WHAT TIME IS LOVE? by Holly Williams

1947. 1967. 1987.
When Violet and Albert first meet, they are always twenty.

Three decades.

Over the years, Violet and Albert’s lives collide again and again: beneath Oxford’s spires, on the rolling hills around Abergavenny, in stately homes and in feminist squats. And as each decade ends, a new love story begins…

Two people.
Together, they are electric and the world is glittering with possibility. But against the shifting times of each era, Violet and Albert must overcome differences in class, gender, privilege and ambition. Each time their lives entwine, it will change everything.

One moment is all it takes…

As their eyes first meet, for a split-second it’s as if the clocks have stopped. Nothing else matters. Yet whichever decade brings them together, Violet and Albert are soon forced to question: what if they met the right person at the wrong time?


Title : What Time Is Love?
Author : Holly Williams
Format : Physical
Page Count : 320
Genre : Historical-Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Orion Books
Release Date : May 26, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Contemporary with magical realism
Time jumps
Complex couples

What Time is Love was a rather unusual read and concept that lulled you into the story you thought was the story, then pulled the rug out from under you. This is a book where I really think it helps if you read the synopsis before entering to prempt any confusion.

It was a story told in thirds, three couples or the same couple in different times, you decide. The first story was in one breath my favourite but it was incredibly tragic. The second, explored the makings and breakings of an open relationship. The third, brought Violet and Albert into the most contemporary times and gave them a different start, different challenges and a different end.

I think this was a clever concept and there was much I enjoyed about it. I did have times of frustration over unfinished ends, especially over story one which I was very partial to. I’m not sure what I thought about how these storys did or didn’t weave together, I need to think on it.

This was an absorbing read, it felt like nothing I’d quite read before and I definitely became invested in some of the couples.

Thank you to Orion Books for the review copy.

THE TRIAL OF LOTTA RAE by Siobhan MacGowan

On Halloween night, 1906, young working class Lotta Rae is attacked by a wealthy gentleman. She seeks justice at an Old Bailey trial alongside her barrister, William Linden, who she believes to be her ally.

The verdict is devastating and Lotta Rae soon realises the guardians of justice do not support her. But what none could foresee were the shocking consequences.

Twelve years later, as the suffragettes rise and the ghost of WW1 looms large over London, William is joined again by Lotta Rae. Now they will travel to a fateful destination, where truths must be faced and wrongs will be righted.

The day in court is done. But tonight he will hear her testimony.


Title : The Trial of Lotta Rae
Author : Siobhan MacGowan
Format : Physical
Page Count : 312
Genre : Historical Fiction
Publisher : Welbeck Publishing
Release Date : May 26, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Tragedy on tragedy
Compelling feminist era of history
Miscarriages of justice

I am all wrung out on finishing The Trial of Lotta Rae. This historical read was compelling from front to back, it made me feel so many things and most of my emotions at the events in this book centred on anger, frustration and sadness. The story is incredibly tragic but it is also important. Content warnings below.

I thought the trial from the title would be the centre of the book, but actually it was early in the story but a crucial catalyst for the events that came after. Essentially, this book was about men and women, men’s power over women in the era before and during suffrage and ultimately a personal tale of that experience. Lotta was such a complex character to unravel. She was abused, bereaved, a fighter, manipulative and a feminist. There were very few good men in her life but Pap and Raff were such amazing advocates for her and women in her situation, I lived for their words and support in this.

William. What can I say but that this man’s story unfurled slowly and insiduously. It took the whole book to find out the depth of what he had done and I found myself ultimately shocked. It was initally strange to me that William became worse than ‘The Man’. Talking of which, I wanted a bit more wrap up on what happened to that particular piece of disgusting human.

This story gave me all the feels, many of which were uncomfortable. From suffrage to the personal stories, I experienced it as a bystander and raged. This debut was excellent and I highly recommend this book to all feminists and historical fiction fans.

Thank you Welbeck Publishing for the review copy.

CW: rape, sexual violence, mental illness, murder

A LADY’S GUIDE TO FORTUNE-HUNTING by Sophie Irwin

The season is about to begin – and there’s not a minute to lose…

Kitty Talbot needs a fortune.

Or rather, she needs a husband who has a fortune. This is 1818 after all, and only men have the privilege of seeking their own riches.

With just twelve weeks until Kitty and her sisters are made homeless, launching herself into London society is the only avenue open to her. And Kitty must use every ounce of cunning and ingenuity she possesses to climb the ranks.

The only one to see through her plans is the worldly Lord Radcliffe and he is determined to thwart her at any cost.

Can Kitty secure a fortune and save her sisters from poverty? There is not a day to lose and no one – not even a lord – will stand in her way…


Title : A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting
Author : Sophie Irwin
Format : Physical
Page Count : 341
Genre : Historical Fiction
Publisher : Harper Fiction
Release Date : May 12, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Enemies spatting
Mercenary ethics
Snobs and realists

I had an absolute blast reading this book. It engaged me, made me laugh throughout the book and really made me love the main characters over time. The writing was all ease to get into and I read it in two sittings.

Kitty was a young woman on a mission, head of her family with four sister dependents to secure a future for. The mission was her own marriage to someone of fortune and she was utterly blinkered and focused. She had some shady approaches, she was two-faced to her suitors and a great liar. She was such a likeable heroine.

She met her forthright match in Radcliffe, they did not like one another and he was soon ‘onto her’ and worked out her schemes. These two verbally sparred, coerced favours out of one another but very slowly, something happened.

‘Dance with me,’ she demanded, walking straight up to him. He eyed her warily.
‘Thank you, but no,’ he said. ‘I should have mentioned that I also do not dance with persons who appear to want to murder me.’

I loved how this book shone light on the snobbery of the ton and the judgement passed on those of reduced circumstances and how the men perceived women and their role is society. I adored how Kitty smashed through those preconceptions but with subtlety. Kitty made Radcliffe and Radcliffe made Kitty.

This totally has a Bridgerton vibe but without the heat. For me, the heat wasn’t missing, the plot was rich and chemistry bubbled. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this book and I want more.

Thank you to Harper Collins and Insta Book Tours for the review copy.

THE MURDER OF MR. WICKHAM by Claudia Gray

From New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray—a summer house party turns into a thrilling whodunit when Mr. Wickham, one of literature’s most notorious villains, meets a sudden and suspicious end in this brilliantly imagined mystery featuring Jane Austen’s leading literary characters.

The happily married Mr. Knightley and Emma are throwing a house party, bringing together distant relatives and new acquaintances—characters beloved by Jane Austen fans. Definitely not invited is Mr. Wickham, whose latest financial scheme has netted him an even broader array of enemies. As tempers flare and secrets are revealed, it’s clear that everyone would be happier if Mr. Wickham got his comeuppance. Yet they’re all shocked when Wickham turns up murdered—except, of course, for the killer hidden in their midst.

Nearly everyone at the house party is a suspect, so it falls to the party’s two youngest guests to solve the mystery: Juliet Tilney, the smart and resourceful daughter of Catherine and Henry, eager for adventure beyond Northanger Abbey; and Jonathan Darcy, the Darcys’ eldest son, whose adherence to propriety makes his father seem almost relaxed. In a tantalizing fusion of Austen and Christie, the unlikely pair must put aside their own poor first impressions and uncover the guilty party—before an innocent person is sentenced to hang.


Title : The Drowned Woods
Author : Claudia Gray
Format : eARC
Page Count : 320
Genre : historical fiction / mystery
Publisher : Vintage Books
Release Date : May 3, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing a slow painful death for Mr. Wickham, he of Pride and Prejudice and Austen infamy. And while this didn’t quite deliver in that exacting way, he’s still dead! Three cheers for that.

What also drew me to this title, vicious longing for murder aside, was the idea of all of Austen’s famous couples gathered under one roof and subject to, essentially, a locked room mystery. Would they get along? Who would be the first suspect? Who would actually do it.. and why? I mean, we don’t need a why but would there be a why we wouldn’t see coming?

And, overall, this was good fun. I liked that Gray gave each couple very real conflicts, outside of the mystery, that did not seem fabricated and instead were likely issues that had plagued these characters or, due to circumstances, had caused certain issues to come to light. Each couple were in various stages of their HEA; some were long married, with grown children, some had only been married a few years, and others, only months. Each was a different perspective on their “what comes after” and each with their own concerns and issues. I really enjoyed it. Some, of course, more than others because we all have favourites.

Equally, we also see some secondary characters visit. Some we probably weren’t fans of to begin with but, at least, none so loathsome as Wickham.

I never guessed the culprit or the motive, by the way. I was just along for the ride. But it was completely realistic and not remotely out of left field — in case you are worried.

Gray is not a new or untried author to me, I’ve read much of her YA backlist, but this particular venture was a surprise. I have no idea if she’s shifting to adult permanently, or even historical fiction in general, but I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for what comes next.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

ELEKTRA by Jennifer Saint

The House of Atreus is cursed. A bloodline tainted by a generational cycle of violence and vengeance. This is the story of three women, their fates inextricably tied to this curse, and the fickle nature of men and gods.

Clytemnestra
The sister of Helen, wife of Agamemnon – her hopes of averting the curse are dashed when her sister is taken to Troy by the feckless Paris. Her husband raises a great army against them and determines to win, whatever the cost.

Cassandra
Princess of Troy, and cursed by Apollo to see the future but never to be believed when she speaks of it. She is powerless in her knowledge that the city will fall.

Elektra
The youngest daughter of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, Elektra is horrified by the bloodletting of her kin. But can she escape the curse, or is her own destiny also bound by violence?


Title : Elektra
Author : Jennifer Saint
Format : Physical
Page Count : 352
Genre : Historical/Greek Mythology
Publisher : Wildfire Publishing
Release Date : April 28, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Women, the powerful and powerless
Vengeance and bitterness
War and tragedy

Buckle up for another great retelling of a famous Greek mythological story but told from three key female perspectives, ones that are lesser known. The story revolved around Clytemenestra, Cassandra and finally Elektra and this was a tale told over decades. There’s much to immerse yourself into and it was an absorbing read filled with tragedy over three parts.

The book took the reader from Sparta to Troy and even other places briefly. I’ve read a fair few Greek mythology books around some of these events, especially Troy but Saint had a fresh perspective to bring on this, especially through Cassandra’s eyes. Expect all the brutality that comes with an authentic telling of these tales, especially violence and sexual violence towards women.

What was interesting about this story was how the women and girls did not stand together, they weren’t united in war, tragedy or loss. Grief drove some to all-consuming bitterness, others to violence and some to a sense of lethargy. There aren’t many characters to like for their personalities but I loved them for their dark sides and unexpected behaviours. Cassandra was the character that stuck out for me the most, the one I empathised with and felt most for.

This second book from Jennifer Saint was a consuming read, easy to digest despite the themes and I am a confirmed fan with this second offering.

Thank you to Wildfire/Headline Books for the early review copy.

KAIKEYI by Vaishnavi Patel

In the vein of Madeline Miller’s Circe comes a bold and sweeping debut that reimagines the life of Kaikeyi, the vilified queen of the Indian epic the Ramayana.

“I was born on the full moon under an auspicious constellation, the holiest of positions—much good it did me.”

So begins Kaikeyi’s story, that of a young woman determined to create her own destiny in a world where gods and men dictate the shape of things to come. But as she transforms herself from an overlooked princess into a warrior, diplomat, and most-favored queen, Kaikeyi’s will clashes with the path that has been chosen for her family. And she must decide if her resistance is worth the destruction it will wreak.


Title : Kaikeyi
Author : Vaishnavi Patel
Format : eARC
Page Count : 432
Genre : historical retelling
Publisher : Redhook
Release Date : April 26, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

So, I am prefacing this review by saying I know nothing of the epic that inspired this book. I didn’t even know the name Kaikeyi. Had I heard it, I wouldn’t even know to guess what it would be about. But seeing it compared to Circe, or at least likened to this style of female-focused retelling, I had to snatch it up.

Curiously, I read the wikipedia summary after finishing this book and wow. I mean, I don’t know if it’s accurate (again, prefacing, I am Jon Snow and know nothing), but what a different spin on things. And actually it made me appreciate this story even more.

It occurred to me [..] that maybe the gods had marked me for my mother’s sins. Sons could not be held responsible for maternal sins, but daughter’s? [..] Nothing protected me.

I truly don’t even know where to begin, really. This isn’t a short book and nor is it one that you can blast through; this took me hours to read. Maybe I savoured it, maybe I just didn’t rush, but either way, it took time.

The story spans decades, from Kaikeyi’s birth until well into middle age (ish), when her son is almost full grown. We see her grow up amongst many brothers, lose her mother, and try to find a place where she belongs. Then, once married off, she is even more at loose ends having lost the connections and stability she had at home. She struggles for a time to be a wife — one of three — but is lucky enough to be married to a good man who finds more value in her than just someone to give him sons; though she eventually does. And it’s after the birth of her child, and others, that things begin to change again.

Kaikeyi, remember that you did the right thing. You are not wicked.
Then why do I feel wicked?
Because those who are good question themselves. Because those who are good alway wonder if there was a better way, a way that could have helped more and hurt less. That feeling is why you are good.”

Please note, I made a very oversimplified summary of things and omitted a lot because spoilers. There is so much more to this than the above. There are gods, and demons, magical connections, unexpected friendships, the fight to empower other women in a society that only values them to a certain extent, and more.

I was sad this ended, I could have definitely read more, and I do wish some plot points had been made clearer. But maybe that’s just because I’m unfamiliar with the source material. I don’t know. Overall, I thought this was very strong, very interesting, and would absolutely recommend. I will be very interested in Patel’s next release (can you believe this is a debut!?), whether related or not, and will definitely be picking it up.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

THE SCOTTISH BOY by Alex De Campi🎧

1333. Edward III is at war with Scotland. Nineteen-year-old Sir Harry de Lyon yearns to prove himself and jumps at the chance when a powerful English baron, William Montagu, invites him on a secret mission with a dozen elite knights.

They ride north, to a crumbling Scottish keep, capturing a feral, half-starved boy within and putting the other inhabitants to the sword.

But nobody knows why the flower of English knighthood snuck over the border to capture a savage, dirty teenage boy. Montagu gives the boy to Harry as his squire, with only two rules: don’t let him escape, and convert him to the English cause.

At first, it’s hopeless. The Scottish boy is surly and violent and eats anything that isn’t nailed down. Then Harry begins to notice things: that, as well as Gaelic, the boy speaks flawless French, with an accent much different from Harry’s Norman one. That he can read Latin too. And when Harry finally convinces the boy – Iain mac Maíl Coluim – to cut his filthy curtain of hair, the face revealed is the most beautiful thing Harry has ever seen.

With Iain as his squire, Harry wins tournament after tournament and becomes a favourite of the King. But underneath the pageantry smoulder twin secrets: Harry and Iain’s growing passion for each other, and Iain’s mysterious heritage. As England hurtles towards war once again, these secrets will destroy everything Harry holds dear.

A sexy, slow-burn, enemies to lovers historical romance, Alex De Campi delivers a steamy but tender love story. “Brokeback Mountain” meets “50 Shades of Grey” set again the vivid backdrop of Medieval Britain. Perfect for fans of Madeleine Miller’s “Song of Achilles”, the novels of C. S. Pascat, and K.J. Charles.


Title : The Scottish Boy
Author : Alex De Campi
Narrator : Richard Pearce
Format : Audiobook
Length : 15 hours, 50 min
Genre : Historical Fiction/LGBTQIAP+
Publisher : Saga Audiobooks
Release Date : March 16, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★


Micky’s 2.5 -3 star review

Headlines:
Men not boys
Romp-fest

Sigh, I have a lot of thoughts about this book and I’m sad they’re not hitting the expectations I had. The premise for The Scottish Boy was great and it started off really well, with a plot that had traction and potential. Iain was the wiley, captured wildling and Harry was the nobleman of sorts. These ‘boys’ were young adults.

The plot had a sort of loose A Knight’s Tale theme but with a gay relationship and lots of sex (full emphasis on the sex). I am reluctant to ever judge if there is too much sex in a book, that’s subjective, but for me, the constant romping overtook everything else, the plot suffered and I just got bored by it. The initial connection and hatred between Iain and Harry was really compelling and their push and pull kept me reading but I cannot lie, I wanted more depth to the plot.

The book itself felt a little overlong, 500+ pages, 15 hours on the audio. From an audio perspective, the narration was solid and definitely enhanced the experience. This was a single POV, from Harry’s perspective but with good dialogue and accents.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the audio review copy.

THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY by Emily St. John Mandel

The award-winning, best-selling author of Station Eleven and The Glass Hotel returns with a novel of art, time, love, and plague that takes the reader from Vancouver Island in 1912 to a dark colony on the moon three hundred years later, unfurling a story of humanity across centuries and space.

Edwin St. Andrew is eighteen years old when he crosses the Atlantic by steamship, exiled from polite society following an ill-conceived diatribe at a dinner party. He enters the forest, spellbound by the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, and suddenly hears the notes of a violin echoing in an airship terminal—an experience that shocks him to his core. 

Two centuries later a famous writer named Olive Llewellyn is on a book tour. She’s traveling all over Earth, but her home is the second moon colony, a place of white stone, spired towers, and artificial beauty. Within the text of Olive’s bestselling pandemic novel lies a strange passage: a man plays his violin for change in the echoing corridor of an airship terminal as the trees of a forest rise around him. 

When Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, a detective in the black-skied Night City, is hired to investigate an anomaly in the North American wilderness, he uncovers a series of lives upended: The exiled son of an earl driven to madness, a writer trapped far from home as a pandemic ravages Earth, and a childhood friend from the Night City who, like Gaspery himself, has glimpsed the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the timeline of the universe.

A virtuoso performance that is as human and tender as it is intellectually playful, Sea of Tranquility is a novel of time travel and metaphysics that precisely captures the reality of our current moment.


Title : Sea of Tranquility
Author : Emily St. John Mandel
Format : ARC
Page Count : 255
Genre : historical fiction / sci-fi
Publisher : Knopf
Release Date : April 5, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

So, spoiler alert, this has a lot more pandemic-content than I think I expected. For some reason I thought the discussion was more centered in the older of the timelines but instead it seemed to span most of them; and we see COVID make a cameo, too. Having said that, readers now expecting a lot of page time dedicated to this might think there’s less than I claim; I suppose it depends on one’s perspective. But regardless, if you aren’t ready for that kind of content, maybe avoid this one.

As for the story itself, I have some mixed feelings about it all. I feel like this is one of those reads that you might not appreciate until the very end — because that was definitely the case with me. I wasn’t bored or disliking anything up until that point but neither was I particularly engaged with or by the characters we were spending time with. But the ending, the why of it all.. I liked that. Doubly so because I didn’t see it coming.

This also felt a little.. I don’t want to see autobiographical but it almost felt there were parts of the author’s own experience, in a few different ways, that she may have included via the book’s author’s perspective or experience. It took me out of the story a little but for the other bits I actually enjoyed wondering if Mandel had been asked these same questions, had the same experience of doing press for a pandemic novel during a pandemic, etc.

Overall this was definitely mixed for me but it won’t stop me from picking up her titles again. And, on the topic, upon skimming through the top bit of the GR page, it turns out this connects a bit to her previous release, The Glass Hotel. I never got around to reading it so I’m keen to step back and see where the bits overlap. I always love those little easter eggs. Here’s hoping that one, at least, is a win.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

PANDORA by Susan Stokes-Chapman

London, 1799. Dora Blake is an aspiring jewellery artist who lives with her uncle in what used to be her parents’ famed shop of antiquities. When a mysterious Greek vase is delivered, Dora is intrigued by her uncle’s suspicious behaviour and enlists the help of Edward Lawrence, a young antiquarian scholar. Edward sees the ancient vase as key to unlocking his academic future. Dora sees it as a chance to restore the shop to its former glory, and to escape her nefarious uncle.

But what Edward discovers about the vase has Dora questioning everything she has believed about her life, her family, and the world as she knows it. As Dora uncovers the truth she starts to realise that some mysteries are buried, and some doors are locked, for a reason.

Gorgeously atmospheric and deliciously page-turning, Pandora is a story of secrets and deception, love and fulfilment, fate and hope.


Title : Pandora
Author : Susan Stokes-Chapman
Format : Physical
Page Count : 432
Genre : Historical Fiction/Retelling
Publisher : Random House UK/Vintage
Release Date : January 27, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Creepy atmosphere
Plundering of other countries
You can literally smell the evil

Pandora was such an all consuming read. I loved how it brought Georgian England together with Greek mythology. The result was a stunning story, with clever characters, ones to really invest in and some to revile.

Pandora ‘Dora’ was the orphaned daughter of two archeologists-excavators-plunderers but they were respected experts and sellers of antiquities prior to their deaths. Dora relied on her uncle Hesakiah who quite frankly was one of the most revolting characters ever, but I loved how well he was written. He was a dodgy dealer in all the ways.

The arrival of the jar brought a creepy atmosphere to the page and the house Dora lived in. She had assistance from Edward with regards to the jar and there were some interesting side characters in Cornelius and Lottie. The Coombes brothers situation made me shudder and I could literally smell some of the things going on, kudos to the description. I have to mention Hermes, Dora’s animal companion in the shape of a magpie. He was fierce, wiley and protective; I enjoyed him on the page.

There’s a small part of me that was uncomfortable reading about the colonial aspects of plundering and acquisition even though that was historically correct. I hate element of British history, our museums are still full of antiquities that are not ‘ours’.

This was a superb debut, easy to read and not overtly historical-heavy. Dora the explorer (look someone had to say it) made for great reading and I’d jump on another release from this author.

Thank you to Vintage Books for the eARC copy.

SOMETHING FABULOUS by Alexis Hall – double review!

From the acclaimed author of Boyfriend Material comes a delightfully witty romance featuring a reserved duke who’s betrothed to one twin and hopelessly enamoured of the other.

Valentine Layton, the Duke of Malvern, has twin problems: literally.

It was always his father’s hope that Valentine would marry Miss Arabella Tarleton. But, unfortunately, too many novels at an impressionable age have caused her to grow up…romantic. So romantic that a marriage of convenience will not do and after Valentine’s proposal she flees into the night determined never to set eyes on him again.

Arabella’s twin brother, Mr. Bonaventure “Bonny” Tarleton, has also grown up…romantic. And fully expects Valentine to ride out after Arabella and prove to her that he’s not the cold-hearted cad he seems to be.

Despite copious misgivings, Valentine finds himself on a pell-mell chase to Dover with Bonny by his side. Bonny is unreasonable, overdramatic, annoying, and…beautiful? And being with him makes Valentine question everything he thought he knew. About himself. About love. Even about which Tarleton he should be pursuing. 


Title : Something Fabulous
Author : Alexis Hall
Series : Something Fabulous (book one?)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 363
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ historical romance
Publisher : Montlake
Release Date : January 25, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis / Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★  / ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

This read was a bit of a peaks and valleys situation for me. How I was feeling when this book started was not how I felt all throughout but definitely by the end I had come back around so many times that I ended on the same note I began. Which is to say.. it was fine.

You doubt my capacity? How infirm do you think I am?
I never said you were infirm. You’re very firm. Almost.. excessively firm, really.
I understand you’re trying to be reassuring, but stop it at once.

But there was so much greatness in and around the fine-ness.

What really ruined this for me was our male love interest’s sister, the one Valentine, our protagonist, is meant to be marrying. While we do — riiiight near the end — get some general insight as to what is driving her, beyond the obvious, to avoid this marriage, I’ll admit.. the damage had long been done. She was just too frustrating and ridiculous and dramatic and honestly I was glad we didn’t have more scenes with her than we did.

I’m relieved that one of you at least is blessed with some modicum of sense.
I mean, she could be captured by pirates or highwaymen or.. or vampires or anything.”
Forgive me, I spoke prematurely.”

Whereas Valentine, our Duke, for all that he was seemingly in the wrong.. I didn’t think he deserved half his bad rep? He broke my heart more often than not. Maybe that’s the benefit of having his perspective vs the others but honestly he didn’t deserve the half of it.

The twin, Bonny, well. He was a slowburn warm up, at least for me. I was tickled by his early interactions and then just mildly tolerant but overall I did enjoy him. He was definitely the right amount of outlandish sunshine-y silliness to Valentine’s.. well, Valentine.

I can’t believe you like me.”
If it’s any consolation, neither can I.

I will warn you that this is a bit ridiculous, a lot of camp, even some satire. Hall deploys all the usual tropes with a twist while also making this historical incredibly and enthusiastically, and unabashedly, queer. But heavy emphasis on the silly and ridiculous. Just know that going in.

I wish I had loved this a little more but Belle honestly did too much damage to my sanity to rate this higher. But. The good times? Were great. As was most of the banter. I’m not at all mad about the time I spent with this one. I don’t quite know if it’s to be a series, not GR definitely lists a “one” next to the series, so I’m keen to see who we would read about next. But if it’s Belle’s story.. well. Maybe not.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Silliness and camptastic
A romp across the country
Irritation to more

Stow your serious side as you enter into Something Fabulous. It’s silly but endearingly entertaining all the same. It had shades of the ridiculous but again, you tolerate it for the ride. These two characters, a lesson in rubbing one another up the wrong way were such polar opposites.

Valentine was the pompous Duke who seemed to have little insight into his own sexual preferences, desires and he had no idea how others perceived him. Self awareness was not his forte and was his early downfall in the marriage stakes. Bonny was all contrast, overtly aware of who he was, what he liked and he seemed to like Valentine.

Their banter seemed to multiply exponentially which sometimes proved a bit much for my tastes but overall, I had plenty of laughs along with these two. I did not have laughs with Belle, Bonny’s sister however. Reading this I would go from snickers to annoyance in a few pages and that dragged my enjoyment down. It took me a while to read this one and I’m blaming Belle in the background and foreground!

Thank you to the publisher through netgalley for an early review copy.

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