Review: The Knave of Hearts by Elizabeth Boyle

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pub Date: February 2016
Publisher: Avon (Harper Collins)
Length: 372 pages
POV: 3rd, past.
FTC: Purchased myself

This is probably the least original set up I've read in a long time, but I still ended up enjoying this book enough to read it in one day. Twin sister is ruined when a drunk rake releases her in the middle of a dance, causing her to knock over several dancers and effectively ruin her chances. Rake responsible then bets a horrible jerk that he can restore her reputation and make her a "Diamond."  I must have read something similar a dozen times at least. Despite that, I found the book engaging and fun.

Boyle's style has always been light, but her newer books seem to have veered even further into that category. I'm not sure if Avon as a whole has been steering the ship in that direction, or if it's just my favorite authors. I wanted just a teensy bit more angst in this. Some true pain. Even so, it's not a bad book by any means.

My main issue is that I felt like I was missing some crucial subtext that (maybe?) were in other books in the series.  Also, I felt like Tuck's sacrifice for his family was completely glossed over in a throw away sentence or two. It was a vital part of his ruined reputation, his break with Wakefield, but Lavinia and the reader are told only the scant basics at the very end of the novel.

Overall a fun—but not really deep—story. Sometimes that's all you need.

My Grade: B

The Blurb:
In the fifth novel of the captivating Rhymes With Love series from New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Boyle, a young woman's hopes of a match encounter a wickedly handsome complication . . .
Lavinia Tempest has been eagerly anticipating a spectacular season. But one disastrous pile-up on the Almack's dance floor derails all her plans. Add to that, the very stunning revelations about her mother's scandalous past have become the ton's latest on dits. Lavinia's future has gone from shining bright to blackest night in one misstep.
Alaster "Tuck" Rowland admits he's partly to blame for Lavinia's disastrous debut. But it's not guilt that compels him to restore her reputation. Rather, he's placed a wager that he can make Lavinia into one of the most sought-after ladies in London. Who better than an unrepentant rake to set society astir?
Tuck's motives are hardly noble. But in teaching the lovely Lavinia how to win any man she wants, he suddenly finds himself tangled in the last place he ever imagined: in love.


TBR Challenge Review: The Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne

Format: mass market paperback
Pub Date: September 2015
Publisher: St. Martins
Length: 356 pages
FTC: Received for free at RT15

This month's theme is recommended read, and this was a book that was receiving a ton of buzz on social media and at the convention last year. As usual with highly talked about books: this one did not live up to expectations. No surprise there.

I can see why people liked the book. I mean, it definitely is different than the overwhelming majority of today's historical romance. Very much in the style of Elizabeth Hoyt. But...what starts out as a great, gritty, highly emotional story veers way too deeply into melodrama for my personal preference. The first few chapters are amazingly good, but the rest of the book fails to live up to that promise.


DNF Mini review: Lay it Down by Cara McKenna

FTC: Received for free at RT
I call this "The Book The Red Dirt Killed." It was fine. The characters were fine. The plot was okay. The setting was decent. But over and over again, McKenna described the soil out in BFE Nevada as "red." IT'S NOT RED.  It's an unrelenting grayish, alkaline brown. So over and over again, I had to shake that incredibly wrong mental image out of my head. Nevada isn't the reddish desert of the Southwest—at least not outside Las Vegas—and having that one detail that seemed so important to the hero be so wrong? It ruined a promising book. I put this down after reading halfway through and have zero desire to pick it up again. Bummer. In this case, I think choosing a specific, real location might have worked better. Maybe there is a spot in the middle of Nevada that's red, but I've driven across northern Nevada to Utah and from Reno to LA. I lived in Nevada for 7 years. It's brown.