On My Radar August 15, 2012 to September 14, 2012

July 30, 2012

Tessa Dare

A Lady at Midnight
Spindle Cove series
Release date: August 28, 2012

Eloisa James

The Ugly Duchess
Happily Ever After series
Release date: August 28, 2012

Carolyn Jewell

Not Proper Enough
Reforming the Scoundrels series
Release date: August 28, 2012

Caroline Linden

The Way to a Duke's heart
The Truth about the Duke series
Release date: August 28, 2012

Anne Randol

Sins of a Virgin
The Sinners Trio
Release date: August 28, 2012

Nina Rowan, debut

A Study in Seduction
Daring Hearts series
Release date: August 28, 2012

Emma Wildes

Ruined by Midnight
Whispers of Scandal series
Release date: August 28, 2012

The Title Caught My Eyes:
Kim Fay

The Map of Lost Memories
Release date: August 21, 2012

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

The Casonova Code by Donna MacMean

July 30, 2012

And the winner of the red herring award is...
Of course, you know I don't have such an award, but if I did, The Casanova
would certainly be one of my nominations. This is my first Donna MacMean book, and it also happens to be the first in a series. A series with the absurd name of The Rake Patrol. Triggers all kinds of childhood memories of watching tv as British soldiers chase German soldiers through
the desert.

Anyway, when I first started to read this book, I thought, hey, this is going to be a good one! It takes place in the late Victorian era and the heroine, Edwina, is a "modern" woman. She rides a bike, for Pete's sake! So, she is a Victorian biker chick. However, this particular biker chick is also a brilliant code breaker. You see, she and her brothers have been communicating through codes since they were little tadpoles. I thought she sounded like fun. But as it turns out, the problem I soon discovered with her was one I had with every character and plotline in this book - neither one of those things went anywhere. It was just like a hamster wheel, run, run, run and never arrive anywhere.

Our hero, Aston, used to be a typical rake, and true to the code of rakehood his father married Aston's almost fiance. So, Aston goes off to fight and gets shot in the leg, then he can have the hero limp and carry a cane.

Then we have the assorted cardboard characters - the three women Rat, I mean Rake Patrol members, the evil step-mother, the nefarious fathers (both), the secret club (Guardians). And let me tell you, there were more jumping to conclusions, over-reactions and silly misunderstandings than stars in the galaxy. I might have exaggerated. But there were tons of them, which is one of the reasons I found this read to be disappointing. I also thought the romance didn't connect until pretty close to the end of the book.

This doesn't mean I'm giving up on this author yet. I will look into her next story and hope for the best.

Time/Place: Edwardian England
Sensuality: Almost Hot


The After Wife by Gigi Levangie Grazer

July 24, 2012

California Dreamin' or Boop-Oop-a-Doop
May be spoilers. The After Wife is a book that is out of my comfort zone.  First of all, it's contemporary, second, it's written in first person.  Either of these two things could have kept it permanently in my TBR pile, but once I started reading, I actually enjoyed the story.  And, my enjoyment of the tale is due mainly to the constant quips from the author's narrative.  In fact, there is so much bantering it may have worked to the detriment of the overall feel of the novel.  I never thought there would be a book that I'd consider overcrowded with funny wisecracks, but in this case there were times I needed a respite from the barrage of witticism.

The plot revolves around Hannah, a California woman who loses her husband in the first chapter and from then on we get to watch her cope, or in this case, not cope.  Helping Hannah "not cope" are her friends, the gay guy with the rapid-fire retorts, the older actress looking for her big break, and the health-food-rescue-all-the animals do-gooder woman.  And then there are the ghosts.  Somehow when Hannah's husband dies there is a tear in the veil between the living and the dead and Hannah is able to commune with the dearly departed.  This ability, which is out of her control, leads to numerous funny moments.  It seems the spirit world has no sense of timing.  Watch for the laugh out loud gynecologist scene.

The After Wife is a very humorous book and there are a few touching scenes scattered throughout.  However, I did have some problems with this story that kept it from being a DIK for me.  My thoughts about the problems: first of all, the characters were extremely shallow; they had more of a caricature feel about them and they were not truly developed.  This had the feel of a Lifetime made-for-TV aura about it.

Secondly, the fact that it is a contemporary story that will not age well.  There is a difference between something that is timely and something that is timeless.  I don't believe this book will ever be timeless.  If we look at Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, we now have what would be classified as a historical fiction, a classic timeless historical fiction.  However, at the time it was written it was a contemporary novel.  What makes P&P timeless is that the characters are fully developed and they are not drowning in dated slang or name dropping.  The After Wife has an overabundance of slang, words, people and things that will not hold up over time; probably they will be dated in just a couple of years.  It's the Boop-Oop-a-Doop syndrome or the right-on-bro or the how's your old lady, etc. All dated, and not timeless and one of the problems I have with contemporary novels.

Thirdly, when I was finished with this story, even though I thought this was an extremely funny book and I did enjoy it, I was left to ponder what was the point of this story?  People are shallow?  Gay guys are funny? Coyotes eat dogs?  Death is sad?  Unless it's funny.

In the end, go ahead and read this book - you will be entertained.  Just don't expect the meaning of life to come and tap you on the shoulder when you're finished.

Time/Place: Current California, USA
Sensuality rating: Warm


Ravishing the Heiress by Sherry Thomas

July 16, 2012

Angst Alert!
I knew going into this story that I was going to have a problem with the theme.  One of my least favorite storylines involves the hero, who just cannot ever, ever forget about his first love, even though the woman he is married to is his perfect match.  You know those perfect match types: hang onto your every word, become your best friend, some one you can talk to, even tell all those amorous stories to.  The ardent stories about those other women.  And all the time, she your wife, doesn't bat an eye.  She smiles and nods while all the time she is dying inside.

Well, that's exactly what we have in Ravishing the Heiress.  However, in the magical hands of a master wordsmith such as Ms. Thomas, I was eager to see what spin she would put to this tale.

I have to say right up front that this was one of the most angst filled, depressing, painful books I've read in a long time.  Where are the Marx brothers when you need them?  It's been a long time since I've read a book with a lead couple where all I wanted to do was slap them silly.

Millie, aka Martyr Mill, wake up!  Throw a fit! Scream! Yell! Don't just stand there and take it! Quit being so nice! Just once! Give that clod you're married to an ultimatum! Pu-leese!

And you, Fitz, you insensitive clown! How can you live with Martyr-Mill for 8 years and not know you love her? AAAkkk - wake up! That other woman is not for you! And all those little stories about your bawdy affairs you've been entertaining your wife with. Sputter! How uncaring can you be?

Yet - yes, my fellow Romanceland readers there is a yet - I could not but this book down.

You see both Millie and Fitz are fully developed characters, and this book takes us on a slow journey of discovery.  Through the miracle of flashbacks, we get to watch the angst-ridden teenagers Millie and Fitz move from a forced marriage to a great partnership, which in turn becomes a strong friendship. 

It's just agonizing to watch only one side of the friendship realize that there is love involved.  Be warned - this is a distressing read.

Now, I do have some quibbles.  I could have done without the commercial interruption of Helena and Hastings. We get it! Yes, we know their story is next! Yes, we know Helena isn't likeable! But they are a distraction from the flow of the storyline.

Then there is Isabelle. Isabelle the other woman. I DID NOT LIKE ISABELLE. Was it because she is the other woman? Partially.  However, she, like Fitz, was insensitive to what the results of her actions might be to the people around her. She seemed to have no care as to what setting up a household with a married man might do to her children.  But the defining moment for me, the moment that put the nail in Isabelle's coffin, was the train station scene. Nothing says subtle cruelty better than showing up at the station to welcome your soon-to-be-lover's sister home, knowing that his wife, Martyr-Mill, will be there. Talk about a mark-your-territory moment and I might add a truly excruciating one.  Someone hand me a hammer and nails. Pu-leese!

The last quibble. I mentioned this before but it bears repeating - get some back bone, Martyr-Mill!  Just once!  One little time! Punch some one's lights out!  Leave!  Anything!  But, quit degrading yourself.  Make him grovel!

Overall this was a very strong story and I had a love-hate reaction to it.  However, it is one that you should read because it is a story you are going to remember long after you put it down and turn out the lights.

Time/Place: Edwardian England
Sensuality: Warm

Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt

July 9, 2012

"I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy
Snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty
Oily, greasy, fleecy
Shining, gleaming, streaming
Flaxen, waxen
Knotted, polka-dotted
Twisted, beaded, braided
Powdered, flowered, and confettied
Bangled, tangled, spangled, and spaghettied!

Oh say can you see
My eyes if you can
Then my hair's too short

Down to here
Down to there
Down to where
It stops by itself
" - Hair
Spoilers may be present. Well, now we know who the Ghost of St. Giles is - or do we?  Thief of Shadows is the fourth installment in Elizabeth Hoyt's Maiden Lane series.  And, do you know what?  I'm really enjoying the current trend in village/city/town series that are playing out in Romanceland.  I still might get my villages mixed up, but I believe its making for more fully developed stories.  All those reoccurring characters with all their foibles and flaws are making some really intriguing storytale weaving.  I'm find them very entertaining.

In the Thief of Shadows we have our main characters, Lady Isabel Beckinhall, an older widow (not a virgin widow), and our hero, Winter Makepeace, aka Ghost of St. Giles, who is a virgin - until he meets Isabel that is.

Oh, and by the way Winter has a hairy navel.  Not just hair here and there, no siree.  He's a hero.  Everything about him must be exaggerated.  Well, how much hair does he have, you ask.  His hair is so thick you cannot see his navel.  Now, I like hair as well as the next guy/girl - but you can't see his belly button!  That's not hair, that's fur!  On top of having a furry navel, it only seems to be centrally located around the navel, so, I'm thinking I don't want to see that walking toward me on a beach.

I digress.  Back to the story.  I enjoyed this book immensely and as in all Elizabeth Hoyt's tales, Thief of Shadows was filled with some wonderfully powerful writing.

One of the things that most struck me while reading was that the way Ms. Hoyt described clothing left no doubt as to what class that person belongs.  This is not just a book filled with a fashion show.  There is one great scene that exemplifies what I am talking about.  Isabel is dressing, or should I say she is being dressed.  All she ever does is move her arms up and down or step in and out of petticoats and what-nots.  By the end of this rather lengthy scene, there is no doubt that she is of the upper upper crust - far far above our humble hero Winter.

As a couple, Isabel and Winter were great, even though her tutoring him on how to blend into society was a bit of a stretch.  He wasn't some grunting Neanderthal, he was an educated man who seemed to already know the ins and outs of high society.  So, I never bought the initial reason for their being together.  Nonetheless, they made a great couple, who had some really hot, hot sex.  And, by the way the virgin Winter caught on really fast.  In fact, he and Isabel could find a second job with Cirque de Soleil.  There were a number of times I had to reread just to figure out what they were doing.  You're bending backward and looking where?  At what?  Also, virgin Winter has a gigantic Mr. Toad.  It goes all the way to his navel.  At least that's what we are told by Isabel.  Although how she can see through the fur to the belly-button is beyond me.  Must be one of those mysteries of the universe.

Back to the story.  When Isabel wasn't sneaking down some dark hallway she was a fascinating character.  Her relationship with her husband's illegitimate son Christoper, was very touching to watch.  Wish it had been explored more.

Speaking of touching.  Big tear jerk moment!  Bring on that tissue box when Winter decides he must lose Joseph Tinbox to the navy.

Overall, this was a great read.  I enjoyed the couple, but I loved what was going on around them even more.  When all of this was put together it was a lovely read.

By the way, I had one of those moments when a great descriptive sentence jumps off of the page right into my brain.  On page 191 of the paperback issue, the description of Lady Whimple: "She was rumored to have been a great beauty in her youth, but age had placed a hand on her face and pulled down,..."  Great visual of the hand of age on her face.

Great book.

Time/Place: Georgian England
Sensuality: Hot!!!!!!!!!

Scandal Wears Satin by Loretta Chase

July 2, 2012
Well, I'm gog-swaggled.  

What a terrific book.  I have to admit that after Ms. Chase's last book, which happened to be the first in her dressmaker series, I opened this book with a little trepidation. As it turned out, I needn't have worried.  Ms. Chase came through with flying colors, or should I say a cornucopia of colors.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading Scandal Wears Satin.

And do you know why?  The hero, Harry.  Oh sure, there's a heroine, Sophy.  And, I must say that Sophy is a wonderful heroine.  Smart, clever, devious...but Harry, well he's another kettle of fish.  Harry isn't clever; he has a hard time concentrating on things.  He doesn't like to think or puzzle things out.  Now in another author's hands I might have had a problem with the way Harry was portrayed.  But, Ms. Chase seems adept at changing not so brilliant men into charmers.  Remember Bertie from Lord of Scoundrels?  Harry is wonderful and when he realizes he's in love with Sophy, it is really quite a funny moment.

Together the smart Sophy and the not so smart Harry form a perfect fit.  They are humorous, and witty.  Their bantering made me smile and I love the "I'm leaving now" scene.

I also enjoyed the convoluted journey Ms. Chase detailed.  I marveled at how she managed to pull everything together for just the right ending.  I would love to study her writing technique. 

And, for all of you who read the first book, poor trod upon Clara makes an appearance in this one...I'm hoping she finally gets her own story.

This is a great read, fun couple, some really hot sex and the best in the series so far.

Time/Place: Mutton/Idiot Sleeve England time or Early Victorian
Sensuality Rating: Hot!

Nook vs. Storm

July 2, 2012

When a storm goes through and one loses electrical power there isn't anyplace to recharge your battery.  Now, this can be no big deal.  But when one is in the middle of the initial whankee-roo scene this can be a problem.  Doesn't happen with paper.  However, when the sun goes down and one is still in the dark...and I do mean dark...the nook gives out light and one can read.

And, by the way, guys in the electric company bucket truck, my neighborhood is in the other direction.