Tag Archives: Julia Quinn

My Favourite/Favorite Romance Novel Heroes and Heroines

There are books and novellas that I recommend. There are novels I loathed.

Inspired by a commenter’s request, these are my favourite romance novel heroes and heroines, and I have a separate post for my couples. Ranking them would take too long, so I haven’t.

If you’re uncertain, I suggest leaning towards the couples list for a starting point.

Favourite Heroes

Ashley, Jennifer Many Sins of Lord Cameron  – GUILTY PLEASURE
Ashley, Jennifer The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie
Balogh, Mary Only Enchanting
Bowen, Sarina The Understatement of the Year M/M clarification: Graham
Callihan, Kristen The Game Plan
Dare, Tessa Three Nights with a Scoundrel
Dare, Tessa A Week to Be Wicked
Enoch, Suzanne The Rake
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Touch
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Temptation
Gabaldon, Diana Outlander  OBVIOUSLY, plus the series
Kelly, Carla Libby’s London Merchant
Kelly, Carla The Surgeon’s Lady
Kleypas, Lisa Where Dreams Begin
Kleypas, Lisa Lady Sophia’s Lover
Kleypas, Lisa Secrets of a Summer Night – Top 5 Hero
Kleypas, Lisa The Devil in Winter 
Kleypas, Lisa Tempt Me at Twilight  TWO REVIEWS
Kleypas, Lisa Smooth Talking Stranger
Lauren, Christina Wicked Sexy Liar
Linden, Caroline Blame It on Bath
Long, Julie Anne What I Did for a Duke  CLASSIC
Milan, Courtney Unveiled – I’d marry him.
Milan, Courtney Unraveled FAVE
Milan, Courtney A Kiss for Midwinter  CLASSIC
Quinn, Julia An Offer from a Gentleman
Zapata, Mariana Kulti 

My Favourite Heroines

Bryce, Megan To Tame a Dragon
Chase, Loretta Lord of Scoundrels  CLASSIC
Dare, Tessa One Dance with a Duke
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Touch
Gabaldon, Diana Outlander  OBVIOUSLY, plus the series
Heyer, Georgette Venetia
Jenkins, Beverly Indigo She’s amazing.
Kleypas, Lisa The Devil in Winter 
Kleypas, Lisa Scandal in the Spring 
Kleypas, Lisa Mine till Midnight – I’d marry her.
Lauren, Christina Beautiful Player
Milan, Courtney This Wicked Gift
Milan, Courtney The Countess Conspiracy
Milan, Courtney The Suffragette ScandalI want to be her.
Quinn, Julia Romancing Mr. Bridgerton 
Quinn, Julia It’s In His Kiss
Reid, Penny Neanderthal Seeks Human
Thorne, Sally The Hating Game CLASSIC

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


My Favourite/Favorite Romance Novel Couples

There are books and novellas that I recommend. There are novels I loathed.

This list is my favourite romance novel couples and there is a separate one for my favourite heroes and heroines as individual characters. If I put them in order, I’d never get this list published, so they aren’t.

If you’re uncertain, I suggest leaning towards the couples list for a starting point.

Balogh, Mary Slightly Dangerous CLASSIC
Bowen, Sarina Blonde Date novella  CLASSIC
Bowen, Sarina and Elle Kennedy Him
Bryce, Megan To Tame a Dragon
Chase, Loretta Dukes Prefer Blondes  – LOVE THEM
Cole, Kresley Dark Desires After Duska guilty pleasure THUNDER SEX™!
Dare, Tessa One Dance with a Duke
Dare, Tessa Any Duchess Will Do
Duran, Meredith Fool Me Twice
Florand, Laura All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Kiss
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Touch – Top 5 romance and couple
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Heart Whoops! One of my least favourite couples.
Florand, Laura Chase Me
Gabaldon, Diana Outlander  OBVIOUSLY, plus the series
Garwood, Julie The Gift – Old School
Hoyt, Elizabeth The Ice Princess
Kelly, Carla The Lady’s Companion
Kelly, Carla Marrying the Captain
Kennedy, Elle The Deal
Kinsale, Laura Flowers from the Storm
Kleypas, Lisa Dreaming of You
Kleypas, Lisa Where Dreams Begin
Kleypas, Lisa Again the Magic
Kleypas, Lisa Secrets of a Summer Night
Kleypas, Lisa The Devil in Winter 
Kleypas, Lisa Love in the Afternoon
Lauren, Christina Beautiful Player
Lauren, Christina Dirty Rowdy Thing
Linden, Caroline One Night in London
Long, Julie Anne Like No Other Lover
Long, Julie Anne What I Did for a Duke  CLASSIC
Long, Julie Anne A Notorious Countess Confesses 
MacLean, Sarah One Good Earl Deserves a Lover
McNaught, Judith Almost Heaven  OLD SCHOOL
Milan, Courtney The Duchess War
Milan, Courtney The Suffragette Scandal  IF YOU READ ONLY ONE…
Parker, Lucy Act Like It
Phillips, Susan Elizabeth Natural Born Charmer
Quinn, Julia An Offer from a Gentleman
Quinn, Julia Romancing Mr. Bridgerton
Quinn, Julia It’s In His Kiss
Reid, Penny Neanderthal Seeks Human
Reid, Penny Beauty and the Mustache
Spencer, LaVyrle Vows
Thorne, Sally The Hating Game CLASSIC
Willig, Lauren The Seduction of the Crimson Rose 

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



So You Want to Read a (Historical, Contemporary, New Adult, Paranormal) Romance …

Alternatively: The Worst Romance Novels I Have Ever Read

This recommendations list is gleaned from at least 80 authors and over 500 books.

Ten Great Romance Novellas to Get You Started

Looking for something specific? Here’s a list of authors I’ve read enough to see thematic consistencies and it’s hard to go wrong with these writers:

Tessa Dare – FUN, bring your willing suspension of disbelief, on double-secret probation right now
Laura Florand – contemporary romances set in France, great intensity
Talia Hibbert – contemporary romances set in England
Carla Kelly – lovely Regency romances, often military-themed
Lisa Kleypas  – the gold standard, also writes contemporaries
Julie Anne Long – extremely clever and funny
Courtney Milan – The very best currently publishing, one for the pantheon.
Lucy Parker – great romance, great fun
Julia Quinn – An excellent place to launch your reading. Start with The Bridgertons.
Sally Thorne – Only two books, but the linked one is a CLASSIC!

I lovehate Jennifer Ashley’s sincere romance mired in tortured heroes and overwrought plotting.

This list is an edited version of my Complete Reading List by Author. Reviewed books are linked.

Mallory, a frequent commenter, asked me to make a personal Top 5 list. I tried. I couldn’t do it.


  1. Balogh, Mary Slightly Dangerous – historical
  2. Bowen, Sarina Blonde Date  – new adult novella
  3. Chase, Loretta Lord of Scoundrelshistorical
  4. Gabaldon, Diana Outlanderhistorical
  5. Heyer, Georgette Venetia (Dameral/Venetia) – historical
  6. Jenkins, Beverly Indigo  – historical
  7. Kinsale, Laura Flowers from the Storm old school, historical
  8. Kleypas, Lisa Dreaming of Youhistorical
  9. Kleypas, Lisa The Devil in Winter  – historical
  10. Long, Julie Anne What I Did for a Duke – historical
  11. Milan, Courtney A Kiss for Midwinter – historical novella
  12. Milan, Courtney The Suffragette Scandal  – historical
  13. Montgomery, L.M. The Blue Castle – historical now, but not when published
  14. Quinn, Julia Romancing Mr. Bridgerton  Bridgerton Book 4 – historical
  15. Thorne, Sally The Hating Game – contemporary

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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. You are braver than you know.

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.





The Bridgertons Series: It’s In His Kiss by Julia Quinn

My reviews of the best of Julia Quinn continue with It’s in His Kiss. The penultimate book in the Bridgerton series, if you don’t count the catch-up novella, it has one of my favourite heroines in romance, and the hero is not so bad either. The writing is, as always, deft and witty, and the banter is especially good, even for a Julia Quinn novel.

The youngest child of eight, Hyacinth Bridgerton was born one month after the untimely death of her father. Surrounded by a loving family, she is confident, intelligent, and, to quote those who love her, “diabolical”. No shrinking violet, but not a brat either, Hyacinth has learned to hold her own as the baby of the family and, just maybe, is therefore uncomfortable in situations in which she does not feel in control of her environment. This kind of situation arises in particular when she is faced with an appealing young man who can keep up, or perhaps even challenge her.

Charming, droll, and a bit of a rogue, Gareth St. Clair’s family life is almost the opposite of Hyacinth’s. As he points out, he has but one person in the world to love. Fortunately for him, it is his grandmother, and Quinn fan favourite, Lady Danbury. Terrifyingly direct and more than a bit managing, Lady Danbury is delighted to encourage Gareth’s interest in Hyacinth, especially as the women have in many ways the same personality. Despite but one relation he can rely on, Gareth does have a father and the elder St. Clair not so much twirls his moustache, but pushes every single one of his son’s buttons every time they meet. Gareth is his legitimate heir by law, but not by conception, and his father does what he can to make Gareth’s life miserable, including cutting him off and taking vindictive delight in emptying the family coffers.

Gareth’s ability and joy in stopping the force of nature in her tracks is a delight and, naturally, the main event, but beyond the love story, It’s in His Kiss  is a treasure hunt. When his paternal grandmother’s diary falls into his hands, Gareth asks Hyacinth to translate the Italian and she discovers that the unhappily married woman had stashed a set of jewels somewhere in Gareth’s family home – the one that he was kicked out of years before.They spend their time skulking around Mayfair late at night and falling in love.

The novel has some minor glitches, but the characters are so winning it’s hard to object. Bridgerton series followers have watched Hyacinth grow up and here her bravado and vim are in full flower; having Lady Danbury as a counterpoint is a smart character choice since Hyacinth mirrors her so well.  With an excellent match in Gareth, the reader can be confident that theirs will truly be a marriage of equals and that Gareth and Hyacinth genuinely delight in each other.

A summary of Julia Quinn’s catalogue 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 Bridgertons Series: Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

Because starting with the eight book Bridgerton series is what I suggest, other than Courtney Milan, to anyone who wants to try out a historical romance, it seemed like a good idea to provide reviews of her best novels. Herewith are my go-to Julia Quinn review adjectives: light, deft, witty, clever, convivial, bright, romantic. I use them every time I discuss a Quinn book, and, as this review benefits from being of one of her less recent novels, I get to express all of my love and approbation without any of the pesky misgivings her later catalogue brings out.

Romancing Mr. Bridgerton is a wonderful novel about a woman who finds herself with the man she has been in love with for many years. Penelope fell in love with Colin Bridgerton at first sight, Colin takes about a decade plus 200 pages longer, but ends up in the same place.

A protector trapped in a rake’s body, Colin happens to be the best-looking son in a family of handsome men, as well as being incredibly charming, laid-back, and, not to underestimate the power of this, nice. As his sister Eloise’s best friend, Penelope is a frequent visitor to their family home. Colin has been coming and going, traveling the world with the freedom that comes with wealth and a y-chromosome in Regency England. Penelope has been wending her way towards spinsterhood in London, and this time when he comes back something in their relationship shifts. She is a classic wallflower, overlooked and with a wearying family, but a marvelous woman for those paying attention, and mostly satisfied with her life. Her “mostly satisifed” is about to change and she will help Colin with his disgruntlements, too.

Each chapter opens with a gossip article from Bridgerton series fixture Lady Whistledown. Never seen, she has been commenting on London society for a decade. Acerbic, but fair, determining her true identity becomes the crux of the story and the agent of Penelope’s transformation to someone with confidence speaking her mind honestly and without fear. Helped along by series favourite, the redoubtable Lady Danbury, Penelope comes out of her shell and Colin quickly comes to appreciate her. As this is a Quinn novel, their courtship takes the form of simply delightful banter mixed in with growing flashes of attraction and sincere romance. It is such fun and extremely satisfying.


I will be reviewing Hyacinth Bridgerton’s book next.

A summary of Julia Quinn’s catalogue, including a complete summary of the 8.5 Bridgerton novels, 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.

Julia Quinn’s Catalogue

Themes: Marry your best friend, someone to laugh and play with.


The Lyndon Sisters:
Everything and the Moon
Brighter Than the Sun

Agents of the Crown:
To Catch an Heiress – I haven’t read it.
How to Marry a Marquisvery enjoyable, plus Lady Danbury!

The Bridgertons:
The Duke and I – Julia Quinn Very good, the ending had a bit too much sturm and drang for me.
The Viscount Who Loved Me – They are a well-matched couple. Great sparring.
An Offer from a Gentleman – A Cinderella story, my first Quinn, absolutely delightful.
Romancing Mr. Bridgerton – Classic of the wallflower winning variety.
To Sir Phillip, With Love – Not up to the same standards as the rest, but has some nice moments.
When He Was Wicked – An unsuccessful attempt at a change in tone. I hated it.
It’s in His KissCharming and a hoot, might be a classic of the breezy and winning variety.
On the Way to the Wedding – Still good, but the others are better
The Bridgertons – Happily Ever After – Follow up novella for everyone, even Violet

The Bevelstoke Series:
The Secret Diary of Miranda Cheever – haven’t read it
What Happens In London – sweet
Ten Things I Love About You – fun

Smyth-Smith Quartet:
Just Like Heaven – meh
A Night Like This – meh
The Sum of All Kisses – light and lovely
The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy – surprisingly histrionic

The Smyth-Smith Quartet: The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy by Julia Quinn

 A new release, The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy is the fourth book in Julia Quinn’s Smythe-Smith Regency romance series. I feel like all of my reviews of her recent novels are repetitive, to wit:

  1. Julia Quinn is an excellent gateway author for people who want to try Regency romance.
  2. The writing is light and fun. Deft is the word I always come back to.
  3. Since her Bridgerton series, her quality has fallen off a bit.
  4. The Bridgerton series is really strong though. It has one or two classics.
  5. There is an overlap and interplay between Quinn’s books and I enjoy the guest stars and recognizing that events are being replayed from another perspective.
  6. I no longer pay for her books, preferring to read them on loan. Thank you, Malin.
  7. Not-quite-what-she-once-was-Quinn, is still better than most, and, again, witty and fun.
  8. Quinn is a skilled story-teller and very good at describing the feelings of falling in love.
  9. When the plot moves into more heavy sledding, things tend to fall apart a bit.
  10. All of the above apply to The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy.

Sooner rather than later, Richard Kenworthy is in need of a wife. For reasons of his own, he has a two-week timeline to find and marry pretty much any halfway suitable candidate he can find. A dowry would have been nice, but he has other considerations. The reader does not know what these are and such is the sense of portent, I was genuinely curious as to what on earth could have Richard so desperate to marry and then keep him from a full relationship his new wife.

Iris is the cellist in the current iteration of the Smythe-Smith quartet. Introduced in the Bridgerton series, these “musicale” evenings are the stuff of legend in their social circle. Each unmarried and of-age young woman in the family must participate in the humiliation. Iris, like most of her fellow embarrass-ees, is painfully aware that their musicianship is sadly lacking, despite the fact that she actually plays her instrument well, if unenthusiastically. She’s a clever, observant woman and unsure of Richard’s motivations, but her own incipient feelings for him lead her to accept his rushed proposal and intentional, if almost chaste, ruination to guarantee the nuptials.

Away Richard and Iris go to start their lives together in deepest, darkest Yorkshire. Tremendously drawn to one another, their marital relationship goes through fits and starts with Quinn’s usual aplomb until the reason for Richard’s haste to wed arrives in the form of his sister, Fleur. It was at this point that what had been a bit, “Oh, get on with it” took a turn for the overwrought. Not to spoil anything, the family is in crisis and Iris is Richard’s solution, although he is the only one who thinks he has the right remedy for their problems. Iris solves the puzzle and saves the day so she and Richard, who, wisely begs for forgiveness, can really begin their lives together.

I quite liked the book that preceded this one, The Sum of All Kisses. A summary of Julia Quinn’s catalogue 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 probation right now actually)
Laura Florand Though she stopped publishing.
Talia Hibbert
Lisa Kleypas   The Queen for a very long time. Her back catalog is very deep and strong.
Julie Anne Long  Historicals only
Courtney Milan  The. Very. Best.
Lucy Parker Delightful. witty contemporaries
Sally Thorne Because her debut was just that good!

Albert, Annabeth Waiting for Clark (Bryce/Clark)
Albert, Annabeth Save the Date (Randall/Hunter)
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)
Ann, Jewel E. When Life Happened (Gus/Parker)
Ashe, Katharine In the Arms of a Marquess (Ben)
Ashley, Jennifer The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie (Ian, not surprisingly/Beth) – GENRE OUTLINE
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The Smyth-Smith Quartet: The Sum of All Kisses by Julia Quinn

I regret returning The Sum of All Kisses to the library quickly, but I don’t want to buy my own copy. This tells me that while I enjoyed the book, it didn’t make a lasting impression

If you are a historical romance fan, you already know who Julia Quinn is. If you are interested in trying historical romance, her Bridgerton series provides an excellent gateway. I use the words deft and witty every time I review one of her books because they are always apropos and Quinn is almost always a light-hearted, satisfying read. She is guaranteed to make you laugh and offer at least one truly romantic moment.

Quinn’s current Regency series revolves around a family group that puts on an annual concert of consistently awful quality. The Smythe-Smith quartet, as they are called, has an evolving membership and over the course of the novels, members get married off and make good their escape from public humiliation. This time up, it’s Sarah Pleinsworth and family acquaintance Hugh Prentice. He caused a scandal several years ago by dueling with her cousin and Sarah feels the resulting imbroglio ruined her matrimonial opportunities. She hates him. He finds her melodramatic. Forced to spend time together at house parties for their friends’ weddings, no one is surprised when they end up engaged in under three weeks.

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