Size Doesn’t Matter (192): Ready Set Rogue; Refuge for Masterminds

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (192): Ready Set Rogue; Refuge for MastermindsReady Set Rogue by Manda Collins
Series: Studies in Scandal #1
Published by St. Martin's Press on January 3, 2017
Genres: Historical, Romance, Mystery
Pages: 310
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-half-stars

WHO WILL WRITE THE BOOK OF LOVE?

When scholarly Miss Ivy Wareham receives word that she’s one of four young ladies who have inherited Lady Celeste Beauchamp’s estate with a magnificent private library, she packs her trunks straightaway. Unfortunately, Lady Celeste’s nephew, the rakish Quill Beauchamp, Marquess of Kerr, is determined to interrupt her studies one way or another...

Bequeathing Beauchamp House to four bluestockings—no matter how lovely they are to look at—is a travesty, and Quill simply won’t have it. But Lady Celeste’s death is not quite as straightforward as it first seemed…and if Quill hopes to solve the mystery behind her demise, he’ll need Ivy’s help. Along the way, he is surprised to learn that bookish Ivy stirs a passion and longing that he has never known. This rogue believes he’s finally met his match—but can Quill convince clever, skeptical Ivy that his love is no fiction?

It’s funny when you look on Goodreads for a book and see that other people were not huge fans, and you’re just like WHATEVA WHATEVA IT’S GREAT. Ready Set Rogue delighted me from beginning to end; it’s a silly, sexy, tropetastic romp, and I’m really into this series’ concept.

The premise hits the same sweet spot as Tessa Dare’s Spindle Cove, and basically that means it’s awesome. The late Lady Celeste Beauchamp had an extraordinary and unusual will: she’s leaving her estate (left out of the family inheritance down the male line) to one of four scholarly young ladies. The ladies will all live on the estate for a year, while working on their area of excellence, and one will receive the estate at the end of that year. It’s sort of like a historical romance reality show with nerdy bluestockings reigning supreme, only they’re all here to make friends and have fun. A+.

Collins goes to town on tropes in Ready Set Rogue, and they’re basically all my favorite tropes, so I can’t say I minded a single bit (actually, I loved it a lot). The heroine of the first book in the series is Miss Ivy Wareham, a classics scholar and translator, who, on the way to the estate, bumps into Lady Celeste’s nephew, coming to try to put a stop to this nonsense. She and Quill (poor guy is named Torquill Beauchamp, and he’s making the best of it) hate each other right off the bat, because he’s concerned his aunt was duped by these bluestockings, and she thinks he’s a typical male (aka a total sexist douchebag). Ship! It’s not the best ship in the whole world, but it’s pretty damn cute.

And, oh yeah, the tropes are not done yet. Ivy arrives in her room at the estate to find a letter from Lady Celeste, pre-death obvs, asking Ivy to investigate her murder. See, Lady Celeste was pretty sure she was being poisoned and wasn’t going to survive to meet the girls she’d chosen, and, sadly, she was right. Darling that she is, Celeste advises Ivy to work with her nephew on the investigation. Admittedly, the murder mystery part goes a bit over the top and is what dropped the rating to a 3.5 rather than a 4.5, but I still think it’s worth it for the joy of the moment when I discovered the book was ALSO a murder mystery with the detectives sniping and falling in love with each other along the way. Like, this was made for me, my god. And, Quill and Ivy get trapped in a cabin alone during a rainstorm during the investigation, so honestly it’s great.

Ready Set Rogue was my first Manda Collins, and I need to read them all. I love the start of this series, and I absolutely cannot wait for more!

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (192): Ready Set Rogue; Refuge for MastermindsRefuge for Masterminds by Kathleen Baldwin
Series: Stranje House #3
Published by Tor Teen on May 23, 2017
Genres: Historical, Romance, Mystery
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars

It’s 1814. Napoleon has escaped his imprisonment on Elba. Britain is at war on four fronts. And at Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, five young ladies are secretly being trained for a world of spies, diplomacy, and war…

Napoleon’s invasion of England is underway and someone at Stranje House is sneaking information to his spies. Lady Jane Moore is determined to find out who it is. If anyone can discover the traitor, it is Jane—for, according to headmistress Emma Stranje, Lady Jane is a mastermind.

Jane doesn’t consider herself a mastermind. It’s just that she tends to grasp the facts of a situation quickly, and by doing so, she’s able to devise and implement a sensible course of action. Is Jane enough of a mastermind to save the brash young American inventor Alexander Sinclair, her friends at Stranje House, and possibly England itself?

Both A School for Unusual Girls and Exile for Dreamers were delightful historical romps with lady spies and a lot of kissing. Basically, this series is completely up my aisle. Refuge for Masterminds is the strongest effort in the series yet (I’m just assuming there will be two more books and this isn’t the last—*crosses fingers*).

While the first two books were massively fun, Refuge for Masterminds does a better job of focusing on the heroine in question, and it strengthens the story. The prior two books tried too hard to catch romantic moments between the side ships, which resulted in inadvertently comical and vaguely voyeuristic scenes. In focusing more on Lady Jane’s series and not trying to manipulate her into positions that don’t make a bunch of sense, the Stranje House series is finally doing exactly what I want it to.

The plot’s delightful, and I will always adore the feminism of the series, as well as the efforts for diversity in historical fiction. My very favorite part of Refuge for Masterminds is the reveal that ladies have been spying and manipulating behind the scenes for generations, and that the gossipiest ladies of the ton are actually political, badass spies. Very much YES.

The romance between Jane and Alexander’s very cute, if not the shippiest ship ever. They have a nice bit of antagonism, and I do adore any ship where people don’t want to have feelings, which Jane very much does not. And, actually, despite the focus on Lady Jane, the side ships do move along nicely.

Refuge for Masterminds is another bon bon of a tale, and I dearly hope each of the Stranje House girls gets her own book, because I am absolutely here for it.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

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