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Unveiled by Courtney Milan

February 25, 2011

Nail Biting Alert!
Warning: Not only might you chew your fingernails, you may not be able to go to bed until you finish Unveiled!

Did I love this book? Yes! Were there parts in this book that I didn't love so much? Yes! Was the hero just peachy-keen? Yes! Was this an interesting, almost doormat heroine? Yes! Was there so much tension in this book that it kicked my adrenalin in? Y-E-S!

Now, normally I'm not all that excited about stories in which people hide their identities; in fact that may be one of my pet peeves, but I have so many who's counting... I digress. I opened this book unaware that I was about to embark on such a nerve-racking journey. Oh sure, I thought I'd probably have a pleasant journey with a little darkness involved from a very talented writer, but I wasn't prepared for the slowly increasing tension that Ms. Milan so skillfully created.

Here's the plot, and yes, it's been used before: Ash is out for revenge and he has stolen the Dukedom away from his distant cousin and in so doing the heroine, Margaret, and her two brothers have been declared illegitimate. Now, Ash and his one brother (he has two also) arrive at the estate of his enemy, who is ill. Our heroine, the daughter Margaret is pretending to be a nurse/servant/spy on Ash. Standard plot, but it doesn't remain so and here's why.

It doesn't take Margaret long to realize that Ash isn't the villain her family has painted him out to be. Now, the tension comes in because this is a gradual awakening. Ash falls for her instantly and encourages her to become a stronger person. He also gives her his trust and as soon as he did that my mind said, "Uh-oh, what is going to happen when he finds out what's she's up to? He's going to call her nasty names that start with W and B and stomp off and not speak to her!"

The workings of Margaret's mind did not help the situation. He would do something wonderful, she would write letters to her brother and not include anything bad, then think she should tell Ash the truth, then something would happen and she wouldn't. Ash would confess how much he admired her, she would think, 'I really must tell him,' then he'd kiss her and the subject was dropped. He would confess his secret to her, she would be overwhelmed by it, by the trust he was giving her, think about telling him, build up her confidence, walk down to the library to confess and his brother would be there. They would have conversations, now is the time to tell him... tell him... tell him... he'll hate me, I can't, I'll go tell him now... he left for London! AAAKKK! Her father would be ranting, she would have the opportunity to fess up, Ash is in the room, but rushes out to get the doctor... no confessions. Please end this now!!!! And with each failed opportunity, the tension just increased to a point where I just couldn't but that book down. When the moment finally happened - well, I'm not going to tell you what happens, except to say Ash is quite a guy. Courtney Milan did some really fantastic tension building; kept me awake to the wee hours of the night! I loved every minute of the nail-biting. This one had my adrenalin going and that doesn't usually happen. (Sigh of relief, wipe away sweat.)

And we must not forget Ash's brothers - really interesting dynamics, a lot of questions that don't get answered. Probably because Smite and Mark are going to have their own stories.

Now, there are moments of 21st century speak; however, because of my interest in where this story was going, I overlooked them. There may also be a minor quibble with the amount of time Margaret allowed her family to make her a doormat, but she was so compelling I felt that for the most part she couldn't be any other way. And, let me say there is an deeply heartrending moment for her caused by the despicable actions of her brother that came awfully close to a teary moment. I can hear romance readers yelling, "She was a doormat for too long, I would have done this, I'd never allow it!" I thought about that, wondered how I'd react if my brother caused me the pain hers does in this book, and given the time period and family dynamics. I probably would still want to retain my relationship with my brother as she does in the end.

The other quibble was that I had some questions I didn't feel were answered. What really went on at that school between the two sets of brothers? What's up with Smite? Did her father die?

So, in the end, even with all the tension and missed opportunities and anachronisms and "doormatterlisms," I loved this book! I'm always a little wary about over-praising a book because I know there is some "Oh yeah, we'll see about that" person out there, but you really should give this one a look see. Loved it!

Next in the series is Mark, the virgin's story, Unclaimed.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality Rating: Sorta Hot


When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James

Monday, February 21, 2011

I think someone got up on the wrong side of the bed!
I have discovered something about myself – I am a hunk snob! When it dawned on me that this book's hero, Piers, was sort of based on House, all I could see was Hugh Laurie, and while I like Hugh Laurie the actor and think he’s pretty quirky I do not see him as very sexy or hunky and when I start reading about Pier's manly proportions… my ick factor kicked in. So, be careful who you base your heroes on. One man's big log is another man's wet noodle.

Now, to When Beauty Tamed the Beast. I really enjoy Eloisa James' writing, but sorry to say her fairy tale series just hasn't clicked with me...loved her Duchess series. And, with this particular book in the fairy tale series you really have to be a big fan of House to like the hero. Sorry to say I’m not a big fan of House. And, yes I'm repeating myself.

There are some humorous moments in this book. I especially loved the one where Linnet (heroine) thinks that there is something wrong with Pier’s Mr. Toad because it is sticking up instead of hanging like a horse. You see, her mother always had a thing for guys who were hung like a horse. I adored the butler, Prufrock, and thought the secondary characters were quite strong and well-written.

The main problem I had was with Piers. I could just not feel any sympathy for him. There were so many times I wanted to just grab him and say “oh grow up, you are not the only person who has ever been in pain." Linnet, I liked better and found her loss of beauty toward the end of the book to be very poignant - wish there had been more of that and less of Piers. What a Mr. Grumpypuss. I envision headlines after 10 years of marriage: Wife murders husband, says she just couldn't take it anymore, so she beat him to death with his cane.

S-o, if you like House, you will like this book. It’s well-written and has a great bunch of secondary characters. I also found all the medical details quite fascinating and I had a laugh out loud moment over the names of two of the medical assistants: Kibbles and Bitts.

Time/Place: Early Regency, Wales
Sensuality Rating: Warm


The Perfect Mistress by Victoria Alexander

February 11, 2011

Yakety Yak...don't Talk Back!!

The Perfect Mistress, by Victoria Alexander, is what appears to be the first in a series of books about three friends, Julia, Portia, and Veronica. All widows (although, I couldn't find anything confirming my assumption at her website). This is the story of Julia and Harrison and it's full of Victoria Alexander's trademark humor... and I do mean full of! Now, how you feel about the abundance of said humor may determine whether you like the book or not.

C-a-u-s-e, let me tell you there is lots and lots of talking, bantering, discussing, consulting, chattering, conversing and let's not forget "perfecting plans." It all starts when Julia is conversing with the ghost of her dead great-grandmother Hermione about publishing said g-grandmother's racy memoirs. Of course Julia needs to discuss this with Portia and Veronica; what are friends for if not to confer with? Then Veronica must tell Harrison, because his father is mentioned in the book (Harrison is Veronica's brother-in-law.) Well, of course, Harrison must stop the publication. No scandal in his family is allowed, so he pontificates to Julia, they fight, he comes up with a plan. He talks Veronica into a dinner party where people can sit around and talk. She plans a party, talk follows. Another author speaks to Julia, they discuss the book with Harrison, Harrison and Julia fight, Harrison makes another plan, Harrison's father advises him, Julia chats with her grandmother, then her publisher, then her friends, then Harrison, they argue again. He makes another plan...and, we have now arrived at the middle of the book.

Now, the interesting thing about all of this chittery-chattery racket was I found a lot of it to be terribly amusing, especially the discussion/arguments between Julia and Harrison. And let me tell you, Harrison (our hero) doesn't have the slightest idea what one should say to a woman. He is constantly putting his foot in his mouth. I found that amusing: nothing better than a man who can't communicate with a woman.

The drawback to the plethora of conversation was that it left little room for romance.

Oh yes, the ghost of the great-grandmother. I found her to be a bit of a distraction from the rest of the story. I am not bothered when paranormal is thrown into a story-line, but I started to grow a little tired of her popping up, giving advice and leaving with some vague reference to something that either happened or was about to.

If you like Victoria Alexander, you're going to like this book. I would have liked this tale better if there had been more romance and less talk; however, I'm not sure what I would have left out. Well, maybe when Hermione pops in after a robust knee-knocking episode...which she implies she has watched. Wink wink.

Time/Place: Victorian England
Sensuality Rating: Almost hot

Notorious Pleasures by Elizabeth Hoyt

February 4, 2011

Oh dear! Oh Dear!
Where did all the nice guys go?
From the moment the heroine takes aim (with her earring) at the hero's naked humping butt, I was hooked. Yes, fellow Romanceland readers, I couldn't put this book down... and I was even further thrilled when I realized that this was the series with Winter and Silence in it. I don't know if you're like me or not, but I have a hard time keeping track of all the series' out there - except this one!!! I love the Maiden Lane series and all the wonderful characters that inhabit said lane. It is somewhat disheartening that I have to wait till November for the next installment. Ms. Hoyt is truly a gifted writer; she hasn't been around for very long, but she has become one of my favorite writers.

I'm giving Notorious Pleasures a pretty high rating; however, that rating has more to do with all of the secondary characters and the wonderful plots going on than it does with the hero, Griffin and the heroine, Hero. Not that their story was second rate. It's just that I was so enthralled with all of the other things that were happening that the love story became a secondary character. Although, I did love the bread and butter speech.

And, let me say this about the guys in this tale... what a bunch of immoral, stubborn, overbearing, nasty fellows...and they were the good guys. I am hoping that some of these gentlemen get books of their own, because they are s-o-o interesting, I am quite fascinated by the lot of them. Hero's brother the duke is an extremely cold man, and is very easy to dislike (warning: some of you will not like him). Then there is Winter, a very secretive guy - is he the Ghost of St. Giles or is that someone else? Most of the candidates for the ghost are being eliminated. There is also Hero's sister Phoebe, who I just loved in this book and am hoping she shows up again. And, did Silence's husband really die in the shipwreck?

Oh, yes, the last few chapters had me sitting on the edge of my seat. I highly recommend this book... more for the wonderful world we are seeing unfolding before us than the love story.

Time/Place: 1737 England
Sensuality Rating: Really Hot!!!

On My Radar - February/March 2011

Jo Beverley
The Unlikely Countess
Georgian series
Release date: March 1, 2011

Bronwen Evans, debut
Invitation to Ruin
Invitation series
Release date: February 22, 2011

Nicole Jordan
To Desire a Wicked Duke
Courtship Wars series
Release date: February 22, 2011

Anne Long
What I Did For a Duke
Pennyroyal series
Release date: February 22, 2011

o Maguire
Seducing the Governess
Franklin Sisters series
Release date: February 22, 2011

ay Sands
The Heiress
Madison Sisters series
e date: February 22, 2011

For a more complete list of upcoming books check out Hey Delia!


Scandal of the Year by Laura Lee Guhrke

February 1, 2011

Who says nice guys finish last?

what an honorable, trustworthy, nice guy and he's a hunk on top of that. Aiden's problem... he just can't find a fiancee who will stick around. He can't seem to hold on to them. His first one dumps him for her childhood sweetheart, and the second gets a tad bit upset when he's caught in bed with "that woman." And, it is "that woman" who is like a nettle under his skin, a ringing in his ears that he can't block. She's constantly irritating him, arousing him, making him forget who he is and what he owes to his family. That woman is Julia, a supposedly wild woman in a horrible marriage, which she is trying disparately to get out of. This is where Scandal of the Year begins - in divorce court. Aiden is named as the co-respondent in a messy divorce case brought on by Julia's husband. Truly a scandal!

And so begins a wonderful story of two mismatched, complex people on their journey to that HEA. First of all, let me say this: I liked this story a lot better than the first. I thought Aiden was a wonderful Romanceland hero; he had such a strong sense of what was right. I dare any of you not to love this man. He wasn't so much a stuffed shirt as he was concerned with doing the right thing and expecting everyone else to do the right thing. So, his perception of "that woman"... she smokes, she drives a car, plays risque songs, she has lovers... She is not to be tolerated and he tries to stay away from her, but he is drawn to her like a moth to a flame. (Love that analogy.)

There are some flashbacks in this book. I'm not sure they were needed, but nevertheless they are there. There was also a fascinating look at what it must have been like to be a woman during that time period and how limited the choices were. I especially enjoyed Julia when she was trying to figure out how she was going to pay her debts.

Pet names in books! I'm not a big fan of pet names, in books or in real life, but in this one Julia calls Aiden "petal" He was irritated by it, but it was really charming. If I had one quibble with this book, it was Julia's resistance to being married to this wonderful guy. I think Ms. Guhrke has the beginnings of a really good series going and thanks to an incredible hero, I liked this story a lot. And, because of the hero, I was torn between the it has two.

Time/Place: Edwardian England
Sensuality Rating: Sort of Hot