I read the first three in the Haberdashers series by Sue London recently and decided that rather than doing one review for each I'd do a bit of a joint review. I should start by saying that regency romance is not something that I'd normally pick. I have a natural aversion to historic fiction, a hangover from my degree, which means that I usually tend to see the faults in it, rather than enjoying the story. In recent years I've got over this a bit, two of my all time favourite romance novels are historical novels, and one of these is actually set in the regency period. Recently I've found myself reading a few regency romances, including this Haberdashers series.
The basic idea behind the series is that as young girls, three friends formed a boy's club and called it the Haberdashers, not realising what it actually meant. Now we join them as young ladies, learning about love and romance...
Trials of Artemis
The first story starts with us meeting our first haberdasher, Jacqueline, or Jack as she is known to her friends. She finds that her reputation (that most highly guarded virtue for all Regency heroines) is called into question when she is found in the library (quite by accident, wrong place, wrong time) with a devilish rogue. He does what any honourable man would do and they find themselves married in no time at all.
What starts out as a marriage of convenience, turns slowly into true love, with some misunderstandings along the way (this is a romance novel after all). There is a little difference with this novel, compared to others with a similar theme, our heroine is very keen on weapons, and even finds time for a little swashbuckling adventure. It does add a little colour and interest to the story, but I did find it a little far fetched. Of course that's the joy of a novel, it doesn't have to be true to life.
Our hero, Gideon, is a very likeable character, which always helps. He might have a 'colourful' past, but he is more than willing to put that behind him for the woman he loves.
Of the three in the series that I've read so far, Athena's Ordeal has been my least favourite. There are some good parts to it, but, and unfortunately this is a big but, I didn't really like either of the main characters. Our haberdasher, Sabrina, or as she likes to be called Sabre, (really??) is annoying in the extreme and far too forward for a woman of her time. Our hero, Quincy, is in many ways the stereotypical idle rich boy. He spends far too much time being remote and detached for my liking and the rest of the time he's just down right lazy.
There are a number of sex scenes in this one, which rather that being 'hot' or entertaining are a bit awkward. I suppose it's refreshing in some ways to have a romance novel hero who fumbles and doesn't brandish his 'throbbing love stick' (haven't actually come across that in a book, tend to avoid ones that have the silly euphemisms in them, but you know what I mean) like a master swords man. The main problem though, is that in this case, he's again too lazy and detached and doesn't really even put the effort in.
As I said, this was my least favourite of the three, but it's still worth reading if you've going to give the others a try.
Fates for Apate
Our third haberdasher, Georgiana, or, yes you've guessed it, George as she likes to be known is a spy. She finds herself in Vienna and falling in love with Prussian possible spy Casimir.
I was a little unfair with this one, scoring it only 3 stars on my kindle, (I know I've been here before, but the whole out of five mark is next to useless in any case) I think it was worth more than a three, but not quite up to a four. Anyway, I did enjoy this much more than the last, which would have been a three.
Again there was a bit of a suspension of disbelief, would a woman have really been a spy? An unmarried woman at that? I really don't know, this is after all a world where a lady found alone in the library with a gentleman has had to marry him, only two books ago...
Our hero Casimir is lovely and George is very likeable, so far so good. The only downside with this one is that is suddenly stops. I was happily reading, turned the page expecting... well something more, some kind of conclusion and there was nothing, it was over.
I am going to read number four at some point and possibly the novellas, of which there are a number, but perhaps not just yet. I'm a bit haberdashered out right now. I would recommend them as a good, escapist series though, with a little different on offer than your usual Regency Romance novel.