Monday

Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase

August 24, 2015
Goodbye angst, hello happy feet!

http://www.lorettachase.com/

After my last two angst filled books, I had a hankering for something not so dark - something which would make me smile. What was I to do? The answer was simple; just turn to one of my favorite authors who I know fills her books with witty, fun dialogue without being silly. So I tuned to Loretta Chase and her Carsington brother series. I skipped over Ms. Wonderful and started with Mr. Impossible.

Mr. Impossible is a road trip through Egypt which has a slight feel of The Mummy (1999) about it, but without the mummy. In this book we have a very smart Egyptologist by the name of Daphne Pembroke. As you can tell by the name Daphne, her being taken seriously as a (1.) smart person (2.) Egyptologist is problematic. This is the 1820s and women are not supposed to do too much besides sewing. Daphne has found a solution; she and her loving brother have come up with a plan where Daphne does all the research and Miles takes the credit. Now, Daphne may not like doing that but she loves digging in the sands of Egypt, so she continues the charade. Miles purchases a papyrus which he thinks Daphne will enjoy. The problem with this is that all the bad people think the papyrus is a map to a lost pharoah's tomb and only Miles can decipher the papyrus. Miles is kidnapped. Daphne knows that once the kidnappers discover Miles can't read hieroglyphs his life won't be worth anything, so time is of the essence. The authorities are not all that helpful as they think he's probably in some brothel some place, but they are will to give her a helper. Enter Rupert Carsington.

Rupert is in jail. He has been in jail a number of times since his arrival in Egypt and the authorities don't know what to do with him. He likes to solve problems with his fists and being the son of a nobleman, there isn't too much the authorities can do with him, except get him out of their hair - hence giving him to Daphne. Rupert is a wonderful character. He has floated through life without doing too much of anything, and has also assumed the facade of a blockhead. Daphne is irritated with his buffoonery right away and Rupert doesn't do anything to change her opinion.

Like all of Chase's heroes, Rupert falls for Daphne right away, although he doesn't recognize the feelings she engenders for what they are. All he knows is that he is fascinated by her big brain and her stunning body.

Daphne and Rupert are a great, fun couple. The dialogue is entertaining, the chemistry sizzling - this is a brilliant road trip. Rupert is the best character in the book and it's hard to resist him. His deliberate aggravation of Daphne is comical, but that is tempered by his understanding of what makes Daphne tick and his acceptance of her great intelligence. He is everything that Daphne needs - he is proud of her.

This book is a delightful read, with an amusing couple, numerous villainy villains, and an interesting supporting cast. This is just the book I needed. No heavy duty angst, no dark deep secrets, just a delightful journey with a charming couple.

Time/Place: 1820s Road trip, Egypt
Sensuality: Warm/Hot

Friday

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells! Upcoming Historical Releases!

August 21, 2015
It's warm outside, but Christmas releases are just around the corner!

Authors with an asterisk*, I'm picking up! For more Upcoming Releases that aren't historical see Hey Delia!!! For: September 15, 2015 to October 14, 2015.
 
Carole Mortimer
Christian Seaton: Duke of Danger
Dangerous Dukes series
September 15
Connie Brockway
Highlander Undone
September 15
Cynthia Breeding
Rogue of the High Seas
Rogue series
October 6
Eva Leigh* aka Zoe Archer
Forever Your Earl
Wicked Quills of London series
September 29
Gwyn Cready
First Time With a Highlander
Sirens of the Scottish Borderlands series
October 6
Jennifer Ashley*
The Stolen Mackenzie Bride
Mackenzies series
September 29
Julie Anne Long*
The Legend of Lyon Redmond
Pennyroyal Green series
September 29
Kathleen Bittner Roth
Josette
When Hearts Dare series
September 29
Lauri Robinson
The Forgotten Daughter
Daughters of the Roaring Twenties series
October 1
Lynna Banning
Kelly Boyce
Carol Arens
Dreaming of a Western Christmas
Anthology
September 15
Maggie Robinson*
The Unsuitable Secretary
The Ladies Unlaced series
September 16
Madeline Hunter*
Tall, Dark and Wicked
Wicked series
October 6
Manda Collins
Good Earl Gone Bad
The Lords of Anarchy series
October 6
Marguerite Kaye
The Soldier's Rebel
Comrades in Arms series
October 1
Mary Jo Putney
Jo Beverley
Joanna Bourne
Patricia Rice
Nicola Cornick
Cara Elliott
Anne Gracie
Susan King
The Last Chance Christmas Ball
Anthology       
September 29
Paula Quinn
The Taming of Malcolm Grant
The MacGregors: Highland Heirs series
September 29
Suzanne Enoch*
Some Like it Scot
Scandalous Highlanders series
October 6

Wednesday

The Marriage Act by Alyssa Everett

August 19, 2015
We want light and fluffy - we want light and fluffy - we want light and fluffy - sorry.

http://www.alyssaeverett.com/

Alyssa Everett has presented us with a dark book which has two leads who are really hard to like. The Marriage Act is a difficult book to review, but you really should give it a try. For
some of you this book may be a wall-banger, but for others you will be mesmerized by the really lonnnng struggle to the happy ending. I have to be honest: while I love Ms. Everett's prose, the couple in this book gave me a headache.

A marriage gone rotten is one of my favorite tropes. There are so many directions an author can go in when choosing this plot. Ms. Everett chose a hard path: she made both the hero and heroine very unlikeable, and then she had to fix them. Did she succeed? In my opinion, almost. Let's look at that almost.

When John, Viscount Welford, is twenty-six he falls in love with the beautiful seventeen-year-old Caroline Fleetwood, daughter of the Bishop of Essex. He proposes, she accepts, they marry, they consummate the wedding, she runs away, he chases after her, finds her, puts her in his house and leaves for Vienna, where he stays for five years. He returns to England, Caroline finds him and pleads with him to travel with her to the country and pretend to be a loving husband. You see, her father is dying and she has been lying to her father for five years, writing to him, telling him that she and John are happily married in Vienna. She wants her father's last days to be free of any stress. Because John has always held the Bishop in high esteem he agrees to Caroline's hair-brained scheme and we are off on a road trip.

Now, unlike a lot of Romanceville road trips, this one is not fun. John and Caroline fight constantly. They insult, they belittle, they deliberately hurt each other, and they misunderstand one another. John is holding a big-time grudge against Caroline. He doesn't trust her, he doesn't believe a word she says. And, he's right. He has a reason for the distrust - and she's a liar. What he ever saw in her, I'll never know. I arrived at the conclusion that he fell in love with his fantasy of what he thought Caroline was. However, he is still in love with her - I could never figure that out. Why he would still love this woman was beyond me. Caroline is just as bad. She just cannot see any good in John. She berates him constantly. She is just an all-round unpleasant person. As a couple, these two were terrible to watch. But I couldn't turn away. I had to keep on reading to see how Ms. Everett resolved their biiiggg problems.

This was an interesting read for a number of reasons. Caroline and John's constant bickering was awful to watch. On Caroline's part, the meanness lasted too long. By the end of the story I still had my doubts that their marriage would ever last. If Caroline had her turn around just a little sooner I think I would have bought into their HEA, but she waited too long for me. Overall, this was a difficult book to read, with difficult, selfish people. Even though I developed a headache from the constant battles in this book I have to say I also appreciated how difficult the story must have been to write. Ms. Everett didn't take the easy way out when she tackled this storyline. So, I will continue to read Ms. Everett's books and look for exciting and different things coming from her pen. In the end, this story left me unsettled and that was not because of the writing, but because of Caroline and John.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality:Warm/Hot
Caroline and John: C- Book: B-

Thursday

Lady be Good by Meredith Duran

August 13, 2015
Dark and gloomy days ahead.

http://meredithduran.com/

If we were to do a list of authors and divide them between the ones who write light, happy stories and the ones who write dark, anxious stories, Meredith Duran would be on the dark side. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. First of all she would be in great company, at least as far as I concerned. She'd be in there with Mary Balogh, Anne Stuart, Elizabeth Hoyt, on and on. Now, can they write light, happy? Of course they can; actually one of my favorite funny books, The House Party, is an old Anne Stuart. I digress.

Anyway, all of this is to say that when I open a Meredith Duran book, I know what I'm stepping into and if someday she writes a hilariously funny book I will be thrilled. Lady be Good is not the darkest book I've ever read, but it has its moments. It is also not the best Duran book I've ever read and I believe that may be because the secondary characters of Nick O'Shea and Catherine Everleigh come awfully close to stealing the scenes numerous times. They are two powerful characters, and I'm really interested in seeing where Ms. Duran takes them. However, this story is about Kit and Lilah. I found myself not as interested in their story as I was O'Shea and Catherine's.

Lilah Marshall, aka Lily Monroe, has a dream. She and her sister Fiona have been raised in the London underbelly by their uncle Nick O'Shea. When the story begins, it is Fiona who has the dream of getting out from under. Then she dies and the dream is passed on to Lilah/Lily. Lilah/Lily, a thief and a pickpocket, has transformed herself. She has changed the way she talks, she has learned how to dress, how to walk, how to flutter, how to be respectable. She has distanced herself from O'Shea's world and in so doing she has been shunned by those people who once were her "friends." She has found employment at Everleigh's Auction House as an Everleigh Girl. I thought Lily's path to becoming respectable by being a Everleigh Girl was interesting, because her job was to be charming to the customers whether she liked them or not. This job reminded me of all the saloon girls in westerns - you know, like Ms. Kitty. Really, how much of a difference is there between, smile and buy a drink or smile and buy one of our vases? So, in my opinion, being an Everleigh Girl was an interesting choice for turning into someone respectable. Anyway, Lilah is being blackmailed by her uncle Nick O'Shea into stealing some letters from the owner of Everleigh's Auction House. He has promised her if she does this one more thing for him, he will leave her alone - forever. So, she agrees. The problem enters in the form of Christian "Kit" Stratton, Viscount Palmer.

Kit is a war hero - a war hero celebrity. Everywhere he goes he is recognized and gushed over. He has been put on a very big pedestal and it is one pedestal he doesn't want to be on. He is uncomfortable with his status as a war hero, embarrassed, ashamed and quietly simmering at the incompetence by his superiors who were responsible for the high loss of life in his regiment. So, a war hero is the last thing he wants to be. He doesn't want the reminder. However, not everyone calls him a hero. There is one man, a renegade Russian general, who blames Kit for some atrocities that happened. Now, these atrocities never happened, but it doesn't matter to General Bolkhov because, you see, General Bolkhov is one crazy fanatical lunatic and he's out for revenge. His method of seeking revenge is to murder anyone who is close to Kit and he has started with Kit's brother. And, that is just the beginning of a very convoluted plot which takes Kit, Lily, and Catherine out to the country to try to draw out Bolkhov. There are all kinds of plans and schemes in this story. Kit catches Lily stealing the papers from Peter Everleigh's desk. Kit then blackmails Lily into helping him court Catherine. Lily is supposed to tell Catherine good things about Kit, so Kit can find out about the Russian who has put some things in the auction house. Also, Kit thinks it's a good thing to marry Catherine, which is another reason for Lily to build him up to Catherine. Now, how he thinks Lily is going to do this I don't know. Catherine has to be one of the meanest, snottiest, coldest women ever and she doesn't particularly care for Lily. Did I happen to mention that some of the plotline didn't really make any sense? Kit is sort of courting Catherine, but lusting after Lily, and Lily is trying to be the bestist assistant Catherine has ever had and Catherine is being cold and snotty and there is a mad Russian running around murdering people and laughing manically and Kit's mother doesn't want to hide out and his sister is doing the teenager pout and Nick O'Shea is being a bad guy, but can't be toooo bad because he will be the next hero and Kit and Lily can't help themselves and have sex, then Kit proposes to Catherine and Lily tries to save Kit and Kit says no no, you must go but she doesn't and Lily and Catherine become drunk and become friends and save themselves. The end.

Actually, this was a good book - not great, but good. The heroine had a more developed characterization. Lily knew what she wanted, she didn't back down, she was mature and she always did what she felt was right. She was stronger than Kit in many ways, and I liked her a lot. I would have liked this book a whole lot better if the plots had been less convoluted. It seemed to me that the author had to work awfully hard just to find a different way to bring a couple together. And, of course, there was the distraction of Catherine and Nick. All the way through this book I wanted to read Catherine and Nick's story. Because these two secondary characters were so strong for me it made Lady be Good stand in the shadow of a future book.

Time/Place: 1880s England
Sensuality: Warm/Hot

Monday

A Season to be Sinful by Jo Goodman

August 3, 2015
"Yeah, I've been searchin'
A-a searchin'
Oh, yeah, searchin' every which a-way
Yeah, yeah
Oh, yeah, searchin'
I'm searchin'
Searchin' every which a-way
Yeah, yeah"


http://www.jogoodman.com/

Hard to believe, but I ran out of books to read. Well, let me rephrase that. I ran out of books I wanted to read. Started some, but them down - not in the mood for others - some are
tooooo emotional, tooooo tortured, I just have to be in the right mood to pick some of them up (can you say Mary Balogh?) So, I've been looking for some which I might have overlooked. Maybe there's an author out there I gave up on, or for some reason just never picked up. Well, I found me some and I picked them based on some high high highly ranked reviews. One of them I picked was Jo Goodman's A Season To Be Sinful. I don't believe I've ever read one of her books, although one of her covers looks familiar, which doesn't really mean anything. And, Ye-Haw, she writes westerns - not really my cup of tea. So, this will be my first Jo Goodman.

When this story begins, our hero, Alexander Grantham, Viscount Sheridan, aka Sherry, is strolling through the park with his soon to be ex-mistress. He is in the process of ending their affair, so he is a tad bit distracted. He does not see the three small pickpockets headed his way, nor does he see the guy with the knife headed his way. Not to worry, someone sees the guy with the knife. Lucky for Sherry, unlucky for our plucky heroine Lily. Lily has been keeping an eye on the three pickpockets, spots the knife guy and shields Sherry from the plunge met for him, injuring herself in the process. Havoc ensues in the process, Lily is rushed back to the London slums by her pickpockets-in-training boys, Pinch, Dash, and Midge. Sherry is left wondering what just happened.

Days later Lily is dying from her wounds, so her "boys" Pinch, Dash, and Midge go get Sherry and insist that he save her. Sherry is willing to do so, because he believes Lily may have some knowledge as to who might be trying to murder him. Once Lily regains consciousness they agree to form a partnership of sorts. Both Sherry and Lily have secrets, pain and are full of angst, but the woe-is-me feeling was not overwhelming in this book. In fact, there were numerous moments of fun with a couple of really sweet, poignant times thrown in just to make this story fascinating.

While Sherry and Lily were both well developed characters who were both quite interesting and I loved watching them together, it is the three supporting characters of Pinch, Dash, and Midge which bring this book to life. Whether these three hooligans are on their own or whether they are adding to the characters of Sherry and Lily, it doesn't matter because they are a force to be reckoned with. It was a treat to watch them interact with Lily - the four of them together were a true family. There was also some amazing writing when the three boys became part of Sherry's world. These three characters have to be some of my favorite secondary people this year and they are also some of the best children I've seen in a book for a long time.

Overall, I was glad I chose this story to read.  It was a true delight. It wasn't perfect, but it was pretty darn close. I highly recommend that if you haven't read A Season to be Sinful that you don't wait any longer. Go ahead pick it up and enjoy!

Time/Place:Regency England

Dearest Rogue by Elizabeth Hoyt

July 27, 2015
When the mood strikes.

http://www.elizabethhoyt.com/

I started Dearest Rogue, part of the Maiden Lane series, in May when it was first released. I don't know, it must have been the mood I was in or something, but Phoebe, our heroine, just didn't sit well with me. So, I sat the book aside for later. Well, now it's later and I've learned that sometimes one should set things aside for a better mood to come along. This time I found Dearest Rogue to be a very charming read.

In this book we have the surly Captain James Trevillion. He's surly because when he was off fighting his horse fell on him and now he has a bum leg. Or, he could be surly because he has a secret from his youth and he won't tell anyone what it is. Or, he could be surly because he's head over heels in love with Lady Phoebe Batten, the blind woman he is being paid to guard. Or, maybe it's all three of those things - read the book and find out.

Then we have Phoebe. If you have been reading any of the other books in the Maiden Lane series, you will know that Phoebe is the sister of Maximus Batten and that she is also blind. She was also in danger of being kidnapped, which is why James Trevillion is guarding her. Now, Maximus is an over-protective brother and she resents the prison he has put her in because he is worried about her. Which is why she is also so very prickly with James Trevillion - he is the guard who is there everywhere she turns. She cannot go anywhere without him being there. She feels suffocated. She wants to be free and that desire causes her to do things that put her in danger. But, after one of many kidnapping attempts, things change.

When an attempted kidnapping of Phoebe fails, James blames himself for it almost succeeding. He knows that his feelings for Phoebe are a distraction preventing him from properly protecting her and he resigns. For Phoebe, his resignation is a pivotal moment. Someone who used to be irritating and in the way is now someone she misses very much.  Unbeknownst to her, James is still investigating to find the person responsible for the attempted kidnapping. And then she is kidnapped again. James takes over, he finds Phoebe and they gallop off to the wild countryside to hide until the mystery can be solved. He lets Maximus know he's taken her but doesn't tell him where. Considering the time period, this was a bit of a stretch. We the reader must accept that the over-protective Maximus will allow his innocent, blind sister to go off "who knows where" with a man, unchaperoned. But, accept it we must, because that's what happens.

It is during this time that James and Phoebe's relationship changes from antagonistic to passionate.  The slow building of one kind of tension to another kind was well-written.  I loved watching Phoebe "see" James through her other senses. I also loved how James tried to back off on the over-protectiveness. There was a wonderfully written scene when he lets Phoebe loose and stands backs as she trips, falls, and stumbles, even injures herself but still comes out of the adventure whole. It was a growing time for both of them.  It is also during this "hiding" time that we learned a little bit more about James' background. We are introduced to his father, sister and niece. We learn why James has such a strong need to protect.

What diminished the story somewhat for me were the number of times Phoebe's kidnapped. One, ok we need that to set up the plot. But two, then three, four, really, she became quite a hand at being thrown into a carriage. It was a little silly. How many kidnappers does it take to change a light bulb? Lots.

While Phoebe and James' story wasn't as dark as previous Hoyt tales, the secondary characters in the book more than made up for that. The Duke of Montgomery. He's is a very strong character, almost overwhelming, very enigmatic and had me wondering if he was going to eventually be a hero or a villain. He was rather creepy in this book, but a mesmerizing creepy.

Overall, this is a richly-textured book, with just a few bumps and a quickly wrapped up ending. While not one of Ms. Hoyt's amazingly outstanding books, this was a pleasant read with a very engaging couple. Next up: Asa Makepeace.

Time/Place: England-Cornwall 1740s
Sensuality:Warm/Hot

Wednesday

Hi-diddle-dee-dee...Upcoming Historical Releases!!! August 15 to September 14, 2015

July 21, 2015
Authors with an asterisk*, I'm picking up! For more Upcoming Releases that aren't historical see Hey Delia!!! For: August 15, 2015 to September 14, 2015.
Amanda Forester

The Highlander's Bride
Highland Trouble series
September 1
Anna Schmidt

The Drifter: Last Chance Cowboys
Where the Trail Ends series
September 1
Elizabeth Lane

The Countess and the Cowboy
August 18
Karen Hawkins*

The Prince and I
Oxenburg Princes series
August 25
Karen Ranney*

Scotsman of My Dreams
MacIain series
August 25
Kelly Bowen

You're the Earl That I Want
The Lords of Worth trilogy
August 25
Kerrigan Byrne

The Highwayman
To Tempt a Highlander series
September 1
Laura Trentham

An Indecent Invitation
Spies and Lovers series, ebook
August 25
Lauri Robinson

The Rebel Daughter
Daughters of the Roaring Twenties series
August 18
Maggie Robinson*

The Reluctant Governess
Ladies Unlaced series, ebook
August 19
Marissa Campbell, debut

Avelynn
September 8
Mary Balogh*

Only a Kiss
Survivor’s Club series
September 1
Mary Brendan

Tarnished,Tempered and Tamed
August 18
Mary Jo Putney

Not Always a Saint
The Lost Lords series
August 25, 2015
Meredith Duran*

Luck be a Lady
Rules for the Reckless series
August 25
Sabrina York

Hannah and the Highlander
Untamed Highlanders series
September 1
Sally MacKenzie*

What to Do With a Duke
Spinster House series
August 25
Shana Galen

The Rogue You Know
Covent Garden Cubs series
September 1
Sophia James

Marriage Made in Shame
The Penniless Lords
August 18
Sue-Ellen Welfonder

To Desire a Highlander
Scandalous Scots series
August 25
Tessa Dare*

When a Scot Ties the Knot
Castles Ever After
August 25