Regency Romp by Jennifer Mueller, Nikki Watson,
Katrina Strauss, Kayleigh Jamison, & Emma Wildes
Aphrodite’s Apples
Erotic Romance / Regency / Anthology
Reviewed by Cassie

   

 

Rose Among the Heather by Jennifer Mueller

Edward, Duke of Cairnmuir, has just returned home to Scotland when he is informed that his mother is hosting a ball.  She wants to see Edward’s younger brother, Bran, married, and orders Edward to attend as well.  Edward is exhausted and still feeling the loss of some of his comrades, but he does attend the ball.  There he meets Rose Beaufort, to whom he is instantly attracted.  Can Rose help heal him?

Rose Among the Heather featured a kilt-wearing Scottish hero as well as an interesting subplot with Edward’s brother.  While this story didn’t stray very far from traditional Regency plots, it was enjoyable and the characters were likeable. 

 

Laudanum by Nikki Watson

Frederick Barrington, born a bastard, now occupies a position of some prominence.  People want him for what he can provide them with—laudanum.  One night, on a visit to Madam Moon’s Establishment for Respectable Ladies, he meets a new girl of the Madam’s, “Selina.”  Displeased with the new girl, he orders the Madam Moon to make sure Selina is prepared for him when he returns.  He doesn’t realize that Selina is really named Juliana and is on the run from something.  Will both Selina and Frederick find the escape they crave?

Laudanum was my least favorite story in this anthology.  There were a lot of good ideas in the story, such as Selina/Juliana’s flight from an evil would-be suitor, a sort of threesome dynamic with a man in Frederick’s employ, and Frederick’s past as a bastard, but none of them were fleshed out well enough to go anywhere.  I admired Selina/Juliana’s willingness to do whatever it took to get away from her unwanted suitor, and Frederick’s servant, Isaac, was a kind and good man.  The reason I didn’t like this story, however, was Frederick himself.  Throughout the course of the story, he bought Selina/Juliana’s time and then proceeded to hurt her, force her and Isaac to be intimate, give Selina/Juliana drugs to make her more compliant, and mistreat pretty much everyone in the story!  At the end, he was claiming Juliana meant something to him, but I didn’t buy it for one second after all he’d done to her (and Isaac, who was the only person in the story I really liked).  I don’t mind a bit of BDSM but there has to be a feeling of real caring between the characters to make the pleasure/pain dynamic hot.  I think Nikki Watson could have made Frederick more sympathetic, and his desire to cause pain less unpleasant, if she’d fleshed out why he was that way and not had him giving the heroine drugs to keep her willing.   

 

Of Licorice and Decadence by Katrina Strauss

Composer Klauss Von Alstyne is worried that his career is over prematurely at the age of twenty-four.  He hasn’t been able to write or play any music for a while now, and he fears his muse has deserted him.  One night, he’s in the process of getting drunk on absinthe at his best friend’s party when his friend introduces him to actress Nicolette Neville.  Klauss is intrigued and attracted.  What will happen when they decide to explore the maze?

Of Licorice and Decadence certainly lives up to its name.  The wild party that serves as the setting for the party certainly provides the decadence.  The hero, while an unrepentant rake and heavy drinker, is intriguing.  Nicolette is unashamed of her desires, and as an actress she has freedoms other Regency women wouldn’t.  The two characters’ coming together isn’t all that romantic, since it’s fueled by absinthe and lust, but it is certainly hot. 

 

Unspeakable by Kayleigh Jamison

Trevor Caulfield, younger brother of an earl, is bored at a ball when he meets a beautiful and mysterious young woman.  To his surprise, he discovers that the young woman is Emma Hatton, the mute, secret older daughter of the Duke of Wellington.  Despite his status as a confirmed bachelor, Emma intrigues Trevor.  No one even knows Emma exists, though, and the Duke is determined to keep her hidden…

Unspeakable is a truly sweet story of an unexpected love.  I liked the way Trevor’s innate goodness came through his world-weary rake exterior after he met Emma.  His protectiveness and caring for her were obvious.  Mute Emma had been through a lot, but I liked the way she continued to live her life and reach for happiness despite her mistreatment.  Even though the speed of their courtship and falling in love strained credibility a bit, this story was so sweet and romantic I was able to suspend disbelief.

 

At the Lady’s Discretion by Emma Wildes

Louisa Drury, the widow of a cruel, controlling husband, is involved in a very satisfying affair with William, the Duke of Hartley.  Because of her terrible marriage, she’s determined to always be in control of her affair.  What will happen when lust begins to turn to love?

I really enjoyed At the Lady’s Discretion.  It was easy to sympathize with Louisa’s desire to be in control, and her reaction to it.  William was a perfect match for her, willing to allow her the control she needed and slowly coming to care for her.  The heat between Louisa and William was explosive, and their sex life very inventive.  Luckily, Emma Wildes did a good job of showing their emotions as well, making this story multi-faceted and a lot of fun to read.

 

Regency Romp is probably not the most realistic Regency anthology out there, but it has an interesting selection of stories.  If you like your Regencies spicy, then you’ll probably enjoy this book.

     

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