Mad About the Marquess, Elizabeth Essex

mad about the marquess

Grade: A

Doing it at: 93%

Catnip: Kilts, Red Hot Banter, Deep Dark Secrets, Wed Before Bed, Hate to Love You, Lords and Ladies, CoHo Exception, Dual Narrative, Strong Female Lead

Shame Scale: Very low, this one is pretty friendly for reading in Dr’s offices, kindergarten classrooms (well, not aloud), and public transport vehicles

Fantasy Cast:  This mystery ginger, Camilla Luddington

Book Description:


Lady Quince Winthrop has been robbing from society’s rich and giving to Edinburgh’s poor for years. But everything changes the day she can’t resist the temptation to steal from the Marquess of Cairn.


Alasdair, Marquess of Cairn, has come back to Scotland to stop a thief, never thinking that the lass he’s trying to woo is about to give a lesson in larceny he won’t be able to forget. From the twisted streets of Auld Reeky, to the hills of the highlands, Quince leads Alasdair on a merry chase, and finds the one man she shouldn’t fall for, is the one man she can’t resist.


I spent most of this spring in a very serious reading slump, maybe the worst slump of my whole reading life (approaching the 30 year mark), and I was starting to think I would never ever break out of it. I wasn’t reading, so I wasn’t blogging, and Mary was getting real tired of my shit. LUCKILY I have since recovered, and been blessed with a streak of exemplary reads. Including Mad About the Marquess, one of the most charming historicals I’ve ever read.

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Act Like It, by Lucy Parker

act like it

Grade: B

Doing it at: 66%

Catnip: Fake it Till You Make It; Actors; The Theater; Love to Hate You; London; Lords and Ladies; 99 cent Books; Dual Narrative

Shame Scale: Very low, this one barely even has any dirty parts

Fantasy Cast:  Renee Olstead; Ramin Karimloo

Book Description:

This just in: romance takes center stage as West End theatre’s Richard Troy steps out with none other than castmate Elaine Graham

Richard Troy used to be the hottest actor in London, but the only thing firing up lately is his temper. We all love to love a bad boy, but Richard’s antics have made him Enemy Number One, breaking the hearts of fans across the city.

Have the tides turned? Has English rose Lainie Graham made him into a new man?

Sources say the mismatched pair has been spotted at multiple events, arm in arm and hip to hip. From fits of jealousy to longing looks and heated whispers, onlookers are stunned by this blooming romance.

Could the rumors be right? Could this unlikely romance be the real thing? Or are these gifted stage actors playing us all?

I’m a big fan of the fake relationship trope, both in books and in Hallmark movies. Everyone goes in knowing that the couple is going to fall in love for real and end up all happily ever after, but it’s still uniquely satisfying. Since I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately (lets blame this endless bleak grey winter that is CRUSHING MY VERY SOUL), I was desperately in need of the perfect, toothsome, candy floss book. Act Like It, fulfilled all my needs.

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Cold-Hearted Rake, Lisa Kleypas

cold hearted

Grade: B

Doing it at: 73%

Catnip: Historical, Forbidden Romance; Bareback Riding; Strong Female Lead; Dual Narrative; Reformed Rake; Lords and Ladies; CoHo Exception

Shame Scale: I dare anyone to try to make me feel bad about reading a book whose title is a play on a Paula Abdul Song, come at me bro.

Fantasy Cast:  Yael Grobglas; Joseph Fiennes (Circa Shakespeare in Love)

Book Description:

A twist of fate . . .

Devon Ravenel, London’s most wickedly charming rake, has just inherited an earldom. But his powerful new rank in society comes with unwanted responsibilities . . . and more than a few surprises. His estate is saddled with debt, and the late earl’s three innocent sisters are still occupying the house . . . along with Kathleen, Lady Trenear, a beautiful young widow whose sharp wit and determination are a match for Devon’s own.

A clash of wills . . .

Kathleen knows better than to trust a ruthless scoundrel like Devon. But the fiery attraction between them is impossible to deny—and from the first moment Devon holds her in his arms, he vows to do whatever it takes to possess her. As Kathleen finds herself yielding to his skillfully erotic seduction, only one question remains:

Can she keep from surrendering her heart to the most dangerous man she’s ever known?

I’ve spoken more than once on the blog about how historicals were my first romance book-love; I had a summer job watching kids whose mom inhaled paperback romances. She always had a giant bag of them in the living room that I would dip into, for an “education.” She was very into Sandra Brown historical’s, mostly set in the old west, and I still vividly remember a scene where the virginal heroine was titillated by watching the hero wash himself in just his britches from her bedroom window. And also Iris Johansen whose books I rediscovered last year, and loved all over again. The Johansen reread was a big part of my nosedive into full time romance. Anyway, this rambling introduction is just to lament how few historical romances I’ve been reading lately and to tell you I was really excited for Cold Hearted Rake, because Kleypas is pretty much the best historical fiction author working today.

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The Duke of Dark Desires, by Miranda Neville

duke of dark desires

Grade: B

Doing it at: 48%

Catnip: Lords and Ladies; Secret identities; Historical; Revenge plots; Strong female lead; Dual narrative

Shame scale: It’s a classic bodice ripper cover, so that’s pretty shame-y. It taught me a lot about the French Revolution though! Which puts it at low to medium shame, your grandma might be OK with you reading this

Fantasy casting: Matthew Mcfayden and Anna Kendrick

Book Description:

Wanted: Governess able to keep all hours . . .

Rebellious Julian Fortescue never expected to inherit a dukedom, nor to find himself guardian to three young half-sisters. Now in the market for a governess, he lays eyes on Jane Grey and knows immediately she is qualified—to become his mistress. Yet the alluring woman appears impervious to him. Somehow Julian must find a way to make her succumb to temptation . . . without losing his heart and revealing the haunting mistakes of his past.

Desired: Duke skilled in the seductive art of conversation . . .

Lady Jeanne de Falleron didn’t seek a position as a governess simply to fall into bed with the Duke of Denford. Under the alias of Jane Grey, she must learn which of the duke’s relatives is responsible for the death of her family—and take her revenge. She certainly can’t afford the distraction of her darkly irresistible employer, or the smoldering desire he ignites within her .

But as Jane discovers more clues about the villain she seeks, she’s faced with a possibility more disturbing than her growing feelings for Julian: What will she do if the man she loves is also the man she’s sworn to kill?

I’m going to be your sole historical reviewer for mybookshame; which is fine with me, I’m happy to keep all the juicy costume drama and royalty plays for myself. Historicals are what I cut my teeth on and sometimes nothing else will satisfy my romance sweet tooth.

The Duke of Dark Desires is set in 1803 England, but the story starts in France during The Terror. As with most historicals this took me a longer time to read than my average because I kept stopping to Google things like “The Terror,” “The Dauphin,” “Fragonard Pastel,” and “evening gown + 1800 + France.” Come for the book sexy time– stay for the dress porn. Our heroine, Jane Gray, isn’t really Jane Grey at all. Her family of French aristocrats were all sent to the guillotine and Jane only escaped the same fate because her father had insisted she pretend to be the family governess. She also survived because a French soldier decided that the then-fifteen-year-old would make a perfect mistress. Jane makes very few bones about, and is delightfully unashamed of, the fact that she set up as mistress of two separate men in order to stay alive until our story brings her to England. She did what she had to do and the hero also understands this and doesn’t ever hold it against her–he could care less that she’s not a virgin. In fact he seems to view it as a plus since he wants to seduce her at first sight. Of course, he doesn’t know she has come to seek revenge on (and kill) someone in his family who she holds responsible for the death of her parents and little sisters.

Julian Fortescue is pretty fresh to his dukedom and is still overcoming a black sheep past as an art dealer; which is how he initially came in contact with Jane’s family. He purchased and helped smuggle out the family’s extensive art collection, and escaped France by the skin of his teeth while her family lost their heads. Now his mother, who seems like a real fun time, has remarried (again) and left his three sisters in his care while she sails for America. Which is where Jane comes in, he needs a governess and she needs to snoop around the family house and figure out which Mr. Fortescue ruined her life nine years before. Julian wants Jane as soon as he sees her, she feels the same and looks much forward to what she knows will be her eventual seduction. This book has a dual narrative and Julian spends a lot of time thinking about lying Jane down on a particularly sumptuous divan in the library and investigating whats happening under her skirts. At one point he inquires as to whether she has any hoop skirts -better for the exploring- and always a fantasy of his (mine too). These two are playful and have a good flirt going, when they get with the doin’ it neither feels guilty and there is no wishy washy-ing about doing it again. They like sex and they like having it with each other. This is my favorite kind of historical sex. No shame and virgin guilt for me, please. I’m a modern lady.

The actual plot is twisty and fun and requires attention paying. The HEA comes a smidge quickly, I felt a little of that “OH, they just put a bow on that” disappointment that fast endings give me. Overall though, this book had a real plot, and real dialog, and sex that did not induce eye rolling or cringing. The undressing is more fun in historicals, all that unwrapping. It also introduced me to the word quim. I was under the impression I knew every euphemism for the P and the V, it’s always nice when a book surprises you. The Duke of Dark Desires gets a strong B, I would recommend it to any fellow lovers of castles, dukes, carriages, proper dining etiquette, and royal intrigue.