Wednesday

A Match Made in Bed by Cathy Maxwell

May 16, 2018

It’s not a good sign when you can’t remember what a book is about and you just read it.

http://www.cathymaxwell.com/
By the way, the cover of this book insinuates that this is a hilariously funny story – don’t be fooled, my little Petunia’s.
 
Cathy Maxwell is one of my auto-buys, but I will be the first to admit that sometimes she writes wonderful books and sometimes…

Cassandra Holwell is a rich heiress, and Soren, the Earl of Dewsberry needs a rich wife, and he has his eye on Cassandra, aka Cass. Evidently, Cass and Soren have a history. Cass had crush on him when he was 13 and she was 11. Then he did something and she hatesssssss him forever. Soren is puzzled as to the cold shoulder he’s receiving from Cassandra; he always has been. He has no idea what he did when he was 13 to make her hate him. Eventually, we find out what he did and I was struck dumb – for a minute. Think about it. He did something stupid when he was 13…thirteen!!! She is 11, that’s e-l-e-v-e-n and she can’t get over it. It’s been ten years since the silly, childish incident and she’s still holding a grudge. This was in the beginning of the book, so right away I was dazed by the incredible stupidity of it all. A Match Made in Bed almost hit the wall at that time. But I persevered. I kept hoping.

Cassandra. What can I say about Cassandra? Well, I can say she was an incredibly short-sighted, selfish, haughty, snobbish woman. She was incredibly difficult to like. She viewed herself as better than everyone else, and she just could not marry anyone who would want to live in the country. Puleese, how could she stand to be away from the city culture and gaiety? Who would ever want to be out in the fresh air? There are cows out there mooing, after all. Even when it is made very, very clear that her father is horrible, I could not stir up any kind of sympathy for her.  She was just dreadful. When she eventually turned around and became nice person, it was tooooo late. The author waited tooooo long to redeem her. I never understood why Soren wanted Cassandra so badly.

Soren. Soren has a secret. A big secret. SPOILER! Even after Cassandra and he are caught in a compromising position, forced to marry, and travel over hill and dale to get to his estate, he doesn’t say piddly-diddly to her about his secret. I know I’d want to know that the man I married had an approximately six-year old son. Surprise, surprise, surprise. But there is more. Logan, the boy, is of mixed blood. His mother was a Lenape Indian and was married to Soren. Oh yeah, Soren ran away to the states or Canada or the new world when he was young. Anyway, Soren wants Logan to be accepted into British society and that’s why he is desperate to have a wife. Why he would pick a mean, selfish woman to become Logan’s step-mother was bewildering. However, even if she was self-centered, she deserved to be told about Soren’s son a little sooner than she was.

Soren and Cass didn’t have any chemistry. I could not understand why Soren had his eye on Cass. He didn’t really seem to even have a childhood crush on her. She wasn’t someone who he couldn’t forget. She irritated him, he knew she was selfish, but somehow she would make a good mother for his son. The story didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me and I had a hard time finishing it.

I was very disappointed in A Match Made in Bed.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Warm/Hot 

Tuesday

Come Back to Me by Josie Litton - My Thank-You All About Romance Project

May 15, 2018
All I know about history I learned from romance novels.

http://josielittonauthor.com/

That’s not really true, but who knew people were so clean in the days of Vikings. Plus, the Vikings in Josie Litton’s Viking series all seem to have saunas. These are clean Vikings, not the dirty ones you see on television.

It’s time for Rycca, aka Super I-Hear-the-Truth Girl’s book, Come Back to Me. This is Josie Litton’s third installment in this series, and she has redeemed herself. Just for the record, I liked the first book and third book in the series, not so much the second.

Rycca is running away; she doesn’t want to marry the Viking her family is forcing her to marry. She hatesssssss dirty Vikings; she doesn’t know about the sauna. She disguises herself as a boy, one of my least favorite themes, and traipses off to Normandy – or tries to traipse. Her plan is to sneak on board a ship and then try to find her twin brother. Sounds suspiciously like a Romanceland plan.

Dragon Hakonson is also strolling around the countryside. He’s delaying his return to his brother’s stronghold because Dragon is about to be married. What do you think the chances are that Rycca and Dragon are going to cross paths? Dragon is a different kind of Viking, he likes women. Oh, not in the kidnapping, raping, pillage kind of Viking; he’s more of an Alan Alda kind of Viking. He respects women and he will go to great lengths to protect them if he thinks they need his help. He’s just not in any hurry to tie the knot. Then he crosses paths with the boy who turns out to be a girl. Because Dragon is the helpful, honorable kind of Viking, he insists that he take Rycca to her boat safely. Rycca hides her true identity from Dragon. She has a few trust issues. As the two embark on their road trip, they become romantically involved. Friendship blossoms, trust on both sides appears. Then they discover that they are in fact betrothed to each other. They are not happy campers, at least for a while.

Dragon and Rycca worked as a romance couple. Dragon was an alpha male with a soft spot for women. He liked being around them and he loved being with Rycca. He knows Rycca is in some kind of trouble. He knows she is hiding something from him and he uses oodles of charm trying to find out what. As they continue on their road trip, they become close. Eventually the truth about Rycca’s problems become known and they work together to find a solution.

All the characters from the other two books make an appearance, each trying to solve the continuing mystery from the other books. Sometimes the appearance of characters from other books is irritating, but in this one they add to the narrative. Besides that, it was a pleasure to see them again. The villains are exposed and all is right with the world.

Josie Litton’s Viking series ends on an up note. I believe this was my favorite of the three and I do recommend Come Back to Me. It’s been a pleasure reading Josie Litton, aka Maura Seger, once again.


Time/Place: Vikings, Alfred the Great time
Sensuality: Hot

Thursday

Believe in Me by Josie Litton, Part of Thank You All About Romance Project

May 9, 2018
If we could just talk to the animals – that would be very noisy.

http://josielittonauthor.com/

On to the second book in Ms. Litton’s Viking series, Believe in Me. Lady Krysta, aka Super I-Talk-To-Animals-and-Fantasy-Creatures Girl, is the heroine and she is a Norse woman who has been forced by her brother to marry Lord Hawk. Lord Hawk is our Saxon lord and he is being encouraged by King Alfred to wed Krysta. You know that this wouldn’t actually be a romance without the requisite bad plan, only this time it’s the heroine who has the stink-a-roo. Krysta is going to – wait for it – wait for it – disguise herself. Instead of pretending to be a boy, she is going to pretend to be a servant. She is pretending to be a servant to herself and ensconce herself in Hawk's stronghold so she can keep an eye on him. She just wants to be very sure he is a trustworthy sort before she commits herself. If she had really thought her plan out, she would know that she didn’t really have any choices, but this is make-believe. She has dyed her hair black, I’m not sure why because I don’t think Hawk has ever seen her. She has also brought two of her trusty servants along. These servants have been with her since she was a child and her parents abandoned her. Here’s the deal. Krysta’s servants are not what they seem. Raven, the female servant, is a shapeshifter and she can turn into birds. Mainly, Ravens, hence the name. Krysta’s other servant, Thorgold, is a troll. I’m not actually sure what the benefit of having a troll for a buddy can be. The bird I get, because a bird can fly into a room and eavesdrop – which is what Raven does. But a Troll, they live under bridges and collect money. Not sure how that would be of any use to Krysta.

As you may have guessed there is a slight paranormal element in this tale, and I wonder why. When the story begins we are told that Krysta’s mother wasn’t human, or we are led to believe that she wasn’t. Because Krysta’s father could not accept whatever it was that Krysta’s mother was, her mother was “called” back to the sea and never seen again. So, all of Krysta’s life, everything she does all centers around a paranormal mother. I suspect the mother was a Selkie because Selkies used to show up a lot in older books. However, we never actually know. All we know is that Krysta has to marry a man who will really, really love her, even if she does swim with the fishes. And, paranormal romances are fine, don’t have a problem with them, as long as they are treated as such. What this story does is bring up all the shapeshifting, trolls and non-human stuff and then just sort of forget about them as the book progresses. The story then turns into a Saxon/Norse real story with the villain from the previous book. I think this book would have been a lot better if these elements had either been left out or been stronger. For me, the narrative didn’t blend the paranormal elements into the story very well.

Let’s talk about Lord Hawk. When I compare Hawk to the hero from the previous book, Wolf, Hawk doesn’t stand up too well. Just making a hero big doesn’t really add anything to his character. Hawk was a pretty flat guy; quite a cardboard person. Sure, sure, all the correct body parts twitch when they are supposed to but there wasn’t any substance to it. There was also tons of sex with no chemistry.

After an interesting start with the first book in the series, Dream of Me, Believe in Me was a let-down. I was disappointed in this book; there was just nothing to it. It does come as part of a package, but it doesn’t really enhance that package. Second story not so good.

Time/Place: Vikings, Alfred the Great time - long, long, time ago
Sensuality: Lots of mediocre sex.


Tuesday

Dream of Me by Josie Litton - My Thank-You All About Romance Project

May 1, 2018
What’s that saying? Everything old is new again or what goes around comes around or nothing new under the sun…

http://josielittonauthor.com/

Anyway, a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away there was an author by the name of Maura Seger. Ms. Seger wrote a goodly number of historical books between 1983 and 1998. And then she disappeared. I, like a number of other people, kept looking for her. But alas, she just vanished. Probably to the Island of Disappearing Authors. Then in 2001 Bantam Publishing introduced a brand new author by the name of Josie Litton. They were excited because this new author was the bee’s knees! This great new author had written an exciting Viking trilogy which was going to be the bestest thing ever! But there was a mystery surrounding this new author. No one knew who Ms. Litton was or where she came from. Nothing could be found on her. The questions were many, the mystery only increased, (along with sales). Now, we all know you cannot fool romance readers for very long. No siree. Soon the hubbub hit the fan and it was discovered that Josie Litton was actually Maura Seger. Yes, Ms. Seger wasn’t on the Island of Disappearing Authors after all. Why all the “new” author hype? I’m sure Bantam had their reasons. For me it was all very odd. Especially when one considers alllll the authors who have tons of aka’s. There are many who use different nom de plumes when writing in different genres; it was all very puzzling. Even more so was the fact that a lot of us knew Ms. Seger had published under different names in the past. However, it wasn’t the use of a different name I found bewildering, it was the secretiveness which was employed by Bantam. I have never quite decided whether I should or should not have been insulted by someone trying to pull the wool over my eyes.  Regardless of the reason, Josie Litton aka Maura Seger, aka Jenny Bates, aka Laura Hastings, aka Sara Jennings, aka Anne MacNeil, aka Laura Michaels, aka Laurel Winslow was back, and even after all these years, her Viking trilogy is worth reading.

Vikings, Vikings, Vikings. What a forgotten romance genre. I wonder why. The first book in Ms. Litton’s Viking series is Dream of Me, which was written in 2001. The hero of this book is Wolf Hakonson and we know he’s a Viking because his last name has three syllables and ends with “son.” By the way, all the heroes in this series have animal names. Speaking of names, what’s with the heroine names? All three heroines in this trilogy have absurd names. Their names seem as if they should be in the futuristic fantasy genre not the historical genre. In Dream of Me, there is Cymbra, aka Super I-Fill-Your-Pain Girl. Yes, all the heroines have some kind of tiny paranormal thing they do. But don’t get toooo excited, the paranormal aspect of the stories is long forgotten by the end of each book. Krysta, aka Super I-Talk-To-Animals-And-Fantasy-Creatures Girl. Krysta is in the second book, Believe in Me. And, Rycca, aka Super I-Hear-The-Truth Girl is from the third story, Come Back to Me. Now that I have introduced you to all the heroines in the series, let’s take a look at Lady Cymbra and the book in which she resides, Dream of Me.

Dream of Me starts out with Viking prisoners being marched through Lady Cymbra’s brother’s village. Even as she watches from afar, she can spot the biggest, most handsome one and parts of her body start tingling. Because Cymbra is also Super I-Feel-Your-Pain Girl she must check on the Vikings to make sure none of them are injured. She’s just that kind of caring girl. Well, her senses must have taken the day off because the Vikings are tricking the Saxons. Oh by the way, Lady Cymbra is a Saxon. Anyway, the Viking's leader, Wolf, has allowed himself and some of his trusted cronies to be captured. He has one of those romance hero plans. His sole purpose in coming to the Saxon stronghold is to kidnap Simba..er..Cymbal..er..Cymbra. You might be wondering why. Well I’ll tell you. You see, he suggested an alliance between the Vikings and the Saxons. He sent a marriage proposal to Cymbra suggesting they wed. He received an insulting letter back. He and all the Vikings in the world were insulted and degraded. He must have revenge. However, when a stunningly beautiful Cymbra meanders into the dungeon where the Vikings are located, Wolf’s mind becomes muddled (his other brain takes over). You see, not only is Cymbra the most beautiful woman in the world, she is also very gentle and doesn’t seem to have a problem helping disgusting Vikings. Even though Wolf starts to discard the revenge plan, he still kidnaps Cymbra – ‘cause that’s what Vikings do. And, the romance begins.

Dream of Me is a standard, old-fashioned Viking tale, similar to some of Julia Garwood’s early medieval romances. If you are looking for hard-core, blood-thirsty, sweaty, Vikings, this story is not for you. These Vikings have a sauna. There is never any doubt as to what we will be getting in this book. There are no surprises and the misunderstandings are easily resolved. Curiously, this Viking story is almost gentle. While I may not have been blown away by the story, I enjoyed the mature quality of the writing. This story was a refreshing change from my usual Regency books and I delighted with being transported back into the Viking world, (even if it wasn’t as gritty as it really may have been).

Spoiler. The villain/villains trek through all three books in the series.

I do recommend this book. I enjoyed the romance between Wolf and Cymbra. It didn’t really bother me that misunderstandings were cleared up rather quickly. I thought the whole pace of the book was a pleasure. Even with the stumbling-block name of the heroine, I would have to say that this story is made for those nice pleasant reads at the beach. Or maybe on your porch, with a cup of coffee in your hand and the birds tweeting in the distance. Nice story.

Time/Place: Alfred the Great/Viking North lands somewhere
Sensuality: Warm/Hot


Wednesday

Holy Macaroni! Upcoming Historical Releases Are On There Way!!!!

April 25, 2018

Authors with an asterisk*, I'm picking up! For more Upcoming Releases that aren't historical see HEY DELIA!! May 15, 2018 to June 14, 2018. By the way, it is not my fault if a publisher changes the release dates - just so you know, they do not consult me.

Historical Romance

Amanda McCabe
http://ammandamccabe.com/
Secrets of A Wallflower
Debutantes in Paris series
June 1

Amelia Grey
http://www.ameliagrey.com/
It’s All About the Duke
The Rakes of St. James series
May 29

Amy Sandas
http://www.amysandas.com/
The Gunslinger’s Vow
Runaway Brides series
June 5
Carol Arens
https://www.harlequin.com/shop/authors/23485_carol-arens.html
A Ranch to Call Home
Paperback, 5-22 - Ebook, June 1
Christine Merrill
http://christine-merrill.com/

A Kiss Away from Scandal
Those Scandalous Stricklands series
Paperback, May 22 - Ebook, June 1

Elisabeth Hobbes
http://elisabethhobbes.co.uk
Beguiled by the Forbidden Knight
Paperback, May 22 - Ebook, June 1

Elizabeth Elliott*
http://www.elizabeth-elliott.com/
The Princess
The Montagues Series
June 5

Ella Quinn
http://www.ellaquinnauthor.com
You Never Forget Your First Earl
The Worthingtons series
May 29

Eloisa James*
http://eloisajames.com
Too Wilde to Wed
Wildes of Lindow Castle Series series
May 29

Georgie Lee
http://www.georgie-lee.com
Captain Rose's Redemption
Paperback, May 22 - Ebook, June 1

Jo Goodman
http://www.jogoodman.com/
A Touch of Flame
The Cowboys of Colorado series
June 5

Karen Gerrard
http://www.karyngerrard.com
Scandal with a Sinful Scot
Men of Wollstonecraft Hall series
June 5

Katharine Ashe
http://www.katharineashe.com/
The Prince
Devil's Duke series
May 29

Lara Temple
https://www.laratemple.com
Lord Stanton’s Last Mistress
Wild Lords and Innocent Ladies series
Paperback, 5-22 - Ebook, June 1

Lorraine Heath
http://www.lorraineheath.com/
Texas Glory
Texas Trilogy series
May 29

Paula Quinn*
http://pa0854.wix.com/paulaquinn
Laird of the Black Isle
Highland Heirs series
May 29

Renee Ann Miller
http://www.reneeannmiller.com
Never Deceive a Viscount
The Infamous Lords series
May 29

Vivienne Lorret
http://www.vivlorret.net
How to Forget a Duke
Misadventures in Matchmaking series
May 29
Historical Fiction

Jenna Blum
http://www.jennablum.com
The Lost Family
June 3

Jenni L. Walsh
http://www.jennilwalsh.com
Side by Side
June 6

James MacManus
http://www.jamesmacmanus.com/index.asp
Ike and Kay
June 5

Kevin Powers
http://kevincpowers.com/
A Shout in the Ruin
May 15

Michelle Gable
http://michellegable.com/
The Summer I Met Jack
May 29

Sally Koslow
http://www.sallykoslow.com/content/index.asp
Another Side of Paradise
May 29

Sandra Dallas
http://sandradallas.com/
The Patchwork Bride
June 5

A Most Unconventional Match by Julia Justiss, Thank-You All About Romance Project Continued.

April 18, 2018
Nice guys don’t always finish last

http://www.juliajustiss.com/

Well, I really liked this book. While I sometimes consider books a way of escaping the real world, I think sometimes we are bombarded with stories which stretch credibility just because authors think they must do that to make the story “fresh.” While I occasionally may read a book which is silly or nonsensical and the actions of the characters are way over the top, I also love reading romance which can take normal everyday life and create something unique. It takes a special writer to take the mundane and turn it into something engaging. That’s what we have here in Julia Justiss’ A Most Unconventional Match - 2008.

Let’s start with our hero, Hal Waterman. Hal was always a disappointment to his mother and an object of fun to his schoolmates. Why? Because he stuttered, and on top of that he grew into a big hulking fellow. Over time he was able to overcome that stutter. Now he speaks in a slow, stilted cadence, sort of like Yoda but more understandable…and with a deeper voice. He has also become somewhat of a financial success and has a few men he actually calls friend. Beautiful women still manage to flummox him and he avoids them at all cost. Which is why he is surprised at his own decision to help the beautiful widow Elizabeth Lowery. He has loved Elizabeth, from afar, for a long long time. For years he has avoided her. But now she has lost her husband and Nicky is out of town. Who’s Nicky? Well, he’s a connecting character. He is married to Elizabeth’s sister and he is also one of Hal’s bestest buddies. So you see, Hal feels a responsibility toward his friend and must offer any kind of help to Elizabeth he can – at least until Nicky returns to town. Good excuse. Hal has an enormous sense of loyalty. He is really a nice guy and yes, he is a beta hero.

Poor Elizabeth. She needs help – lots of help. While she isn’t exactly a pampered woman, she isn’t a woman who has ever done anything in the household. She doesn’t know how to manage a household, she doesn’t know anything about finances, has never seen a bill. Her entire married life has been spent letting her husband handle everything. He has kept everything from her. So, now she is totally lost, trying to raise her son. Her servants are taking advantage of her and she is being threatened by money-lenders. So, when Hal offers his help, she readily accepts. She has a lot of growing-up to do.

I like Elizabeth and Hal a whole lot. The story is not moved by outside forces. There isn’t a lot of drama. There are no kidnappings, spies, or over-the-top-villains. There is a sleaze-ball guy who tries to take advantage of Elizabeth, but he is just a normal everyday slimy guy, a smooth operator. He reminded me a little of George Sanders in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. This is a very unexceptional love story told in an extraordinary narrative. I became enchanted as Elizabeth and Hal stumble and grow. It’s magical, yet believable as Elizabeth becomes a strong, independent woman and Hal overcomes his insecurities. Don’t get me wrong, these characters have weaknesses, they are flawed and they don’t always have the right answers. They make mistakes. But they are careful with each other and as they become strong individuals, they also become a solid couple. They were a delightful couple, they were friends and very supportive of each other.

This was a gentle romance. Maybe some might consider it slow, but I thought it was lovely. I highly recommend it.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Warm

Thursday

Born in Sin by Kinley MacGregor, AAR Project Continues.

April 12, 2018
Connect the dots.

https://www.sherrilynkenyon.com/book-series/macallisters/
I used to read Kinley MacGregor aka Sherrilyn Kenyon, but then I lost track of all the
character connections. Kinley MacGregor is one of those authors who has an AKA and has written so many books it boggles the mind. I’m always amazed at the amount of stories which come out of these prolific writers. Her stories have so many characters connecting from book to book I finally gave up on her. I also found myself getting lost when I visited her website trying to connect the characters. It was all too much for my little brain to handle.


Anyway, Born in Sin (2003) is a real departure for me because I traveled back to the court of Henry II instead of the Regency. We are introduced to Lord Sin, the hated illegitimate son of a MacAllister. He was born in sin from a one night stand. His English mother shipped him to his father in Scotland. This meant his father’s wife hated his guts because he was a constant reminder of her husband’s infidelity. If not for his half-brothers, his life would have been beyond miserable. During one of the Crusades he is eventually sold to the Saracens, who in turn educate him in the art of a top-notch assassin. One of the people he is told to assassinate is Henry II. Well, Sin sees this as his chance and instead of killing the King becomes Henry’s trusted you-got-a-problem-I-can-take-care-of-it lethal friend. Henry is having problems with Scotland, but he comes up with a solution. He will marry his bestest friend/assassin to the handy Scottish hostage Caledonia MacNeely.

Caledonia, aka Callie, is one of those heroines who is sweet and innocent, but amazingly spouts out wisdom beyond her years. She also isn’t afraid of Sin – everyone else is. Once she agrees to marry Sin, she is determined to teach him how to love. She has a tough job ahead – sort of. Sin is a very angst-filled hero. How do we know Sin is a troubled person? Because everyone who knows him tells us. The secondary best friend of our hero and other heroes from other books, Simon, informs us over and over and over of Sins woes. Sin’s brothers show up to let us know of Sin’s boo-hoo past. Sin’s horrible mother is there to shout at him in front of everyone. Sin’s step-mother is there to ignore him. All of this led to an angst over-load.

Innocents.
Born to Sin gives us an interesting look into innocence. Both Sin and Caledonia are innocent – on a number of different levels. First of all they are both virgins. One would think with Sin’s rough years and angst-filled persona, somewhere along the way he would have partaken in a barmaid or two. But he hasn’t because he doesn’t want to leave an unwanted child behind. Sin was such an interesting character, all that angst, coldness, wisdom, and innocence in one body. There is a pretty funny scene in which he needs to leave evidence behind that his marriage has been consummated. He does this because he wants to save Callie from a humiliating examination by Henry. Anyway, Sin opens up one of his recent wounds and smears the blood all over the bed. Needless to say, the entire castle is abuzz with gossip about the amount of blood and all kind of rumors fly concerning the size of Sin’s Mr. Toad. If the people in the castle were not afraid of him before, they are after news of his consummation makes the rounds. Callie is more of a typical Romanceland wise/innocent character. She is an 18 year old wide-eyed innocent who somehow knows how to overcome the bad things which have happened to Sin over the years. She eventually succeeds in changing his world to butterflies and birds chirping - like all good heroines.


Secondary characters. There are numerous supporting characters, scene stealers and soon to be heroes. There’s Callie’s adorable six year-old brother Jamie. He’s there to steal scenes and make sure we know that anyone who likes children can't be all bad. There’s Simon, Sin’s best friend. He’s there for comic relief and to fill us in on Sin’s angst-filled life. There are the handsome half-brothers, who are there to parade their handsomeness around and entice us to buy more books in the series. There’s Callie’s belligerent teenage brother. He’s there for Callie and Sin to sacrifice themselves for. And, don’t forget Henry II, he’s there so we can see if Peter O’Toole got it right.

Now you might think I didn’t like this book, you'd be wrong. I did like it. While it’s not an eye-opening fantastic read, it was a pleasant read and a nice change from all my Regency books. I found Sin a fascinating study of an innocent who by all rights should not be. I did lower my grade a little because of the last few chapters in which a number of problems are solved. I thought the whole Sin, Callie, and Callie’s brother riding out to confront Henry was silly and not what any real historical characters with brains would have acted. This let-me-sacrifice-myself-no-let-me moment struck me as pretty old school writing or maybe even just lazy. So, I’m giving this story a fair to middling recommendation.

Time/Place: Middle Age England
Sensuality: Warm/Hot