Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase - 99 cents
Captives of the Night by Loretta Chase - $2.99
Okay, for context on this, these are part of a loose shared Regency universe.
1.) The Lion's Daughter
2.) Lord of Scoundrels
3.) Captives of the Night
4.) The Mad Earl's Bride (short story in Three Weddings and a Kiss, totally worth buying the book just for it
5.) The Last Hellion
The The Lion's Daughter is not even in print anymore and that makes me want to cry because the bad guy from that one is fated to be completed in Captives of the Night with him being atoney and heroic and I kid you not, solving mysteries for repentance and er, the hero who falls in love with an artist. Angsty, tragic backstory, sketchy background, overthrows pashas in his spare time, kidnapping....but now he works for teh British government and it's kind of hilarious.
I love all these books (except the first one, dammit, not having read it), but Captives is by tone and subject matter and character and plot completely different from most of Loretta's work and if you read Scoundrels and Captives back to back, it will be a hard 180. It's extremely complex both emotionally and plotwise and don't get me wrong, it's romantic as hell, but it's not Romance really; what it is about is two very scarred people who worked very hard to make themselves decent lives in horrific circumstances; Loretta's heroines are always fairly independent, but Leila is my favorite for how hard she worked to create herself and make the best of her life despite a ruined childhood and a hideous marriage to a monster before his death made everything fall apart; Ismal's a hero who literally was a monster once upon a time and then decided to change. Neither of them need saving in any practical way; what they want is to be free.
The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
And okay, my squee of the day...
Siren Song, Winter Song, Fire Song, and The Silver Mirror all by Roberta Gellis, all on Kindle, 1.49 each.
Also available is the entire Roselynde series, but it's not on sale yet and I'm still squeeing over these.
Okay, to explain; all of these are set during Henry III, and especially the second could be said to be, borrowing from hradzka with artistic license, it's woman inheriting keeps and organizing the shit out of them from the ground up. All three are very much focused on women being extremely competent, self-sufficient, and possessing a staggering number of skills in a time where in the lower nobility and knights your home is literally a castle also had to be the equivalent of an isolated town that had to provide pretty much everything you needed or you did without
One of my favorite things about Roberta's medieval books is how much time she spends showing women working; all her noble medieval heroines run one to several large castles, sit in justice, do budgeting and accounting, see to their textiles and sewing, riding out to visit serfs, oversee meals, food storage, are decent physicians, and basically outline (not all at once obviously) the daily life of a woman of the middle and lower noble classes where you had servants and serfs but not on the level of great wealth, vassals, and less direct responsibility for the household and more time to sit around reading poetry and being boring. Without really hard anachronistic behavior, she has some of the most interesting and hardworking women I've ever read who were raised and trained very thoroughly to be self-sufficient so as to get along fine while the men go off to war for years.
Honestly, these I'd recommend just for how well Roberta describes medieval women's lives and duties, especially when the story sets them in contrast with the lives of women in the upper nobility and royalty.
Not on sale, but also recommended is Great Maria by Cecilia Holland, which covers Maria's life from being the only daughter of a Norman knight in Italy who makes a living robbing people who are on pilgrimage to right before she and her husband's coronation. Also pretty much entirely a world of women with a fantastic view of Maria both running a variety of households as they slowly conqueror a large amount of Italy.
For me, I read them at a time I was very young and most of the books that focused on women also made them warriors or sorcerers or working against traditional gender roles as I saw them, or they were royalty/higher nobility; it was very cool to also have women who weren't secretly trained to be expert swordsmen or sent off to be mages or chosen to save a kingdom or being bartered in marriage in tight political situations on the cusp of battle being focused on and their work just as highly valued in the story and their roles to be shown as necessary. Not to mention realizing how much they actually did to assure everyone ate regularly, had decent clothes, were paid properly, oversee disputes, and have fascinating, full, interesting lives even if they didn't ride to war. Female competence in any role is awesome.
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