Two ridiculous books. Both of which received good reviews on other sites. So readers might still enjoy them.
First. Untamed Rogue, Scandalous Mistress by Bronwyn Scott. Which means girl-friend and boy-friend are sleeping together almost from the beginning. I didn't really like it almost from the start. Perhaps because the hero, Crispin, is at a cross-roads in his life and doesn't know what to do with himself. Except he is absolutely sure he doesn't want to settle down with a wife and kids. But we all know he is going to be wedded by the end of this short novel. And the heroine, Aurora, declares ' I don't need a man.' Again. The whole novel is completely about her and a man, Crispin. What's more. Her attitude stems from the fact that she had been 'let down' by a guy (guys) in the past. Rather than from any sense of self-empowerment. She makes a living giving riding lessons to young women. And as far as I could tell was completely dependent on guys giving permission for their daughters and wives to have those lessons. Her name is Aurora but she is known as Rory to most people. So she's sort of pretending to be a guy. I lost interest in all her hypocritical posturing. The previous novel in this series had a wonderful background story of conniving murderous Russian tsarists. Nothing like that here.
Second. The Making of a Duchess by Shana Galen. A servant girl has to masquerade as a member of the aristocracy in order to discover if the hero, Luc, is a spy for France during the Napoleonic Wars. Utterly ridiculous. The heroine, Sarah, lives in the hero's house and spends her time searching through the rooms for evidence of his treason. Very early there's a scene where she pukes into a vase. Does she go to clean herself up? No. She drinks a cup of tea, offered by the hero who at the same time notices her full soft lips. Only in a novel could that happen. Any person with an ounce of sense would have been suspicious of a woman who had lived in Italy but couldn't speak Italian, couldn't dance, couldn't remember what was going on with her parents, Not the hero, Luc, though. Which made him more of a twit than her. I didn't really understand who Sarah's employer was. Northrup or the Mertons. Nor did she ever ask how the Widow had come to be shot. But it was the relentless snooping around in someone else's house and lying that eventually antagonised me. Why would Luc want to wed someone who behaved like that? Plus. Add in the plebian names of Luc's friends and the whole story seemed to be like reproduction of a Hogarth cartoon...full of fugly people doing fugly things. Not really helped by all the work that went into describing the heroine as borderline ugly at the start of the story. I just lost the motivation to read further than about page 122.
However. This story provides an interesting insight into the mind of a servant who believes she has no choice but to obey her employer in his wishes. Spying...betrayal...theft. She seemed to have no sense of right and wrong and was only worried about being made destitute. That was the power that the Church gave to ordinary men and women of those days. And that is partly why it became so powerful. It gave them morals and the power to say no to unreasonable requests. That's what I thought anyway.