Tuesday

Ta-Ta-Dah!!! Upcoming Historical Romance Releases!!!! October 15 to November 14, 2016!!

September 27, 2016
Authors with an asterisk*, I'm picking up! For more Upcoming Releases that aren't historical see Hey Delia!!! October 15, 2016 to November 14, 2016. By the way, it is not my fault if a publisher changes the release dates - just so you know, they do not consult me.
Amanda McCabe

The Queen’s Christmas Summons
October 18
Cathy Maxwell*

A Date at the Altar
Marrying the Duke series
October 25
Carol Birch

Orphans of the Carnival
November 8
Joanna Shupe

Baron
The Knickerbocker Club series
October 25
Katharine Ashe

The Earl

Devil’s Duke series
October 25
Lauri Robinson

Unwrapping the Rancher’s Secret
October 18
Liz Tyner

The Runaway Governess
The Governess Tales series
October 18
Louise Allen

Sophia James 

Annie Burrows 
Once Upon a Regency Christmas 
anthology
October 18
Mary Balogh

Someone to Love
Westcott series
November 8
Martha Hix

His Make Believe Bride
Texas Brides series
October 25
Rachael Miles*

Tempting the Earl
The Muses Salon
October 25
Susanna Ives

How to Impress a Marquess
Wicked Little Lies series
November 1
Sophie Jordan

While the Duke was Sleeping
The Rogue Files series
October 25
Valerie Bowman

The Legendary Lord
Playful Brides series
November 1

Wednesday

Memories Schmemories, On the Way to the Wedding by Julia Quinn

September 14, 2016

What we have here is a case of Lastbookitis.

Before I begin, let’s sing a little song: 


“Some enchanted evening you may see a stranger (or the back of their head)
You may see a stranger (or the back of their head) across a crowded room
And somehow you know, you know even then
That somewhere you'll see her
(or the back of her head) again and again”Rodgers and Hammerstein – sort of

So begins the last of the stories in the Bridgerton series, On the Way to the Wedding. At last
it’s Gregory Bridgerton’s turn. Poor Gregory - he’s alone and feeling blue. He’s blue because everyone has someone but him. He’s wants someone. He’s on the lookout for someone. And then, he enters a room. There - across the way - he spots a beautiful woman. He’s hit by the luv-lightening. Oh lovely lady, I luv you forever and ever. At least the back of your head. Yes, fellow readers, Gregory Bridgerton of the famous Bridgerton family falls in love with the back of some woman’s head.


The woman belonging to that head-back is Hermione Watson. Excuse me while I ponder naming of characters in books. All the way through the book I had a problem with the name Hermione Watson. First of all I don’t like the name Hermione (sorry all you Hermione’s). Secondly I kept thinking of Hermione Granger from Harry Potter. Then it dawned on me that the actress who plays Hermione is Emma Watson. Ms. Quinn would not be so playfully cute as to combine those names for this character – would she. Because if she did, I have to tell you I found it very distracting.

But that's neither here nor there because Hermione is not the heroine of this book. No the heroine of this book is there in the crowd of men surrounding Hermione – Lady Lucy Abernathy. Yes, that’s her – the one who nobody pays any attention to. Anyway, Lucy happens to notice the moment of luv-lightening striking Gregory Bridgerton. She mentally shrugs her shoulders because she sees it all the time. Hermione and Lucy have been friends for a very long time and Lucy is used to men making fools of themselves over Hermione. But this time it’s different and not just because Lucy is sort of attracted to Gregory. No that not it. Lucy is sort of engaged so she can’t be interested in Gregory. But the beautiful Hermione is in luv with an unsuitable man and Lucy knows that this unsuitable man will be wrong for Hermione. Lucy decides to help Gregory in his quest to win fair Hermione’s hand. So she starts giving Gregory advice, advice which he has not asked for. Lucy likes to advise people. She likes to make everyone happy. Be prepared, she’s a martyr.

Gregory follows Lucy’s advice of ignoring Hermione in hopes that Hermione will notice him. Then one morning at the breakfast table Gregory says something and Hermione thinks he interesting. He makes her flutter. But wait a minute! Lucy’s brother shows up with an emergency message! Lucy must go home immediately because her uncle must see her. But first there’s another party to go to. At that part Lucy’s brother, who is also in luv with Hermione, seduces Hermione. Well, he actually doesn’t work very hard at the seduction because you see Hermione is now in luv with Lucy’s brother. He makes her flutter. So much for the unsuitable guy and the fluttering Gregory was creating at breakfast. Hermione and Lucy’s brother marry. Gregory is alllll alone – again. However, he watches Lucy as she walks away.

Lucy has returned home. Her sort-of fiancĂ© is there along with his fat, creepy father. She finds out her fiancĂ© doesn’t care for women, but that’s ok. You see the creepy father informs her that if his son can’t put the erection set together, he will. Lucy turns him down. Lucy’s uncle blackmails her with words like treason, scandal, family destroyed. Lucy the martyr will marry the son.

Gregory returns to London. He is wandering through Hyde Park. He is once again struck by luvs-lightening when his eyes fall on the back of another woman’s head. It’s luv, luv, luv, luv. He luvs this woman! She turns! It’s…Lucy! Groan – not the good kind.

I had a big problem with this book. There were so many things that left me wondering just who had written this. This book had all of the signs of a last book in a series. It was rushed, the plots meandered all over the place. I had the feeling I was in grade school again watching people in the throes of their first love. All we needed was for Gregory and Lucy to write notes: “I love you, if you love me check this box”. They were soooo immature, falling in and out of love at the drop of a hat. Then there was the added blackmail, treason, evil uncle, and kidnapping thrown in at the end. On the Way to the Wedding was allll over the place. Then there was the short-sentence-paragraph-filler.

Anyone remember Robin Schone?

She wrote like this.

That is what happened in this book.

I was scratching my heading wondering what was going on.

Why was Ms. Quinn filling the pages with sentences like this?

Overall. This was my least favorite book in the Bridgerton series. The plotline was all over the place, the characters were immature and the love/luv expressed in this book was just fickle. This story had the feel of a rushed job with different ideas thrown in just to get the writing done.
Time/Place: 1830s England
Sensuality: Warm

Memories Schmemories, It's in His Kiss by Julia Quinn

September 14, 2016

The in-your-face Bridgerton
http://juliaquinn.com/
At last it’s time for Hyacinth Bridgerton. Hyacinth has been a character in almost all of the books in the series. She is one of those scene-stealing secondary characters; one of those

characters that make us nervous about her own book. Will that book be good or will it be a dud? Will my expectations be met or will they be crushed under someone big old foot? Well, I'm happy to say It's in His Kiss worked for me.

Was Hyacinth a little bit over the top? Yes. Was she a character who some readers may not like? Yes. But for me she had all the ingredients needed to make me smile – even have some laugh-out-loud moments. It’s in His Kiss does justice to Hyacinth and Ms. Quinn writes her just how I imagined her to be.

Hyacinth is not married. She is not married because men run from her in fear. She is a younger version of the outrageous Lady Danbury, her idol. Hyacinth is outspoken, head-strong, competitive, intelligent, and honest. She knows no fear and she craves adventure. She does things that are outrageous, but because she is a Bridgerton she has never been condemned for her behavior. If she were an older woman, she would be called eccentric. She is a sparkling, dominating presence wherever she appears. I loved her.

Gareth on the other hand is the typical manly-man rake who inhabits Romanceland. Yeah, he has problems – his dad is the main one. For all of you people who love to make lists, maybe you could make a list of rotten dads in Romanceland. There sure seems to be a plethora.  Anyway, his father hates him. The reason for this hatred is Gareth really isn’t his son, so there is a strong dislike between the two of them, even more so now that Gareth’s older brother has died, leaving Gareth the heir. Gareth’s father-not-father has also cut Gareth off because he refused an arranged marriage. The only one who Gareth cares for is his grandmother Lady Danbury.

Lady Danbury. When one applies the term character to Lady Danbury it means more than just a character in a book. She’s been in a number of stories and I would categorize her as a scene-stealer. She’s a pretty entertaining woman, but she’s also a matchmaker and she thinks Hyacinth and Gareth would make a great couple. And, she’s right.

This is pretty much a character-driven story. The only external conflict comes from Gareth’s paternal grandmother’s diary and that’s not all that much. Most of the story focuses squarely on Hyacinth overwhelming Gareth and Gareth allowing her to overwhelm. Even with all of Hyacinth's strong-willed, adventurous, sparkling, take-over antics Gareth never loses any of his alpha manly-manliness.

For me, this story was great fun. Yes Hyacinth had her nose in everything and Gareth found her hard to resist, but I didn’t care. I had fun reading this book.

Time/Place: 1830s England
Sensuality: Warm/Hot

Memories Schmemories, When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn

September 14, 2016

The Bridgerton who’s never there.
http://juliaquinn.com/
Now we enter into the sixth book in the series, When He Was Wicked. This is probably the
darkest one so far. I have to give Ms. Quinn credit for trying to tackle some heavy-duty issues, trying to delve a little deeper in to angstland, but I’m not quite sure she succeeded. This story had the feel of another experiment.


Here’s the plot. The Bridgerton sibling we’ve never seen, Francesca, is in a wonderfully happy marriage to John. Unbeknownst to John and Francesca, John’s cousin Michael Sterling falls head over heels in love with Francesca when he first meets her. Through the years, Michael has hidden his true feeling behind the rake facade while all the time he has hung out with John and Francesca. The three of them have become the best of buddies. They go places together, they laugh, joke, and confide in each other. They all have come to depend on each other. Then one evening John dies. This opens up allll kinds of problems for Francesca and Michael. Francesca turns to her best friend Michael for comfort in her grief and doesn’t understand when Michael rejects her. In fact he does more than just reject her, he runs away to India. He has all kinds of guilt, yearning, passion, guilt, torment, guilt rushing through his system. The only way he can handle it is to disappear and not be around the woman who he craves.

Francesca not only has to cope with the loss of her husband but the loss of her best friend. She travels into pity-poor-me land. Michael and Francesca become humongous martyrs. Then after four years Michael decides it’s time to return, at the same time Francesca decides it’s time to move on with her life. So now instead of watching depressing people suffer apart we get to watch them suffer together.

Rant. I know authors have to stretch their boundaries, they can’t just stay in that little rut writing the same thing over and over and over. But – some authors can write wonderfully witty, funny, light-hearted books and that’s not a bad thing. Just because it’s funny doesn’t mean it lacks substance. One of the most depressing authors ever, John Steinbeck, wrote one of the best fun books ever – Cannery Row. What a wonderful book, full of great characters, and there is a wealth of meaning behind this story. What’s my point? I don’t know, but it just seems to me that one can get a message through just as well with comedy as with angst. And, if an author already knows how to write so-called light-hearted books just put more pathos in them. There’s nothing wrong with fluff.

Anyway, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the rest in the series. There was too much hand-twisting. Besides that I didn’t feel like I knew Francesca. She was just a name in the other books and she didn’t seemed fully-developed in this one. So, this one was a disappointment. I wonder if the Bridgerton series is like the Star Trek movies – even/odd/good/bad.

Time/Place: 1820s England
Sensuality: Hot

Memories Schmemories, To Sir Phillip, With Love by Julia Quinn - 2003

September 14, 2016

“Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door” Bob Dylan
http://juliaquinn.com/
We now turn to the fifth book in the Bridgerton series – To Sir Phillip, With Love. This one
is a correspondence story – sort of. Remember Eloise Bridgerton from the previous story Romancing Mister Bridgerton? Remember she had ink on her fingers, was sneaking around and disappeared into the night from a party. Well, we get to find out what all the hub-bub was. You see Eloise’s distant cousin died and she sent a letter of condolence to her cousin’s husband Sir Phillip. He responds. She responds. He responds. She responds. He proposes. She accepts – sort of.


Poor Eloise is feeling sorry for herself. Eloise and her bestest buddy Penelope made a pact. They had both reached the ancient age of 28 and were going to be spinsters forever and ever. They were going to do whatever spinsters do – sit along the wall, raise cats, go shopping together. Then what does Penelope do? She marries Eloise’s brother Colin – so much for growing old together with cats. Well, Eloise has never told anyone that she’s been writing to Sir Phillip Crane for over a year – it’s been her own little secret. Level-headed Eloise decides it would be a good idea to pack her bags and leave the wedding party without telling anyone. Then she still doesn’t see the problem with journeying all the way to Sir Phillip’s country estate and meeting him – sans chaperone. Somewhere in her mind she thinks they should get to know each other and decide whether they like each other well enough to marry. That part of her thought process was ok, it’s just the not letting anyone in on it which turns out to be a problem – a bigggg problem.

To say Phillip is a tad bit surprised when Eloise shows up on his doorstep is an understatement. First of all, he had not envisioned Eloise as quite the stunner she turns out to be. He’s quite a nerd – a handsome nerd, but a nerd all the same. He’s a scientist, a botanist; he likes quiet, peace, calm. He’s not prepared for the head-strong, attractive woman who invades his domicile. By the way, he hasn’t had any dippity-doo-hoo in eight years, which means that Eloise is in for some rough nights, days, mid-days, mornings, etc. Phillip sends for a chaperone. In the meantime he and Eloise begin the progress of knowing each other. Eloise thinks she has all the time in the world to do this. I guess she has never read a romance book which has over-protective brothers who were once rakes and are now married.

Did I mention that Phillip has two awful children? These children are close to being “bad seed” children. Anyone ever seen the movie The Bad Seed with Patty McCormick? That’s the movie in which the charming blonde-headed girl burns up the guy sleeping in the excelsior. Well, that’s almost the kind of “pranks” these two do. There is the gluing of the governesses hair to the bedpost - she didn’t stick around long after that. Well, these two kids don’t want any woman in the house. They don’t want a governess, they don’t want a mother – they just want their father. The poor little lambs. Having grown up with numerous horrible siblings, Eloise knows how to handle “pranks”. Of course, she injures herself when she trips over the wire they have stretched across the hallway quite close to the stairway. Oh what little charmers these two are. We do find out that they have reasons for being monsters and then we are treated to some psychological babble exiting Eloise’s mouth. If this was a different time period one would think she trained with Jung or Freud, but that’s a different decade. Phillip's problem with his children is that he is afraid, so he ignores them. His fear is that he thinks he will be like his father and explode into a raging maniac who will beat the crap out of the little tykes. Of course Dr. Eloise explains to him that he isn’t like his father and all is well. And then the brothers show up!

Anthony, Colin, Benedict and Gregory storm into the house to see Eloise’s black eye (remember the wire), assume Phillip did it, then proceed to beat the tar out of Phillip. Well Colin doesn’t – he just smirks knowingly. After Eloise stops the boys, much to her surprise they demand she marry Phillip. Oh my, who would have thought a woman running off, unchaperoned in the 1800s would be forced to marry! Oh, you silly woman, Eloise. So they are married and Eloise has a bang-up wedding night from a guy who has been without for eight years. Knock-knock-knock.

It was during the reading of this book I noticed a Julia Quinn method of writing. Her main characters think a lot - I mean, a lot. They think so much that they lose track of what ever conversation is going on around them. There is a constant, I’m sorry what were you saying or you weren’t listening to me or silence accompanied with embarrassment. Pay attention people! If I hadn’t been reading her books one after another I probably wouldn’t have noticed this little quirk – but I am and I did notice and it became irritating.

Overall, this was a passable read. I was a little disappointed the correspondence didn’t play more of a part in this story. I think if we had been able to read more of the letters we would have had a better feel for the two characters. For me the letters didn’t enrich the development of Phillip or Eloise. I would have liked for them to fall in love with the person in the letters and then develop from there. I think Ms. Quinn was experimenting with this book, which is ok. It’s always nice when an author stretches their horizons, but sometimes even with the best of intentions it doesn’t completely work.

Time/Place: 1820s England
Sensuality: Warm/Hot

Memories Schmemories - Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn, 2002

September 14, 2016

Will the real Mrs. Whistledown please stand up.
http://juliaquinn.com/

Yes, in the fourth Bridgerton book, Romancing Mister Bridgerton, the mysterious gossip columnist Mrs. Whistledown is revealed. Spoilers ahead for those of you who have never read the series. In my humble opinion this is the best book in the series. A lot of this has to do with the humor, but the characters in this story are superb.

Colin. Colin is one sexy, charming Bridgerton. Although he is truly charming, he also uses that charm as a facade. He doesn’t know who he is as a person. All of his brothers have something which makes them unique, but he's just charming. So, even though he loves his family deeply, he is a tad bit resentful and has spent most of his adult life traveling through the world. But he didn't spend so much time away from England that a young girl couldn't fall in love with him.

Penelope. Penelope Featherington is the daughter of an extremely overbearing mother with no sense of style. Penelope has grown up with the Bridgerton brood; in fact, her best friend is Eloise Bridgerton. Eloise and Penelope have plans to be spinsters together. When Penelope was sixteen, she fell in love with Colin. She's terribly shy, overweight, badly dressed - but she is going to luv him forever. Of course, Colin views Penelope as a dumpling of a girl who seems to be at their house allll the time. Now he's back in town and he starts to talk to Penelope. He begins to see her as something more than a shy wallflower. He starts to enjoy being with her - little does he know that she is Mrs. Whistledown.

I like the portrayal of Penelope in this book. She's shy, she's uncomfortable in social situations. But like most shy people, she's highly observant. On top of that she's also quite sarcastic and acerbic in private. Penelope has managed to bring her witty observations to life in her gossip columns. In those written words, she is no longer the woman who sits with the chaperones along the wall, but a sparkling personality. Then the infamous Lady Danbury challenges the ton to a wager - a search for the identity of Mrs. Whistledown. This changes everything for Penelope - at first she's afraid she will be found out. But then when another woman announces that she is in fact Mrs. Whistledown, Penelope is torn between wanting the world to know the real identity of Mrs. Whistledown and hiding.

I loved the flow of Romancing Mister Bridgerton. Colin is not a typical hero; he's so dissatisfied with his life - he is desperate to be more than just a chestnut-haired Bridgerton. He starts to fall in love with Penelope because she makes him aware of his strong points. He comes alive when Penelope is around. Colin and Penelope make a great couple; they bring out the best in each other.

Overall, this was a fun book with another delightful couple. Did it have anachronisms all over the place? Yes. Did I care? No. In this book, Ms. Quinn developed a couple who I cared about and who I liked. And, when that happens in a book, historical accuracy takes a back seat.

Time/Place: 1820s England
Sensuality: Warm/Hot

Tuesday

Memories Schmemories - An Offer from a Gentleman by Julia Quinn

September 6, 2016
A Bridgerton who caused a hiccup moment.

http://www.juliaquinn.com/
Who would've believed that with all of the charming Bridgeton's inhabiting Romanceland, I
would run across a Bridgerton who stepped on one of my pet-peeve moments. Yep - Benedict did some things in An Offer from a Gentleman which for me came close to being dishonorable.

Let's take a look at this third entry in the Bridgeton series.

Besides my irritation with Benedict, I was also chagrined that part of the story was a reworking of the fairy tale Cinderella. Now I like fairy tales in their original form, I'm just not too keen on rewriting, updating or changing those tales. The Cinderella portion of the book revolves around Sophie Beckett.

Sophie Beckett is the illegitimate daughter of an Earl. For most of her childhood she has been tucked away in the country, raised by his servants. She tries her best to be the child he wants her to be. But she is terribly lonely and only wants to be loved by her father. Then one day he brings home a wife and two step-daughters. There's a wonderful scene where Sophie is watching them alight from the carriage. All the time she's watching them, she's thinking that at last she'll have someone to love her and other children to play with. As soon as she looks into her step-mother's eyes she knows the chances for a happy future will never be hers. Her step-mother, Araminta is really one e-viiil woman. Araminta's eldest daughter is also hateful; there is a small twist on the Cinderella step-sister mean-fest in the form of Posy. Posy, the youngest daughter, likes Sophie. However, Posy is too afraid of her mother to do too much of anything about it. So things progress poorly for Sophie, and then her father dies. Things go from bad to really really bad.

The ball. Years pass and Sophie is nothing more than an unpaid, downtrodden servant to her step-mother. But all is not lost. You see the Bridgeton’s are throwing a masquerade ball. Everyone who is anyone will be there. That means Araminta and daughters will be going - but not Sophie. But this is based on Cinderella, so we all know that Sophie's is going to go to the ball. Thanks to the generous servants, she's off - in a lovely gown, her step-mothers shoes, a mask and a coach. There are no mice turning into coachmen or singing or sewing - but that coach has to be returned by midnight. Now all we need is a prince - enter Benedict.

Well, Benedict is no Prince Charming, he's more of a bored rake. But when his eyes fall on the mysterious woman descending the stairs it's a case of instant love. In keeping with the plot of the fairy tale, Benedict and Sophie fall in love, exchange conversation and a kiss. The clock strikes midnight - and she's off! She doesn't leave any shoes behind; she just scuffs them. In fact it is the scuff which gives her away to eviiil Araminta. Being the mean step-mother that she is, Araminta kicks Sophie out into the cold cruel world.

Two years pass. Benedict is still wondering what happened to the mysterious woman who is his soul mate. Hey! There's a party going on in the country. Granted the party is given by a man Benedict doesn't really care for and is attended by men Benedict would never call his friends. But he's bored and he's tired of looking for his soul mate. What more can a rakish guy do than kill some time with a group of drunken louts.

As it turns out, one of the servants at this drunken lout party is Sophie. Poor Sophie. Not only is she a drudge, but she is also being manhandled by the host. She screams. Ta ta ta dah - Benedict to the rescue. He rescues her from the party, but now he feels responsible for finding her another position. He is attracted to her, but he's sort of fighting it. He suppresses the idea of having her work in his household, but thinks she would be perfect in his mother's.

Sophie of course has recognized her rescuer as the charming prince from the party, but she doesn't say anything to Benedict. It never dawns on Benedict that the servant he has the palpitations for is the same woman he luved two years ago. He installs her at his mother's house where she becomes a pseudo-servant.

The more Sophie and Benedict are thrown together, the more they become attracted to each other. This is where the story falls apart a little for me. Benedict is obsessed with Sophie, he's even in love with her - he even admits it. What does he offer her? Hey, he needs a mistress! She'd be perfect for the spot. He seduces her, and then asks her to be his mistress. Even when he marries, he still plans to have her as his mistress because he loves her sooooo much. This means that Sophie would get to share him with his wife. Yes, I know this is a historical romance and she's a servant and he's a ... what? Just what is he that puts him so far above Sophie? He doesn’t have a title. He's not a duke, prince, marquise or even a sir. He's just got money. Oh sure, his brother is a viscount and his sister is a duchess, but he's still a Mister. But that isn't what really disturbed me. Sophie's is a servant in his mother's household. This is her only livelihood. Even though she is a willing participant to her own seduction, it just seemed to me that Benedict's seduction of someone in the family's employ was a tad bit dishonorable, especially for a Bridgerton. Usually, that type of maneuver is reserved for villains or Anne Stuart heroes. He does apologies for his actions later, but I found the initial seduction somehow distasteful.

I recommend this story - it’s okay. The characters are strong - alll of the characters. I did have a problem with the hero not exhibiting heroic actions, even if he is a charming Bridgerton. I just wanted to say to him - shame on you

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Warm/Hot