This historical is not for me unfortunately

Sweet WilliamSweet William by Dianne Hartsock

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is a bit messy because there isn’t enough time for the story to develop and there’s a whole load of exposition thrown at the narrative.

It’s also a bit off for a historical in that William’s behaviour is wholly out of keeping for a man of his standing and the laws as they pertained to homosexuality at that time.
He’s reckless in his potential exposure of his nature and within the first few pages has been in compromising positions with three different men.

I’m afraid it just didn’t work for me as too many elements felt placed in just for the sake of it as a plot point rather than being an extension of where the story was going.

Both men felt too young as well, at aged 19 and 22 (if I worked it out correctly) for the positions they were in and the conclusion felt rushed. I believe this is a new edition of a previously published work but I’m unsure if anything has been added.

#ARC received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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Epic adventures on the High Seas! This historical has the lot

Kidnapped by the PirateKidnapped by the Pirate by Keira Andrews

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a britches ripper of the highest calibre, packed with everything you’d expect to find in this genre – devilish pirates who are too sexy to be resisted, an innocent young scamp just waiting to lure our anti-hero down the path of emotional reawakening, daring adventures and over the top villains and a setting which is perfectly researched.

I’m not going to lie, the Golden Age of piracy fascinates me, as the British Empire extended her reach across the Caribbean and used privateers to plunder their rival Spanish and Dutch competitors as they fought for domination of both the High Seas and the islands within it.

And within that world were those who skirted the fine line between privateering and piracy, who instilled fear into the hearts of the merchants and made the shipping lanes a dangerous place to travel.

The Sea Hawk is one such man and his character is perfectly drawn from those like Henry Morgan, Calico Jack Rackham or the Robin Hood of piracy, Black Sam Bellamy, known for his compassionate treatment and mercy towards those he captured.

However, he’s unable to resist the innocence of young Nathaniel, being sent out to a fading colony to try and prop up his father’s disastrous rule by marrying a rich heiress. But Nathaniel longs for the love of a man and he’s helpless when faced by all th ed formidable power of Hawk.

After plenty of to-ing and fro-ing, some witty bantering, and a whole load of protesting, the two finally give in to the lust building between them and it’s glorious.

It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Keira Andrews and this book is just one of the many reasons why. It’s a joyful romp of a tale with a believable cast and crew of historical accuracy and some steamy hot sex leading into a glorious HEA.


Loved Errol Flynn in Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk or Against All Flags? Then you will love this!

#ARC received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review

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Brilliant Elizabethan romp through Shakespeare’s theatre

Fools and MortalsFools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bernard Cornwell is, without a doubt, one of the finest historical novelists writing in the genre imho and this is no exception.
It’s a slight departure from his usual style as there’s no warfare or great battles as in the Sharpe or the Warlord novels, instead it takes the reader firmly into Elizabethan England at a time when William Shakespeare was in the city establishing The Globe theatre and getting into conflict with the Lord Chancellor’s Men a vival theatre company, and fighting with the rising Puritanical influence on the entertainments of the city.

The hero is William’s brother Richard, again a real historical figure although not one we know as much about as his famous sibling, and he’s a fully rounded character, neither sympathetic nor villainous. William isn’t portrayed in a particularly flattering light so lovers of the Bard take heed!

The plot focuses on the rehearsals and first night performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in the book it’s written to celebrate the marriage of the Lord Chancellor’s daughter (again with the historical placement of the narrative which I love from Cornwell) so there’s all the usual rivalries, backstabbing, petty feuding and problems with the production.

There are familiar faces from history too, the great actor Will Kemp makes an appearance, there’s visits from the nobility and, arcing over the whole thing, is the pressure to perform the play and get one over the new rival theatre which has been established at The Swan.
The intrigue keeps the reader interested, there’s a side order of romance to bring a bit of light-hearted relief, and the fractious relationship between William and Richard elevates the plot with petty jealousies as only sibling rivalry can.

For lovers of Cornwell it’s a no brainer to add this to your bookshelves, but for lovers of both Elizabethan history and of the great playwright it’s a romp through a fascinating period in time when England really did rule the waves both economically and intellectually.

#ARC received from Harper Collins via NetGalley in return for an honest and unbiased review

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A stunning romance and historical brilliance combined

Axios: A Spartan TaleAxios: A Spartan Tale by Jaclyn Osborn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A stunning romance and historical brilliance combined

If you decide to step outside your comfort zone and pick up something different it should be this book. It goes beyond words as to what makes it special but special it most definitely is.

I am a bit of a Greek myths and history nerd so I was astonished at the level of research which has gone into anchoring this amazing love story so firmly in factual events.

No Axios and his lover Eryx may not have been historical figures but they were real, as real as the life they lived in Sparta and the battles they fought in the Peloponnesian Wars.

And oh how they loved, with all the passion and fire and devotion of two perfect halves made whole altogether. This may not be a conventional love story but by all the Gods they worshipped, it is as epic as those in Greek legend.

From their first meeting, to the epilogue which brings their story to a close, they were inseparable, friends, warriors, lovers, companions, typifying all that was good about Sparta in her glorious age. But also highlighting the ultimate decline and fall of a once great Nation State as new rules rose and empires changed.

This is the first book I’ve read by Jaclyn and I have to commend her for choosing to tackle such a weighty setting, the attention to detail is flawless, the introduction of the Sacred Band of Thebes cleverly mirroring what was happening in Axios and Eryx’s own military unit. The setting is flawless, the tiny attentions to detail which bring 4thC BC Sparta to life all just add weight to the inevitability of the love story.

Honestly, don’t be put off by the setting, this really is a love story for the ages. Have tissues and a comfort blanket – or a stiff drink – ready when you read the epilogue, it is perfect. This is a book which will stay with me for a very long time and one which I will happily recommend to anyone and everyone.

I borrowed this on KU and loved it so much that I bought it as soon as I’d sent it back. This is a book which, even if I don’t read it again (although I’m sure I will once my bruised and broken heart recovers), I wanted to have my own copy because it just deserves to be at the top of the charts.

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This book made me smile

Enlightened (Enlightenment)Enlightened by Joanna Chambers

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“He’s not the love of my life, you are, you stupid man,” (words to the effect of that is) – a glorious declaration which highlights the beautiful nature of the relationship between David and Murdo.

This Scottish based historical romance has been an utter delight from start to finish, firmly rooted in the beginnings of the 19th century with King George IV on the throne.

The side plots of the beginnings of workers rights, female emancipation and the change in attitude within a nobility which had been resting on its laurels, are all superbly touched on throughout this series.

And the icing on the historical cake has been the truly beautiful men both depicted in this love story but also those representing them on the covers.

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Gentle romp through Regency life

The Return of the EarlThe Return of the Earl by Sandra Schwab

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There’s a few things expected when reading a historical romance, especially a Regency one, and for the most part, this one has those.

However, in the first few opening parts of this story the author gets the name wrong of one of Britain’s finest, and most well known, Neo-Classical Georgian architects, Robert Adam when she erroneously gives him an extra S. It’s a minor point for sure but one that should have been spotted in editing and proofing.

Putting that aside though, this is a gentle little romp through country life as a reluctant Earl, still smarting over a perceived slight some 13 years earlier.

Characters were nicely developed though, again, a little bit repetitive in the phrasing when referencing Bryn’s heterochromia and with Bryn calling Con “my Con” all the time. Little bit more variety would have worked well here.

The steam levels are fairly low but the slow burn pays off in the final quarter of the story and the epilogue is lovely and in keeping with the historical setting.

#ARC kindly provided by the publishers via NetGalley in return for an unbiased and honest review.

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Definitely full of pleasure

The Art of Mutual PleasureThe Art of Mutual Pleasure by K.A. Merikan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

All ends up brilliantly fulfilled. And that’s just what shy, naive Benjamin gets when he sets off on his journey to enlightenment.

This is a very clever book, in that it looks at the Regency period when quacks peddling all kinds of ludicrous cures prayed on the folks of London and fleeced them of their hard earned coins.

It’s also a highly erotic book, looking at one specific medical theorem which held that men only had so much semen in their bodies and spilling it by masturbating would weaken it.

After witnessing a teenage moment between two schoolboys while a boarder, Benjamin sets off down the road of self-pleasure but he’s bedevilled with guilt and believes himself to be getting weaker each time he spills his seed.

At times its painful to read as his incredibly naivety puts him into dodgy situations and as he struggles with his feelings as he gets ever more debauched while still retaining his child like innocence.

Frederick was a gem and he’s been keeping an eye out on Benjamin since the two men met up a decade or so after that incident at school. Once they got together things got even hotter and more erotic than they had been but they also brought a bundle of true emotions with them.

These two know how to write sex scenes that reach combustible levels and this story is no exception. Enjoy it, but keep a fan handy to cool yourself down because it’s volcanic.

#ARC kindly provided by the authors in return for an unbiased review.

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