Introducing Quick & Dirty Romance Reviews, in which Erin rates a few of this month’s steamiest novels to determine what was deliciously swoony or just plain silly.
Last Call by Alice Clayton
Series: Cocktails #4 (can be read alone, but more enjoyable if you at least first read #1, Wallbanger)
Published: January 6, 2015
Genre: Contemporary romance
The couple: This is the final novella in a series, and main characters Caroline (hot interior designer) and Simon (hot photographer) already met-cute and fell in love a few books back. In Last Call they get the full romance novel happy ending – with just the right amount of near death experience to keep your attention.
Purple prose: Nope! Caroline’s first person narration is smart and sassy with no hint of flowery “romance” language, even during the steamy scenes. Lots of appropriately placed f-bombs, though – “Do you have any idea how much a last-minute first-class ticket to Asia costs? Just start typing zeros, just line those fuckers up.”
Crush worthy: Simon and Caroline are the main power couple but each of the other characters from earlier in the series appear for satisfying happy ending updates. More serious elements of the story manage to avoid sappiness. The novella length keeps the end-of-the-chapter style fresh. Caroline’s cat, Clive, once again has the final word and it’s delightful.
Cringe worthy: Nothing! Unless you consider well-written sexy times cringe worthy – in which case get out of here, prude.
Dirty rating: 💋💋💋💋 Steamy! On balconies, in kitchens, against walls!
Overall rating: ❤︎❤︎❤︎❤︎❤︎ True love! A great ending to a series that started with one of my all time favorite contemporary romances. Highly recommended.
If the Viscount Falls by Sabrina Jeffries
Series: The Duke’s Men #4 (can be read alone)
Published: January 27, 2015
Genre: Historical romance (Regency era England)
The couple: Back when he was a dumb youth, Dom underhandedly ended his engagement to Jane because he didn’t want her to share a life of reduced circumstance after he was abruptly disinherited – because he loves her so much. (It’s all very convoluted and stupid.) Twelve years later Dom unexpectedly inherits his brother’s title, and now he wants Jane back.
Purple prose: “His mouth consumed hers with all the boldness of Viking raiders of yore.” Yeah. That happened.
Crush worthy: The mystery/investigation that Jane and Dom get caught up in when Jane’s cousin goes missing (the event that brings Jane and Dom back together after a twelve year separation) had potential. Too bad it was overshadowed by Jane’s blandness and Dom’s stupidity.
Cringe worthy: A lot of romance novels effectively use the trope of a couple reconciling after a past big mistake, but Dom’s motivations were just silly and unconvincing, and Jane was dull as dishwater. I have no idea why they even liked each other.
Dirty rating: 💋💋💋💋 Steamy! Really cheesy, but steamy.
Overall rating: ❤︎❤︎ I’ve had better. Skip this one and read Sabrina Jeffries’s School for Heiresses series instead. It’s much more fun.
Catch a Falling Heiress by Laura Lee Guhrke
Series: An American Heiress in London #3 (can be read alone)
Published: January 27, 2015
Genre: Historical romance (late Victorian England)
The couple: Heiress Linnet has always been wary of fortune hunters who are only interested in the size of her inheritance, so she’s justifiably outraged when a British earl in need of funds steals a kiss in front of witnesses and then demands that she marry him to save her reputation. Jack actually does have honorable intentions and a bad case of insta-love, but he can’t explain the entire situation to Linnet because he’s entangled in keeping a friend’s secret.
Purple prose: Some borderline silly descriptions of intense feeeelings, but they’re more cheesy-cute and appropriate than gross and distracting. (See that previously mentioned “Viking raiders of yore” quote. Ugh.)
Crush worthy: Linnet barely knows Jack and I love that she’s skeptical of his motives instead of instantly love-struck. She’s, like, a normal person! Her reasons for being suspicious of suitors in general and her obstinate rejection of Jack’s wooing are convincing and refreshingly sane.
Cringe worthy: So that being said, all in all the story was a bit boring and more romantic melodrama could have been more fun to read. That perfect balance between realistic relationship progression and good old escapist fantasy is difficult to achieve, and some romance novels just can’t have it all.
Dirty rating: 💋💋💋💋 Steamy! But it takes a while to get there.
Overall rating: ❤︎❤︎❤︎ Quite pleasant. A decent read by a talented author, but not her best. Newbies who like the late 19th century setting should check out her Girl Bachelors series first.