Tag Archives: Lorraine Heath

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)
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
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.

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Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James Series: Once More, My Darling Rogue by Lorraine Heath

Short Version: NO!

Medium Version: My romance spirit guide, Malin, gave me this book and guessed it based on the blurb.

It’s a Victorian romance this –

overboard

 plus a Victorian romance that –

taming

 resulting in a Victorian romance reading experience of:

stabby

Long Version:

While continuing to be an author I try to avoid actually paying for Lorraine Heath is solidly B-Minus List writer with some decent books under her belt. She can be dated in her plotting and characters and Once More, My Darling Rogue is no exception.

Lady Ophelia (God is kind, so she is called Phee by her friends) is an uptight snob, a Mean Girl. Gaming Hell owner Drake is a member of her social set, the adopted urchin son of a family friend. Drake’s sister and Phee’s best friend was the heroine of the first book in this series, When the Duke Was Wicked. It was not really a success either, but it did not inculcate violent urges. Phee has had snobbery engrained in her from an early age, which is admittedly historically accurate, and she is particularly awful to Drake. She treats him like a servant. He puts up with it, but it is wearing thin. They each wear masks to protect themselves and hide their true blah blah blah. You can see where this is going. The movie posters gave it away.

Phee has an accident and loses her memory. Drake conveniently finds and takes her in to his opportunely newly purchased, and thus undecorated and under-minioned home. Telling her she is his housekeeper/cook/maid of all work, he lets this illusion go on for more than .1473 seconds and it crosses the line into unforgivable. I remember thinking things like, “If these two embark on a physical relationship before she regains her memory I’m going to go postal!” They did and I didn’t, but I finished the book out of spite. There was some vague rationale about her unhappy past and the healing that comes with forgetfulness, but to hell with that. All I know is that her character flaws were rooted in trauma and SOMEHOW the fact that the character development that came with new trauma Drake inflicted was liberating for her is supposed to make it okay. It does not.

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

Also by Lorraine Heath, But for Romance Novel Withdrawal Emergencies Only:

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Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James Series: When the Duke Was Wicked by Lorraine Heath

Review Gesture Using My Romance Novel Fill-in-the-Blank Template:

When the Duke Was Wicked is a romance of the “you are everything I never knew I always wanted” variety: Boy meets girl. Girl has always loved Boy. Boy has experienced great loss and vowed never to love again. Girl pretends to seek Boy’s advice in finding a genuine suitor. But can he bear to see her with another man? Boy and girl move forward together secure in their love and commitment.

A historical romance set in 19th century London, When the Duke Was Wicked is my fifteenth book by this author, though I have only paid for three or four of them. I generally find her work a good time filler, although she is always on my B List. Lord of Wicked Intentions is her best work so far. I found When the Duke Was Wicked meh.  I will continue to seek out Heath’s other novels because this one was nothing special, but sometimes I just want something to read. I would not recommend this particular effort.

The main plot of When the Duke Was Wicked focuses on the healing of a tortured hero. Lord Lovingdon, a duke, is a rake. He is disenchanted, louche, and in denial about his feelings for Grace. The heroine, Lady Grace Mabry, is a victim of circumstance. She is intent on seeking a suitor who genuinely loves her and does not seek her dowry; moreover she has a secret she needs to be able to trust her spouse with.  Lovingdon and Grace are instantly attracted to each other. Over time, they come to discover that despite any challenges they face, they make an excellent team.

When the Duke Was Wicked was a perfectly fine, middling romance. It’s the first book in the new Scandalous Men of St. James series that follows the children of the Scoundrel’s of St. James novels’ main characters. There are some historical waffling that goes beyond what is usual even in these books, but that could just be my Accuracy Police Syndrome talking. If you would like to read a great romance, and a personal favourite, about taking a chance on love after the death of a spouse, I recommend Where Dreams Begin by Lisa Kleypas.

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

Also by Lorraine Heath:

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The Scoundrels of St. James Series: In Bed with the Devil, Between the Devil and Desire, Surrender to the Devil, Midnight Pleasures with a Scoundrel, and The Last Wicked Scoundrel by Lorraine Heath

Every romance author has a through line to her work and Lorraine Heath’s is damaged people finding strength in each other and themselves to persevere and succeed. The Scoundrels of St. James series has this through line, as well an homage to Oliver Twist. There is an Oliver, a Feagan, a Dodger, a Sykes, and a Nancy. A group of four friends – don’t worry, Sykes isn’t one of them – have survived and escaped Victorian London’s rookeries and built better lives for themselves; in fact, owing to an aristocratic kinship of one of their circle and the enterprise of another, they now rub shoulders with the wealthiest and most powerful people in England. Oh, these are romance novels all right.

Plot Summary (All): A plucky and determined urchin has built a safe, good life. Enter an aristocrat who is both attractive and makes the urchin leery. The aristocrat has secrets, too. They become lovers. A complication arises. The urchin and the aristocrat triumph together with the help of the other urchins.

The St. James men are dangerous and stalwart, the women are gentle and kind. The characterizations are not as strong as they could be and veer towards stereotype. Each book has sweet moments and they are entertaining enough to pass the time, but none of them are keepers, although I did actually buy Midnight Pleasures with a Scoundrel out of impatience with my library, and because I felt I owed Heath money for a least one of the dozen or so of her books that I have read this year.

The Scoundrels of St. James Series:

In Bed With the Devil – Luke and Catherine

Lucian Langdon, Earl of Claybourne, is the reason that all of the urchins were given the chance to make good. Identified by his grandfather as his long-lost grandson, Luke was brought into the family fold; his friends came with him and were given opportunities for education and advancement they would not otherwise have had. Luke does not believe himself to be the rightful heir, but as he was about to be hanged for murder, he thought it best to play along with “the old gent”. Luke has no memories of his life before the rookery and is beset by the kind of headaches repressed memories cause in fiction. He can’t prove to himself that he is the heir, but he’s not about to give up his wealth and privilege either.

Did I mention that the man Luke was accused of killing was his uncle and “the old gent’s” heir at the time? The bastard had it coming, but the juxtaposition of Earl and alleged murderer has given Luke a dangerous reputation and limited his social cachet. Since an assassin is what Catherine, Lady Mabry requires, she has not hesitation about approaching Luke to kill someone on her behalf. They make a deal: Luke wants Catherine to train his almost fiancee Frannie (Surrender to the Devil) in the ways of the aristocracy and, when that is done, Luke will carry out Catherine’s requested killing. That bastard has it coming, too. Luke and Catherine fall in love, events crescendo, justice is served, and the happy couple get married.

Luke was an enjoyable character, but Catherine was wonderful. She is bright and determined, cowed by nothing, and has ovaries of steel. Everyone should have a friend like her.

Side note: Luke has trouble sleeping and drinks to help soothe himself to sleep. This is kind of habit is a common trope, but the amount Luke drinks, dear Lord, the amount he drinks! In one scene, it says he has consumed three bottles of whiskey and that a fourth should do it. Unless he saved them from a minibar, I cannot conceive of anyone being able to drink that many bottles without either becoming a severe alcoholic, coming close to death, or sweating alcohol from every pore instead of the pleasant sandalwood cologne Catherine notices.

Between the Devil and Desire – Jack and Olivia

An up-from-the-gutter-street-urchin-making-good-with-a-gambling-establishment is a standard historical romance trope. Youthful participation in organized crime leads to an honest and lucrative pursuit in which the urchin can rub shoulders with the so-called elite and make an obscene amount of money. Heath did it better in Lord of Wicked Intentions, but the ultimate novel of this ilk is the Lisa Kleypas classic Dreaming of You which features the supreme squalor born hero, Derek Craven. It is a fantastic book and one that comes up again and again on “best” lists. Between the Devil and Desire suffered by similarity for me. I didn’t mean to compare, but I’ve read Dreaming of You many times. Derek is all that is good and yummy about Kleypas heroes and his heroine, Sara, is an excellent character who balances brains and ability with inexperience. Where was I?

Jack Dodger has been summoned to the home of the recently deceased Duke of Lovingdon. It seems the Duke has left his entailed estate to his son Henry, an annual stipend to his lovely young widow, Olivia, and everything else, every coal-scuttle, pickle fork, and shred of clothing, including Olivia’s, to Jack. The catch is that Jack must agree to become Henry’s guardian. Jack is a grasping sort of fellow, so he accepts. What follows is a fun love/hate relationship between Jack and Olivia. Henry is won over in short order. Olivia takes longer. There is a lot of bluffing and posturing going on between the hero and heroine, even though they are obviously well matched. Olivia has spent her life devoted to duty, Jack shows her freedom.

In addition to my unintentional Kleypas comparison, Between the Devil and Desire was also undercut by the profoundly annoying, but unfortunately historically accurate, lack of power Olivia has in her son’s life. Her husband left everything, including their son, in the hands of a covetous stranger. While upset, she is not the seething mass of indignation one would expect. There should have been considerably more “THIS IS AN OUTRAGE UP WITH WHICH I SHALL NOT PUT!” and emphatic flinging of objets d’art.

Surrender to the Devil – Sterling and Frannie

This was my least favourite of the group. It never really captured my interest although it passed the time adequately. Frannie Darling, who might be Feagan’s daughter, works at Jack’s club as a book-keeper and is opening a home for orphans in her spare time. She is gentle and kind and good and smart and devoted. Whatever. At her friend Luke’s wedding, she spots Sterling, Duke of Somethingfancy. They spark instantly. He is going blind (not a spoiler) which he considers a huge personal failing as opposed to a sad reality. For her part, Frannie is distrustful of the aristocracy and does not want to become part of it. Given conditions for the poor in Victorian England, one can hardly blame her. Bad things disrupt their relationship, said issues get resolved. Frannie becomes a duchess.

Midnight Pleasures with a Scoundrel – James and Eleanor

Eleanor Watkins wants revenge. Her twin sister, Elisabeth, killed herself after returning from her Season in London. The traumatic information she recorded in her journal has led Eleanor to Lord Rockberry and a public London park late at night. What she does not know, but what comes in handy very quickly, is that she is being followed by James Swindler of Scotland Yard.

James is the urchin of this duo. Like his friends, his name has been changed to reflect the skills he used in the rookeries to get by. His work as a child transformed into legitimate police work when he became gentrified. He’d had a special bond with Surrender to the Devil‘s Frannie, but Eleanor rattles him in an entirely new way. James is a giant hulk of a man*. Eleanor is petite and feminine enough to have blue birds on her shoulder. She also has tremendous moxie and is as strong and determined as James is to find justice. James is charged with keeping Eleanor away from Rockberry and appears to be doing an excellent job, but when the lord is found murdered things take a sharp left turn.

I really enjoyed Midnight Pleasures with a Scoundrel and am glad that it was the novel I paid for. Major subplots frequently make me whine, but the story in this one really worked for me. It had twists and turns to keep things interesting and the couple’s relationship was believable.

The Last Wicked Scoundrel (novella) – William and Winnie

The last of the urchins gets a novella for his own happily ever after and final visits with the couples from the previous books. William Graves is the doctor who has been called to bedsides throughout the series and his beloved’s is no exception. Winnie, widowed Duchess of Avendale, was savagely abused by her terrifying bastard of a husband and William helped to nurse her back to health. Winnie is now re-entering the world after the polite period of public mourning. She wants to repay William’s kindness by raising money for a hospital. He’s all for it and anything else Winnie might have in mind. He is secretly in love with her and she with him. They get it together and it on before things go completely awry and then are resolved.

 

*Pet Peeve: Swindler’s interior monologue reveals that so magical are his loverman skills that prostitutes have refused payment. Even if historically accurate, I do not want to hear about the novel’s hero sleeping with prostitutes. More importantly, that is not how prostitution works. Declining payment from a sexual virtuoso client is akin to the porn star party line, “I was really horny, so I thought I may as well get paid for it.” Prostitutes are trying to make money the only way they know how, or, often, under duress. I find it extremely challenging to believe that one was impressed by his skills, or how long he can last (I would think the less time the better), or that she would refuse her payment. This strikes me as entirely a male fantasy.

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

Also by Lorraine Heath:

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The Lost Lords of Pembroke Series: Deck the Halls with Love by Lorraine Heath

I continue to work my way through Lorraine Heath’s catalogue filling my time with b-list historical romance. This novella belongs to the Lost Lords of Pembrook series which includes:

She Tempts the Duke – tortured hero, kind and loving heroine
Lord of Temptation – so much meh
Lord of Wicked Intentions – really good, great heroine

Deck the Halls with Love was a quick read even for a novella. Lord Chetwyn was jilted by Anne, the heroine of Lord of Temptation. Specifically, he consented to withdraw from their betrothal when it became clear that she was in love with someone else, establishing his nice guy bona fides. Their engagement was the result of honour and duty as Anne had been engaged to Chetwyn’s brother and said brother’s dying wish was for Chetwyn to look after Anne. With the broken betrothal behind him, Chetwyn now realises that he could likely have found other ways to have a care where Anne was concerned. So amicable was their parting that Chetwyn is at Anne’s in-laws for one of those Yuletide house parties people in historical romances love to hold. He is also anticipating a certain guest. While his sense of duty is a nice thing, Chetwyn had thrown over his own lady to become involved with Anne. Meredith, referred to as Merry in a nice Noel-y touch, was in love with Chetwyn and did not understand why she went from being almost affianced to alone on the dance floor. Merry will be at the party, but she is not free. Caught in the least compromising possible of compromising positions, she is engaged to a seemingly nice man with a bit of a gambling issue. Chetwyn is determined to win Merry back over the course of the Christmas fete. Anne helps. It doesn’t take long to establish that Chetwyn and Merry are compatible and need to force a break in her engagement to be together. The weather cooperates, honour prevails, and some expeditious shenanigans put them on track for scandal, but one they will endure while sharing a home.

Lorraine Heath is a successful author with a formula that works well for her. She is a cut above the workaday writers in the genre and a cut below the ones I normally recommend. I have read a large number of her books, but I have only ever paid for one. Deck the Halls with Love passed the time, but I will not delay returning it to the library in favour of more time with the characters, despite the fact that she managed to make them very likeable in very short order.

Also by Lorraine Heath:
As the Earl Desires

The Scoundrels of St. James Series:
In Bed with the Devil
Between the Devil and Desire
Surrender to the Devil
Midnight Pleasures with a Scoundrel
The Last Wicked Scoundrel

London’s Greatest Lovers Series (snort):
Passions of a Wicked Earl
Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman
Waking Up with 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.

As an Earl Desires by Lorraine Heath

Armed with my library card, I have been working my way through Lorraine Heath’s back catalogue. She is a B-list author for me: I don’t buy her books, but I will pick them up, if they are close to hand. Reading the older novels, I find I like her better. I’m going to keep going until my library’s supply is exhausted.

As an Earl Desires is the story of the Dowager Countess of Sachse and the new Earl, a man who has risen in life from teacher to aristocrat by virtue of the vagaries of primogeniture and despite being named Archibald. He is referred to as Arch or Archie. Good call.

Arch came into the title when the former Earl, a complete bastard (figuratively speaking) by all accounts  and the necessities of the plot, died without issue. The Bastard Earl’s young widow, Camilla, has taken it upon herself to train and educate Arch in his new life. There is just one tiny problem. Arch has fallen madly in love with her.  Actually, there are other not so tiny problems. Camilla has secrets she feels with ruin her if discovered. She was born into abject poverty and very early on it is revealed the Camilla is illiterate. She is both desperately ashamed and terrified people will learn of this. All Arch knows is that he wants to both jump her bones and stay for breakfast. To add further plot complications, Camilla is barren and while Arch doesn’t care about continuing the Sachse line, she does. He needs an heir, she wants a Duke to secure her future.

A sweet story, As an Earl Desires, moved along quickly and entertainingly. It was nice to read a romance with a kind and gentle hero. Not that most heroes are violent and rough, but they are often very self-possessed and, for want of a less modern term, cool. Arch made for a nice change. Camilla is the self-contained one and her gradual surrender of her fears in favour of a better life was nicely done.

Also by Lorraine Heath:

Lord of Wicked Intentions – her best so far
Deck the Halls with Love

London’s Greatest Lovers Series:
Passions of a Wicked Earl
Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman
Waking Up with the Duke

The Scoundrels of St. James Series:
In Bed with the Devil
Between the Devil and Desire
Surrender to the Devil
Midnight Pleasures with a Scoundrel
The Last Wicked Scoundrel

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

London’s Greatest Lovers Series: Waking Up With the Duke by Lorraine Heath

The Marquess of Walfort has a proposal for the Duke of Ainsley: For one month, Ainsley and Walfort’s Marchioness, Jayne, will shag each other rotten in an attempt to knock her up. Left paralysed and impotent by a drunken carriage accident Ainsley caused, Walfort feels he is owed this opportunity to give his wife the child he is unable to. Ainsley and Jayne are dead set against it. Ainsley very sensibly does not want to cuckold his friend, no matter what his debt/guilt, and, of course, he has always had a yen for Jayne and knows permission to act on it is a Very Bad Idea. Jayne blames Ainsley for Walfort’s injury and the loss of all of her hopes and dreams. The marriage is hollow, but Walfort and Jayne do, strictly platonically, love each other. They both want a child. What could possibly go wrong?

Waking Up with the Duke is a marriage of convenience historical romance built around an inconvenient existing marriage. Ainsley and Jayne head to his remote six bedroom fully staffed cottage for their month-long tryst. Given their serious reservations things start slowly, but then – VOOM! – they fall madly in love, spend the balance of the month revelling in each other and are left in a predicament: How does one retreat from a newly discovered love and move forward in the public lie one has created? The answer is, of course, by vilifying the invalid spouse. Lorraine Heath gets major bonus points for not making Walfort abusive.

The shadow hanging over the plot of Waking Up with the Duke, intentionally one assumes, is that although Jayne’s husband is the instigator of the illicit relationship, and he has come to terms with his physical challenges so poorly as to bring Jayne down with him, and was likely doing something the night of his accident which was entirely reprehensible, it’s very distracting. While reading about the charming and crazy beautiful people falling in love, I constantly wondered how Heath was going to pull off the resolution. It was clear she would need to make the husband unworthy and kill him off. Heath does so; however, the point isn’t really giving the leads permission to form a permanent relationship, it’s that the repercussions of Walfort’s misdeeds are too quickly addressed. Jayne has been devoted to her husband for the entirety of their marriage. She is a good, desperately lonely woman in a bad situation. Whatever Walfort’s misdeeds, and there has been massive betrayal, it diverts attention from the love story.

Romance authors have to find new an interesting ways to keep lovers apart. It’s a challenge in a genre with six basic story lines. Waking Up With the Duke was quite good overall, but the overhanging complication was not satisfactorily resolved. Not every romance needs to have a neat and tidy plot, but this one did not have enough drang for its sturm. Ainsley and Jayne have to find it in themselves to forgive each other and Walfort and move forward, but at a terrible cost. It’s a marvelously complicated situation not brought to a satisfactory conclusion.

London’s Greatest Lovers Series:
Passions of a Wicked Earl
Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman
Waking Up with the Duke – please see above

Also by Lorraine Heath:

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