Mini Reviews: Project Duchess, Some Like It Scandalous, Rogue Most Wanted

title: Project Duchess
author: Sabrina Jeffries
pages: 352
format: eARC
buy it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
rating: 3/5
genre: Romance

Fletcher "Grey" Pryde is the eldest of an unusual family. His mother married three times, and now three of her children have inherited dukedoms. Reunited with his family for the funeral of the third husband, Grey meets Bea, a ward of his late stepfather. His mother has taken Bea under her wing and is determined to give the woman a society season, and Bea goes along with it because the dowager duchess seems like she could really use a project.

Sabrina Jeffries is an auto-buy author for me, but this one was a bit of dud. There's a side plot about how one of the siblings thinks his father was murdered, by Bea's brother no less, and Grey tries to help investigate without raising too much suspicion. But, frankly, that was the most interesting thing going on and also got the least amount of page time. Most of the book was just introducing the large cast of new characters and setting up for future sequels, which left Grey and Bea very little room to be interesting. Their arc was just "Who are you? Oh, hot. Hm, I like you after spending time with you. Let's get married!" Which is a perfectly respectable progression for a healthy relationship, but not very interesting to read about.

However, it seems like "who's doing a murder?" is going to be a series long mystery and I'm curious to see where that goes. Also, the leads for the next book met in this one, and it's "grumpy bodyguard and cheery debutante" so you know I'm going to be there for that!



Some Like It Scandalous by Maya Rodale
title: Some Like It Scandalous
author: Maya Rodale
pages: 368
format: eARC
buy it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
rating: 5/5
genre: Romance
topics: Feminism, STEM Girls


Mr. Prescott wants to see his son married in the hopes it'll force him to cease his rakish ways and join the family business, and Mrs. Swan wants her daughter to be safely settled before a scandal breaks and ruins the family. Together, they conspire to force their children, Theo and Daisy, into a match. The first problem? Their kids want nothing to do with each other. Fortunately, Daisy has a plan. If she can get her cosmetics business off the ground, she's certain she can earn enough money to support herself and thus render their parents' blackmail techniques useless. The second problem? Cosmetics are a thoroughly taboo product in Gilded Age New York.

This book made me, a woman who almost never wears makeup, run off and immediately put on my darkest lipstick after I finished reading. I loved it. Theo and Daisy, while more antagonist- than enemies-to-lovers, had some excellent banter throughout the book and even better chemistry. They both had great internal struggles they were working through: Theo with his daddy issues and Daisy with self-image. There was tons of commentary from and around Daisy about confidence and appearance, and I really appreciated how nuanced it was. Daisy is very aware of her less-than-beautiful appearance, and while she has gained an admirable level of assurance separate from her looks, it still affects her. Because of course it does. I really like when it's acknowledged that it's impossible to not be affected by society's standards, even when they're bullshit standards, and Daisy is not demeaned for it by the narrative.

The author's note at the end (besides recommending great further reading) mentioned the somewhat fraught nature of the topic. Especially in relation to our current society. Daisy's time period saw her trying to argue that cosmetics are okay to wear, whereas our time period makes it more taboo not to wear at least a little make up. And in both time periods, there are similar arguments both for and against cosmetics which are completely valid. The author's note says she decided to write the debate rather than come down on a particular side or not, and I think...well, Daisy comes down on one side and it's hard to not see the book as standing with her. But I think the author did do a good job on her goal of showing both sides without judgement, mostly by using a progressive women's group that Daisy is part of to voice various stances. The first book in this series had similar points to make with fashion, and I really love that deep points are being made using 'girly' subjects and I cannot wait to read more from this author.



title: Rogue Most Wanted
author: Janna MacGregor
pages:384
format: eARC
buy it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
rating: 3/5
genre: Romance


Lady Theodora has inherited an estate from her late grandfather, under an old Scottish law that allows women to inherit titles. But a relative is claiming that her title is English, and therefore should go to him. Theo, who has spent years isolated from society and taking care of her aging grandfather, must now go and argue her case before a council of stuff English nobility. In order to make her case more appealing before the tradition-bound council members, she must marry, or at least be engaged. Fortunately, her eccentric neighbor has just the nephew in mind...

This book was...okay. I very much liked the set up, which was unusual but easy enough to understand. Stella, the eccentric aunt, was an absolute hoot and each of the main couple were interesting enough in their own right. They were just...agreeable together. From the very start. Theo's attempts to enter society weren't enough drama by themselves and there was no extra tension generated between the two love birds so the whole thing just felt kind of...flat. I do like me a nice, good-boy hero in a romance (as opposed to the rake character) but those are cases where the plot drama really needs to drive things and...it didn't. It had the potential to, but it didn't. Alas.

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