Mired in scandal after their mother fled the country with her lover and their father was killed in a duel over his mistress, the Loring sisters retreated from polite society and learned to make their own way in the world. With the help of friends, they started a school to help young heiresses; at the same time, they swore off love, having witnessed their parents’ miserable marriage. But when their guardian dies, their new guardian, the Earl of Danvers, determines to marry them off. Fiercely protective of their new independence and self-sufficiency, the Loring sisters (and their friends) are prepared for an all-out courtship war with the dashing men who want to claim their hearts.
Nicole Jordan’s Courtship Wars series recently came to a close with the publication of the sixth and final book. After hearing many trusted bookish friends buzz about the book and the series as a whole (and after reading a particularly delicious first chapter online), I knew I had to start at the beginning. The Courtship Wars (To Pleasure a Lady, To Bed a Beauty, To Seduce a Bride, To Romance a Charming Rogue, To Tame a Dangerous Lord, and To Desire a Wicked Duke) follow the three Loring sisters – Arabella, Roslyn and Lily – and their friends as they try to resist falling head-first in love with some thoroughly irresistible men. Each book can stand alone, though with frequent mentions of previous events, it does help to read the books in order.
Each book follows the same loose structure, which makes them appear outwardly similar at first glance. But once the stories begin to unfold, Jordan reveals multi-layered characters with their own unique and complicated emotions, histories and motivations. Her heroines are strong, independent, determined and intelligent. These are women who don’t necessarily need a man, even if they may want one, making them far more unusual than the typical Regency lady. Jordan’s heroes, meanwhile, are devastatingly handsome (of course), slightly mischievous, decent and good-hearted. They are respectful and intriguing with their own secrets to guard and their own hearts to lose.
Jordan’s novels shine for many reasons, but none more so than the witty, intelligent verbal banter between the heroes and heroines. The men taunt and tease good-naturedly while the women hold their own and give as good as they get. Each couple is perfectly matched intellectually and, like Regency-era Benedicts and Beatrices, they clash frequently and passionately – which, in turn, brings a great deal of chemistry and swoon onto the page. One of the other aspects I really liked about this series was the strength of the friendships between the characters. From the Loring sisters’ loyalty and devotion to Fanny and Tess to the lifelong camaraderie between Marcus, Drew and Heath, friendships are just as important as the romantic relationships in these books.
If I have any quibbles at all, they are minor and can easily be chalked up to historical romance novel conventions (the biggest being that many of these couples profess to fall in love within a ridiculously short span of time.) But clearly these little bumps didn’t stop me. Nicole Jordan’s Courtship Wars series is still well-written with delightful and humorous stories full of heart. Regency romance fans would be crazy to miss out. Start at the beginning or flip a coin and pick up a book from the middle – either way, you’ll read an enjoyable book and fall in love with these characters.
[Photo Credit: Nicole Jordan’s website]