Sunday, June 5, 2016

An Embarrassment of Riches: Marrying Winterborne, The Fairest of Them All, and Hot in Hellcat Canyon

There are times as an avid reader that a good book is hard to find. Granted, in the modern age with a new book every 30 seconds, it may be silly to say that; however, I believe every reader has a story of a "drought" of sorts, where all the books read are just okay.

And then there are the other times. The times of feasting and the time of plentiful, nourishing rains. May 31, 2016 was one of those rainfalls.

There were a slew of books that came out for the start of Beach Reading 2016, but these three have me dying to locate the book before and anxiously waiting for the book that follows.

Case Study 1: Marrying Winterborne

Now I loved Lisa Kleypas' contemporaries, though it was her historicals I longed for, and when COLD HEARTED RAKE came out, I bought and devoured it like most everyone else. And it was good, but it was MARRYING WINTERBORNE that I waited for.

Rhys Winterborne is a self-made Welshman who owns the biggest and most glamorous department store in London, making off the rack shopping a thing. (Don't you love when favorite authors clearly watch the same beloved British dramas we do?) He is a vintage Klepas sex-on-a-stick hero. He reminded me a lot of Derek Craven (as Helen reminded me of the shy Sara), but still Rhys is wholly his own person. And the lovemaking! Every scene more delicious than the last. And then...the dark secret and it was a sticky wicket and I worried he would be stupid, but in the end, he surprised me. And Helen.

Rhys is so unbearably romantic and passionate; and I don't know where Ms. Kleypas finds her little details--she had an Author's Note about bustles--but what I wanted to know more about were Welsh customs and the like, because the oathing stone ritual made me swoon. This book is so romantic and so intense--it has my highest recommendation.

Case Study 2: The Fairest of Them All

I got hooked on Cathy Maxwell's new series, which I think has the subtitle of poor Gavin the Duke cannot catch a break or get laid. THE MATCH OF THE CENTURY was so much fun that I immediately pre-ordered THE FAIREST OF THEM ALL, even though I don't typically go for the lady thief motif. However, once again, I was thoroughly absorbed by this book and I could not put it down. (Let's not speak of my laundry or chores.)

Charlene "Char" Blanchard is essentially living by her wits to help her aunt, who takes care of her, and make sure they are not thrown out in the street. At a ball, she meets Gavin Whitridge, the Duke of Baynton (he must think his title is a bane), who falls immediately in love with her. Marrying the duke would solve every problem she has except one: she already has a thing for his twin brother, Jack, newly returned from America and who knows she's a thief.

So there are some problems, not the least of which that no one really wants to hurt Gavin, who has already been thrown over in the last book by his youngest brother. And Gavin is really, really tired of being dumped--he's nice, he's gorgeous, he's rich, and he has the bloody title. What does a man have to do to get married already?

Ms. Maxwell does a fine job of weaving in some history of the War of 1812 (Jack comes to England to try to prevent the war--to no avail), which seems rarely touched on in Regency set novels. The story itself is well-woven...and a delight to read.

Case Study 3: Hot in Hellcat Canyon

So Julie Anne Long has been my go-to historical author for several books now, so when she said her next book was a contemporary, I was all, "NOooooooooo!" And the title seemed a little campy...and I just wasn't sure I could believe it would be as good as the Pennyroyal Green series. But it was. It was JUST. AS. GOOD.

Britt Langley is a woman after my own heart. Witty, artistic, and inclined to arrive at work not a second too soon, she's a waitress at the Misty Cat Tavern (which was a "misprint" of the sign request, the owner had wanted to call it the Aristocrat Tavern. Bless their hearts.) It's a regular day waiting tables when John Tennessee McCord's truck breaks down and he decides to stay in town a few days while its repaired.

JT happens to be a well-known actor from Hollywood who has come to the area just ahead of a film schedule for a show that is supposed to jumpstart his currently stalled career. He's not prepared to fall for the waitress who values the power of an extensive vocabulary, but fall he does, and it's the easiest thing he's done in a long time. All is puppies and apple pie until JT's ex-girlfriend and powerful moviestar, Rebecca Corday comes into town.

One minute you're laughing, the next minute you're crying, the next minute you're fanning  yourself because JT is sexy as hell and knows how to wield it. But the black moment comes...and then there's a bigger black moment...and another...and finally I just can't take it any more and for the love that is holy, they better make up--and then there was the wedding toast speech.

This series is off to a rip-snorting hell of a good start. I cannot wait until Fall when we get the second in the series--and I anticipate loving it as much as I did this one. And I really do hope Franco gets his own book. Just because I'd like to see him suffer...and then get his own HEA.

Any of these books--ALL OF THESE BOOKS--should be in your beach tote this summer, if they aren't already. Summer 2016 has the best summer reading I've had in a long time.