Memories Schmemories, Part VIII, The Templar's Seduction by Mary Reed McCall, 2007

Can you say "The Return of Martin Guerre" or even the awful remake "Sommersby?"
Not updated since 2007, but she also as a face book account

The Templar's Seduction by Mary Reed McCall, is the last book in a series and I believe the last book Ms. McCall wrote. It is my understanding that she's working on another book, however, it's not a romance. This is the only one of hers that I've read and I may go back and glom her other ones... But I have to get my other projects done first.

Set in the 1300's, it's the story of Alex de Ashby disguising himself as Lady Elizabeth's husband in order to save his friend. That's it in a nutshell. I've never been a big fan of people pretending to be someone else in romance... talk about untrustworthy. However, almost from the beginning he is overwhelmed with love and then guilt. Elizabeth, being no dummy, also knows something isn't right and suspects he isn't her husband.

What drew me to the story was Alex's struggle to save his friend's life, and not lose Elizabeth in the process. I liked Elizabeth's reaction to Alex's betrayal and I was glad it didn't drag on forever. The sensuality in the book was hot, but sometimes I found my eyebrows going up and saying to myself, "Oh Puleese Alex! Get a grip on it!" Although, at the end of the book, some of the tying up of loose threads stretched the boundaries of belief.

This is set in a very tumultuous time period; in fact, I can't think of any Medieval time period that didn't have something tumultuous going on. And, that makes me wonder why more romance novels aren't set in that time period. There was so much conflict happening everywhere.

So, if you like a good Medieval story with a knight doing battle for his fair lady, I recommend this as a pretty good read. Just be prepared for an overly sweet epilogue where we get to see everyone from the series and their hordes of children.

Time/Place: 1309 England
Sensuality Rating: Hot


Stroke of Genius by Emily Bryan

From whence alert!
In Stroke of Genius, the phrase "from whence" is used. Now, for me I don't care because I think it has a nice rhythm; however, there are some people (and you know who you are) who will be kicked out of the story when reading this phrase. So, just be warned, it's in there.

Now, back to Stroke of Genius by Emily Bryan. I enjoy Ms. Bryan's books. I find them light, witty and fast paced... and this book was no different.

There were some really interesting things going on with this story and I think that may have been some of the problem that I had with it. First of all it is a Pygmalion story, which is one of my favorite myths... the story of the artist falling in love with his creation. And, that part of the story was creative and well done. I believe this book could have been more than just a light comedy, as evidenced in Crispen's background story, which I found to be fascinating. I also liked Crispen and Grace's dialog - I found it amusing. I thought her relationship with her mother and father could have been explored just a little bit more. And there were other interesting things that were brought into play but never acted upon. There was Mary, Dorset and his mother, all three interesting characters, but never fully realized. I found the sex play between the servants of Crispin and Grace to be entertaining at first, but then there was too much of them and not enough of Crispin and Grace.

This book had all the makings of a more complex story, but because of word count or something Ms. Bryan wasn't able to create a really wonderful tale that would have been more than just fluff. And the ending of the story really seemed rushed.

I think Ms. Bryan needs a bigger stage for her stories. Let her have more words!!! So, don't get me wrong, this book was light and funny and I do recommend it; however, there was so much more hiding behind the edges and I really wish they could have been explored.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality Rating: Hot


His at Night by Sherry Thomas

I've Got a Secret! Whisper your secret to me, and we'll show it to the folks at home. Wait a minute - you ALL have secrets! Well, I don't have that many ears. I guess the folks at home will just have to read the book to discover the secrets.
His at Night by Sherry Thomas was one of the many books this month I was looking forward to. So far, I've loved all of Ms. Thomas' work. I feel she's one of the more articulate new authors around. However, His at Night turned out to be another see-saw read. There were parts of this book I really loved, and I particularly loved Lord Vere when he was being the pretend idiot. I was surprised enough at a number of LOL moments, and one very hysterical moment involving cows udders that I had to check the front cover to make sure I was reading Sherry Thomas.

The heroine, Elissande, is also a finely drawn sympathetic character, even when she traps Vere into marriage. And, I was thrilled to have a handsome villain without bad breath. He was an especially creepy, crawly, chilling, menacing kind of guy - H-I-S-S-S-s-s. There was a charming secondary romance that could have had its own book - Freddie from Private Arrangements gets his HEA.

Thomas' writing was a fine-tuned melody; however, I had a problem with Vere once he and Elissande were married. I loved him as the fool, but his cruel treatment of Elissande came awfully close to jerk-hero territory. I also thought that once they were married, they lost the chemistry that they had in the beginning of the book and if it hadn't been for Vere saying "I love you," I never would have known.

Overall, this book is a wonderful book, at least for the first part, but the romance fiz-z-z-z-zled - and because of that I wasn't able to give it a higher rating.

Time/Place 1890 England
Sensuality Rating: Warm

P.S. There were tons of secrets.


Tempting the Marquess by Sara Lindsey
Orders are nobody can see the Great Oz! Not nobody! Not nohow!

Note to historical authors - make sure your editors are old enough to recognize phrases from old movies that you may have adopted in your vernacular. Oh sure, it's not the exact words, but when the hero (Jason pg. 47) says: "Not physically. Not mentally. Not nohow." The voice in my head immediately screamed, Wizard of Oz and I was thrown out of the story... just for a short time. In fact, it's said twice in the movie, by the guard and the cowardly lion. You see, as it so happens I am a Wizard of Oz geek, and that is one of my favorite lines... Not nohow!!!

Anyway, Tempting the Marquess by Sara Lindsey is the second in the delightful Weston family series - my new favorite romance family.

Both the hero, Jason, and the heroine, Olivia, have some issues. Jason more so - he was one of those brooding kind of guys, until Olivia rushes to his side to drag him kicking and screaming back into the world. He's in mourning for his wife, or at least that is what we are led to believe and that is what everyone else around him believes. I liked Jason, and I found his losing battle with lust and love to be amusing. On the other hand, Olivia I had a problem with. She is very young, and it shows. She is a very immature heroine. But, not all the time, so her character gave me a seesaw ride: sometimes she was funny, charming, and witty, and other times she overreacted and did some really silly things. So, for me, she wasn't an even character.

There are some very funny moments. I think my favorite is the "kiss." I'm probably going to remember that scene for a while. So far, in this series it's always fun when the other Westons make their appearance. I especially love Aunt Kate and Charles (not a Weston.) There are no villains or mysteries in this book, just two people struggling with love and each other. So, except for some inexplicable flying off the handle by Olivia and the very silly thing she does at the end of the book, overall I enjoyed reading about the struggle.

Looking forward to Henry's story in 2011!

Time/Place: 1790's England
Sensuality Rating: Hot


One Dance with A Duke by Tessa Dare

Well hey! I got my marriage of convenience story…And, what a story it is!
Now, before I begin, I have to say that it is always easier for me to rant about a book I’m disappointed in then one I like. I wonder if anyone else experiences that little irritate?

Anyway, One Dance with a Duke is the first book in the Stud Club trilogy by Tessa Dare. And, before you go off into dirty-mindville…think four legs and whinnies.

There is much to love about this book, first and foremost the hero – Spencer. Wow, did I love Spencer! Now, let me me say this about that. I thought he was a wonderful character to read about, but I really wouldn’t want to deal with a real-life Spencer. This guy was more than just an arrogant duke; he was a truly autocratic duke. What I found so wonderful about him was his brilliant ineptness when trying to communicate with humans. He was blunt, way to honest and always putting his foot in his mouth. Of course, he also happens to be hiding a very tender side.

Then, we have Amelia, who thinks of herself as plain (and of course we know better.) Amelia is loyal, steadfast, faithful…almost like my Labrador. And, that is one of the minor stumbling blocks in One Dance... She is self-sacrificing and lives in martyrdom-land for way too l-o-n-g. I was starting to become annoyed with the stubbornness that both Spencer and Amelia exhibited toward the end of the book. However, the book is so well-written I overlooked that problem and sighed when I closed the pages.

The secondary characters are well-written. Also interesting is the way the men in the trilogy are written – for once, they are not the best of friends…at all! There was also something I didn’t see coming – all I’m going to say is "teenager in a snit."

Even though the page count was above normal, this is a quick read. There is a murder at the beginning and I am assuming that solving the murder is what will connect the other two books to this one. However, even though there is a mystery, this book is really about two very strong people who just happen to fall in love.

I think this is one you don’t want to miss!!!

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality Rating: Hot


The Naked Viscount by Sally MacKenzie

Garlic lovers! It’s time to stand up and be heard! It’s time to let authors know that we are not going to take it anymore! Garlic lovers are nice people, they like little bunnies, and cats… they are not all E-V-I-L!!!!

Just finished The Naked Viscount by Sally MacKenzie… where to begin? Well, let’s begin here with a question: Why don’t heroines take enough reading material to bed when they turn in? Don’t they know whether the book they are reading will last through the night? I know I’m always aware of when I’m going to finish, hence, I always have a spare. This of course means I don't have to wander to the library in old ratty transparent nightdress.

Another question - why does a hero (Edmund) always argue with the heroine (Jane) about whether or not she is going to go with him every... single... time they get ready to solve the next clue in the mystery? Give up already! The heroine is going with you. That's why she's the heroine.

Another question: why do silly aunts have ridiculous animals? And a talking bird who can conjugate verbs with the best of them!!! Puleeeeze!!!

More questions: Is it really that important that you don’t die a virgin? And would your ick factor kick in if you saw a portrait of your father, spread-legged and naked!!! EEEWWWW

Why do heroes have aching members? You’d think there would be something they could do about that. And do aphrodisiacs really work… not once… but twice? And, freckles… did you know if you have them on your butt, you are a bad woman, but on your nose it’s adorable?

Now, let’s ponder villains. Just once I’d like to have a handsome villain with sweet breath in a novel. Why do villains have dirty, crooked, yellow teeth? (Aside from the fact that most people back then had dirty, yellow, crooked teeth, that is.) Why do they have fat lips and why does their breath always smell of garlic? Why is that a bad thing? Garlic is good for the heart!!!

So there you have it in a nutshell: if you read The Naked Viscount, all of the things questioned above and more, will be there for your perusal. And, you will also have the thrill of a heroine who runs around yanking plaster protrusions off of Pan statues. Yes, she defaces art! Yes, once again, I was disappointed in a comedy that wasn’t funny. You know, I’m thinking if the villains in this book had been over the top (think Jack Lemmon in The Great Race or Dennis Farina in Get Shorty), then I think this book would have been humorous.

Since I have the series, I’ll be buying the next one, I just hope the next one in is better.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality Rating: Hot


Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn

Ahoy Jerry Lewis!!!
When you pick up a Julia Quinn book, normally, you know exactly what you're getting: a book loaded with humor.

Ten Things I Love About You is a signature Julia Quinn, filled with sarcastic quips, slpastick comedy and silliness. In fact, there is so much humor that it hits you over the head. And keeps hitting, over and over trying to squeeze another laugh - just like a Jerry Lewis movie. And if anyone has ever seen a Lewis movie you know what I'm talking about. "You don't think that's funny, watch ME do this." Oh sure, there are funny moments, but PULEESE - not every single moment has to be a laugh-riot!

So, this particular book has humor overkill and not much chemistry between the romantic leads, Annabel and Sebastian. They are just too busy out-quipping each other.

Ten Things I Love About You is a fast-paced, quick read; however, it isn't one of Ms. Quinn's best works. I became irritated with the over-the-top humor and I didn't have any of those laugh-out-loud moments, like the ones I experienced with What Happens In London. Sorry to say, I was very disappointed in this book.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality Rating: Warm


Seven Secrets of Seduction by Anne Mallory
Warning: Watch out if you are TSTR (Too Stupid To Read), a Skip-reader or require proportional POV's (Points of View.)

Sometimes, being a skip-reader works and sometimes it doesn't. In this case it doesn't. For the first half of Seven Secrets of Seduction my little old forehead was wrinkled in concentration because I was trying to figure out what the hero, Maximilian was up to! I don't like it when I become a TSTR person!!! As I've said before, I'm a lazy reader.

Now, don't get me wrong, this was a wonderful book, but my little brain cells were working overtime...and that was because the author gave me only Miranda's POV for the longest time...with an occasion thought by Maxim thrown in. When I read a romance, I like to be in on the secret and this one took a while to unfold. And unfold it does!!! Magically!!!

So, if you do read this book...and, I recommend that you do...don't become frustrated halfway though it! Keep on going, I think you'll enjoy the lovely writing. Just be warned, this is not a typical, spelled out for you love story, and don't get nervous (like I did) when the hero's POV doesn't show up for a long, long, long, time. When you make it to the end, I think you'll be in for a pleasant surprise. Great read!

Time/Place: Late 1800 England

Sensuality Rating: Warm/Hot

Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas
When I started reading Married by Morning, I found myself returning to the front cover to make sure this was actually a Lisa Kleypas book. It had a slight fluffy feel about it.

Anyway, at last we get to see Cat and Leo...and I loved their banter, bickering and fighting - and passion. I would have liked the story even better if they had married right away...I am really in the mood for a good marriage of convenience story. I did become a little irritated by Cat's refusal of Leo's proposal; she held out too long. And, she didn't appear quite as strong in this book as she had in the other wacky Hathaway books.

Speaking of Hathaway family, to be perfectly honest I couldn't remember their stories, so, when we are paid the obligatory Romanceland family visit, I didn't enjoy it as much. And, of course there is the set up for Beatrix Hathaway's story, Love in the Afternoon...Coming to a store near you in July!!!

And by the way, Dodger almost stole the entire story. Sometimes animals in romances irritate me, but since I have a fondness for ferrets, I loved Dodger.

This book wasn't on the level of Derek Craven and Dreaming of You, but Leo makes a wonderful hero, and Married by Morning is an enjoyable read!

Time/Place: 1850's England
Sensuality Rating: Hot

Back from Vacation!!!!

Stuff coming!!! Aren't vacations much to catch up on when they are over!!!