Weekly Reading Round-Up

Here’s what I’ve been reading this week:

— Elsie Lee, Prior Betrothal.

In the past, I’ve tended to avoid Elsie Lee’s historicals, sticking with her 1960s romantic suspense (with the notable exception of Silence Is Golden, a Victorian-set, classic Gothic, annual re-read for me). But there was an Elsie Lee Regency in the care package my wonderful friend Vicki sent me, so I decided to give it a go. I am so glad I did. It had all the sprightliness of the modern Elsie Lee with a Heyer-esque capacity for the ridiculous. In fact, it reminded me very much of Heyer’s Grand Sophy in places. There was a Pollyanna-esque sweetness about the way the heroine set about improving everyone else’s lives. I now have to go find my other old Elsie Lee Regencies that have been sitting around unread….

— LaVyrle Spencer, Small Town Girl.

This was less of a win for me, although I can’t quite put my finger on why. This was a contemporary (written in the early 90s) set in small town Missouri. Despite my quibbles, there was a lot I liked about it: the big star having to readjust to life in her old hometown, watching her spar with her sisters, getting an inside peek at the country music business. I’ve been told that the one I really have to read is Morning Glory, set in World War II Georgia.

— Barbara Michaels, House of Many Shadows.

I know, I know, I go back to my old Barbara Michaels collection like a homing pigeon. But who doesn’t love stories involving big old houses, clearing out attics, and historical mysteries? (In fact, I’m writing one of those myself right now….)

— Barbara Michaels, Be Buried in the Rain.

Once the Barbara Michaels bug bites…. This is another old favorite, a contemporary heroine who gets stuck going back to the decaying family mansion to nurse her despised grandmother. But what evil lurks on the grounds of Maidenwood?

What have you been reading this week?


  1. Céline on January 4, 2013 at 7:54 am

    This week, I read a few books (holiday power!): the lastest installment in the TimeRiders series, which was absolutely stunning, My one and only, by Kristan Higgins, which was nice, The Forbidden Lady by Kerrelyn Sparks, also nice, with a scarlet pimpernel-ish hero, and last, but not least, I went on with the re-reading of the Pink Carnation along with a friend, with The seduction of the crimson rose… to be ready for Miss Gwen in August! 🙂

    Is your WIP going well, Lauren? 🙂
    (just being curious)

  2. Christine on January 4, 2013 at 8:42 am

    I finished The Secret Keeper and LOVED it! I like all of Kate Morton’s books but this one is absolutely my favorite. I kind of saw part of the end coming, but that didn’t make it any less great. Also, some of her twists in other books tend to be a little… weird… for lack of a better words, but this one was great.

    My birthday is this weekend so I’m hoping to have some time to relax and read some more!

  3. Jeffrey on January 4, 2013 at 8:57 am

    I just finished an Austen fan-fic Pride and Prejudice ‘prequel’ novella entitled Darcy’s Decision; Given Good Principals by first-time author Maria Grace. Beautifully done and there is already a second in this series. This one deals with our anti-hero Mr. Wickham (pre-Elizabeth and Bennet)how Darcy deals with Wickham’s treachery and compromising of his sister Georgiana. Review forthcoming on http://www.austenprose.com

  4. Julie H on January 4, 2013 at 11:09 am

    I have had a week of reading high points. Everything has been so good! I love when that happens. Lately I’ve read:

    -Sarah MacLean’s next book One Good Earl Deserves a Lover. I agree with what you said, Lauren. I think it may be her best yet.

    -Lisa Kleypas’s Sugar Daddy. I was skeptical because it’s written if first person, but it was really, really well done. I had forgotten how much I loved her writing. And, I love how we get to see Liberty, the heroine, from when she was a girl to adulthood. It’s definitely not a typical romance, but it’s a good one, nonetheless.

    -Jennifer Ashley’s Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage. This is the sequel to the Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie which was SO good. I really like Ms. Ashley’s style, and it’s fun to read a Victorian romance instead of a regency. This is a story of a married couple that separated and comes back together to learn to love each other better than before. I think that this might be becoming one of my new favorite tropes.

    -And, Lisa Kleypas’s Blue-Eyed Devil. This is the sequel to Sugar Daddy. It is very emotional and heart-wrenching, but funny, too. I’m still finishing this one, and I can’t wait to see how it all wraps up.

    On another note – Lauren, I went to the new RWA website yesterday, and there you were on the front page with your RITA and Julia Quinn! Very cool.

  5. Katie R. on January 4, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    This week I read The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen. I love this series and this book was a perfect way to wrap up the holidays! I can’t wait for the next book.

  6. Elizabeth K. Mahon on January 4, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    I’m reading a Jane Feather novella Engagement at Beaufort Hall. I would also suggest Lauren that you pick up a copy of Lavryle Spencer’s YEARS which is quite lovely.

  7. Kristen A. on January 4, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    This week I read:

    -Ripe for Seduction by Isobel Carr, which I didn’t like as much as Ripe for Scandal, the previous in the series. I’m starting to pinpoint that I like her books better when the hero and heroine have established history when the story begins than when they’re just meeting. It sounds like that’s going to be the case for the next in the series, so I’m still looking forward to it.

    -Forever a Lord by Delilah Marvelle, which I loved. There was a very nice lack of artificial obstacles between the hero and heroine. Their marriage was initially for business reasons but they grew together nicely without a lot of angsting under the impression that they *must* divorce in four months as agreed after they realized they didn’t want the arrangement to be temporary any more.

    Now I’m midway into Kindred by Octavia E. Butler.

  8. Nancy Kvorka on January 4, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    I am reading my Susan Kearsley books. I started with The Rose Garden, then The Shadowy Horses and now I am reading Named of the Dragon. I really liked The Rose Garden and The Shadowy Horses. Both said a lot about relationships and the main ones in particular without a lot of words. I gathered that is this author’s style. Another great author recommendation from this group. Thanks Lauren! However, I want to wait even less for The Ashford Affair and Miss Gwen’s books to come out than I did before. More good recommendations this week too. As noted on the book cover The Shadowy Horses did remind me of Barbara Michaels and Mary Stewart, long time favorites of mine.

  9. Elizabeth (aka Miss Eliza) on January 4, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    I read the newest Dorthy Parker/Algonquin Round Table mystery which was perfect to round out the year. A locked room mystery at the Algonquin with Arthur Conan Doyle helping the vicious circle solve the crime!

    Now I’m reading Sarah Water’s Fingersmith, and it’s just victorian Gothicy splendor! I think I’m going to go read now in fact!

  10. Pam on January 4, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    I read Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh, which I picked up at Hatchards, in fact, when I was in London this past November. It’s a scathingly funny send-up of the decaying British aristocracy in the inter-war period and a biting critique of the inequities of the social system, done in typical Waugh fashion that made me laugh embarrassingly loudly. Paul Pennyfeather is sent down (kicked out) from Oxford in ridiculous circumstances and ends up teaching at a fourth-rate prep school in Wales, where he encounters lots of “loathsome little beasts” (boys), two disillusioned and dipsomaniacal fellow masters, and the buxom Margot Beste-Chetwynde, mother of one of his pupils and the harbinger of Pennyfeather’s ultimate undoing. Most people don’t know Waugh beyond Brideshead Revisited (my favorite book ever) and Vile Bodies, but this one is a scream!

    When I carried this book, along with a new copy of Persuasion (mine keep disappearing) to the register the girl checking me out told me that they would make for a “great Boxing Day: settle in an armchair with Decline and Fall, Persuasion, and a big glass of port…” I want her to be my new best friend.

    Miss Eliza: Sarah Waters is fantastic, you will love Fingersmith! Have you read The Little Stranger?

    • Lauren on January 4, 2013 at 7:35 pm

      Pam, I love “Decline & Fall”! Lady Circumference and little Lord Tangent?

      Have you read the Angela Thirkell books yet? I think you’d love them.

      • Pam on January 6, 2013 at 10:49 pm

        I haven’t, Lauren, but they look pretty spectacular. Thanks for the recommendation!

    • Elizabeth (aka Miss Eliza) on January 5, 2013 at 1:06 am

      Oh yes Pam, I have read The Little Stranger, at first I loved the atmosphere and the story but the ending dissatisfied me, until I thought on it more, and now think the ending perfect. I’m loving Fingersmith so far!

  11. Angie on January 4, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    Reading The Black Count by Tom Reiss, a biography of Alexandre Dumas’ father, a mixed race man who joined the French Army during the Revolution, survived the Terror, worked his way from private to General, and likely inspired both the Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers. Oh yeah, he apparently gave Napoleon a piece of his mind at one point.

  12. Sheila on January 4, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    H. Simonson’s Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, really enjoying it!

  13. Rachel Brown on January 5, 2013 at 12:07 am

    This week I’m rereading Tasha Alexander’s Dangerous to Know for the second time-it’s my all time favorite of her books. I’m also reading The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen. I have read two of her other books and am now in the process of reading the rest of her works. So far I have enjoyed every single one!

  14. Christine on January 5, 2013 at 7:19 am

    Oh! I forgot that I also finally read Austenland and loved it. Can’t wait for the movie!

  15. Am7 on January 5, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    I read The Forbidden Rose by Joanna Bourne loved it, loved it!
    I read This Time It Will Be Different and Other Stories by Maeve Binchy. It was good, but some of the stories were bit repetitive.
    Finally I am reading The Twelve Clues of Christmas. I am already liking it. I liked that she skipped ahead chronologically. People who were meh about Naughty in Nice but liked the rest of the series should try it.

  16. AngelB on January 6, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    Just finished “The Lady Most Willing” by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James and Connie Brockway. They stole your Turnip nickname and used it most unflatteringly (is that a word?)! What gives. 🙂

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