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