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Book Review: Rowan McAllister’s Historical Greatest Hits

Rowan McAllister Greatest Hits

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Don’t miss these greatest hits of historical romance by Rowan McAllister, collected in this exclusive bundle!

In A Promise of Tomorrow, Lord James Warren’s routine is shattered when his niece and nephew ask him to help a beautiful young man they’ve only just met: Kyle Allen, alone and running from his abusive lover. Assistance and a future for Kyle might be secured, but then they would face a choice: stay apart and continue leading half-lives… or risk everything for love. InA Devil’s Own Luck, William devotes his days to the pursuit of empty pleasure until the night he meets a young man who ignites a spark in him he’d thought long extinguished. Stephen is fiery and passionate, handsome and mysterious—exactly what a fallen devil needs to stir the ashes of his heart. In Never a Road Without a Turning, unapologetic rake Phillip “Pip” Stubbs takes a position at Greer cottage, hoping for another distraction from the growing restlessness inside him. But when the new master arrives, Pip ends up more unsettled than ever. Major Astley McNalty has everything a common servant like Pip could ever wish for, and yet he spends his nights in drunken brooding and his days in solitary melancholy. Can they learn to trust one another enough to find a safe path to a future together?

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Book – Rowan McAllister’s Greatest Hits

Author – Rowan McAllister

Star rating – ★★★★

No. of Pages – 573

Movie Potential – ★★★★

Ease of reading – easy to read

Would I read it again – Yes

** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **

Reviewed for Divine Magazine

As this is three separate stories, I’ll be rating them all individually, then rating the Greatest Hits as a whole.

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A Promise of Tomorrow

from 0% to 33%

★★★☆☆

WARNING: light bondage (using cravats on wrists), deals with rape, though it’s not explicit or on page.

Timeline – 1818

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There was nothing really wrong with this story. Historically, it was very accurate and appropriate for the times, though I had to look up the meanings of “Mrs. Radcliffe” (author of Gothic novels) and “knitbone unguent” (lubricant). Not being familiar with this era or Gothic novels, I had no knowledge of either of these and had to stop to look them up, which was frustrating.

I’m also not a fan of this introduction phase I’ve noticed in a lot of MM stories – particularly historical stories. It’s very unnatural to be introduced to a character by their first and second name, status included if appropriate, when we’re supposed to be inside their head. No one thinks like that and no one introduces themselves that way, unless they’re James Bond, so it’s become a pet peeve of mine and, unfortunately, this book has it.

“James, Lord James Alfred Warren, Viscount Sudbury, released a heavy sigh”

While discussing this, might I also mention the grammar errors. There are spaces before full stops, missing words (most often just one in a sentence, but it throws the whole sentence off) as well as formatting issues:

“country manners and

embarrass his sister and her family”

When it comes to storytelling, I found it all a little predictable. Once I knew who everyone was, it was clear what would happen and when. There were no surprises or moments of concern over characters fates, because it was all very clear that it would happen eventually. Also, the entire plot rang a little too closely to a story I read recently (different backgrounds and strength of characters, but the same overall principal of a high born man falling for a lowly born and rescuing him, thereby falling in love with him). In comparison, this one didn’t live up to the other read.

The style the author chose to write in didn’t suit me. There was a lot of colours flashing in the corner of the character’s eye, drawing his attention to something; Anna sounded like a four-year-old before we were told she was nineteen, purely from the way she was portrayed; and there was too much telling instead of showing. Often, I wanted to read a scene that was skimmed over in a page or half a page, when things I didn’t need to know were dragged out in detail.

Example: the time of Kyle and James’ first day together, getting to know each other, is skimmed over in less than a page. Yet, later, half a page is dedicated to the concept of clean linens.

In the midst of all of this, there is a serious problem with the author unable to identify shifts in timeline. We begin one chapter with one paragraph about the present, then shift – without warning, notice, italics or a change in font – straight into detailed events of the past. Once that is over, we’re returned to the present for one more paragraph, before a new chapter/scene, again without any warning. There’s also an attempt to make an obvious dream seem like it may be real, by refusing to mark it as a dream with either warning, notice or italics, as is generally called for. The timeline is scattered and unclear, which makes reading it difficult, because I often had to go back and check I hadn’t accidentally turned more than one page or that I hadn’t missed something.

Overall, I liked the characters and the plot development. Although it was obvious, I did enjoy the story. It was the storytelling and writing style that let it down. I liked all the characters I was supposed to like – Kyle was feisty, though cried a lot (understandable given his story), Andrew was fun and James a strong Alpha male – while hating the ones I was supposed to hate, like Weir. However, without the separation of present and flashback scenes, there was a lot I didn’t get to see that would have made the story better. That would have had more room to be shown if we weren’t given the same scenes/events shown in two different POV’s – James and Kyle’s.

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FAVOURITE QUOTE

“Yes pretty bird, you sang and sang without even knowing you’d been put in a cage.”

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A Devil’s Own Luck

from 33% to 68%

★★★★

WARNING: rough sex. Literally throwing people around the room. Though it is consensual.

Timeline – 1820

This is the best story of the bunch, for me.

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I really loved William, right from the start. He’s a bit of a rogue, but he’s a great main character and someone that I never lost interest in. He kept the story moving at a great pace and his friendship with Stubbs meant there was a lot more danger and action than in A Promise of Tomorrow.

Stylistically, it was as if two different people had written this story and A Promise of Tomorrow. The writing style was so different that I really was able to enjoy it, without the confused timeline of the previous story.

In terms of pros and cons, there was more positive influences in this story than negative. There were a few run on sentences, almost a paragraph long, and some small grammar mistakes, but they were so few and didn’t interfere with the reading that I’m willing to overlook them. They also have the story set in London, yet use the word “blocks”. Now, I don’t know if this is because it’s an American publisher or not, but no one in the UK would use “blocks” to replace streets. We have never had city blocks, in the 1800’s or now, so that’s an anomaly, but I’m guessing from the American spelling that it’s because of the publisher, so I’m going to also look past that.

The characters – William, Stephen, Stubbs, Maud and Phillip – were all great. They were all different, unique characters and each one had a purpose in progressing the story. Which, unlike the first, was full of surprises, excitement and kept me reading to find out what might happen next.

Overall, the entire story was engaging, funny and sad at times, while also being original and suiting the times.

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FAVOURITE QUOTE

Yes, little lamb. There is a wolf in the wood.

After only a moment, however, he saw Stephen square his shoulders and raise his chin, meeting William’s eyes again in angry defiance.

The lamb has teeth, he thought with pleasure,”

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Never A Road Without Turning

from 68% to 100%

★★★★

WARNING: history of abuse for MC and one instance of accidental attempted assault.

Timeline – 1826

This was my second favourite, coming in a close second to The Devil’s Own Luck. We got to revisit William and Stephen in their new happy home, see Maud and Stubbs again, all of which made me very, very happy. Even better was that the rascal Pip, or Phillip, was the MC and he was just as feisty as ever. The story follows a few years on from The Devil’s Own Luck.

While reading this one, I made very few notes, as with The Devil’s Own Luck, because I was so engrossed in the story that I didn’t want to stop for a minute. While not as dangerous and adventurous as the second story, the plot wasn’t as simple and flat as the first. This one had moments of fire and punch, but enough repetition of events and hurt feelings that it keeps Never A Road Without Turning a hairbreadth away from the top spot.

The idea of the romance was intriguing, the love interest, Ash, was interesting and kept my focus, always making me curious about him. With a disability, there was an added dynamic, as was supplied by Pip’s own horrific history.

Overall, nothing to dislike and everything I want to love all wrapped up in one bundle of a story that kept me engaged from beginning to end.

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FAVOURITE QUOTE

“He needed to remind himself of all the ways in which they were equal, how they fit together, that beneath the fine words and clothes, they were both made of flesh and bone with desires and hopes and vulnerabilities.”

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OVERALL

There are a lot of similarities between the stories –

  • introducing the character by full name and status, within the first paragraph

  • pensive beginning, with characters reflecting on their lives, status and history

  • similarity of main characters – early 30’s and upper class

Personally, I think the first story lets this set down. It’s not written in the same style or with the same captivating dynamic as the last two. Also, the series feels a little repetitive with its constant source of low born seeking high born. The exception is The Devil’s Own Luck, where the characters are much closer to being equals. Still, the main focus of the stories is how the couples will survive in a world where they can’t openly be together. Yet, if they were both of the same status, that wouldn’t be a problem.

Anyway, I think the Greatest Hits is a solid collection, with two very strong stories and one slightly weaker. Together, they supply enough Gentleman-Poor Man romance to keep most historical romance readers satisfied. I would have liked a little more variety in that, but the stories were great, even if the writing style of A Promise of Tomorrow was patchy and not my cup of tea.

When it comes to the titles, I can’t see any correlation between The Devil’s Own Luck and Never A Road Without A Turning and the plots of those stories. There is only a very vague mention of William being the devil, at the end of The Devil’s Own Luck and I don’t see the relation of the title for Pip’s story and his journey. They covers are attractive and would probably inspire me to pick up the books, even before reading the blurbs, which hint at enough without giving away too much.

I’m definitely glad I read this series and I might read more from Rowan McAllister again in the future. I will, however, definitely be reading more historical romances, that’s for sure.

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P.S. There are also a lot of pages of adverts in this book. 10 before we get to the first story, which seems fine when you think it’s one page for the Greatest Hits cover, 2 for the blurb, one page for each of the story covers and 1-2 pages for their individual blurbs. That’s all fine. But then you have one page with the story cover, before you start it and one page for the dedication. Then you get your story and it ends. Then you have another cover and another dedication. The second story takes place. Then it ends and you have another cover and another dedication. 2 pages for the Author’s Bio and 3 pages of copyright, which are all necessary. 1 to advertise Dreamspinner and 1 table of contents.

It reads ridiculously long, in this context, because it is. I would much prefer to keep only the Greatest Hits cover/blurb, the cover and dedication before each story began and the necessary Author’s Bio, copyright pages and the table of contents. Anything else is a waste. That would remove nearly 10 superfluous pages from an already long assemblage of stories.

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