Friday

Upcoming Historical Romances!!!!January 15 to February 14, 2015!!!!!

December 19, 2014
Authors with an asterisk*, I'm picking up! For more Upcoming Releases that aren't historical see Hey Delia!!! For: January 15, 2015 to February 14, 2015.
Bronwyn Scott

Breaking the Rake’s Rules
Rakes of the Caribbean series
January 20
Gwyn Cready

Just in Time for a Highlander
Scottish Borderlands series
February 3
Jillian Hunter*

Forbidden to Love the Duke
Fenwick Sisters Affairs series
February 3
Julia London*

The Devil Takes a Bride
The Cabot Sisters
January 27
Julia Quinn*

The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy
Smythe-Smith series
January 27, 2015
Karen Ranney

In Your Wildest Scottish Dreams
MacIains Trilogy
January 27
Kasey Michaels *

An Improper Arrangement
Little Season trilogy
January 27
Kelly Boyce

Salvation in the Sheriff’s Kiss
Salvation Falls series
January 20
Laura Lee Guhrke*

Catch a Falling Heiress
American Heiress series
January 27
Lily Dalton

Never Surrender to a Scoundrel
One Scandalous Season series
January 27
Margaret McPhee

The Lost Gentleman
Gentlemen of Disrepute
January 20
Michelle Styles

Taming His Viking Woman
Viking series
January 20
Sabrina Jeffries*

If the Viscount Falls
The Dukes Men series
January 27
Sarah McCarty

Ace’s Wild
Hell’s Eight series
January 27
Shanna Galen

Earls Just Want to Have Fun
Covent Garden series
February 3

Wednesday

My Lord and Spymaster by Joanna Bourne

December 17, 2014

It had to happen eventually.
http://www.joannabourne.com/

After an amazing run on Ms. Bourne's Spymaster series, I have finally come up against one story that wasn't quite as good as the rest. My Lord and Spymaster is an excellent book and I do recommend it; however, it's just a tad bit off. By itself it is a good read, but when standing with the rest of the books in the series it is the black sheep of the family.

Let's take a look at My Lord and Spymaster. We have Jess Whitby, who doesn't seem to be part of the continuing spy system. She's just a pretty smart cookie and on top of that she is a mathematical genius. She has also managed to build up her father's shipping company without any help from him. In fact, her father seems to be a loser and has managed to get himself arrested.

Jess's connection with the spymasters circle is through the mysterious underworld boss Lazarus - he was there when she was young to play a surrogate father, sort of. Lazarus taught her the tricks of the trade, like pick-pocketing, picking locks, stealing, breaking and entering, murdering - those kind of things. You know I'm really undecided about the reoccurring character of Lazarus. At this point he seems to be a scary, nasty, thug who may have an occasional glimmer of humanity show through. So, I'm not sure about him, but I'm finding myself becoming more and more fascinated with him. But at this point he really isn't hero material - he is really a scary guy.

Now on to our hero Sebastian Kennett, a ship’s captain and the man mainly responsible for the incarceration of Jess' father. It will come as no surprise that there is a trust issue between Jess and Sebastian, but that doesn't stop this pair from falling in love with each other. As with all of Ms. Bourne's heroes, Sebastian is almost instantly smitten with Jess. Protecting her from herself and the people who are trying to kill her is his top priory. Also like Ms. Bourne's other heroes, Sebastian is an a-number one Alpha kind of guy - he uses passive aggressive gentleness to control his woman. Grunt.

There is a lot going on in this story and that may be some of the problem. There are just too many twists and turns going on - too many convoluted side plots to keep track of and that tended to be a bit of a distraction.

By the way, Jess has a pet ferret, Kedger, whom Sebastian refers to as a rat. There are some humorous moments between Sebastian and Kedger that had me smiling. It is Kedger who comes to the rescue of his beloved Jess in the end. Cute animal.

I have to say I wish allll of Ms. Bourne's books didn't end quite so abruptly. I think they need just a little bit more added. Maybe an itty bitty paragraph at the end would be helpful.

Bottom line: this was a good book, which I enjoyed reading. Jess and Sebastian make a delightful couple. I do recommend this story only with a  codicil - it loses a little when compared to the others in the series. However, don't let that stop you from enjoying My Lord and Spymaster.

Time/Place: 1811 England
Sensuality: Warm/Hot

Friday

The Spymaster's Lady by Joanna Bourne

December 12, 2014

Too bad Romanceland has been inundated with spies.

http://www.joannabourne.com/index.html

As I've said before, I try to stay away from Spy stories, mainly because at one time everybody and their brother was a spy; we were swamped with them. Besides that, some of them were just downright silly. I know I'm not the only reader who tries to navigate around the profusion of secret agents. However, as I am finding out, I almost missed out on some wonderful storytelling in the form of Joanna Bourne's Spymaster series.

The Spymaster's Lady is the third book in the series I've read and the second book in the series' timeline. Even reading them one right after another, and I've not grown tired tired of them. A lot of that is due to the dark secret gritty world Ms. Bourne has created. This book is an adventure to read, exciting to follow all the twists and turns down the paths that we are led.  Yes, sometimes we get lost and confused, but it's all great fun.

Even though this has some vividly drawn background and an extraordinary sense of place, it is mainly a character-driven story. And, not just the main characters of Annique and Grey but the secondary ones as well. In fact, alllllll the supporting characters in this book are colorful, well-developed inhabitants of the pages. It was wonderful being immersed for just a few hours in the many-faceted universe of Annique and Grey.

Since I'm glomming Ms. Bourne's work, I have become aware of a pattern. It seems to me that most of her characters have been in the underworld/spy/secret business since they were young. And, that is the case with Annique. Her parents were spies, and she was trained as a young child to follow in their footsteps. As a child, she had no idea the extent to which she was used by those around her or even what she was actually involved in. She was an innocent in the world of spies, at least when she was young. This also leads to some pretty poignant revelations later in the book when she finds out the depth of her parents' exploitation. Annique's age in this book is 19; however, she has the feel of someone who is more mature - she is a very old 19. She's devious, smart and pretty stubborn, which comes in handy when dealing with Grey.

Grey is quite a lot older than Annique (another pattern in Ms. Bourne's work) and he falls in love almost instantly. However, because he and Annique are playing cat and mouse, this isn't a normal romance. There is an abundance of tension, all kinds of tension - tension caused by secret plans, invasions, other spies, hiding, running, hiding, running and lust. Yes there is lust; however we do not have scene after scene of bedroom antics. What we have are two people who want each other very much and they talk about that desire. That desire is always simmering right below the surface. So, yes there are all kinds of wonderful tensions bombarding us from all sides, until the end when all that tension comes together in one big explosion.

I have noticed another pattern in Ms. Bourne's heroes: they all seem to know right away that the heroine is the woman for them and they don't seem to fight that knowledge. They are what I would call stealth seducers. They won't let up until they have the heroine enthralled - which might be really close to being possessive. Now, if I hadn't been glomming these books I may not have noticed these silent possessive seducers, but I have. However, at this point that doesn't bother me. I think that may be due to the fact that just when the hero becomes too quietly domineering, he backs off and allows breathing space for our heroine.

Overall, The Spymaster's Lady is another rip-roaring thrilling, story. I really don't like to gush - I'm really not the type of person who gushes, but I'm really enjoying these books.


Time/Place: England/France 1802
Sensuality: Warm/Hot

Wednesday

The Forbidden Rose by Joanna Bourne

December 3, 2014

Glomming is great!
http://www.joannabourne.com/
For those of you who are interested in the Spymasters series by Joanna Bourne, a word of warning. These books were not written and published in chronological order. So, even though The Forbidden Rose was the third book released, it is actually the first book in the series. This is the order they should be read:  The Forbidden Rose, The Spymaster's Lady, Rogue Spy, My Lord and Spymaster, and The Black Hawk. Of course, the way Ms. Bourne has written this series means that she can squeeze another book anywhere into the series - pretty tricky, Ms. Bourne!

The time period in The Forbidden Rose is 1794, and is one of those underutilized time periods for romance. Maybe that's because it was such an alarming time to have been born in that it doesn't make for a good romance, especially if one were living in France. Just the moniker "Reign of Terror" says it all. In this book we don't have Napoleon; we have an even more threatening villain, Robespierre. This may not be a good time period for romance (although I think it is,) but it's perfect for daring-do, spies, intrigue, thrills, chills, and chases down dark alleys.

The Forbidden Rose has spymaster William Doyle, who is looking for a list. By the way, he's one of those big, big, big heroes who comes awfully close to buffoonery, but not quite. Then we have Marguerite de Fleurignac, who runs an underground organization called LaFleche. She has organized a number of people to help aristocrats in escaping France and the ever-present guillotine. Why she's doing this isn't made perfectly clear since she doesn't seem to have a particular fondness for any of the people she's helped. Nonetheless, she's helping them flee, or she was until her cover was blown and now she's the one fleeing. Unbeknownst to her, Doyle is looking for her father because of some crime her father committed (or at least the British think he did). Doyle and Marguerite join forces. He knows who she is, she hides things from him, she knows he knows who she is, he knows she knows he knows. Their relationship was very interesting to watch because even though they are keeping secrets from each other there is a level of trust that binds them together. The dialogue between the two of them was wonderful.

As with the Rogue Spy, when you read this book you will become absorbed in the exciting and colorful storyline. The secondary characters are a superb bunch of people, especially Hawker who in this book is twelve or thirteen. He is wise to the ways of the dark streets way beyond his chronological age. The dialogue that comes out of his mouth is both amusing and poignant. He is a child who never had a childhood and I'm looking forward to his story, which is the last in the series.

As with Rogue Spy, The Forbidden Rose is a well-developed story that is much more than just a romance. It is a deeply beautiful, thrilling narrative and it was a pleasure to read. I highly recommend this book and am looking forward to the next in the group.

Time/Place: England/France 1794
Sensuality: Warm/Hot

Rogue Spy by Joanna Bourne

December 3, 2014
Enter at your own risk!

http://www.joannabourne.com/

Well, looks like I'm going to be glomming Joanne Bourne's Spymaster series. I'm not a big fan of spy romance books; I consider most of them to be filled with some of the most incompetent, stupid, undercover spy-secret-agents ever to fight against Napoleon. Based on most of these books, I often wonder just how Napoleon lost. However, it appears that Ms. Bourne's Spymaster series is a cut above other plodding, absurd spy tales. In fact, Rogue Spy was so exciting that by the end of the story I knew I had to go back and read the rest of the books in the series.

Rogue Spy is more than just a historical romance story. It is a story with a capital S. It is a thrilling narrative of two people falling in love, and along the way they weave their way through some pretty exciting intrigue.

Paxton is a spy who, when the narrative begins, is on his way to headquarters with his written confession of betrayal in hand. Evidently in a previous story it was discovered that he had been deceiving the English spy agency he worked for. It seems that he was a Cache', which is a group of orphaned French children who are trained by the Police Secrete of France and then implanted into strategic British families and used as spies. Another Cache' whose cover is about to be revealed is Camille Leyland, an English code breaker. Of course she is not English, she is also an abandoned child of the French Revolution and when she was young she was trained along with Pax, so Paxton and Camille have a history. Now they are thrown together to untangle the lies of a really bad guy. Let me say this about the bad guy - he's really bad. I was thrilled with his plotline because I had no idea where the "thriller" plot was headed. Ms. Bourne lead me down some pretty well-written alleys before the thrilling-nail-biting conclusion was revealed.

I loved Rogue Spy. I loved Pax and Camille, loved the secondary characters - they were all great! But what I loved the most was the great all-encompassing storytelling. I was sucked into a world of dark secrets, incredible intrigue, and thrilling action which I didn't want to end. I highly recommend this book.

Time/Place: France/England 1802
Sensuality: Warm/Hot

Monday

The Shocking Secret of the Guest at the Wedding by Victoria Alexander

November 22, 2014
"Mother the word that means the world to me."

http://www.victoriaalexander.com/

Let me get this off of my chest. I had problems with this book - it took forevvvvver to read. If my Nook was as cheap as a paperback it might have hit the wall. Besides the hamster-on-a-wheel plotline, there was another matter that I found irritating and it has to do with "possessive" words or the lack thereof.  There are three mothers in this story - three. Every single time those three mothers are thought about it is always "mother did this, "or" mother went there, "or" mother wore a hat, "or" mother kicked a horse." It is never "her" mother did this or "his" mother went there or "Teddy's" mother kicked a horse. Let me repeat, there are three mothers in this book! I had to read down through the paragraph/page/conversation to figure out which mother was being referenced. There are also fathers in the book, but only one has any children in the story so I could keep track of him.

Normally I love Victoria Alexander books. I love her sense of humor. Granted, there is a lot of 21st century vernacular in them, but that doesn't mean they aren't funny. Sadly to say the humorous moments in The Shocking Secret of the Guest at the Wedding were overshadowed by the lack of emotion from any of the characters in the book. I'm not sure what went wrong because at first glance this book should have worked.

Our hero, Jackson Quincy Graham Channing, a New York City banker finds out that his father isn't dead. Poor Jackson. For all of his 32 years he has been told that his father died before he was born. His mother and grandfather raised him - his life is all organized - he has a sort of fiancé - he's got a career - he's content. However, standing in the same room with him is his father - the one he thought was dead. To say his life is about to be disrupted is an understatement. It seems his mother has been keeping a secret; not only from him but from the man who is his father, Basil Channing. Needless to say Jackson and Basil are a little POed with Jackson's mother. Anyway, Jackson and Basil decide they want to get to know each other. They decide to go back to Basil's home in England, learn about each other and give Jackson the opportunity to become acquainted with the cousins he never knew he had.

In England is the Channing family, and they are also oblivious to the fact that Basil was married and fathered a child. They are also in the middle of planning a wedding with the help of our heroine, Lady Theodosia "Teddy" Winslow. Teddy is a wedding planner. Now, I had my doubts that a woman in that time period could be a wedding planner but I glossed over that. Anyway, Teddy is one of those stunning, long-legged, red-headed, lush heroines who instantly brings down stodgy heroes when they enter the room - and that's what happens in this book. That is also the only spark I could find in the book. I kept reading, plowing on, waiting for a connection, a spark - any kind of life springing off of these pages - but nothing happened.

Remember all those times we want our heroine and hero to talk to each other? Well Jackson and Teddy talk, they discuss, they plan, they harangue, they drone on and on and on. They have a pretend engagement - they love each other - Jackson wants to make it a real engagement - Teddy wants to be a professional, she can never marry - he loves her, he knows she loves him, she doesn't want him to know she loves him, she will be sad when he leaves on his adventure because she loves him. He talks to his father, she talks to her friends, her mother talks to her, his mother talks to his father. And let's not forget the Teddy's dead fiancé who shows up alive and well and in the mood for blackmail - which he has to talk about.

I never had a sense of any connection between Teddy and Jackson. They were just flat unexciting characters and Teddy was irritating in her "I want a career instead of a marriage with a man I love and who loves me" routine. I also never figured out what happened to drive Jackson's parent's apart; other than Basil wanting adventure, it was never fully explained. It also would have been nice if we had been able to see just how Basil and his wife were able to settle their differences. And, these were not just minor differences, these involved keeping a child from his father for 32 years.

Jackson is a beta hero and I usually love beta guys, but in this case he was more of a weenie than anything else. Maybe that could have been some of the problem. He just wasn't that dynamic. He was just all right, and heroes need to be more than just all right, even if they are beta guys.  The sensual chemistry between the pair was also missing. There are a few kisses and then some bed romping but it all seemed lackluster.

Sorry to say I can't recommend this book. Much to my surprise, it was a pretty bland offering from Ms. Alexander. Because of how much I love most of Ms. Alexander's books, this was a big disappointment. I'm not giving up on her; she's one of my auto-reads. It's just that this was a tedious read for me.

Time/Place: Bustle time in England
Sensuality: There is sex, however it's not sensual


Wednesday

Upcoming Historical Romances!!!

Authors with an asterisk*, I'm picking up! For more Upcoming Releases that aren't historical see Hey Delia!!! For: December 15, 2014 to January 14, 2015.
Amelia Grey

The Duke in My Bed
The Heirs’ Club of Scoundrels series
December 30
Bronwyn Scott

Playing the Rake’s Game
Rakes of the Caribbean series
December 16
Erin Knightley

The Earl I Adore
Prelude to a Kiss series
January 6
Jessica Peterson

The Millionaire Rogue
Hope Diamond series
January 6
Kathryn Albright

The Gunslinger and the Heiress
Heroes of San Diego series
December 16
Kelly Bowen, debut

I’ve Got My Duke to Keep Me Warm
The Lords of Worth series
December 16
Linda Broday

Texas Mail Order Bride
Bachelors of Battle Creek series
January 6
Margaret Moore

Bride for a Knight
December 16
Miranda Neville

The Duke of Dark Desires
The Wild Quartet series
December 30
*Rose Lerner

True Pretenses
Lively St. Lemeston series, ebook

January 13
Sara Luck

A Family for Maddie
December 30
Sherri Browning

An Affair Downstairs
Thornbrook Park series

January 6
Sophia James

Marriage Made in Money
The Penniless Lords series
December 16
*Tessa Dare

Say Yes to the Marquess
Castles Ever After series
December 30
Theresa Romain

Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress
The Matchmaker trilogy
January 6
Vanessa Kelly

How to Plan a Wedding for a Royal Spy
Renegade Royals series
January 6