Duke I'd Like to F... by Sierra Simone, Joanna Shupe, Eva Leigh, Nicola Davidson, Adriana Herrera

November 16, 2020
I need a cleansing bath

You know how sometimes you don't listen to your gut? You think, oh look at that title, it’s kind of
funny, and maybe it's not as hard-core as I think. Maybe it will be cute and cuddly. Well some of us need to listen to our guts, and remember alllll of our hot buttons. I thought I was safe, after-all I was familiar with the writings of Eva Leigh, and Joanna Shupe. Sorry to say, I had a hard time with this collection of short stories. These stories were filled with tons of my hot-buttons. But the topper was the “almost” pedophile moments between an 18-year old girl and 41-year old man. I guess that’s why the heroine was 18. We wouldn’t want to be accused of any illegal, child-abuse moments, would we? I could not finish any but one of the stories in Duke I'd Like to F.... The only story in the book I liked was The Duke Makes Me Adriana Herrera. At least in her story there was some character building, a storyline, and the sex scenes contributed to the narrative. All Ms. Herrera’s story really needed was a good copy editor. But the rest of the stories in this collection were not my cup-o-tea. I'm sure there is an audience for this type of book, and that's fine. But for the most, part it was an overload of mind-numbing sex-capades, characters I didn’t like, and disturbing moments. Adriana Herrera’s story was the only one I was able to finish, sorry to say, the rest were DNFs.



My Last Duchess by Eloisa James

November 20, 2020
Would you say yes?
Pondering. Have you ever really, and I mean really, thought about marrying a stranger? I have become so accustomed to a happy ending in romance novels, that sometimes I forget that in a lot of these books, the romantic couple are virtual strangers. Let me put this another way. What would you do if you were sitting in your car/truck/carriage, minding your own business, when a complete stranger jumps in? He then announces that his intentions are honorable. Okkkaaaay. As of today, I would probably spray mace in his face, scream, give him a swift kick, and run. Why am I saying this? Well, my little Petunia’s, it dawned on me while reading this book, that my beloved romance novels sometime require me to overlook reality. But, sometimes it’s all about taking a break from reality. Remember what Dumbledore said, “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” I don’t think that quote has anything to do with the romance genre, but if you are in the mood for a little light, relaxing book, then My Last Duchess is for you. And, it’s a short story, so it’s just a few hours of your time.

My Last Duchess is Eloisa James’ prequel to the Wilde series. Yes, this is the story of Hugo, the Duke of Lindow, and Lady Ophelia Astley. You remember Hugo, don’t you? He’s the guy with eight children. A show of hands please! Who out there would react the same way? A stranger hops into your carriage because he wants to marry you…and he has eight kids!!! OMG! Feet, don’t fail me now! Watch as I run in the other direction.  This is one of those times I had absolutely no problems with the heroine turning down a proposal.

Anyway, Hugo has recently received his divorce papers. He’s sort of moping around the house, feeling sorry for himself. Then his sister shows up and drags him into the world. She forces him to see that the youngest of his eight children need a mother. So, he is off to once again marry. Soon he’s hanging out in a ballroom. Then he spots “the-one-who-is-meant-to-be” from across the room. Evidently, love at first sight is a Wilde family tradition. He instantly maneuvers through the crowd; wanting to meet the woman who has captured his eyes. But alas, she has vanished. He gives chase. And, it turns out to be a very delightful chase.

Ophelia is comfortable. She’s happy with her life. She had a contented marriage, now she’s a widow. Her husband was a nice man, and he left her well-endowed. Ophelia also has a young daughter. This child is the center of Ophelia’s life. She finds everything about her child amazing. Ophelia is pretty pleased with her life. You might call her one happy camper. She is definitely not looking for anything else. Then, at the ball, the hairs on the back of her neck start to stand up. She looks across the room, and finds a very handsome man staring at her. There are sparks behind that intense stare, and she wants nothing to do with them. She quickly flees the party. But she hadn’t planned on the snow storm outside, nor her carriage being stuck in a traffic jam. She also had no idea the intense man would turn out to be Sherlock Holmes. Well, he’s not really Sherlock Holmes. Hugo, it seems, has some of Sherlock’s abilities. He is able to deduce which carriage is hers based on his observations from the ballroom. I loved the carriage scene, and the one night stand which follows. Then he proposes. Then she turns him down.

This was a fun romance, and Ophelia and Hugo were a great couple. Were there a few hiccups? Yes, there were some things I could have done without. After Hugo’s proposal is turned down, he decides to court another woman, an older woman. This woman was rather rude, and why Hugo thought she would make a good mother was beyond me. She disliked children immensely, and I felt Hugo should have been more aware of that from the beginning. I mean, if he’s bright enough to find the correct carriage, he should be smart enough to spot a cold, dispassionate female. Even though I wasn’t fond of this female character, I also wasn’t fond of the “funny” bullying which was used to get rid of her. I thought either Hugo should have told her it wouldn’t work, or she should never have been part of the book in the first place.

There was one more thing which threw me out of the story, and I argued with myself about whether I should even mention it. The slang term “that’s cracked” was used at one point in this story. When I read it I stopped, and retraced my steps. While I pondered whether someone from Georgian times would use that slang, I decided to move on. I did spend some time trying to find references to that term. Who knows, since Ms. James teaches Shakespeare maybe it is legitimate. I just wish authors would tread lightly on using slang/expressions.

Overall, except for a few minor gripes, I enjoyed this book. I thought it was a wonderful love story. Both Ophelia and Hugo were great characters. I had no problems with Ophelia taking her time deciding on whether she should marry Hugo. Regardless of how handsome, and wealthy Hugo was, there were a number of obstacles which would trouble any woman/person. But in the end, Hugo was just too much of a great hero for any smart woman to resist. I do recommend this book, and for a short time you will find yourself in a happy place. Pour yourself a cup of hot chocolate, butter some homemade muffins, wrap yourself in a fuzzy blanket, and enjoy.
Time/Place: Georgian England
Sensuality: Warm/Hot


The Rogue to Ruin by Vivienne Lorret

November 5, 2020
Now on to the Third Bourne Sister
And, finally the sister we have all been waiting for, Ainsley. I wonder why it’s usually the elder sibling who is last to go? Don’t you just love characters who steal scenes? I know I do. Lucky for me, Ainsley and Reed Sterling have been strong secondary characters in the previous books in this series. I for one have been anticipating their story. Ms. Lorret dangled the carrot in front of my face, and I bit. As often happens, we form opinions of what we want these fascinating secondary characters to be. So, I had high expectations. It was a great relief that Ms. Lorret delivered what I was wishing for. I loved uptight Ainsley, and wishful thinking Reed. Was it a perfect story? No, but I did enjoy The Rogue to Ruin greatly.

I thought Ainsley blaming Reed for her business failures continued tooo long. They are at war with each other, but that war is mainly due to the fact that they are attracted to each other. It actually boils down to Ainsley having the problem with being attracted, and fighting it. She has some issues from her past, and those issues eventually show up. Reed on the other hand has been worshiping/loving Ainsley from afar for a long time. He has even deliberately done some things which he knows will irritate Ainsley. He loves to see her sparkling, rage-filled eyes, so he does do a little goading here and there.

You see, when the Bourne agency was established, the sisters picked a building right across the street from Reed’s gambling establishment. Reed’s business has boomed, and why wouldn’t it. It caters to men, it gives men what they want: gambling, alcohol, and an occasional woman. Whereas, what man really wants to step into a matchmaking agency? So, the Bourne women are not doing so well, especially since it seems they have a habit of marrying their own clients. And, that seems to be a no-no. Not wanting to admit she’s a horrible business manager, she blames Reed and declares war on him. What this war boils down to is Ainsley doing silly things which will embarrass Reed in front of his clients.

Then Ainsley’s abusive ex-fiancĂ© shows up, and Reed steps in to take control. He is a fixer-upper, he takes care of broken people, animals, and whatever. Ainsley and Reed are a delightful couple, once they are a couple.

There are a number of secondary characters, a visit from Ainsley’s two sisters and their husband…and we finally find out who Mrs. Teasdale is. But, if you were paying attention in the last two books, you should have already deduced who she was. There were other secondary characters, Finch and Raven…remember Raven? He has his own book in a different series. See, everything is circular.

There was one thing all three of these books had in common which I liked. For the most part, the couples talked to each other. Oh sure, there were misunderstandings, but they didn’t last long, and they talked their issues through. I confess, I did do some skip reading. There were pages and pages of sex. I’m not really sure we need ten pages of one encounter, my eyes start to cross when that happens. One really shouldn’t become bored with whankee-woo, should one?

I was very pleased with this addition to the Misadventures of Matchmaking series. Reed and Ainsley lived up to my expectations – mostly. Ainsley carried the war on waaay toooo long, and sometimes the scenes in the story ended and began abruptly. I found myself rereading some paragraphs over. I also thought the bed-bouncing-table-moving scenes could have been shortened. But I did enjoy The Rogue to Ruin, and I do recommend it. Overall, I would recommend the first and last book in this series: How to Forget a Duke and The Rogue to Ruin. I wasn’t too enthralled with Ten Kisses to Scandal, but it is part of the series…maybe check it out of a library. Of course, you may be a collector of books, like me.
Time/Place: 1820s England
Sensuality: Warm/Hot


Ten Kisses to Scandal by Vivienne Lorret

November 5, 2020
Oh No, Another Hot-Button Trigger! Ewwww, Age Difference
Now, on to the second book in the Misadventures in Matchmaking series, Ten Kisses to Scandal. And, we continue our journey with the Bourne Matrimonial Agency. If you recall, this agency was founded by three aristocratic women who have no experience in the business world, and their Uncle Ernest. Forget the uncle, he's not much of a business partner, nor does he do much protection of his three unmarried nieces. This story is about the youngest sister, Briar Bourne. Briar's whine/theme is: "I can do it." Briar is not only the youngest sister, she is young, young, and young. Almost everything she does in this book is immature. In her enthusiasm to prove herself, she charges into things without any forethought. Which is how she meets our hero Nicholas Blacklowe, the Earl of Edgemont
In her rush to board a hackney, she interrupts him in the process of sucking on his mistress. After sending his mistress on his way, he and Briar get into an argument, she steps into poop, loses her lucky shoe, and leaves in a huff. She returns to the agency, and makes a ton of other mistakes, she even unknowingly matches a mother with a son. I'm assuming all these little "I-know-what-I'm-doing" mistakes were meant to be funny and endearing, but I found them irritating. Not only is Briar immature, but that immaturity is only enhanced by the fact that the hero is 14 years older than she. Nicholas is not just older in years, he is way more mature. He is experienced in ways that are far beyond a clueless, young girl. In fact, I had flashbacks of Barbara Cartland stories. And, that's not a good thing. All those blushing, innocent virgin's being manipulated by the older man. Eewww! I found Briar and Nicholas, as a couple, icky alllll the way through this book.

For me, Nicholas was a throw-back to a bodice-ripper hero of yore. He controls everyone in his life, or at least he tries. He thinks for his two cousins: Daniel and Temperance. Approximately six months after his run-in with Briar, he approaches the agency to find mates for his cousins. There are a number of convoluted connections between boo-hoo Daniel, Nicholas and an evil woman. By the way, Briar trips over her stupidity when she meets the evil woman. Oh yes, Briar also happens to be the best friend of Temperance. And, let me say this: if you have a friend like Temperance you don't need any enemies.

Either Nicholas should have been less of the alll knowing rake, or Briar should have been less of a naive goof-ball. I'm sure the author meant for their antics to be funny, but I found them irritating.  The three sisters have copies of Jane Austen's Emma. The book is a connection to their deceased mother. It is also an example they have used to establish their evidently they haven’t read Emma all that carefully. Did anything Emma do to "help" people around her ever work? Nooooo. I was never that fond of Emma, I never found her funny, just embarrassing.

Bottom-line. I wasn't fond of Ten Kisses to Scandal. The hero was toooo old for the heroine, he was too manipulative, tooooo experienced. The heroine was toooo naive. I'm sure her oops-sorry moments were meant to be funny, but I found them irritating. Sorry to say, this story didn't work for me.
Time/Place: 1820s England
Sensuality: Warm/Hot


How to Forget a Duke by Vivienne Lorret

November 5, 2020
Glom Adventure Begins
After reading Vivienne Lorret's book, My Kind of Earl, I rubbed my hands together with glee! Who doesn’t like to discover a new author with a nice tidy backlog of books? I decided to do a glom project on some of Ms Lorret's stories, starting with How to Forget a Duke. How to Forget a Duke is the first book in the Misadventures in Matchmaking series. You may ask, why didn't you start with her first book? Well, I'll tell you. There was a fascinating character in My Kind of Earl, Reed, who has his own story in The Rogue to Ruin, which is part of the Misadventure in Matchmaking series. See everything is circular, and that’s why I started with Ms. Lorret’s Matchmaker series. That is just how my brain works. So far, none of these books have been heavy-duty, angst-filled-I-have-a-message book. Right now I am in a mood to read something a little light-weight, something I don't have to ponder too much, something that cheers me up. Well for the most part, How to Forget a Duke, hits the spot. It is not a perfect book, there are issues, and there are storylines that don't necessarily make sense. But, I liked How to Forget a Duke, and our main characters: Jacinda and Crispin.

Basically, this story is the set-up for three sisters who are trying to be matchmakers. Not only are they trying to match make, they are trying to get paid for it. This was one of those plot lines which I had to get past, and I did. I thought it was a stretch for three unmarried aristocratic women from the 1820s to be on their own, and have a business. Of course, they aren’t exactly on their own, they have a friendly, irresponsible Uncle Ernest. But they are still running the business, or attempting to, so it was a stretch. But, I moved on. The Bourne sisters: Ainsley the eldest, uptight sister, Jacinda the second sister who doesn't trust people, and Briar, the baby of the family. Briar is overprotected and wants to prove she isn't a baby. This series begins with the second sister, Jacinda, the one who doesn't trust men. Not trusting men might be a problem when you are in the matchmaking business. Jacinda seems to think of herself as a combination Sherlock Holmes/Hercule Poirot. Which is why she has broken into Crispin's office and is snooping through his things. Crispin is a client. She just doesn't believe he has told the matchmaking agency the truth. There is something nefarious going on, and she wants to know just what that is. Well, she’s not a very good housebreaker. She is caught snooping by Crispin.

Crispin is a tad bit irritated by this attractive interloper. Yes, he has secrets, but they are his secrets. He doesn't see any reason why he needs to tell anyone what those secrets are. They proceed to bicker, and she leaves, letting him know that she is not finished with him. It should come as no surprise that this is just the first of many encounters between Crispin and Jacinda. While she was snooping, Jacinda found a letter with the name of Sybil on it. It seems there is much Crispin didn’t tell her. She must discover who the mysterious Sybil she's off to Crispin's country estate. Crispin discovers Jacinda is chasing off to his estate, and he gives pursuit. He doesn’t want anyone to discover his illegitimate sister, Sybil. This race to the country leads to amnesia.

Amnesia you say! How'd that happen? Well, I'll tell you my little Petunia's, I don't rightly know. One minute Jacinda's giving chase, and the next minute she's washing up on shore. She also doesn't remember who she is. Of course, she's washed up on the shoreline which is close to Crispin's country estate. That's a good thing because Crispin has arrived. But wait, he doesn't tell her who she is. Why is that? Well, the doctor tells him that if he tells her who she is it might damage her memory. Not sure if I buy into that argument, but it gave us the reader a reason for Crispin keeping her identity a secret from her. As silly as this plot sounds, and as irritating as I find the amnesia trope, I actually enjoyed Crispin and Jacinda’s time together.

Because Jacinda doesn't remember her initial antagonism against Crispin, she is able to see him for the kind person he is. The romance between the two at this point progresses. They develop a friendship, which develops into more. Jacinda also develops a friendship with Crispin's sister, the mysterious Sybil. This story is a lot to do with trusting someone you love.

Bottom line, while I thought the amnesia theme was a little far-fetched, I didn't mind. The reason I didn't mind was I liked both Jacinda and Crispin. See...even I can overlook pet-peeves, especially if I am routing for the characters in the story. While this wasn't an amazing-out-of-the-universe story, How to Forget a Duke was an enjoyable read, and it made me smile. I do recommend this book.
Time/Place: 1820s England
Sensuality: Warm/Hot


Holy Pumpkin Pie!! Upcoming Historical Romance!!!

November 29, 2020
Authors with an asterisk*, I'm picking up! Authors with **asterisks have either fallen off my radar or new to me, and I'm might read them this time around. Release dates mostly between November 15, 2020 and December 14, 2020. For more Upcoming Releases that aren't historical see HEY DELIA!!
Series indicates a series, spin-off, sequel, trilogy, brother/sister, secret society/spies, good friends who attended Oxford/Eton, vampire/werewolf - anything that has something continuing - even if written 20 years ago. Anthology/novella/short stories could be an anthology or a bunch of books in one print or novella - one tiny book or an anthology with a bunch of novellas - could be a short stories by one author, could be short stories by multiple authors - could be - I'm getting a headache. Ebook, only sold electronically for now. Debut - congratulations!

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. 
Holiday books coming soon! 

Historical Romance

Alexandra Benedict
The Ruby Slippers Scandal
The Jewels of London series
December 1

Annabelle Anders
Cocky Mister, ebook
Regency Cocky Gents series
December 7

Christi Caldwell
Undressed with the Marquess
Lost Lords of London series
November 17

Darcy Burke
The Bachelor Earl
The Untouchables
December 1

Elizabeth Beacon
The Governess's Secret Longing
Yelverton series
December 1

Elizabeth Hoyt*
When a Rogue Meets His Match
Greycourt series
December 1

Eva Devon
The Wallflower's Wicked Wager
Wallflower Wins series
November 27

Eva Shepherd
How to Avoid the Marriage Mart     
December 1

Jade Lee
Lord Lucifer
Lords of the Masquerade series
November 19

Kerrigan Byrne
Courting Trouble
Goode Girls Romance series
December 10

Linda Broday
Once Upon a Mail Order Bride
Outlaw Mail Order Brides series
November 24

Loretta Chase*
Ten Things I Hate about the Duke
Difficult Dukes series
December 1

Louise Allen*
A Marquis in Want of a Wife          
December 1

Lucy Ashford
The Widow's Scandalous Affair
December 1

Lynn Connolly
Virginia and the Wolf
The Society of Single Ladies series
November 17

Merry Farmer
Just a Little Heartache
The Brotherhood series
December 4

Minerva Spencer
Rebels of the Ton  
November 24

Nicola Davidson**
Adriana Herrera
Eva Leigh
Joanna Shupe
Sierra Simone
Duke I'd Like to F...
November 17

Nicole Locke
The Maiden and the Mercenary
December 1

Scarlett Scott
Winter's Whispers
The Wicked Winters series
December 10

Shelly Thacker
His Scottish Bride
Stolen Brides series
November 17

Sophie Barnes
The Formidable Earl
Diamonds in the Rough series
November 17

Sophie Barnes
An Unexpected Temptation, short story
The Townsbridges series
December 8

Tamara Gill
To Kiss a Highland Rose
Kiss the Wallflower series
December 7

Tammy Andresen
Earl of Gold
Lords of Scandal series
December 1
Special Holiday Series

Dawn Brower
Lady Pear's Duke, ebook
12 Days of Christmas series
December 1

Lauren Smith
The Duke's Turtle Doves
12 Days of Christmas series
December 2

Sandra Sookoo
A Fowl Christmastide
12 Days of Christmas series
December 3

Tabetha Waite
Four Calling Cards
12 Days of Christmas series
December 4

Anna St. Claire
The Duke's Golden Rings, ebook
12 Days of Christmas series
December 5

Rebecca Levell
Miss Kitten's Geese
12 Days of Christmas series
December 6

Tracy Sumner
Chasing the Duke
12 Days of Christmas series
December 7

Annabelle Anders
Mayfair Maiden
12 Days of Christmas series
December 8

Amanda Mariel
Dancing with Serendipity
12 Days of Christmas series
December 9

Jane Charles
Lady Lucinda's Lords
12 Days of Christmas series
December 10

Aileen Fish
Piper's Proposal
12 Days of Christmas series
December 11

Louisa Cornell
Diana Drummer Dilemma
12 Days of Christmas series
December 12
Historical Fiction

Glynis Peters
The Forgotten Orphan
December 1

James D. Shipman
Irena's War
November 24

Philippa Gregory
Dark Tides
November 24

Robert Harris
November 17