Monday

Holy Cannoli! It's time for Upcoming Historical Releases!!!

July 24, 2017
Authors with an asterisk*, I'm picking up! For more Upcoming Releases that aren't historical see HEY DELIA!! August 15, 2017 to September 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.
Anna Bradley
http://www.annabradley.net
Lady Eleanor’s Seventh Suitor
The Sunderland Sisters series
September 5
Anna Harrington*
http://www.annaharringtonbooks.com/
When the Scoundrel Sins
Capturing the Carlisles series
August 29
Annie Burrows
http://annie-burrows.co.uk
The Major Meets his Match
Brides for Bachelor series
Paperback-August 22, Ebook-Sept 1
Chloe Flowers
http://www.chloeflowers.com
The Pirate and the Nun
Pirates and Petticoats series
ebook
September 1
Christine Merrill
http://www.christine-merrill.com  
A Convenient Bride for the Soldier
Society of Wicked Gentlemen series
Paperback-August 22, ebook-Sept 1
Elizabeth Hobbes
http://elisabethhobbes.co.uk
Redeeming the Rogue
The Danby Brothers series
Paperback August 24, Ebook-Sept 1
Jane Ashford
http://www.janeashford.com
The Last Gentleman Standing
Bluestocking series
September 5
Julia Justiss
http://www.juliajustiss.com/
Secret Lesson with the Rake
Hadley's Hellions series
Paperback-August 22, Ebook-Sept 1
Lauri Robinson
http://www.laurirobinson.blogspot.com
Winning the Mail-order Bride
Oak Grove series
Paperback-August 24, Ebook - Sept 1
Lisa Berne
http://www.LisaBerne.com
The Laird Takes a Bride
The Penhallow Dynasty
August 29
Lorraine Heath
http://www.lorraineheath.com/
Gentlemen Prefer Heiresses
Scandalous Gentleman of St. James
August 22
Maeve Greyson
http://www.maevegreyson.com
Sadie’s Highlander
Highlander Protector series
September 12
Martha Hix
http://www.marthahix.com
His High-Stakes Bride
Texas Bride series
ebook
August 29
Mary Wine
http://www.marywine.com
Highland Flame
Highland Weddings series
September 5
Nicole Jordan*
http://www.nicolejordanauthor.com/
My Fair Lover
Legendary Lovers series
August 26
Rosanne Bittner
http://www.rosannebittner.com
The Last Outlaw
Outlaw Hearts series
September 5
Sarah Hegger
http://sarahhegger.com
Releasing Henry  

Sir Arthur’s Legacy series
August 29
Sarah Mallory
http://www.sarahmallory.com
Pursued for the Viscount’s Vengeance
Paperback-August 22, Ebook Sept 1
Shana Galen
http://www.shanagalen.com
Traitor in Her Arms
Scarlet Chronicles series
August 22
Tessa Dare*
http://tessadare.com
The Duchess Deal
Girl Meets Duke series
August 22

The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean

August 24, 2017
One big grovel.

http://www.sarahmaclean.net/

There be spoilers ahead. When last we were with Sarah MacLean and her Scandal and Scoundrels series, Sophie, the youngest Talbot sister, was pushing Serephina's husband into a pond. Serephina is the oldest of the Talbot's. Sophie had a very legitimate reason for shoving Malcolm Bevingstoke into the water: she caught him in flagrante delicto with a woman who was not his wife. Sophie took off on her own adventure and Seraphina just took off. Of course before she did, she lost the child she was carrying. Guilt-ridden, Malcolm has spent 2+ angst-filled years trying to find his wife. Then one day Seraphina shows up demanding a divorce. She wants a new life, one that does not include Malcolm. And, the emotional story of Malcolm and Seraphina begins. Be warned, my Petunias, this is not a carefree laugh riot. In fact, this reminds me a bit of some heavy-duty Mary Balogh books - so be prepared for some soul searching. This is a very emotional ride and I applaud Ms. MacLean for tackling a taboo which is usually avoided in Romanceland - infidelity. There are not many authors who can pull it off (once again Mary Balogh and Eloisa James come to mind). That subject is a bit of a hot button for some romance readers. I've often thought that sometimes authors forget that readers become so entrenched in their books that when someone in the book is emotionally injured, the reader is emotionally injured right along with them. So not only does the character in the book have to forgive the offender, so does the reader. Did Ms. MacLean succeed in creating enough sympathy for Malcolm that we forgive him? She came close and there is one powerful scene in this book which is absolutely gut-wrenching, which I talk about later. This book was hard to review because Ms. MacLean has raised the bar by journeying into territory which most romance authors avoid. Usually, the offending husband/wife dies and the spouse has to deal with leftover feelings, which is made easier by the introduction of a new nicer love interest. But that doesn't happen in this book. In this book the author tries to rehabilitate our hero, and to a lesser extent our heroine. This is a story of rebuilding trust.

The Day of the Duchess is told partly through flashbacks, at least until we get the complete story of how Malcolm and Seraphina's marriage fell apart. When they first meet, Malcolm and Seraphina are instantly attracted to each other, but as the romance continues, they really don't come to know each other. But they cannot stay away from each other. Even though Malcolm intends to marry Seraphina, he doesn’t tell her and she doesn’t guess. Because she does not want to lose him, she sets a trap in which she is caught in a compromising position with him. While he still marries her, he does not forgive her deceit and he makes her life miserable. He becomes one big nasty twit, with his malice culminating in being caught with his pants down. The past relationship, the destruction caused by Malcolm and Seraphina, is very painful to read.

When the book flips into the present time we are faced with a very regretful Malcolm. He wants desperately to be forgiven and be with his wife. But his treatment of her is something she can't forgive. Not only does she have the wound left by his infidelity, she has to struggle with the fact he wasn't there to support her when she miscarried their child. So you see, we have a heroine who has a lot to forgive - there is a lot that we the reader have to forgive. And, here is where it gets a tad bit murky – in the previous book, Malcolm's character may have been written a little bit too irredeemable. It seems to me for Malcolm to be salvaged in this story, the storyline should have been focused mainly on rebuilding the relationship between him and Seraphina. But the author took another route.

Here's the other route. Malcolm comes up with a brilliant idea of how to win his wife back. He'll give her a divorce if she helps him pick out his next wife. So how about a party in the country and let’s invite a number of eligible young ladies. She agrees, but she also brings along all of her sisters - SSSSSSesily, SSSSSSSeline, SSSSSSeleste and SSSSSSSophie. This part of the book was almost a farce. Here is my thought on the mixing of the angst story and the farce story - it didn't necessarily work. The farce would have been great if the whole story had been a farce. Maybe this part of the book was intended as a bright spot in an otherwise intense book. I'm all about books which make me laugh, but this is one time when the laughter was a distraction to some well-written poignancy.

One powerful scene. There is a scene in this story which will steal your breath away. It is one of the most powerfully written few pages I've experienced in a long time. It comes toward the end of the story, but I'm not going to tell you what it is about. If you read the book you will recognize it. There was so much heartrending emotion in this one scene that the hero could have been forgiven - if the author had continue traveling down that road of vivid emotion. And, this scene is what makes this a hard book to review. It was so well-written. This story had so much emotional impact, it didn't need the comedy - the comedy was a distraction.

SSSSSSSS. There is one other scene I want to briefly touch on. The five sisters are all in the same carriage riding home. All five of them. With SSSSSSS - Seleste said this, Sophie said that, Seline said that, Seleste looked there, Sesily smiled, Seleste laughed at something Seline said, Sophie frowned at Sesily, Sistine – oh wait there wasn’t any Sistine. It was all very confusing, I couldn't keep track of who was saying what to who and neither could the author. At one point Sophie is dropped off at her house, says goodbye, see ya; and then there she is on the next page back in the conversation with her sisters. I had to reread that section a number of times to clear my head.

Bottom-line. I do recommend this book. It was a hard story to read and I can only assume it was even harder to write. I congratulate the author on attempting to tackle a Romanceland verboten topic - infidelity. I'm not quite sure she succeeded in redeeming our hero Malcolm but she came awfully close. If she had continued on with that one highly emotional scene toward the end of the book, I think she would have been more successful. But you really should read this story and see what you think. Go ahead, don't be afraid - you can always watch a funny movie afterward.

Time/Place: England 1830s
Sensuality: Hot

Beauty Like the Night by Joanna Bourne

OMG!!! How could I miss this one. 

Joanna Bourne's 
http://www.joannabourne.com
Beauty like the Night
Coming out August 1, 2017!
Spymaster series
 

The Spinster and the Rake by Anne Stuart

July 10, 2017
Hidden Treasures or Look what’s in Storage!  

http://anne-stuart.com/
The Spinster and the Rake by Anne Stuart, 1982. Sometimes when you go digging through the dust and cobwebs of the past, all that happens is a sneeze. But other times you find a forgotten treasure and you say to yourself – now I know why this author is still around. Written in 1982 by fledgling author Anne Stuart, The Spinster and the Rake is considered a traditional Regency romance, but this is much more than just traditional. This book has the beginning of Anne Stuart’s powerful voice and one of her manly-men-dark-heroes which she is known for, (though not as dark as her later ones). While nothing can compare to my favorite Anne Stuart book, The House Party, this one comes pretty close. This is a relatively short book, clocking in at 194 pages. But when the writer is Anne Stuart you don’t notice the length of the story. You just sit back and enjoy it.

Plot, plot, plot. What’s the plot? We can make this really short. Gillian Redford is a thirty-year old spinster who is happy to spend her life going from one of her siblings’ houses to another. While her family takes advantage of her, she is also a favorite of her nieces and nephews. She also is not a martyr; she is in control of her life and she doesn’t take too much guff from her siblings. Then we have Ronan Blakley, Marquis of Herrington, and he is one of Anne Stuart’s typical rakes. And, when I say he’s an Anne Stuart rake, I mean he is a real rake, not a pretend rake who is really a good guy in disguise. Well, one rainy evening Ronan and his drunk friend Vivien Peacock rescue Gillian from a carriage wreck. From that moment on this book is filled with delightful banter, great farce, and occasional deep thoughts.

There is also a cute secondary romance thrown in and numerous other little plots – revenge, wagers, seduction.


This was a delightful little package which had a mature couple in the center of all the shenanigans which went on around them. If I had any quibble, it was there wasn’t enough of Ronan’s brain-think. Even with that I highly recommend this story – it has aged well.


Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality:Warm

Seducing Mr. Sykes by Maggie Robinson

July 10, 2017

Seriesosis warning

http://www.maggierobinson.net/

I'm starting to develop that dreaded disorder called Seriesosis. That's when all the series' start running together. They become interchangeable. You think you're reading one and then it dawns on you that are actually reading a different one - you know, the one about the three orphaned sisters who are trying to find each other or maybe the four friends who attended Oxford and took some kind of blood oath. Well, that's what happened with Maggie Robinson's Seducing Mr. Sykes. Here's what one needs to remember - try not to read two books at one time. I keep trying to put Pudding-On-the-Wold into Ms. MacKenzie's Spinster series, it was all very confusing. I persevered. This is the Cotswold Confidential series, not the Spinster House series!

If you are keeping track of series, (unlike me), this is the one where people with problems are sent. In the previous one, the quaint little Cotswold village seemed like a prison to me. The people are regulated as to their exercise, what they eat, and who they are with. These people with problems are usually sent by a disgruntled relative and that is the case with our heroine Lady Sarah Marchmain. The big difference here is that Sarah does not want to escape her little village prison. In fact she's going to great lengths to make sure she stays. When we are first introduced to her she is on the floor howling. I have to admit, I didn't think that was funny - I thought it was cringe-worthy and I hoped the rest of the book didn't have things in it which were supposed to be funny but weren't. Thankfully, the howling didn't become a big part of the book. Anyway, I liked Sarah a lot. She was an outspoken, honest heroine and there are some funny scenes between the hero and heroine which are just delightful. I enjoyed the relaxed feel of the humor, smiled almost all the way through the book. There was even a handcuff scene which didn't upset me. I know, I know, not a big fan of handcuffs, but this one was cute. 


Ponder moment. Isn't funny how certain triggers, like women wearing men’s clothing works in some books but in others it's just an irritation. Our heroine wore men's clothing in this book, but she wasn't trying to disguise herself as a man. She was quite comfortable in the clothing and at no time during the book did my eyebrows shoot up to my hairline because of those clothes.


Then we have Tristan. He is just trying to do the right thing. He is trying to run the "spa" in place of his father. He is trying to help the villagers keep their income. But then "she" gets in the way. She turns his smoothly run world into chaos and she never looks back. From the very first moment Tristan meets Sarah he loses all control over the situation. He puts up a brave fight, but in the end he is no match for our heroine. 


There are numerous funny stumbling blocks along the way, lots of twists and turns and people showing up. The story comes pretty close to being a screwball comedy. But just when you think Ms. Robinson has overindulged, she slows it down, so the comedy is not over done. 


This story comes a long way in redeeming the rather bumpy start to the series. I do recommend this story. It is a standalone, but you may want to read the first in the series just to follow along - or not. Tristan and Sarah were a cute couple. Sarah was one of my favorite heroines this year - she is the bright spot in the story.

Time/Place: England 1882

Sensuality: Warm/Hot

When to Engage an Earl by Sally MacKenzie

July 10, 2017
Sign of relief, still on my auto-list.

http://www.sallymackenzie.net/

If you have read any of my reviews on Sally MacKenzie's books, you will know that last few have been troublesome for me. But if there is just one book which I love by an author, I will spend years and years and years waiting for the next good one by that same author. I must admit I was starting to get a little scared because it seems to me my choices for new historical writers are somehow shrinking. Anyway, that's all about me and not Sally MacKenzie's latest book, When to Engage an Earl. This is the third book in the Spinster House series and while this story isn't one that will be on my "I luv you forever" list, it was a cute tale and in my opinion the best in the series. My problem with the Spinster House series is the women who were supposed to be friends. In the first two stories these three women did not exhibit anything close to friendship. I was actually surprised that a female writer was responsible for some of the pettiness that came out of the three main women characters. But in this book, Jane our heroine, seems to have turned over a new leaf and she is once again a nice person. So, that was a good thing.

Jane Wilkerson is at last in her own home, the spinster house. You know that old saying "be careful what you wish for because the grass is always greener on the other side"? Yeah, that may not be the saying but you get the drift. So, Jane has finally realized all of her dreams - except she's not as happy as she should be. Jane's character was hard to like, because she seemed as if she could just not make up her mind about what she wanted. But I like to look at her as a person who knows what she doesn't want, not what she wants, and that made her more likeable. Because she doesn't know what she wants, she makes choices which don't really suit her. I think Ms. MacKenzie missed an opportunity in not creating a more fully developed character in Jane. I believe Ms. MacKenzie sometimes sacrifices brilliant personalities for light fluffy narrative. But then there's room for light fluffy in Romanceland. I'm starting to sound like Jane - just cannot make up my mind.


Then we have our hero, Alex. Alex is mostly amusing. He does things like avoid going to his house because his matchmaking mother and sister are there. He is also lonely. Alllll of his friends are married and are having children of their own. He also is rather fond of Jane, even though he isn't going to admit it. He just kind of wanders through the book being entertaining. There was something about Alex which started irritating me part way through the book. He wanted a wife and children. How do I know that? Because his brain-think mentioned it a gazillion times. He was so boo-hoo-everyone-has-a-family-I-adore-my-nieces-I-love-children. He voiced it so much. Let me generalize. I like to think I know how men think - but I really don't. All I can do is observe the males who surround me. Men are capable of strong loyalty, love, and friendship. There are tons of great fathers out there. But do men think about having children/spouse with the same amount of enthusiasm that women do? Do they dream of the day they will walk down the aisle in their finery? While I'm sure that an occasional thought of having a family might drift through their brains, Alex seemed to be really obsessed with it. And, that became distracting for me because I was questioning the depth of his desire. For me, it comes down to I found his neediness overwhelming and it lessened my liking of him.


By the way, in case you've forgotten which series this is, it's the one with the strange/magical cat Poppy and the dying heir curse being broken by true love. At the end of the story we find that all is not as it seems in regard to that curse.


Overall, this was a pleasant, quick, light read. It had a bit of a rushed ending about it and a number of loose ends were tied rather quickly, but I thought this one was the best in the series. 


Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Warm

Thursday

Hokey Smoke!! It's Time for Upcoming Historical Releases!!!

Authors with an asterisk*, I'm picking up! For more Upcoming Releases that aren't historical see HEY DELIA!! July 15, 2017 to August 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. 
 
Ava Stone
http://www.avastoneauthor.com/    
A Scandalous Vow
Scandalous series
July 18
Candace Camp
http://www.candace-camp.com/   
A Momentary Marriage
July 25
Elizabeth Beacon
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/447008.Elizabeth_Beacon
The Governess Heiress
A Year of Scandal series

Paperback - July 18, ebook - August 1
Grace Burrowes
http://www.graceburrowes.com/  
Too Scot to Handle
Windham Brides series
July 25
Harper St. George
http://harperstgeorge.com/
A Marriage Deal with the Outlaw
Outlaws of the Wild West series

Paperback - July 18, ebook - August 1
Laura Martin
http://www.millsandboon.co.uk/authors/p3119/Lau...
A Ring for the Pregnant Debutante
 
Paperback - July 18, ebook - August 1
Linda Broday
https://lindabroday.com/
Knight on the Texas Plains
Texas Heroes series
August 1
Louise Allen
http://www.louiseallenregency.co.uk
Marrying His Cinderella Countess

Paperback - July 18, ebook - August 1
Megan Frampton
http://meganframpton.com/
Lady Be Bad
The Duke's Daughters
July 25
Meriel Fuller
https://www.millsandboon.co.uk/authors/p661/Meriel-Fuller
The Warrior’s Damsel in Distress
 
Paperback - July 18, ebook - August 1
Michele Sinclair
http://www.michelesinclair.com/
Never Kiss a Highlander
The McTiernays series
July 25
Nicole Locke
http://www.NicoleLocke.com   
The Knight’s Scarred Maiden
Lovers and Legends series
 
Paperback - July 18, ebook - August 1
Sabrina Jarema
http://sabrinajarema.com/home/

Lord of the Seas
Viking Lords series
August 8
Sophie Jordan
http://www.sophiejordan.net/  
The Scandal of It All
The Rogue Files series
July 25

Monday

June 19, 2017
"Oh, great.
Would you look at this?! Oh my God.
Tuna juice! Oh my God!"
- Everybody Loves Raymond
 

https://www.madelinehunter.com/
 May be spoilers ahead. The Most Dangerous Duke in London begins Madeline Hunter's Decadent Dukes Society series. Don't let the title fool you into believing this is a light and fluffy story, because it's not. This is a story about revenge, not my favorite plotline. The character bent on revenge in this book is our hero Adam Penrose, Duke of Stratton. By the way, he has two duke friends - Gabriel St. James, Duke of Langford, and Eric Marshall, Duke of Brentworth. They are in this book because we need to have a few buddy talks scattered throughout. Anyway, Adam is bent on revenge against someone in the Cheswick family. He hasn't quite put all the pieces together, but he believes one of the Cheswicks is responsible for his father's death. When the story begins he is on the way to the Cheswick's home. Much to his surprise he has been summoned by the Dowager Countess of Morwood. The dowager is a Cheswick; and let me tell you I had some problem keeping all the titles and surnames straight. Oh for the days of just plain Smith. For some reason the dowager wants to put aside the ol' family feud between Adam's family and the Cheswick family. It could be that it is Adam's reputation as a duelist which has preceded him and she just wants to protect her grandson Theo. Or it could be something else. When Adam arrives, he finds that she is going to settle the feud by offering up her youngest granddaughter as the sacrifice. She figures he wouldn't shoot his brother-in-law. Well, Adam's no dummy, he holds his cards close to his vest/chest; he's on to her game. And, he's not all that excited about it, but remember he's looking to do some kind of revenge and this young girl might be the answer. But wait! Who is that magnificent creature on that horse? He can tell from a distance that she's got spirit! He must have her! What! She's the old lady's other granddaughter! Revenge! Revenge! You know I never quite understand how marrying someone is revenge, especially if there is some kind of attraction. Now, he could throw her in a dungeon, but that would only hurt her, not the rest of the family. But hey, this is Romanceland and I don't have to understand revenge plots.

Anyway, up on the hill in the distance is the exciting Lady Clara Cheswick. And, she can see the handsome man staring at her. Being a strong woman who takes no guff from anyone, she sticks her nose in the air and rides off. This only makes Adam more intrigued and he gives chase. And, the story begins.

This story was hard for me to review. I like Madeline Hunter. I like her writing. I can depend on her stories to be filled with characters who have more of a mature voice and this one does. There are some interesting back stories which weave their way slowly throughout the entire tale. And, there is just a little bit of a twist to the end of the tale. Ms. Hunter ties up all the loose ends and it was enjoyable traveling down the path to get there. The interesting thing for me about the book was that in the beginning I didn't really care about the mystery of Adam's father's death, but the closer to the end of the book I read, the more engrossed I became with the secret. On the other hand, the romance between Adam and Clara had the opposite effect on me. I started out enjoying their romance, but the closer I got to the ending the less I cared. The reason I found the romance less than thrilling was mainly due to Adam.

I liked Clara a lot. She was a strong, independent woman. Yes, yes - I know there are a lot of "independent" women in romance books, but often those women are portrayed as being so strong-willed they become a caricature of what strong women really are. Yes, Clara is a secret publisher, and she supports other women in their efforts - but at no time in the book did I feel as if I was being hammered over the head by her strong convictions. Everything about Clara - her stubbornness, her strength, her intelligence - was mature. There was a completeness about her. She could see through almost everything that Adam was up to and she would confront him. He changed in the book because she asked him to, not because she forced him. That part of the romance was lovely.

The problem with Adam. I could not connect to Adam and not because of the revenge thingy. He was like a pod-person. There was just nothing there. All I saw was a handsome facade which was supposed to be sexy, similar to a cologne advertisement - looks good, but there is nothing behind the eyes. I was never able to see any vitality. There just wasn't any charisma. He was boring, and he shouldn't have been. For me Adam was just too cold, I couldn't work up any sympathy for him when it came to his father. While there was tons of hippedy-hopping-bedroom-floor-chair-wall sexcapades, they were all rather tedious. And there was even a pool-table scene! Nothing better than a hot pool-table. Could have been a spark - but nooooooo, he had to run upstairs with her - ruined the mood. On top of that I had an ewwwwww moment.

My ewwwwww moment. Why did you include this in your book Ms. Hunter? I have often wondered about the cleanliness of Romanceland - you know underarms, sweat, dirty hair, toilets under beds, hairy underarms, and unclean parts being orally entertained. You know those kind of things. But usually I am never told any of this real world stuff by the author. However, in this book there is such a scene. Adam and Clara have a night of humpidy-bumpidy, an exhausting night - so exhausting that Clara sleeps in later than normal. She wakes up to the aroma of last night's activities and the sudden arrival of her brother and grandmother. Panic time! She throws on some clothes and tries to head them off at the pass. She does not have a chance to pick up her discarded nightgown. She is not quite all together. Her brain is filled with her adventures of the previous evening and trying to prevent her relatives from catching on. She is frazzled. But her uncomfortable moment (and ours) is about to get worse. Her grandmother is lecturing her on all sorts of things and spots Clara's nightie on the floor, picks it up, waves it around and makes some kind of comment about "fish water" smell. Well, that was a vivid kick out of the book moment. But, it doesn't stop there. The grandmother tosses the tuna-water night gown to Clara’s brother. Evidently he is familiar with the smell because he gives his sister a "look" then makes some kind of snide comment about Clara's activities.  It was an ewwww moment. Granted this is not the first time smell has been associated with the morning after in a romance novel, but this is the first time I have been confronted with the identity of "fishy" and then to have a brother knowingly wiggle eyebrows and comment about it. I have expressed this before. I am close to my brother, but there are just some things I hope never to hear, see, or talk about with my brother. By the way my little Petunia's - if there is a fish fry smell after you share some connubial bliss with your better half or just your half, you might want to call the doctor. At least according to what I found when googling fishy smells. Yes, I did google an interesting combination of "fish smell" words. Oh, the wonders of the World Wide Web.

Overall there was much to like about this book, Clara for one, they mystery for another. But I found the hero to be cold and problematic and the ewwww moment jerked me out of the story. It was an okay book, but not one of Ms. Hunter's best.

And now it's time for a little tune:

"Fish heads, fish heads
Roly-poly fish heads
Fish heads, fish heads
Eat them up, yum

In the morning, laughing, happy fish heads
In the evening, floating in the soup

Ask a fish head anything you want to
They won’t answer, they can’t talk

I took a fish head out to see a movie
Didn’t have to pay to get it in

They can’t play baseball, they don’t wear sweaters
They’re not good dancers, they don’t play drums" -
  Kevin Stevenson


Time/Place: 1822 England
Sensuality: Warm/Hot (depending on your definition of sensuality)

The Lady Traverlers Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen by Victoria Alexander

June 19, 2017

The title was promising - too bad.

https://www.victoriaalexander.com/

Victoria Alexander is one of my auto-buy authors. She can be a pretty quirky writer, with bits of humor jumping to the forefront. In case you haven't caught on, I am a sucker for an author who can write funny stuff. When I picked up this book the title made me think I was going to be in for a pretty humorous ride. Sad to say, twas not to be. In fact I had to really push to read this book.

There is a pretty clever set-up which introduces a new series. A trio of elderly women have established a traveling society. They are encouraging mostly women to travel. To see the dream they've always had. To have adventures, have fun. These three women give lectures about the joys of traveling. They are what we might call travel agents. But you see the problem is that none of these women have actually been anywhere and they most definitely haven't done any kind of booking. They have been living off the money they have pocketed. Now, India Predergast's aunt Heloise has come up missing and India wants answers. Enter our hero, Derek.

Derek's aunt is one of the elderly swindlers and he has just found out about what the three women have been doing. His first priority is to find the missing Heloise and at the same time keep his aunt and her two friends from going to prison. When India barges into a private meeting between Derek and the elderly swindlers, Derek has already decided on what he must do. He must follow the missing Heloise's path. He just hadn't counted on taking India with him. She will have it no other way - India is a tad bit head-strong and she doesn't like Derek. In fact, she jumps to the conclusion that he is the ring-leader. So the story is set up.

India and Derek travel together, bickering, fighting and keeping things from each other. India doesn't trust Derek and Derek does some pretty underhanded things. He does keep things from India - things he really shouldn't. After so many chapters of throwing insults, hiding things and not trusting each other, there seemed to be a number of repeated arguments. I became weary. I love a good annoying-couple-getting-on-each-other's-nerves story, but this one seem to become bogged down. It didn't grow. As much as I tried, I could find no chemistry between India and Derek. There was all this verbal sparring going on, but there was never a sensual awareness between the two.

What saved this book for me was the secondary character, Val. Val is Derek's brother and he is hilarious. He stole every scene he was in with Derek and India. He is so funny and fascinating I am concerned about his story. I think he's has his own story coming, although I could find nothing saying that. Ms. Alexander has creating one of those secondary characters who take over the book but he is also one who might lose that momentum when it comes to his own story. I wish Ms. Alexander had put some of Val's sparkle into her main characters. Val was wonderful! But this wasn't his book.

I didn't understand why Derek was considered a rogue. Maybe that's because he was already in the process of reforming when we are introduced to him. So he was already on his way to being a Dudley Do-right. I actually found him a little boring. You know how some authors can write men who just take over the page? All they have to do is cross their ankles and there is a sensuality which just permeates the air - well Derek doesn't have it. For me he was just a flat character who fought with the female lead and had a brother who stole the show.

Ms. Alexander has numerous stories that I just love! She's also written some great short stories. And those are the ones I remember when I see she has another book coming out. For me, this is one by her which will have to go in the other pile - the ones that didn't quite live up to my expectations.

Time/Place: Road trip England/Europe 1889
Sensuality: Warm

Thursday

Memories Schmemories - Angel Rogue by Mary Jo Putney

May 8, 2017
Oh the good old days

"The rain is on the roof
Hurry high butterfly
As clouds roll past my head
I know why the skys all cry
OM, OM, Heaven, OM"


http://maryjoputney.com/

Road trip! Road Trip! A long long time ago there used to be a publisher by the name of New American Library, or NAL, and they had this wonderful little branch called Signet Regency Romance. They started printing in the late 1970s and lasted until sometime in 2006. Many, many, many authors began with Signet. I loved these little books. I think they would publish three or four books a month and I would be waiting for those books to hit the stands. One of the authors who first came to my attention through Signet was Mary Jo Putney - I loved her early stuff. Then she started writing longer books and then she turned to the dark side and started writing contemporary romance. She even dabbled a little bit in paranormal. She has, of course, returned to historical, but nothing beats some of her older writing. And if any of you have never read The Rake, you should. It is one of my ten favorite romances. But this review isn't about that story, it's about another older book by Ms. Putney. First written in 1990 as The Rogue and the Runaway, it was published by Signet. Later Ms. Putney added a few more pages and it joined her Fallen Angels series under the new name of Angel Rogue (1995). Well, it has recently floated to my attention again through the wonderful world of electronic books. At last, a book with some wonderful words and great characters. It was a pleasure to reread this story.

This story revolves around Maxima (Maxie) Collins and Lord Robert Andreville (Robin). There is also a secondary romance between Desdemona, Maxie's aunt, and Giles, Robin's brother. Both of these romances are quite good, and unlike some stories which have two romances going on at once, they do not distract from each other. Also helping in making this story a lovely read was its length. It is just a tad bit longer than stories which are published today - so there is more substance on these pages. 
 
Here's the plot-line. Lord Robert Andreville, aka Robin, is home from years and years of spying. He's been through a lot. He's got dirt on his hands, he's been through some awful terrible stuff. Plus, his mistress is now his friend and married to a fellow hero from another book. Not only is Robin sad and blue because of his lost love, he also has some pretty angst-like spy stuff to get over. Unlike a lot of angst-filled heroes, Robin does not drag the entire world down with him. He has hid his melancholy side under a happy-go-lucky facade. That doesn't mean he doesn't have people who are worried about him, because they are - especially his brother Giles and his ex-mistress Maggie. But don't fear, my little Petunia's, because help is on the way in the form of our heroine Maxie.

Maxie is an American. She is also the child of an English aristocratic father and a Mohawk Native-American woman. Most of her life was spent in America living with her mother's people or traveling around with her free-spirited father. By the way, she loved her life with her mother and father - no Romanceland horrible parents here! Maxie's parents are both dead so she is living in England with her uncle and his snooty wife and daughters. Maxie is an interesting character because she is really quite good at standing up for herself. There's a wonderful scene in the beginning when she threatens her cousin with an arrow. When Maxie overhears her uncle talking about her father's death and how "things" must be kept from her, she knows she must find out what happened. She sees nothing wrong or silly with packing her bags, binding her boobs and hiking 250 miles to London. By this time in the book, we the reader have learned what makes Maxie tick and see nothing silly about this premise. So she's off. Oops! She trips over something on the way out. That would be Robin, who is taking a little nap under a tree.

Robin wakes up and knows right away that he has an arm-full of woman. No bound boobs are going to get past this hero. After some talking, Robin and Maxie decide to join forces and journey to London together. This journey covers more than just miles, because during their time together they get to know each other. Along the way they become friends, comrades and eventually lovers. They share their good and bad memories. They also share a number of adventures. The road trip is quite an experience and I enjoyed most of it. I did have a few eye-brows raised moments when Maxie was doing her "talk to the trees, butterflies and clouds" routine, puffing away on her hookah and chanting OMMMMMMmmm. I lied, she didn't have a hookah, but she did come awfully close to an OM moment. Regardless of Maxie's mother-nature incidents, Robin and Maxie were a wonderful couple.

But they weren't the only wonderful couple in the book. There was also a secondary romance between the stodgy older brother Giles and the antagonistic, pushy aunt, Desdemona. These two had absolutely nothing in common and were great fun to watch as they circled each other and gave chase to their little lost lambs. I almost wish they had their own book, but ‘twas not to be. But I had great fun reading when they were in the book.

Except for the "mother-nature" moments I only had one other small quibble. Even with all the extra pages which were added to the story, the ending still had a rushed feel to it. But other than that, this story is a great classic romance and it should be picked up and read. I recommend either the original The Rogue and the Runaway or the one with all the sex, Angel Rogue. It's a truly wonderful novel by one of Romanceland's very gifted authors - Mary Jo Putney.


Time/Place: Regency England Road Trip
Sensuality: Hot