Series Review: Winner Takes All by Kate Noble

Series Review: Winner Takes All by Kate NobleThe Game and the Governess by Kate Noble
Series: Winner Takes All #1
Published by Pocket Books on July 29, 2014
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
four-stars

Trading Places meets Pride and Prejudice in this sexy, saucy romance—first in a new series from the author of YouTube sensation The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

Three friends. One Wager. Winner takes all.

The Earl—‘Lucky Ned’ Ashby. Pompous, preening, certain that he is beloved by everyone.
The Miller—John Turner. Proud, forced to work as the Earl’s secretary, their relationship growing ever more strained.
The Doctor—Rhys Gray. Practical, peace-loving, but caught in the middle of two warring friends.

Their wager is simple: By trading places with John Turner and convincing someone to fall in love with him, Ned plans to prove it’s him the world adores, not his money. Turner plans to prove him wrong.

But no one planned on Phoebe Baker, the unassuming governess who would fall into their trap, and turn everything on its head…

Three best friends make a life-changing bet in the first book in a witty, sexy new Regency trilogy from acclaimed author Kate Noble, writer of the wildly popular Emmy award–winning web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

Okay so the official book description says The Game and the Governess is Trading Places meets Pride and Prejudice, but that’s a total lie. This book isn’t like P&P, except in historical era. It’s more Trading Places meets How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. And it’s really fucking fun, just like you might expect.

The first thing to catch my notice as I started by first Kate Noble romance was actually not the premise, but the hero. The Earl of Ashby aka Lucky Ned is absolutely not the stereotypical romance hero. He’s not an alpha male, and he’s not commanding. He’s silly and affable and lacking self-awareness and trips through life occasionally stepping on people accidentally in the process. Breaking out P&P again, he’s Bingley, not Darcy.

Then, of course, there’s the premise. Ned’s friend, former captain in the war, and current secretary John Turner, has grown sick of Ned’s behavior. He’s tired of Ned doing no work and stumbling into good things. Knowing that Lucky Ned can’t resist a challenge, Turner bets him that he couldn’t get a woman to fall in love with him in two weeks without his title. Ned thinks good things happen to him because of his natural affability, as opposed to Turner’s serious, dour nature, and he agrees. If Turner wins, he gets 5000 pounds to finally get his family’s mill up-and-running and quits his job as secretary; if Ned wins, Turner’s role as secretary becomes permanent and Ned gets the mill.

The two ride off to Ned’s childhood home (which, along the way, they have to decide whether to sell), which Ned hasn’t visited since he was a child and his Uncle raised him from obscurity to be his heir. Ned and Turner look similar enough to pass with people who haven’t seen Ned since his childhood. They stay with some local gentry and try out each other’s roles in life.

Both Ned and Turner find love, which would be great if they weren’t totally lying about who they were. Ned’s life is further complicated by the fact that the lady he chose just so happens to loathe the Earl of Ashby for his role in her father’s death. The plot and writing of this book are so strong, and I couldn’t put it down. However, I didn’t really get the feels out of it. There’s not as much focus on the romance. Like most historical romance puts the focus on the romance but here it’s a bit more on the historical. I did ship the couples, but I didn’t ship them particularly strongly, despite the amazing set up.

The Game and the Governess is massively fun, and totally worth reading for historical romance fans. I just hope to see Noble use some more of that amazing banter from LBD at some point.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


Series Review: Winner Takes All by Kate NobleThe Lie and the Lady by Kate Noble
Published by Pocket Books on December 29, 2015
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-half-stars

John Turner was thinking only of winning a bet when he swapped identities with his friend, the Earl of Ashby. He didn’t wager on winning the fiery Countess of Churzy’s heart with his lies, or on falling for her in return.

Leticia, impoverished Countess of Churzy, was publicly humiliated when it came out that she had fallen for the man, not the master. She fled when she learned of his betrayal. But fate throws them together again, and some things are too intoxicating to be denied.

John is determined to regain her trust—and her love—this time as himself. Letty knows what choice she must make to survive, but if she turns her back on her dashing rogue – again – will she loose her chance at love forever?

Once again, Kate Noble shows off her skills in plotting, writing, historical detail, and character development. And once again, I fail to ship it strongly, but I really enjoy the book anyway.

To be fair, The Lie and the Lady was not the sort of ship that typically sets my soul aflame anyway. We join up with Letty about a year after the events of The Game and the Governess as she finally succeeds in catching a wealthy husband who hasn’t heard about her scandals. She travels to Sir Barty’s home in Leicester and discovers to her distress that her step-daughter-to-be doesn’t like her and that John Turner’s mill is in the same town. Somehow, Leticia has to survive the six weeks until she and Sir Barty wed and she’s once again safe.

For all that I’m not a fan of this basic trope (where one of them is engaged to someone else), Noble does a really nice job with it. Sir Barty’s actually super sweet and lovable. I mean, a bit gross to think about being married to what with his gout and all, but he’s a genuinely good guy. Letty doesn’t love him, but she does like him. I also really like what a mess of attempted matchmaking this book is, as everyone tries to set Margaret up with someone and keep her from someone else. (Also, I’m super excited about Margaret and Rhys and their nerdiness.)

John and Leticia do end up a pretty good couple. They do seem to fit each other, as is shown in how they weather the events of the book together. I wasn’t sure about Letty as a miller’s wife tbh, but she’s got awesome ideas and I was totally convinced by the end that they’d be fine. It’s also pretty cool that Letty’s actually older than him. And how often does the heroine give up her title for love in historical romance? Basically never. As with The Game and the Governess, there’s not much sex (or even kissing) and the ship gets together right in the last couple of pages. Though these books are fairly long, they could do with a bit more.

I really like these books so far, but it’s a bit unfortunate that the weak spot has been the lack of shippy feels which is what this genre is all about.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

Series Review: Winner Takes All by Kate NobleMiss Goodhue Lives for a Night by Kate Noble
Series: Winner Takes All #2.5
Published by Pocket Star on September 19, 2016
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 144
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Amazon
Goodreads
three-stars

Next in the witty, sexy Winner Takes All Regency series from Emmy winner Kate Noble, author of The Game and the Governess and writer of the wildly popular web series, The Lizzie Bennett Diaries.

Cecilia Goodhue is a schoolteacher with a past, living with her sister and her husband in a tiny English village. Resigned to a quiet life, Cecilia is surprised when she finds out that her young cousin has run off with a man of no means.

Cecilia had once been a teenaged girl who also fell for a young man’s charms—only to be devastated by his betrayal. Determined to not let her cousin meet the same fate, she heads off to London to but is shocked when her investigation leads her right to the front door of the very man who broke her heart: Theo Hudson.

Together, they reluctantly embark on finding her cousin and returning her to her family. During their searching in London, it soon becomes clear that they both remember their short-lived romance differently and perhaps now, years later, they have a fresh chance at love.

Once again, Kate Noble delivers an amazing plot and ship set up but doesn’t bring the intense shippiness I expect from romance.

At this point, I’m starting to get a bit concerned tbh. I mean, I will totally keep reading Noble, but it’s a bit frustrating that she has these amazing tropes and somehow things just lack that passionate shipness of Julia Quinn or Tessa Dare. I think it’s just that she doesn’t really get as bantery.

With Miss Goodhue Lives for a Night, it was especially difficult not to compare Noble with Tessa Dare, since the premise has two former lovers separated by a misunderstanding reuniting. Dare’s novella Lord Dashwood Missed Out has a fairly similar basic set up, but it brings the ship in a way that Miss Goodhue simply does not. I do love the plot of the novella, which takes the aforementioned set up and mixes in a Pride and Prejudice element as they’re hunting down a run away cousin of Cecilia’s who disappeared with an officer.

Noble has really excellent writing, premises, and historical details, but I still have yet to fiercely ship a romance. *crosses fingers desperately for The Dare and the Doctor*

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

Series Review: Winner Takes All by Kate NobleThe Dare and the Doctor by Kate Noble
Series: Winner Takes All #3
Published by Pocket Books on November 22, 2016
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 355
Format: eARC
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-half-stars

With writing that is “nothing less than brilliant” (Booklist) comes the third in the witty, sexy Winner Takes All series from Kate Noble!

Dr. Rhys Gray and Miss Margaret Babcock are friends—strictly friends. But over the course of the year, as they exchange dozens of letters, they share personal details that put them on the path to something more. When Dr. Gray helps Margaret realize her dearest dream and she comes to his defense in the uproar that follows, it seems that their connection cannot be denied. But will their relationship stand the scruples of society and jealous intendeds, or are they destined to be only friends, and nothing more?

The perfect novel for fans of Regency Era romance, The Dare and the Doctor is a clever and passionate love story worth sharing.

Of them all, The Dare and the Doctor has my favorite romance, though shippiness still continues to be Noble’s weakest element.

Rhys and Margaret’s roots go back to The Lie and the Lady, and I was looking forward to their book. The two share a bond of intellectual curiosity, not much enjoying society, and general nerdiness. That’s totally my kind of ship, but Noble doesn’t manage to build up that yearning passion that I love so much in a good ship. Margaret and Rhys totally work, and I believe in them as a couple, but it just didn’t hit me in the feelsy bone, you know?

As ever, I’m impressed with the quality of Noble’s writing and historical setting. This one’s especially delightful, because I love any historical romance where women thrive in pursuits not usually allowed to them. Margaret’s skill with flower cultivation is impressive, and I love that Rhys not allows it but actively encourages her. He’s very much not an alpha male asshole, which is great. I could have done without the subplot of the jealous love rival, however. I don’t enjoy the mean girl villains of romance.

All told, this series is very much worth a read if you’re into historical romance, so long as you don’t mind sacrificing shippiness for the quality of everything else in the series.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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One response to “Series Review: Winner Takes All by Kate Noble”

  1. Joanne Levy says:

    These sound fun and my library has them. SCORE. 🙂
    Joanne Levy recently posted…CRUSHING IT Launch Party!My Profile

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