Thursday

Heartless by Anne Stuart

June 22, 2018
Someone needs a copy editor
 

http://anne-stuart.com/
I try, I really, really try to ignore typos or the wrong word/s inserted into a sentence. You know the words I’m talking about, those words which are actually correct, but the author leaves a letter out, and of course the spell check will not catch it because – it’s not wrong. For instance, in this book, and I quote, “I doubt it would hock me.” Hock me? What does that mean? The heroine perchance has a side pork attached to her leg? Or maybe she needs money. What I’m pretty sure was supposed to be there was the word “shock”. But ‘twas not. I’m sure the word was supposed to be shock – but ‘twas not. If this had only happened once I wouldn’t be whining, but it didn’t and even though I didn’t count the number of times this happened, it was distracting – and sloppy. Don’t get me wrong, there is a reason I don’t count the mistakes, or complain (too much). Editing is a very hard job. Your brain lies to you, it makes you see the words you want to see. No matter how hard you try, you can read and reread and then turn to your bestest buddy in the whole wide world and they will miss stuff. Even those bestest buddies who went to college and had high marks in grammar – you know who you are. So, I understand, I feel your pain. But I feel my pain also. It only added to my overall reaction to this book. After seven long years of waiting for the next installment of the Rohan family, Heartless had the earmarks of a rush job. The overall feeling of this being a rush job, or something that just had to be finished just because. Much as I was looking forward to this Rohan installment, I was disappointed by it. You know, I am always up for one of Ms. Stuart’s manly-men-Steve Morgan bonehead heroes, even when I don’t like them.

As I said earlier, it’s been seven years since we were last visited by the House of Rohan. And, that is a long time for anyone to remember who did what to whom. But, I’ve reread this series quite a bit, so I didn’t have to injure my little brain-box too much to refresh my memory. Captain Lord Brandon, one of the Rohan’s, was injured in one of the wars in Afghan. He was a mess; his face was half-way destroyed and he almost died from injuries. What that means to my little Petunia’s is that one side of his face is allllll scarred and the other side of his face is beautiful to look at. He is a I-only-have-half-a-face hero. Lucky for him, he was nursed back to health by Emma Cadbury. 


Now Emma Cadbury happens to have made an unusual career choice for a heroine. She was a prostitute who eventually became a madam. She was, of course, forced into that career. So, her past isn’t one which would be conducive to being a member of society. Anyway, Brandon and Emma become quite close during his recovery. They fall in love, but she knows it will never work, so she runs away. While she is hiding from him, Brandon’s family finds him and takes him home. Well, Brandon slides into a blue-funk, to put it mildly. If you read the previous book, you will know he turned to opium and a group of sadistic mad-men called the Heavenly Host. The story ended with the group being destroyed and Brandon fighting to join the world. He is in Scotland recovering. He also doesn’t quite remember Emma, but he knows that there is some kind of memory just beyond his reach – something hiding in the shadows waiting to be brought back to life. 


Three years later Emma is attending a baptism for the newest little Rohan and Brandon grungily decides to journey from Scotland to attend. Because he doesn’t quite remember Emma, he is surprised when she tries to avoid him. Why is this strangely attractive woman trying to avoid him? And, thus begins the beginning of repeated maneuvers of him advancing and she retreating. She does a lot of retreating in this story. I lost track of the number of times she ran away from him. It was annoying. As you can imagine, Emma’s returns over and over again to the I'm-not-good-enough routine. Logically, being a prostitute, she probably wouldn’t be. But she was a nice prostitute. However, the poor me routine was constant, over and over, the neutrons in her brain cells kept turning – much like a hamster in a wheel. It was pretty tiresome. I’m not that stupid, you don’t have to beat me over the head to get the point across. I got it right away that she considered herself not good enough.  


The scene. For a lot of the book, I didn’t think Brandon was going to live up to the bad-boy temperament which Ms. Stuart endows her heroes – but he did. In their first sexual encounter, there can only be what I would call a forced seduction scene. She said no. I had a problem with this being included in the book. I was already having issues with this story, but this dropped the book down to a another level. Forced seduction is not seduction and definitely not romantic. It's a belittling of another person’s rights. I think the author should have taken a step back for a moment before she included this scene. While I am not a big fan of some romance author’s who are trying to make a political/religious statement or right some kind of world-wrong, I do think it is time the forced seduction in Romanceland was laid to rest. 


Anyway, once again I have to say I’m very disappointed by Heartless. I was so excited when I saw it was to be published. This story was not up to Ms. Stuarts normal standards. The pacing was off, there was pondering, pondering, pondering of the same thing over and over. It was filler. Maybe just too much time had passed between the previous book and this one. The story was rushed and had an incomplete atmosphere to it. Sorry to say, I cannot recommend Heartless. 


Time/Place: Georgian England
Sensuality:Warm/Hot/Disturbing

Wednesday

Too Wilde to Wed by Eloisa James

June 20, 2018
Sometimes things don't work if they don't make sense. 

http://www.eloisajames.com/

Well this is the second book in Eloisa James series about the Wilde family, and so far I’ve been disappointed. This is not up to par with a lot of Ms. James stories. I’m not sure if this one was rushed or if Ms. James was having trouble connecting the dots, but for me this story had a bit of a disjointed fill to it.

Ms. James is ending this particular steries with “sort of” cliffhangers. Oh, don’t worry my little Petunias, she finishes the main story. It’s just that she tacks on a cliffhanger. So, in the last one the secondary character of North aka Lord Roland aka Lord Roland Northbridge aka heir to a Dukedom has been dumped by his fiancĂ©e Diane Belgrave. Well, in the end of that book we see North finding Diane hidden away at a cottage with a baby in her arms. 


This book picks up two years later and North is returning to England after two years fighting in the American Revolutionary War. Imagine his surprise when upon his arrival he finds Diane ensconced at his brother’s house as a governess to his half-sister Artemesia. Artemesia also happens to be one of those children who talks as if they are thirteen when in all actuality they are two years old. But the really big surprise is that Diane’s bastard child is also living with North’ family. But wait, there’s more!! Everyone thinks that the little boy, Godfrey, is North’s child. My mind did stumble a bit at this point. When we left the first story, I thought the baby in Diane’s arms was a leddle baby, brand new. But according to this book, he’s four. Wouldn’t North’s family know he wasn’t the father? Wouldn’t his friend’s know? Wouldn’t everyone in society know that Diane wasn’t evvvveeeer pregnant? Most women get a large protrusion.  Wouldn’t North know? Anyway, this part of the story didn’t make all that much sense to me – and that was just the beginning of a lot of things that didn’t blend together logically. 


Well North takes the whole society-you-got-a-kid thing rather well. He’s not really upset, just puzzled. He’s not really upset that Diane is living in his father’s house, just puzzled. He’s sort of a low-key kind of guy. Anyway, it isn’t long before North and Diane are communicating with each other. It isn’t long before they discover that they didn’t really know each other when they were engaged. They were both pretending to be other people – not “other people, other people”, but different personas. He was trying to be what everyone thought a future Duke should be and she was trying to be what she was told a Duchess should be. They were both pretending, they were both very uncomfortable with the roles they were trying to take on. In the first part of the book we get to see them as they relearn each other and that was the nice part of the book. This part of the story was alllll about getting to know one another. Then Ms. James decided to throw some tension into the mix. The second part of the book was taken up mostly by a two year-old spouting wisdom, North proposing again and again and again and Diane turning him down again and again – at least when it came to becoming married. She didn’t have too much of a problem jumping into the sack with someone she wasn’t married to. Remember this is Georgian times, not the 21st century.


Here's the tension part. Diana has an aversion to being a Duchess. She has some idea she would not be qualified for it. She moans on and on about it. She doesn’t quite get the fact that if she was a Duchess, she could probably write her own rules. After numerous turn down of the North proposals she decides to strike out on her own. She has an idea, and it’s a doozy. She decides to take off and become a barmaid. Yes, you heard right. A barmaid. I admit, I had to lay the book down for that one. Nothing better than being a barmaid in Georgian England. I bet that would bring in some coin to help raise poor four year-old Godfrey. I was astounded that this was in the book, it was just so, I don’t know – silly. A barmaid. Yep, I want to work in a smelly, dangerous tavern in Georgian England because I am not fit to be a Duchess. 


But North saved her and they married and they went off to sunny Italy to not be a Duke or Duchess. I wasn’t really quite sure what was going on with the ending. 


To say that I’m disappointed in Too Wilde to Wed is an understatement. I admire Eloisa James, I love most of her books, but I’m not quite sure what the point of this one was. While it started out with a good idea, which might have been fun or romantic, it dissolved into odd pieces of things thrown together. There were things that didn’t make sense and a heroine who was just too juvenile for words. I can only hope the next Wilde book is better, or I might have to take a break from this series. 


Time/Place: Georgian England
Sensuality: Warm/Hot

Monday

June 11, 2018
There is Life After Twenty

http://www.marybalogh.com/

One of the many reasons I'm such a big fan of Mary Balogh is that she explores themes which aren’t always the trendsetter of the day, then turn them into something delightfully refreshing.  As far as I’m concerned, Mary Balogh is the queen of writing intense feelings. Someone to Care not only has a couple in which the female lead is older, but both the main characters are older than 20, nay older than 30 – one of them is in their 40s! It was appealing not to have to read about a young woman just out of puberty.

Mary Balogh has also tackled characters which are not necessarily likeable. Both of them have a distinct edge. Sometimes Ms. Balogh succeeds with these edges and sometimes she doesn’t. In this case, I believe she has succeeded in treating us to a delightful story with a fascinating couple. I really enjoyed watching this couple maneuver through the obstacles presented to them as they marched to their well-deserved HEA.

If you are following Ms. Balogh’s latest series, you will recall Viola Kingsley, Countess of Riverdale isn’t really the countess. It seems her husband was actually married to someone else when he married her. So, not only did her world come crumbling down around her feet, her children became illegitimate. In this book MS Balogh’s breaks away from the younger characters and focuses on forty-two year old Viola.

Viola is not taking her new standing in society very well. Even though her entire family and her husband-not-husband's family have surrounded her with love and support, she has rejected them. She has hidden away from her loved ones in the country and now calls herself Viola Kingsley. It is at a joyful family gathering; a christening for her grandchild that panic-doom-boo-hoo sets in. She abruptly flees from her family. When she stops at an inn, she notices someone from her past, Marcel Lamarr, Marquess of Dorchester.

Marcel has rather a rakish reputation, and it’s a well-deserved reputation. He remembers Viola. When he was young, he tried to seduce Viola – she said no. He moved on, he married, became a father, then a widower, but he has never forgotten Viola. So, when he spots her at the same inn, an idea takes form. He has some family duties he is avoiding. He suggests to Viola that they just shuck it all and make a mad dash to his cottage, far, far, away from family, and the weight which is pressing down on both of them. Much to his surprise, she takes him up on it. And, soon Viola and Marcel are on a road trip, where they are free to indulge in their lustful feelings. Along the way they become friends, lovers, confidants, and uncover angst-filled pasts. Here’s the thinking on their plan: what do they have to lose? They’re adults, they don’t have to answer to anyone. Who cares what they do? They can be irresponsible it they want to be, can’t they? Well the answer to that my little Petunia’s is no, they can’t be irresponsible.

While Marcel and Viola are traveling around, going to fairs, enjoying life and each other’s company both of their families are barreling down the roads after them. This chase allows us to visit with some of the characters from the previous books. And, that was fine. The chase scenes with the other characters did not overwhelm the telling of Marcel and Viola’s story.

There is a scene in this story which might disturb some readers – spoiler. Marcel mentions numerous times in the book that he killed his first wife. Well, as we all know in Romanceland that doesn’t always mean anything. However, in this case he did. It was an accident. While some may consider him abusive, I didn't. There isn’t any mention anywhere in the entire book which would indicate he was a violent man. What he did was strike out while trying to save his child and his wife lost her balance. I believe he acted as any human would have acted while defending his child. And, there would have been plenty of angst and guilt he would have felt to be the cause of someones death. But is was an accident. When I read this story I saw no signs of abusive behavior, nor anything which would make him less of a hero. I just saw a man consumed with alllllll kinds of pain caused by a disaster beyond his control.

Overall, I do recommend this story. I loved the characters and was thrilled that at last we had some mature people to read about. Thank you Ms. Balogh.


Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality:Warm/Hot

Wednesday

Holy Cannoli!! Upcoming Historical Romance and Historical Fiction Releases!!!!

Authors with an asterisk*, I'm picking up! For more Upcoming Releases that aren't historical see HEY DELIA!! June 15, 2018 to July 14, 2018. By the way, it is not my fault if a publisher changes the release dates - just so you know, they do not consult me.
Diane Gaston
http://www.dianegaston.com
A Lady Becomes a Governess
The Governess Swap
June 19
Erica Ridley
http://www.ericaridley.com
Lord of Secrets
Rogues to Riches series
Jun 15
Grace Burrowes*
http://www.graceburrowes.com/
My Own True Duchess
True Gentlemen series
June 19
Johanna Lindsey
http://johanna-lindsey.com
Marry Me By Sundown
July 10
Julia London*
http://www.julialondon.com/
Tempting the Laird
Highland Grooms series
June 26
Lauri Robinson
http://www.laurirobinson.blogspot.com
Diary of a War Bride
June 19
Laurie Benson
http://lauriebenson.net
One Week to Wed
Sommersby Brides series
July 1
Linda Broday
http://www.LindaBroday.com
To Catch a Texas Star
Texas Heroes series
July 3
Lucy Ashford
http://www.lucyashford.com/
The Master of Calverley Hall
July 1
Lynna Banning
http://www.lynnabanning.net
Marianne's Marriage of Convenience
July 1
Lynsay Sands
http://www.lynsaysands.net
The Highlander's Promise
Highlanders series
June 26
Manda Collins
http://www.mandacollins.com
One for the Rogue
Studies in Scandal series
June 26
Minerva Spencer
http://minervaspencer.com/
Dangerous
The Outcast series
June 26
Sabrina Jeffries
http://www.sabrinajeffries.com
The Risk of Rogues
Sinful Suitors series
July 2, 2018
Sarah MacLean*
http://www.sarahmaclean.net
Wicked and the Wallflower
Bareknuckle Bastards series
June 19
Shana Galen
http://www.shanagalen.com
An Affair with a Spare
Survivors series
July 3
Historical Fiction

Beatriz Williams
http://www.beatrizwilliams.com 

The Summer Wives
July 10

Meredith Jaeger
http://www.meredithjaegerauthor.com
Boardwalk Summer
June 19

Janie DeVos
http://www.janiedevos.com/
The Rising of Glory Land
Glory Land series
June 19

Suzanne Rindell
http://suzannerindell.com
Eagle and Crane
July 3

C W Gortner
http://www.cwgortner.com
The Romanov Empress
July 10

Christian Cameron
http://www.hippeis.com/
Sword of Justice
Chivalry series
July 12

Susan Crandall
http://www.susancrandall.net
The Myth of Perpetual Summer
June 19

Susie Orman Schnall
http://www.susieschnall.com
The Subway Girls
June 10

Tuesday

A Devil of a Duke by Madline Hunter

May 28, 2018
Mixing of classes – would it really work?

https://www.madelinehunter.com/

A Devil of a Duke by Madeline Hunter is the second entry in the Decadent Duke’s Society series. In this story we have an idea which alllll romances are based on – a peon can live
happily ever after with a prince or princess. While neither one of our characters are royal, the hero is an aristocrat and he brings to the relationship alllll the beliefs an aristocrat in Regency England would bring. And, our heroine isn’t really a peon but a thief. So what we have here is a good old-fashioned class distinction war. I’m really not sure it works in this book. Amanda Waverly is a secretary, something that would have been rare in the Regency period, seeing as how most secretaries were male. But Amanda isn’t just a secretary, she’s also a thief – and a good one. You see Amanda’s parents were thieves and excellent ones too. She learned every trick of the trade but now she’s trying to get away from all that, hence the secretary job. But there’s trouble on the horizon. Her mother has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom. If Amanda can steal a valuable artifact her mother will be released. She doesn’t think that should be a problem. She checks out the place the artifact is being kept – in a private collection. She decides that the easiest way to access the house the artifact is by seducing the man next door and then enter his neighbor’s house through his house. Ah, another Romanceland plan.

In order to activate her grand plan, Amanda must attend a costume party where she will seduce Harry (the guy with the house next to the artifact) into taking her back to his townhouse, where he will fall prey to her charms, end up in bed with her, and after an exuberant night of sex, he will fall asleep. She will then climb across windows and roofs to the house next door, get the artifact, and free her mother. But into this scheme comes a proverbial fly in the ointment by the name of Gabriel St. James.

Gabriel St. James is a standard Romanceland rake. He is also one of those rakes whose wing-wang should have fallen off years ago. He is at that costume part keeping an eye on his shy, studious brother Harry. Harry has recently suffered a heart-break and as Gabriel watches, Harry appears to be frantically trying to escape from a woman who seems to be doing her darnedest to entrap Harry. After receiving a “save me” look from his brother, Gabriel steps in and saves him from her clutches. Amanda is a tad bit perturbed that she will have to change her plans, but while she may not be a master planner she is a master thief and she has every confidence she will be able to steal the artifact. In the meantime she has to deal with the instant lust-thing which has sprung up between Gabriel and herself. How do we know about the instant lust-thing? Because we are told. We are told that Gabriel’s horny-toad is activated. We are told that Amanda cannot forget the kiss she receives from Gabriel. I could not find any chemistry between Gabriel and Amanda, not any type of chemistry. There is nothing between them which would allow for any relationship to survive the conflicts which are part of class separation. For me, they did not bond. When I read a romance story I like to think that even though I am reading make-believe, in the end the relationship will work. I could not imagine a relationship between Gabriel and Amanda ever working.

The only bond that worked in the story was between Gabriel and his two friends. The story simply sparkled when the Duke and his friends were together. I loved reading the book when their narrative was being told. By the way, they are all Dukes. Ms. Hunter’s writing is superb when the Dukes are on. It’s too bad the chemistry didn’t extend into the romance part of the book.


Because this is a romance book I find I cannot recommend it. I am very disappointed. I am a great respecter of Ms. Hunter writing, but I could find no romance in A Devil of a Duke. If only the chemistry between the guy-friends had been present between Gabriel and Amanda the story might have worked.


Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: We are told it's hot

Wednesday

A Match Made in Bed by Cathy Maxwell

May 16, 2018

It’s not a good sign when you can’t remember what a book is about and you just read it.

http://www.cathymaxwell.com/
By the way, the cover of this book insinuates that this is a hilariously funny story – don’t be fooled, my little Petunia’s.
 
Cathy Maxwell is one of my auto-buys, but I will be the first to admit that sometimes she writes wonderful books and sometimes…

Cassandra Holwell is a rich heiress, and Soren, the Earl of Dewsberry needs a rich wife, and he has his eye on Cassandra, aka Cass. Evidently, Cass and Soren have a history. Cass had crush on him when he was 13 and she was 11. Then he did something and she hatesssssss him forever. Soren is puzzled as to the cold shoulder he’s receiving from Cassandra; he always has been. He has no idea what he did when he was 13 to make her hate him. Eventually, we find out what he did and I was struck dumb – for a minute. Think about it. He did something stupid when he was 13…thirteen!!! She is 11, that’s e-l-e-v-e-n and she can’t get over it. It’s been ten years since the silly, childish incident and she’s still holding a grudge. This was in the beginning of the book, so right away I was dazed by the incredible stupidity of it all. A Match Made in Bed almost hit the wall at that time. But I persevered. I kept hoping.

Cassandra. What can I say about Cassandra? Well, I can say she was an incredibly short-sighted, selfish, haughty, snobbish woman. She was incredibly difficult to like. She viewed herself as better than everyone else, and she just could not marry anyone who would want to live in the country. Puleese, how could she stand to be away from the city culture and gaiety? Who would ever want to be out in the fresh air? There are cows out there mooing, after all. Even when it is made very, very clear that her father is horrible, I could not stir up any kind of sympathy for her.  She was just dreadful. When she eventually turned around and became nice person, it was tooooo late. The author waited tooooo long to redeem her. I never understood why Soren wanted Cassandra so badly.

Soren. Soren has a secret. A big secret. SPOILER! Even after Cassandra and he are caught in a compromising position, forced to marry, and travel over hill and dale to get to his estate, he doesn’t say piddly-diddly to her about his secret. I know I’d want to know that the man I married had an approximately six-year old son. Surprise, surprise, surprise. But there is more. Logan, the boy, is of mixed blood. His mother was a Lenape Indian and was married to Soren. Oh yeah, Soren ran away to the states or Canada or the new world when he was young. Anyway, Soren wants Logan to be accepted into British society and that’s why he is desperate to have a wife. Why he would pick a mean, selfish woman to become Logan’s step-mother was bewildering. However, even if she was self-centered, she deserved to be told about Soren’s son a little sooner than she was.

Soren and Cass didn’t have any chemistry. I could not understand why Soren had his eye on Cass. He didn’t really seem to even have a childhood crush on her. She wasn’t someone who he couldn’t forget. She irritated him, he knew she was selfish, but somehow she would make a good mother for his son. The story didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me and I had a hard time finishing it.

I was very disappointed in A Match Made in Bed.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Warm/Hot 

Tuesday

Come Back to Me by Josie Litton - My Thank-You All About Romance Project

May 15, 2018
All I know about history I learned from romance novels.

http://josielittonauthor.com/

That’s not really true, but who knew people were so clean in the days of Vikings. Plus, the Vikings in Josie Litton’s Viking series all seem to have saunas. These are clean Vikings, not the dirty ones you see on television.

It’s time for Rycca, aka Super I-Hear-the-Truth Girl’s book, Come Back to Me. This is Josie Litton’s third installment in this series, and she has redeemed herself. Just for the record, I liked the first book and third book in the series, not so much the second.

Rycca is running away; she doesn’t want to marry the Viking her family is forcing her to marry. She hatesssssss dirty Vikings; she doesn’t know about the sauna. She disguises herself as a boy, one of my least favorite themes, and traipses off to Normandy – or tries to traipse. Her plan is to sneak on board a ship and then try to find her twin brother. Sounds suspiciously like a Romanceland plan.

Dragon Hakonson is also strolling around the countryside. He’s delaying his return to his brother’s stronghold because Dragon is about to be married. What do you think the chances are that Rycca and Dragon are going to cross paths? Dragon is a different kind of Viking, he likes women. Oh, not in the kidnapping, raping, pillage kind of Viking; he’s more of an Alan Alda kind of Viking. He respects women and he will go to great lengths to protect them if he thinks they need his help. He’s just not in any hurry to tie the knot. Then he crosses paths with the boy who turns out to be a girl. Because Dragon is the helpful, honorable kind of Viking, he insists that he take Rycca to her boat safely. Rycca hides her true identity from Dragon. She has a few trust issues. As the two embark on their road trip, they become romantically involved. Friendship blossoms, trust on both sides appears. Then they discover that they are in fact betrothed to each other. They are not happy campers, at least for a while.

Dragon and Rycca worked as a romance couple. Dragon was an alpha male with a soft spot for women. He liked being around them and he loved being with Rycca. He knows Rycca is in some kind of trouble. He knows she is hiding something from him and he uses oodles of charm trying to find out what. As they continue on their road trip, they become close. Eventually the truth about Rycca’s problems become known and they work together to find a solution.

All the characters from the other two books make an appearance, each trying to solve the continuing mystery from the other books. Sometimes the appearance of characters from other books is irritating, but in this one they add to the narrative. Besides that, it was a pleasure to see them again. The villains are exposed and all is right with the world.

Josie Litton’s Viking series ends on an up note. I believe this was my favorite of the three and I do recommend Come Back to Me. It’s been a pleasure reading Josie Litton, aka Maura Seger, once again.


Time/Place: Vikings, Alfred the Great time
Sensuality: Hot