a Secret Affair by Mary Balogh

The "I daresay" queen is back!!!

You know, someday I'm going to count all of the times Mary Balogh uses the slang "I daresay" in her books, I would have this time, except I was a fourth of the way through before I started to notice I was becoming irritated with it. I thought about counting daresay, daresay, daresay, but I would have to go back to the beginning and that would have been counterproductive to my finishing the story, so I didn't. But some day...

A Secret Affair is the fifth and final book in the Huxtable series. This is Con's story, you remember Con, the not so nice guy from the other four books. Well, he had you fooled, turns out he's a swell guy...more than swell, he's a man not of his time period. Almost, I daresay, an Alan Alda kind of guy. This touchy-feely Con is one of the many secrets in this book (along with Hannah's secret) that really stretch the limits of believability. I don't want to spoil any plots, but let's just say they're both good-deed-doers.

If you are at all familiar with Mary Balogh's writing, you should be aware that this is one of her slower paced books, and that's saying a lot, I daresay. We also get to catch up on all the other Huxtable clan, but it's not in one of those irritating final scenes where they are all in a room together celebrating Christmas...their appearances serve to enhance the plot. The characters are well-developed, there is even some humor and a lot of heartbreak, especially when Con remembers his brother Jon. As far as Hannah, I really had a hard time in the beginning of the book liking her. However, she does have a number of poignant moments, one of them being her speech on how being beautiful has harmed her. I daresay that sounds arrogant, and she is in the beginning.

I liked the beginning of the book better than the end, but, I daresay, overall it was a pretty good book. While not one of Mary Balogh's "blow-you-away" books, it was a fitting conclusion to the Huxtable series. And, I daresay, I do recommend it!

Time/Place: Late Regency England...and is it still Regency if the Regent is the King?
Sensuality Rating: Hot sorta


Memories Schmemories, Part VII, The Raven Sisters by Dorothy Mack

You know, I'm really enjoying this project!

The Raven Sisters, written in 1977, was Dorothy Mack's debut book. There are a number of things about this book I remember. First of all, the cover - I've always loved the cover. At first glance your eyes are drawn to the pretty blonde sitting on the desk, candlelight reflecting off her skin. In the background shadows is another woman, and it is that woman, Carina, who is the heroine of the book. That is also one of the themes flowing through this book - the mousey younger sister who is overlooked by everyone because they're always looking at the stunning older sister. However, don't get the wrong idea about sibling rivalry because Carina and the older Elizabeth are very close, loving sisters. My ickometer was going off though - you see, Carina is 17 years old! I also couldn't quite get a clasp on whether this was a Regency or Georgian - the cover says Georgian, the writing feels Regency - so that's a mystery.

There are two love stories in this book. The main one between Carina and the hero (with the unlikely name of Gavin), and the secondary story between the stunning, quiet Elizabeth and the stoic Edward (childhood friend.) We see most of the story through Carina's eyes, with an occasional glimpse into Gavin's thoughts.

Another vivid memory I had of this book was the moment Gavin (hate that name) realizes Carina isn't a child and his very jealous reaction - I enjoyed the moment when I first read it in '77 and I enjoyed it this time.

This is a very traditional Regency - no sex - and what Gavin and Edward do when they are not with Carina and Elizabeth is never discussed. I remember wondering if Edward had been celibate for two years, unlike today's books, he never clears that up. You never hear "I've been celibate for two years," or "Of course, I've had other women, I'm only a man after all." You also never hear the promise of faithfulness.

The Raven Sisters has a number of standard plots (or they are standard now) - the highwayman; the E-V-I-L suitor; a kidnapping; girl dressing up as a boy; the magical cutting of the long, heavy hair into a bouncy curly, halo of flaming red. But even with all the standard devices, it was a pretty good read.

I couldn't find too much information on Dorothy Mack aka Alexandra Dors aka Dorothy McKittrick, other than she wrote 23 novels between 1977-2005. If you like traditional Regency that are sweet, then I recommend at least one of Dorothy Mack's early works.

Time/Place: Georgian or Regency
Sensuality Rating: Kisses


Seducing the Highlander by Emma Wildes

I know, I know, I've said before that I wasn't going to buy anymore anthologies/novellas, but when I placed my order I didn't realize that it was one. I ordered Seducing the Highlander because I've enjoyed the last couple of books Emma Wildes wrote, and really didn't check into anything beforehand. Beware, consumers. Then when I found out it was an anthology, I wasn't too concerned because Ms. Wildes usually has more than one storyline going on and they're usually pretty good.

Having said that, let me say this: each one of these stories is loaded with sex, sex, sex. In fact there is so much sex that the story lines suffer. There's Seducing Ian, Seducing Robbie (Ian's brother) and Seducing Adain (betrothed to Robbie's wife). I preferred the plot development in Seducing Robbie, although, I liked the Adain's character best and I was disappointed his story was so short.

Each of these stories seemed to have the same plot threading through them - the villains were eliminated quickly and the sex in all three went through the same routine (must have been a copy paste thing.)

This is one of those over-sized trade paperbacks, so the price is around $14.00 depending on where you get it. This is a fast read, nothing exciting, no emotion and lots of copy - paste sex. Probably a check-it-out-of-the-library item and take-it-to-the-beach book.

Time/Place: 1700 Scotland
Sensuality Rating: Copy - Paste Scorching


Wicked Becomes Her by Meredith Duran

Do heroes have hairy moles?

Well, what can I say... Wicked Becomes Her was an interesting book to read. I am a big fan of Meredith Duran's wonderful writing. Some of the writing in this book was so vivid you could smell it, especially when the characters journey to Paris. There must have been lots of research going on to make the time period in that particular place seem so alive.

I thought the verbal exchanges between Gwen and Alex were wonderful, witty, and at times I even chuckled at some of them. I was especially fond of all the inner workings that were rummaging around in their heads. And, I was really liking this story until we came to an embarrassing moment.

Let me stop and ramble about embarrassing moments in books and movies. I used to think it only happened to me, but I think that these little moments happen to others, too. Every once in a while, I will be reading or watching something and the character will do something that for some reason embarrasses me. I feel sorry for them and they are not even aware of it! For instance, a long long time ago I read a time travel book - I forget the name of it, but it was something about lightning striking. Anyway, this heroine is flung back into time and while there she belts out a country song in front of a room full of people. I was totally embarrassed... and there was a moment like that in this book, in which the heroine is singing from Carmen and invites the onlookers to join in. I thought the scene was silly and I was embarrassed, and that threw me out of the book.

And then there were all of the characters in the book that just went nowhere... There was Barrington, the sort-of villain and someone I thought might be in line for the hero spot in the next book... UNTIL it was revealed he had a mole with a hair coming out of it. Well, cross him off the list. And then it turned out he wasn't really a villain. Then there was Gwen's companion... went nowhere. The party at Barrington's... nowhere. The woman with the garter... nowhere. The peep holes... nowhere. The brother... Well, you get the idea. There were just too many nowhere's, to say nothing of the silly lie that Alex was keeping from Gwen... what was that all about?

I wish I could give this book two ratings - loved the first half, not so much the second, and it's really a shame because Meredith Duran is one of the better new writers around.

Time/Place: Victorian England
Rating: /
Sensuality Rating: Warm

Just ordered!!!!

My books for this month and I am excited!!!! Mary Balogh, A Secret Affair: Constantine's story, Emily Bryan, Tessa Dare, Lisa Kleypas, Sara Lindsey, Sally MacKenzie, Kasey Michaels, Julia Quinn and Sherry Thomas have all been added to my TBR. Can't wait to get them into my greedy little hands, then I'll have to figure out which to read first. Of course the shipping date might have a little bit to do with which I read first.

Thank You!

Thank you Tracy for the lovely Bodacious Blog award. And everyone go visit Tracy at


Never Less Than a Lady by Mary Jo Putney

Another hero with a bum leg! Two in a row.

At first I thought the reason it was taking me so long to read this book was that my husband was chattering away in my ear every time I picked up the book. Much like Pavlov's dog, instead of foof+ding=slobber it was pick up book=talk. So, I was pondering how do I tell him to zip it without hurting his feelings.

But then he went camping and I still had a hard time connecting with this book.

I liked the beginning of Never Less Than a Lady. It also helps if you've read the first book in the series because that's where Alex Randall and Julia Bancroft meet.

This had all of the earmarks of a classic Putney story: the very understanding, but tortured hero and the very tortured, scarred, abused heroine. But, everything was almost too 21st century for me. The hero was too understanding; the heroine wanted to help out all the abused women in the world in a most modern way; the evil stalker killer made an appearance in the beginning and then again at the end, but there was no tension in between. There was a silly "misunderstanding" that occupied about two pages and wasn't necessary to the plot, nor did it enhance the story, so I'm not sure why it was there.

So, I must apologize to my husband for blaming him for the length of time it took to read this book, because normally I am pretty good at tuning certain sounds out. No, the problem this time was with the book - sorry to say it was just a so-so read.

I have always been a Mary Jo Putney fan, but, I've noticed that when some authors switch romance genres and then come back (in this case from historical to contemporary to fantasy to historical again) it takes a few books for that author to find her voice. At least that's what I'm hoping, because Ms. Putney did write one of my all-time favorite books and I'm hopeful that someday she'll write another. (By the way, that book was The Rake!! )

And, nice cover art!! Loved the dress color.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality Rating: Hot

A Lady's Guide to Improper Behavior by Suzanne Enoch
Let me gush!!! I am a big fan of Suzanne Enoch, and I think over the years her writing has matured from light-weight froth to a little bit of dark narrative. I loved A Lady's Guide to Improper Behavior the moment I was introduced to the dark, brooding, irascible hero, Batholomew, aka Tolly... and why shouldn't he be a gloomy Gus? After all, he has shrapnel in his leg, and he was left for dead in a well with his massacred patrol. Talk about some major issues - anyone would be a grumpy-face. Tolly isn't the most fun to be around at family gatherings.

And, it is at one of these family gatherings that Tess, who has always considered herself to be the soul of propriety, loses all of that control and gives Tolly a thorough tongue-lashing. Once these two get together it was a joy to see them helping each other and picking at each other until their fears all dissolve into that HEA. I couldn't put this book down, and there was an especially interesting subplot involving Tolly's accountability that had me wondering how Ms. Enoch would resolve it. I'm not going to tell you how she does, but it was done very realistically.

The secondary characters were solid, and I found Lachaby to be very amusing (gentleman's gentleman.) The only quibble was with the name of the series, The Adventurers Club. I have no reasonable reason for not liking that name; it just irritates me. And then there is the character Sommerset, who owns the house the "lost boys" of the adventurers club are hiding in. I find his character to be pretty obnoxious, and it will be very interesting to see how Ms. Enoch changes him from odious to hero and keeps it believable.

And, if she'd only be a little bit more forthcoming about her upcoming books on her website, everything would be perfect!

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality Rating: Mildly Hot


Memories Schmemories Part VI, The Kiss by Sophia Nash, 2008
Yes, The Kiss is only two years old, but as part of my Memories Schmemories project I'm also rereading books that I gave an A rating upon my first read. Hence, the reread. (And, I'm waiting for my new shipment of books to come in.)

So, has my reading taste changed in two years? I have to say, not very much. This is a romance that involves childhood friends, three of them: Quinn, Georgiana and Anthony. It is also a wonderful unrequited love story and, yipes, a virgin widow story. However, Georgiana doesn't know she's still a virgin. She thinks her wedding night with Anthony was consummated. And since Anthony dies while in the act, he can't really say that the act wasn't completed.

There are a lot of things going on in this story. There are numerous secondary characters and for the most part it is told wonderfully. There were some misunderstandings that I could have done without, especially when Quinn thinks that Anthony was Georgiana's great love. Another thing that bothered me was I wish Quinn would have been more honest about his feelings... and then I thought that over. Really, if all of the misunderstandings are ironed out on page 50, then what's left for me to read? So, maybe when I'm whining about misunderstandings I should consider that.

Anyway, this was a solid read and in my opinion the best in the Widow series (this is the second one in the series if you are keeping count.) However, I'm giving it a minus for some bumps in the road (the many misunderstandings.)

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality Rating: Warm