Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie

July 29, 2011

Small towns scare me!

I grew up in a small town and I still have nightmares! Jennifer Crusie seems to have her thumb on the pulse of small towns everywhere. And yes, I read another contemporary - it's a secret mission. And Tracy, I have to agree with you, I liked Welcome to Temptation - a lot - although I thought Bet Me was funnier.

What we have here is a story of Sophia, who comes from a family of grifters. She arrives at the small town of Temptation where she meets the town mayor, Phin Tucker. Ah, Phin Tucker, one of the most laid back guys I've ever run into. He is not ambitious; in fact he uses campaign posters from his forebears each time he runs for election. Of course, he is not so laid back when Sophia crosses his path. In fact, I think it would be fair to say that the sparks just fly off the pages of this book. I had to wear oven mitts just to turn the pages. Talk about combustive, sizzling hot sex! All over the place! And, for all you germaphobes, watch where you step, eat and drink. Now, while I don't mind lots and lots of sex in books, I also like to watch the couple fall in love. If there was a weak point to this story it would be the l-u-v part. Where was it?

Jennifer Crusie seems to excel in creating strong secondary characters in her books, or at least she did in the two I read. Welcome to Temptation is jammed-backed with interesting powerful characters. And not only that, but we have a little mayhem, some mystery and a comical murder. Yes, Ms. Crusie has written a funny movable corpse, in my opinion something hard to do.

Now, since I've only read two of Jennifer Crusie's books, I'm wondering if all the mothers in her books have escaped from the Mommie Dearest School of Parenting? Phin's mother has a little bit of Snow White/Cinderella step-mother going for her. She is totally unlikeable, and I really could not feel any kind of sympathy for her. In the real world, I don't believe this kind of family dynamics would exist in the same house.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I liked the dark humor and the murder-mystery keep me guessing till the end. If you haven't read this one, I'd say you should.

Time/Place: Current small town USA
Sensuality Rating: Scorching!


K.I.S.S. and Teal

In case you are wondering what the KISS and teal icons on Avon books are, here is the answer: September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. Avon has donated $25,000 to Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. They are also going to donate 25 cents from the sale of each book and ebook in the "K.I.S.S. and Teal promotion between August 30, 2011 and February 28, 2012. For further information go to

On My Radar, Late August 2011, Early September 2011

Isobel Carr
Ripe for Scandal
League of Second Sons series
Release date: September 1, 2011

Judith James
The King's Courtesan
Sequel to The Libertine

Release date: August 23, 2011

Rose Lerner
Lily Among the Thorns

Release date: September 15, 2011 (we hope!!!)

Caroline Linden
One Night in London: The Truth About the Duke
Release date: August 30, 2011

Cathy Maxwell
The Seduction of Scandal
Scandals and Seduction series
Release date: August 30, 2011

Maggie Robinson
Mistress by Marriage
Courtesan Court series
Release date: September 1, 2011

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


The Secret Mistress by Mary Balogh

July 25, 2011

Those Dudley's are back!

At last, Mary Balogh's prequel to More than a Mistress and No Man's Mistress. And, to be honest with you, even though I have More than a Mistress as one of my favorite Balogh's books, I don't really remember too much of it. Probably need to reread. Anyway, this is the Dudley family's sister Angeline's story. And, it reminds me of some of Balogh's more traditional regency stories, but with humor. So, wipe that sweat off your brow - you won't need any Valium for this book.

First of all, I had to keep reminding myself how really young the two main characters were in this book. Angeline is 19 and Edward is 24, and in Angeline's case her youth shows. Angeline appears to be a very happy person, dare I say bubbly. Her enjoyment of the world she is living in is beyond breathtaking... she is vivid, bright; everywhere she goes she is enthusiastic. Angeline is perky. Yes, we have a perky heroine and I loved her. She was so delightful, but there is a secret behind her chatty-Kathy exterior. When she gets nervous, she fills her silences with words. While some readers may find her a bubble-head, I thought she was great fun and it was nice to read a Balogh heroine who wasn't some drama queen.

Then we have the adorable stuffed-shirt, stiff Heyward. He likes boring. He's picked out a wife, his childhood friend, and they are going to have a bland, calm life together. The moments that Angeline first charges into his life are very funny and very unsettling to Heyward. He tries to stay away from her, but he just cannot help being drawn into her brightness.

I loved this couple. I thought they were sweet. In fact, the whole story is a delight; there's not too much tension, no villains, no outside interference, just a story about two opposites who attract. It's a simple, traditional love story. I was a little puzzled about the title because it isn't until almost the end that we get to see why "mistress" was used. This was also a weak moment in the book, at least for me.

This is not in paperback form yet. At this time it is in hardback and ebook, so the price for the printed copy is hardback price.

But, if you want a read that's charming, enjoyable and relaxing this one is for you.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality Rating: Warm


TBR challenge: Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie, 2004

July 20, 2011

A change of pace.

There is a reason this was in my TBR pile - it is a contemporary and as we all know, I'm not a big fan of contemporary. One of the reasons for my not liking them became apparent when I was reading this book. Contemporaries can become dated very quickly... one minute people are listening to cassette tapes and the next minute those cassette tapes have gone the way of the dinosaur. When one reads an historical, one doesn't have that problem.

Anyway, to Bet Me. Even though Bet Me is a contemporary romance, what saved it for me was one thing - humor. From the moment I started reading this book, I was chuckling. I was also thanking the powers that be that I was no longer in the dating world. What a scary place.

Minerva Dobbs (what was her mother thinking) is the heroine of this book and she's called Min by all of her friends. Now, Min is one of those heroines who are plain, and she's really plain, not pretend plain. She is also overweight or at least what the author deems is overweight. If this were a fairy-tale, she'd be the ugly duckling. Where this book differs from that tale is, in the end she doesn't turn into a swan. Nope, Min stays the same, she doesn't magically loose weight and turn into a stunning beauty. The point of this book is that she doesn't have to, she is beautiful as she is and to top that off the handsome hero falls in love with her as she is. And, I liked that about this book. So many books/movies/tv shows, create a plain woman who metamorphosis into Angeline Jolie just so she can get a date. I'm happy that Ms. Crusie didn't do that with this book.

And then there is Cal; he is a Mr. Perfect. He is handsome, charming, great body, he has everything anyone could want. He was also great fun because he doesn't always know where he's going in his relationship with Min. The two of them together struck just the right chord and I found them funny, but still both vulnerable. Great combo.

There was also a strong cast of secondary characters. What was interesting with these characters was the different relationships between them. The friends, the girl friends, the siblings, the parents - all well-written and all adding to the enjoyment of the book. If I had one quibble it would be with Min's mother. I found her constant harping on Min's "fat" problem very demeaning and not very motherly. However, I also realized that Min's mother had her own self-esteem problems. But her constant digs at her daughter were disturbing to me and if they were meant to be funny, they missed the boat.

But overall, this was a fast-paced funny read and I'm glad I finally dusted the cover off.

Time/Place: Current
Sensuality Rating: Warm


Silk is for Seduction by Loretta Chase

July 15, 2011

"Jezebel. Jezebel.
If ever the devil was born,
Without a pair of horns
It was you, Jezebel, it was you.
If ever an angel fell, Jezebel, It was you.
Jezebel, it was you.
If ever a pair of eyes, Promised paradise.
Deceiving me, grieving me, Leavin' me blue.
Jezebel, it was you.
If ever the devil's plan,
Was made to torment man,
It was you -"
Well, not necessarily Jezebel, but let me introduce you to the charismatic Noirot sisters. Three spellbinding sisters from Loretta Chase's new Dressmakers series. The first book in the series is Silk is for Seduction and it is the eldest sister, Marcelline, who takes center stage. And, there may be spoiler's ahead, depending on your definition.

Loretta Chase, Loretta Chase, Loretta Chase! I'm always excited when she has a book that is about to be published and I've been looking forward to this one for almost a year. I love the characters she creates in her stories. Her books are usually full of wonderful dialog, terrific antagonistic love relationships filled with snappy exchanges and sensual tension. And, this book has that - just not as much as I was hoping for.

Let's begin with Marcelline, the heroine. She's one of those women! All you women out there know what I'm talking about. I even bet all of you know one or two of these individuals; maybe one of them is even your friend. You can recognize her right away. She's the one all the guys are swarming around...the one they are wiping the drool off their chin over, tripping over their big feet just to be close to her. If she's your friend (usually they don't have many women friends) she's the one who is always asked to dance while you sit there twiddling your thumbs. There is just something about them that attracts bees to honey, like a duck to water, like iron to a magnet, like flies to a carcass. You get the idea. Well, say hello to Marcelline. She is very much aware that she is the reason men drool. She is a take no-prisoners Chase heroine. She's smart, she's strong, she's witty, she's beautiful, she's all of these things. But, she also has a down side, she uses people, she connives, she conspires and she doesn't seem to have many scruples. Marcelline is also a working girl, no, not the kind of working girl who walks the streets. The Noirot sisters own a dressmaking shop and that shop is Marcelline's obsession. Her aspirations are to make women beautiful and she has cast her eyes on Lady Clara Fairfax to gain entrance into the world of the haut monde. Once this is done, everyone who is anyone will be clamoring for her gowns. Now, Lady Clara Fairfax is the almost fiancee of the Duke of Clevedon. So, because she cannot introduce herself to Clara, Marcelline insinuates herself into Clevedon's field of vision. When this happens everything changes for these three people (and anyone else standing in the periphery.)

Enter Gervase, Duke of Clevedon. Can you say cad, bounder, lout...stinker? Yes siree bob, he's a stinker! Loretta Chase has finally created a hero I had a hard time liking, even if he was witty. This guy just drifts through life, acquiring things, with no particular goal in mind - just because he's a Duke. He knows he will need to get married someday and to his best friend (Lady Clara). But hey, what's the rush! First there are things to do, money to waste, wine to consume, women to do the hump-n-bump with. So what if his best friend Lady Clara is getting hurt in the process? Wait a minute! Who is that gorgeous creature across the way? He must have her! He must bed her! Nothing must get in his way! He is obsessed! He can't control his lust and neither can the woman, Marcelline (cause he's one hot stinker). They must see each other. They must resist. We can't do this. I must possess you. Somewhere along the way this all consuming lust turns into love, but I must have been asleep because I missed that moment.

And, then there is Lady Clara. Now, mind you Lady Clara is only a secondary character, but she was the nicest person in this book. I cheered her on when she quit being a doormat and gave Clevedon a tongue-lashing he so richly deserved. What a wonderful scene that was! Speaking of which, there was another scene that was very disturbing to me. However, it was written so well that I felt the tension of the characters right down to my little toes. Watch for the scene in which Lady Clara, Clevedon and Marcelline are together in the dress shop. There is all of this tense undercurrent of deviousness between Clevedon and Marcelline. All the time Lady Clara is aware that something is going on, but she can't quite figure it out. It was very painful to read, but it was a great piece of gifted writing. And, by the way Ms. Chase, Clara deserves a hero!

We are also introduced to Marcelline's two sisters, Marcelline's six year old daughter (going on nine) and Clara's brother...all of whom should show up again in the next book in the series. Anyway, there were things in this book I loved: the dialog was great and the bantering was still there. And there was some extraordinary disturbing writing. My biggest problem, at least in the beginning, was both Clevedon and Marcelline seemed to lack a conscience. There was a poignant, redeeming Clevedon moment at the end. But was it enough for me to like him? I'm still undecided about that. Would I recommend this book? You bet! But, it is a little darker than some of Ms. Chase's other beware. And, as always, I am looking forward to the next in the series.

The song Jezebel was written by Wayne Shanklin.

Time/Place: 1830's England
Sensuality Rating: Hot

A Lady's Lesson in Scandal by Meredith Duran

July 8, 2011
Rack 'em Up

Meredith Duran is rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors. A Lady's Lesson in Scandal is a book you won't want to miss. Ms. Duran has created a well-written, character-driven story with two of the most complex people I've read in a very long time.

Let's talk about these two intriguing people, from completely different worlds.

Simon, our hero. What a guy! He inhabits an aristocratic world of wealth and has all the privileges that wealth brings. He is comfortable in that world; it's the only one he knows. He has the freedom that only great wealth can bring. However, there is a fly in the ointment...he has just inherited a title, an estate, tons of servants... but no money.

Then we have Nell, our heroine. She lives in a place far removed from Simon, in the slums of London. She grew up having to struggle for every bite of food on the table. She is a factory worker and not just any factory but one that makes cigars. She is not above standing knee deep in muck just to fish out the coins tossed from a passing nobleman's carriage.

Well, as luck would have it Nell is the missing daughter of the Earl of Rushdale, and also a distant relative of Simon. I'm not going to go into details about how these two people run into each other; they do and in a very short time they concoct a plan on how to get that money. They both have their reasons for needing tons of cash. Simon, so he can continue to live the life he is accustomed to, save the estate, save the servants and Nell, so she can buy the factory and help the downtrodden people of the world. This may sound simplistic, but let me warn you this amazing story is anything but.

I was engrossed with this love story from the beginning. The story itself seems to have two different tones. The first half was more of a Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins story - a little lighter, with some very humorous moments. There is an especially wonderful moment which involves dining etiquette and a questioning Nell. I was on Nell's side. And let me tell you there is one of the most incredibly sensual, hot billiard scenes that I've read in a long time...a humdinger!!! Some one hand me a fan!

And then they get married, and the nuance of the story changes to something very intense. Not that there hasn't been intensity before the marriage, it's just that this is more intense. More poignant. Warning: this is a nail biting story. It is in the second half Nell struggles with the bonds of Simon's world, a world that he is totally relaxed in. At times Simon came close to being a romance-jerk and I found some of his actions to be a little disturbing. He is controlling, arrogant and domineering, but in an oh so charming way. What saved Simon from being a total jerk was gradual viewing of his world through Nell's eyes. And even though Nell is a strong person, she is intimidated by him and fearful of losing him because she can't fit into his world. A world, by the way that should have been hers. These two characters have many facets, and their dynamics are a wonder to behold. They're stubborn, loyal, insecure, arrogant, controlling...they trigger all kinds of emotional responses in each other.

If I had any quibble with this story, it would be Nell's stubbornness and her overreaction to something she hears. I just wanted to smack her. But that was just a minor irritation. Overall this is a brilliantly intense satisfying nail-biting read (pass the Valium please) and it's one that you must read!

Time/Place: Edwardian England
Sensuality Rating: Hot! Yipes!


Shameless by Anne Stuart

July 3, 2011

Sigh... I didn't want this story to end.

Loved, loved, loved this story. From the beginning when the heroine interrupts our hero as he is being serviced by one of her saved soiled doves, to the irritated shouted marriage proposal at the end, this story was a delight to read!

Well, fellow Romanceland readers, what can I say about Anne Stuart? She's done it again! Now, prepare yourself - if you are expecting the typical tortured, dark, angst-ridden Stuart storyline, you're in for a treat. While there are moments of angst and torture, this book is more along the lines of an earlier Stuart gem, The House Party. I would almost say this is a lighthearted read, but with Anne Stuart that could never happen. Yes, there are moments of derision and pain, but mostly there are moments of wonderful banter, delightful struggles and one of the best romance couples I've read in a long time. I smiled almost all the way through this book as I watched our heroine, the strong-willed rescuer of tainted ladies, hater of messy sex Melisande as she overturned our hero's (Benedick, the well-endowed rake) structured plans for his future. The sparks flew all over the pages when these two butted heads. I loved both of these characters, and while some readers may think Melisande had her TSTL moments, I never saw them as that; she was just very strong-willed. She was also adorably naive and her seduction at the hands of the charming Benedick was downright hot! Benedick is a Rohan after all... and what a fight he put up against the inevitable tumble into love. It was great! I smiled throughout his downfall.

Now, don't get me wrong, this is not a wacky laugh riot. There are moments of darkness, and a very deliberate pain-filled moment on the hero's part, but it is over quickly, so don't despair. And for those of you who want a tortured guy, I suspect the secondary character of Brandon will have his own book and I don't see too much humor happening with his story.

Speaking of the secondary characters, they are a strong supporting cast, not over-powering and I'm sure they will be around for more. There is a villain, although he is easy to spot, and the reactivation of the Heavenly Host group, but that storyline is very minor and mostly gives the couple a reason to be together.

If I had any quibble it would be with the repeated regurgitation of Benedick's family history and past. But that's just a little quibble and didn't ruin my enjoyment of the book.

I loved the interplay between this couple, found it to be a strong love story and I highly recommend Shameless.

Time/Place: Late Regency
Rating: A-
Sensuality Rating: HOT!!!