The Surrender of Miss Fairbourne by Madeline Hunter

March 29, 2012
"Give me some men who are stout-hearted men,
Who will fight, for the right they adore,
Start me with ten four who are stout-hearted men"...Hammerstien
Yes, another series begins and since it is called a Fairbourne Quartet, I believe we have four manly men to slobber over...but I could be wrong. "One never knows, do one?" (Fats Waller)  Anyway, for those of you who say you're tired of all those series that are out there, too bad, because this is going to be a good one.  Madeline Hunter has penned a charming story with The Surrender of Miss Fairbourne.  Even though this had a couple of things I'm not fond of (smugglers and spies), I found myself drawn into the story anyway.  In fact, there are some nail-biting smuggler things toward the end of the tale - so, even that was good.

Even though I thought the smuggling, spies, and suspicions were fun, the best part of the book was the characters in it.  The hero (Darius) and the heroine (Emma) were a great couple with loads of sparks just flying all over the place.  Both of these characters were strong-willed (some might say stubborn), and when they were in a scene together, I found myself rubbing my hands together in delight just watching these two do the one-up-man-ship dance.  It was like when a rugby team does that strange circle struggle thing they do, I believe it's called a "scrum."  Anyway, that was what Darius and Emma reminded me of.  I loved both of these characters. Darius was an especially strong man.  He storms into Emma's life wanting his way and after one encounter leaves totally befuddled.  It was great!

Emma is also a rather tenacious woman, and even though she may seem as if she's a TSTL heroine, she isn't.  She knows why she must do some of the things she has to do and she knows they are dangerous - and everything she did made total sense to me - even the standard turning down of the marriage proposal.  Totally understandable.

I loved both sets of friends, his and hers, especially Marelle (Emma's friend) and Darius's friend the "handsome Stupid Man."  I see clever writing ahead.

Overall, I found this a witty, fun read with just a few areas that slowed down a bit.  However, this is a great beginning to what appears to be a delightful, intriguing series. 

Time/Place: Georgian England
Sensuality: Hot


The Husband Hunt by Lynsay Sands

March 23, 2012

Thesaurus word substitutes for Sophomoric: Inexperienced, foolish, naive, birdbrained, blockheaded, harebrained, imbecilic, half-baked...shall I go on?

The Husband Hunt didn't have that many pages, however, it took me forever to read.  I kept laying it aside then picking it up.  It just did not hold my interest.  And, for me, Ms. Sands' trademark humor was just not there.  Oh sure, there were places in the book that had "insert laugh track here" moments, but they all seemed to be so, I don't know, juvenile.  In fact there was one "OMG, how immature" scene involving all the sisters and their husbands, as they plan to trap the hero into a forced marriage. 
We have Lisa, a typical TSTL heroine - and that should come as no surprise to anyone who has read the other two Madison sister books.  She is from a family in which the TSTL gene seems to run rampant.  She does all those things one would expect: run off into the night, go places she doesn't belong, visit people she doesn't know - at least she doesn't dress up as prostitutes - oh wait, that was her sisters who did that.  That was another eye-rolling "insert laugh track here" moment.  I also had problems with Lisa's vacillation with her love for our hero Robert.  Oh sure, she loved him, always did, however because he doesn't trust her, she must move on.  No, wait!  She will try to make him jealous, then he'll love her.  No, no, maybe it's better if she tries for some other guy - there are some hanging around.  In fact, one of them just may be a killer/kidnapper/rapist, but that doesn't matter because she wants to get married.  Besides, they all have nice smiles.  Maybe if she has sex with our hero, he will love her.  Nah, it's on to the guys waiting in the wing.
Then we have the hero, Robert.  Ah, yes Robert, he of little faith.  You see, there is a family curse.  The women in his family are unfaithful, so, he can never ever find true love because all women will be unfaithful.  It's the infamous cheating curse - the curse that strikes supposedly intelligent heroes and turns them into nincompoops. 
Now, don't get me wrong...this book wasn't one that I wanted to throw against the wall.  It just didn't have any spark and I thought some of the antics in the book were just plain old groan worthy.  This book was responsible for a number of eye-brow raising moments.
As far as the Madison sister series, I thought the first one was the best. The remaining two didn't live up to the standards that I have come to expect of Lynsay Sands.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality Rating: Meaningless


On My Radar End of April, Beginning of May

March 22, 2012
Mary Balogh

The Proposal (hardback)
The Survivors Club Septet #1
Release date: May 1, 2012

Cathy Maxwell

Lyons Bride
The Chattan Curse series #1
Release date: April 24, 2012

Lynsay Sands

Under a Vampire Moon
Argeneau series
Release date: April 24, 2012

Sherry Thomas

Beguiling the Beauty
Fitzhugh Trilogy #1
Release date: May 1, 2012

The Title Caught My Eye
J. T. Ellison

A Deeper Darkness
Dr. Samantha Owens series #1
Release date: April 17, 2012

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

A Rogue By Any Other Name

March 15, 2012

It's the finger point outward guy!
Well, I wanted to read a marriage of convenience story and I still do.  A Rogue by Any Other Name has some nice things going for it, but it also has some reach-through-the-page and squeeze things moments. 

Some of the nice things were the correspondence between the heroine (Penelope) and the hero (Michael) over a period of approximately 10 years, little bits of their life that we are let in on at the beginning of each chapter.  I enjoyed the set up for the rest of the books in the series - which may not be a good sign, because I was more interested in the secondary characters than I was in the main characters.  I enjoyed the occasional glimpses of not being bullied from the heroine; just wish there had been more.  I thought the flashbacks to childhood memories were wonderful and sweet.  It's just unfortunate that those precious children turned into the whiney, it's-not-my-fault guy and his wife, unworthy-kick-me-when-I'm-down woman. 

Now, let me say right up front:  I love marriage of convenience stories. They are one of my favorite plot-lines.  Nothing better than a troubled marriage to see how well an author can write, how well they can dig into human emotions.  Some of my favorite character-driven books are those in which I get to watch a married couple finally find their HEA.  And, I was excited when I started reading A Rogue by any Other Name, because they are married almost from the beginning of the book, so, I thought we were in for a treat.  Alas, silly me, I forgot the "revenge" plot was also at work in this story, and I am not a big fan of revenge stories. I usually find them mean-spirited.  Turns out that this one fits into the mean-spirited category.  Maybe it wouldn't have been so mean-spirited if the hero hadn't been Mr. Jerk, if he had a legitimate reason for revenge.  Say, someone killed his dog, his parents, his sister, his horse, his butler.  I'm sorry, but there was no one standing behind him with a sword aimed at his head forcing him to sit down and gamble away his birthright.  I don't care if he was only 21. 21, for pete's sake!  There were people fighting Napoleon at 21!  N-o-o, he isn't forced, but he still blames the older man for somehow tricking him into gambling, for pressuring him.  I thought for a revenge plot, this one was pretty weak.  And, never ever in any part of the book does he ever admit that the loss of his estates had anything to do with his own actions.  Even the unworthy heroine, when she finally tells him where to get off, never confronts him with his own responsibilities.  I also thought the kiss the heroine, then kick the heroine routine happened one too many times.

While I'm on the subject of the please-kick-me-I'm-not-worthy heroine.  Don't any of these women have a mirror?  How can you not see what lovely eyes or gorgeous smile you have.  Puleese!  Women have been sitting in front of mirrors since the dawn of...mirrors.  Hey! Kick-me-I'm-down woman - his disinterest in you doesn't have anything to do with you - he's just a whiney-not-my-fault cold, calculating creep.  Dump him!  Run off with the nice guy!

Anyway, I was disappointed in A Rogue By any Other Name.  What started out promising ended with me being frustrated by a very jerky hero.  There were four other men in this book, so, I'm assuming there are stories in the works for them.  And, I will be putting those on my list because I know Sarah MacLean can deliver a good story. It is just that this one didn't work for me.

Time/Place: Late Regency England
Sensuality Rating: Sort of Hot 


When Maidens Mourn by C.S. Harris

March 12, 2012

I heart Sebastian St. Cyr!
But really, is he the brightest detective around? Does he get shot at a lot? Hit over the head a lot? Knifed a lot?Chased a lot? And, be careful if you befriend may not make it to the end of the book.

Spoilers ahead. (Really how can you review a mystery and not have spoilers?) This series is just getting better and better; however, I don't know if the mystery part is getting better. Maybe I'm just not a whodunit fan, because the solving of the murder wasn't what drew me into the book. Oh sure, I was sort of interested in who killed Gabrielle, but I was more interested in the people surrounding her and our hero/detective Sebastian St. Cyr and his brand new wife Hero Jarvis-St. Cyr.

This also has one of those Agatha Christie know, one of those itsy-bitsy clues that you totally miss because of all the red herrings getting thrown in front of you. So, I wasn't surprised at who the murderer was, but I was surprised at the reason...didn't see that one coming. Big spoiler! I did see something coming; in fact, I was going to comment on the number of times people stared off into space in the book. However, I just didn't connect the dots. 

My favorite part of When Maidens Mourn is all the behind-the-scenes stuff that's going on. The secrets Hero and Sebastian keep from each other. The tension between the two of them as they tip-toe around each other. Their growing relationship, and the direction that relationship is going. Her father's shenanigans. And, now we seem to have another mysterious character in the person of Jamie Knox. He also has yellow eyes, just like Sebastian. He's too young to be Sebastian's father, but maybe a brother...and he has secrets too. We also have all the old favorites, Lovejoy, Gibson, Tom and Kat (who I don't care for.) There was also a rather funny moment surrounding a dog, Dr. Gibson and digging up the back yard. 

I have to say that the addition of Hero as a wife to Sebastian makes this series really strong. And, I want to read the next in the series now. Too bad it's not coming out for another year. I enjoyed When Maidens Mourn. I'm not sure if it's a stand alone or not - there are just too many great things going on in the background. I do recommend this entire series and I think it's probably better to read the whole series in order, just so you can follow the goings on behind the murders. This book was full of intrigue, mystery, secrets, and excitement, in addition to a tense love story. If you are following this series, you will not be disappointed. For those of you who haven't read the Sebastian St. Cyr series, like all series there are some entries that are great and some not so great, but you should really check out the entire series. When Maidens Mourn is one of the better ones. 

Time/Place: The Dark Dredges of Regency England
Sensuality: Warm


Between the Duke and the Deep Blue Sea by Sophia Nash

March 8, 2012
What we've got here is a failure to communicate.
I was looking forward to Sophia Nash's newest series, beginning with Between the Duke and the Deep Blue Sea. The first two chapters were fun and had all the earmarks of a rollicking good time.  Then somewhere along the way, I started doubting my ability to finish this story.  But, finish it I did, I just had a frowny face on when I put the book down.

Let's look at the hero, Alexander Barkly, Duke of Kress.  We are introduced to him the morning after a bachelor party and he has a hangover.  In fact all of the men at this party have a variety of problems due to the fact that they all overindulged in Absinthe...which Kress is blamed for.  Oh, yeh, the Prince Regent is there also, along with the gaggle of dukes and he is tired tired tired of all the scandal surrounding his name, so they (the dukes) must somehow solve that problem.  Now, I found the morning after scene rather amusing, so, I was ok with the story up to this point.

Then we have our heroine, Roxanne.  When we engage with her, she is hanging from a cliff and pondering when will her husband return to rescue her.  He never does.  He is out to murder her. He's the villain; we know this because he uses boot-black to cover his bald spot.

Then we have our intrepid dog, Edward, who is barking, just as if he were Rin Tin Tin, showing our hero the way to the cliff for the rescue.

So, I thought the story was going to be fun.  I did not suspect that there were going to be parts where I didn't understand what was going on.  Parts that didn't make any sense, a plethora of characters that were never developed and many things that required just one too many stretches of the imagination.  This book almost became a DNF, but I trudged through it anyway...always hoping to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Alas, it never showed up.

Also, remember the little problem we - I - have with modern language/ambiance cropping up in historicals?  Remember how we try to ignore it, especially when we are interested in the story?  Sorry to say, after awhile the modern cadence of this story became rather irritating.

I felt that some of the problem I had with this story, besides the title, was there were just way too many people in this book.  And, by the looks of it all of them are going to show up again, so, a lot of time that should have been spent on our main couple was spent on introducing one person after another, then watching them as they rode off into the distance.

There were other things that didn't make can a casket be lowered in the ground without a body in it?  Wouldn't some one notice that the casket was rather light weight?  Wouldn't the undertaker notice that instead of a body there was a hat?  Maybe the husband/villain put the body in the casket.  Wouldn't that send out messages to someone that something wasn't right?

There were so many "what the" moments in this book, along with abrupt scene changes.  I found myself going back a couple of times and rereading to see if I had missed something.

I was disappointed when I finished this story.  This had moments of humor, moments of witty dialog, and a smile would appear on my face occasionally...but there were just too many distractions, too much sequel-baiting and things that didn't make sense for me to enjoy this story the way I wanted to.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality Rating: Warm


Nook vs. Book

When one has a paper book, there is never ever upgrades.  With a paper book, you never ever have to spend 30 minutes with a technical support person, instead of reading a book that was supposed to be released the same day as the upgrade.  The word glitch does not apply to a paper book.  How very irritating.


The Revenge of Lord Eberlin by Julia London

March 2, 2012

Welcome to Hadley Green, population...and growing!
Note:  To romance authors (you know who you are), who in their spare time teach others to write and assign searches for "literary" sentences/paragraphs/phrases to be found in the works of Hemingway, Steinbeck, Dickens and Oprah picks - sometimes those literary sentences are in your own back yard.

"The cold wind stung his cheeks, his nose.  That's what he wanted-he wanted to feel that cold seeping into him, freezing him, locking down all the impossible feelings that had begun to sprout in the cracks of his mud like so many blades of grass." - The Revenge of Lord Eberlin

All I can say is Julia London has me hooked with her new series, Secrets of Hadley Green.  I'm loving how she is bringing to life not just the main character/couples in each book, but she is creating some really well-developed supporting characters I'm enjoying.  I also think as far as creating a series, that going the route of creating a small town is the way to go, instead of brothers/four friends/schoolmates, etc.  I would think this would give an author more creative freedom.

As I said earlier, I'm enjoying the supporting characters, especially the gaggle of women; they so remind me of the women in Cranford.  Unlike some books where these characters are irritating, in this book I'm very interested in what each one of these characters is doing. 

Now on to The Revenge of Lord Eberlin and our main characters, Lily and Tobin.  And, I will say this, how you feel about Tobin will affect whether you like the book or not.  If ever there was a couple who will make you scratch your head and wonder how the author is ever going to get them together, this is it.  You see, our heroine was a witness against our hero's father and his father was hung due to that testimony.  And, there is never any fake witnessing - Lily really did see something.  However, she saw that something with the eyes of an eight year old.  Needless to say, there is some heavy baggage that both Lily and Tobin carry. Tobin is also out to destroy Lily.  There were so many moments in this book that had the ability to touch your heart.  The relationship between Lily and Lucy, an adorable little girl.  When Tobin proposes to Lily and her manner of accepting...loved this scene.  Tobin's party that hardly anyone came to.  And, when we do have a HEA, it isn't a sugar coated happily ever after with birds chirping and squirrels climbing on your lap while you sing "Zippidy-doo-da."  There are still things that are not settled, and certain people still hold grudges, and Tobin is not magically accepted into Lily's world.  And, that was one of the things I really liked about this book.

There is also a mystery of the disappearing jewels, which is probably one of the weaker parts of the book; however, I loved this book and was enthralled from beginning to end as I watched love unfold and do some big time healing.  Fascinating book.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality Rating: Almost Hot