Sunday, April 24, 2011

Laura Lee Guhrke Is Da Biz!

by Anna Campbell

I was fairly late discovering how fantastic Laura Lee Guhrke is. Yeah, I know, I'm a slow developer!

In May 2007, I was conducting my first ever workshop for the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild and on the way to the gig, I fell over at the train station and sprained my ankle. So instead of exploring Melbourne's wonderful shopping and cultural highlights (I love Melbourne - it's the most European of Australia's cities), I sat in my hotel room and whinged and put ice on a very swollen and bruised ankle. And read - thank goodness I had a couple of good books with me.

One was AND THEN HE KISSED HER by Laura Lee Guhrke.

By the way, you can read about my visit to Melbourne here: http://www.annacampbell.info/favethings.html Just scroll down to June 2007 for the whole sorry story.

AND THEN HE KISSED HER is the first of LLG's Girl Bachelor books, set in late 19th century England. This was originally a bit of a surprise to me - look at that cover, does that look like a Regency or what? But the setting is one of the fun parts of these stories. It's the era where women were finding employment in offices and shops. There are trains and telephones and electricity and early motor cars. Don't get me wrong, you know I adore the Regency. But it was interesting playing in a different sandpit for once.

Another fun element of these books is that most of the heroines aren't upper-crust damsels but girls who work for a living. But they're still restricted by Victorian mores. The delicious contrast between the almost modern and the almost Regency lends the Girl Bachelor stories a unique flavor that really appeals to me. The heroes tend to be aristocrats but they're aristocrats dealing with a new and sometimes uncongenial world. It's a world of American heiresses and smaller returns from land and the growth of commerce and women's rights.

Our hero in AND THEN HE KISSED HER is a viscount. A DIVORCED viscount, at that. Harry, Lord Marlowe, is a real charmer - you will definitely fall in love with him! He's a man who loves the modern world and has made a fortune as a newspaper proprietor and publisher. He's a bit of a rake and he's never met a woman he hasn't been able to wrap around his little finger. Because of this, while his intentions are generally benevolent, he can be careless of other people's feelings and he's inclined to think what's good for Harry is good for the world. Under his charming facade lurks emotional damage lingering from his unhappy marriage to a young American heiress who left him for the man she always loved.

Our heroine is one of my favorites - an Ugly Duckling who hides enormous potential under a repressed facade. Emmaline (Emma) Dove is Harry's humorless, ultra-efficient secretary. He pays her well but takes her for granted and hardly thinks of the capable Miss Dove as a woman at all. Emma dreams of being a writer - she has written several books on etiquette for the new working woman but Harry brushes her off each time and says there's no market for her work.

So we have a bit of a NINOTCHKA set-up with the charmer and the stern woman determined not to fall for what she sees as the hero's shallow attractions.

Emma sees the worst of Harry but knows, as a woman, she's very lucky to have this challenging job that by rights should belong to a man. She's willing to put up with his eccentricities (including his perpetual unpunctuality, yet another sign of his lack of consideration) until the day she discovers her handsome, charming, careless employer hasn't even done her the courtesy of reading a page of her work - and then he's lied about considering it and deciding it isn't commercial.

The worm turns and how!

Then the fun starts. Emma resigns and takes a post as etiquette expert on a rival newspaper. She becomes the toast of London and finally finds the courage to pursue her dreams.

Harry, on the other hand, is no longer king of all he surveys. Without Miss Dove's presence, his world collapses around him. Worse, the woman he's always dismissed as a complete antidote becomes increasingly fascinating. It seemed the dull female in the corner of his office possessed beauty and spirit and intelligence - and a will to match his own. And now he can't resist her. When she's the one woman in the world he can't dazzle with a mere smile.

Poor Harry is flabbergasted.

Don't you love it when the alpha male falls in love and finds himself completely at sea? It's a trope in a romance novel I can never get enough of.

Harry and Emma bumble their way through to a happy ending with a lot of humor, a touch of heartbreak, much wit, and a great deal of mayhem. This is the sort of book that leaves you smiling at the end, sighing with satisfaction and reaching for the next Girl Bachelor story.

Oh, and just for your information, the other books in the series are THE WICKED WAYS OF A DUKE, SECRET DESIRES OF A GENTLEMAN and WITH SEDUCTION IN MIND. LLG's latest two are also loosely connected to the other four - WEDDING OF THE SEASON and SCANDAL OF THE YEAR. They're all wonderful although I think AND THEN HE KISSED HER is my favorite along with SCANDAL OF THE YEAR which is a wonderfully sexy romp.

So have you read the Girl Bachelors? Are you as crazy about them as I am? Do you enjoy books that play away from the familiar setting of the Regency? Do you have a favorite book that uses a setting other than the Regency?

46 comments:

  1. I have read "Wedding of the Season" and I, too, was surprised that it was an Edwardian rather than a Regency - which made me imagine the characters dressed like Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster and friends.

    I have the entire Girl Bachelor series in my TBR pile. I must start on them!

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  2. I am ashamed to say I have not ready any books from the Girl Bachelor Series. A case of too many books nor enough time really.

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  3. Sheree, hope you enjoyed Wedding of the Season. I thought it was great although I must say I thought Scandal of the Year was EVEN better. Love books about stick-in-the-mud heroes who find their inner wild man under the influence of passion.

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  4. Marybelle, I hear you. Definitely give these a go, though - I think they're wonderfully entertaining.

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  5. AND THEN HE KISSED HER was the first Laura Lee Guhrke book I read. I have the rest of the series and her latest two books (WEDDING OF THE SEASON and SCANDAL OF THE YEAR) in my TBR pile (which is starting to be more of a mountain, LOL). I loved ATHKH and look forward to reading the rest. It was a change from my usual favorite Regency setting but after I got used to it, I liked it.

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  6. I have not read any of these yet, mainly because they weren't regency or early victorian period so usually when we start getting into the automobiles/telephone eras I am not usually interested because it seems 'too' modern for my tastes but I have heard some really good things about Laura Lee Guhrke's books so maybe I will have to try one and see.

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  7. Hey Anna! Great blog today! I love LLG and all her books. I'm behind in this series, but am looking forward to catching up.

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  8. Good morning Anna! Thanks for the great review. I've not read any of LLG's books but I've just now requested the 2 that my library has to get me started. Sounds like she's gonna be just up my ally!

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  9. I bought my first LLG book at the Wurzburg Base Exchange enroute to Budapest in summer 2005. Europe was experiencing a heat wave so it dulled some of the excitement of the trip. The hotel in Vienna did not have AC but the one in Budapest did. After a hot day walking around the Budapest Castle, it was fabulous to return to the hotel, cool down in the ice cold AC and read Laura Lee Guhrke.

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  10. I won all her books from a contest she ran an they are all signed...I already owned an then he kissed her an I LOVED it. I lend it to anyone who I think will enjoy it! I love that era romance. As for favorite books not in that era I have to say I love the 3 sister trilogy contemporary romance from Nora Roberts! They are great!

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  11. I have always loved her books! Terrific author and this one is definitely going on my TBR list!

    Connie Fischer
    conniecape@aol.com

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  12. Hello Anna!

    Laura Lee Guhrke is one of my favorite authors and I enjoyed reading her girl-bachelor series. "And Then He Kissed Her" happens to be one of my favorite books.

    I love her newest series as well, especially "Scandal of the Year." I remember reading a review which stated that her writing style is perfect for late Victorian/Edwardian set books and I have to agree.

    I'm in awe at how well she can balance the romance aspect and the research. You never get the impression that you're reading an encyclopedia, but a well-crafted and intense romance story.

    I heart Laura :D

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  13. I love Laura Lee Guhrke. She is one of my favorite historical romance authors. And Then He Kissed Her was actually my first book that I read from her and I absolutely loved. As soon as I finished it I went out and bought all of her backlist.

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  14. I've never read this author, but you've made this book sound really interesting. I'll have to give her books a try.

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  15. Saw this linked on my Facebook Author page, and had to pop in to say thanks to Anna and all the wonderful readers here! You rock.

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  16. June, I think the cover was quite misleading on this one. I expected a Regency and it took me a little while to get into the swing of the new setting - but as you say, it's such a great story and it's fun to have a book set in almost the 20th century.

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  17. Dtchycat, give these a go. I love them. I've read everything she's written since this and loved them all but this one keeps a special spot in my heart.

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  18. Ooh, Buffie, wait till you get to Scandal of the Year - it's absolutely delicious. And speaking of delicious, Happy Easter to everyone who celebrates it. It's actually the day after here but I know the Bunny is still going strong in America!

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  19. Jennifer, hope you like them. I've got a couple of her older books in my TBR pile - must get around to reading them. It's hard to keep up with all the good stuff out there, isn't it?

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  20. Kim, I read most of this book with an ice pack on my foot and with it elevated so that the swelling would go down. I must say a five star hotel is just the place to have an injury if you HAVE to have an injury. I didn't have to worry about cooking for myself and the staff were wonderful about keeping the ice packs up to me. By the way, if you're in Melbourne, I highly recommend the Langham on Southbank. We've had a couple of our RWOz conferences there and it's fabulous.

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  21. Brittany, I haven't read the three sister trilogy although I've heard great things about it. My fave NR trilogy (that turned into a quartet) is the Chesapeake Bay books. They're brilliant! Loved the Irish trilogy too, especially the first one, Jewels of the Sun. SOOOO glad you're a Girl Bachelor fan. I think these books are wonderful.

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  22. Connie, what fun you'll have with this book. I bet you love it! It's a book that makes people smile - I remember Andrea of the Dishes saying how much she'd loved it too when we discussed me writing this review.

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  23. Antonia, I think Scandal is one of my favorites of hers too. There's so much emotion in that story - while it's balanced with a great story and a lot of witty humor. Great stuff! So glad you're a fan!!!! You're right about the effortless way she incorporates details of the life at the time into the story. It's masterly.

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  24. Hey, Danielle, fantastic you're a fan too. I had exactly the same reaction after I read AND THEN HE KISSED HER. And I also wondered where I'd been the whole time she was writing that she'd skipped under my radar. They're wonderful books. I've got She's No Princess hovering towards the top of the TBR pile. Must drag it out!!!

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  25. Penfield, try it - it's wonderful! I'm yet to meet anyone who's read ATHKH who hasn't loved it which is a pretty great recommendation!

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  26. Hey, my pleasure, LLG! Just keep writing those wonderful books and I think we're pretty square, actually ;-) I know I told you privately, but I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Scandal of the Year! I think it's one of my faves of yours - and you've set that bar really high.

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  27. Anna

    I too love this series I have read most of them although I think I have 1 or 2 still on the TBR pile need to catch up with them LOL

    Have Fun
    Helen

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  28. Helen, I thought they'd appeal to you. There's a real sweetness to the writing, isn't there? And she writes such lovely characters! Even when they're wrong, they're still endearing!

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  29. I have not read any of these books either but will have to check them out. So many book and so little time to read.

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  30. Oh, Virginia, how have you missed her? I think she'd really appeal to you! Happy reading!

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  31. Great blog,Anna! I love LLG's Girl Bachelor books.

    I haven't read WEDDING OF THE SEASON and SCANDAL OF THE YEAR yet. They're on my tbr. I just need to find the time!

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  32. PJ, there's been some great books out lately, haven't there? You should see my TBR pile. In fact, you probably can - it's so big, I'm sure you can spot it from where you are! Glad you're another fan. I think she's such a great writer.

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  33. Anna, I was late to LLG, too, but was soooo glad when I did "find" her. I picked up She's No Princess when it released, but didn't want to read any out of order, so I started with Guilty Pleasures. It and And Then He Kissed Her are my favorites to date. Thanks for the great review!

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  34. Andrea, I didn't realize SNP was part of a series. I'll have to buy the other books. And then I can have a feast of LLG. What fun! Yeah, you and I raved about ATHKH when I originally suggested doing this review. We both love this book SOOOOO much!

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  35. Oh thank you, thank you, thank you! I've read this book ages ago and totally forgot the author and the name. Since then I've been trying to find it for a re-read ;))) This is my lucky day, loved this story, will have to read the rest of the series.

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  36. Hey, KK, so glad to help. Isn't it annoying when you KNOW the story but can't for the life of you remember anything else? Definitely worth a re-read. I re-read it for this review and loved every moment of it.

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  37. LLG has been on my autobuy list for a long time. I started reading her books when she was writing American historicals. Conor's Way, a Rita winner, is still a favorite. I love the Bachelor Girls series. And Then He Kissed Her just edges out Guilty Pleasures as my favorite Guhrke book. I love Scandal of the Year too, Anna; it got five stars from me.

    Eloisa James's Desperate Duchesses and Jo Beverley's Mallorens are Georgian series I love, as are Lisa Kleypas's Victorian series and too many contemporary series to name. Emily March's Eternity Springs books are a new fave series.

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  38. Janga, I'm pretty sure we've spoken before about our mutual love for LLG's books - I think she writes such sparkling stories and she does wonderfully compelling heroes who are still at base nice guys. That's not always an easy balance to get right. I didn't know about the American historicals - I'll have to chase them up! And you're the second person to mention Guilty Pleasures - looks like it's going to become on of MY Guilty Pleasures! ;-) Scandal was a really special book. As I said, I really loved Wedding of the Season but Scandal really went to the top of my list (along with ATHKH). Ooh, great list of series!

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  39. I like the Victorian era because women had more opportunities to get out and about as well as travel with fewer of the earlier restrictions. However,
    my favorites are those set in the Highlands.Julie Garwood's medieval stories set in the Highlands were the first romances I ever read and still my favorite. Of them all, I think I enjoyed RANSOM the most.

    I know I have some of these books buried in my TBR mountain. I hope I have this one. I'll have to dig them out and make a TBR pile in my TBR mountain.

    Thanks for the review and getting me to look for her books in my pile.

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  40. Pat, I actually have scaled towers of TBR. There's the stuff I'm going to read right away (which for some reason, often does NOT get read right away, I'm not quite sure why). Then there's the stuff I've put aside but mean to get to - and usually do. And then there's the stuff that tends to languish. Again, I'm not quite sure why. I've dragged stuff out of there after I read a good review or hear someone talking about it and wonder why I didn't get to it sooner! I love books set in the Highlands too - I mean, you can't beat a man in a kilt, can you?

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  41. Anna, I only just read my first, and it was 'Wedding of the Season' for a review. I was pleasantly surprised as I had never read Laura before, but I am going to now for sure. I love how you describe the Girl Bachelors, I will be getting these as well, great blog~

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  42. Thanks, Karyn. So glad you've just discovered LLG. Keep exploring - as I said, And Then He Kissed Her is a particular favorite of mine (and a few other people here as it's turned out).

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  43. Thanks, guys, for a great day of discussing Harry and Emma! See you on the 24th of May when I've got some more great books to talk about.

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  44. Anna, I know I am late to the party but have been away. I loved this book and it is on my keeper shelf. LLG is an autobuy for me. I have read all the bachelor girls but Emma and Harry are my favorites. I must revisit them! I look forward to your monthly columns.......keep them comming!

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  45. Hey, thanks, Connie. I've got a real treat in store for you next month - teasing is SUCH fun! I love doing this monthly column. It's always such fun to share great books with friends. So glad you're an LLG fan - I love the girl bachelors in total too but this one is still my favorite.

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  46. I've been reading historical romance for many years so when an author comes along with a great premise for writing a story much less a series I find myself intrigued. Laura Lee Guhrke's Girl Bachelor Series catches you from the very first sentence until you finish the book. Plan on spending the entire day reading because you won't be able to put it down.

    I find the premise of the stories fascinating and love the idea that her heroines are a century ahead of their time. The characters interactions are swift moving and keep you entranced in the story. Her dialogue and the way she developes her characters make me feel as if I'm in the same setting as the characters.

    I can't wait to read her latest and am looking forward to reading many more books in this series in the future.

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