Candice Proctor project
This was a great project, I got behind in my other readings, but it was good to know that my memory wasn't playing tricks with me. I wish she still wrote romance.

So, in order of preference here goes:
1. Beyond Sunrise A+
2. Whispers of Heaven A
3. A Night in Eden A-
4. September Moon A-
5. The Last Knight B
6. The Bequest
7. Midnight Confessions C-

You really have to pick up one of these Candice Proctor books, I promise you, you'll enjoy them.

Beyond Sunrise, rollicking adventure! A cross between Romancing the Stone and African Queen. And at last a book by Ms. Proctor that has some laughs in it. The story of a starched-up spinster by the name of India and a rude hard-living rogue by the name of Ryder.

The background for this book is set in the lush South Pacific islands, as we follow these two through one adventure after another. This is a fast paced book, raced with a lot of humor as these two people butt heads. This book has some really fun bickering as these two characters fall in love. And once again Ms. Proctor proves that she can create complex secondary characters, including the villain.

I'm rating this one my favorite, I loved these two people. They were fun and poign
ant at the same time.

You really have to pick up one of these Candice Proctor books, I promise you, you'll enjoy them.

Time/Place: 1800's, South Pacific

Sensuality Rating: Warm

Warning! I hates the Yankees to piecccesss, ya'all!

Ok, it seems that I like Candice Proctor books when they are not in the Unite
d States. Midnight Confessions takes place in 1862 New Orleans. And New Orleans is beautifully, atmospherically written in this book. However, I couldn't like the heroine Emmanuelle, a TSTL heroine.

You see Emmanuelle is a Confederate sympathizer and her husband was killed by a dirty Yankee. So, she isn't fond of Yankees, especially dirty ones.. The hero, Zach Cooper is the resident provost marshal...dirty Yankee. Emmanuelle is a witness to a murder, Emmanuelle sees things, she knows things, she must protect her son, she may be the intended victim. But does she tell any of this to Zach? Nooooo, he's a dirty Yankee.

Anyway, this is more of a murder mystery story than a romance and because I really did not like the heroine, I think this must rank among my least favorite of Candice Proctor's books. This story has one of my pet peeves: non-communication between the hero and the heroine, so this love story does not work.

But the scenery is nice. Thank goodness, this was not her first book.

Time/Place: Civil War/Reconstruction New Orleans

Sensuality Rating: Warm

Another good one from Candice Proctor!!
Whispers of Heaven is set in Tasmania in the 1840's and once again we get to see the prison system that was part of the Engli
sh empire. This time it isn't quite as rough as Night in Eden.

The heroine, Jesmond, is returning to a land she loves from 2 years spent schooling in England. She returns to an aristocratic overbearing mother, a brother who has some problems of his own, an English gentry stuffed shirt fiancee. She assumes she will be returning to the life she left behind and just do what is expected of her. Enter Lucas Gallagher, a convict laborer on their estate.

Now, this may sound like a plot from some other books, however, in the hands o
f Ms. Proctor the story turns into something truly magical. This is really Jessie's story, its a truly amazing story of her struggle to conform to the role that has been created for her. Her struggle is presented realistically; she doesn't reject her way of life as soon as the hero makes his appearance. This is a character driven story, and the tension in the story is mainly from those characters with very little external conflict. While I found Lucas to be a interesting hero, it is Jessie that steals the show. Also, Ms. Proctor has once again created some very intriguing secondary characters, I wish that she had written a sequel or something with them in it; but, noooo, she had to start writing murder mysteries!

This book is what romance novels are all about.

Tasmania 1840's

Sensuality Rating: Warm

The Last Knight, another vivid novel by Proctor, this one in Medieval England during the reign of Henry II and his dysfunctional family. That dysfunctional family is the background story for which the romance is built around.

Basically, Attica, a woman of her time not some 21st century woman, is awaiting an arranged marriage to a 14 year-old boy nickname Fulk the Fat. She stumbles across some secret message about Henry II and decides that the only one she can trust is her brother Stephen, who is with Henry II. So, she dresses up as a boy and on her journey stumbles across our surly hero Damion de Jamac, a knight with some problems.

The book is really well researched, and full of the noise, images and smells of the time. The love story is not a love at first sight story, we get to watch them fall. And, while they are doing that, they stay true to the time period. The villains are all very interesting and have their own story, which I would have liked to read more of, but alas, that could not be. The middle of the book bogged down a little, but the ending more than made up for it. The one big problem I had was with the solution of Stephen. I'm not going to write what that was, however, because of what happens to Stephen, I wondered if the couple could really ever have a happy ending. According to Candice Proctor they can, so it must be true.

Time/Place: 1180's France-Brittany
Sensuality Rating: Warm/Hot

Note to self: When rereading a heavy-duty beloved writer, throw a Julia Quinn in for laughs.

September Moon! Candice Proctor returns to the Australian outback with this tale of a destitute English spinster (29) taking on the job of governess for 3 children who have systematically chased off all of their other governesses.

Amanda Davenport is a so very proper Englishwoman, when she arrives to take care of Patrick O'Reilly's children from hell and if they aren't bad enough, there is a drought going on. Patrick's English wife has left him for another man when the youngest of his children was a baby, so he has a slight grudge against Englishwomen. Amanda slowly grows to care for the children;and these children were not 21 parading as nine, but very realistically portrayed. There is some really great sexual tension between Patrick and Amanda. There are some very touching moments with the children, and we get to watch Amanda gradually change from hating Australia to loving it. All of the characters in this book are well-drawn and one of the most compelling secondary characters is the Australian outback itself. What a harsh place, and what an interesting portrait Candice Proctor has drawn of it.

Time/Place: Australian Outback 1864

Sensuality rating: Warm/Hot

The Bequest is set in Colorado in the late 1800's and once again this not a light fluffy read. This is also not as good as Night in Eden. Maybe it's because it is a western and I'm not a great fan of westerns. This one has the Girl Raised in Convent Inherents Her Mothers Brothel And Falls For The Half Owner plot.

In the hands of Proctor this is a pretty gritty, filthy, smelly story and there is way too much violence in it for my taste. I could use a good comedy right now, but I'm going on with my project.

This was really too realistic for my tastes, and I couldn't really give it a good rating because I didn't like it. Although the writing was superb.

Time/Place: Colorado 1870
Sensuality Rating: Warm/Hot

A Night in Eden
When I started reading A Night in Eden, I had to keep reminding myself that this was Candice Proctor's debut romance novel. The more I read, the more I wished she was still writing romance instead of mystery. Sigh...

This book has a number of unsettling things in it; it is not a light fluffy read. The heroine, Bryony is a convict who has been sent to the New South Wales penal colony (Australia). The harsh treatment of the women and the heroine in this book is not sugar coated. When Bryony arrives, she has lost everything, her children, her husband, her home. She is a dirty, vermin-ridden sad creature. The hero, Hayden,...let me tell you, his entrance into the book is some of the best descriptive writing I've read. I really could visualize him, with his big ol' hat shading his eyes, smoking his cheroot.

Hayden has come seeking a woman who will be a wet-nurse to his son, so, Bryony becomes his prisoner/servant/slave.

This book by Ms. Proctor is refreshing. It is powerful in it's descriptions, from a horrible justice system to the extraordinarily magnificent landscape that is Australia. And, this was her first book, keep repeating it.

I highly recommend this book, but remember this isn't something that is going to make you laugh...this is a deeply disturbing, moving story.

Now, I did give this story a minus. The reason: I had a minor issue with a tiny little sentence (I am not going to say what sentence, but it is one of my hot buttons) and one of the characters in the book just kind of disappeared. But, these were little.

Read it!
Time/Place: 1800's New South Wales/Australia
Sensuality Rating: Hot


Cleansing Palette !!!

After the last few books, with the exception of Laura Lee Guhrke, I feel the need to cleanse my palette. So, I have chosen to reread some old ones by one of my favorite authors Candice Proctor. At least my memory says I like her. They are in order of publication: Night in Eden 1997, The Bequest 1998, September Moon 1999, The Last Knight 2000, Whispers of Heaven 2001, Midnight Confessions 2002 and Beyond Sunrise 2003. Ms. Proctor is now writing mysteries under the name of C.S. Harris. I understand that her mysteries are pretty good, but I've never read them.

I'll let you know if my memory lives up to my expectations or is it vice versa?

To Wed a Wicked Earl by Olivia Parker
I was looking forward to the second novel by Olivia Parker, To Wed a Wicked Earl, but I have to say it was a struggle to get through this. I just keep slogging through hoping for a good story, I finally gave up around page 300. The story started out great, then it jumped to a year later, then it jumped to a month later, then jumped again and again and again; you get the picture. We never get to see the romance develop between the two main characters. And supposedly the hero Adam has loved Charlotte for years, however, that doesn't stop him from indulging his baser instincts with other women.

The book is almost 400 pages, so one would think there would be plenty of time for some kind of relationship to grow. There was no connection, and I never ever knew why Adam love Charlotte. And way way too much flitting from one scene to another. I really wanted to like this book, but I didn't, hope her next one is better, if not she's off my list.

Time Period: Regency England
Sensuality Rating: Warm


With Seduction in Mind by Laura Lee Guhrke
Laura Lee Guhrke has written some of my favorite books, she's also written some books that are considered controversial. This book, With Seduction in Mind, is part of her Bachelor Girls series and I really enjoyed it.

I found it a fascinating journey into Writerland. Both the main characters in this book are writers. Sebastian is a famous author on his way down, in fact Daisy calls him a second rate Oscar Wilde. And Daisy is an unpolished, unpublished, eager to begin writer. These two characters are witty, intelligent and well matched. Sebastian really reminded me of those cynical actors from the 30/40's, George Sanders, Clifton Webb and the storyline was like some old movies, Twentieth Century with Carole Lombard, His Girl Friday with Gary Grant and A Star is Born. There are some really great lines in this book. One of my favorite line in the book is when Sebastian is critiquing Daisy's book, "You have to kill the dog." You know the more I think about this book, the more I like it.

Now, something that may bother others, but didn't me. As I read this book, the romance between the two characters seemed to be a background for a story about writing. I really have to recommend this story to anyone who is trying their hand at writing, it has some really great insight into that world.

This is a stand alone book, even though it is a part of a series.

Time period: 1896 England
Sensuality Rating: Hot


The Conqueror's Lady by Terry Brisbin
Another disappointment. The Conqueror's Lady by Terri Brisbin started out promising, but by the end, I just wanted it to be over. It takes place in what must have been just a horrible time for the people of England, right after the Battle of Hastings. Personally, this is one of my favorite time periods to read about, there was so much going on historically, so, I was intrigued by a chance to read something not in the Regency time.

Ms. Brisbin does do a good job capturing the realities of that time, it's just too bad I didn't like the characters. Giles Fitzhenry, a bastard Norman is granted the land that Fayth's Saxon family owned. He is also granted Fayth as a wife. For me there are just too many problems that needed to be solved in the space of 300 pages. Giles is a bastard, he is governing land where the people hate him, his Norman neighbor hates him, he can't trust his wife, he may have killed her father, he can't read. Fayth is hiding big big secrets, she can't trust Giles, she doesn't tell him things she should and she is really close to be a TSTL heroine. Of the two characters in this book, I found Giles to be the better written.

And oh yes, this is the second in a The Knights of Brittany series, I probably won't be picking up the third.

Time Period: England 1066
Sensuality Rating: Warm


The Laird who Love Me by Karen Hawkins
This is supposed to be the finale of the MacLean series, however, something about the ending of this one made me wonder if there would be more. Because the curse didn't end! The Laird who Loved Me by Karen Hawkins is a revenge story. Now, I'm not really sure how the subject matter is chosen by publishers, but this is the fourth book in a row I've read that has a revenge plot.

Sorry to say (because I love Karen Hawkins) I had a number of problems with this book: First of all the revenge plot. The hero, Alex, is going to ruin the heroine, Caitlyn...why? Because she was, in a round about way, responsible for tricking his brother and her sister into marriage (see: Sleepless in Scotland). They are perfectly happy, so why does he want to ruin her I ask over and over and over and over. Didn't get it!
: the hero is 39, I think, the heroine is 23. Now, the age difference wouldn't bother me if the characters were written a little bit better or should I say the hero, because he is so obsessive about reeking revenge on Caitlyn, one would think he was a 12 year old boy.
Third: the two characters have this silly wager thing going on and neither one of them thinks about any of the physical harm that can be done by any of these wagers. And there are people that get hurt. I think this was supposed to be funny, but it wasn't. Fourth: There were parts of this book that seemed like whole chapters were just deleted. You see our heroine going to do one of her wagers and then the next chapter the wager is completed and won, but you never actually read about it. Our hero gets stung by bees, while climbing a tree, but you hear about it instead of seeing it. The villainous ex-mistress storyline just ends and you don't get to see her getting her comeuppance. When the hero and heroine go their separate ways, you never get to see the hero suffering or thinking it over, he just shows up at her house and all is forgiven.

This book is an example of some really sloppy writing or editing or both. If you've been reading the MacLean series, I'd say read this one, but check it out of your local library.

Incidentally, the tartan on this cover connects to the tartan on the last book cover.

Time: England and Scotland Regency
Sensuality Rating: Hot


Her Ladyship's Companion by Evangeline Collins

Nice cover
Warnings! Virgin Wife Alert!

This is an interesting book to review, because the writing in this book was very good. I'm always rather dubious when a book is categorized as "erotic" because the writing in a lot of those books just isn't very good. However, instead of page after page of sex (and there was) there is some really strong character development. Her Ladyship's Companion is Evangeline Collins debut novel and it's a good start and I will probably read her next one.

Infidelity! One of the verboten topics of romanceland is books that have infidelity in them and for the most part only a few authors tackle that topic. I have my own rules about it in books, it has be before the book began and they have to work that problem out or it has to be accidental. Accidental as in they think their spouse is dead. It can never be after they have developed a relationship and then it happens, hate that! So, what's my point? The heroine of this book, the virgin wife, becomes involved with a male prostitute, Gideon (the hero). The husband is still alive and he is really an abusive skank! I'm not sure if men can be skanks, but this one was. Anyway, this part of the book was one of the things that kept me from giving it a higher rating.

I also had a problem with the brothers of the heroine. They were both very selfish men, and they distracted from the story because the author told us a little about their background, but didn't tie up any loose ends with them. A quick check of the author's website does not indicate that she's writing about them, so I wondered why tell us all the details?

The character I liked the best in the book was, much to my surprise Gideon, the hero aka male prostitute. And I give credit to Ms. Collins superb writing for making him such a sympathetic character. I could really understand how the heroine, Isabella, came to love him. I found it harder to understand how Gideon came to love Isabella and even though they had their required HEA, I see problems in the future for them. Of course, this is fiction, but Isabella's character doesn't seem strong enough to handle the problems that one would run into if one would marry a ex-male prostitute.

I was also distracted by the use of certain words that were used during sex; that always get my dander up. I have never, ever found any of them to be sexy in any way, and if anyone would ever say them or shout them to me during the big moment, I'd have to laugh at them. You know those words: the "F" word, the other "C" word. And while I'm on the subject of sex, the heroine had the "BIG O" waaay to many times.

So, this was a hard book for me to review, I liked the writing but I can't say I loved the book. It was an interesting try by a first time author.

Time: Regency Scotland
Sensuality Rating: Scorcher


Surrender of a Siren by Tessa Dare
Privateer/Reformed Pirate Alert!

How can I like books that have my pet peeves in them. Easy, it is the writing. Ms Dare's first book had the stubborn heroine, and this book has the reformed Pirate/Privateer as the hero. Surrender of a Siren is the second book in a trilogy by Tessa Dare and what a wonderful book it is! It is a stand alone book, but I recommend reading the first one, just for the pure enjoyment.

Sophia was one of the very interesting secondary characters from the first book, and she don's the disguise of a governess in this one to escape marriage to someone she doesn't love. Don't like disguises either, but I have so many pet peeves, it's only logical that I'm going to trip over some of them. Anyway, she boards a ship owned by Benedict Grayson, who has just given up being a scoundrel and is trying to live the straight and narrow. Did I happen to mention that Sophia lies, she makes up some whopping stories and she wants grand passion. So much for "Gray's" plan.

Sophia is an interesting character, she's selfish and she hurts people, however she isn't a mean person. She eventually learns about herself, partly because of her friendship with a 15 year old boy, David (well constructed character). And, while I'm on the subject of well-constructed secondary characters, this book is filled with them. The interaction that Gray has with his brother Joss is almost as interesting as the interaction between Sophia and Gray. Ms. Dare writes fully developed secondary characters that are more than just backdrops for the romance. And there is a wonderful touching scene between Gray and his brother as they try to resolve some of their differences.

The only problem I had was with Gray's reaction when he found out about Sophia's money. However, that's just a small quibble, because it didn't last very long.

So far, I've really enjoyed Tessa Dare, but now I have to wait almost three weeks for the third installment. The third installment, A Lady of Persuasion, is about Toby, Sophia's spurned fiancee and Isabel, Gray's Quaker sister.

Part of trilogy
Time Period: Regency
Place: Mostly on ship
Sensuality Rating: Warm to Hot