come to mind for that).

There were also a few books that got some much-deserved heat this year – like Cat Sebastian’s Unmasked by the Marquess and Talia Hibbert’s A Girl Like Her – but both of those authors made my list for different books they published this year.

For my money, the most underrated romance this year was Meredith Duran’s The Sins of Lord Lockwood. Duran’s books are all incredible, but I’m especially floored this came and went without the pomp and circumstance it deserved. A sort of retelling of Count of Monte Cristo with a heroine who needs an heir (as opposed to the hero who needs it) and a historical romance where the heroine inherits her own lands and is genuinely powerful in her own right, Lockwood was an angsty masterpiece. Lord Liam Lockwood is brooding and a little broken and very sexy when the book starts and a sweet little puppy dog during the flashbacks. He is the best of both worlds. Lady Anna Lockwood is a role model with close female friendships and the weight of the world on her shoulders. I would recommend this book to literally anyone.

[Read more…]

Review: An Earl Like You by Caroline Linden

Reviewed by Jen

Generally, the Big Secret trope is one of my least favorites, but I like Caroline Linden and I enjoyed the first book in this series, so I decided to give this book a try. I’m glad I did, because while the secret was, indeed, the driving plot device of the story, I thought it was well done and it didn’t prevent me from rooting for this couple to make things work.

Eliza is the daughter of a successful businessman. Her father is ruthless in his dealings, and as a result, he has more money than Croesus. But that money can’t buy his daughter’s way into the ton. Not that such a thing really matters to her. At the end of the day, she is happy with her friends, her home, and her beloved dog. She has no idea that her father has a plan in place to blackmail an earl into becoming her husband. [Read more…]

Review: My Once and Future Duke by Caroline Linden

Reviewed by Jen

I really enjoyed this first installment in Caroline Linden’s new Wagers of Sin series, that features a stuffy duke and the independent pretend-widow that captures his interest. I’m always a sucker for a romance that features a hero and heroine of different social classes and the “forbidden” element that brings. Not only does this book have that, it also has a wonderfully stuffy hero who the heroine manages to unravel completely.

The story starts strong with a peek inside Sophie’s history. She is the granddaughter of nobility, but when her parents die, her beastly grandfather ships her off to school and cuts her off when she reaches 18… all because he never approved of her parents’ marriage. Thanks to her first 12 unconventional years, Sophie has a gift with cards and with gambling, and once she is on her own, she visits gaming hells to amass the money she needs to set herself up for marriage. She even invents a phony dead husband give her the kind of access a spinster would never enjoy. [Read more…]

Review: A Rake’s Guide to Seduction by Caroline Linden

Reviewed by Jen

Generally I am a fan of all things Caroline Linden, but this re-issue from nine years ago is not one of my favorites from her. It’s sort of a second chance at love story, except the hero and heroine never really made it to the “love” stage the first time around.

Linden introduces us to Celia and Anthony four years prior to the main events of the story. She is a debutante in her first season and he is the disreputable friend of her older brother. Everyone knows that Anthony is a rake of the first order, and a gambler too. The gossip sheets report on him constantly, but Celia remembers the boy he was as she was growing up and isn’t so quick to judge him on his reputation. He is taken by the way she sees him, but he is too late when he asks her brother to court her. She has already accepted another man’s proposal. [Read more…]

Review: Six Degrees of Scandal by Caroline Linden

six degrees of scandalReviewed by Jen

Caroline Linden finally delivers answers to the questions she left us with at the end of Love in the Time of Scandal. This is Olivia’s story. She was the widow with a big secret and the super creepy stalker, Lord Clary.  She is also the woman who should have married Penelope’s brother, Jamie. This story is both a mystery and a reunited lovers story. And it finally unmasks the elusive Lady Constance, whose stories have titillated characters in every book of the series. [Read more…]

Review: What a Gentleman Wants by Caroline Linden

what a gentleman wantsReviewed by Jen

Caroline Linden books almost always work for me. So it was cool to look back on one of her earlier stories with this reissue from 10 years ago. While I’ll admit, the premise is a little far-fetched, I still enjoyed the book. In fact, I plan to pick up the other two parts of the trilogy.

Marcus, the Duke of Exeter, has been cleaning up his twin brother’s messes for as long as he can remember. But this takes the cake.  After his latest scrape, his brother David proposed marriage to a vicar’s widow, then signed Marcus’s name to the marriage certificate. To make matters worse, he put an ad in the paper and wrote to their family about the Duke’s so called romance. [Read more…]

Review: Love In The Time of Scandal by Caroline Linden

love in the time of scandalReviewed by Jen

Lord Atherton wasn’t a character painted with the kindest brush in Caroline Linden’s last book. When we met Benedict in It Takes a Scandal, we knew him as Sebastian’s former best friend; the man who turned his back on Sebastian and then tried to court Abigail, the woman his friend loved.  Ben is handsome, charming, and heir to an earldom, but Abigail’s sister Penelope refuses to ignore all the wrongs he has done.  Why didn’t he defend Sebastian all those years ago? Why did he pursue her sister, when he clearly never loved her? [Read more…]

Review: All’s Fair in Love and Scandal by Caroline Linden

alls fair in love and scandalReviewed by Jen

In every installment of Caroline Linden’s Scandalous series, the naughty 50 Ways to Sin stories have captured the attention and imagination of the more daring ladies of the ton.  Everyone is talking about them and no one knows the identity of the woman behind the bold serial.  Now a wager has Douglas Bennet tasked with unmasking her.  His target: the aloof widow, Madeline Wilde.

Douglas didn’t even know Madeline existed until a friend threw down the gauntlet, daring him to turn her head. But despite his title and charm, she remains unmoved. That, of course, only serves to intrigue him more. And once he learns she could be the author of those salacious stories, he’s only drawn in deeper. [Read more…]

Review: It Takes a Scandal by Caroline Linden

it takes a scandalReviewed by Jen

This book reminded me how much I enjoy reading Caroline Linden books. It hit all my happy buttons, with minimal internal conflicts, a somewhat tortured hero, and a romance that kept me invested from beginning to end.

Sebastian is a pariah in his small country town.  He came back from war with a broken body, only to find that his father had lost his mind.  If that weren’t bad enough, his dad sold off almost all of their land for a small fraction of its worth, so they are now destitute.  [Read more…]

Review: Love and Other Scandals by Caroline Linden

love and other scandalsReviewed by Jen

Joan isn’t very good at being fashionable.  She’s too tall, too curvy, yet she tries to wear the clothes, the hats, and the hairstyles popular for her more dainty peers. As a result, she isn’t very popular with gentlemen. Her frankness and independent spirit don’t help either.  She yearns for some freedom and a chance at romance, but neither looks especially forthcoming.

Tristan is her brother’s best friend. He is also a notorious rake and hellraiser who has no intention of being shackled by marriage. [Read more…]