5. Lady Louisa's Christmas Knight by Grace Burrowes. My first Christmas book of the year was a very enjoyable story in Burrowes' Windham family series. Lady Louisa would very much like to retire from the Marriage Mart and head off into a life as the family's spinster aunt. But a scandalous encounter finds her wed to Sir Joseph Carrington. Louisa is a wonderful heroine. She's a very smart woman trapped in an era when women were given few opportunities to learn. In addition, both Louisa and Joseph have secrets. As their relationship begins to deepen, it's wonderful to see Joseph notice, and appreciate Louisa's talents. This makes it easier for Louisa to trust Joseph. For Louisa in particular, the demons of the past need to be laid to rest. Louisa's various family members all leap to her defense, but it soon becomes apparent that Joseph is the one who knows, and appreciates her best. Meanwhile, Joseph has his own big secret. The family dynamics are fun and sometimes funny. I've really liked this series and Burrowes' writing.
4. The Thorne Brothers trilogy by Jo Goodman. This refers to three books that Jo Goodman wrote in the late 1990's. (My Steadfast Heart, My Reckless Heart, and With All My Heart) They recently became available as ebooks and I purchased all three of them. I then proceeded to read them back-to-back-to-back. The trilogy is the story of three brothers who had been separated as boys (ages 6 months, 4 years, and eight years old) when they were suddenly orphaned. The oldest son, Colin, makes it his life's work to find his brothers. Each book mostly stands alone as the story of the particular brother. I was eager to see how they would be reunited. With settings from London to San Francisco, this was an engaging series from an author I love. I'm so glad her backlist is becoming available.
3. A Study in Seduction by Nina Rowan. Lydia Kellaway is a math prodigy who lives a very quiet life with her grandmother and younger sister. The book opens when Lydia pays a visit to Alexander Hall, Viscount Northwood, to retrieve a locket that her grandmother had pawned behind her back. When Alexander refuses to sell the locket back to Lydia, she challenges him to solve a math puzzle in exchange. Intrigued, Alexander accepts and this, of course, leads to further encounters. The book is set on the eve of the Crimean War. Alexander is half Russian and his Russian mother caused such a scandal that the family's businesses are in serious jeopardy. Alexander cannot risk further scandal and unfortunately Lydia has a significant secret that is a stumbling block to their relationship. There was a lot of interesting stuff in this book: Lydia's ability with math and Alexander's respect for this, Alexander's attempts to restore respectability to his family name, the anti-Russian sentiment of the time, and Lydia's secret (which I guessed early on). This is Rowan's debut novel, and it's a pretty good one.
2. Extreme Exposure by Pamela Clare. My October TBR read.
1. Tempting the Bride by Sherry Thomas. As I think about what to say here, I can think of a few things about the book I didn't like. Such as the length. It was too short and in some ways the resolution was too neat. Or the fact that Helena, such a strong, independent woman would moon after a man who comes across as weak and self-absorbed. But, I loved, loved, loved Hastings. Seriously. He made the book for me and this easily became my phave read of the month despite any misgivings I might have about Helena or the ending. Hastings has loved Helena since he was a teenager. He may now be an adult, but he has never been able to outgrow the adolescent way he'd always interacted with her--with mutual antagonism. Helena's indiscretions with her married lover have forced her into marriage with Hastings. Just as the wedding is about to happen, Helena is in an accident that causes amnesia. Hastings gets to start all over with her. Hastings is almost too good to be true (maybe that's why I loved him so much). Nonetheless, Helena begins to fall in love with him as she recovers from her amnesia. Then she regains her memory and all must be resolved. It was very nicely done, just too quickly. This was the third and final book in a series by Thomas and my favorite of the three. I read a library copy. And held onto it until I had to return it. Someday agency pricing will DIE and I will buy a copy for my Kindle.