Ethan of Athos is a shorter story that doesn't include Miles, although it does include one of his mercenaries. It is however, a wonderful, adventurous little story with Athos, a planet inhabited exclusively by males, as the base for the story. Bujold's main character, Ethan, is a scientist attempting to resolve a scientific glitch in Athos's artificial reproductive system. To find a resolution, he must travel away from his planet to find it. In his adventures, Ethan faces bigotry as well as his own misconceptions about life away from his planet and women in particular. A 4.5 star recommendation.
I also went on a Lorraine Heath western historical romance kick and read four of her books, including the Texas Trilogy of which Texas Destiny (Book #1) was my favorite and a 5 star read. Amelia Carson, a mail-order bride, travels to Texas to marry the eldest, handsome, Leigh brother. Houston, the scarred middle brother, picks up Amelia at the train station and shares a three-week adventure-filled ride home and the two fall in love. This is a post American Civil war romance with a tortured hero, fantastic sexual tension and chemistry between the protagonists, and a brave, kind, admirable heroine. This is the type of western historical romance I love. A sigh-worthy read!
Parting Gifts is another western historical romance novel by Lorraine Heath, but this one is on the sweeter side. In this romance Maddie is rescued from a life of prostitution by Charles Lawson, a a dying widower in need of a mother for his children. It is a marriage of convenience without sexual intimacy. Charles' older brother Jesse, however, doesn't trust Maddie even as a strong mutual attraction blooms between them. This is a heartwarming, endearing romance with a few well-kept secrets, a couple of cute kids, two brothers, one woman, lovely sexual tension, and a sweet ending. It did not impact me as strongly as Texas Destiny, but still a 4.5 star recommended. I am loving Heath's western backlist! PS: The Fulfillment by Lavyrle Spencer also has the two brothers, one woman plot line. It is not necessarily the same, but I have it in my TBR and need to read it.
Roselynde (Roselynde Chronicles #1) by Roberta Gellis - I decided to reread the first two books of the Roselynde Chronicles by Roberta Gellis. I first read Roselynde back in the early 80's and in my opinion this reread stands the test of time. I still love young Alinor the Intrepid and Simon the Honorable. This book has the fantastic historical fiction details that Gellis is known for, excellent characters all around, and a plot that kept me engaged from beginning to end. I gave it 5 stars at Goodreads and recommend it for readers who love historical fiction set during the times of Richard the Lionhearted, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and the Crusades with a romance between fictional characters at its center to spice things up.
Alinor (Roselynde Chronicles #2) by Roberta Gellis - I love the historical details in this book, particularly as they pertain to women's rights to inherit, widows and their children, and King John's reign. Gellis' attempt to capture the medieval mindset is particularly notable in this second installment. Alinor is again the main character, as well as the romance heroine and I still love her. Simon's loss was just as sad during this reread as it was the first time I read the book. The romance between Alinor and her second husband Ian has its moments. Ian's enduring love for Alinor is sweet and passionate. I admired both Alinor's realistic outlook once she became aware of her precarious position, and her attraction to Ian despite the love she still felt for Simon. The romance, however, seems to be plagued by the lack of real communication which leads to one too many misunderstandings. There is a heavy contrast between second husband Ian's youth and first husband Simon's maturity. Regardless, this is my second favorite book of the Roselynde Chronicles. A 4.5 star recommendation.
A note about the Roselynde Chronicles: If as a reader you do not enjoy detailed battle scenes, court intrigue, or political maneuvering with your romance, these historical fiction/romance books may not be for you.