Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kindle-riffic Historical Romances

Mom gave me a Kindle for my birthday last month. (Thanks, Mom!) I've had great fun with the Kindle books available from my library (long may that last.) (I suppose most of you are not as invested in the whole publishers / e-books / digital rights brouhaha of late as I am.) Here are a few I've liked a lot, all historical romances.

The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon is the latest in her Lord John series. Lord John Grey is a secondary character in Gabaldon's popular Outlander series. He's a frequent foil to my beloved Jamie Fraser, but even in the main series, I always liked Lord John quite a lot. The Lord John books are more detective than romance, though John does generally find time to hook up with a guy or two (while thinking wistfully of Jamie - no wonder I find him so sympathetic.) In this story, he reluctantly drags Jamie along with him to Ireland so they can sort out a traitorous English army officer. This means we get a lot of Jamie POV as well as John POV, and a nice between-Outlander-books look at Jamie's life when he is imprisoned in England. In addition to a nicely twisty plot with adventure and characters I already love, the highlight of this book was just how often it made me laugh out loud. Lord John has a perfectly quick and wry sense of humor, which emerges most strongly when he's under fire (a fairly constant state with him, between the action and the need to hide his sexuality.) I'm always going to be impatient for more Outlander from Gabaldon, but I'll happily take a Lord John tale to tide me over while I wait.

Cecilia Grant is going straight to my 'be impatient for more by her' list after her debut, A Lady Awakened. Smooth writing, unusual characters, and avoidance of cliches combined to impress and entertain me. Martha is newly widowed and, without an heir, her brother-in-law will kick her to the curb. That's not so bad - she has siblings who will take her in - but stories from the neighbors and servants about the brother-in-law build him into a picture of evil and imminent danger to those she cares about and feels responsible for. Luckily, a handsome stranger has just moved into the neighborhood (okay, so there are some cliches) and he's a rake! A rake without money! So Martha buys a month of stud service from him, in hopes of conceiving a son she can pass off as her dead husband's. Meanwhile, Theo has to curtail his wastrel ways to impress his father and earn his allowance. And he's very intrigued by Martha. However, just when you'd expect her to Discover Untold Joys between the sheets, and him to reform thanks to the Love of a Good Woman, Grant throws the brakes. Martha and Theo instead embark on a far more believable and engrossing journey. Yes, of course, in the end they are happily ever. It is all the more satisfying, though, because in finding happiness with each other they each first find a way to happiness with themselves.

Beverly Jenkins's Captured is the first I've read by her, and I was intrigued by the new worlds she explores. Specifically, the New World - America, and not just Boston and New York. Her main character, Clare, is a slave, and is captured by the pirate Dominic, who takes her to his Caribbean island of freedmen, and hopes to keep her there. However, Clare's children are still enslaved up in Georgia. So despite her growing love for Dom - and his for her - she refuses to stay in paradise with him. Dominic is another rake who has to mend his ways to become a one-woman man, and there's some guff with his white half-brother and a slaver who is out to get him, but Clare is enchanting and worth all the trouble he and his loyal men must take to rescue the kids and ensure her happiness. Now, the writing in this was very clunky at the start, and never entirely effortless, but Jenkins still created a believable and intriguing world and characters worth cheering for. And as I said, the change of venue from London ballrooms was a lot of fun for fans of historical romance.

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