Sunday

The Duchess in His Bed by Lorraine Heath

September 15, 2019
Who is that Masked Woman

https://www.lorraineheath.com/

The Duchess in His Bed, by Lorraine Heath is the fourth installment of Sins for all Seasons series. If that doesn’t ring a bell, this is the series with the Trewlove family. You remember them; they are five siblings who were raised by Ettie Trewlove. Ettie Trewlove was a baby buyer. It is my understanding that a baby buyer is someone who is paid to take the illegitimate children of aristocratic men and dispose of them. But Ettie could not get rid of four of these children. She raised them as her own. It was a hard life and she occasionally had to take in men for money so these children could survive. She has a child of her own from one of those encounters, but that story is the last book in the series. As you can imagine, there are some strong feelings the men in this family have about illegitimacy, fathers, and raising children. This story is about Aiden Trewlove, who owns the Elysium Club. The Elysium Club is for women of the ton who want to gamble, take chances, and have contact with the opposite sex. Wait a minute, didn’t I just read a book not too long ago about a brothel for women? I still have a theory that authors converge at ye’ ole watering hole and talk about their latest idea. That would explain some books being so similar. I don’t have a problem with that, I just have an issue with keeping my series’ apart.

Aiden is one of those heroes who is a strong alpha, his sensuality just oozes off the pages. I liked Aiden, and even though he lives on the darker side, he is an honorable man. He’s been watching a masked woman walk through his club. He is interested, in fact he has a big case of instant-lust. He wants to find out who she is, and what she is doing at his club. Little does he know that he’s looking at a Romanceland heroine who has a plan. Oh no, not another plan!!

Well maybe it’s not exactly her plan, maybe it’s her brother’s plan. Meet Serena Sheffield, Duchess of Lushing, the woman everyone walks all over. Here’s the deal. Serena sacrifices herself all the time for her family. She married a man she didn’t love for her family, and now that he’s dead there is a bigggg problem. Her brother has run up a bunch of debts, her two younger sisters cannot make the correct entrance into society because Serena is about to lose the stability, and money of the Dukedom. Why? Because she never gave birth to an heir. Of course, she could be pregnant. But she isn’t. Boss! The plan, the plan, the plan! Serena’s brother strongly suggest she find someone who can do the job of impregnating her. Hence her trip to the Elysium Club. She needs to find someone she can seduce, and seduce fast.

Well, Aiden volunteers, except he wants to do it his way. Slowly. Serena doesn’t have all that much time if she’s going to meet the deadline. In case you can’t put two and two together, let me tell you what the big problem is going to be for these two to overcome. Aiden absolutely does not want any illegitimate children. If he has a child, he wants to be part of that child’s life. Serena, the woman who has activated his Doodle Toad needs to have a child, and that child will be raised by only her. Well, that is a conundrum for our couple. What that means for us the reader is that there is a lot of foreplay in this book! Woo-hoo!

Once again I am torn when reviewing a book. There was quite a lot about this book that I just loved. I loved the slow build of the “love” story. The sensuality was intense between Aiden and Serena. There are a lot of choices which are made in this book. A lot of struggles and solutions which some readers may not agree with. I have to admit, I struggled with liking Serena. The things she valued were materialistic. Even though she is sacrificing herself for her sisters, her reason is she wants them to have a place in society. Money and standing in society seem to override everything else. Even when she tells Aiden the truth about her desire to have a child. Even when she admits she loves him. Even when she knows the amount of pain she is causing the man she says she loves, she still plows straight ahead with her plans. It seemed to me that Aiden sacrificed the most in this relationship. Ms. Heath wrote some powerful scenes for Aiden. These scenes showed just how much Serena’s plan was destroying him. There was a time in this story that neither one of our characters thought about what would be good for the child.

For me, this story was an emotional roller coaster. One moment I like Serena and Aiden, the next moment my mouth would drop due to their cruelty. I do sort of recommend this story, but be prepared to wonder why Aiden loves Serena. Be prepared not to like Serena, but also be prepared to enjoy seeing the entire Trewlove family again. The Trewlove is really a dark series, there’s a lot of meat in the plot line, a lot of vivid scenarios. I’m just not toooo sure I liked the heroine in this book.

Time/Place: England 1872
Sensuality: Hot

Saturday

Marry in Secret by Anne Gracie

September 14, 2014
First you say you will and then you won’t
 

https://www.annegracie.com/
Marry in Secret is the third book in the Marriage of Convenience series. I wanted to like this book, I really did. Anne Gracie has written some of my favorite witty books, but I had some issues with this one. I will be honest, I have a problem with young heroes and heroines. Yes, I know in the “old” days people married younger. Supposedly, they were more mature. To which I say: hog-wash. Just what is that assumption based on? A sixteen year old girl and a twenty-three year old boy/man are still young. I suspect even in the “olden” days their brains were not anymore developed than modern teens. I’m just happy we didn’t have flashbacks scenes between an underage girl and a young man who should have waited.  I wouldn’t have any problems with them being a little older when they entered into their clandestine marriage.

When the story begins, Lady Rose Rutheford is marrying the Duke of Everingham. Knock, knock. Who’s there? It’s me, your dead husband, Thomas. Yes, Thomas Beresford shows up to disrupt his wife’s wedding. It’s been four years, and Rose doesn’t recognize him. Well, Thomas is a little miffed that the love of his life doesn’t remember what he looks like. I guess that is what you get for marrying a sixteen year old. See, their brains are not fully developed. Anyway, he’s changed, he’s not the young man she fell in love with. After she is given a few moments, she realizes he is still the love of her life, and wants to remain married. Guess what! Thomas now changes his mind and starts the I’m-not-good-enough routine and tries to talk her into an annulment. This begins the up and down, back and forth woe-is-me routine that Thomas goes through. I eventually became irritated with his love-me-or-don’t-love-me-I-can’t-love-you routine.


There was an interesting back-story of Thomas’ capture by Barbary pirates, and his determination to free his fellow crew-members. There is a distracting mystery as to why his ransom was not paid while he was imprisoned by the pirates. But the mystery really was not mysterious, and if you have ever read any kind of mystery book, you should be able to spot the villain from far, far away. Why Thomas didn’t know right away who did the bad deed was beyond me, the villain did a number of things that any hero with a brain would have spotted. 


Scene stealer. The Duke of Everingham is a scene stealer. He is just the type of male character I love. He is a cold-fish, a block of ice. He has tons of rules and regulations he expects his wife to do. I’m rubbing my hands together with glee in anticipation of his downfall. We all know he isn’t going to get the kind of wife he wants, but the one he deserves. I hope his upcoming book is in the same caliber as Ms. Gracie’s The Perfect Rake. 


I didn’t find this story to be one of my favorite Ms. Gracie books. Neither the hero nor heroine were fully developed. There was too much time spent on a mystery that wasn’t a mystery. And, there was waaaaay toooo much hero angst, back-n-forth, annul me, don’t annul me. I wanted to reach into the book and smack him. He whined on and on about not being good enough. He also couldn’t spot the right-in-front-of his face villain. I was disappointed in the hero, and I was disappointed in this story.


Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Warm

Friday

Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean

September 13, 2019
Sometimes Some People Forget Which Series is Which

http://www.sarahmaclean.net/

Yes, I confess. Sometimes I get my series’ mixed up. I was surprised when the wrong characters showed up in Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean. Well, they really weren’t the wrong characters; they were in the right book. It was me! My brain was in the wrong series! It was like eating chocolate when you’re expecting vanilla. I had to turn my brain on in order to remember…hey, this series had the maniac father in it, not the baby-buying mother! It was a lot of hard work turning my little grey cells on. This is the Bareknuckled Bastard series. As I recall, in the previous books, Ms. MacLean was a bit vague as to what was going on with the main characters. And, she is not all that forthcoming in this book. So we still don’t get to know what the big secret of the Bareknuckled Bastards is. I’m beginning to believe I’m not a fan of the big secret plot arching through an entire series. When the series is more than two books, and the spacing between books is more than six months, it is hard to remember that there is a biggggg mystery lurking in the shadows. Ms. MacLean does give us a small mystery surrounding Hattie’s brother. That mystery is solved by the end of the book, actually before the end. I guess the purpose of the small mystery was to make us happy. But, it was mediocre at best, and a waste of space.

This book centers on the romance between Beast, aka Whit, and the woman meant for him, Lady Henrietta Sedley, aka Hattie. Hattie has a plan. Groan. Oh no! Not that! It is a typical Romanceland plan. This plan even has a name, The Year of Hattie. She named it herself. She has decided that if she loses her virginity, no man will want to marry her. Then her father will agree to let her take over the family business. Evidently she has a better business head then her brother, but her father doesn’t’ believe women can think. What losing one’s virginity has to do with business is beyond me. If only he knew about her plan, he would know his assumptions were correct. Anyway, Hattie and her friend Nora are on their way to a brothel. Not just any brothel, mind you, but an upscale brothel for women. When she climbs into the carriage she is using to transport her to the brothel, there is a surprise waiting for her. On the floor is a very handsome man. It is not every day Hattie finds a handsome man on her carriage floor. What is he doing on the floor you may ask? Well, it was not his idea. Someone conked him over the head, tied him up, stuck a gag in his mouth, and put him in the carriage. Since this is a family carriage, she immediately suspects her not-so-bright brother of doing the dirty deed. The tied up man happens to be Beast, aka Whit. She is irritated with her brother, because Beast is not a person with a sense of humor. In fact, the Beast’s family is scary.  


So what does a woman do when she finds a handsome man tied up in her carriage? Well, she talks to him, they chat, they flirt, they kiss. She unties him, opens the door of the carriage, and shoves him out. When he gets up off the ground he is charmed, (sort of). He wants to know who put him in the carriage, and just how Hattie is connected. He is not finished with Hattie - not by a long shot. He has a ton of underground connections. Because of these connections, it isn’t long before he has found Hattie at the brothel. Guess what! His sister owns the brothel. How very convenient for Mr. Beast.


Hattie is once again surprised when instead of the man she requested to help her remove her virginity, her handsome companion from the carriage floor walks into the room. Surprise! He knows Hattie knows who kidnapped him and threw him in the carriage. Hattie deduces her brother not only conked the Beast on the head, but probably did a whole bunch more. Even though her brother is a ne’er-do-well, she decides to protect him from the Beast. Beast suspects the culprit is her brother, but he isn’t going to let Hattie know that he knows. It was all a bit silly. Then the story takes a turn away from its goofy set-up and focuses in on the dynamics between Hattie and Beast. Those dynamics were the best thing about the book. 


Hattie and Beast were both complex characters. Beast has tons of dark history; he is an incredibly angst-filled character. His part of this story is heavy-duty melodrama, almost Balogh-ish. Hattie and Beast had some great dialog, and some wonderful chemistry. 


Do not make Hattie a CEO.
We are told that Hattie is a top-notch business woman, but I wasn’t able to find any professional shrewdness in her character. In fact, she made one bad decision after another. She was a disappointment. If I read that a character makes wise business choices, I expect to see her make wise choices. Her actions did not blend with what we are told she was supposed to be. 


The villain, or is he? There is an overarching storyline concerning Ewan, Duke of Marwick. He is one of the Bareknuckle siblings, and he seems to be quite evil. Throughout the series, he has tried to kill his brothers. Or, at least that is what we are led to believe. He is insanely obsessive when it comes to the sister in the group. His portrayal in this series has been close to maniacal. He is just plain scary-creepy. But, we are not told too much about him, or his past interaction with the rest of the characters. Here is what I found interesting, if you read the sneak peek at the end of the story; you will find that the next book in the series is Daring and the Duke. It appears that Ewan, aka the creep, is the hero. I have always suspected that was the way the wind was blowing, but his character has been written to be loathsome. How Ms. MacLean is going to make this guy into a hero will be interesting to read. I’m fond of Ms. MacLean’s writing and I hope she does exceptionally well in explaining away his over the top craziness. It could be good or it could be a disaster. We will see.


The villain who disappeared. Hattie’s brother is one of those villains who sort of disappears half way through the book. He’s there at the beginning stealing cargo and hitting heroes over the head. But, once everyone figures out he did the bad stuff, he is just shuffled off to the Island of Forgotten Villains.


In the end, I’m not sure how I feel about Brazen and the Beast. I was interested in the love story of Hattie and Beast. I am interested in the overarching mystery, but I feel that the author is saving everything for a big bang at the end. That could mean that the storyline will be rushed, and the characters not fully developed. But, we shall see. Finally Ewan is such an obsessive maniac, I’m not sure he will be able to be redeemed. I guess if you have been following this series, then you should read this one. However, there may be a few bumps in the road for you. I will be reading the last book in the series. I hope Ms. MacLean has a good explanation for Ewan’s deranged actions.


Time/Place: England 1837
Sensuality: Hot

Wednesday

Congratulations RWA winners

Congratulations to all the 2019 RWA winners!!! And, I've even read some of them!!!

Historical Romance

Best First Book Winner
Marie Tremayne
Lady in Waiting
Reluctant Brides series
There are now three in this series
March 3, 2018


Historical Romance: Long Winner
Mia Vincy
A Wicked Kind of Husband
Right Kind of Love series
no news on the next book in the series
October 8, 2018 
Historical Winner: Short Winner
Kelly Bowen
A Duke in the Night
The Devils of Dover
there are three books in the series
February 8, 2018

And the other winners are: 
Contemporary Romance, Long Winner:  
Long Shot by Kennedy Ryan 
Contemporary Romance, Mid-Length Winner:  
Advanced Physical Chemisty by Susannah Nix
Contemporary Romance, Short Winner:  
The Bachelor's Baby Surprise by Teri Wilson
Erotic Romance Winner:  
Three-Way Split by Ella Winters
Mainstream Fiction:  
How to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan
Paranormal Romance: 
Dearest Ivie by J.R. Ward
Romance Novella: 
Bad Blood by M. Malone
Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements:  
The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano
Romantic Suspense: 
Fearless by Elizabeth Dyer
Young Adult Romance: 
My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma 

For the Golden Heart Award winners, Emma Merritt Service award, Librarian of the Year, Bookseller of the Year, etc, go to https://www.rwa.org/

Holy Plum Pudding!!!Upcoming Historical Romances!!!

Authors with an asterisk*, I'm picking up! For more Upcoming Releases that aren't historical see HEY DELIA!! September 15, 2019 to October 14, 2019. By the way, it is not my fault if a publisher changes the release dates - just so you know, they do not consult me. Let me also add this warning - since I am now using different sources, I am finding that one person's genre isn't necessarily another persons - sorry if your book is in the wrong genre.  
**Book by an author who is either new to me or has fallen off of my list and I might read.

The leaves are on still the trees, but the holiday season seems to be stirring in Publisherville. You know what that means? That means bunches of author's writing anthologies/novellas. Just so you know, I do not know if the holiday anthology books are new or reprints. 

Historical Romance

Adrienne deWolfe
http://ladylawandthegunslinger.com
The Devil Plays with Fire
Lady Law and the Gunslinger series
September 25

Anabelle Bryant
http://www.anabellebryant.com/
London’s Late Night Scandal
Midnight Secrets series
September 24

Anna Bradley
http://www.annabradley.net
To Wed a Wild Scot
Besotted Scots series
September 17

Anna Harrington
http://www.annaharringtonbooks.com/
After the Spy Seduces
Capturing the Carlisles series
September 27

Caroline Linden*
http://www.carolinelinden.com
When the Marquess Was Mine
Wagers of Sin series
September 24

Christi Caldwell**
http://www.christicaldwellauthor.com
The Minx Who Met Her Match
The Brethren series, ebook,
October 11

Christi Caldwell
http://www.christicaldwellauthor.com
The Spitfire
Wicked Wallflowers series
September 17

Dawn Brower
http://www.authordawnbrower.com/
One Less Scandalous Earl
Bluestockings Defying Rogues series
September 24

Elisabeth Hobbes
http://elisabethhobbes.co.uk
A Midsummer Knight’s Kiss
September 17 – paper, October 1 – ebook

Eva Shepherd
Beguiling the Duke
September 17 – paper, October 1 – ebook

Grace Burrowes*
http://www.graceburrowes.com/
Emily Larkin
http://www.emilylarkin.com
Love and Other Perils, novella
October 8
Heather Grothaus
http://www.heathergrothaus.com
The Laird's Vow
Sons of Scotland series
September 17

Julie Eaton
http://www.jillianeaton.com
The Autumn Duke
A Duke for All Seasons
September 24

Julia Justiss*
http://www.juliajustiss.com/
The Awakening of Miss Henley
September 17 – paper, October 1 – ebook

Laura Lee Guhrke*
http://lauraleeguhrke.com/
Heiress Gone Wild
Dear Lady Truelove series
September 24

Lauren Smith
http://www.laurensmithbooks.com
The Earl of Kent
League of Rogues series
October 1
Leigh Greenwood
Rosanne Bittner
Linda Broday
Margaret Brownley
Anna Schmidt
Amy Sandas
Longing for a Cowboy Christmas, anthology
September 24

Liz Tyner
https://www.liztyner.com/
It’s Marriage or Ruin
September 17 – paper, October 1 – ebook

Lynn Winchester
http://www.LynnWinchester.com
A Lady Never Tells
September 23
Madeline Hunter*
Mary Jo Putney
Sabrina Jeffries
Seductions on a Snowy Night, novella
September 24

Marguerite Kaye*
http://www.margueritekaye.com
Bronwyn Scott
http://bronwynswriting.blogspot.com/
Invitation to a Cornish Christmas
September 17 – paper, October 1 – ebook

Mary Jo Putney
http://www.maryjoputney.com/
Once a Spy
Rogues Redeemed
September 24

May McGoldrick
http://www.MayMcGoldrick.com
Highland Jewel
Royal Highlander series
September 24

Michelle Willingham
http://www.michellewillingham.com
The Highlander and the Governess
September 17 – paper, October 1 – ebook

Michelle Willingham
http://www.michellewillingham.com
The Sweetest Christmas, ebook
September 24

Minerva Spencer
http://minervaspencer.com/
Scandalous
The Outcast series
September 24

Sally MacKenzie
http://www.sallymackenzie.net/
The Merry Viscount
Widow's Brew series
October 1

Sara Bennett
http://www.sara-bennett.com/
Meant to Be
Pendleton Manor series
September 27

Scarlett Scott
http://www.scarlettscottauthor.com
Wicked in Winter
Wicked Winters series
September 26, ebook

Stacy Reid
http://www.stacyreid.com
The Sins of Viscount Worsley
Forever Yours series
September 23

Tammy Andresen
http://tammyandresen.com/books/
Earl of Dryden
Wicked Earls' Club series
September 24
Historical Fiction

Ginny Dye
http://www.avoiceintheworld.com/
Courage Rising
Bregdan Chronicles series
September 29

Heather Morris
https://www.heathermorris.com.au/
Cilka’s Journey, sequel
October 3

Kate Quinn*
Stephanie Dray
Laura Kamoie
E. Knight
Heather Webb
Sophie Perinot
Ribbons of Scarlet, anthology
October 1

Susan Higginbotham
http://www.susanhigginbotham.com
The First Lady and the Rebel
October 1

Tracy Chevalier
http://www.tchevalier.com/
A Single Thread
September 17

A Warriner to Seduce Her by Virginia Heath - Warriner Book 4

August 21, 2019
"The party's over, it's time to call it a day"  
Betty Comden and Adolph Green

https://www.virginiaheathromance.com/
And now on to the fourth book in the Wild Warriner series, and my favorite of the group. A Warriner to Seduce Her is Jake’s story. And, in this story we are introduced to the Elmer Fudd spies from the Kings Elite series – although they seem to be smarter in this book then in their own series.

Jake, of all the brothers, seems to be a little separate from the group. He appears to be a loose screw, a lady’s man, but sometimes appearances can be deceptive.

There’s a bad group of people working against England. The King’s Elite think they know one of the members of this group, Lord Crispin Rowley. They need to infiltrate this group – somehow. Rowley has a niece who just might fit the bill. What is needed is a master seducer who can work his wiles on her and get the information needed. They call in Jake, even though his Mr. Toad should have fallen off a long time ago, he is still the man for the job. He has never set eyes on Felicity Blunt, but he doesn’t think there should be a problem, no woman can resist him. She’s a country bumpkin fresh out of a convent, how hard could it be to seduce info out of her. At least that’s what he thinks. As I said before, he’s never met Felicity Blunt.

Felicity Blunt was a treat! What a great heroine. Yes, she may be an innocent spinster, she may be from the country, fresh from the convent. She may even wear glasses. But Felicity is no dumb cookie. She’s wise to the ways of rakes, having worked in a convent which takes in unwed mothers. She’s seen the results of male seduction close up.

The scene when they first met was very humerous. Jake observes a woman sneaking across the room, turtle-like. He watches her, intrigued. Felicity is trying to avoid the suitor her uncle has chosen for her. She is without her glasses, so things are a bit of a blur. Anyway, she ends up in an alcove with Jake. They talk, and he soon realizes that she is the woman he has been ordered to seduce. He starts with his very practiced seduction. But instead of falling for his charms she tells him to knock it off, that she’s not in the mood for any rakes. Now, she really intrigues him. He soon forgets that he has been ordered to seduce her.

Jake and Felicity begin a friendship which quickly turns into something else. As with all the books in the series when dealing with secrets, Felicity confides her fear of her uncle to Jake. The tension builds for us the readers and for Jake. As Jake falls more and more in love with Felicity, he knows he must tell her about his assignment, but he is afraid of losing her. We the readers also know he should tell her, because of the eventual pain. I actually could not sleep until this part of the book was over. I must admit I was hoping he would go against the Romanceland hero standard and speak up. But, of course he delayed too long.  There was a nice grovel scene.

I loved this story, I loved the plotline, the secrets that both the main character had. Ms. Heath does not stretch out the problems too long and everything comes to a lovely end. We see Jake’s family dynamics again; we watch as Jake finally shows the world his true self.

Overall I was enchanted with the entire Wild Warriner series, this one is my favorite followed by Jamie’s story, then Jack, and lastly Joe. This is a series that historical romance readers should read.


Time/Place: Regency Engalnd
Sensuality: Warm/Hot 

A Warriner to Tempt Her by Virginia Heath - Warriner Book 3

August 21, 2019
Warriner Number 3 - Joe
 
https://www.virginiaheathromance.com/

On to the third book in the Wild Warriner series, A Warriner to Tempt Her. This story is about the smart Warriner brother, Joe. He is a doctor, so he must be smart. He also seems to be a little obsessed with the local beauty, Clarissa the Incomparable. In fact, he seems to have a little bit of a stalker feel about him in the beginning. Right away, he struck me as a tad bit shallow. He also seems to jump to wrong conclusions, especially when it comes to the beauty’s sister, Isabella.

This Wild Warriner story is not quite as light-hearted as the previous story. Both of our characters have some deep-seated problems. When Joe first crosses paths with Isabella, he thinks she is rather standoffish, and rather snobbish. But she has a big problem from her past which is overwhelming her. She is suffering from a violent sexual assault. She is living with fear. She is afraid to be with people, afraid of crowds. Her parents are trying to help as best they can, considering the time they live in. Her doctor is a true example of a physician of that time. Isabella has already been subjected to a couple of her doctor’s treatments. Of course, the history of medicine always makes me shudder. I believe some of those treatments were still being used way into the 20th century. Anyway, Isabella is trying to fix herself. She is forcing herself to face some of her fears. Eventually she does heal herself – but its slow going.

Something that I have found consistent in the Wild Warriner series is that the antagonists don’t wait until the end of the story to confess their secrets. This leaves time for a more fully developed relationship between our couple.  I am also pretty impressed with the heroines in each of the books. Even though each of them had a different set of problems, they tried to overcome those problems themselves. I never had the feeling that these were TSTL women, nor were they overly stubborn. Even if they had support when they reached their goals, I had the feeling that they could have done it on their own.

While I liked Isabella quite a lot, I was less enchanted with Joe. Supposedly, this guy was a sensitive, smart, ahead-of-his-time doctor. However, his perception of the sisters, both Clarissa and Isabella was way off.  And his initial obsession with Clarissa was just a little icky. By the way, Clarissa is an unlikable woman in this book, and I didn’t like her very much when she had her own book, The Mysterious Lord Millcroft.

Spoiler: Just so you know the villain from the previous books gets his just desserts in this story.

Overall, this was my least favorite of the Wild Warriner series, and that was due mainly to the hero. I was never able to like him. But don’t let that stop you, this is still a good read.


Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Warm