ARC Review: The Modiste Mishap by Erica Ridley

Publication Date: August 26, 2022

Synopsis:

A Regency-set comedic caper featuring a book club of meddling spinsters.

Miss Sybil Stamper is the least fancy member of the reading circle known as The Heist Club. To her friends, bespectacled Sybil is the Queen of Lists, but she’d rather be belle of the ball. When she finally acquires an evening gown, her life looks like it’s falling into place. But when a client’s valuable objects go missing, not only is Sybil’s happy ending in jeopardy—so are the futures of other young ladies just like her!

With the help of the Wild Wynchesters—a uniquely talented family of caper-committing siblings who don’t let “laws” stop them from righting wrongs—Sybil and her club of delightfully bookish spinsters take on the heist of the Season.

PREQUEL TO: NOBODY’S PRINCESS

My Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This was super cute. It was a light, quick read, and it kept my interest fairly well. I was not nearly as invested in the story as in the Wynchester novels, though I found my interest increased when the Wynchesters made an appearance. I wouldn’t say that this really stands on its own, but as an addition to the Wynchester series I think it works well. I especially enjoyed the moments where Elizabeth Wynchester came on the scene, and would recommend it for that alone.

*Thanks to NetGalley, WebMotion, and Erica Ridley for providing an e-arc for review.

Favorite Quotes:

“Helping others is what we do.” “When not reading,” Philippa added. “Or talking about reading.”

The Modiste Mishap by Erica Ridley

“I’m not a bluestocking,” said Elizabeth Wynchester. “I’m a bloodthirsty malcontent.”

The Modiste Mishap by Erica Ridley

ARC Review: Nobody’s Princess by Erica Ridley

Publication Date: July 26, 2022

Synopsis:

A fun and feminist Regency romp from a master of the genre hailed as “a delight” by Bridgerton author Julia Quinn.

Nothing happens in London without Graham Wynchester knowing. His massive collection of intelligence is invaluable to his family’s mission of aiding those most in need. So when he deciphers a series of coded messages in the scandal sheets, Graham’s convinced he must come to a royal’s rescue. But his quarry turns out not to be a princess at all… The captivating Kunigunde de Heusch is anything but a damsel in distress, and the last thing she wants is Graham’s help.

All her life, Kuni trained alongside the fiercest Royal Guardsmen in her family, secretly planning to become her country’s first Royal Guardswoman. This mission in London is a chance to prove herself worthy without help from a man, not even one as devilishly handsome as Graham. To her surprise, Graham believes in her dream as much as she does, which makes it harder to resist kissing him…and falling in love. But how can she risk her heart if her future lies an ocean away?

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Now that I’ve finished the full book, I can say that it was everything I was hoping and more. I absolutely loved every second I spent with the Wynchesters, of course, and Kunigunde makes an excellent addition. I wish I could be a Wynchester, but reading about them is a close second. They are my favorite fictional family — the Bridgertons don’t even come close.

This book is fiercely feminist, with Kunigunde determined to be the first female Royal Guard of Balcovia, and equally determined to accept no help from anyone to get there. Over her time with the Wynchesters she learns the value of family, friendship, and that having people on your side to help isn’t a weakness at all.

I really like how Erica Ridley took two characters with ambitions and goals that are diametrically opposed and brings them around to the same side eventually with the realization that it’s ok to let go of long-held dreams in order to reach for something better. I also really appreciate that both parties here opted for new dreams over old ones. It felt very balanced.

I also really appreciate the many issues that are touched on here. They carry weight with the story and feel organic and not forced at all. Slavery, racial equality, feminism, the plight of factory workers, cruel factory owners, lazy aristocracy, the frustrating slowness of Parliament and legislative change, chronic illness, child labor, mistreated animals… I’m sure I missed some. The Wynchesters tackle all of these.

One of my favorite things about this book is how Kunigunde spends time with each of the Wynchester siblings and comes to appreciate them and care for them all. It’s not just a romance between her and Graham, it involves the whole family. She has secret painting projects with Marjorie and they teach one another sign language and Balcovian. She terrorizes the university bullies with Elizabeth. She trains with Graham. She steals an antbear with Jacob, she watches Parliament with Chloe, she attends the reading circle with Philippa, she talks costumes with Tommy… and she opts to put off her own reconnaissance mission to help the Wynchesters on their mission to save a town of impoverished factory workers from their cruel factory owner.

The involvement of the Wynchester siblings doesn’t diminish the romance between Kunigunde and Graham, which is terribly swoony. Even though they are both rather pig-headed about the whole thing, they do eventually end up on the same page and it was delightful going on that journey with them.

Elizabeth once again stole my heart in this book as my favorite secondary character, and I cannot wait to read her story because it is bound to be epic. And feature a LOT of swords.

*thanks to NetGalley and Forever (Grand Central Publishing) for providing an e-arc for review.

Favorite Quotes:

Kuni did not want her day saved. She would do the saving of days, thank you very much. The entire point of this mission was to prove how capable she was on her own without help, especially from a man. An Englishman.

“Welcome to England,” Graham said. “Our natural condition is proud and offended.”

“Anything worth doing starts with falling,” he said cheerfully.

If anyone could learn to leap atop a narrow beam during the free moments of a four-week reconnaissance mission in a foreign country, that person would be Kunigunde.

A very low possibility. Very, very low. She absolutely, positively, probably would rebuff him if he tried. Maybe.

“It’s not murder if the villain deserves to have his blood spilled,” Elizabeth protested.

She shoved the cane away and turned to face Elizabeth Wynchester. “I am not going to sit around your house sewing decorative samplers”

Elizabeth stared at her. “Why would anyone pick up a needle when they could pick up a sword?”

“Shall we return to your home?”

“Must we?” Elizabeth lifted her cane. “I have good days and bad days. On bad days, I can’t move. On good days, ’tis the villains who had better step out of my way. This is a good day. I don’t want to waste a moment of it.”

…the presence of maids or footmen registered about as much as the individual mullions on the windows. Without them, the whole thing would fall apart, but no one ever exclaimed in wonder at well-functioning mullions. Royals looked right through the painstakingly crafted glass to the view on the other side.

“We can take our trained geldings!”

Kuni sent a suspicious glance toward Jacob. “Are they… messenger homing horses?”

The Wynchesters had taught her that family was more than blood. Family was anywhere you were treated like family. Anywhere you were welcomed, and cherished, and loved.

ARC Review: Love Letters by the Sea by Erica Ridley

Publication Date: April 12, 2022

Synopsis:

What happens when the proprietress of Siren’s Retreat discovers the charming romantic she’s been corresponding with is same villain turning her beloved property into a gaming hell?

When not responding to advice column letters, entrepreneurial widow Mrs. Deborah Cartwright runs bright, beautiful Siren’s Retreat, legendary for helping her lovelorn guests find their perfect match. Deborah experienced love years before, and lightning does not strike twice. Although there might be a light flirtation with a certain anonymous letter-writer she’s definitely not falling for, there’s no time for romance. Not whilst a heartless blackguard is in town to wrest her beloved inn out from under her!

Clever, career-minded Mr. Patrick Gretham is the trusted man-of-business for a powerful lord, who is eager to turn this perfectly situated property wasted on lovebirds into a gambling hell the likes of which no one leaves with their fortunes intact. Over Deborah’s dead body! The beautiful proprietress hates everything Patrick stands for and will fight him every step of the way. Except when they find themselves on opposite sides of a plume. Or falling into each other’s embrace…

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This book was so, so delightful. I put off reading it because I’ve been on a fanfic kick, and it was exactly what I needed today.

Erica Ridley absolutely shines at creating characters that jump off the page and make you fall in love with them. The settings aren’t as important, and fade into the background just because the characters shine so bright.

I love that these aren’t your typical regency debutante and rake. Instead we have a widowed proprietress of an inn (and former opera singer) and a man of business with a soft heart, smile lines around his eyes, and silver at his temples. I love that they fall in love anonymously through letters and in person but are kept apart by being adversaries with seemingly nothing in common. I love the way we can’t help but fall with them.

This was short and sweet and brimming with romance and I smiled so much while reading (a feat, as I am coming down with a cold and feel little like smiling). I will definitely be pulling it out again when I need to be cheered up and reminded of how much I love watching people fall in love. This, right here, is why I read romance novels, and why Erica Ridley is always at the top of my list.

*Thanks to NetGalley, Erica Ridley, and WebMotion for providing an e-arc for review.

Favorite Quotes:

She waited, but he said nothing more. Just gripped her hands and stared at her beseechingly, belligerently, besottedly. As if he were confused and angry and half in love all at the same time and would rather not be any of it.

ARC Review: An Affair By the Sea by Erica Ridley

Publication Date: March 15, 2022

Synopsis:

What happens when a wallflower’s extremely make-believe fake suitor appears in the flesh just in time to ruin all her spinsterly plans?

Orphaned pianist Allegra Brown is a poor relation with nothing much to recommend her, save a minuscule dowry and a very big imagination. She has spent the past several years as governess to her younger cousins, who are now ready for their come out—and want Allegra to marry, too. Specifically, they eagerly await the return of Allegra’s dashing, handsome, swashbuckling, conveniently absent and secretly fictional fiancé, the dread pirate Captain L’Amour.

The only place Mr. John Sharp strikes fear is in the courtroom, where his neat, ordered mind is renowned for winning every case he presents. John loves predictability and longs to be a chef. Unfortunately, every time he puts on an apron, the entire kitchen catches fire. Much like passion burning between him and a certain wildly unpredictable spinster, who seems to have confused him for a dashing, exciting pirate. By fulfilling her fantasies, can his dreams come true…together?

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This novella was, from the very beginning, absolutely ridiculous. Nothing that happened was really even remotely possible — and yet I found myself just enjoying the ride. It’s a testament to Erica Ridley’s writing skills that she can turn a farcical premise like this into something sweet where I was invested in the characters and their romance and holding out hope for a happy-ever-after.

We have John, a former solicitor who dreams of opening his own tea shop and whose previous attempt at being a chef went up in flames. Literally. His catchphrase could be a combination of ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’ and ‘be prepared. No, more prepared than that.’

We have Allegra, the poor ward of her uncle who works as an unpaid servant in his household taking care of her two cousins. She dreams of the day she turns 30 and can claim the money left to her should she remain a spinster. Her catchphrase could be ”But it could be true.’

Allegra has spent years spinning ever more ridiculous tales of her long-lost fiance Captain Hamish L’Amour. Her cousins are delighted (and Allegra horrified) when they run into the Captain on the street. John takes it all in stride, after accidentally confirming that indeed, it is he. He and Allegra then turn the case of mistaken identity into an elaborate fake courtship, while falling in love for real and challenging one another to step out of their comfort zones and seize their dreams.

It was feel-good and sweet and terribly funny. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who needs a good laugh and a dose of happily-ever-after.

*Thanks to NetGalley, Erica Ridley, and WebMotion for providing an e-arc for review.

Favorite Quotes:

Operatic…pirate…bards? Who sang vicarious love songs in iambic pentameter on command?

“It may surprise you to learn that ‘love at first sight’ is rather quick,” Portia said. “Instantaneous, even. By definition.”

From their perspective, Allegra had always looked this unfashionable. It was difficult to notice an injustice when the injustice was “just the way things are.”

Rude, to be so casually dashing at this hour of the morning.

Miss Portia clapped her hands. “Reprimanded in tandem! Has there ever been anything more lovely?” She gave a happy sigh. “This must be what it feels like to have two parents.”

ARC & Audiobook Review: Lord of Pleasure by Erica Ridley (Rogues to Riches #2)

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Publication Date: May 2, 2017

Synopsis:

Never fall in love at a masquerade…

Nondescript “good girl” Miss Camellia Grenville only ever opens her mouth when forced to sing at her family’s musicales. That is, until the night she infiltrates the ton’s most scandalous masquerade ball on behalf of her sister, and finds herself in the arms—and the bed—of the one man she’d sworn to hate.

Irresistibly arrogant and unapologetically sensuous, infamous rake Lord Wainwright always gets his way. When he accepts a wager to turn his rakish image respectable in just forty days, he never anticipates falling for an anonymous masked lover…or that discovering her identity would destroy them both.

In the Rogues to Riches historical romance series, Cinderella stories aren’t just for princesses… Sigh-worthy Regency rogues sweep strong-willed young ladies into whirlwind romance with rollicking adventure.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was delightful. I had to suspend disbelief a little at the idea that you could spend so much time with someone while masked and they’d have no idea who you were unmasked. But it did make for a lovely story so I forgave it.

I love how Camellia and Lord Wainwright are both playing roles for society. She’s a mouse and a wallflower, he’s ‘the lord of pleasure,’ while neither is really that. Really, one wonders how Lord Wainwright’s reputation got so out of hand. But in secret, they’re much more alike than it would seem. They make a wonderful couple, giving one another strength and courage to be on the outside who they are on the inside.

Camellia and her sisters were determined and outspoken and a joy to watch interact. I hope we get more of them in future novels in this series.

There were just the right amount of obstacles and drama to make it a delicious read and make the happy ending that much more enjoyable.

The audiobook narrator did an excellent job and a very pleasant listening experience. I’ll be continuing the rest of this series in audio and then seeking out more of her narrations.

*Thanks to Erica Ridley for providing a copy for review.

Book Review: Lord of Chance (Rogues to Riches #1)

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Publishing Date: April 11, 2017

Synopsis:

Don’t wager more than you’re willing to lose…

Disguised as a country miss, Charlotte Devon flees London, desperate to leave her tattered reputation behind. In Scotland, her estranged father’s noble blood will finally make her a respectable debutante. Except she finds herself accidentally wed to a devil-may-care rogue with a sinful smile. He’s the last thing she needs…and everything her traitorous heart desires.

Charming rake Anthony Fairfax is on holiday to seek his fortune…and escape his creditors. When an irresistible Lady Luck wins him in a game of chance—and a slight mishap has them leg-shackled by dawn—the tables have finally turned in his favor. But when past demons catch up to them, holding on to new love will mean destroying their dreams forever.

My Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I enjoyed this very much, though not quite as much as her latest books. It was a sweet story and even though things got resolved a little too easily I’m glad I read it.

The audiobook narrator did an excellent job making it clear who was speaking. She also had a very pleasant voice to listen to.

I appreciated that gambling addiction was touched on, as well as a contrast between a childhood full of love and physical security but ostracized by society and a childhood that alternated between wealthy and poor with no security but societal approbation. These issues weren’t discussed in depth, but they were treated with care and the book wasn’t long enough or serious enough for them to be any more in depth than they were.

The relationship was a little too easy, with Charlotte and Anthony going from not knowing one another to married by accident to in love without any real emotional stepping stones, but I did appreciate that they liked one another and cared for one another pretty much from the beginning. They also were able to use their determination to care for one another to make changes in their lives which, with some convenient coincidences, set they up for comfort and security in the future.

Despite my issues with the story, I enjoyed reading it, and I enjoyed watching the events unfold. And, of course, I really do like Erica Ridley’s writing style, which is a make or break issues for me. Everything just flows so effortlessly in her writing, without the stiltedness or tangled prose one finds in certain other authors of the genre.

*Thanks to Erica Ridley for providing a copy for review.

Audiobook ARC Review: Once Upon a Duke by Erica Ridley

Once Upon a Duke (12 Dukes of Christmas, #1)

Audiobook Publishing Date: November 16, 2021

Synopsis:

Due to the terms of an estranged relative’s will, the Duke of Silkridge must revisit the cold, unforgiving mountains where he lost everything he once loved. As soon as he rights his family legacy, he’ll return to London where he belongs. He definitely won’t rekindle the forbidden spark crackling between him and the irresistible spitfire he’d left behind…

Noelle Pratchett is immune to charming rakehells like the arrogant duke. He stole her heart, stole her first kiss, and then stole away one night never to return. Now he’s back—and so are all the old feelings. Noelle knows he won’t stay. But how can she maintain her icy shields when every heated glance melts her to her core?

My Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’ve read (and loved) several of the newer books in the 12 Dukes of Christmas series recently, so I jumped at the chance to review an audio version of the first, which I hadn’t yet read. As might be expected, I found it slightly lacking compared to later installments, but it was still very enjoyable.

The town of Cressmouth / Christmas is charming and the inhabitants varied and interesting. I find that one of Erica Ridley’s greatest strengths is creating well-rounded and interesting characters, whether they be the stars of the show or just bit players. With that said, Benjamin and Noelle were a bit less fleshed out than some of her more recent heroes and heroines, and that limited my enjoyment of the story somewhat as I was not able to be as invested in them or their love story.

The plot was good if a bit repetitive, and Benjamin’s reasons for being unable to love Noelle (or anyone) were a bit thin and he held onto them a bit too long. There were some really lovely moments however – like when Benjamin was caring for Tiny Tim – that redeemed him for me and made him more interesting.

The audiobook narration was good. The narrator wasn’t my favorite, and I wasn’t sure about her voice at first, but as the story progressed she grew on me. She did a good job with the different character voices and with portraying their emotions. Once I got used to her, it was a very enjoyable listening experience.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Orange Sky Audio for providing an audio arc for review.

ARC Review: The Perks of Loving a Wallflower by Erica Ridley

Book Cover

Publishing Oct 26, 2021

Synopsis:

Fans of Bridgerton will love this Regency romp in which a proper Society miss recruits a very improper lady grifter in a quest for vengeance, only to find love instead.

As a master of disguise, Thomasina Wynchester can be a polite young lady—or a bawdy old man. Anything to solve the case. Her latest assignment unveils a top-secret military cipher covering up an enigma that goes back centuries. But when Tommy’s beautiful new client turns out to be the highborn lady she’s secretly smitten with, more than her mission is at stake . . .

Bluestocking Miss Philippa York doesn’t believe in love. Her cold heart didn’t pitter-patter when she was betrothed to a duke, nor did it break when he married someone else. All Philippa desires is to rescue her priceless manuscript and decode its clues to unmask a villain. She hates that she needs a man’s help—so she’s delighted to discover the clever, charming baron at her side is in fact a woman. Her cold heart . . . did it just pitter-patter?

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The most important point is that I absolutely ADORED this book. I was hoping Erica Ridley would get an f/f (or perhaps more properly sapphic f/nb) regency romance right and she definitely did. I absolutely cannot wait for the next Wynchester novel.

This novel was a joy and a delight to read. Having the Wynchester siblings AND an sapphic f/nb romance in one book — and genderfluid/nonbinary representation, demisexual representation, AND realistic body size representation all in the same main couple! — was more than I had ever hoped to see in a traditionally published romance. I felt seen. More than that, I felt loved.

I have always loved Erica Ridley’s gift for creating well-rounded characters that jump off the page and then giving them sweet romances where they overcome their own prejudices and doubts in order to enter into a partnership together. I would choose the Wynchesters over the Bridgertons any day. Not only are they a diverse bunch, but they each possess unique skills that they use as a team to (only slightly illegally) bring justice to those not normally served it.

I especially loved how Elizabeth was brought to life in this book. She is still a side character, but she has some delightful lines. In fact, half of my favorite quotes involve Elizabeth. I hope we see her story soon.

As for our main couple, Tommy is genderfluid / nonbinary, possessed of minimal curves, and a master of disguise. Philippa is a bluestocking who doesn’t believe she can love, possessed of lush curves (that Tommy is very obviously physically attracted to), and is stifled by her parents ambition. They each own their story and leap off the page, with a love story and life lessons I loved to root for.

I listened to the Duke Heist audiobook to remind myself of the characters before reading this, and I’m so glad I did because Moira Quirk’s narration was superb. I have now preordered this book as an audiobook.

*Thanks to NetGalley, Erica Ridley, and Forever (Grand Central Publishing) for providing an e-arc for review.


Favorite Quotes

And… what was wrong with Philippa’s breathing? Was her bosom heaving? Was this a heaving bosom?


“Everyone extorts everyone else all the time, darling”
“Do they?” Philippa said doubtfully.
Her mother pursed her lips. “That’s what a society is. A group of people with agreed-upon methods of social extortion. ‘Do this, or suffer the consequences.’ We call it ‘proper comportment’ so that it sounds nice.


“Tiglet is a homing kitten,” Tommy reminded him. “If she sets him down, he’ll run back to Islington.”


“Graham is out gathering intelligence, and Elizabeth… is off shopping for rapiers.”


“We call those ‘words.’ Extremely adept practitioners can advance all the way to ‘conversation.’


“I guess everyone has a weakness,” Elizabeth said with a sigh. “Mine is uncontrollable bloodlust.”


“Huzzah,” said Elizabeth. “Contravene patriarchal coverture’ is exactly the sort of evening activity I was looking forward to. I’m going to need a bigger sword stick.”


“…but being splendid at something does not mean a body is obliged to do it.”


Any sign.” Elizabeth patted the handle of her sword stick. “Blink if you want mayhem.”
Philippa blinked in surprise.
“Perfect.” Elizabeth unsheathed her sword. “I’ll attack first.”


Philippa was not afraid to be Philippa. She wore more lace on her person than most people owned in their entire wardrobe. Philippa was the bluestockingest ringleader of the bluestockingest reading circle in existence. Philippa was proud to be Philippa.


“We are all saving the day,” Tommy said firmly. “The Wynchesters are a family of knights of various colors and genders who save the day together as a team.”


Tommy grinned. “Elizabeth has even woken herself up giggling maniacally.”
“Not maniacally,” Elizabeth said from across the table. “Giggling with cold calculation.”


This was truly the worst library Philippa had ever seen.

ARC Review: Mistletoe Christmas by Eloisa James, Christi Caldwell, Janna MacGregor, Erica Ridley

Book Cover

Synopsis:

From four beloved writers—Eloisa James, Christi Caldwell, Janna MacGregor, and Erica Ridley—comes a hilarious tale of a Christmas house party that serves up love and scandal in equal measure!

The Duke of Greystoke’s Christmas Revelry is famous throughout the British Isles for its plays, dancing, magical grotto… not to mention scandals leading to the marriage licenses he hands out like confetti.

But not everyone welcomes a visit from Cupid.

Lady Cressida, the duke’s daughter, is too busy managing the entertainments—and besides, her own father has called her dowdy. Her cousin, Lady Isabelle Wilkshire, is directing Cinderella and has no interest in marriage. Lady Caroline Whitmore is already (unhappily) married; the fact that she and her estranged husband have to pretend to be together just makes her dread the party all the more.  But not as much as Miss Louisa Harcourt, whose mother bluntly tells her that this is her last chance to escape the horrors of being an old maid.

A house party so large, that mothers lose track of their charges, leads to a delightful, seductive quartet of stories that you will savor for the Season!

My Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This was an excellent anthology. I really enjoyed the theme of four stories set at the same house party and the different styles of the four authors. Romance Novellas can feel lacking because the love story has to happen in so few words, but these felt very substantial and I didn’t feel anything was missing.

The first story, A Mistletoe Kiss by Eloisa James, was sweet and enjoyable. I loved Cressie and her scatterbrained disregard of her own appearance but meticulous care in orchestrating her father’s grand Revelry. 4 stars

The second story, Wishing Under the Mistletoe by Christy Caldwell, started even better than the first. It was going to be a 5 star story for me until the sex scene which made me cringe. Not my style of writing there. I did really enjoy the second chance romance, the characters, and the writing of the rest of the story. 4.5 stars

The third, Compromise Under the Mistletoe by Janna MacGregor was… not to my taste. It was boring, the writing style was a touch clumsy, and I didn’t connect with or care for the characters at all. I dnfed this one. 2 stars

The fourth made the entire anthology worth it. I love Erica Ridley’s works and this was no exception. I feel like she packed more details and plot into her story than any of the others, and I connected best with her writing style. I loved Ewan and Louisa was delightful, and their secrets and connection despite them made it a very enjoyable read. 5 stars

*thanks to NetGalley and Avon & Harper Voyager for providing an e-arc for review.

Book Reviews: Erica Ridley’s Dukes of War #3, 5, 2

Dukes of War #3: The Captain’s Bluestocking Mistress by Erica Ridley

The Captain's Bluestocking Mistress (The Dukes of War, #3)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Apparently I read this 6 years ago and gave it 3 stars because I was dumb and thought “oh romance novels can’t have more than 3 stars because how do I compare them to the literary greats?” smh. I wish I could tell my past self that you don’t have to compare your favorite romance novels to Charles Dickens: there are different ways to be great. shocker.

Anyway. This book was lovely. My absolute favorite thing about Erica Ridley’s books is that she consistently imbues her characters with so much life and personality in such a short space (and usually a short time period as well). Xavier and Jane leap off the page – not to mention Egui, who does his share of leaping even on-page – and endeared themselves to me very quickly. The premise is tropey but the execution gives it so much more gravity and oomph than might be expected. I read it in one sitting and was absolutely delighted with it the whole way through.

Dukes of War #5: The Brigadier’s Runaway Bride by Erica Ridley

The Brigadier's Runaway Bride (The Dukes of War #5)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I really wasn’t sure about this one at first but something kept me reading. And… I liked it, mostly. I loved the scenes with Sarah and Edmund and the twins. They were sweet and there was so much love and laughter there. It was very heartwarming. The scenes where Sarah and Edmund kept pulling away from each other over what was really a very small misunderstanding that could have been cleared up in a few sentences of discussion (instead of stretched out into a novel of back and forth plot) were… tedious. But the family scenes made up for it, hence the four stars.

Dukes of War #2: The Earl’s Defiant Wallflower by Erica Ridley

The Earl's Defiant Wallflower (The Dukes of War #2)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

This was cute but I was never completely invested in the romance. It was too much lust and ‘he wants to save her’ and then ‘she wants to save him because she’ll be leaving.’ And the ending resolved with almost all the important events happening pretty much off-screen which was disappointing and made the whole story a bit hollow.

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