Pretty Face by Lucy Parker (London Celebrities #2)

Publisher: Carina Press on February 20, 2017

Source: Publisher

It’s not actress Lily Lamprey’s fault that she’s all curves and has the kind of voice that can fog up a camera lens. View Spoiler »

With PRETTY FACE, Lucy Parker proves that she’s anything but a flash in the pan: she’s going to be one of the greats. Sparkling wit and sizzling romantic tension sell the love story of Lily Lamprey and Luc Savage, two very complex, career driven characters who fall madly, deeply, and unwillingly in love. Swoon!

Tired of being typecast as the sex kitten femme fatale, Lily wants to make the transition from TV acting to stage performances, but first she has to overcome her unfortunate vocal similarities to Marilyn Monroe. That, and she needs to impress the notorious Luc Savage, her new boss and a very talented director. At first glance these two have nothing in common (and have a substantial age gap, Lily’s 26 to Luc’s early 40s), but they quickly find that they’re uniquely suited. But workplace romances rarely end well, particularly when one person is in a position of power, and Lily doesn’t want people to think she slept her way to the top. Is pursuing a relationship worth it?

I absolutely adored the characters in PRETTY FACE, both the primary and secondary cast. Lily’s work ethic and commitment to growing as an actor impressed me from the start, and Luc’s realization that life doesn’t have much meaning without human connection of some kind was also great. Parker also explores the pitfalls of a power imbalance in a romantic relationship with sensitivity and skill. Add to that Lily’s love of books and Luc’s commitment to Lily and this one was pitch perfect.

Accidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis (Heartbreaker Bay #3)

Publisher: Avon on January 24, 2017

Source: Library

There’s no such thing as a little in love…

Elle Wheaten’s priorities: friends, career, and kick-ass shoes. View Spoiler »

With a banter-filled, push and pull romance, I thought that I’d love ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE, but out of character behaviour and uneven pacing in the last third brought this one down for me. As the manager of a large building in San Francisco, Elle is responsible for apartments as well as several small businesses, including a private security firm run by a man from her past. Archer, formerly a cop, knew Elle when she was a teenaged thief…and they’ve had an uneasy relationship ever since. 

Elle is a fantastic romance heroine: she’s smart, tenacious, hardworking, she’s hilarious, and she knows the value of a good pair of shoes. The only problem? All of that independence and tenacity seems to fall by the wayside whenever Archer gets involved. Without giving too much away, when it turns out that Archer was “helping” Elle move up in the world without her knowledge (or permission) she forgives him almost immediately. Girl. No. This guy was keeping track of your every move for ten years, involving himself in your private business without your awareness. You better make him grovel!

ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE also features a suspense b-plot involving Elle’s estranged sister and Archer’s security firm, but I thought it was out of place and ultimately unnecessary. While I enjoyed this one, I didn’t feel that it lived up to Jill Shalvis’ usual standards. When it comes to contemporary stories, I just can’t abide the high-handed behaviour that I might forgive in a historical. 

Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare (Spindle Cove #5)

Publisher: Avon on September 27, 2016

Source: Library

All Charlotte wanted was to avoid scandal. Instead, she was caught in the arms of a mysterious, handsome lord…and he’s not letting go. View Spoiler »

It’s been a difficult season for Charlotte Highwood, as her mother’s overly enthusiastic attempts at matchmaking have given Charlotte the unfortunate nickname of “The Desperate Debutante.” Always one to look on the bright side, Charlotte figures that no romantic prospects means that she can go off on a Grand Tour of Europe with her best friend! But all her plans are dashed when she’s caught in a compromising position (sort of) with Piers Brandon at a party. If Charlotte can’t prove that it was another couple having a tryst, the two are doomed to marry…or start a scandal.

Charlotte is a charming heroine, perfectly comfortable with herself and her situation in life: she’s absolutely uninterested in being anyone else, which is an admirable quality. She’s also quite carefree and possesses a cheerful, cheeky disposition – which she uses to mercilessly tease the too-serious Piers, of course. A spy for the Crown, Piers was in attendance at the party to gather information, not to find a wife. But if he has to marry, Charlotte will do. She’s pretty and young, and she makes him want to smile. Not that he actually likes her, or anything.

It’s official y’all: a person falling in love against their will is my new favourite romance trope. Tessa Dare pulls it off beautifully, as she does everything historical romance related. If you want a witty, clever romance that’s guaranteed to leave a smile on your face, you can’t go wrong with the Spindle Cove or Castles Ever After series.

Do you hold characters to different standards of behaviour based on the time period the book’s set in? What’s your favourite romance-related trope? Let me know in the comments!