criminal hero

To Marry “The Devil You Know”

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The Devil You Know by Jo Goodman
Berkley: May 3, 2016
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Free From Publisher

I’d go there again!
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The Devil You Know is the latest Western romance from Jo Goodman and it should be paired with Goodman’s This Gun for Hire. In The Devil You Know Israel McKenna is discovered beaten and bloody on Willa Pancake’s land. Suspicious about how the man ended up in that condition, Willa nonetheless decides to take him in (her precocious sister might have something to do with that). Rather than calming her fears, Israel can’t tell Willa why he ended up where he did in the state that he was; he has very little recollection of his past, and what he does remember he’s not eager to share. (more…)

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“Daughter of Dusk” Falls a Bit Flat

22678141Daughter of Dusk by Livia Blackburne
Disney-Hyperion: August 4, 2015 (Young Adult; Fantasy)*

Beach Vacation
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Daughter of Dusk is the sequel to Blackburne’s Midnight Thief, featuring Kyra, who is now a reformed thief. After falling in with a bad crowd in book one (yeah, training with the Assassin’s Guild was probably not a good idea, especially if you’re squeamish about killing people), Kyra now finds herself in an uneasy alliance with the Palace. This alliance is tense as Kyra has learned the truth about her parents. It just so happens that Kyra’s related to the Demon Riders that the Palace is trying to take down. Secrets and intrigue, folks. Bonus points for a girl that changes into a cat-like creature.

Working with Kyra is Tristam, a disgraced palace guard who happens to know Kyra’s secret. Of course there’s a lot more going on than Kyra’s secret as a cat shifter. There’s politics at work and Kyra and Tristam have to make a decision about what side they are on. Will Kyra betray the Makvani or will she stand with the Palace as they try to destroy them? And just what exactly is Kyra going to do about Tristam? So many feelings! (more…)

‘Grim Shadows’ in San Franscisco

18045490Grim Shadows by Jenn Bennett (Roaring Twenties #2)
Berkley Sensation, June 3, 2014 (Paranormal Romance)

My Rating: Beach vacation (2.5/5)

I feel like I am missing something with Jenn Bennett’s prohibition era series. Everyone seems to love it, but for me, I could take it or leave it. The series has an interesting concept, but as with the previous book, I’m left feeling ambivalent.

Grim Shadows features the younger brother of the hero from book one. Lowe Magnusson is an archaeologist who’s determined to make a name for himself outside of his brother, Winter’s, bootlegging operation. It’s not because he’s opposed to the criminal way of life, Lowe’s a con artist himself; what he wants is independence. How selling forgeries of ancient antiquities accomplishes that goal, I’m not sure, but to each his own.

Lowe meets curator, Hadley Bacall, after he acquires an ancient artifact that her father wants. Lowe’s willing to make a deal, but of course he’s also planning on swindling the Bacall’s at the same time. What he doesn’t count of is the true power of the artifact or his own reaction to the seemingly cool curator. How can he give Hadley a forgery when he’s falling in love with her? (more…)

Happily a ‘Scoundrel Ever After’

17259098Scoundrel Ever After by Darcy Burke (Secrets & Scandals #6)
February 8, 2014 (Historical Romance)*

My rating: I’d go there again! (4/5)

Scoundrel Ever After is the last installment in Darcy Burke’s historical romance series, so I’m a little sad that it’s over, but overall I enjoyed the conclusion to this series. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but that is in no way a bad thing.

Scoundrel Ever After picks up right after the previous book in the series, Never Love a Scoundrel, leaves off. This time around, Jason’s illegitimate brother, Ethan Jagger, takes centre stage. Fleeing a crime he didn’t commit (not that he’s an innocent) he stumbles upon Audrey Cheswick when he goes to retrieve one of his hidden stashes of cash for the getaway. Unfortunately, Audrey also finds herself in a spot of bother when Ethan finds her. In order to protect here, Ethan invites Audrey along, and since Audrey is much more than the wallflower she appears to be, she agrees to go along. While on the run, Audrey leans there’s a lot more to the handsome man she’s been giving dancing lessons to and it’s not always good, and in turn, Ethan learns that Audrey’s not your typical shy and retiring almost-spinster.

This one started off as your typical on-the-run romance; however, I soon realized that something was different. While Ethan is trying to reform and gain entry into the aristocracy so he can have a relationship with his brother, he is a criminal, and readers are not allowed to forget that. While I didn’t necessarily like that and it’s implications since Ethan has and does kill people, I think it is something that is so often forgotten in those reforming-the-criminal type romances. And Audrey, the lovely heroine that she is, definitely has a problem with this. Thank you for showing a bit of sense, Audrey! While it’s a given that these two are going to have a happily-ever-after, I applaud the author for giving readers a more realistic development of said happily-ever-after considering the “hero” of the story. Audrey had to take a good long look at Ethan and decide whether or not she was willing to have a relationship with him despite his past, and I for one appreciated this.

The build up of the relationship between Ethan and Audrey was fantastic. I expected things to happen differently between these two, but Audrey was full of surprises. She was not your usual almost-spinster character. She wasn’t really a wallflower and she had a lot of spirit. This led for some unexpected reveals about Audrey’s past, which I think contributed to Scoundrel Ever After being a unique romance. So often the criminal is paired with the innocence, and while Audrey’s not a criminal, she’s also not completely naïve or unworldly, and I think because of that, you can buy a more realistic happy ending between these two characters.

While there was some dark stuff happening in Scoundrel Ever After (Murder! Mayhem! Kidnapping!) I liked the fact that there were moments of humour as well. Ultimately, if you’re looking for something a little different in your historical romance and you like a dash of humour, you cannot go wrong with the conclusion to the Secrets & Scandals series. And don’t forget to check out the rest of the series too!

*Review copy provided via NetGalley.

Similar Reads

For a very similar, but perhaps more stereotypical read, check out Sabrina Jeffries’ A Notorious Love. We’ve got another criminal hero and a spinster heroine. It’s an oldie, but a goodie, and one that I find myself re-reading because it’s just that good.

A Notorious Love (Swanlea Spinsters, #2)

Like Ethan, the hero in Between the Devil and Desire by Lorraine Heath is a “real” criminal trying to make it in society. While I wasn’t a fan of the soap opera twist, it’s another one that does the “criminal” trope well.

Between the Devil and Desire (Scoundrels of St. James, #2)

I have to admit that I was a little shocked by the violence in Scoundrel Ever After; however, I think it lends authenticity. The refusal to shy away from reality is also evident in the Western romance, Beautiful Bad Man by Ellen O’Connell. Caleb wasn’t your typical hero and much like Audrey, Nora had to come to terms with the fact that she was in love with someone who has done bad things.

Beautiful Bad Man (Sutton Family, #1)