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!

Scandalous Desires by Elizabeth Hoyt

October 24, 2011

And then it was over....

Where to begin? Where to begin? I'm so excited! I can't tell you how much I loved Scandalous Desires by Elizabeth Hoyt. The Maiden Lane series is one of the most entertaining story-lines I've read in a long time. And, sad to say, I'm afraid I can't talk about it without gushing all over the place; people will become sick to their stomach just reading my thoughts. However, I shall plow ahead anyway.

I didn't want to put Scandalous Desires down once I started reading it and it is one of those books I didn't want to end! And yes, there may be some spoilers ahead. One of the signs of a terrific writer is someone who has the ability to pique our interest with little hints/teasers, and then deliver on their promise. And, that is exactly what Elizabeth Hoyt is doing with the Maiden Lane series.

At last we have Silence and Mick's story! And, what a story it was! What a great couple! What a sexy hunk! Not Silence, but Mick. Mick is a truly amazingly written character. He is a pirate, a thief. He kidnaps, he blunders, he kills and he has no qualms about doing so or so it seems. It was refreshing to have a character that I didn't have to stretch my imagination in order to believe he is what he is because of where he came from. Mick's childhood is torturous, horrifying but at times poignant. And, there are a few surprises that we find out involving his past.

Silence, on the other hand, is closer to a standard romance heroine, or maybe it's just that Mick has such an overwhelming presence he just overshadows Silence. Now, don't get me wrong, I thought Silence was a terrific character. She's well-written, sympathetic and strong, it's just that her hero has a tendency to steal the show.

And then there are the secondary characters! Hold me back!!! There were a wonderful bunch of pirates, Harry Bert and Bran. I'm thinking we haven't seen the last of Bran. The Makepeace family puts in an appearance...all those virile men in one room. Yipes! There are the great group of women supporting the orphanage. All of these characters are interesting, different and well-written. Great teasers for future books in this story. We also find out who the Ghost of St. Giles is. Oh, of course, don't forget Lad, the dog. Spoiler of sorts. I have to admit, there is a surprise in this story. I didn't see it coming, all I can say is don't get too attached to one of the main secondary characters.

This was a wonderful book, with only a few quibbles. I found myself becoming irritated with the baby talk. And, I kept wondering why doesn't the orphanage have more money...didn't the previous sister marry a wealthy man? However, this seems to be a common occurrence in romance novels, so I will overlook it.

For all of you that have been waiting for this book, you're not going to be disappointed. And, for those of you who haven't read any of this series - get cracken! Oh, yes we have Winter's story to anticipate now. Also, ladies and gentlemen who are so inclined, make sure you read the preview of Thief of Shadows for a rather eye-opening description of Winter. He seems to be a tad bit more than what I had envisioned.

Time/Place: 1700's England
Sensuality Rating: Hot!!


Elizabeth Hoyt update

I'm not done...but, I'm am loving this book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


His Last Duchess by Gabrielle Kimm

October 19, 2011

You say Lucrezia and I say Lucrezia

You probably don't know this, but one of my favorite historical peeps in the world was Lucrezia Borgia, so when His Last Duchess by Gabrielle Kimm was released I was very excited. However, even though my eyes were seeing the words Lucrezia de'Medici, my brain was interpreting those words as Lucrezia Borgia. So, when I began to read His Last Duchess nothing made sense. I mean really, I understand the words historical fiction. That is where you take history and change it to fit your fancy. But, this book was quite a stretch. I knew this was historical fiction, but Gee Willikers, this was really historical fiction. And then I reread the back blurb and saw the light. Wrong Lucrezia! Mind adjustment time. Now, it just so happens that everything turned out just fine, because this was a really good book.

It's been a while since I've read an historical fiction...I always find the rewriting of history intriguing. Especially, when things turn out a little happier than they actually did. As it turned out, Lucrezia de Medici was the daughter of Eleanor of Toledo, who happens to be the subject of one of my favorite portraits. When my mind finally figured out which person we were reading about, I also did some research of my own on Lucrezia's siblings...made for some fascinating reading.

In case you didn't guess from the mistake with the Lucrezia's, this story takes place in Renaissance Italy, a time and place that is vibrantly alive. This time period was filled with such opulent stories. It's a shame that it is mostly overlooked in Romanceland. His Last Duchess is Ms. Krimm's debut novel, however, it has a rich texture that brings the story to life. There were so many interesting things going on in this book, and the details on Fresco painting was quite engrossing. All of the characters in the book are vividly written, and Ms. Krimm does a fine job of weaving all the "what if's" into her story. Sometimes in historical fiction, I have a problem with the "what if's" b-e-c-a-u-s-e a lot of time there is a plethora of historical information out there and the historical fiction part of it too unbelievable...for instance Tudor England and Henry VIII. The Tudor's are really overdone, and please no more skinny people playing Henry VIII. However, in the case of Lucrezia de' Medici there is little written documentation, so we can create all manners of great stories about her.

His Last Duchess has some wonderfully poignant moments, some very suspenseful moments and a great villain (her husband.) This is a well written historical fiction book, rich in detail and if you like this genre, you'll love His Last Duchess.

Here are the real people. Eleanor of Toledo, the mother, Lucrezia de' Medici, the heroine and Alfonzo II d'Este, our villain.

Time/Place: Renaissance Italy
Sensuality Rating: Hot

On My Radar for late November, Early December

a Jeffries
To Wed a Wild Lord
Hellions of Halstead Hall series
Release date: November 22, 2011

Paperback: 9781451642407

Kasey Michaels
A Midsummer Night's Sin
Blackthorne Brothers series

Release date: November 22, 2011
Paperback: 9780373776108

Karen Ranney
A Scottish Love
Release date: November 29, 2011

Paperback: 9780062027788

The Title That Caught My Eye Radar

Andrea Penrose
The Cocoa Conspiracy
Lady Arianna Regency series

Release date: December 6, 2011


For a more complete listing of upcoming books see
Hey Delia!


A Beginner's Guide to Rakes by Suzanne Enoch

October 10, 2011

You can color me sad, you can color me blue, you can color me unimpressed, you can color me surprised, you just can't Color me Barbra.

I have had an epiphany about myself! I give authors all kinds of latitude when it comes to historical romance novels. Contrary to what it may seem, I'm not really one of those readers that go into a tizzy when historical accuracy and historical romance books don't match - especially in the language and slang department. Let's get serious here - I would probably have a really hard time understanding just what was being said in a novel that was written in the phraseology of the time. So, when I'm reading historical romance and 21st century words/slang slither their way into the story I don't mind - IF I am enjoying the story. However, if I find the story to be less than satisfactory, weird words just start popping out at me and I start to nitpick. I knew I was in trouble with this book when the slang "color me unimpressed" jumped off the page at me. Color me unimpressed! Really! Can anyone really hear those words falling out of Elizabeth Bennet's mouth? So, it was at this point I knew I was losing interest in the story. Oh, and by the way, "calling a kettle black" was legitimate because the term was first recorded by William Penn in the 1600's. However, I did spend the time looking it up, which still means I was having trouble with the book.

So, why did I lose interest in a story by one of my favorite authors? Well, not only did I lose interest, but I was mightily irritated by the two main characters who happen to dwell within the pages of this book. Yessiree, the more I read the more I disliked Oliver and Diane. Let's examine why this book almost hit the wall. And, yes there are spoilers ahead.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but I have always been of the opinion that since time immemorial, most men have always tried to put their Mr. Toads in any woman who will let them, or as a friend of mine says, "men would screw a snake if it had knees." And, most men do this without any thought to love, promises, commitment, fidelity. Now, we as women know this... we have it hammered into our head from childhood - don't do any whankey-roo until you have that ring on your finger. Or, words to that effect. So, it is my belief that a woman of the 19th century would have the same armor as we do in this century. Which is why it was beyond my comprehension as to why the heroine in this story reacted to being dumped the way she did. She is a widow of a week or two and she jumps into the bed of a renowned rake and has mind-blowing hot sex for almost two weeks. Then, when he leaves her she is surprised, hurt and turns into this angry bitter woman. T-w-o years later when these two run into each other again, she is still a bitter person and for some reason he is a tad bit hateful. I didn't get it. Unless the heroine was some kind of obsessive psychotic maniac, her reaction was way over the top. And then the bickering, sniping, I hate you routine begins and lasts for-e-v-e-r. I just wanted to bang their heads together. Mix into the antagonism a convoluted "let's set a trap for the villain" plot and an implausible building of a gambling house and genteel women applying for the jobs; is it any wonder I was looking things up in a slang dictionary. And, by the way, even though there may have been text that was considered a thesaurus in ancient Greece, it wasn't until 1852 that the first Roget's Thesaurus was actually published, even though he was compiling it in 1805 - so the mention of a thesaurus list in the book was another throw-out-of-the-story-moment.

I am assuming that there are more books in this series since there were some very interesting secondary characters wandering through the story and I will of course be buying and reading those. Suzanne Enoch is a wonderful writer and usually I love her books, but this one was a struggle and I was very disappointed in the main characters. Better luck next time.

Time/Place: Regency England or thereafter, I think...we are never given any dates, but Napoleon is mentioned - so some time before 1821.
Sensuality Rating: Hot


His Mistress by Christmas by Victoria Alexander

October 5, 2011
I've been!

Yes, fellow Romanceland travelers, I finally did what I thought I'd never do - bought a Nook. It was all Victoria Alexander's fault. You see, her latest book, His Mistress by Christmas, is/was being released in two formats: hardcover and electronic book... no paperback. So, while I was meandering through Barnes and Noble grumbling about the extra $10.00 for a hardcover, what should I spot? W-e-l-l, the Nook person, positioned right at the front of the store, similar to a Walmart greeter. I wandered over and started asking questions, all the time thinking Christmas present. However, something overwhelmed me and I found myself purchasing a Nook and a few of the accessories that go with it. You know those tri-fold fake leather covers look awfully nice and one mustn't forget the plastic screen saver thing. So, I spent somewhere in the area of $300.00 dollars just to save $10.00. Somehow at the time it all made sense.

On to the book. When I first started reading His Mistress by Christmas, the story seemed to me to be dragging a bit. I of course blamed my Nookbook. And, I was troubled that there was a period of adjustment when all there used to be was a turning of the page. But after awhile, it dawned on me that it wasn't the equipment I wasn't enjoying (cause you can do all kinds of whizzy things with it, like highlight bad parts of a book). No, it wasn't the equipment, but the book. I was almost - and I hate this word - b-o-r-e-d. I struggled reading this story. The two characters of Veronica and Sebastian had all the makings of an interesting couple. However, for some reason they just fell flat. It wasn't until the middle of the story that things picked up. There is a really hysterical Christmas party, with wonderful misunderstandings and mix-ups galore. However, that part of the book was over way too fast. There were also numerous hints of secondary stories and I wanted to find out more about those characters than I did about the main couple.

I also thought that even though this is a story about mistresses and such, it was mighty short on sexual tension. So, I was rather disappointed with His Mistress by Christmas - and my first trip down Electronicland. I'm not sure this was worth the $10.00 savings.

Time/Place: Victorian England
Sensuality Rating: Bland