Tag Archives: Meredith Duran

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.

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Rules for the Reckless Series: Lady Be Good and Luck Be a Lady by Meredith Duran

This is a previous review updated with the next book in the series…

Lady Be Good

Meredith Duran writes very strong, character driven historical romance, but Lady Be Good never quite grabbed me. It was as accomplished as readers have come to expect from Duran and involving at the time, but I didn’t really think about it once I was done. That said, I would really like to read the next novel in the Rules for the Reckless series, Luck Be a Lady, as it involves an up-from-the-the-gutter hero and a very proper heroine and those are almost always fun.

From Amazon: Born to a family of infamous criminals, Lilah Marshall has left behind her past and made herself into the perfect lady. Working as a hostess at Everleigh’s, London’s premier auction house, she leads a life full of art, culture, and virtue. All her dreams are within reach—until a gorgeous and enigmatic viscount catches her in the act of one last, very reluctant theft… Christian “Kit” Stratton, Viscount Palmer, is society’s most dashing war hero. But Kit’s easy smiles hide a dark secret: he is haunted by a madman’s vow to destroy anyone he loves. When his hunt for the enemy leads to Everleigh’s Auction Rooms, he compels Lilah to help him.

From Me: Hijinks ensue.

In addition to that whole “a crazy person wants to destroy Kit and all he holds dear” thing, Lady Be Good has some great fish-out-of-water elements and commentary on the place of women in the Victorian world. Hamstrung by convention, Lilah must steer herself very carefully in making her place, and her employer, Catherine, is fighting the same battles, but from within a different class. The romance worked well, too, but I found female characters more interesting and look forward to meeting them again. Not that Kit wasn’t charming and engaging, as was his interaction with Lilah, but he didn’t jump off the page the same way his heroine did.

Luck Be a Lady

From Amazon: THE WALLFLOWER – They call her the “Ice Queen.” Catherine Everleigh is London’s loveliest heiress, but a bitter lesson in heartbreak has taught her to keep to herself. All she wants is her birthright—the auction house that was stolen from her. To win this war, she’ll need a powerful ally. Who better than infamous and merciless crime lord Nicholas O’Shea? A marriage of convenience will no doubt serve them both. THE CRIME LORD – Having conquered the city’s underworld, Nick seeks a new challenge. Marrying Catherine will give him the appearance of legitimacy—and access to her world of the law-abiding elite. No one needs to know he’s coveted Catherine for a year now—their arrangement is strictly business, free from the troubling weaknesses of love.

To go all Accuracy Police on Amazon’s ass, Catherine is a Victim of Circumstance rather than a Wallflower and this character type combined with a crime lord is quite common in romance. Why, if I had a nickel for every one of those I’ve read, I’m guessing I would have maybe, conservatively, upwards of 60 cents. As a rule, the term “crime lord” simply means the hero climbed up out of the gutter and now owns a casino, or “gaming hell” in the genre parlance. It’s shorthand for rich and ruthless climbers. Nick is no exception having started out as a thief and worked his way up to a position of power and, most importantly, wealth through his gambling establishment. When we meet him, he’s become a kind of pater familias to the local rogues gallery. Catherine is resolute and pretty ambitious herself, so they make a potent combination against her brother and his willingness to be simultaneously gormless and uncompromising at every turn.

I didn’t like this book as much as I wanted to or felt like I should like it. I enjoyed both main characters – Nick is romance catnip – but I felt the romance never quite held together or smoldered as much as I would have liked. I appreciate how independent and canny Duran’s heroines are, and the way they fight for themselves, or learn to do so, but more couple time would have been appreciated. I would suggest reading Fool Me Twice or the delightful novella Your Wicked Heart instead.

Also by Meredith Duran:

Rules for Reckless Series (not entirely interconnected, more of a theme)
That Scandalous Summer – very good
Your Wicked Heart – delightful novella
Fool Me Twice – excellent
Lady Be Good – nothing special
Luck Be a Lady – better than Lady Be Good, but still nothing special

Not Rules for the Reckless Series
Bound by Your Touch – excellent
Written on Your Skin – not my style, but very good

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

Ten Great Romance Novellas to Get You Started

HISTORICAL Romance

  1. Ashley, Jennifer Scandal and the Duchess  – enjoyable
  2. Dare, Tessa The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright  – fantastic
  3. Dare, Tessa Beauty and the Blacksmith – fun, bring your willing suspension of disbelief
  4. Duran, Meredith Your Wicked Heart  – such fun
  5. Grant, Cecilia A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong – very good
  6. Hoyt, Elizabeth The Ice Princess – nice version of a common trope
  7. Milan, Courtney A Kiss for Midwinter CLASSIC as a novella and of the genre

CONTEMPORARY Romance

  1. Bowen, Sarina Blonde Date CLASSIC new adult, a perfect novella
  2. Richland, Anna His Road Home – contemporary, wounded soldier coming home

PARANORMAL Romance  – Not my cup of tea, but it could help you determine if it is yours.

  1. Cole, Kresley The Warlord Wants Foreverplenty of THUNDER SEX™!

I also have a ruthlessly streamlined recommendations list: So You Want to Read a (Historical) Romance.

Links to my 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

Written on Your Skin by Meredith Duran

He had made jokes for himself, expecting no one else to catch them,
and indeed no one else had.” (103) Yep.

While as well-written as all of Duran’s Victorian romances, Written on Your Skin never really captured my interest and wasn’t my cup of tea, although it did have some great moments. To find out if it might be your cup of tea, please read on.

Phin is a spy working for Her Majesty’s government in Hong Kong. Poisoned at a party, he finds help in the surprising form of Mina Masters. A beautiful flibbertigibbet to whom he is attracted against his better judgement, she surprises him by saving his life and helping him escape. Four years later, Phin’s inheritance of an earldom has allowed him to leave the service and he is flailing against himself and his past with a controlled, narcotic enhanced stupor. Mina re-enters his world when she calls in the debt owed for his life. Together, they are trying to track down her missing mother, but Mina is a complicated woman hiding behind as many masks as he is. Phin, for his part, is also trying to keep Mina safe by limiting her participation and, very much against her wishes, her appearances in public.

Trust is the through-line in Duran’s work and Written on Your Skin is no different. Both Phin and Mina have life experiences that have driven them to create false fronts for the world. He simply doesn’t know what to do with himself or how to act naturally around his old friends, in particular the louche set he used to run with. Mina has learned to play dumb, coquette, bohemian, or whatever it takes to protect herself and control her circumstances. Each has fought battles to get where they are. Magnetically drawn to each other, they have to break through all of their posturing and self-protection. How do they trust each other? Can they trust themselves?

The quality of the writing is consistent with the rest of Duran’s books, I just don’t really enjoy a lot of MacGuffin-y machinations. I’m not sure if the book had too many, or if it just felt that way because I was never really that engrossed by the story. It’s probably the latter.

Also by Meredith Duran:

Rules for Reckless Series (not entirely interconnected, more of a theme)
That Scandalous Summer – very good
Your Wicked Heart – delightful novella
Fool Me Twice – excellent
Lady Be Good – nothing special
Luck Be a Lady

Not Rules for the Reckless Series
Bound by Your Touch – excellent
Written on Your Skin – not my style, but very good

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

Bound By Your Touch by Meredith Duran

This book is great. You should read it. Details below.

Featuring a delicious rake who needs to get his act together and a bright spinster who needs to set herself free, Meredith Duran’s Bound by Your Touch is a Victorian romance with an Egyptology maguffin and themes of disentangling oneself from unhealthy relationships and a thinking person’s feminism which emphasizes the importance of giving women responsibility for their choices as a component of true equality. All of this is supported by clever writing, appealing leads, and a believable romance.

Lydia Boyce is her family’s designated grown up. She has two sisters, one of whom is an endless pill, and an absentee father. Devoted to his pursuits in archeology, he has convinced Lydia that her role as his representative and protector is more important than her own personal and emotional interests. When a counterfeit item ostensibly from her father is delivered to the rake in question, Viscount Sanborne, hijinks ensue that lead to many interesting places in terms of both story and for the characters’ emotional growth.

Romance novels are full of constrained and plain women who are overlooked by those around them. What I liked about Lydia is that although she is aware of her so-called failings when compared to her more demure and pretty counterparts, she nonetheless does not try to change herself into something she is not. Moreover, and I loved this detail, what Lydia does not and cannot know is that she is sexually attractive to the men around her. It is not a woman’s responsibility to be appealing, but it is nice to have a fiercely intelligent heroine who is unaware of the effect she has on men.

Sanborne is likewise complicated. He is a charming and gorgeous, but also a drifting, gormless scapegrace who has been coasting along with a very fast set buoyed by his own unassailability and enmity for his father. He needs to grow up and find a way to deal with his demons. Lydia is a seemingly odd match for him, but like most people, Sanborne has unsuspected depths he finally allows himself to look into as he becomes the partner she needs.

Meredith Duran is a fantastic writer who successfully balances entertaining, sincere romance with genuine and complicated characters. Her books are great. You should read them.

Also by Meredith Duran:

Rules for Reckless Series (not entirely interconnected, more of a theme)
That Scandalous Summer – very good
Your Wicked Heart – delightful novella
Fool Me Twice – excellent
Lady Be Good – nothing special
Luck Be a Lady

Not Rules for the Reckless Series
Bound by Your Touch – excellent
Written on Your Skin – not my style, but very good

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

Rules for the Reckless Series: Your Wicked Heart by Meredith Duran

Amanda Thomas was stood up at her wedding. Now, having gone to her fiance’s hotel to find out what the hell happened, she encounters a man who says her beloved is an imposter.  Everyone agrees with him, bowing and scraping in a way that strongly suggests he may very well be the real Viscount Ripton. Here we are just one chapter into the Victorian romance Your Wicked Heart and our heroine is alone, penniless, unemployed, confused, jilted, stranded, and still wearing her very uncomfortable wedding dress. To add insult to injury, the man claiming to be the real Viscount Ripton accuses Amanda of being a swindler and insists that she travel with him on his quest to find the truth. Sure, he’s gorgeous, but that doesn’t make up for the scorn and accusations. Ripton, for his part, will not be distracted by Amanda’s Bo Peep prettiness and latches on to her as the best hope of finding the cousin masquerading under his name.  Hijinks ensue. Fun, frolicsome ones because this is a road trip novella and hijinks love taking it on the lam.

As I have opinions about historical romance that I feel compelled to share, I must say that I always feel the road trip is the romance plot which requires the most violent willing suspension of disbelief.  The couple is thrown together intimately and in defiance of even more societal conventions than usual. Your Wicked Heart  also follows that pattern, but I didn’t mind. A romp was not what I expected from Meredith Duran, or for just 99 cents on Amazon, but a lighthearted adventure is what the story provides. Amanda is plucky and determined. Ripton is dutiful and single-minded. Worn down by Ripton’s intensity and sense of duty, Amanda’s natural charm has the same effect on Ripton. Because Duran’s greatest strength is character development, the more serious personal elements are what help balance the novella’s playful aspects. Your Wicked Heart is a fun quick read with a small twist at the end that makes everything feel a little more gravitas-y.

Also by Meredith Duran:

Rules for Reckless Series (not entirely interconnected, more of a theme)
That Scandalous Summer – very good
Your Wicked Heart – delightful novella
Fool Me Twice – excellent
Lady Be Good – nothing special
Luck Be a Lady

Not Rules for the Reckless Series
Bound by Your Touch – excellent
Written on Your Skin – not my style, but very good

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