Memories Schmemories Again! The Houseparty by Anne Stuart

August 11, 2106

I'm a happy camper!!!
Imagine my surprise when I went to B&N looking for the Rohan series by Anne Stuart and found her had been released into electronic format. I was very excited, for you see my paper copy was yellowing and crumbling before my very eyes. This book is only a around 170 pages long, but it's still wonderful. Written in Ms. Stuart's early days; funny, sexy, with a promise of some great writing which was to come from her. For more on this wonderful old book check out my review.   The Houseparty


Sweetest Scoundrel by Elizabeth Hoyt

August 9, 2016
Pass me a fan.

I've been reading romance for waaaaay tooo long. Have you ever had the feeling that you are being surrounded by hordes of Mr. Toads? In the last few books I've read, it seems as if these smarmy guys have taken on a life of their own. They have been painted very vividly! Reminds me of one of my guilty pleasure movies, Five Million Years to Earth, aka Quatermass and the Pit. There is a scene in the movie where there are thousands of insect/grasshopper aliens hopping, jumping, leaping and the abundance of Timothy Toads in the last few books reminded me of that really bad special effect scene. I had visions of all these Timothy Toads jumping all over the place. The most impressive Mr. Toad I've read about so far this year belongs to the hero of Sweetest Scoundrel, by Elizabeth Hoyt. What a gritty, earthy, humongous guy - he's got personality.

Welcome back to Elizabeth Hoyt's Maiden Lane. Sweetest Scoundrel was another book I over-looked in my flood of Nook Books. I love Ms. Hoyt's dark, steamy world of Maiden Lane and this one is one of the steamier ones. I will confess, I suspect there will be some readers who will not be enthralled with this story, mainly because the hero is rather raunchy and he may be tooo much for some. While I found him to be pretty bawdy, for me he wasn't disgusting - he was mesmerizing though. I have to pat Ms. Hoyt on the back for creating a character who I should have found vulgar but instead I found tantalizing.

Sweetest Scoundrel picks up where the other books in the series left off, with the burning to the ground of Harte's Folly. In this book Harte's Folly is being rebuilt by its owner Mr. Harte, aka Asa Makepeace. Asa is borrowing heavily from the unscrupulous Valentine Napier, the Duke of Montgomery. Now it just so happens that Valentine is supposedly in Europe and cannot manage his affairs, so he has left his half-sister Eve Dinwoody in charge of paying the bills. The book begins with a normally quiet Eve pounding on Asa's door because she wants some answers regarding why he's spending so much money. This first chapter allows us to find out right away just what kind of characters we are dealing with. A very stiff, reserved Eve disrupts the play-time of the very male Asa. She storms into his flat only to be stopped by the sight of a nude woman in the middle of his bed. They are instantly irritated with each other. I loved this first engagement between the two.

After a bit of some fit-throwing, Asa decides to allow Eve to oversee his finances. Along the way, there are numerous times when they bicker, but there are also those times when they talk. For all of Asa's crudity, he knows that Eve has had some kind of trauma and he becomes very protective of her. I had one of those moments when I wondered why he was attracted to her in the first place. His initial response to her besides irritation is that she's plain, has no chest and is the owner of a long, large nose. She's not his normal female diet. I became a tad bit distracted just wondering what about her would spark that first attraction for him. Sometimes in Romanceland I have trouble understanding why these people are interested in each other. Eve and Asa rub each other the wrong way from the very beginning, but all of a sudden Asa can't seem to get her out of his mind. I just found it a little hard to buy into Asa's sudden interest in her. Oh well, this is Romanceland, anything is possible, even an extremely sensual guy being interested in a woman with no chest and a big nose.

Thanks to Ms. Hoyt's wonderful writing, we once again get to visit a time period in Great Britain's history that was in flux. This period was the time of George II, after the Stuarts but before the Regency. Morals were coming out of the wilder Restoration period and headed toward the Victorian period. The clothing was heavy duty and the hair was headed toward outrageous. For the wealthy this was a time period of lavishness, for the poor things were pretty bleak. One of the reasons I like the Maiden Lane series so much is that Ms. Hoyt's writing brings this time vividly to life. Plus we get to revisit the Makepeace family.

There is a pretty poignant yet humorous scene which revolves around Asa visiting his family. A family he hasn't seen for over ten years. He doesn't want to go, but Eve forces him. He reciprocates by forcing her to go with him - if he has to go, she's going too. Things are a little tense; there are children galore, the room is full of past heroes and heroines - then Asa gets into a fist-fight with his elder brother Con. It was pretty amazing with testosterone being thrown all over the place.

And now a moment of cleansing. Gather around, my little Petunia's. If you read this book, some of you may feel the need to bathe after some of Asa's dark dippity-doo moments of seduction. Ms. Hoyt has written some pretty descriptive doodling - there's sweat, moisture, grunts, groans; hands here and there. There is even Asa taking things in hand in a dark carriage while wide-eyed innocent Eve watches. The amazing thing is that Ms. Hoyt gets pretty close to the ick line, but then turns it into something gentle. Warning - you will need an iced drink after this book.

Over all, I thought this was a good book and it enhanced a wonderful series. I even liked Asa, with all of his bawdiness. There was a bit of a mystery, but not overpowering. If I had any quibble with the story it would have been the rushed ending. I would have preferred hearing more from Asa. Anyway, for those of you who love Maiden Lane, The Sweetest Scoundrel will not disappoint you. And, Ms. Hoyt, keep those interesting characters coming.

Time/Place: 1700s England
Sensuality: Hot! Hot!!


This is dedicated to all those gazillion of humongous Mr. Toads out there: 

"'Cause you've got - (personality)
Walk - (personality) talk - (personality)
Smile - (personality) charm - (personality)
Love - (personality)
'Cause you got a great big heart
Well over -and over
I'll be a fool for you
Well, well, well over and over
What more can I do"
- Harold Logan and Lloyd Price

Tall, Dark and Wicked by Madeline Hunter

August 9, 2016
Tall, Dark and Wicked is the second book in Madeline Hunter's Wicked Trilogy and
somehow I lost it in my overloaded Nook. So, after a bit of reorganizing and catching up, I read Lord Ywain Hemingford, aka Ives', story.

Ives is the younger brother of the Duke of Aylesbury from The Wicked Duke. Ives is a barrister and a darn good one at that. While Ives isn't one of those Romanceland heroes who have spied for their country, he has prosecuted numerous people for the government. The problem with that is he's an honest, straight-forward kind of a guy and he doesn't like to see people railroaded. He is disturbed by some of the unethical things the government has done to get confessions. He also knows that there is a case coming which in all probability he will be asked to prosecute. Imagine his surprise when the daughter of his possible future case, Padua Belvoir, shows up on his doorstep asking him to defend her father. All that Padua knows is that Ives is the best barrister in the country and she just knows he will save her father. As much as Padua triggers Ives' Mr. Toad to twitch, he turns her down. Disappointed Padua leaves, Ives should be relieved - right? That should be it - he should be able to dust off his hands and go on from there. He is not able to; he just cannot forget the Padua. Against all common sense and I suspect legal sense, Ives starts snooping into her father's case. The more Ives tries to remain detached, the more he becomes attached. It was fascinating watching Ives struggle against Padua's appeal.

Padua is an interesting heroine - she's a quiet determined woman who has dreams. She wants to go to a university in Italy. Evidently Italy was one of the few countries who allowed women in to get a college education. But now her dreams have been put on hold because she believes her father is innocent. Some readers might wonder why she would even care about him. Her father is one of those Romanceland fathers who have ignored their children through the years. He has treated her as if she is of no importance to him. She has tried for many years to win some kind of affection from him, to no avail. Even when she visits him at Newgate, he is detached; he tells her not to come, to leave him alone. He doesn't speak to anyone about any of the crimes he's been accused of. By the way, he has been accused of counterfeiting and sedition, not crimes that would have any kind of light-weight outcome. While I understood Padua's need to have her father's affection, I keep wondering just how many times must one be kicked in the teeth before one moves on. She is definitely loyal and Ives know she is headed for some major pain as he digs deeper into the case. But still her desire for his love at times was very poignant - I did cheer for her when she finally told him where to get off.

Padua and Ives make a nice couple. But I do have a small quibble with their romance. As with most of Ms. Hunter's stories, the sensual tension is thick, the hero overtly sexual, and the whankee-roo in abundance. In fact, there was so much bedroom, floor, wall, table, chair bouncing that I had to skip a few passages. There's finger-puppet action all over the place. Sometimes it seems to me the only reason these passages are in a book is to demonstrate the variety of positions.

Watching how Ms. Hunter was going to solve Ives' conflict of interest was an interesting process. I'm always delighted when an author is so good they can dig really deep holes for their character and then get them out them - without doing what I call "silly" writing. Both Padua and Ives were intelligent people who fall in love. This is pretty much a character-driven book with just a little bit of mystery thrown in. Overall this was a wonderful addition to a great series by Madeline Hunter and I do recommend reading Tall, Dark and Wicked.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Hot!! 


And Then He Kissed Her by Laura Lee Guhrke

August 1, 2016
A visit with an old friend.

While looking for something to read, I stumbled across a review at AAR for the book And Then He Kissed Her by Laura Lee Guhrke. I read the review and decided to pull out my old copy and do a reread. Well, my old copy was yellow and there is just something about yellow pages which disturb me. What's a girl to do? Why buy an electronic copy even when one has a paper copy and one has already read this book. I bet I'm not the only one out there who is rebuying books they already have. Anyway, I purchased the electronic copy of And Then He Kissed Her and I'm glad I did. It was a pure joy to reread one of Ms. Guhrke's older books. And Then He Kissed Her is part of Ms. Guhrke's Girl-Bachelor series and was published in 2007. What a fun read!

This story reminded me a lot of some of the old screw ball comedies that came out of Hollywood in the 30s and 40s. The over efficient 30-year-old spinster who does everything for her oblivious boss, even buys gifts for his family because he doesn't remember their birthdays. Even if he did remember their birthdays, he wouldn't know what to get them, but Emmaline Dove does. She even buys his parting gifts for his mistresses. She listens, she remembers, and she's very very organized. She's a perfect secretary. Emmaline has a dream - she wants to be a writer, an advice column writer. She has been submitting her writing to her boss for years and he's always turned her down. He tells her she needs to do this or that or no one would really be interested in her writing. Her boss is Harry, Viscount Marlowe.

Harry is a very successful publisher and over the years he has sort of ignored Emmaline. Oh sure, he finds her very efficient and he relies on her for tons of stuff, but he doesn't really see her. Even though he is a successful publisher, he doesn't see the need for advice columns. Not to be deterred, Emmaline gives him the latest writing she has done. He once again turns it down and she is very disappointed. Then Harry unknowingly slips up and she finds out that he hasn't read one single word of her writing. To say that Emmaline is mad is an understatement. She quits her job, leaves a note and goes to Harry's competitor. The competitor publishes her work.

When oblivious Harry returns to work, his office is in total chaos; everything is falling apart. He goes to find Emmaline and bring her back to her job, where she should be. But Emmaline has changed. She is no longer willing to be a doormat. She tells Harry just where he can stick his publishing business. Suddenly Harry's eyes are open and he sees Emmaline as something other than a boring person. The fun begins.

There is so much to love with this story. Both Harry and Emmaline are well-developed people. Watching these two come to an understanding had me smiling through almost the whole book. While Harry makes a great hero, Emmaline makes an even greater heroine. Because of Ms. Guhrke's outstanding skill as a writer we get to watch Emmaline as she emerges out of her cocoon into a lovely strong butterfly.

I highly recommend this story! What a great reread and a nice visit with an old friend. And, not that they need me, but I concur with AAR's review.

Time/Place: 1890s England
Sensuality: Warm/Hot


Once a Soldier by Mary Jo Putney

July 29, 2016

"Well, we dig dig dig
Well, we dig in our mine the whole day through...
Heigh-ho, heigh-ho
It's off to work we go
We keep on singing all day long
Heigh-ho" -
Snow White, Disney

Once upon a time Mary Jo Putney wrote one of my alllll time favorite books - The Rake -
with one of my allll time favorite heroes, Reginald Davenport. Hence, it always saddens me when one of my old faithful authors of one of the bestessst books ever presents me with a book which is not up to her standards. Or, at least what I expect from her/him. Once a Soldier is the first book in Mary Jo Putney's Rogues Redeemed series.

Plain speaking. I had a hard time finishing this book. It started out promising. There is the requisite set-up for future books in the series. We get to meet a number of men who just scream "hero." They are in a prison awaiting execution set for the next day. While imprisoned, they have a "I would do this if I were to live" moment. Well, as luck would have it, our intrepid hero Will Masterson finds a way out of the prison, and they all escape. They separate, but vow to always keep in contact with each other. I enjoyed this set-up and I was very much interested in reading Will's story - but it went downhill from there.

Napoleon has just been sent to Elba and the war seems to be over. The troops are returning to their homelands, hoping that everything hasn't been destroyed in the process of Napoleon's march to conquer all. Major Lord Will Masterson, our hero, wants to return home; but before he can, he is sent on a mission by one of the guys from the prison. He is assigned a regiment of soldiers from the little kingdom of San Gabriel. He is to return with them to their country and report on the conditions of San Gabriel. It seems that Great Britain will help out this little country if it has been devastated by Napoleon's trampling through. I guess Great Britain wouldn't have its own financial problems at the time and they could help restore little San Gabriel. Anyway, Will leads San Gabriel's sons back home - at least some of them. When he arrives in San Gabriel he finds destruction, he also finds that the ruling monarch and the monarch's heir have been taken captive or killed or something. Anyway, the king and his son are missing, and they have left the throne in the arms of a regent with Alzheimer’s and an underage princess. But do not fear my little Petunia's, for you see San Gabriel has been saved by the amazonian illegitimate English woman - Athena Markham. Athena has been Princess Sophia's friend and advisor for a long time - Amazon Athena is also our heroine.

Well, Will and Amazon Athena are attracted to each other right away, but before they can really connect there must be the traditional San Gabriel welcome home feast and celebration with music, cheese and Sangria. The Sangria is the best in all Europe, made right here in little San Gabriel. Their wine is better!

Will and Athena wiggle their eyebrows at each other, but before they can go any further Will must call a city council meeting and listen to boring talks on  how to rebuild San Gabriel. He must ponder Great Britain's role in rebuilding San Gabriel - and there is the wine to consider.

Will and Athena gaze into each others eyes, then because Will was an engineer he goes off to the town's waterwheel and with the help of the ex-soldier's they rebuild it. While they are there they have a look at the river - you just never know when you may need to widen a river. After-all you may need to ship wine up/down that river.

Will and Athena touch each other, then they talk about the production of wine. Athena tells Will she saved allllll of the towns wine by putting it in some caves and then sealing the caves. Will must look at the caves, he is an engineer after all.

Will and Athena smile at each other, but then Will decides to rebuild the bridge. Will and the ex-soldiers of San Gabriel rebuild the towns bridge, then they celebrate with wine and cheese. Will's hairs on the back of his neck are twitching.

Will looks at the destroyed vineyards. Why, he has a friend whose family owns vineyards, just over in the next country, over the hills, over the mountains, over the rivers. He sends for his friend Justin. Justin brings saplings. Justin gazes at Princess Sophia, Sophia gazes at Justin - oh dear it's the Princess falling for a commoner plot. It's also a secondary romance thrown in at a time when the main romance isn't working. Why isn't it working? Because it's time for Will to plant some saplings. Will's neck is still twitching.

Justin mentions Will is a lord. Athena throws a hissy fit because she hatessssss all nobles. She goes off in a huff, they reconcile. But Athena knows she is not good enough for Will. Will's neck says something is wrong. Athena and Will have some wine and cheese - San Gabriel's wine is the bestest.

Will and Athena talk. Will and Amazon Athena blow up the sealed caves. The wine is saved!!! Now, the little town can prosper!! But first let's have some wine and cheese. Hey, let's go on a picnic!! And let's take some wine and cheese. Wait a minute, Will's having that pesky hair/neck problem again! And, it's not from all the wine and cheese - it's from some remnants of the French army. After a brief kerfuffle with some renegade French soldiers we find out there's a plan afoot to invade San Gabriel. The evilllll French commander plans to  marry Princess Sophia and get the wine - not necessarily in that order. Will, Athena, Justin and Sophia must come up with a plan to stop hundreds of French soldiers from invading their little city. Picnic over!

Will and Athena do the whankee-roo. Farewell my love, I must be off to blow up the mountain and stop the invading French. I must gather the townsfolk and do some more talking. Even being outnumbered a gazillion to one, Will defeats the nefarious French wine pilferer.

There is more celebration! Break out the wine and cheese!! Welcome the missing king and heir back!!! More wine!! More cheese!!! Justin gets the thumbs up to court the Princess becausssseeee he can make wine!!! Will overcomes Athena's "I can't marry you" routine. They all have some wine and cheese. The end.

Sign. I could not connect with this story. After reading page after page of lessons on "how to rebuild a city destroyed by war," I could feel my eyes glazing over. There wasn't any chemistry between Will and Athena. Too much of the storytelling was spent on other things and not on the romance. This could have been a travelogue book on wine country. Big disappointment.

Time/Place: After the first defeat of Napoleon, San Gabriel (it doesn't exist)
Sensuality: Warm


Shirtless Guys!!! Upcoming HIstorical Releases for August 15 to September 14, 2016

Authors with an asterisk*, I'm picking up! For more Upcoming Releases that aren't historical see Hey Delia!!! August 15, 2016 to September 14, 2016. By the way, it is not my fault if a publisher changes the release dates - just so you know, they do not consult me.
Bronwen Evans

A Taste of Seduction
The Disgraced Lords series
August 16
Cynthia Breeding

Rogue of the Moors
Rogue series
August 30
Elizabeth Michels

The Rebel Heir
Spare Heirs series
September 6
Ella Quinn

When a Marquis Chooses a Bride
Worthingtons series
August 30

Georgie Lee

The Cinderella Governess
Governess Tales series
August 23
Heather Graham

When We Touch
Graham series
August 30
Jane Ashford

What the Duke Doesn't Know
Duke’s Sons series
Sept 6
Jeannie Lin

Swords and Surrender series
August 23
Jenna Kernan

The Warrior’s Captive Bride
August 23
Julia Justiss

Stolen Encounters with the Duchess
Hadley’s Hellions series
August 23
Karen Hawkins*

Mad for the Plaid
The Oxenburg Princes series
August 30
Laura Lee Guhkre*

No Mistress of Mine
American Heiress in 

London series
August 30
Lenora Bell

If I Only Had a Duke
The Disgraceful Dukes series
August 30
Rosanne Bittner

Love's Sweet Revenge
Outlaw Hearts series
September 6
Sarah MacLean*

A Scot in the Dark
Scandal and Scoundrel series
August 30
Susanne Lord

Discovery of Desire
London Explorers series
September 6
Vanessa Kelly

My Fair Princess
Improper Princesses  series
August 30


A Gentleman Never Tells by Eloisa James

July 18, 2016
Big Treasures in small packages.
What a nice read! In A Gentleman Never Tells, Eloisa James presents us with a charming short story. For those of you following along, this one is loosely connected to the Essex sisters, and I do mean loosely - so don't go wracking your brains trying to remember. Just sit back and enjoy.

 I am always impressed with an author when they can come up with a good short story and Ms. James as given us a full, well-written tale with characters who seem to be fully developed. On top of that, the romance part of the book made me smile. This story was a delight.

We have Oliver Berwick, a bachelor who has inherited an outrageous niece. His brain-think while his niece is nattering on was pretty funny. I'm hoping we will see more of this funny teenager in the future. Anyway, Oliver and his niece have been "invited" to a house party. At the house party he becomes immediately interested in Lizzie, Lady Trout. Lizzie is a widow and she wants to stay that way. She has hidden herself away from people; her protection is her books. In her books she finds a place where she belongs and there isn't anyone there to humiliate or degrade her.

Lizzie has not had very good luck in the man department. Her husband died in his mistress' arms. Now while that's bad enough, from the very beginning of her marriage her husband made it very clear that he wanted nothing to do with her. He even blamed Lizzie for his deficiency in the Mr. Toad department. So, in this case we have a legitimate virgin widow. Needless to say, Lizzie viewed herself as a failure. Hurt and dejected, she returned to her father for support. Her father's reply was also rejection, telling her she had to return to her cheese-wad husband. So, Lizzie returned to live with her husband, who in turn lived with his mistress. Not only did he return to his mistress, he was very public about it. It is not at all surprising that Lizzie has become absorbed into the world which books can create. It is also this Lizzie who Oliver falls in love with and presides to help Lizzie see herself as she actually is.

I adored Oliver and Lizzie. They brought out the best in each other. There was plenty of humor throughout this short story. Oliver had a wonderful sense of humor, he was kind and any woman would easily fall in love with him. Lizzie had more angst in her life and was pretty down on herself in the beginning. But under Oliver's gentle hand, she blossoms. She turns into a woman who knows what she wants, knows she has more to offer people and decides on her own that Oliver is the right person for her. Ms. James as created a very memorable couple in just a few short pages. Best of all there's not enough space for a prolonged "I can't marry you because..."

The secondary characters are also fun. Lizzie's sister Cat had a very strong personality. I do admit there were times when Cat almost journeyed into overbearing territory. But I think Cat was desperately worried about her sister and was trying to help in the only way she knew how. Once again I think it helped that Cat's aggressive behavior was in a short story and not a full-length novel. If she had been given a longer time, she probably would have become an unlikable character. The most enjoyable secondary character in the book was Oliver's niece Hattie. Hattie has quite a personality. She's talkative, funny, witty but also wily. Hattie seems to have a underhanded way of getting what she wants and I hope we see more of her in future books.

Overall - I highly recommend this little gem. It was a fast read, nothing was overdone and the couple hit just the right chord with me.

Time/Place: England 1826
Sensuality: Warm/Hot