Romance Novel Review: Loving the Marquess by Suzanna Medeiros

One of my guilty pleasures is reading romance novels, those set in the Regency era in particular.

Regency romances are situated in the period of the British Regency, in which King George III was deem unfit to rule and his son, who would later accede the throne as King George IV, ruled as Prince Regent.

Strict observances of manners and propriety, concerns about social classes, inherited estates and noble titles, and, sometimes, even social commentary serve as the backdrop for passionate love stories between plucky heroines and aloof heroes.

One such story is Loving the Marquess by Suzanna Medeiros, the first novel of her Landing a Lord series.

Burdened by her family’s reduced circumstances, Louisa Evans sought the help of Nicholas, the Marquess of Overlea, the head of the family that ruined hers. Worried that he may be suffering from an inherited illness that put the marquisate’s future in jeopardy, he proposed marriage to Louisa but intends to have another man father children by her to prevent the passing down of the mysterious disease. His plans were complicated by his growing feelings for her and outside threats that endanger their safety.

This book proved to be enjoyable read, with a fast-paced plot and engaging characters, albeit with a few typos and grammatical errors. Actually, I finished it overnight. 🙂

Louisa is a believable and relatable heroine, a practical woman given to taking care of others: her siblings in the wake of their father’s death and their family’s fall to penury, and Overlea after his ailment caused him to collapse near the Evans home. Her change from an impoverished gentry girl to an elegant marchioness is something I as a reader rooted for.

Overlea, on the other hand, is a bit problematic for me. While the readers are told that he grew up as the spare to the heir and never expected to take the marquisate, his transformation from a laid-back young man prior to the deaths of his father and brother, to a responsible and compassionate landlord to his tenants was not given enough substance. Also, his reasons for his hare-brained idea to have another man father his heir, and his planned methods to bring this about were half-baked.

Secondary characters that I would love to read more about in later additions to the series include Louisa’s siblings Catherine and John, and Overlea’s best friend, the Earl of Kerrick.

Loving the Marquess is a good and easy book to read while relaxing on a weekend. The editing could be improved a bit, though.

The Landing a Lord series is preceded by the novella Dancing with the Duke, in which Charlotte Grant sets out to capture the heart of her childhood crush and her best friend’s brother, the Duke of Clarington in her one and only London season. The Marquess of Overlea and the Earl of Kerrick made appearances in this story as Clarington’s friends.

In second book in the series, Beguiling the Earl, Catherine Evans, whom we first met in Loving the Marquess, adjusts to the change in her circumstances after her sister’s marriage to Overlea. She has carried a tendre for the Earl of Kerrick ever since she met him and has harbored a wish to capture his heart during her London season. However, he is duty-bound to give his attentions to another woman.

In the third book in the series, The Unaffected Earl, Rose Hardwicke fell from being the darling of the ton to being a social pariah due to a family scandal. She sought the help of Earl of Brantford to prove her father innocent of treason but she may have trouble breaking through his icy exterior.

For more details or to buy any of these books on Amazon.com, simply click on the titles or the cover images.

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Age of Faith Series by Tamara Leigh presents inspirational romances set in the Middle Ages

The Medieval period (which lasted from the fifth to fifteenth century), also known as the Middle Ages, were also often referred to the Age of Faith.  It was at this time that most of Europe took on a deeply religious aspect, particularly in Christianity.

This is also the setting of Tamara Leigh’s Age of Faith series.  A prime example of the historical inspirational romance genre, the series covers the struggles of siblings belonging to a noble Christian family to find and keep love amidst the upheavals of twelfth century England.

Inspirational romances (or inspies) deal with the growth of the featured characters, their relationships and their spiritual development.  While physical attraction, romantic tension and emotional connection between the hero and heroine are delved into, explicit scenes and language have no place in such stories.

I found the first five books to be compelling reads, with engaging characters and plots.  The leads have a good amount of chemistry, while side characters add variety to the narrative and are sometimes spun off into leads in their own stories in the series.

Book 1: The Unveiling

In the first book of series, Baron Garr Wulfrith takes on a new squire for training, not knowing that the squire is actually Lady Annyn Bretanne in disguise, set on avenging her brother’s death which she blames on the baron.

Book 2: The Yielding

Wulfrith’s younger sister Beatrix fell into a life-altering accident while aiding her sister Gaenor in evading marriage to their family’s enemy.  The same accident also resulted in the death of one of their pursuers, whose brother, Michael D’Arci, is bent on revenge against Beatrix.

The Kindle version of this book is currently FREE on Amazon.com so click on the title or the image above and download today!

Book 3: The Redeeming

Gaenor fled her bethrothed Christian Lavonne, a man she has never met, in fear of potential abuse and recriminations due to her family’s long enmity with the Lavonnes and her recent sin. Christian, on the other hand, wants nothing more than to tend to his lands and people, and end the destruction brought about by his family’s feud with the Wulfriths.

Book 4: The Kindling

The secret illegitimate daughter of the Wulfriths’ longtime enemy, Helene Tippet finds herself put to the task of healing Sir Abel Wulfrith.

Book 5: The Longing

For eleven years, Everard Wulfrith carried the torch for his lost love Judith and blamed her sister-in-law Susannah de Balliol for their separation. Then Susannah reappears in his life along with her nephew who could also be his son.

The next three books, which I have not yet read, expand the scope of the series beyond the original family.  They follow the Wulfrith’s friends and allies and their own search for love.

Book 6: The Vexing

Lady Beata Fauvel is much sought-after among noblemen, being a wealthy heiress. When Sir Durand Marshal is ordered to guard her and ensure she does not wed without their sovereign’s approval, he finds himself drawn to the woman known as the Vestal Widow.

Book 7: The Awakening

Baron Lothaire Soames believes wealthy Lady Laura Middleton betrayed him years ago but he now pursues her as he is need of funds.  He finds himself falling for her again, wondering if he can forgive the one he can’t forget.

Book 8: The Raveling

Sir Elias de Morville sets out to rescue an abducted boy who could be his long lost son, aided by a mysterious woman known only as Honour.

For more details or to buy any of these books on Amazon.com, simply click on the titles or the cover images.

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Why fall in love with the Professor in the Gabriel’s Inferno Series by Sylvain Reynard

While I’m a self-proclaimed bibliophile and I absolutely devour books, it is somewhat rare for me to fall in love with a book series to the point that years after I’ve read it, I’m still raving about it to my friends.

Such is the case for Sylvain Reynard’s Gabriel’s Inferno Series which was first published in 2012. Though it began as fan-fiction of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series (and was released in fan-fic boards as The University of Edward Masen under the authorship of Sebastien Robichaud), this series is vastly superior (in my opinion) to its inspiration in both style and content.

Centered on its enigmatic protagonist, Professor Gabriel Emerson and his romance with his student Julia Mitchell, the series of erotic novels explores their growing passion between that transcends their pasts, secrets and fears.

Set against the backdrop of academic life in the University of Toronto where Professor Emerson teaches Dante studies and in Selinsgrove, Pennysylvania where he grew up, the first book, Gabriel’s Inferno, introduces him to his shy and unassuming student Julia, who, without his knowledge, actually shares a deep connection with him and has fostered feelings for him for the past six years.  The next book, Gabriel’s Rapture, sees the two lovers torn apart by academic politics and vindictive rivals.  The last book in the series, Gabriel’s Redemption, chronicles his married life with Julia and his efforts to make peace with his past to build a future with her.

Throughout the three books and six years later, my interest in the series never waned; I find myself re-reading the books cover to cover from time to time. Aside from the story and the quality of writing, much of the credit can be laid at Gabriel Emerson’s character.

But why is The Professor so compelling?  Here are my thoughts as to why:

  • From the descriptions in the book, he is H-O-T as H-E-L-L!  The Professor is tall, dark-haired with piercing blue eyes and has a great physique (having gone “ten rounds with a few Southies in Boston and lived to brag about it”).  Apparently, he can rock the suit and bowtie and still be all alpha male.
  • The man has brains. Being a university professor whose credentials include a graduate degree from Harvard, the man sure has the smarts.  Plus, he can give a lecture about Renaissance literature and art and still have his audience at full attention.  (Check out this part of his lecture titled “Lust in Dante’s Inferno: The Deadly Sin Against the Self”: “Sex is properly understood to be not only physical, but spiritual—an ecstatic union of two bodies and two souls, meant to mimic the joy and ecstasy of union with the Divine in Paradise. Two bodies joined together in pleasure. Two souls joined through the connection between two bodies and the whole-hearted, enthusiastic, selfless giving of the entire self.” Now, that’s just brainy and sexy in one dose.)
  • His mystery is part of his charm. The Professor has inner demons that he grapples with and how he works through them with Julia and helps Julia deal with her own, makes this a deeper romance story than usual.
  • The guy sure knows romance.  Aside from his “moves” in bed, he is also an attentive lover outside of it. Despite the (surprisingly) few love scenes in the books, Gabriel demonstrates time and again what an attentive lover he is: he brings fine food to Julia’s dorm so she can dine in comfort and pleasure while doing her schoolwork. For their first time together, he takes her on a romantic trip to Florence. Plus, he prepared a soundtrack for his seduction (which includes “Lying in the Hands of God” by Dave Matthews Band)!

Gabriel Emerson is an intriguing and irresistible romantic hero. And I don’t mind sharing him with other romance readers who appreciate a strong and sensitive alpha male.

Click here to buy this book series on Amazon.com.

You might also like these other works by Sylvain Reynard:

Guess what! Sylvain Reynard recently confirmed that he is working on a fourth novel in the Gabriel’s Inferno series. I’ll be counting the days until it’s released!

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Why you should watch Outlander

Historical romance received some flak a few years back, with the genre often dubbed as “bodice-rippers” by some of its critics. However, the genre has produced several notable oeuvres, one of which is Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander which has been adapted into a TV series by Starz starring Catriona Balfe and Sam Heughan.

Outlander begins in 1945, when Claire Beauchamp Randall, a British World War II nurse, is on a second honeymoon with her husband Frank in Scotland to reconnect with each other after being separated by the war. While exploring the mystical standing stones in Inverness, she is taken back to 1743 where she meets her husband’s dastardly ancestor Black Jack Randall, the series’ main villain, and the dashing Jamie Fraser, the young heir to the Scottish estate Lallybroch who is in hiding among his MacKenzie relatives following some misadventures involving the British forces occupying Scotland at the time. Circumstances forced Claire and Jamie to marry each other (despite Claire’s prior marriage to Frank in the 20th century), and the two found themselves falling in love amidst the challenges brought about by witchcraft accusations against Claire, Black Jack’s wicked intrusions in their lives and the upcoming Jacobite rebellion.

Outlander is a highly complex and engaging show which deserves your binge-watching hours due to the following reasons:

  • A complicated love story. Claire and Jamie come from very different time periods which shaped their very different points of view. Things are further complicated by Claire’s conflicted feelings for Frank whose existence she must protect by ensuring that his ancestor Black Jack Randall does not meet his demise until he has already fathered a child.
  • A strong and smart female lead. Claire uses her wits, her knowledge of history and her medical background to navigate and survive 18th century Scotland. She is outspoken (sometimes to her detriment) but she stands by her principles and has an overwhelming drive to help others.
  • A hunky and “woke” male lead. Jamie Fraser is a product of his time, with a strong inclination to protect his loved ones, particularly the women in his life. He even took a flogging to protect his sister from rape. However, as he gets to know Claire, he grows to appreciate her independent nature and even believes her when she confesses her time traveling.
  • Sex scenes that are hot but not lascivious. Outlander’s sex scenes are often said to be made for the female gaze as opposed to the male’s. The camera lingers on Jamie’s physique as it does on Claire and the on-screen love-making are in turns hot, tender and funny.
  • Writing that does not shy away from and builds on the shock value. Black Jack Randall is among the darkest characters on TV and his dealings with Jamie, particularly in the episode “To Ransom a Man’s Soul,” is riveting yet almost painful to watch.

Outlander episodes are available on Amazon Prime.  Not yet on Amazon Prime? Start your 30-day free trial today!

Check out my blog posts about other TV shows: