Wednesday

Holy Cannoli!!! Time for Historical Romance Releases!!!!

May 25, 2017

Authors with an asterisk*, I'm picking up! For more Upcoming Releases that aren't historical see HEY DELIA!! June 15, 2017 to July 14, 2017. By the way, it is not my fault if a publisher changes the release dates - just so you know, they do not consult me.
Amy Jarecki
http://www.amyjarecki.com   
The Highland Commander
Highland Lords series
June 27
Amy Sandas
http://www.amysandas.com/
Lord of Lies
Fallen Ladies series
July 4
Elizabeth Michels
http://www.elizabethmichels.com/  
The Wicked Heir
Spare Heirs series
July 4
Gayle Callen
http://www.GayleCallen.com   
Love with a Scottish Outlaw
Highland Weddings series
June 27
Heather McCorkle
http://www.heathermccorkle.com/
Courting the Corporal
Emerald Belles series
June 27
Helen Dickson
http://www.harlequin.com/author.html?authorid=945
The Foundling Bride
June 20
Janice Preston
https://janicepreston.co.uk/
Cinderella and the Duke
Beauchamp Betrothals series
June 20
Maggie Robinson*
http://www.maggierobinson.net/
Seducing Mr. Sykes
Cotswold Confidential series
June 20
Manda Collins
http://www.mandacollins.com
Duke with Benefits
Studies in Scandal series
June 27
Michelle Willingham
http://www.michellewillingham.com  
Forbidden Night with a Warrior
Warriors of the Night series
July 1
Sabrina Jeffries
http://www.sabrinajeffries.com  
The Pleasures of Passion
Sinful Suitors series
June 20
Sarah MacLean*
http://www.sarahmaclean.net
The Day of the Duchess
Scandal and Scoundrel series
June 27
Sophia James
https://www.facebook.com/sophiajamesauthor
Ruined by the Reckless Viscount
July 1
Sophie Barnes
http://www.sophiebarnes.com
A Most Unlikely Duke
Diamonds in the Rough series
June 27
Tatiana March
http://www.virginiaheathromance.com/
From Runaway to Pregnant Bride
Fairfax Brides series
June 20
Theresa Romain
http://theresaromain.com/
Scandalous Ever After
Romance of the Turf series
July 4
Virginia Heath
http://www.virginiaheathromance.com/
A Warriner to Rescue Her
The Wild Warriners series
June 20

Tuesday

Marry in Haste by Anne Gracie

May 23, 2017
When I say jump, you say 'how high?!'

http://www.annegracie.com/

It’s been awhile since I've read an Anne Gracie book. Even though I loved her first couple of books, she never became one of my auto buys. But times are tough and I've been on a desperate search for something I like, so when I read a glowing review about Marry in Haste, I thought - what have you got to lose. Well, I'm mighty happy I read that review. Turns out Marry in Haste was just what I was looking for.

This was a character-driven story. There were no heroic harebrained heroines doing preposterous things. There weren't any groan-inducing-eye-crossing antics which didn't fit into the time line. And, best of all, we have a hero and heroine who actually talk to each other - dare I say, they even become friends. Gasp! They learn to respect each other. It was a charming story.

Major Calbourn Rutherford has been a soldier for over a decade. Even though the war is over there is still some unfinished business. He's after the sniper who murdered his best friend during the war. This is his obsession. But on his return to England there are some problems which must be fixed. It sees Calbourn has two half-sisters who are regular hellions and in need of a firm hand. Being an army guy, he charges in - strong arms his sisters and immediately loses control of the situation. Not only that but he finds out his deceased brother has a daughter who seems to have run wild in the countryside. Now Cal has a problem. He has three young women who resent him and don't follow his orders. He does not have time for this; he has an assassin to catch. He must find someone to rope the girls in - it is time for our heroine, Emmaline Westwood, a teacher from sisters' school. At first he offers her a job of looking after the girls. She turns him down. She needs something which will last a few more years. Cal then gets the brilliant idea of proposing a marriage of convenience. After a few minutes of consideration Emmaline accepts. Cal now thinks he can wash his hands of this sisters and niece and return to his assassin search. Ha! Nothing works the way Cal has envisioned.

Cal was a wonderful, gruff hero. Throughout the book we watch as he discover what is important and what isn't. He is the one who changes the most in this story, but that doesn't mean Emmaline is just a supporting character. Her presence is what this story revolves around. She is the catalyst.


Cal and Emmaline are a wonderful couple. They make for what I would call a good old romance story. They talk to each other, they support each other, and together they build a family. I sense that the three young women will have their own books.

If I had any quibble, it was that some of the loose ends were tied up too tidily, but overall this was a well-written lovely story and highly recommended.


Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Hot

Monday

The Secret of My Seduction by Caroline Linden

May 22, 2017

http://www.carolinelinden.com/
Just when you thought it was safe to come out of the kitchen, another "Fifty" blah blah blah book appears. Only this time it's different - this one has some good writing in it.

Caroline Linden supposedly finished her Fifty Ways to Sin series with the book Six Degrees
of Scandal. Surprise! There's always room for a novella. This small offering is called The Secret of My Seduction. I confess, I have never read the "Fifty Shades of.." which started the race to include tons of sex in books to the exclusion of a storyline. However, I did watch the trailers for the Razzie winning movie (worst picture and screenplay) and if - if - the writing in the book is as stilted as what appears in these trailers, the best I can say is I probably will never read the books.


So, when I pick up a book which has "Fifty" in its title I always hesitate. It wasn't long before I began to relax and enjoy Caroline Linden's short little book. Not only is it a charming story, it's quite hot!

Now, there's nothing new in The Secret of My Seduction's set-up. Our heroine, Batheshba Crawford, has been writing a series of naughty stories called Tales of Lady X. While she is not an innocent, her experience is rather limited and she fears her stories are not exciting enough and people may become bored with them. Of course, she has a plan. She will ask her publisher, Liam, to help her gain experience by taking her to his bed. Well, Liam is a tad bit shocked. He turns her down. But Bathsheba has read a few romance books in her time, she employs that good old stand-by incentive - "If you won't - dance with me, kiss me, pretend to be my fiancé, have sex with me - I will find someone else who will."  There are no surprises in this story, but it has a fresh feel about it - thanks to the writing.

Both Bathsheba and Liam are fairly well developed. Even though the story is very short there was still time for a back story of both characters. There was also room for plenty of hot, hot sex. All I can say is Wall-banger! Yipes! There were also a number of amusing scenes, especially when Bathsheba takes a notepad and pencil to their first rendezvous.

I do recommend this. Sure, sure it's a short story, but it's a darn good one and as we all know, good short stories are hard to find. So go ahead, take an hour or two and read this story. I think you'll like it. It also would have made a wonderful full-length book.

Time/Place: 1823 England
Sensuality: Hot

Thursday

Six Impossible Things by Elizabeth Boyle

May 11, 2017
Faster than a speeding bullet, unless it's lodged in her shoulder.
Why? Cause she didn't listen.
More powerful than a locomotive, unless she's tied to the track.
Why? Cause she didn't listen.
Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, and break her legs.
Why? Cause she didn't listen.


Look! Up in the sky! 
It’s a bird.
It’s a plane.

It’s You're-Not-the-Boss-of-Me Girl!

 
http://www.elizabethboyle.com/
Here's the deal. I've read many, many books in which one or more characters irritate me. Yes, yes, I know you find that hard to believe because I'm such a mild-mannered person. But sometimes a character comes along who is just toooo annoying and when they do, they really ruin the story. Well, let me introduce you to Roselie Stratton, Elizabeth Boyle's latest heroine. See that tear in my eye? I am crying big drops of salt water because Elizabeth Boyle is one of my favoriiiiiiiite authors and is responsible for one of my favorite heroines - Emmaline. But gee willikers, Roselie Stratton is - is - is - so strangle-worthy. I can do nothing but stutter. Words just come out of my mouth, like: gag, suffocate, idiotic, witless - I could go on and on. I don't believe I've been so stunned by such a stupendously stupid, headstrong, heroine in a long time. Yes, during the night Roselie Stratton dresses as a mild-mannered sexy floozy. But when trouble comes knocking on her door she runs to the nearest phone booth and turns into You're-Not-the-Boss-of-Me Girl! Ta-ta-tah!!!

You see, Roselie thinks she can catch a killer. Yes, yes, you heard me - a killer. Not just any old killer, but a dangerous one! (As opposed to the ones who are not so dangerous). But that's all right, because she knows everything and she can do anything allllll by herself - with no help from more experienced spy-like people. For instance our hero, Brody. Brody tries to tell her, warn her, protect her, but she doesn't heed his words. She ignores his advice, she doesn't ask for help. She just blindly charges into one disaster after another. She even manages to come up with a plan to help a friend and that friend ends up murdered.

Roselie ruined the entire book for me. Was the plotline good? Wouldn't know, because Roselie was in there doing stupid things. Did I like the hero, Brody? Yes, I did. But how could he be in love with such a nincompoop as Roselie. In my opinion she treated him like dirt and definitely didn't respect him. Should the head of the spy/agent/operative/whatever office have been fired for allowing an idiot woman to cavort through dangerous places? Yes, yes, yes!!!! What was he thinking? Can women be spies? Sure they can - at least the ones who are smart. There's a reason Mata Hari was shot - she wasn't the brightest bulb in the kingdom!

Not even the presence of characters from other books could take my focus away from You're-Not-the-Boss-of-Me Roselie. I'm all for strong heroines, but you don't have to kick a door in to prove your strength. What could have been a charming book was obliterated for me by Roselie.

I shall now cry in private.

Time/Place:  1811 England
Sensuality: Why her Brody? 

Wednesday

My One True Highlander by Suzanne Enoch

May 10, 2017
I'm just a Prisoner of Love

http://www.suzanneenoch.com/

Ahh, the kidnapping scenario. It's been around in Romanceland for a long time; dare I say probably from the beginning and not just in historical romances either. Maybe when I began reading romance this theme didn't bother me. Maybe rough pirates were exciting or dirty cowboys with kerchiefs around their face were mysterious. I remember a few of these guys from Johanna Lindsey and Kathleen Woodiwiss, but I have long since grown past the age when I find a woman chained to a bed romantic. And, I would like to think that an experienced author such as Ms. Enoch would have moved away from the kidnapping-I-love-my-captor routine by now. While I am not always a big fan of trying to write historical novels with a modern “I-know-how-you-feel-man,  I-see-where-you-are-coming-from, your-pain-is-my-pain” voice, there comes a time when I have to say kidnapping and chaining a woman to a bed is just not romantic. While our hero, Graeme, doesn't do the actual kidnapping, he does chain her to the bed. If the story had taken a different path after the kidnapping I would have been so much happier with My One True Highlander.

Anyway, here's the plot. Lady Marjorie Forrester is going to surprise her brother, the newly minted Duke of Lattimer, by showing up at his wedding. By the way, he was the hero from the previous book, Hero in the Highlands. If you have read Hero of the Highlands you will know that there is a clan war going on, although it was sort of settled at the end - but not really. I know that doesn't make sense, but this is Romanceland for Pete's sake and we have a meandering villain, the Duke of Dunneraigh, who wasn't disposed of properly in the last book. Marjorie and her brother haven't been together for much of their life; their lives have been a struggle and they were both forced to earn livings. Marjorie was a companion until her brother inherited his title and the wealth which came with it. Well, it seems that there are some things which money can't buy and in Marjorie's case it can't buy acceptance into the ton. Something she wants desperately, but has been denied. So, feeling blue, she's off to Scotland. Little does she know that's she's riding right into a clan war.

Meanwhile in Scotland our hero, Graeme, has been visited by the slimy Dunneraigh from Hero in the Highlands. Graeme owes his allegiance to this villain. While Graeme doesn’t have any great fondness for Englishmen, he isn’t about to disturb the Duke of Lattimer but he also realizes that he is irritating the villain. He’s hoping to stay neutral in the clan war. His plans for neutrality are tested when his younger brothers form a plan. By the way the three young brothers are the best part of the book. They are the belligerent Brendan (a very moody teenager), Dughlas (a smart teenager), and Connell (a nine year old scene-stealer). The boys think it would be a good idea to kidnap Marjorie and use her as leverage against the Duke of Lattimir. Graeme is now put in a very tricky situation, there could be all kinds of dire consequences. The story started to fall apart for me when Graeme comes up with a solution.

You come to a fork in the road. Do you pick it up...no, no, no, that's something different. There are numerous paths which Ms. Enoch might have taken to continue her story. She chose to go down the heaving-bosom-days plot device and have Graeme shackle Marjorie to the bed. I'm only assuming this was so there was a reason for Graeme and Marjorie to be thrown together. But he could have returned her to the brother and still have had chances to interact with her. Instead we get to witness a constant battle of wills between Marjorie and Graeme. You know the routine, I-can't-trust-you-because-you're-a-Sassenach on his side. He sees a way out of his dilemma by asking her to marry him. Pshaw - she cannot marry him because she dreams of life among the ton. You know those people who have been snubbing her for months and months. Of course he may not be good enough to marry, but he's good enough to partake of her mommy-parts. Now, I can understand her not wanting to marry him - he did chain her to a bed and he's a perfect stranger. But her still wanting to be part of a society which shuns her was beyond belief. I am also growing weary of historical heroines who find a man hot enough to bed but not marry. That shtick is getting old. 

Graeme and Marjorie do nothing logical to solve the mess they are in. That, my little Petunia's, may be the bottom line to this book - logic. While I am in no way a Vulcan, there are moments in which I crave an author who isn't afraid to tip their toes into the "does this make sense" pool. Why does romance have to defy logic to be a romance? Have we reached a point when authors are running out of reasons for couples to be together? I don't think so. I think this book would have been better if the couple had worked together, if he had returned her to her brother, if they had at least known each other before she permitted him access to her golden tunnel. I could find no chemistry between the main protagonists. The only character in this book who was developed and interesting was the nine year old Connell. He was just toooo adorable for words. But this was not about Connell and all of his animals, this was about Marjorie and Graeme. For me, as a romance this story didn't work.

Time/Place: 1800s Scotland
Sensuality: Supposed to be hot

Saturday

Congratulations to Beverly Jenkins!!!!

http://www.beverlyjenkins.net/
Beverly Jenkins has been awarded the 2017 RWA Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award. This is one of the highest honors RWA bestows on authors. This award is presented to a living author in recognition of significant contributions to the romance genre. 

Beverly has been in the business of blood, sweat and tears (that's writing) since her first book Night Song was published in 1994. She specializes in 19th century African American life and has over thirty published novels to date. Born in Detroit, she graduated from Cass Technical High School and attended Michigan State University where she majored in Journalism and English Literature. 

Congratulations Ms. Jenkins!!!

Wednesday

The English Duke by Karen Ranney

April 26, 2017
“This is like Déjà vu all over again.”

https://karenranney.com/

A few months ago I was musing over why Karen Ranney isn’t one of my auto-buys. I just might have stumbled across an answer to my pondering.

To say I was disappointed with Ranney’s latest book, The English Duke would be an understatement. Sure, sure, the story started out with a smart, savvy, strong heroine by the name of Martha. On top of that we have a stoic, manly, avoid-all-humans, scientist hero, Jordan Hamilton, the Duke of Roth. While the language in the story may have been a little stilted, I thought – “Oh it will get better.” Then, because my brain is sooooo agile, I started noticing something. Something familiar. Ummm.

A pet peeve moment. I do not like becoming distracted by a sense of familiar. I don’t like it when I feel I should know someone I’m introduced to or that nagging sense of being in a place you think you've been in before or that book you just know you’ve read before. Why does this bother me? Because I have to find out just why something seems the same and when I do alllll that searching I am not focused on the book I’m holding in my hands. Well, my little Petunia’s, I started to have that feeling with this book. And before anyone says anything, it was not because allllll romance books are the same – they are not. No this was something else, something in the plotline.  Something. Nagging. Ummm.

Our heroine has a terrible sister. A spoiled sister. A conniving sister. Our hero has a friend, a shady character. His friend is attracted to the horrible sister. They were in cahoots. They do hanky-panky – heavy on the hank. The secondary characters were so familiar. I knew I had read something similar before, but where? Was it possible that some other author was doing a little plagiarism? Then the light bulb went off. This secondary theme was almost an exact replica of the secondary theme from A Scandalous Scot written by – Karen Ranney. (And, by the way I know “exact replica” is redundant). Maybe if I had read the story in 2012 I might not have noticed the sameness, but I read A Scandalous Scot in January of this year. (I didn’t like the secondary characters then either). I was perplexed as to why these secondary stories were so similar. An author cannot plagiarize themselves can they? Nah – maybe – don’t know. But they can certainly reuse old ideas or become lazy. I was very disappointed when I found this recycled theme.

Not only was I treated to a reused secondary story, there was also a drugged hero having dream-sex with the heroine scene. Only it isn’t a dream. The evil conniving sister finds out her sister has had her first humpy-bumpy. She has a plan. I could see the writing on the wall, or at least the page. We were going to go down the sex mix-up-marriage-martyr road. The strong sister was going to be a martyr and the hero was going to be in angstville.  And, the evil sister was not going to get her just deserts.

I could go no further. I closed the book. What a disappointment. My illusions have been shattered.


Time/Place: 1871 England
Sensuality: Questionable