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: