Romantic Comedy Recap 8.13.18
I am back with another Rom-Com recap, but this time I have discovered Sarah MacLean and historical romance. I may or may not have gone down a MacLean black hole. Totally worth it. And good news, another Penny Reid book! She’s back with sweet baby Roscoe Winston’s book. And y’all. It is incredible. Why do we have to wait so long for Billy and Claire’s books?
Dr. Strange Beard by Penny Reid
Roscoe is the youngest Winston sibling and sigh, he is such a sweetheart. But we haven’t really known much about him because in the previous books, he has always been in school. Now we have jumped five years in the future. Roscoe is a veterinarian in Nashville, but still comes home to Green Valley most every weekend. He is still hung up on his childhood best friend, Simone Payton, whom he loved, but she didn’t return his feelings. Roscoe also has an eidetic memory, where he remembers every interaction with everyone, so he constantly relives the painful memory of Simone rejecting him. So he ghosted her when they were sixteen and has successfully ghosted her for the last ten years. But Simone never knew the real reason for Roscoe's behavior because she was drunk when he confessed his feelings and doesn't remember his confession. But when Roscoe unexpectedly runs into his father Darrell, Simone is the one that rattles him. Simone is back in town as an undercover FBI agent intent on bringing down the Iron Wraiths, Razor Dennings, and Darrell Winston. But everyone just thinks that she’s moved back home from Washington, DC and taking a break. Roscoe knows better. He knows that Simone has a plan for her life and is instantly suspicious of why she suddenly becomes friendly. Dr. Strange Beard was more angsty than the other Winston Brothers books, but it still has that romantic comedy vibe. Simone is a trip and such a badass. And Roscoe is absolutely the sweetest. But like any good Penny Reid novel, Dr. Strange Beard addresses tough issues. Simone is African-American and has been blessed to not encounter many racists in Green Valley, until an asshole cop suddenly pops into her life. I thought Penny handled the issue of race in such a realistic way, but as a white reader, I will defer to readers of color for their thoughts. People have really responded to this book; Penny made the New York Times Bestseller List. I love each and every Penny book, so I had high expectations for Dr. Strange Beard, and Penny surpassed them. Roscoe and Simone’s rapport was delightful, and their chemistry was lovely. When Roscoe tells Simone that he remembers everything, I melted. And the sexy times were steamy. I also loved seeing the other Winstons and their significant others and children. Jethro is Super Dad, and I adore that. And because Penny is an evil genius, she wrote a scene between Roscoe and Billy that just floored me. I am dying for Billy and Claire’s story, and I know it will wreck me. And to cap off my love for these Winstons, Simone has the line of the series, “Get thee a Winston, stat!” If only, Simone, if only.
Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean
This was my first historical romance, and oh my gosh, was it wonderful. The prologue begins in 1813 with Lady Calpurnia Hartwell escaping a ball in her first season. She is not having a good time; the only men who want to dance with her are old or are fortune hunters. But she runs into the notorious rake, Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston, who tells her that she is lovely. When she goes to follow him, she sees him engaging in a garden tryst. Fast forward ten years, poor Callie is unmarried and has been almost relegated to spinster status. But when her younger daughter gets engaged to the Duke of Rivington, Callie realizes she doesn’t want to be passive and be a spinster. So she makes a list of 9 things that she wants to do; most of the things are things that men can do, but not women. She decides to cross the first thing off her list: kiss someone passionately. She goes over to Ralston house at midnight in order to kiss Ralston, but once she gets there, she realizes she didn’t really think this through. When we first meet Ralston in 1823, he is waking up in the bed of his mistress. But his twin brother Nick tracks him down and informs him that they have an Italian half-sister and now they must take her on and introduce her into society. So when Callie shows up at Ralston’s house, he says he will kiss her, if she will guide his sister Juliana in her debut season because of Callie's impeccable reputation in the ton. The two strike up the deal, but neither one was prepared for the passion and chemistry between them. As the book goes on, Callie fences, goes to a tavern, and even gambles at a men’s club. All the while, Ralston is there to make sure she doesn’t get caught, but also because he is intrigued by Callie’s independence and tenacity. Things are not easy between them; Callie wants a love match and has been crushing on Ralston for a decade, while he doesn’t believe in love because of his horrid mother. She is a feminist before it was cool to do so but is also a hopeless romantic. The side characters in this book are phenomenal, and Nine Rules sets up the next two books in the Love by Numbers series with Nick and Juliana’s books. There was a lovely twitter discussion about this book recently, and it made me realize how much of a gateway this book is into historical romance. Also I’ve said before how much I am a sucker for pet names, and even more so when Ralston calls Callie "Empress". SWOON.
One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean
This is the second book in MacLean’s Rules of Scoundrels series. Cross is one of the four owners of the Fallen Angel gambling club. When he wakes up in his office to Lady Philippa Marbury propositioning him to ruin her, his life will never be the same. Pippa is fourteen days away from marrying the Earl of Castleton, but has a plan to research sex beforehand so she knows what to expect. She wants Cross to teach her all about sex and seduction, but Cross refuses, even though he is very intrigued by Pippa. Yet Cross’ past comes back to haunt him, and at the same time, he finds it harder to stay away from Pippa. I loved how pragmatic and straightforward Pippa was, and how honorable and lovely Cross was. Their relationship was so sweet, plus we also saw Pippa’s sister Penelope and her husband Bourne, another owner of the Fallen Angel, from A Rogue by Any Other Name. Pippa is a horticulturist and a scientist, which makes her odd in the eyes of the ton, but her brilliance turns Cross on. It was so lovely to read about how sexy Cross thought Pippa’s intelligence was. Even though MacLean's books are set in the 1820s and 30s, I love how her feminist heroines are so strong and independent, especially since women virtually had no rights in reality.
In reading MacLean’s first two series, Callie and Ralston remain my favorite couple. They are my OG couple, but Pippa and Cross are right up there with them. I’m very interested in historical romances. I don’t know why I haven’t read any before trying Sarah MacLean; I’m a huge Anglophile, and I love all things Royal Family. I’m excited to try some more historical romances. And I think I’ll be reading more of them while I wait on Billy and Claire’s books from Penny Reid. They just cannot come soon enough.
What are some of your favorite historical romances?