On My Radar October 15-November 14, 2012!!!

September 29, 2012
Sabrina Jeffries

Twas the Night After Christmas
Release date, October 30, 2012

Julie Anne Long

A Notorious Countess Confesses
Pennyroyal Green series
Release date, October 30, 2012

Cathy Maxwell

The Scottish Witch
The Chattan Curse series
Release date, October 30, 2012

Maggie Robinson

Lord Gray's List
May be trade size
The London List series
Release date, October 27, 2012

Maya Rodale

Seducing Mr. Knightley
Writer Girls series
Release date, October 30, 2012

Tracy Anne Warren

The Princess and the Highlander
Princess series
Release date, November 6, 2012

The Title Caught My Eye:

Anna Lee Huber, debut

The Anatomist's Wife
Lady Darcy series
Trade size
Release date, November 6, 2012

For a more complete upcoming release list see Hey Delia!

Sins of a Virgin by Anna Randol

September 21, 2012

Cipher, Cipher bo Bipher Bonana fanna fo Fipher
Fee fy mo Mipher, Cipher!

Come on everybody!
I say now let's play a game
I betcha I can make a rhyme out of anybody's name
The first letter of the name, I treat it like it wasn't there
But a B or an F or an M will appear
And then I say bo add a B then I say the name and Bonana fanna and a
And then I say the name again with an F very plain
and a fee fy and a mo
And then I say the name again with an M this time
and there isn't any name that I can't rhyme

Wrath, Wrath bo Brath Bonana fanna fo Frath
Fee fy mo Mrath, Wrath!

La Petit!
La Petit, La Petit bo Ba Petit"...aaakkkkk!
Spoilers ahead.  I gotta say this was a hard week, pick one book up - start reading - lose interest - put down - pick up, etc.  So, when I started reading Anna Randol's Sins of a Virgin, I was behind my time schedule. I had to finish this one whether I liked it or not.  Sins of a Virgin is the beginning of the Sinners Trio, about three ex-spies: Cipher, Wrath and La Petit.  This one is La Petit's story or, as she is called in this tale, Madeline.  Her knight in shining is Gabriel, who also happens to be a Bow Street Runner.  And, once again I must question the smarts-o-rameter readings of this particular runner.  How did anything get solved in ye' ole England?  You would think if you were questioning the background of the lady you lust after and you were introduced to the other two in the group who keep addressing each other by the names of Cipher and Wrath, a light bulb would go off.  And they are secretive, and sneak in windows, and quietly pull out knives and guns.  You would maybe ask, hey, why are you calling each other weird names?  Why are you guys so - I don't know – stealth-like?  But, noooooo, Gabriel doesn't.  So, Gabriel isn't the brightest wick on the candle.

Anyway, we are introduced to Madeline and Gabriel.  Here is the plot: Madeline did not get paid enough severance pay so she is going to sell her virginity to the highest bidder at an auction, and even though we are led to believe that she used her body when she was a spy, we are never sure whether she is or isn't a virgin.  Now for some reason Gabriel is ordered to guard her, but he doesn't want to because he is trying to solve the murder of his sister and that murder happened seven years ago.  Oh, and he's illegitimate and hates his father.  Of course, someone from Madeline's past is trying to kill her, and it just might be one of the men on the auction list.  And you know what else?  All the men on that list are also suspects in Gabriel's sister’s murder.  So, Gabriel thinks, hey, I can watch this woman who hides a knife under her skirt and solve my sister’s murder at the same time.  Then we have all the secondary characters, a lot of red herring suspects and the real murderer who I knew was the killer as soon as he made his appearance.  And, that's most of the plot.

For me this book failed as a romance.  I never understood why they loved each other.  They treated each other abominably, she lied, mistrusted, pretended her way through most of the book.  She wanted to earn her money as a prostitute – but you better never call her a whore, ‘cause she might get mad at you.  He was a little gentler, but he also had problems in the trust department.  And it took an eternity for Madeline to tell him the truth. Even after the third attempt on her life, she had problems confiding in him. It wasn't until they started working together that the book started to work for me, but that was after I was three-fourths of the way through.  So, it was too little, too late.  I found the two characters, especially Madeline, too dark for my taste.

This doesn't mean I'm giving up on Ms. Randol.  I've heard numerous good things about her.  Just because the first book I've read by her wasn't my cup of tea, doesn't mean the next one won't work for me.  So I will be checking out the next book in the series and we will see what happens.  

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Hot


A Lady by Midnight by Tessa Dare

September 13, 2012
"I'm not good enough" routine... good or bad?
Welcome back to Spindle Cove! Spoilers ahead! In the latest addition to the series by Tessa Dare, A Lady by Midnight, we have the story of Colonel Thorne and Kate. Remember Kate? She's the one with the birthmark on her face, and the Colonel is the one that went still when he saw her playing a piano. We finally get to find out why he went still in this book, and it is more than just being love stunned. But, I'm not going to tell you why, you have to read the book to find out.

I loved this story. Both Thorne and Kate were strong characters and unlike some other books I didn't prefer one over the other; I liked both equally. Thorne is a rough, smoldering man. He is barely literate, he doesn't say pretty things or pick lovely flowers. He has a horrible childhood, beginning with growing up in a brothel, and an almost equally horrendous adulthood. He has done things that are unspeakable and not hero-like, but Ms. Dare has made him into a very sympathetic person, someone I was rooting for throughout the whole book.

Then we have Kate, another strong character. Because of her birthmark she has a strong sense of not being beautiful, which affects how she thinks other people perceive her. But what I thought overwhelmed her character was her need to love and be loved. She wants to be part of a family so much. However, at no time in the book was she ever a whiney irritating heroine. Her claiming of Badger (the dog) as her own was wonderful to watch. So, who does she fall in love with? Someone who cannot say "I love you."

Now, there is a part in this book that some readers are going to grumble about. Somewhere along the line Kate's family show up and it is revealed that she is a little higher up the ladder than originally thought, which leads Thorne down the "I'm not good enough" routine. Normally, I would find this irritating; however, in this case I understood his reaction and found it believable. In fact, his I'm not good enough started long before he discovered who she was. He never ever thought he was good enough for her. It wasn't so much that she was too good for him, it was that he wasn't "good" enough for her. And, there is a difference. Sometimes the space between two people is insurmountable and only in romance novels can it be bridged. Even if she hadn't turned out to be a "lady," they would still be two totally unequal individuals. So, for me I didn't mind his "I'm not worthy" routine.

And, then there is Spindle Cove. I love the people in Spindle Cove and when Ms. Dare leaves this series I'm going to miss it. It's like reading a Masterpiece Theater presentation. This is a very romantic book and you are going to just love Thorne as a hero, because he is nothing at all like a hero should be. I do highly recommend this book with a grumpy hero and a persistent heroine.

Time/Place: Victorian England
Sensuality Rating: Hot

Midnight Scandals by Carolyn Jewel, Courtney Milan and Sherry Thomas

September 6, 2012
The art of villain metamorphosis

I was so excited when I saw that these three authors were doing an anthology together.  Love love love most of their works.  I am of course speaking of Carolyn Jewel, Courtney Milan, and Sherry Thomas.  Since this is an anthology, there is always a chance that the stories will not be as good as a full length novel.  I always find it interesting to see how authors I really consider to be powerhouses handle short stories.  And, in this case I wasn't disappointed.  Now, were there some moments of my not liking a particular part of the story.  Of course there were!  None of the stories were without a little bump in the road.  However, for me this was an enjoyable read and I do recommend it, especially if you are looking for something quick to take the summer blues away. 

The stories in Midnight Scandals are loosely connected by being in a place called Doyle's Grange, but at different time periods.  It was a nice connection.
The first story is One Starlit Night, by Carolyn Jewel, and it takes place in 1815.  Carolyn Jewel can write some of the hottest love scenes around and this little tome has some steam just rolling off of those pages.  SSSSsss.  This story is one of lost love/found love.  A couple (Crispin and Portia), who were in love when they were young, find each other again.  There is a lot of pain for them to overcome and they have a whole lot of trouble talking to each other.  Usually when a couple don't talk to each other I get irritated, but in this case the wall they had to get through to communicate didn't irritate me.  In fact, I could feel the pain they were having... it was depressing.  Great job on the depressing!  And, give a hardy welcome to a woman who could be nominated for the Mommie Dearest award, except she's not the mom, she's the sister-in-law. She steps on crocuses, for Pete's sake!!!  I bet she pulls dogs' ears, too.
Time/Place: 1815 England
The second tale is What Happened at Midnight, by Courtney Milan.  Now we have a really creepy villain.  In fact, I thought this guy almost stole the whole show - what an interesting second story-line! I hope Ms. Milan has plans to do a follow-up on Sir Walter Patsworth and his wife Lady Patsworth.  There was some wonderful humdinger angst surrounding this couple and it deserves a book of its own.  Very interesting stuff.  But, hey, the story isn't about them, it's about Mary and John.  By the way, these two are not aristocrats.  They are, however, also lost/found lovers.  This couple was able to talk - that is, when Mary could escape from her employer they could talk.  Her employer is Sir Walter, the truly creepy villain.  The center love story involves the slow growth of trust once it's lost.  Not as hot as Jewel's work, but the disturbing Sir Walter makes up for that.  I can't tell you too much about Walter and his wife, but I loved the way the newspaper/wife scenes were written.  Truly shiver-worthy.
Time/Place: 1853 England
The third installment is Sherry Thomas' with Dance at Midnight.  Remember the vile woman from Ravishing the Heiress?  The one who wanted the married man, didn't seem to care about what her children thought about her living with a married man, showed up at train stations when not asked to?  Remember loathsome Isabelle?  Well, she has her own story.  I really disliked her intensely in Ravishing the Heiress, but in this book she is completely different.  There isn't anything that is recognizable between this woman and the knife-in-the-back woman from the novel.  I liked this Isabelle; the author made her a totally sympathetic character.  And, if I hadn't seen her in action in RtH, I would have been able to buy into her transformation in this story.  The other thing I had a slight problem with was Fitz, our hero, being identical in looks to Fitzhugh, the husband from Ravishing the Heiress.  Some of my ick factor kicked in, but my ick factor came on big time when the two lovers Fitz (Fitzwilliam, not Fitzhugh) and Isabelle started talking about the fun sex lives they had with their dearly departed spouses.  I did enjoy their correspondence and discussion, but not necessarily the "I did this with my dead wife on the table"  excerpts. (She wasn't dead when they had sex by the way - that would really be an ick moment.)  I believe these exchanges of past sex lives were supposed to be titillating, and Isabelle seemed to be aroused but I had an EEEWWWWW moment or two. 
Time/Place: 1890's England

Overall, Midnight Scandals is a good book with just a few bumps.  You really can't go too wrong with Courtney Milan, Sherry Thomas and Carolyn Jewel.


The Map of Lost Memories by Kim Fay

September 4, 2012 

Is a civilization lost if the indigenous people know it's there?
Well, once again I believe I may be in the minority. From what I can see all around me, this is fast becoming a "luv luv luv" book, but for me it was just ok, with possibilities of "could have been great."

What I like: This book just oozed with a feel of time and place. The smells, sounds and heat of Saigon, Shanghai and Cambodia steamed off of the pages. And, the glimpse of the ancient Khmer civilization was memorizing. I wish there had been more of this, however, this book is not a travelogue but an adventure story of sorts. It is with the adventure story that I have a problem.

This is an adventure story along the lines of Indiana Jones, but unlike Indiana Jones I didn't like any of the characters and nothing was really exciting. The characters are well-developed, but they are all painted with such a greedy, selfish brush that I didn't care whether they succeeded in getting the secret scrolls or not. In my opinion, this is the weak point of an otherwise good work. This reader has to care about at least one person in a book and I didn't.

However, I do think this is a well written book, and some of you are going to "luv" this story. It did make me think about cultures and past civilizations and our fascination with them. Are we intrigued with what the cultures were when they were alive or are we fascinated by what they left behind?

Time/Place: 1925, Saigon, Shanghai, Cambodia
Sensuality: Kiss