Tuesday, December 31, 2013

14 Historical Romance Novels I am Looking forward to in 2014

The last list for the year! And it's a new one, where I mention all the titles I am looking forward to in 2014. How about 14 titles?

1. The Mistress Rebellion by Courtney Milan: 2014
2. Sapphires are an Earl's Best Friend by Shana Galen: March 4, 2014 (I got the ARC for this! Yay!)
3. Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare: January 28, 2014 (The first book in a NEW series!)
4. The Once and Future Duchess by Sophia Nash: May 27, 2014 (The last book in her The Royal Entourage series. I have been waiting for this book forever. T_T)
5. Beauty and the Earl by Jess Michaels: April 15, 2014 (True story: I just finished reading book 1 in this series and I have book 2. But I'm afraid to read it because I know I will love it and I will have to wait 4 months to read book 3.)


6. Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover by Sarah MacLean: August 2014 (No cover yet) (Chase's story! Glee~)
7. The Fall of a Saint by Christine Merrill: March 1, 2014 (I read the first book and LOVED it. So excited for Saint's story. ^_^)
8. Temptations of Anna Jacobs by Robyn DeHart: April 15, 2014 (Robyn continues to expand on her take on the Jack the Ripper murders.)
9. Vixen in Velvet by Loretta Chase: June 24, 2014 (No cover yet) (The final instalment in her Dressmaker series!)
10 Three Weeks with Lady X by Eloisa James: March 25, 2014 (James revisits her Desperate Duchesses series with this new book!)

11. Rogue Spy by Joanna Bourne: November 4, 2014 (When I saw the cover of this one, I was hyperventilating with excitement. Love, love, love Joanna Bourne!)
12. Between the Devil and Ian Eversea by Julie Anne Long: March 25, 2014 (It's not Lyon's story -- yet, but it is Ian's story. And it is by Julie Anne Long. I already know I'm going to love this one. Yes, fearless forecast right there.)
13. The Sinning Hour by Elise Rome: 2014 (Not sure when but, based on the last update on Elise's website, she's almost ready to release this one.)
14. Moonlight on my Mind by Jennifer McQuiston: March 25, 2014 (When I think of Jennifer's books, it always makes me smile. She's written two of my favourite books this year. ^_^)

There's a great list on Goodreads for all the historical romance releases for January to June 2014. Clickety click here.
And for July to December 2014, click here.

Which books are you looking forward to reading next year?

Review: Taken by the Duke by Jess Michaels

Click here to buy the book on Amazon

Jess Michael's Taken by the Duke is the start of her Pleasure Wars series, which has all the strains of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, and amped up with the Jess's own twist to the tale of a tragic young couple. The beginning of the book draws you in immediately, outlining the centuries-old war between two families, the Rothcastle family and the Windbury family -- in this generation, Christian Rothcastle, has a personal reason to seek revenge against the Windburys: he believes that Liam Windbury seduced his younger sister, Matilda, and tried to elope with her. The elopement resulted in a terrible accident, which left both Christian and Liam scarred and caused the tragic death of Matilda.

An eye for an eye: Christian has planned to kidnap the earl's younger sister, Ava, and ruin her. What Christian doesn't count on is how disarming Ava is and how clear she is in her intention: she will submit to him to save her brother -- and he doesn't count on feeling passion and a little bit more for his captive.

Feuds and rivalries are all-consuming and the parties involved are so focused on their hatred that they don't consider the collateral damage. Matilda and Ava are caught in the crossfires of their family's enmity. Their fathers, grandfathers and brothers never considered how their pride, their own battle has affected their wives and daughters -- how wonderful it would have been for them if they were free to live a more normal life and this is part of what makes Jess Michaels's story so great: we get to read Ava's perspective and opinion on the matter. We hear her complaint and see her take action. Matilda's story ended sadly but Ava still has a chance at changing how her story ends.

"...You scar everyone around you, as did our fathers, our grandfathers, and all the rest back to the beginning, whenever that was."
- loc 1500

* * *

"You spoke to me of isolation, Christian, but you are lucky. You are isolated by choice, not by circumstances out of your control. You choose to be alone, you choose to lock people out, you choose pain. So yes, I pity anyone who would be so bull-headed."
- loc 1611

A kidnapping is a less-than-ideal situation for Ava but she courageously takes control over it. This is a surprising revelation for the duke (and for the readers) because we get the impression that Ava is a helpless wallflower -- but, apparently, there's more to her than meets the eye. I thought she was an admirable heroine who was undaunted in the face of adversity and managed to transform a negative event into a positive opportunity. She did what no man in her family could do: face the enemy and lay down terms. I loved how she moved and spoke with such grace, calm and sensitivity: how she treated Matilda's maid (who was serving her) and how she conducted herself in the Rothcastle household.

Innocence lost. Innocence found. Ava sacrifices her innocence to save her brother from Christian's revenge. Her selfless act is a moment of awakening for Christian -- and he regains a bit of his humanity and stops seeing Ava as the enemy. It's a wonderful moment but also one laced with a bit of sadness: their families have been sworn enemies for so long. There is no future for the two of them. The obstacle is not of their own making but existed even before their time: how does one make the change?

Old hatreds, hard lost, rose up in him as he pictured Windbury running wild. he loved the idea, thought the pain on Ava's face brought him no gratification. Those warring emotions, though, frustrated and angered him. How dare she alter his glee in an enemy's pain?
- loc 1894

What drives and defines Christian are very clear: he starts out as blinded by his anger of all the Windbury and his sole goal is to "win" the rivalry in his lifetime -- but, in the end, he undergoes a change of heart. What would precipitate changing one's whole life's philosophy? Love. Love is always the answer and Ava is Christian's saving grace.

Jess Michaels plots Taken by the Duke very well: by drawing out the tension of the rivalry, magnifying the bittersweet love story that grows between her hero and heroine, and resolving the conflict in an exciting, engrossing way. If my first paragraph wasn't clear, I'd like to reiterate at this point that this book is a winner for me. True story: After I finished reading this, I immediately ordered the second book, Pleasuring the Lady -- but now I'm afraid to read it because the third book, Beauty and the Earl isn't until April 2014 so I am trying to pace myself, and plan to savour the second book while waiting for the third. ^_^

To find out more about Jess Michaels and her books, click below:

My Favorite Historical Romance Novel Series for 2013

2013 was the year Courtney Milan took my breath away by releasing the 3 books and 2 e-novellas in her The Brothers Sinister series. Her The Duchess War was the first book I read and reviewed for 2013 and The Countess Conspiracy was one of the last books I read this year. It's an amazing series and I'm relieved to know that there's still Free's story to look forward to this 2014.

The cherry on top of this wonderful year of reading is Elizabeth Hoyt's release of 2 instalments in her Maiden Lane series. I really enjoyed Lord of Darkness and Duke of Midnight and I can't wait to read Apollo's story soon!

We said hello to a few promising new series in 2013:
- Robyn DeHart's very exciting Dangerous Liaisons series, which centers around the Jack the Ripper mythos,
- Jess Michaels's The Pleasure Wars, which has families locked in a centuries-old feud,
- Laura Lee Guhrke's exciting An American Heiress in London,
- Theresa Romain continues to showcase her deft hand at mixing humour and emotion in her Matchmaker series,
- and then there is Wendy Vella and her Langley sisters.

We also said a sad goodbye to these series, which were also completed this year:
- Tessa Dare's Spindle Cove series (which deserves all the awards and mentions) ended with Any Duchess Will Do. It was soooo hard to say goodbye to this series, but I'm glad Tessa has a new series coming in 2014 ^_^
- Renee Bernard also released the final instalment in her The Jaded Gentleman Series, Desire Wears Diamonds
- With the release of the youngest Windham's story, Lady Jenny's Christmas Portrait, Grace Burrowes also completes her stunning Windham Family series (she does have a novella coming out in 2014)
- Maggie Robinson also completed her The London List series with Lady Anne's Lover

It has been a truly memorable year of reading and reviewing for me. This is my penultimate list, which celebrates my favourite series for 2013:
1. Courtney Milan's The Brothers Sinister series (ongoing)

2. Elizabeth Hoyt's Maiden Lane series (ongoing)

3. Delilah Marvelle's Rumors series (complete)

4. Eloisa James's Fairy Tales series (complete?)

5. Julie Anne Long's Pennyroyal Green series (ongoing)

6. Jillian Stone's The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard series (ongoing)

7. Sarah MacLean's Rules of Scoundrels series (ongoing)

8. Shana Galen's Jewels of the Ton/Fallen Ladies series (ongoing)

To see last year's list, click here.


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