As I mentioned earlier, I just enjoyed the most relaxing vacation. One of the best parts was being able to catch up on a number of books I’ve been wanting to read, some of them romance classics in the I’m-ashamed-to-admit-I-haven’t-read-that category.
I started out with our own Diane’s THE MARRIAGE BARGAIN. It’s a classic Regency romance, beautifully written (no surprise there!) with heartfelt passion and intriguing secondary characters who are clearly heroes-in-waiting.
Having loved MISS WONDERFUL, I was eager to read Loretta Chase’s MR. IMPOSSIBLE and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s set in Regency Egypt (how’s that for different?), the characters are adorable, the dialogue witty, classic Loretta Chase. Now LORD PERFECT is beckoning from the TBR shelf.
On the recommendation of one of my CPs, I tried BLISS by Judy Cuevas (who more recently writes as Judith Ivory). This book is so different and so risky. It’s set mostly in France, in 1903, a time period one rarely sees in historical romance. The hero is a blocked artist, an ether addict and impotent. The heroine seems–at first glance–like a rather superficial adventuress. Cuevas/Ivory is brilliant enough to bring out layers and layers of these characters and pull it all off. It’s beautiful.
The next book I read was MY SWEET FOLLY by Laura Kinsale. First let me say (for anyone who doesn’t know this already) that she is and always will be one of my favorite authors. However, I have to agree with other readers who thought the prologue was beautiful and the rest of the book disappointing in comparison. According to her website, Laura wrote this book during the worst of her battle with her muse and doesn’t remember much of it. Without knowing the circumstances it’s hard to say if anything could have helped, but I wish that somehow she’d had the chance to rest, relax, regroup, whatever she needed to work it out. Anyway, Laura Kinsale on autopilot is still better than many authors. And that prologue is a gem.
The last book I picked up was THE PROPOSITION by Judith Ivory (aka Judy Cuevas). It’s her RITA-winning Victorian historical featuring a hero that’s a rat-catcher, of all things. I am in awe. I am adding all her backlist books to my TBR list (sigh). I’m delighted to see that there’s a new Judith Ivory coming out in October, ANGEL IN A RED DRESS.
So here I am, a week away from my kids heading back to school. Not only have I enjoyed this self-indulgent binge on good romances, I am feeling totally stoked to get back to my own works-in-progress!
So has anyone else read these books? What did you think? Have you read anything else noteworthy lately? I’m always up for adding some more books to that endless TBR list!
LADY DEARING’S MASQUERADE, RT Reviewers’ Choice, Best Regency Romance of 2005
I am honored that my The Marriage Bargain was even among those wonderful authors, Judith Ivory, Laura Kinsale, Loretta Chase. Thank you for the kind words about it. (now back to Blake’s story, one of the heroes in waiting)
Elena, if you loved _Bliss_, you should definitely get a copy of _Dance_, which is a sequel to _Bliss_. The hero of _Dance_, Sebastian, is Nardi’s elder brother and the heroine is the woman Nardi jilted at the altar.
Not to diss _Bliss_, but _Dance_ is still on my shelves ten years after it was published, while _Bliss_ is not. The other book Ivory published under the Cuevas name is _Black Silk_, and it was also excellent (although I don’t seem to have a copy of it any more).
DANCE is one of my favorite romances ever! Actually, it may be second only to Kinsale’s FOR MY LADY’S HEART on my list. If you enjoyed BLISS, Elena, you should really read it. 🙂
I loved the Marriage Bargain and also The Improper Wife, too.
I haven’t read Loretta Chase’s trilogy (Mr, Miss, and Mr),but I have them all.
And I also have a Judith Ivory on my shelf too…can’t remember which one it is. I hope I get to them soon!
Thanks for the recommendations, Jacqueline and Amanda! I want to read all of Judith Ivory’s backlist but it helps me know where to start.
The Proposition is one of my all-time faves. I absolutely loved both characters and in particular the scene where Mick decides that what Winnie needs is a good shag. There was something so REAL and HUMAN about it, not to mention that particular term had me chuckling.
I’m also working my way through Laura Kinsale’s backlist. She’s a superior author, in my opinion, and doesn’t hesitate to take risks.
I’m not familiar with the others but I’ll be sure to check them out! I think I’ve got a Loretta Chase on the way from Amazon.
My favorite of her “Ivory” books is SLEEPING BEAUTY, but I don’t think you can go wrong with any of them. 🙂
Funny you should mention SLEEPING BEAUTY, Amanda, because I just hawked that one on someone’s blog today (she asked for a list of May-December romances where the heroine is older than the hero). I’m not sure SLEEPING BEAUTY quite fits the bill, in that Coco’s hardly in her December years, but I must say, she’s a very risky (and risque) heroine, and I must admit that one is my favorite of all the books published under the Ivory moniker (though UNTIE MY HEART and THE INDISCRETION are both pretty high up there).
I confess, I was a little disappointed at the ending of THE PROPOSITION. A bit of a sell-out, in my opinion, but I won’t explain why since it might be spoiler for those who haven’t read it.
Haven’t read any of your list, Elena, but you made them all sound so good that I think I must! Though Diane’s book was on my virtual TBR pile anyway…