One Night in Scotland by Karen Hawkins

MacGuffin Alert!

Anyone who has ever seen a Hitchcock movie or any mystery should know what a MacGuffin is. A MacGuffin is that thing, that something, that focus, the mysterious object that everyone is after. We may never know what it is or what it does, but that's not important. In fact, sometimes the story is over and we never know what that thing was that people were dying for. However, the MacGuffin is the reason everyone is together... looking for it, hiding it, sneaking in rooms for it. Well, there's one in this story and like a true MacGuffin, in the end it isn't really relevant to the romance of the two main characters, but it gives them a reason to be together.

This is the first in the Hurst Amulet series, One Night in Scotland, by Karen Hawkins. I'm assuming that the Amulet, aka MacGuffin, will be a continuing plot line in all of the books, which also seem to be connected by the Hurst family. When I picked up this book, I did so with a little trepidation. I have read Karen Hawkins' historicals since she was a little tadpole, and I always liked them. For the most part, they are light-weight reads, with strong humorous elements in them. However, Ms. Hawkins' last few publications have had a rushed feel about them, and I've been very disappointed. I thought perchance I had lost another author to contemporary land, but then I read One Night in Scotland. Much of Ms. Hawkins' trademark humor is back, and even though the book drags in the middle, I have to say that the heroine in this book, Mary Hurst, was fantastic. She was the most amusing character I've read in a long time! Yes, she's feisty, but in a good way. I just loved the dialogue that came out of Mary's mouth. I also felt that Angus, hero, was a strong counterpart to her and as a couple they were great! I only wish there had been more of these two interacting with each other.

There were some things that I had a little bit of a problem with. I did get a little tired of the continued comparison to the former wife and I felt that the quasi-villain was a little weak. And the middle of the book seemed to slow down. Now, while I was disappointed in the almost-villain, the other secondary characters were strong and actually quite a hoot.

Although this book is not quite as good as some of Ms. Hawkins' earlier works, this is still a fun read, with a great, funny heroine. Just ignore the slow middle and enjoy the rest of this light-weight, fast paced book. Good start to a new series.

Time/Place: 1822 Scotland
Sensuality Rating: Warm


On My Radar!! December/January

Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, Connie Brockway, The Lady Most Likely, anthology
Release date December 28, 2010


Laura Lee Guhrke,
Wedding of the Season, Abandoned at the Altar series
Release date December 28, 2010

Vicky Dreiling, debut, How to Marry a Duke
Release date January 1, 2011


Yes, pretty slim pickings this month thanks to a certain publisher (They Who Must Not Be Named), who changed their formatting to ebook only. I will be waiting for the trade paperback.

For complete list of upcoming releases, see http://sidneykay.blogspot.com/2007/12/upcoming-releasesend-of-december.html


2010 Rollin', rollin', rollin'

Move 'em on, head 'em up, Head 'em up, move 'em out, Move 'em on, head 'em out Rawhide!

What's that I see coming around the bend...why it's 2011. So, you know what that means...it's time for the end of the year wrap-up! Are we excited yet? And, yes I am aware it's really not the end of the year.

This has been an exciting year...started my Memories Schmemories, which I found to be enlightening, at least for me. I received the wonderful Bodacious Blog award from Tracy over at Tracy's Place http://ahhhhhromance.blogspot.com/and found some marvelous fellow bloggers at DIK Ladies Rule (love that name) http://dikladiesrule.blogspot.com/ ...great time! Joined some of my fellow sufferers in trying to write 50,000 words in a month as part of National Novel Writers Month http://www.nanowrimo.org/. Found out I'm a slow writer, but it's been fun and I'm looking forward to rereading my work. I know there is some cringe worthy text in there.

So, now it's time for my 2010 majestic awards to go out, this year I have added a few new ones. Isn't this exciting? Head em' up, move em' out!

Favorite Reads for 2010 (doesn't mean they were published in 2010) In no particular order:
Mad About the Duke by Elizabeth Boyle
The Tenacious Miss Tamerlane by Kasey Michaels 1982 (Memories Schmemories)
The Devil Wears Plaid
by Teresa Medeiros
by Jill Barnett 1994 (Memories Schmemories)
Wicked Intentions
by Elizabeth Hoyt
Last Nights Scandal
by Loretta Chase
by Anne Stuart
The Rake
by Mary Jo Putney 1998 (Memories Schmemories)
A Lady's Guide to Improper Behavior
by Suzanne Enoch
The Kiss
by Sophia Nash 2008 (Memories Schmemories)
In For a Penny
by Rose Lerner
Dreaming of You
by Lisa Kleypas 1994 (Memories Schmemories)
The House Party
by Anne Stuart 1985 (Memories Schmemories)
A Matter of Class
by Mary Balogh
His Christmas Pleasure
by Cathy Maxwell

Breaking News!
Congratulations to Courtney Milan and Kieran Kramer! Nominated for Best First Historical Book over at RT (Romantic Times) Reviews. See, Ms. Kramer I knew there was an award nomination in the air, just didn't know which one. I was also pleased to see a number of other books that I've actually read were nominated, congratulations to all of those authors! For complete list of nominees: http://www.rtbookreviews.com/

2010 Favorite Debut Authors or New Discovery Authors. All of these authors are to be congratulated, first of all for getting published and secondly for being so good! Some great writing ahead!
Rose Lerner http://www.roselerner.com/
Sarah MacLean http://blog.macleanspace.com/index.html
Courtney Milan http://www.courtneymilan.com/
Sara Lindsey http://www.saralindsey.net/
Kieran Kramer http://kierankramerbooks.com/

And here fellow readers is my list of 2010 Disappointments
Castles in the Air by Christiana Dodd 1993 (the only thing saving this book is the extra arm.)
Patience by Liza Valdez (every year I patiently updated by database waiting for this one and sad to say wasn't even able to finish it. )
Christmas with the Duchess by Tamera Lejeune (another DNF for me. I love Tamera Lejeune silly, funny, quirky stories...but this one was so disappointing, I couldn't even write about it. Couldn't review.)
Desires of a Perfect Lady by Victoria Alexander (this book had the honor of winning my first zzzz award.)
In Bed with the Duke by Christina Dodd (I waited for years for another historical from Ms. Dodd. I was very disappointed in this book, in fact, I believe the writing in this book caused me to go into one of my rants. )
Faith by Deneane Clark (groan. )

This year we have a best dog award, which from now on will be called The Gus Award:
And the winner of the 2010 Gus Award is: Gus from Dreaming by Jill Barnett, 1994 (Gus was the best part of the book, thank you Gus! Gus, Gus, Gus! What a funny looking word Gus is.)

Favorite Cover Award
Mostly, I ignore the covers of books, but every once in a while one catches my eye. And, let me say this about that, I'm one of those people!! I don't care if the top of the head is cropped off.

The Rohan family books by Anne Stuart, Reckless, Ruthless and Breathless.
I thought these covers were well executed, had wonderfully lush color and great costumes. Loved all three covers.
A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh.
A nice simple classy cover, with nary a boob in sight.
In for a Penny by Rose Lerner.
A deceptive cover for a romance book and one that might have been overlooked because of the cover, however it is lovely.
Never Less than a Lady by Mary Jo Putney,
Loved that turquoise dress!

2010 Favorite Romance Families
The Weston family by Sara Lindsey
The MacKenzie brothers by Jennifer Ashley

2010 Creepiest Villain
Harcroft from Trial by Desire by Courtney Milan, I found Harcroft utterly fascinating...and in the end he didn't turn out to be a hero in waiting!

And now the one you've been waiting for...the 2010 Mr. Toad Award:
Jarret from A Hellion in Her Bed by Sabrina Jeffries, any book that makes me reach for a ruler deserves some kind of award.
Mathew from Patience by Liza Valdez, Mathew's Mr. Toad does every thing but walk and talk. Maybe it did, I never finished the book.
William from The Libertine by Judith James, only in Romanceland can a man take a zillion women into his bed and not get Mr. Toad Pox.


The Duke's Temptation by Jillian Hunter

I'm stymied!

Yes, folks...I said I'm stymied. And here's why. A Duke's Temptation by Jillian Hunter is giving me fits as to how to rate it. There were parts of this book that I loved, loved, loved and then there were parts of this books that had me scratching my head and uttering that profound word: "HUH?"

Let's start with the love feast. This book has a little bit of everything, it has a little gothic overtones, a little paranormal, murder, mystery, fun, laughs, quirky characters. Samuel and Lily are one of the best romance couples I've read in a long time. They talk to each other, they have a good time, they at no point in the story feel that they are not good enough for each other, they are mostly honest with each other. And, biggie here: when he proposes, she accepts!!! Samuel is a writer, and this part was fascinating, his characters come alive (sorta.) He and his quirky staff enact his stories while he's in the process of writing, part of his writing technique...and I found it very amusing. Samuel is an interesting character, he's a vegetarian (we don't know why) and he's scarred from a fire. Now, this fire wasn't explained very well in the book, I suspect it will be part of a plot in another book in the series which I also suspect will be about his sister. But, I don't know because Ms. Hunter's website doesn't say anything about who is next in the series. Lily was a delightful heroine and I had some laugh out loud moments with her. I loved it when she called Samuel Mr. Coachman.

Now, let's talk about the issues that had me scratching my head. Her parents and brother. I don't want to spoil too much of the book, but let's just say I found their reaction to what she witnesses to be truly dumbfounding. Obviously, they've known their daughter for a long time, so why they choose to believe her fiance over her had me creating creases in my forehead. I know, I know, it's a plot device used to get her from where she was in the first half of the book to her final destination in the second half of the book, but I thought it was one of the weakest parts of the book. And then toward the end of the book there were some events that had a rushed disjointed feel about them.

So, I'm stymied. There are parts of this book that have some very strong writing and are filled with wonderful quirky antics and people. Those parts of the book make me want to take it to a Desert Island along with an A...but then there are parts that take an amazingly different romance story and make it average. Light bulb over my head! That's what bothers me, those parts that I don't like I would have to classify as typical romance and they don't fit in a book that for the most part is not your normal run-of-the-mill romance story.

I'm looking forward to the next installment of the Bridal Pleasures series, and hope that Ms. Hunter continues down the quirky road.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality Rating: Almost Hot!


When Harry Met Molly by Kieran Kramer

Too many Harry's!!!

I could have had a really big problem with this book, first of all the title, When Harry Met Molly, Yipes!!!! When Harry Met Sally is one of my favorite movies, so I knew from the start that I'd be comparing the two. Secondly, I just finished the whole Harry Potter series right in the middle of starting this story...I had Harry's coming out of the whazoo and when I'd read this book, I'd have to adjust my mind from a sixteen year old wizard to a manly man. On the previous book, I had a problem, but with this book I was able to make the adjustment. And, I'm glad I did. And, I'm also glad to say that I think we have another winning author.

There were a lot of concepts in this book that called for ye' ol' stretch of the imagination, but this was a feel good book from the beginning to the very end. And even with all the silliness, there are moments that we can see into the characters of the hero, Harry and the heroine, Molly.

These two people have known each other from childhood and irritated each other for the same amount of time. One of these irritating episodes brings about a life changing aftermath for both of them. So, they both carry grudges, insult each other, bicker, constantly get on each others nerves...a set up for a perfect romance.

I thought this book was interesting on a number of different levels. First of all, of course, it is a funny, silly, farcical read and you should smile a lot throughout. But, what I found interesting was the almost hidden darkness of the characters, especially the men and their casual attitude toward women. I'm hoping the author intends to explore this in some of her future books, especially the secondary characters Lumley and Maxwell.

However, in the end, this is a good romance about two antagonist, who also turn out to be best friends. And, it was nice to read a fun debut book. Looking forward to more from Ms. Kramer.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality Rating: Hot


Ten Ways to be Adored When Landing a Lord by Sarah Maclean

Beware silly titles! They can be misleading!

I thought when I purchased Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord, that it would be a light-heartened romp. I was led to believe this by the title, which is one of those cutesy titles that the publishing world is so fond of at the moment. Also, I liked Ms. MacLean's last book Nine Rules to Break when Romancing a Rake. That was a fun read.

This story had a promising start and I thought I was in for a some laughs. The whole plot-line of Nicholas (the hero) being bombarded by marriage minded women was amusing. And, then he escapes into the country to find a missing girl and the momentum slowed down. Even then there were some funny scenes or shall I say scenes that could be funny, however, I found Isabel's unwillingness to trust Nicholas grating. And let me say this about the heroine: a-n-n-o-y-i-n-g. She was stubborn, she didn't trust Nicholas, she didn't ask for help (and believe me she needed help,), she couldn't admit she loved Nicholas. Annoying. When Isabel was first introduced I thought I was going to like her, I was ready to be entertained by her...but once she was introduced to Nicholas, I just wanted to punch her in the face. And, I really didn't like the Nicholas' disappearing act toward the end of the book. What was the purpose of that?

Except for a very interesting plot-line involving Georgina and her brother the duke, the secondary characters were mostly cardboard characters. I'm assuming there is a story in the works involving Georgina and her brother, because those loose ends need to be tied.

This wasn't a bad story and I really like this author, it was just a slow story which had the misfortune to have a really annoying heroine in it.

Time/Place: 1820's England
Sensuality Rating: Hot


Rules of an Engagement by Suzanne Enoch

Thrills! Chills! High Sea Adventure! Nah.

This is what you get when you are trying to finish the Harry Potter series before the movie opens at the theater. I keep thinking that it must have been the excitement of Harry Potter that made Suzanne Enoch's Rules of an Engagement so dull. Rules of Engagement is part of the Adventurer's Club series and Bradshaw, the hero, is the brother of Robert from England's Perfect Hero and Tristan from The Rake.

This is not one of Ms. Enoch's best efforts. In fact, I was down right disappointed and yes, I blame Harry Potter! (Not really.) You would think that a book filled with cannibals, adventure on the high sea, pirates, privateers, typhoons, and Tahiti would be exciting. Nah. In fact, all of these plots (and these were just a few of the plots, because there were some snooty aristocrats, a very self-centered father and an almost villain doctor thrown in) never seemed to build to any climax. The cannibals look at the "adventurers" grumpily, so the "adventurers" leave the island. The doctor has impregnated two girls, but he later apologizes. The French pirates may try to murder our hero, so our hero drills holes in the pirate ship and the ship sinks. The typhoon approaches, we have a dance, then sex and then the typhoon is over. We land on Tahiti, find the one-eyed native "King George," listen to a lame story about a mirror and get tattooed. There were so many plots in this book and they just left me flat. I felt as if the author keep changing her mind as to the direction she was taking the story.

And the only glimmer I could see was the almost romance between Bradshaw and Zephyr. If there had just been more of their moments together I would have enjoyed this story a whole lot. They talked, they bantered, they laughed together... too bad they were left in the shade.

I was really bummed out. I had to force myself to finish this book. The romance was short-changed in favor of a million-kazillion plots that went no where. Back to Harry!

Time/Place: 1800's South Pacific
Sensuality: Almost hot


On My Radar!!

Kieran Kramer, Dukes to the Left of Me, Princes to the Right...Impossible Bachelor series...Release date November 30, 2010

Lynsay Sands, Hungry for You...Argeneau series...Release date November 30, 2010

Cathy Maxwell, His Christmas Pleasure...Scandals and Seduction series...Release date November 30, 2010

Kasey Michaels, How to Wed a Baron...Daughtry Family series...Release date December 1, 2010

Anne O'Brien, Chosen for the Marriage Bed...Release date December 1, 2010

Virginia Henley, Maggie Robinson, Kate Pearce, Lord of Passion... anthology...Release date December 1, 2010

For rest of upcoming publication see: Upcoming list, Hey Delia!