Friday, February 8, 2019

Melinda's Review: Appetites and Vices

Remember, this is a Royal Pick for the month! Check back on February 28th when the monthly giveaway opens!

Appetites and Vices by Felicia Grossman
Publisher: Carina Press (February 18, 2019)
Series: The Truitts, 1
Genre: Historical Romance

He’s her ticket into high society…

Banking heiress Ursula Nunes has lived her life on the fringes of Philadelphia’s upper class. Her Jewish heritage means she’s never quite been welcomed by society’s elite…and her quick temper has never helped, either.

A faux engagement to the scion of the mid-Atlantic’s most storied family might work to repair her rumpled reputation and gain her entrĂ©e to the life she thinks she wants…if she can ignore the way her “betrothed” makes her feel warm all over and stay focused on her goal.

She’s his ticket out…

Former libertine John Thaddeus “Jay” Truitt is hardly the man to teach innocent women about propriety. Luckily, high society has little to do with being proper and everything to do with identifying your foe’s temptation—an art form Jay mastered long ago. A broken engagement will give him the perfect excuse to run off to Europe and a life of indulgence.

But when the game turns too personal, all bets are off…

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Melinda's Review:

I don’t read a ton of historical romance anymore, I stick pretty closely to paranormal or contemporary unless something in the blurb sticks out to me. So when I saw this one with a Jewish heroine and a libertine hero I thought okay this is one I haven’t read before! I want to read more inclusive books across the board so I was excited to start this one. The setting is also unusual in that it’s Philadelphia in the 1800s – my interest was piqued all over the place.

I love prickly heroines and this one is prickly in all the ways that I love. Ursula – okay and first how much do I love her name? A name that evokes the villain from The Little Mermaid who I love because of her fatness and embracing herself no matter what anyone thinks. Moving on…Ursula starts the book bound and determined to marry Hugh, who is not the hero, but is her best friend. It’s immediately clear this is not a love match, but one of comfort and of understanding. She feels that Hugh gets her and all her ways that she doesn’t fit in with society.

Oh how I love Ursula. What’s not to love?? She is super passionate about so much, she loves animals, she has large breasts and doesn’t give a F about what people think about that, and she is socially awkward – partly because she is so painfully honest about so much. I can’t speak to the Jewish representation as I’m not a part of that community but it felt very realistic and contained such nuance. Society shuns her for her Jewishness but wants to embrace her family’s money. I felt the author did such a wonderful job of weaving these aspects into the story and balancing them with the romance and lighter plot points.

I went in knowing the bare bones about Ursula but nothing about the hero and I was pleasantly surprised by Jay. I thought when he was introduced he would be kind of the playboy rich guy and was thinking okay, I can handle this since Ursula will be a good balance to him. But what I got instead was a delicate portrayal of addiction. I think almost everyone has been impacted by addiction in one way or another and this portrayal rang so true to me. His struggle was really beautifully done and Ursula’s reaction to his addiction brought me to tears a few times.

And while all of the above sounds very heavy, it just didn’t *feel* that way at all. Ursula and jay have a faux relationship – squee!- and then it turns into steamy fun times – more squee!- and of course it turns into even more than that. They manage to have a lot of laughter, a ton of chemistry, and sexual tension galore. They have this wonderful connection over being so misunderstood by literally everyone in their lives and their banter, which is my catnip, is excellent.

Combining these two portrayals of aspects that were undoubtedly a verifiable part of historical life – Jewishness and addiction – into one vibrant romance was a breath of fresh air in a subgenre that can sometimes feel very stale. I jump at historical romance that offers something different than the oh so white cishet ones we get so often. So Alyssa Cole, Jeannie Lin, KJ Charles – those are names I automatically trust to provide a different perspective and wonderful stories. I’m happy to have another name to add to the list with Felicia Grossman.

4 1/2 STARS! 

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Source: eARC (author)

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Thanks for the review, Melinda! 


Until Next Time,

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