Saturday

Congratulations to Beverly Jenkins!!!!

http://www.beverlyjenkins.net/
Beverly Jenkins has been awarded the 2017 RWA Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award. This is one of the highest honors RWA bestows on authors. This award is presented to a living author in recognition of significant contributions to the romance genre. 

Beverly has been in the business of blood, sweat and tears (that's writing) since her first book Night Song was published in 1994. She specializes in 19th century African American life and has over thirty published novels to date. Born in Detroit, she graduated from Cass Technical High School and attended Michigan State University where she majored in Journalism and English Literature. 

Congratulations Ms. Jenkins!!!

Wednesday

The English Duke by Karen Ranney

April 26, 2017
“This is like Déjà vu all over again.”

https://karenranney.com/

A few months ago I was musing over why Karen Ranney isn’t one of my auto-buys. I just might have stumbled across an answer to my pondering.

To say I was disappointed with Ranney’s latest book, The English Duke would be an understatement. Sure, sure, the story started out with a smart, savvy, strong heroine by the name of Martha. On top of that we have a stoic, manly, avoid-all-humans, scientist hero, Jordan Hamilton, the Duke of Roth. While the language in the story may have been a little stilted, I thought – “Oh it will get better.” Then, because my brain is sooooo agile, I started noticing something. Something familiar. Ummm.

A pet peeve moment. I do not like becoming distracted by a sense of familiar. I don’t like it when I feel I should know someone I’m introduced to or that nagging sense of being in a place you think you've been in before or that book you just know you’ve read before. Why does this bother me? Because I have to find out just why something seems the same and when I do alllll that searching I am not focused on the book I’m holding in my hands. Well, my little Petunia’s I started to have that feeling with this book. And before anyone says anything, it was not because allllll romance books are the same – they are not. No this was something else, something in the plotline.  Something. Nagging. Ummm.

We have our heroine, she has a terrible sister. A spoiled sister. A conniving sister. Our hero has a friend, a shady character. His friend is attracted to the horrible sister. They were in cahoots. They do hanky-panky – heavy on the hank. The secondary characters were so familiar. I knew I had read something similar before, but where? Was it possible that some other author was doing a little plagiarism? Then the light bulb went off. This secondary theme was almost an exact replica of the secondary theme from A Scandalous Scot written by – Karen Ranney. (And, by the way I know “exact replica” is redundant). Maybe if I had read the story in 2012 I might not have noticed the sameness, but I read A Scandalous Scot in January of this year. (I didn’t like the secondary characters then either). I was perplexed as to why Ms. Ranney would make these secondary stories so similar. An author cannot plagiarize themselves can they? Nah – maybe – don’t know. But they can certainly reuse old ideas or become lazy. I was very disappointed when I found this recycled theme.

Not only was I treated to a reused secondary story, there was also a drugged hero having dream-sex with the heroine scene. Only it isn’t a dream. The evil conniving sister finds out her sister has had her first humpy-bumpy. She has a plan. I could see the writing on the wall, or at least the page. We were going to go down the sex mix-up-marriage-martyr road. The strong sister was going to be a martyr and the hero was going to be in angstville.  And, the evil sister was not going to get her just deserts.

I could go no further. I closed the book. What a disappointment. My illusions have been shattered.


Time/Place: 1871 England
Sensuality: Questionable 
 

Tuesday

The Vicar's Daughter by Deborah Simmons

April 25, 2017

http://www.deborahsimmons.com/
One of my favorite books, The Vicar's Daughter, has been released electronically! While I do not approve of certain publishing companies refusing to give the rights back to authors - I do think this is a wonderful chance for new readers to experience an utterly delightful story. 

So, if you haven't read this book, puleeeese do. This is a wonderful story.

And, Harlequin this is why I get very mad at you - give the rights back.

Friday

The Truth About Love and Dukes by Laura Lee Guhrke

April 21, 2017
Do opposites really attract?

You know when I read a romance novel, I often ask myself “would this relationship really
work?” Would a stuffed-shirt aristocrat really go for a wild-eyed suffragette? Would a Pankhurst thumping suffragette really go for an “I’m-better-then-you-I-rule-the-world" man? We live in such a fantasy world in Romanceland, sometimes I think we believe that these relationships would work. We rely heavily on the author to “make it so.” When I picked up The Truth About Love and Dukes by Laura Lee Guhrke, I pretty much thought that no matter how different the hero and heroine were, in the end I would be sure they would have a believable happy ending. You see, Laura Lee Guhrke excels at writing complex characters which match up. So, I started reading.


The book starts out promising. Henry Cavanaugh, Duke of Torquil, is a little peeved because his mother has sent a letter to Lady Truelove (a gossip advice columnist) asking for advice. You see, his mother is in love with a man much younger than herself and that man is an artist – gasp. Well, Henry is a tried and true top-drawer aristocrat. His word is the law, his hand is iron, and he jumps tall building in a single bound (oops, wrong guy). Dressed in his most threatening ensemble, he rushes down to confront Lady Truelove only to be greeted by Irene Deverill, the editor of the newspaper. First of all he is shocked that it is a woman who has control of the paper, then he is shocked because she refuses to retract the story or give his mother’s correspondence to him. He would probably be even more shocked if he knew what we the readers know – she is Lady Truelove. She doesn’t back down. The newspaper is her baby and I say that in the most strong words I can. She has taken over the family’s crumbling paper and made it into a success – she loves what she’s doing. This is not a standard Romanceland device created to make her look spunky. No, the author has created a strong woman who actually believes in what she’s doing. She. Loves. Her. Work. She is also a suffragette and that too is written in such a strong way I’m not really sure it works in a historical romance. And, for me this is where I start running into problems. Both Henry and Irene have stronnnnggggg convictions. While I may not agree with some of Henry’s bulldozing techniques, he is a responsible man who cares for his family and the people who are his responsibility. He is a landowner in a changing country, he knows there are people who depend on him just to survive.

The Truth about Love and Dukes was an interesting study in two different dynamics, two different ideologies. There was a constant battle between the two, but all the while the hormone monkey was playing with them. The lines are drawn so realistically that for me I had a hard time accepting that this couple would have a happy ending. The only way I could see for a historical Romanceland happy ending was for one of them to give in, to dilute their beliefs. In the end they both do some giving. But I was not a happy camper and here’s why.

My muddled reasoning. For almost the entire book, whenever Irene and Henry are together I felt as if I was watching a debate team. It was a constant battle between the two of them – over and over. That is of course between protected humpy-bumpy (if you get my drift). I grew tired of the constant battle of ideologies. Maybe I was in a bad mood, maybe I had outside stress weighing me down, maybe I should have put the book away for another day – but I didn't. It wasn’t until almost the very end when Irene ripped into Henry about his standards that I started to enjoy the book. That was when she turned from a constant, nagging, I’m-on-my-soapbox woman into someone who made sense – and was right in what she said. I think what really bothered me was that Irene and Henry were so far apart in their beliefs, I had a hard time believing even with their giving/taking at the end that they could ever have a good partnership. I say that because even though we like to see opposites attract, I really think a good partnership/marriage/whatever must be based on having something in common, a sharing of ideas and supporting those ideas.

Bottom-line. I was disappointed with The Truth About Love and Dukes. Laura Lee Guhrke has always been a solid writer for me, but in this case I don’t think she succeeded with the complex issues she was trying to bring forth. For some people, this will be a fantastic read but for me the couple were too far apart in their beliefs and the constant haranguing continued for far too long.

Time/Place: 1892 England (the later mutton sleeves and soft bustles)
Sensuality: Hot


Thursday

Hokey Smoke!!! Time for Upcoming Historical Releases!!!!

Authors with an asterisk*, I'm picking up! For more Upcoming Releases that aren't historical see HEY DELIA!! May 15, 2017 to June 14, 2017. By the way, it is not my fault if a publisher changes the release dates - just so you know, they do not consult me.
Annie Burrows
http://www.annie-burrows.co.uk/
The Debutante’s Daring Proposal
Regency Bachelors series
paperback - May 23, ebook - June 1
Bronwyn Scott
http://www.bronwynnscott.com/
Marrying the Rebellious Miss
Wallflowers to Wives series
paperback - May 23, ebook - June 1
Eva Leigh*
http://evaleighauthor.com
From Duke Till Dawn
London Underground series
May 30
Jane Goodger
http://www.janegoodger.com/
The Bad Luck Bride
June 13
Jenni Fletcher
http://jennifletcher.com/
The Convenient Felstone Marriage
paperback - May 23, ebook - June 1
Jo Beverley
http://www.jobev.com
Merely a Marriage
May 30
Jo Goodman
http://www.jogoodman.com/
A Touch of Frost
June 6
Johanna Lindsey
http://www.simonandschusterpublishing.com/johanna-lindsey/
Beautiful Tempest
Malory-Anderson Family
June 11
Julia Quinn*
http://www.juliaquinn.com/
The Girl With The Make-Believe Husband
Bridgertons Prequel
May 30
Kathryn Albright
http://kathrynalbright.com/
Lauri Robinson
http://laurirobinson.blogspot.com/
Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove
paperback - May 23, ebook - June 1
K.C. Bateman
http://www.kcbateman.com/
A Counterfeit Heart
ebook - May 23
K.J. Charles
https://kjcharleswriter.wordpress.com/books/
An Unnatural Vice
Sins of the Cities series
June 6
Laurie Benson
http://lauriebenson.net/
The Unexpected Countess
paperback - May 23, ebook - June 1
Lorraine Heath
http://www.lorraineheath.com/
Affair with a Notorious Heiress
Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James series
May 30
Madeline Hunter*
http://www.madelinehunter.com/
The Most Dangerous Duke in London
Decadent Dukes Society series
May 30
Margaret Brownley
http://www.margaret-brownley.com
A Match Made in Texas
Match Made in Texas series
June 6
Mary Wine
http://www.marywine.com
Highland Hellion
Highland Weddings series
June 6
Sally MacKenzie*
http://www.sallymackenzie.net/
When to Engage an Earl
Spinster House series
May 30
Terri Brisbin
http://terribrisbin.com/
Claiming His Highland Bride
Highland Feuding series
paperback - May 23, ebook - June 1
Victoria Alexander
http://www.victoriaalexander.com/
The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen
Lady Travelers Guide series
May 23

Friday

Memories Schmemories, A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas

April 7, 2017
I see hordes of crazed villagers with their pitchforks

http://www.lisakleypas.com/

Before I get tied to a stake by some irate Kleypas fans, I insist on letting everyone know that Lisa Kleypas is one of my favorite authors and has been responsible for some truly swoon-worthy heroes. But, come on guys - not every single one of her books is extroadinalicious! I would have to say if there is a Kleypas book which you could check out of the library it would be A Wallflower Christmas. Yes, I know that books written for the holidays are fast, short stories usually created to add joy and cheer to our holiday season - blah - blah - blah. But for me, this story was not one I will remember or even want to.

Here's the good thing about this book - we may breathe a sigh of relief because it seems that after a couple of years of marriage and a few scattered children, our Wallflowers and their husbands are still humping and pumping.

Why even bother? Why would one even bother writing about a new hero and heroine when most of the book is being taken up by characters from the previous books? I would have been perfectly happy with the previous couples. I'm sure Ms. Kleypas could have put some tension into the story. After all, she tried to put some silly plotline about Lillian (of all people) doubting Westcliff's fidelity. Puleese. How goofy was that? But she didn't ask for my advice about how she should write her itty-bitty holiday story - so we have the romance between Rafe Bowman and Hannah Appleton.

Rafe Bowman is Lillian's brother and the son of that horrible, cold, hard Mr. Bowman. I still want a better explanation as to why the Bowman father and mother are the way they are. Rafe wants to be a partner in his father's business. Not sure why - he's doing fine on his own. I can only assume that he is in need of some pats on the back from his overbearing father. I really wish Ms. Kleypas had come up with some kind of story about these parents. I tried to understand them, but failed. I also couldn't understand why the Bowman siblings allowed their father to get away with his tyranny for so long. Anyway, Rafe is struck by the lust-bunny when his eyes fall on Hannah. Which doesn't say all that much for the character of Rafe considering that he is courting the woman Hannah is chaperoning. There's numerous scenes of Rafe attempting to seduce Hannah and not with honorable intentions. Rafe is pretty cavalier in his treatment of both women. I'm not really a big fan of a hero assaulting one woman while all the time he is thinking about marrying another. Not all that Christmassy, I'm thinking.

There is also Kleypas' trademark heavy throbbing, bumping and finger puppet shows. Page after page. When we are not watching Rafe and Hannah moan and groan we get to see allllll the Wallflowers crash against the wall. This book was a pretty short book made even shorter by me skipping over the plethora of boinking.

While I understand the need to check-in on favorite characters from a series and this should have been a nice holiday treat, it wasn't. It was rushed, had a dishonorable hero, a silly secondary plot surrounding trust, and a father who is not explained. Even though this is part of a series, I really don't think it adds anything to the Wallflowers and I really cannot recommend it.


Time/Place: 1840s England
Sensuality: Boring

Memories Schmemories, Scandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas

April 7, 2017
Oh no doctor! We have a case of Lastbookitus

http://www.lisakleypas.com/

Scandal in Spring, the last book in the Wallflower series (sort of.) Being the last book in the series it suffers from that dread disease called Lastbookitus. There are no known cures.
The only one I know of is if the author would slow down and not be in a hurry to start their next book, or in this case turn to the dark side and write a contemporary romance. It may also suffer in comparison because it follows Devil in Winter. In this case the hero, Matthew, isn't as strong of a character as Daisy. And, I have come to believe that the heroes have to be as strong, if not stronger, than the heroines for the book to work and for the couple to balance each other out.

Poor Daisy. Daisy was such a wonderful secondary character in the previous Wallflower books. She was whimsical, funny and charming, but she loses what made her great in this story. Maybe some of the reason she seems weak to me in this story is that there may be too many of the other Wallflowers hanging around the pages. Yes, yes, I know that everyone wants to see what their favorite Wallflower is doing before the series ends - but hey, that's what short stories are for. Because we have so much wallflower catching up to do in this story, the romance between Matthew and Daisy suffers - this story has a rushed feel to it.

Matthew has a secret. Yes, our hero has a secret. First of all Matthew has been in luv with Daisy forever; he is almost a member of the family. He's at their dinner table a lot. The Bowman's horrible father has favored Matthew over his own children, so it's only fitting that the Bowman siblings should resent Matthew. He has been taken under Mr. Bowman's wing, eaten at their table and he seems to be exactly like Mr. Bowman - a cold, domineering man. But it's all a facade. As I said before Matthew's got a secret, actually he's got more than one secret. He has always loved Daisy, but has hidden that behind a cold facade. Because of the Kleypas male hormone thing that's been quite a struggle for him. But there is another secret! A horrible secret! He's not worthy! He's not worthy! It's so bad that when the reveal happens, you have to backtrack and read it over again because you miss it. You will find yourself scratching your head and asking, "This was the horrible secret?" I know I did. One paragraph - the secret is revealed, second paragraph - the Wallflowers help, third paragraph - the secret is solved. Another plotline which was supposed to add conflict but was handled so quickly that there wasn't any. So, why was it there?

Bottom line, this was almost the weakest book in the series. I was extremely disappointed that a great secondary character like Daisy didn't get her fantastic book. And, I wish Matthew had been just a little stronger. I also still want to know just what makes the entire Bowman family tick.
 

Time/Place: 1840s England
Sensuality: Hot