Miss Bates’ Beloved Historical Romances: Titles Sprung to Mind and Impressionistic “Reviews”

Recently, in a comment regarding Rose Lerner’s A Lily Among Thorns, an MBRR reader requested Miss B’s favourite historical romances. Lists of favourites, like canons, ought to be fluid. Miss Bates doesn’t over-think a list. These titles sprang to mind, followed by the “impressionistic” detritus of the reading experience, as wispy as memory. (Except for confirming a few names, Miss Bates did not reread any title in part, or whole.) If you ask her next week, the list’ll likely be different.

Loretta Chase’s Mr. Impossible: because Rupert and Daphne and a barge down the Nile with a mongoose.

Lisa Kleypas’ The Devil In Winter: because bad Sebastian becomes loving Sebastian when he marries, for convenience, will-of-steel wallflower Evangeline.

Elizaebeth Hoyt’s The Leopard Prince: because spinster-heroine George and man-of-the-earth Harry prove that love and sheep are more important than land and class.

Rose Lerner’s In For A Penny: because immature, sentimental-novel-reading Nev marries number-crunching Penny for convenience and they make love in a folly.

Meredith Duran’s A Lady’s Lesson In Scandal: because hero Simon learns that the distance from guttersnipe to lady and exploitation to love is the circumference of a woman’s bicep.

Emma Barry’s Brave In Heart: because Margaret and Theo are bunting, war, love on school grounds, “let me spread my mantle before you,” and love letters.

Cecilia Grant’s A Lady Awakened: because in Martha and Theo the mercantile exchange of services rendered is foiled by friendship and love.

Miss Bates’ minimal commentary is cryptic, riddle-like. If you’ve read any of these wonderful historical romances, leave your impression in the comments. Let Miss Bates know of your favourite historical romances and, if you’re so inclined, your impressions of them.

18 thoughts on “Miss Bates’ Beloved Historical Romances: Titles Sprung to Mind and Impressionistic “Reviews”

  1. Agreed on Mr. Impossible and A Lady’s Lesson in Scandal. In the former, there’s a scene I remember when a very ill Rupert (might have been shot?) wakes up to find Marigold the mongoose and Gog and Magog the cats all in bed with him. The latter was the first cross-class romance I read that felt realistic.

    Duran’s Bound by Your Touch is a favorite that has MI’s bluestocking/rake pairing but not its humor. The leads’ struggle with their families really resonated with me.

    Chase’s Last Night’s Scandal has a hero playing straight man to a sort of dizzy heroine who’s nevertheless pretty smart. That combination doesn’t always work for me, but this time it did. And I remember Olivia being around some elderly ladies who always had hysterically raunchy conversations.

    Mary Balogh’s A Christmas Promise has a sort of beautiful sadness that makes me think of Persuasion. Marriages of convenience have the same sort of feel for me as reunited lovers. I read this one during my father’s long illness–it might have been the Christmas before he died–and in hindsight, the heroine’s way of grieving rang true.


    1. Forgot to add Tessa Dare’s A Week to be Wicked and Heyer’s Faro’s Daughter, Sylvester, and The Quiet Gentleman. The Dare has the same thing going for it as Mr. Impossible–the rake loves the smart girl because she’s smart. Faro’s Daughter has a heroine who pretends to be just as vulgar and grasping as the hero mistakenly thinks she is. Sylvester is the first Heyer I read that really felt romantic. The Quiet Gentleman has a wonderful heroine who reminds me of Anne Elliot–quietly going around and fixing everything while everyone else around her loudly worries about themselves.


      1. Oh, these are just wonderful recommendations! Miss B. has the Dare lined up for #bathtubreading. Miss Bates, maybe because Mr. Impossible counts as one of her earliest romance reads, likes that pairing so. And Heyers are in the TBR! 🙂


    2. What a beautiful comment. Miss Bates had forgotten Rupert’s bed companions, but yes, what a funny, delightful scene. Mr. Impossible is easily the romance to which the word “delightful” most fits.

      It’s interesting that you would mention Bound By Your Touch (what a great title, BTW) because Miss Bates remembers reading that in a stew of a bad mood and being determined to dislike it. So, she’s happy to see that it gets love from you; other readers too have mentioned it as a favourite. Clearly, Miss Bates ought to give it another chance.

      The other Chase that Miss Bates loved was Not Quite A Lady, a cerebral and heartless rake and perfect society lady find love in a dairy … but under the surface of these two seemingly simple characters, there is just a lot of stuff. Miss Bates loved this romance and found it utterly hilarious. There’s an incident over a hat and the dairy love-making … there is nothing to equal it in romance.

      Yes, that is exactly what Balogh’s Christmas Promise has, a “beautiful sadness.” You’re so right about MOC and reunited lovers and second chances; in both case, heroine and hero have to work out how enforced togetherness will work. Miss Bates is glad that a romance came to mean something to you while you were going through your father’s illness. Romance is too easily dismissed as frivolous at best and titillating at worst, but no one considers that it offers comfort and, like all fiction, represents the human condition.


  2. I think I’ve read most of these, but the two I actually remember are Mr. Impossible (I loved that hero because he did not merely tolerate his lady’s intelligence, he was *proud* of it) and In For a Penny (unusual because hero and heroine talked out their difficulties instead of going down the cliched Big Mis path). Good choices all, though, I’m sure — and I like your reasons for liking them.


    1. Thank you for the great comment! It also encapsulated why Miss B. loves Mr. Impossible, other than the mongoose. That’s it exactly, that Rupert loves Daphne and doesn’t just tolerate, or even encourage her intellectual pursuits: he shows her off. The BFF1 and Miss B. loved the scene at the end when he presents her to his dad. So good.


  3. Interesting list–
    So here I go with mine….
    I haven’t had very good luck with Loretta Chase except for her old trad Regency “Knaves Wager”, which I love to pieces.
    I love almost everything Meredith Duran has written and I wish she had better luck with her cover art. Lady’s Lesson in Scandal is particularly delicious,
    Sherry Thomas is an autobuy–with Not Quite a Husband being the one I re-read most often . I love the second chance theme and the non-England setting.
    Several Heyers would be on my list with it being a toss-up between Talisman Ring and The Masqueraders (this week. Who know which one I’d choose next week–maybe ‘Black Sheep’)
    Amanda Quick’s first “Seduction” is still a delight to me. And I’m on my 4th(?) mmpb copy.
    Laura Kinsale’s “The Shadow and the Star” because it is set partly in Hawaii and I’m a fool for books set in old Hawaii.
    Joan Wolf’s His Lordship’s Mistress–heroine decides that being a fallen woman in London is a better way to save her family than marrying the boorish bully next door.


    1. This is a wonderful list and Miss Bates prefers the freely associative list over any other … a bit of a left-over from her Freudian days, she’d say.

      Miss Bates, as you know, loves Mr. Impossible and has … yay!! … “Knave’s Wager” in her TBR, as well as several early Chases. She never loved Lord Of Scoundrels as much as others seem to have. She’s tried several Thomases and just has a lot of trouble with her overwrought prose, but she has several in the TBR and will definitely try try again. Her next Heyer will be The Convenient Marriage.

      There are many Amanda Quicks in the TBR and even a print version of Seduction that she picked up … somewhere. Kinsale’s Shadow and Star she listened to, and other than a certain discomfort with the portrayal of the Japanese character, she loved the leads. Wolf is one of the authors Miss Bates has wanted to read for ages, ever since she appeared on a Regency-must-read list by Lauren Willig! She’s glad you’ve given her a specific title here.

      Thanks for a great comment!


  4. Thank you, Miss Bates, for your response. As usual your taste can be counted on (and not least because it so approximates my own :-).) What do you think of Judith Ivory’s books, as well as those of Carla Kelly, Jude Morgan, and Connie Brockway?


    1. Miss B’s response will show her ignorance, except for Carla Kelly: she’s read some Kelly HQs and loved them, Marrying the Captain and The Surgeon’s Lady and she has Marrying the Royal Marine in the TBR!! She also read the early Marian’s Christmas Wish and Summer Campaign and loved those even more. If Barry writes about work meaningfully, Kelly writes about service to others as being one path to finding purpose, especially in the Channel Fleet series.

      She read one Ivory, Beast and enjoyed it, but she didn’t get the “call” 😉 to read more Ivory. Morgan and Brockway are new-to-her authors, but she’s looking forward to reviewing Brockway’s soon-released The Songbird’s Seduction.

      BTW, she reviewed Summer Campaign here:

      Morgan is particularly unfamiliar to her: if you have any titles that you think worthy, please do mention them!


  5. Love this post! It inspires me to be at once more relaxed and more concise with summing up books for a post! And of course I agree with nearly every book on your list. My own would have at least a few Jo Beverley titles, and also possibly a Jennifer Ashley. Oh, and Gaelen Foley, and Eileen Dreyer. And the incomparable Joanna Bourne.


    1. Thank you and so good to see your “Pamela Pages” back!! 🙂 It was a bit of a throwaway post, but seems to have resonated, which is really cool. Those are some powerful names you’ve mentioned … though I haven’t read much of any except Bourne. Even though at reading, her books, except for Forbidden Rose, which Miss B. loved, weren’t embraceable, they’ve really stayed with Miss B. She still thinks about them: characters, images, mood … the canvas is pretty impressive. She also loved Foley’s Lord of Fire and Lord of Ice. Are those among your favourites?


      1. Yes, definitely those are two favorite Foleys — twin heroes, if I recall correctly, or are they just brothers?

        I am trying to get back in the swing of reading my go-to blogs, commenting, and writing about my reading again, after a longer-than-intended summer hiatus. Somehow I feel out of sorts these days — I have been reading a lot, but not able to formulate or articulate my thoughts about said reading. I think it has to do with the enormous amount of energy going into helping the girls navigate first weeks of middle school… we are all exhausted and going in too many directions, all the time! But I loved this post. 🙂


        1. Miss B. can’t recall twins, but yes, they are brothers … and Foley sets up a most interesting angel/devil dichotomy to them. Miss B. really enjoyed reading those and an earlier novel, The Duke, with its courtesan heroine, and hero who balks at her attempt to come in out of the cold, so to speak. It was original and interesting.

          Reading and writing about what we’re reading and having the blessing to join others in discussion are an enriching part of our lives. Our humble blogs are also, as Miss B. discovered after doing this more or less consistently over a year, reflective, in mood if not content (she hopes!) of our “larger” lives, lived in our jobs and families … it is such an important part of our lives, but it is not always one we should prioritize. Miss B. would say that you are doing exactly what you ought and what is important. We’re all right here and you’ll be back as beautifully and eloquently as you were … when you can. That’s all we can do, our best. You’re doing your best. 🙂

          Middle school is a opportunity for students to gain greater independence … and, in a way, that means that they need our support and guidance even more. But the light at the end of the tunnel, MissB.’d say around the middle of grade eight, is quite lovely.


  6. I was going through some of my older emails and realized I had never put in my 2 cents worth to this post! I love everything I’ve read by Elizabeth Hoyt to date and the 4 princes stories all rank highly in my mind, though the Raven Prince may be my favourite of that set. I really enjoy Meredith Duran’s books though the title you mentioned isn’t one of my favourites – Written On Your Skin, Bound By Your Touch and Wicked Becomes You are the ones I prefer. Dreaming of You is the only Lisa Kleypas historical I’ve read (which I picked up after listening to an audiobook of Smooth Talking Stranger) I’ve read but I thoroughly enjoyed it and have picked up a few others of hers to read, including the Devil in Winter as I’ve heard other’s comment on it. Cecelia Grant’s story A Lady Awakened is one I listened to as an audiobook this past summer and I loved it! I promptly went out and bought 2 more audiobooks in the series which are on my agenda for sometime in the next few months. And the other three authors you mentioned – Loretta Chase, Rose Lerner and Emma Barry are all on my TBR.


    1. Miss Bates loves your cents … ha ha! Every single romance novelist you mention here is one of the reasons why she loves the genre, as she knows you do too. Their books make her giddy with reader happiness. 🙂 She looks forward to your thoughts on Chase, Lerner, and Barry!


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