To conclude my baron-themed week, I am reviewing two books for my Recent Indie & Small Press Favorites feature that include baron characters. Karla Kratovil’s A Perfect Engagement and Sophie Barnes’s The Roguish Baron were both released in May and I really enjoyed them both!
Karla Kratovil’s A Perfect Engagement
The heroine of this book, Charlotte Grisham, is the daughter of a baron, and her father (and her mother) fit into the evil baron/baroness trope pretty perfectly. As becomes quickly evident, both parents mistreat their daughter and participate in the scheming social climbing often attributed to the baron rank in historical romances. When Charlotte becomes engaged to Miles Weston, a marquess, they are delighted—they didn’t believe Charlotte capable of making such a good match, so they are over the moon when she secures such a high-ranking fiancé. The baron and baroness quickly plan an elaborate weeklong engagement party for the couple at their country estate—except that Miles, burdened with work, cannot make it to the party and sends his identical twin brother, Daniel, to stand in as himself.
This setup is so fun! Miles and Charlotte became engaged after he pushed her out of the way of a speeding carriage and it happened quickly, so they don’t know each other very well. Nevertheless, Charlotte realizes right away that Daniel is not Miles—and quickly finds herself connecting in deeper ways with Daniel than she ever has with Miles. Daniel and Charlotte keep up the ruse to spare her the embarrassment of not having her fiancé attend their engagement party and, by the time Miles shows up, the two are essentially in love. After that, it takes quite a bit of drama and personal bravery for this pair to find their HEA.
There was one other thing that I really appreciated about this book. Daniel is still close with a former lover of his because they share a child together and this relationship is handled beautifully. It was nice to see a hero have an ex who is depicted in such a positive light—I really don’t care for the evil ex-mistress trope in historical romance and the depiction of Phoebe, Daniel’s ex, was a lovely departure from those types of characters.
Overall, I recommend A Perfect Engagement if you love identical twin heroes, mistaken identities, and historicals that are on the lower end of the spice scale (but that still have some spice!).
Sophie Barnes’s The Roguish Baron
Here we have the rare baron hero! Sophie Barnes’s The Roguish Baron was a sweet, short read, and I adored the childhood-friends-to-lovers set-up. Sophia and Jack always had a close connection as children, but, four years before the start of the novel, he left their country village and went to London to put space between the two of them. His father—an Earl—had told him that he could never marry Sophia and, if he did, he would forfeit his inheritance. He didn't feel that he was in love with Sophia at this point, but he was offended by his father's attempt to intervene and threaten him. He tells Sophia that he isn't interested in her and that she should forget him before his departure for the city. (And she is heartbroken because she has fallen in love with him). Once he is in London, he becomes--of course!--a rogue and acquires quite the reputation for his liaisons with married and unmarried women.
Now, Jack has returned to their country village for the first time since this rupture with both his father and Sophia. Upon arrival, he discovers that Sophia has recently become engaged to her foster brother, Edward. Jack immediately takes a dislike to this turn of events and it causes him to realize that he has long been in love with Sophia. They find their way together (including getting caught in a storm and having to take shelter in an empty shepherd’s cottage—love this trope!) and secure their HEA against the odds (which include a surprise inheritance for Sophia).
The Roguish Baron was truly tropetastic and had a lot of elements that I love in historicals. I definitely recommend it, especially if you like baron heroes, childhood-friends-to-lovers, and the best friends’ older brother trope. I also recommend it if you enjoy a shorter read--at 138 Kindle pages, this book was refreshing and light while still having great world building and characters.