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So this week, I read two books that I heartily enjoyed. A rare occurrence of late.

Just recently, I seem to have been cursed with a series of DNFs that were so bad, they didn’t even deserve F-type screaming reviews.

The first book that I read was Elizabeth Hoyt’s, To Taste Temptation.

Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

The ton loves nothing more than a good scandal, and they’re giddy with the appearance of wealthy Samuel Hartley. Not only is he self-made, American, and in the habit of wearing moccasins, but he is also notorious for fleeing a battle in which several English gentlemen lost their lives. What the ton doesn’t know, though, is that Samuel is in Londonbecause of this massacre. He believes his regiment was given up to the enemy and won’t rest until he finds the traitor.

Lady Emeline Gordon is captivated with Samuel. Not only does he defy convention with his unusual dress, his sensual smile, and his forthright manner, but he survived the battle that killed her beloved brother. Samuel suspects that the person responsible for her brother’s death is Jasper Renshaw, Viscount Vale, a family friend since childhood–and Emeline’s fiancé. Despite Emeline’s belief in Vale’s innocence and her refusal to break off her betrothal, she and Samuel begin a passionate affair. But can their relationship survive the fallout from Samuel’s investigation?

I much prefer that blurb to the one on the actual book.

The hero was lovely, the heroine was feisty, (but not in a way that made me want to stab her in the eye), and the plot was good. One reason why I suspect Elizabeth Hoyt’s books do so well is because her love scenes are hot as hell, without venturing into skeezer territory.

I also love Hoyt’s habit of including fairy tales in her books. At the beginning of each chapter, Hoyt tells the tale of Iron Heart. I have to say, I found the tale just as engrossing as the actual book.

By the way, isn’t Hoyt’s cover just lovely? The pic on the inside cover aint bad either. Totally hot.

The other book that I read that I didn’t hate as much as I thought I was going to, was Joanna Bourne’s, The Spymaster’s Lady. In actual fact, I didn’t hate it at all. Two historicals read in the same week. What is the world coming to?

Here’s the very brief blurb from Amazon:

She’s never met a man she couldn’t deceive…until now.

She’s braved battlefields. She’s stolen dispatches from under the noses of heads of state. She’s played the worldly courtesan, the naive virgin, the refined British lady, even a Gypsy boy. But Annique Villiers, the elusive spy known as the Fox Cub, has finally met the one man she can’t outwit.

Believe me, the blurb didn’t do the book justice whatsoever.

There were so many plus points to TSML, that it’s fairly hard to know where to begin.

If I had to use one word to describe this book, that word would be ‘smart’. It was the kind of book that I’d be proud of, in terms of representing the romance genre. Yes, it was that good.

In the reviews that I’ve seen of this book, I kept reading that the heroine was remarkable, and honestly, she truly was. She was an actual kick-ass heroine, who managed to keep her faculties in good working order, even when the hero was in the same room . Do you know what a relief it is to read a book where the heroine still retains her brain cells even after meeting the hero?
It’s been a while since I had a heroine that excited me as much as Annique did, but damn, I was impressed.

I must admit to having a bit of a Sixth Sense moment at one point in this book, which delighted me no end, because the unexpected is such a rare occurrence when it comes to romance books.

Bourne’s writing was immaculate in every way. The dialogue was snappy, amusing, and delivered perfectly by two of the most unusual characters that Romancelandia has ever seen.

Annique and Grey were great foils for each other, and I loved how witty they were together. Annique had a dry sense of humour that translated well, and in no way diminished the authenticity of the period and the setting. I’m often amazed by the number of historical romance authors who try to be amusing, using 21st Century humour.

The Spymaster’s Lady was a joy to read, and I look forward to Joanna Bourne’s next offering.

Hopefully she doesn’t do a Lisa Valdez, and make us wait three years for the release of her follow-up book.

Just saying.


  • Marg
    April 30
    10:03 am

    I think the next Joanna Bourne book is out in a couple of months…so not another Valdez here. I really must read both of these.


  • I have heard wonderful things about The Spymaster’s Lady and the first book looks great as well. Two more to add to the “to buy” and the TBR lists. Thanks!!!!


  • sula
    April 30
    12:04 pm

    Spymaster’s Lady was definitely one of my best reads so far this year. And I can’t wait to get the Hoyt. I loved all of the Prince trilogy. I think you’re right about her deftness with a hot love scene. Looking forward to this one.


  • I have Bourne’s next book, My Lord and Spymaster, and this book is just as good as her first! Joanna will definitely NOT BE a one hit wonder, and now Lisa Valdez. If you enjoyed Ann in Spymaster’s Lady, you will also like Jess in My Lord and Spymaster. It comes out in July 😀


  • I have this book in the tottering TBR mountain. Sooner or later I’ll clear the TBReviewed list and will tackle it.

    Yes, I will! 😡


  • Tracy
    April 30
    4:04 pm

    TTT is on my list to buy the next time I’m at the store! Can’t wait!


  • Thanks for the recs. I’ve added To Taste Temptation to my list.


  • Mad
    April 30
    6:29 pm

    I’ve got both of these in the TBR!


  • I love Elizabeth Hoyt like a fat kid loves cake. I got to meet her in March at the Southern Lights Writer’s Conference and I totally fangirled her. At the book signing, she and I were at adjacent tables and I kept saying to people who came up to get me to sign, “look, I’m sitting by Elizabeth freaking Hoyt!”

    It was awesome.


  • I loved The Spymaster’s Lady and Elizabeth Hoyt’s earlier books so it was with GREAT delight I found To Taste Temptation had arrived – I ordered it Thursday. In fact if I wasn’t here typing this, I’d be reading it now. I have about four other books on the go, but this one is zooming to the top! And yeah – that inside cover ain’t too shabby is it>


  • Capo
    May 1
    5:14 am

    I’m still drooling over the girl on the To Taste Temptation cover. Guess it’d be courteous and go read Karen’s comments about the story itself now….


  • Sybil
    May 4
    5:16 pm

    LOL you know I guess in a way Bourne is HOPE for Valdez.

    Although I think (I can’t recall if I even have asked her) I want to say her issue was publisher related.

    You have to remember this isn’t her debut book, that would be Her Ladyship’s Companion, which debut from Avon in 1983. The character are even apart of the same world we are currently enjoying. But her third novel is already ARC’ed and set. So you are cool on that one ;).


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