DIK fond farewell!!!

Make sure you drop by DIK Desert Island Keepers. They are having a BIG going away giveaway...The best of luck to everyone involved over there at DIK and I'm going to miss all of you, so keep in touch!!!


Unraveled by Courtney Milan

December 27, 2011

Hairpins!  Who knew hairpins could be so dramatic?
What a way to end a year!  And, let me just say there are not enough adjectives in the world to express how much I loved Unraveled.  Simply put, this book was marvelous!  What an emotional ride - what strong writing!  All that anticipation of  "Smite's story" was well worth the wait.
I've loved all of Courtney Milan's stories, but this one is an amazing book.  Smite will be joining my "hall of heroes," standing beside such greats as Derek Craven and Dain.
Smite. Sigh. What an incredibly complicated character.  He's so alone.  He can't bear to be around people.  He vomits around water. For all of his intelligence, he has trouble communicating with those closest to him.  His best friend his his dog, Ghost.  The comfort he draws from Ghost being near is very touching.
Smite is quirky and has tons of rules an regulations.  I especially loved his "sentimentality quota."  There are some memorable moments in this story, and one of those ooohhhh times involves Miranda's hairpin.  I'm not going to go into detail; I'm just saying ooohhhh.  And if that moment wasn't enough, imagine my surprise when Ms. Courtney did something that no other author in recent memory has ever done.  She wrote a scene (between Ash and Smite) so powerful, both of my eyes were leaking.  Now, I might have an occasional ooohhhh moment when it comes to the written word, but glistening eyes - sniffles - usually that only happens when  I watch Joy Luck Club.
Then we have Miranda Darling, or should I say Miranda comma darling?  She's such a strong conterpart to Smithe; they go together like peanut butter and jelly, cherry and coke, spic and span, rin and tin and tin.  They are so honest with each other; they know what each is bringing to their relationship and they don't have any expectations of a happy ending.  Even after they admit they love each other.  One of my favorite scenes with Miranda is when she is being blackmailed. Does she keep it a secret like any romance heroine would do? Nope, she actually tells Smite she's being forced into a bad situation.  It was quite refreshing for a change.
If there was a weak portion in Unraveled, it was the solution of the villain "the Patron." However, that didn't by any means lesson my enthusiasm for this incredible love story.
So, puleesseee, give yourself a treat. Unraveled is a magical romance and it's one you really don't want to miss. One of the best this year!
Time/Place: Early Victorian England
Sensuality Rating: Hot


All's I Know

Working on review...but Unraveled is a MUST read!!! It's a stay up really late and finish the book - book!!! 


On my Radar for Late January Early February

December 22, 2011
Victoria Alexander

My Wicked Little Lies
Sinful Family History series
Release date: February 1, 2012

Jo Beverley

A Scandalous Countess
Malleron series
Release date:  February 7, 2012

Manda Collins, debut

How to Dance with a Duke
Ugly Duckling series
Release date: January 31, 2012

Samantha Grace, debut

Miss Hillary Schools a Scoundrel
Beau Monde series
Release date: February 7, 2012

Jillian Hunter

The Duchess Diaries
Boscastles series
Release date: February 7, 2012

Sabrina Jeffries

A Lady Never Surrenders
Hellion's of Halstead Hall series
Release date:  January 24, 2012

Carolyn Jewell

Not Wicked Enough
Reforming the Rakes series
Release date: February 7, 2012

 Jillian Stone, debut

An Affair with Mr. Kennedy
The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard series
Release date: January 31, 2012

Nicole Jordan

Princess Charming

Legendary Lovers series
Release date: January 31, 2012

Anna Randol, debut

A Secret in Her Kiss

Release date: January 31, 2012

Heather Snow, debut

Sweet Enemy
Veiled Seduction series
Release date: February 7, 2012

The Title Caught My Eyes:

 Jan-Philipp Sendker

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats
Release date: January 31, 2012

For a more complete list of Upcoming Releases see: Hey Delia!

The Joys of Nooking!

December 20, 2012
Sometimes good things come in small packages

I'm starting to really enjoy some of the perks owning a Nook has brought to me.  Oh sure, there's the battery charging moments, the glare of the screen, the sometimes weird sentence endings, and what's with the page numbering?  But, then I can buy a book for 79 cents and download it without moving from my chair, so I should really turn into a couch potato.  Anyway, I just recently purchased Lady Amelia's Secret Lover by Victoria Alexander, published electronically only in 2009 and Tessa Dare's novella Once Upon a Winter's Eve.  Both are small, fast-read ebooks.
I was very excited when I realized that I could order Lady Amelia's Secret Lover now.  I was very disappointed when it first came out and it was never released in print form.  Anyway, Lady Amelia is a delightful marriage romp of only 97 pages.  A very merry short story, and I loved every minute of it.  There are no villains, no drama, no kidnappings, no chase through the countryside.  It's just sweet funny romance about a married couple who are "content" and how they find that happiness they somehow lost.  This is not a deep book, but it's very nice.

Time/Place:  Regency England
Sensuality Rating: Kiss
Then we have Tessa Dare's Once Upon a Winter's Eve, part of the Spindle Cove series and was written after A Night to Surrender in case you're keeping track.

This story feels more like a short story, which is too bad because the characters are likeable, but they are just not given enough space to develop.  I was a little disappointed in the story, and didn't understand some of the actions of the hero.  There was just too much going on and this particular story deserved a larger format.  But, hey for 79 cents, what the heck.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality Rating:  Warm

And guess what, with my Nook I can now read Courtney Milan's Unraveled!!!  All I can say so far is:  Smite, what a guy!


The Title Caught my Eyes: The Cocoa Conspiracy by Adrea Penrose

 December 20, 2011

aka Cara Elliott aka Andrea Pickens aka Andrea DaRif

Sometimes a gimmick is just a gimmick.

The Cocoa Conspiracy by Andrea Penrose aka Cara Elliott aka Andrea Pickens aka Andrea DaRif.  This is the second book I chose because of the title and again it is a mystery.  Not just any mystery, but a Napoleon-is-on-Elba conspiracy mystery.  Yes, fellow readers that pesky Napoleon is at it a again.  That guy never quits!  And, our intrepid hero Sandro (Saybrook) and our gutsy heroine (Lady Arianna) are out to solve the puzzle.  It's a race against time, for you see they have a encryption to decipher, a traitor to catch, an anarchist to stop and victims to find.  So, there is a lot there...but you know what I liked the best?  It was the scene in which Sandro finally confesses his love for his wife.  It is one of the most touching "I love you" pronouncements I've read in a long time - Andrea Penrose/Pickens romance novel roots bloomed through in this lovely scene.

Now, back to the mystery part of the book.  I enjoyed the sleuthing couple; their interaction is one of the best things about the book.  I found the mystery to be a little weak and I knew who the villain was from the very beginning, although who the bad guy leader is I don't have a clue.  I'll have to wait for the next in the series to find out.  You see, even though I thought the mystery wasn't very strong, enough of my interest in the husband and wife team of Sandro and Arianna was piqued to keep me interested.

I do have to confess that I found the chocolate recipes at the beginning of each chapter to be a bit of a distraction.  Not that I don't like chocolate.  It's just that they are contemporary recipes but they are called Lady Arianna's Chocolate notebook and she is an 1800's sort of person.  I would have enjoyed the flow of the story more if the recipes had been written in the language of the time.  Of course, I wouldn't have been able to understand the measurements, but the conversion could have been handled in an epilogue or an author "oh by the way."  And by the way, I don't like coconut!

Overall, the story is entertaining, nothing scary/creepy and I will be picking up the next in the series.

Time/Place: Regency England/Europe
Sensuality Rating:  Kiss


2011, Drifting Along

 December 16, 2011

I'll keep rolling along
Deep in my heart is a song
Here on the range I belong
Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds.

Yes cowpokes, it's that time of the year again.  It's time to wave goodbye to 2011 as it sinks slowly into the west/east, whichever.   First of all, I want to thank everyone who has dropped by, even those who didn't agree with me.  And, thanks Tracy (Tracy's Place) for the reading challenge.  Another great place to hang out is over at Bookworm2Bookworm.  Special groan goes out to my writing circle - congratulations to those who made their goals and those who didn't.  (You know who you are.)  Now, for all my 2011 recaps.

The Books I Read This Year and Luved.  They were not necessarily published in 2011 and they are in no particular order.
1.  Unveiled by Courtney Milan
2.  Notorious Pleasures by Elizabeth Hoyt
3.  Scandal of the Year by Laura Lee Guhrke
4.  What I Did for a Duke by Julie Anne Long
5.  Secrets of a Proper Countess by Lecia Cornwall
6.  Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart by Sarah MacLean
7.  Where Serpents Sleep by C.S. Harris
8.  Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie
9.  Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
10. A Lady's Lesson in Scandal by Meredith Duran
11. Shameless by Anne Stuart
12. The Taming of the Rake by Kasey Michaels
13. Scandalous Desires by Elizabeth Hoyt

My Biggest Disappointments.  Now, before everyone gets excited, these are my disappointments.  That doesn't necessary mean they were bad books.  Doesn't mean I won't read that author again.  All it means is that for some reason, the book just didn't click with me.  In no particular order.
1.  Invitations to Ruin by Bronwen Evans
2.  The Heiress by Lynsay Sands
3.  The Heiress by Lynsay Sands, oh, I'm sorry was I being redundant?
4.  A Borrowed Scot by Karen Ranney
5.  The Reluctant Vampire by Lynsay Sands
6.  The Pleasure of Bedding a Baroness by Tamera Lejeune

Romance voices we will miss:  Beverly Barton, L.A. Banks (Leslie Esdaile), Sandra Hyatt

And welcome to the scary world of having your books read, all you Debut Authors.  Congratulations for being published!  There were some wonderful words coming from Cheryl Ann Smith, Stephanie Sloane, Bronwen Evans and Lecia Cornwall.  One book from this number especially stood out.  Lecia Cornwall, Secrets of a Proper Countess.

My Favorite Family/Series Books.
Kasey Michaels Blackthorne brothers, hunka hunka.  Loved the first, The Taming of the Rake.
Elizabeth Hoyt, the Makepeace family.  I have been totally sucked into the Maiden Lane series, which Ms. Hoyt has created and am s-o--o-o-o looking forward to Winter's story come July of 2012, although I must confess I am getting him mixed up with Courtney Milan's Smite.
Speaking of which, Courtney Milan's Turner brothers, and I actually downloaded Smite's story today!!!  Thank goodness the internet came back up!!! Unraveled.
Julie Anne Long's Eversea family in the Pennyroyal Green series.
The MacKenzie brothers, yum, from Jennifer Ashley.
And, don't forget those Rohan's, those really bad boys that Anne Stuart has created.
Sara Lindsay, I haven't forgotten the Weston's.

Covers that Caught my Eye.  Even though I don't mind the headless covers, there seemed to be an awful lot of them on the books I chose to read this year.  And, I didn't feel that any grabbed my eye. So, here are the ones that worked for me.  Loved the cover of Where Serpents Sleep by C.S. Harris; Silk is for Seduction by Loretta Chase, although those sleeves were interesting and I kept wondering what was keeping that dress up; The School for Brides by Cheryl Ann Smith, because it seemed to be almost historically accurate; loved the red/purple theme in Scandal of the Year by Laura Lee Guhrke; and, I thought When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James was different enough to make it interesting.

I don't know if this ever happens to you when you read a book, but every once in a while I become very interested in the Secondary Characters.   Sometimes one might say they almost steal the show.  This year I have a few to present to you for your rumination.  Usually, I'm not a big fan of children in romance books, but Emmy from Seducing the Governess, by Margo Maguire, was so sweet, I just loved her.  Then there is poor Lady Clara from Silk is for Seduction by Loretta Chase.  I felt so sorry for her and because of her, I was not able to root for the main couple's HEA.  She needs her own story.  Brandon - what a tortured secondary character from Shameless by Anne Stuart.  I'm hoping for a story about him and seeing as how he's a creation of Anne Stuart, he'd probably retain his angst ridden outlook.  And, then there is Daniel.  Daniel, the teenage hunk from Jennifer Ashley's, The Many Sins of Lord Cameron.  I had to keep repeating, under age, under age, under age.

From the Sublime to the Horrible...yes, there were some secondary characters that stole the show and not in a good way. There was Iris, aka it's all about me me me me, from The Sinner who Seduced Me by Stephanie Sloane.  And Prudence, you remember petulant Pru, heartless Pru, atrocious Pru from The Pleasure of Bedding a Baroness by Tamera Lejeune.  If ever a character needed to fall into the La Brea tar pit, it was rotten-to-the-core-Crabby-Appleton Prudence.

The Gus Award:  And now to those adorable, cuddly woof, meow, tweet, whineeeey characters.  There were three animals that remained in my brain long after the book was closed.  From Titus the dog's devouring of Lord Weston's coat in The Angel in my Arms by Stephanie Sloane, the foul mouthed parrot shouting words like "Codswallop" and "Stick it up her bum," from The Devilish Montague by Patricia Rice, and a pet lamb named Dinner, who follows our hero around from Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare.  All of these animals were memorable and fun to read...the winner is:  The parrot.  Any animal in a romance novel that can make me laugh out loud deserves an award.

Drum roll please...Now it is time for the Mr. Toad award.  This has been a banner year for twitchin' Timothy Toads, (see digression) but we are not here to discuss twitching toads.  No siree, we are here to reward a spectacular, orgasmic award to the most memorable Mr. Toad to hit my romance books this year!  Here are some that have been imprinted on my brain, foreverCastleford from Dangerous in Diamonds by Madeline Hunter.  Never was a guy in danger of his Mr. Toad falling off from over use then Castleford.  And, I believe he may be the first historical hero who was required to have an exam by our heroine.  This has one of the best destroying of the bed scenes and drunken reminiscences of friends and fond farewell's to Mr. Toad activities ever written.  And, who can forget Piers' "hung like a horse" Mr. Toad from Eloisa James' When Beauty Tamed the Beast.  Does he have a noodle or a log and why isn't he hung like a horse or is he?  Anthony from Invitation to Ruin by Bronwen Evans.  He's so big!  How big is he?  He's so big the heroines hands cannot go around it.  Really, how can this man do anything?  How can he walk with that thing between his legs?  Does he have wheels attached, like a shopping cart?  His stage name could be Girth Stalk!  Then there is the well-endowed Benedick from Shameless by Anne Stuart.  Oh those Rohan's!  It must be slices, it dices, the Ben-e-dick-o-matic.  Who can forget Cameron's freakishly long Mr. Toad from the The Many Sins of Lord Cameron by Jennifer Ashley.  I know I couldn't; it gave me nightmares all evening.  And, the winner is...ahhh that moment my eyes beheld the magical words "hairy scrotum!"  Yes, Aiden, nothing better than that vision from Mia Marlowe's, A Knack for Trouble from the anthology Improper GentlemenCongratulations gentlemen! 

Welcome 2012...We should see the arrival of Elizabeth Elliott's book this year.  That one has been changed from The Assassin to The Dark Knight and is maybe scheduled for June of 2012.  Carolyn Jewell is expecting a historical romance or two.  Deborah Simmons has her ebook and a release of more of her back-list.  And, keep your eyes out for all those back-list being release to E's.  Of course, all my favorites will be series and old coming this year!!!

The Title Caught My Eye Series: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

December 9 2011
In a time long ago and far away, I came up with a "scathingly brilliant idea" (thanks Hayley Mills).
While perusing upcoming books a title caught my eye.  It was A Red Herring Without Mustard, by Alan Bradley.  Now, the problem with this particular book was that it wasn't in my good ol' historical romance comfort zone.  But, I thought, wouldn't it be a simply awesome idea to once a month select a book based on nothing more than the title - that catches my eye?  And, furthermore have that one title be a different genre!  What a super-duper idea!

Now, as luck would have it, the title that caught my eye happened to be the third in a series.  Well, an individual cannot start a book in the middle of a series, at least not this individual.  So, I glanced at the other Alan Bradley and found I loved them all.  They were actually quite melodious to my ears.  Just listen:  The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.  What a lovely sound. 

My idea took root.  Now, the problem with a "scathingly brilliant idea" is sometimes they backfire.  You see, some book titles are not chosen by the author, so, what appears lovely on the front cover might be hiding a bow wow within.  Sometimes they just don't match!  But, what the hey, who am I to stop something once it starts rolling down that old hill?

So, my first book in my "The Title Caught My Eye" begins with Alan Bradley's The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, published in 2009.  And, by the way, this book won the Debut Dagger award from the Crime Writers Association.  So, not only am I stepping out of my zone, I'm reading a book that won an award and you know what that means?  I'm not fond of things that win awards.  The winning of a "best of" award imposes a mindset upon us.  You'd better like it or else!  What if I don't like the book?  Does that mean I'm a doofus?  I'm not highfalutin enough to get it?  I'm probably the only person around who thinks John Steinbeck is depressing.  So anyway, awards make me leery. 

Onward we go.  Welcome to the world of Flavia deLuce.  Hey, guess what!  It's in first person!  Oh, joy!  Talk about comfort zone problems.  And, did I happen to mention that Flavia is eleven years old?  Oh rapture, an eleven year old in first person.  Sigh.

Snuggle down time.  Or was it struggle down time?  I was really torn when I read this book.  Some parts of this book were quite brilliant, almost scathingly so.  I loved all the quirky people and all the dynamics within the deLuce family.  It was also that quirkiness which caused me problems.  At times the voice of Flavia seemed similar to a male voice.  And, not just any male voice but one who knows lots and lots of trivia.  There are just some things we see in Flavia's mind that are w-a-y beyond her experience or comprehension.  Her references to Laurence Olivier would have been more appropriate if the story had taken place in the 40's and if she had been sixteen.  I just didn't understand how an isolated Flavia could have been so sophisticated in her knowledge.  She's in this little village.  I didn't get any sense of how she was educated and she had a father hiding behind behind a paper or anyplace but with his children.  The communication between he and his children just wasn't there.  Unless you are some paranormal oddity, you do not know something you have never experienced.  So, she was a stretch of the imagination.

I also had a problem with the sibling rivalry or whatever it was.   Usually siblings, especially sisters, are pretty close.  Even when they are hating each other, and unless they are psychotic women like Belle Gunness or Mary Ann Cotton, you just don't put poison in your sister's lipstick.

I felt a disconnect with the book until the moment Flavia's father spoke of his past.  That is when the writing became magic.  Everything matched the beauty of the title, I just wish it had happened sooner.

In the end, I know I'm in a minority when I say I wasn't as enthused about this story as others.  I had a hard time accepting Flavia's voice as her own and I wish I had seen more of the quirky townspeople.  The murder mystery almost blended into the scenery that was Flavia's cluttered mind.  However, I also felt this was a successful experiment, inasmuch as I would have missed some beautiful words within the pages of this book by not reading The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.

Time/Place: 1950's Great Britain
Blood/ Guts: Mild


A Midsummer Night's Sin by Kasey Michaels

November 30, 2011
Help me Obi-wan Kenobi!

Tell me the mysteries of the universe!  What is the meaning of life?  Why can’t they get the book covers right?  See the hunky guy on the front?  He’s the one without a shirt on.  Quite an eyeful, huh?  Not bad, not bad, except for one minor thing.  According to a sentence in the very first paragraph in the book, and I quote, “When he’d taken to growing his blond hair nearly to his shoulders…”  Yes, fellow travelers, our hero has long blond hair, and he has that long blond hair through the entire book.  In fact, his l-o-n-g blond hair is described numerous times and is part of his persona.  Now, I know that this happens all the time in the publishing world; however, it seems to me it happens an awful lot in Romanceland.  I don’t know why this happens, but I consider it an insult.  It is an insult to me, the reader, and to the writer.  You can’t tell me that Kasey Michaels, a veteran author who has been around for eons, didn’t present to her editor or whoever a description of the main characters in this tale.  Now, maybe the cover art was already done when she did this, but I grow weary of this old excuse.  It doesn’t take that long to use the tools in Photoshop to fix the hair.  I was especially disappointed that this was a Harlequin presentation – a publishing company that makes their bread and butter off romance readers.  Shame on your slip-shoddery.  If you can’t get the people correct on your covers, slap a flower on it.

Now, on to the book A Midsummer Nights Sin.  I was so excited when the second book in the Blackthorn brothers series hit the stands.  I loved the first book in the series and thought Kasey Michaels was in top form with her wit and humor.  So, except for the cover irritation, when I started reading this one, for a while I thought it was going to live up to my expectations.

Robin “Puck” Blackthorn is a wonderful hero.  He’s handsome, strong, and best of all loaded with Kasey Michaels’ trademark humor.  She’s one of the authors around who can really write funny dialogue.  And there is plenty of that in this book, because “Puck,” like his namesake, is all about mischief!

I really liked Puck.  In fact, the Blackthorn brothers are one yummy group of guys.

Then we have Regina, a rather headstrong woman, with one of the worst fathers ever created in a romance novel – he is a white slaver.  Now, I liked Regina in the beginning – she was smart and she was also a great match for our mischievous Puck.  There was some wonderful snappy dialogue between the two.

So, you’d think I’d be happy.  Great funny hero, headstrong smart heroine who can hold her own, and some wonderful sidekicks.  But about half-way through the book ,the story started to drag.

Remember the father – the white slaver?  Well, this has another kidnapping plot going on.  This time it’s Regina’s cousin Miranda.  I don’t know why authors I’ve read lately are doing kidnapping stories, but I for one am growing tired of this stale plot-line.  Especially when it turns the heroine into a TSTL woman.  She must must must go with the hero and his undercover brother through the dark dregs of the London underworld.  Of course, she needs to dress in male clothing to do this.  And of course, there is the standard “no you can’t come, yes I can, no you won’t, if you won’t take me I am going by myself” discussion.  This happens more than once and it became rather tedious after a while.  I wish just once when the heroine starts to whine, using the tired threat of going by herself into the dark smelly bowels of London or Paris or Upper Sandusky, the hero would say, “Fine, see ya.”  Then we would get a new heroine, one who stays home and doesn’t get into trouble or get anyone else killed in her perky adventure.

There was too much covert stuff going on – I would have been happier with a character-driven snappy dialogue, school of manners style book.  There were just too many people to sort through – the creepy father, the drunk mother, the weak uncle, the silly aunt, assorted secretive aristocrats, a brother, a number of sarcastic servants and a plethora of villains.  I couldn’t keep track.  I’m just a simple person; all I require is a simple story.  I don’t need all the rigmarole that was surrounding these two delightful characters.

So, I was a little disappointed with this story, especially since I loved the first in the series so much.  The characters of Puck and Regina were such a great couple.  It’s too sad that they didn’t get a better story.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality Rating: Hot

On My Radar

November 28, 2011

On my radar for late December...Early January

Zoe Archer

Devil's Kiss
The Hellraisers series
Release date: December 1, 2011

Connie Brockway

The Other Guy's Bride
Sequel to As You Desire
Release date: December 22, 2011

Lecia Cornwall

The Price of Temptation
Release date: December 27, 2011

Gaelen Foley

My Ruthless Prince
Inferno Club series
Release date:  December 27, 2011

Laura Lee Guhrke

Trouble at the Wedding
Abandoned at the Altar series
Release date:  December 27, 2011

Eloisa James

The Duke is Mine
Happily Ever Afters series
Release date:  December 27, 2911

 Julie Anne Long

How the Marquess was Won
Pennyroyal series
Release date:  December 27, 2011

Teresa Medeiros

The Pleasure of Your Kiss
Release date: December 27, 2011

Deborah Simmons

Glory and the Rake
Release date:  January 2, 2012
as far as I know, it is being released ebook format only

Emma Wildes

Twice Fallen
Ladies in Waiting series
Release date: January 3, 2012

The title caught my eye:

Corban Addison

A Walk Across the Sun
Release date: January 3, 2012 

For a more complete list of upcoming releases see Hey Delia!!!

One Night in London by Caroline Linden

November 29, 2011

Wallbanger time!!!

Don't start tossing this book against the wall just yet, because there are wallbangers and then there are wallbangers.  And, this book has one of the hottest wallbanger moments I've read in a long time.  Yowie!  Let's just say that our stuff-shirt hero, Edward knows all the right moves...even if he's a tad bit hard on the furniture. 

Now, on to the rest of One Night in London.  There were some elements in this story I really liked a lot and then there were some things that perplexed me.

The good.  I loved the couple, Edward and Francesca.  I thought they were a well-written, mature couple.  There wasn't any of those I hate you, I love you, I'm not worthy of you, I hate marriage moments.  I found the romance itself to be intriguing.  The romance was what I'd call a "just happens" romance.  There wasn't any outside influence creating any sort of tension.  Just sort of a "mosey along" romance.  A nice gentle courting.  Except for the wall.   Now don't get me wrong, there were outside things going on, lot's of things - they just didn't affect the growing relationship. 

Edward was a little bit harder to understand than Francesca.  He just wasn't an emotional type of guy, and that was one of the things that perplexed me.  He says he loved his fiancee, but he seemed to fall out of love pretty dang fast.  I can only assume, after reading so many romance novels, that he never loved her.  Being a cold-fish, he probably "never knew what love was."  Of course, his cold-fish persona didn't stop him in the sex department.  He was hot hot hot!  However, what I really enjoyed about the sex, was the "after the sex" scenes.  They were wonderful, especially Edward's reaction to the "best he's ever had."  He almost skips down the street, he's so happy.  Anyway, I thought Edward and Francesca were a complex couple and I enjoyed the book when they were in it.  I also thought the brothers were well-written and interesting enough for me to want to continue reading their stories. 

Now, where the story didn't work for me...too many things going on.  There were too many problems to solve and still squeeze in a romance at the same time.  And, some of the plots (I think they were plots,) never went anywhere.  For instance, Percy the painter.  He seems to be portrayed as a villain in the beginning, but in the end he wasn't.  There was not enough of his story in the book for me to understand why he was in it.  There was also the whole issue of the mysterious death of Francesca's husband (or I picked up what I thought was a mystery); maybe there wasn't, because nothing ever develops.  Then, there is Lord Alconbury.  I was always suspicious of Lord Alconbury, I don't know why, maybe I'm watching too much of the CLOO channel.  But, I thought he was somehow responsible for the death of Francesca's husband, and he just seemed like a villain in this book.  He was just so possessive - always seemed a little shifty to me.  Turns out I was wrong.  So, I guess that's something I cannot blame on Caroline Linden, because I was looking for things that weren't there.  I had trouble identifying the bad guy.  However, there didn't seem to be any bad guys, at least in the end.  I was very confused.  And then, once again a missing/kidnaped child who is conveniently forgotten as the couple journey to romance-bed thumping. 

There was an interesting twist at the end, a heroine who doesn't always get what she desires.  That was a very poignant moment.  I'm interested in the other brothers and the continuing mystery of whether their father is a bigamist or not.  I just wish the books were being published closer together, because I know I won't remember all of the dynamics when the next story comes out.

I did have questions that didn't get answered - mainly, was Francesca's husband's death an accident and what about there's-more-than-meets-the-eye-Lord Alconbury?  However, I suspect those questions are of my own making and won't be answered. 

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


The Accidental Courtesan by Cheryl Ann Smith

November 18, 2011

Holy Twitching Toad, Batman!

Am I the only one who has noticed the profusion of twitching Mr. Toads in romance novels these days?  Why, it's almost an epidemic!  I remember where I was when I read my first sentence with a "twitcher" in it.  I lie, I don't remember where I was, I just know that the first time I read that word it was pretty much a fun moment.  And then, it s-p-r-e-a-d, until now almost every book, every hero has a twitching Mr. Toad!  They can happen anywhere - on horseback, in ball rooms, in dark alleys, leaning against a wall, in a carriage, in a library.  And, anything can set them off!  A sprightly turned ankle, a swan-like neck, a pert nose, the curve of a downy cheek, the bosom about to fall out of a gown.  I feel sorry for all those heroes with this affliction.  My eyelid twitches every once in awhile, so, for something that is quite a bit more sizable it must be rather embarrassing when one goes off.  Especially, the requisite giant one our heroes have.  We should breath a sigh of relief that they don't make noise when they twitch.  Just think of all those twitching Mr. Toads in a Regency ballroom.  Do you think it would be possible for all of them to go off at once?  Duck!  They're about to blow!

I think it is time for us to find a new descriptor - let's turn to the handy dandy Theasurus, shall we?  We have flutter (not manly enough), shiver (nah, too weather-related); there's stir, tremble, shudder, tic, jitter, twiddle, quiver, dance, flip, flop and my all time favorite, blink.  A blinking Mr. Toad.  What do you think?  Pretty descriptive.

And, now on to The Accidental Courtesan by Cheryl Ann Smith.  Yep, there were twitches in this book, and with good reason.  The heroine (Noelle) was a bit of a Mr. Toad teaser, if you get my drift.  And, why shouldn't she be?  She's a virgin hanging out at a school for courtesans.  Makes perfect sense.  Actually, nothing in this book really makes too much sense.  This is the second in the series and it requires the reader really really suspend belief.  I understand that authors/writers are trying to come up with something new, something different.  But, sometimes we get lost in the unbelievable and the story turns into something that is so preposterous it's silly.  A good writer can take any mundane plot and make it seem new again.  I truly believe that Ms. Smith has the writing ability to do that, it's just that this plot was a distraction.  It distracted from character development of both the main couple and all those wonderful secondary people that live within the pages.

I didn't care for Noelle, I thought she was a tease, and not a funny one.  She had one hair-brained scheme after another and she led Gavin around by his twitcher.  I hope future books by Ms. Smith have more character development and less unbelievable plots.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality Rating: Hot

The Pleasure of Bedding a Baroness

November 11, 2011

Did the grinding of my teeth disturb anyone?

It is at times like this that I ask myself, "Am I not seeing what other people see?"  Let me be frank (or whoever you want) - this book was not a screw-ball comedy, a light-weight romp or anything resembling those two.  And, do you know why?  Because, those two things are funny.

There was one good thing I got out of The Pleasure of Bedding a Baroness and that was my nomination for the most mean-spirited, nasty, spoiled, loathsome, unpleasant, horrible, surly secondary character it has ever been my privilege(?) to read.  Someone take this Thesaurus out of my hands before I find more words to describe Prudence.  Poisonous Prudence, the twin sister of Patience, our heroine.  She lies, she cheats, she shrieks, she throws tantrums...she is just awful and I think maybe her antics were supposed to be funny.  Not sure; they weren't for me.  There are some villains in this book, Milford, his sister Isabella and a few more.   They were awful too, but not as bad as Horrid Prudence.  She is so bad, she distracts from the romance of the main couple.  Normally, I don't think main secondary characters should die...but this one came really close to a death-wish from me.

Obnoxious Prudence is in almost the whole book, creating havoc wherever she goes and her sister, Pitiful Patience, unbelievably puts up with the nonsense!  Patience defends her monster twin, believes all the lies, gets into fights with the hero Max over her sister.  I wanted to quit reading this book after about the sixtieth page, but I thought maybe it would get better, maybe be funny, the hero occasionally was funny, but didn't get funny, it didn't get better.  I kept hoping that someone, anyone, would slug Petty Prudence, but this was not to be.  The book became one of those obsessions.  I just had to finish it.  Almost everyone in this book was despicable, they were hypnotic in their meanness, I tried to look away and failed. 

And, then there was the special moment when Vicious Prudence (in a fit) moves in with the villains of the story for a short time.  I thought, good, some relief maybe we get to see the loving couple have a romance.  Alas, it was not to be...they took over the fighting duty in the book.  It didn't matter what Max says to Patience.  Do you know why?  Because, everything he says, she takes exception to.  I liked this couple in the beginning, but the constant bickering was nothing but grating.  And then Viperous Prudence returned!  EEEKKK!!

Needless to say, I was very disappointed in this book, I expected more from this author.  I kept saying to myself "I'm missing something.  I know this is supposed to be funny. Why can't I laugh?"  I loved her first book, thought it was hilarious...but this one was agonizing. Maybe if the viciousness of the characters had been tempered with innocence or even stupidity it would have worked.  But, alas they were portrayed as relatively smart people.  I've read tons of funny romance books, slap-stick, screw-ball, mistaken identities and I know that this author can do that.  I would have to say, I cannot recommend this book.  If you want to read an enjoyable fun-filled book by Tamara Lejeune pick up Surrender to Sin.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Close to Hot


November 7, 2011

When does a five year old magically become a nine year old?  When they live in Romanceland.

Somewhere along the line I skipped one of the books in the series, Scandal in Scotland. However, I don't believe I missed any plot-line; The Most Dangerous Profession seems to be a stand-alone book.  I am going to admit right up front that this book was ok (cringe).  I don't like to use that slang in conversation when speaking of my beloved romance books, but in this case I felt I had to.  The Most Dangerous Profession was not the best or worst book of Karen Hawkins' that I've ever read.  It just seemed to be a little rushed and lacking some of her fire.  There were moments where I thought the two characters in the book could have been fantastic, but mainly I didn't care for either one of them.

Moira was a secret keeper, a big secret keeper although I guess I understand the reason for her remaining silent.  I would have liked to have a bit more of the background story in order for me to decide whether her reasoning was lame or not.  Moira has moments of TSTL heroine stamped all over her forehead.  She's is trying to rescue her daughter, or let's say she is letting her husband rescue her daughter, but she still manages to barge in and in the process endanger all their lives.

Robert, on the other hand, seems to be content not to confide what he's doing to his wife even when their daughter's life is at stake.  And, let's explore that daughter shall we.  Being held prisoner by a psychopath is one of the problems I had with this book.  First of all, I'm not too keen on children-being-kidnapped stories.  Secondly, before this couple could format a plan to rescue their daughter, Rowena, they had to get the Hurst amulet.  What?  You see, Robert's idiot brother is being held captive and the only thing that will get him released is that amulet.  However, he's been held captive a long time; I would think that a five-year-old child would come first.  The other thing that bothered me (and this isn't the first time) is that I wonder how many mothers can have the hots for some man while their child is being held at some unknown location?  How could any woman ever concentrate on falling on top of Mr. Toad when her child is in danger?

And, then there is the amazing aging process that Rowena goes through.  We do get to meet her in the beginning and her language at that time seemed to be that of a five year old.  However, when she is rescued, I had to turn my pages back to see how much time had elapsed because she now had the syncopation of a much older child.  It was rather jarring.

I did enjoy the valet.

I've always been a big Karen Hawkins fan - she's an auto-buy for me - but this book fell flat.  I am probably in the minority here, because it was just ok for me.  Everything had a rushed feel about it. I would have loved to see some flashbacks of Robert and Moira because their characters just never had any life. 

I will be buying the next in the amulet series, which is Michael's story.  You remember him - he's the one they've been trying to rescue in the last three books. 

Time/Place: Regency England and a side trip to Scotland
Sensuality Rating: Luke-hot

Heads up Courtney Milan fans - Smite's story is on it's way!!

November 7, 2011

Keep your eyes open for Smite's story, Unraveled, coming to a store and or ebook near you late November.  We are hoping!  I don't have the isbn or any of the good stuff, nor do I have the exact date.  However, I do have the cover and a promise from the author that it's on it's way.

So, the watch begins!!!


Unclaimed by Courtney Milan

 November 3, 2011

A plethora of words!

Why a plethora of words you ask?  We are talking about a book here aren’t we?  Words are in books for Pete sake!  Every one knows that!  Well, let me tell you, there are words and then there are words.  And, in Unclaimed by Courtney Milan they are in the hands of a master wordsmith.  Courtney Milan is a phenomenal writer.  When I read one of her books, I am always amazed by the way she makes her words flow together.  She does not make for a lazy read.  No skipping passages with Ms. Milan - you might miss something.  Lovely writing.

Did I love this book? Yes!  Would I recommend this book? You betcha!  Is it perfect?  Are you being silly?  There are some bumps in the road, at least for me there were.  Let's explore some of the ups and downs in this tale, shall we?

The up side.  And, let me tell you there was plenty of up.  Unclaimed is a strong character driven book.  Mark (hero) and Jessica (heroine) are well-developed people with plenty of angst in their backgrounds.  They both carry a pretty heavy load and I needed a drink after I was finished reading this story.  Anyway, Jessica is a courtesan - a real courtesan.  She's had some pretty hard knocks in her fall from the infamous Romanceland Vicar Daughterville.  And, this fall shaped the image she has of herself.  When we first encounter her, we are introduced to a very desperate woman.  She's needs money and she needs it now!  As luck would have it, her evil ex-protector offers her some money if she can seduce the virgin-writer-turned-star, Sir Mark. 

Enter the t-o-o good to be true, super-duper, wiser than wise, Sir Mark.  You remember the amazing Turner brothers, don't you?  Able to leap tall buildings, etc. etc.  Sir Mark has written a book on male chastity and has acquired quite a fan club in the process.  He is mobbed everywhere he goes, much as I would imagine George Clooney might be.  Although, I can't see people hanging on Mr. Clooney's every word the way they did for Sir Mark.  Anyway, Jessica and Mark meet. And, that's because if they didn't there wouldn't be any story, now would there?

One of the fascinating things I found in this story was that even though Jessica was the courtesan, she had a naivete about her.  Then there was Mark-the-virgin; a virgin who is wise to the ways of the world, or at least his perception of the world.   So, it was an interesting reverse, reverse, reverse story.  A fallen woman, she’s been around, she's a courtesan-seems like a virgin-not-virgin heroine.  He's a real virgin with scads of street smarts and intuitive powers that go beyond mere mortals.  One of my favorite scenes in this book was when Jessica stands up to Mark; explaining to him in very strong terms how flawed his "right woman" perception is.  Loved it!

Folks, there is just a whole lot going on in this story!  This is one not to miss!

There is also an engrossing take on how the public views celebrities.  How truth becomes twisted and is sometimes lost in the hubbub.  I also found the chastity club to be rather amusing with all their secret hand signals, and also a little sad at times.

Downside.  This may be a tad bit weird, but Mark was t-o-o perfect.  He was so perfect at times I just wanted to shout, "Quit being so understanding!"  Mark had too much podium pontification moments for me, almost leaving the romance behind it its wake. I also thought that Jessica had one too many, "Get out of my house" moments.  The last one especially had me scratching my head and asking, "Was that really necessary?"  It also seemed to me, that a lot of the loose ends were tied up just a little too neatly at the end of the story.

Overall, I loved this book, the writing was magnifico.  I'm looking forward to the next in the series, Unraveled, which is Smites story.  It is my understanding that it is going to be self-published, which will be interesting.  I also understand it's to be out in November 2011, which would be now.  However, I wasn't able to find it at Amazon or Barnes and, I guess I'll have to keep an eye out.

Time/Place: Victorian England
Sensuality Rating: Hot


It's National writing month!

For all the struggling writers out there, it's time to step it up a notch. Grease those fingers! Shake out those cobwebs! And start writing!'d be amazed at some of the results you get. Last year I participated and actually came up with some good lines. So, a number of us are going to do it again this year - it will be a challenge. But it will also be some shared fun. Maybe.

Check out the site:


A Bride Unveiled by Jillian Hunter

October 31, 2011

What would a Cherry pie be without the cherries? A hot fudge sundae without the hot fudge?

A romance novel without the romance? What happens to anything when an ingredient is missing? When there's something wrong and you can't quite put your finger on it? When something like this happens, usually you can't finish it. There is something bland about it. It's incomplete; you are disappointed that your expectations are not met.

Well, that's what happened with A Bride Unveiled. The story started out great! In the first two chapters we meet the hero, Kit; the heroine, Violet; and their three friends: Winifred, Ambrose, and Eldhert. It is in these chapters that we get a glimpse of their childhood and the unlikely bonds of friendship that form. This part of the book had an almost fairytale quality about it as we watch this group of children from different strata of society grow to depend on each other. I loved this part of the story; it was fascinating, well-written, and I wanted more of the same in the rest of the book.

Sad to say, the rest of the book didn't live up to the promise of the beginning. The rest of the story was a mixed assortment of plot-lines that didn't go anywhere, characters who were bland and uninteresting, a villain who didn't seem to have much of a v-i-l-l about him, a supposedly jerky fiance who wasn't that jerky, and hardly any sexual tension between the main couple. But let me tell you, if you like to read about fencing, you'll get your fair share in this book. Granted, Kit is a fencing instructor so there should be scenes of slashing, jumping, thrusting. But, Gee Willikers there were lots and lots of these scenes. I've never been a big fan of sword fighting in books, so for me, all the parrying and thrusting was w-a-y too much.

Then there is the other kind of thrusting and parrying, and that kind was almost non-existent. Oh sure, our couple desires each other. How do we know this? Because they say they do. But I never felt any of that from either character. There are a few encounters and of course these encounters are not completed. However, in this case the standard Romanceland whankey-woo interruptus does not create any sexual tension.

I struggled to complete this book. Yes, it almost became a DNF. What saved this book from a lower rating was the occasional glimpse into the adult lives of the five friends. I thought Ambrose, especially, had what could have been a fascinating story. I just wish there had been more of the five friends in this book.

See DNF Rant in SidneyKay Get's Distracted.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality Rating: Don't Blink!