Tag Archives: Caroline Linden

Romance Authors and Their Themes

The link in the author’s name will take you to either a summary of their catalogue or a relevant review.

Carla Kelly – People are inherently good and their kindness will surprise you.

Caroline Linden – Fortune favours the bold.

Cecilia Grant  – Live life on your own terms and be willing to accept the consequences.

Christina Lauren – Find someone with whom you can be your true self and who calls you on your bullshit.

Courtney Milan – Only you get to decide who you are. Fear is a waste of energy.

Jennifer Ashley – Love heals all wounds.

Julia Quinn – Marry your best friend.

Julie Anne Long – You must be willing to be emotionally vulnerable to find a true partner.

Kresley Cole – Misogynists need love, too, baby. He only hurts you because he loves you so.

Laura Florand – Sincere love gives you the courage and freedom to embrace your true self and someone else’s.

Lisa Kleypas – Make your own life and your own luck. Hard work is rewarded. To find a true partner, you will need to leave your comfort zone.

Lorraine Heath – Damaged people finding strength in each other and themselves to persevere and succeed. B-list author.

Loretta Chase – Find someone who challenges you and life will never be dull.

Mary Balogh – Broken people finding someone to fit their pieces to and moving forward with their lives.

Tessa Dare – Life is an adventure! Be bold.

Suggestions are always welcome.

Links to reviews can also be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

 

 

 

 

One Night in London and Blame It On Bath by Caroline Linden

Their father dead and the Durham dukedom falling to a charming wastrel of an eldest son, three brothers’ grief is complicated by a blackmail scheme which threatens the exposure of family secrets that will take away their birthright. In each book in The Truth About the Duke series, one brother takes the lead in investigating the claims against their paternity and trying to find their origin.

Although the de Lacey brothers spend little time together, what time they do establishes their relationships, rapport, and the family dynamics well. I first read all three books a few years ago and re-read the first two last fall and again recently in anticipation of this review. Liking the first two novels best, I am going to review only them. One Night in London was a free and highly rated historical romance I took a chance on with Amazon. It is therefore responsible not only for my discovery of Caroline Linden, but for my increasingly frustrated hope that lightning will strike twice and I will make another such gratis discovery. That has not gone well.

One Night in London

As the second son and family gate-keeper, Edward de Lacey has run his father’s estates as a good and dutiful child. When the duke died and the blackmail landed in the brothers’ laps, Edward decided to quickly lawyer up – or solicitor/barrister up given it is Regency London – and he lands the best attorney in London for the job. In doing so, he displaces another client, Lady Francesca Gordon. A widow, she is involved in a custody battle for her niece and had just found the only counsel in the city willing to take her case. She decides that this means Edward owes her assistance and when informed of this he decides to provide it,  even if it is more because he is attracted to her than in sympathy with her plight.

Opposites attracting, both Edward and Francesca (mostly) act like sensible grown ups and the conflict in their relationship comes from their respective situations and the difference in their social position. Francesca’s subplot resolved itself with a refreshing twist and Edward decides it is time to get out from under some of his obligations and live a little. I liked both of them very much and they made sense together. What Happens in London is simply a genuinely enjoyable romance with a generous dose of spark and a level of steam I have not found in Linden’s later works.

And speaking of steam…

Blame It on Bath

Edward’s younger brother, Gerard, is a military man, strapping, practical, and focused. Realizing his inheritance is threatened, he marries himself off quickly to wealthy widow Katherine Howe. Seemingly a mouse of a woman, but one whose stiff composure Gerard is eager to crack,  she has been using all of her strength, having survived one awful marriage, to refuse a second. Her marriage to Gerard is a leap of faith and a stomp of her foot for the right to choose her own life; however, she has more reasons for choosing Gerard than he realises.

Moving post-haste to Bath in pursuit of the family blackmailer, Gerard and Kate have an immediately successful marriage in terms of physical intimacy, but the partnership that will satisfy them both takes longer to arrive. Gerard is in the military habit of deciding his wife is on a need-to-know-basis and that there is nothing she actually needs-to-know. Ignoring her by day and overwhelming her by night (hence the steam), Kate works diligently and successfully to win Gerard’s attention until her beautiful and belittling mother arrives to go out of her way to make her daughter feel small, and the extortion plot simultaneously thickens and distracts Gerard. Fortunately, these two crazy kids manage to work things out.

I enjoyed What Happens in London more than Blame It on Bath, but recommend both of them. On re-reading, they reminded me of what it is I like about Linden as a writer and what I specifically enjoy as a reader. Her newer works have left me a little flat simply because they are less my taste than these two books and I hope that in her next series she will return to the tone of The Truth About the Duke.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

All’s Fair in Love and Scandal by Caroline Linden

I read Caroline Linden’s best book first. It’s One Night in London from the trilogy “The Truth About the Duke”, but I haven’t gotten around to reviewing it yet, although it is on my “Re-Read and Review List”. (Linden books I have gotten around to reviewing can be found here.) Having enjoyed that first book so much, I bought the trilogy and now everything else she writes, but her most recent efforts took a turn that has left me wanting something more from her. It’s not that the writing went south, I really like Linden, but that she went in a different direction. In that first series the main characters, especially the women, had more grit and in her current Scandal series they are younger and less tried by life and therefore simply less my taste.

From Amazon: Douglas Bennet can’t resist a good wager, especially not one that involves a beautiful woman. When a friend proposes an audacious plan to expose the most notorious woman in England, Douglas agrees at once. After all, it would be quite a coup to discover the true identity of Lady Constance, author of the infamous erotic serial scandalizing the ton, 50 Ways to Sin…Madeline Wilde is used to being pursued. For years she’s cultivated a reputation for being unattainable and mysterious, and for good reason: her livelihood depends on discretion. When Douglas turns his legendary charm on her, she dismisses him as just another rake. But he surprises her—instead of merely trying to seduce her, he becomes her friend…her confidant…and her lover. But can it really lead to happily-ever-after…or are they about to become the biggest scandal London has ever seen?

I liked Douglas, he was charming and Constance provided a nice counterpart to his smooth moves. Of course, I forgot this was a novella while I was reading it and wondered why things were moving so quickly before I clued in and the story ended. Those two events were virtually simultaneous.

As I noted in my review of It Takes a Scandal: Linden’s Scandals series has a running joke about an erotic publication that young women are trying to get their hands on. It’s a monthly pamphlet they must scour the bookstores for and not get caught. Did such a thing really exist? I find it hard to believe and, while I appreciate the effort to bring greater sexual awareness to the inexperienced heroines, ready access to erotica seems extraordinarily unlikely… but I am not a historian so maybe sheltered debutantes were devouring Fanny Hill once their maids braided their hair for sleeping, but I think it unlikely (again, with nothing to go on other than my admittedly vague and now skewed-by-romance understanding of 19th century mores).

I will likely continue to read Caroline Linden’s novels, but not necessarily pay for them, and hope that the next series she writes is closer to my tastes. To be fair, I say the same thing of Tessa Dare at the moment, so let me be clear: It’s not you, dear, wonderful authors, it’s me.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

When I Met My Duchess by Caroline Linden

I enjoy Caroline Linden and have read many of her books, but I haven’t gotten to the point where I’d call her an autobuy author yet. I Met My Duchess was originally published as one of four overlapping novellas in the romance anthology At The Duke’s Wedding. Having read it as a standalone story, I can’t tell you about the quality of the other three, but I appreciate the cross-marketing the effort represents as it’s a great way to try new writers.

Gareth, Duke of Novellatitle has reached the age at which he feels he must marry to preserve his line. Having made a survey of the available and appropriate women, he has chosen Lady Helen Grey. When the story opens, his family is eagerly/anxiously waiting for the Lord Greys to arrive for a house party that will culminate in their nuptials. Having wooed almost entirely by the proxy of his cousin, James Blair, Gareth is briefly pleased when Helen arrives and is as lovely as he had remembered. The only trouble is that her sister has arrived with her and the moment she steps from the coach, Gareth is a goner.

Cleo Barrow is the widowed daughter of the Greys. She married for love against her parents wishes and the man she adored was in – brace yourself – trade. Despite the wealth her widowhood has brought, Cleo’s insistence her right to self-determination and – get your pearls ready for clutching – working has left her parents with a permanent case of the vapours. They might take Cleo’s money to support themselves, but their hypocrisy allows them to belittle and threaten her as though she is on the verge of shaming them further at all times. Cleo is a loyal sister and therefore puts up with a lot for Helen’s sake.

Thrown together constantly, Cleo and Gareth take to each other immediately and, if not for that pesky engagement and wedding contract, everything could proceed smoothly. Fear not, it’s a novella so Helen has other hopes that need not be dashed even as she tries to be what her family needs, and everyone gets their happy ending.

My favourite Linden book so far is One Night in London from the trilogy “The Truth About the Duke“. Reviews of Caroline Linden books I have gotten around to reviewing can be found here. Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

The Complete Reading List by Author

Short Version: Recommended books are in bold, reviewed books are linked, these are ruthlessly streamlined recommendations lists –

So You Want to Read a (Historical) Romance
Ten Great Romance Novellas to Get You Started
Plus just for funsies: The Worst Romance Novels I Have Ever Read

I have more content based lists over there on the right  –>

Annual Reading Tallies & Author Commentary 2012 – 2017
On reading romance: Emotional Version and Pseudo-Intellectual Version.

My AUTOBUY List (Links Will Take You to a Summary of the Author’s Catalogue)
Tessa Dare (on double-secret probation right now actually)
Laura Florand
Lisa Kleypas
Julie Anne Long
Courtney Milan – The. Very. Best.

-A-
Albert, Annabeth Waiting for Clark (Bryce/Clark)
Alexander, R.G. Ravenous novella (Declan/Trick/Jennifer)
Alexander, Victoria Love with the Proper Husband (Marcus/Gwen)
Alexander, Victoria Lady Amelia’s Secret Lover novella (Robert/Amelia)
Alexander, Victoria The Prince’s Bride (Rand/Jocelyn)
Alexander, Victoria The Importance of Being Wicked (Winfield/Miranda)
Alexander, Victoria Lord Stillwell’s Excellent Engagements novella (Winfield/ Felicia&Lucy&Caroline)
Alvarez, Tracey In Too Deep (West/Piper)
Andre, Bella The Way You Look Tonight (Rafe/Brooke)
Ashe, Katharine In the Arms of a Marquess (Ben)
Ashley, Jennifer The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie (Ian, not surprisingly/Beth) – GENRE OUTLINE
Ashley, Jennifer Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage (Mac/Isabella)
Ashley, Jennifer Many Sins of Lord Cameron (Cameron/Ainsley) – GUILTY PLEASURE
Ashley, Jennifer The Duke’s Perfect Wife (Hart/Eleanor)
Ashley, Jennifer Mackenzie Family Christmas: The Perfect Gift (Ian, Mac, Cam, Hart)
Ashley, Jennifer The Seduction of Elliott McBride (Elliott/Juliana)
Ashley, Jennifer The Untamed Mackenzie novella (Lloyd/Louisa)
Ashley, Jennifer The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie (Daniel/Violet)
Ashley, Jennifer Scandal and the Duchess novella (Steven/Rose)
Ashley, Jennifer Rules for a Proper Governess (Sinclair/Roberta “Bertie”)
Ashley, Jennifer A Mackenzie Clan Gathering (Ian/Beth)
Ashley, Jennifer Bodyguard (Shifters Unbound) novella (Ronan/Elizabeth)

The list has gotten SO VERY LONG, please click on the jump.

Continue reading

It Takes a Scandal by Caroline Linden

The first chapter of the historical romance It Takes a Scandal is akin to seminar on how to successfully create a sympathetic hero. Sebastian Vane has been stripped of everything he held dear and that will help him make his way in the world. Seriously injured fighting Napoleon (not personally), his mentally ill father is sinking daily into greater and more unmanageable derangement, but not before selling portions of the family estate for a pittance. Sebastian loses everything except his dignity and even that he holds onto by self-exile. There is no self-pity, just a man quietly retreating into himself and building a life as best he can from the remaining tatters.

Strong, kind, and generously be-dowered Abigail Weston moves into the house next to Sebastian. The Weston family has new money, pots of it, but no titles.  I enjoy the old versus new money elements in historical romance because as a modern North American I respect and admire people who have built a better lives for themselves through hard work. At the time considered boorish upstarts, they had the advantage of not being shackled to limitations and demands of primogeniture. The Weston are self-made and even more unusual in romance, happy. They have their foibles and squabbles, but they love and protect each other. It’s a nice change, but back to the lovebirds…

Sebastian Vane is a tortured hero. Abigail Weston is the bright and curious heroine who brings him out of his shell. They meet accidentally and are immediately drawn to each other. Events conspire for and then against them before they come together. The plotting is logical and convincing*. The machinations reasonable for the genre. It Takes a Scandal is well-written and enjoyable, but it hit on a personal bone of contention as, frankly, I think I prefer a little more mileage on my heroines. Sebastian is darling and Abigail is lovely, but I’m not sure I want to read about her. She was a little too untried by life for my tastes.

Also from Caroline Linden’s Scandals series: Love and Other Scandals

Recommended Caroline Linden which I will get around to reviewing:

What Happens in London
Blame It on Bath

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

*Captious Aside: Linden’s Scandals series has a running joke about an erotic publication that all of the young women are trying to get their hands on. It’s a monthly pamphlet they must scour the bookstores for and not get caught. Did such a thing really exist? I find it hard to believe and, while I appreciate the effort to bring greater sexual awareness to the inexperienced heroines, ready access to erotica seems extraordinarily unlikely.

Love and Other Scandals and The Truth About Love by Caroline Linden

Caroline Linden is on my woefully short Fingers Crossed for Potential list. Last year, I stumbled upon her The Truth About the Duke trilogy and would recommend those books as follows: One Night in London is really good; Blame It on Bath worked well and was [fans self]; and The Way to a Duke’s Heart had a charming male lead, but some story issues. Linden’s latest historical romance, Love and Other Scandals got off to a great start, but lost its momentum due to structural choices.

Joan, the heroine of Love and Other Scandals , is a delight. Pert and cheeky, she has a wastrel brother with a very attractive, rascally friend, Tristan. The two are introduced, they banter, I wasn’t quite sure of the reasoning behind Tristan’s actions, but things proceeded apace when there was an abrupt shift in the story about a third of the way through. Have you seen Moonstruck? Do you remember the scene when Cher arrives at Lincoln Center to meet Nicolas Cage and the soundtrack includes a wry “ba-bum” as she steps out of the taxi and the love story proper begins? The transition in Love and Other Scandals is a lot like that, but instead of building on what went before, Linden reorganized the setting and the story lost its way. It’s not that it was horribly transformed, just disjointed, so, in spite of appealing leads, I can’t recommend the book.

On another note, Caroline Linden has a delightful short story, The Truth About Love, in a collection called Once Upon a Ballroom. Not about two people finding love, it’s a vignette in the life of a plain, bookish woman who has married a notorious former rake. Damien, the erstwhile rake and current besotted husband, has been away from Miranda for several weeks and rumours have begun to circulate of an affair. Prurient friends and relatives gather around Miranda, ostensibly to commiserate, but really to revel in saying, “I told you so.”  Using Miranda’s perspective, it is a take on the happily ever after readers rarely see. Romance novels are full of overlooked spinsters discovering connubial bliss with gorgeous, fascinating men, but just how easily does a reputation die and how does a woman who has found herself the subject of unexpected male attention trust that he really is a reformed raking making the best husband? It was really enjoyable, so I did some research to see if The Truth About Love was an epilogue to one of Linden’s novels, but had no luck. If you happen to know of such a book, I’d be grateful for the title so I can review it and bump my Cannonball Read total from 61.5 to 62.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.