On My Radar for January 15 to February 14, 2013

December 28, 2012

Victoria Alexander

The Importance of Being Wicked
Spin-off: What Happens at Christmas and
Lord Stillwell's Excellent Engagements
Release date: January 29, 2013

Ann Barton, debut

When She Was Wicked
Honeycote series
Release date: January 29 2013

Celeste Bradley

When She Said I Do
Probable series, can't prove it
Release date: January 29, 2013

Maire Claremont, debut

The Dark Lady 
Mad Passions series
Release date: February  5, 2013

Manda Collins

How to Entice an Earl
Ugly Ducklings series
Release date: January 29, 2013

Meredith Duran

The Scandalous Summer
Rules for the Reckless series
Release date: January 29, 2013

Sarah MacLean

One Good Earl Deserves a Lover

The Rules of Scoundrels series  
Release date: January 29, 2013

Teresa Medeiros

The Temptation of Your Touch  
The Pleasure of Your Kiss series 
Release date: January 29, 2013

Karen Ranney

The Lass Wore Black
Release date: January 29, 2013

Deborah Simmons

The Last de Burgh, ebook
de Burgh brother series
Release date: February 1, 2013

The title/cover caught my eye:

Marie Brennan

A Natural History of Dragons
Memoirs of Lady Trent series
Release date: February 5, 2013

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


Holiday reading time!!!!

December 26, 2012

The long and short of it.
What better way to spend the holiday season then zipping through a bouquet of short stories.  As with all short stories, there are gems and then there are lumps of coal.  One thing that all of these stories have in common are that they revolve around the holiday season.  And, once again some of my favorite authors have given me the opportunity to relax and enjoy some holiday treats.

Let’s take a quick look at these little electronic tales.  And, I have placed them in preference order.
Nook page count: 105.  My favorite among the bunch was The Scandalous Dissolute
No-Good Mr. Wright by Tessa Dare.  And, you should be able to tell just by reading the title that this is a light-hearted read.  I might even say a chuckle-filled read.  Even though this is a short story, it has the feel of a much longer novel.  I actually would have loved to see this couple in a full length book.  I loved both the heroine, Eliza and the hero, J. Harrison Wright.  They were a wonderful couple.  Their bantering was fun and the sparks between the two of them just flew off the page.

The Scandalous Dissolute No-Good Mr. Wright is more than just an advertisement for the next book coming out.  In case you are wondering, this story was published earlier in the e-book anthology Three Weddings and a Murder.  The only quibble I had with this story was the odd separation toward the end.  However, for the most part, this was a delightful story.
Regency England

Sensuality: Hot
Nook page count: 298.  A Kiss for Midwinter by Courtney Milan was a little bit darker tale than Ms. Dare’s story.  This romance is also connected to Ms. Milan’s Brothers Sinister series.  And, if anyone has read The Governess War, you will recognize Lydia and Jonas from that story.  This was a very satisfying read, and once again Ms. Milan has created a very charming hero.  She seems to excel at creating romantic guys.  Jonas is sooo very understanding, I was a little perturbed that it took Lydia so long to admit she had fallen in love with him.  The recreation of medicine on the cusp of modern discoveries was also very fascinating.  Thank goodness doctors wash their hands now.
London 1857…big skirt time. 

Sensuality: Hot
Nook page count: 71 pages.  Lord Stillwell’s Excellent Engagements by Victoria Alexander aka buy the next book and learn what happens to our hero.  Yes, fellow readers this short story is a teaser for The Importance of Being Wicked.  So, there is no HEA.  Instead there is a cliff hanger of sorts.  Much to my surprise, I don’t mind that this is a teaser for the upcoming book about Lord Stillwell.  I think that some marketing person should be patted on the back, because this was a great hook and did what it was supposed to do.  I found Stillwell to be so interesting that I am definitely picking up his full length story!  This time I will have already read his background story.  Hopefully, I will still remember it when The Importance of Being Wicked comes out in January.  By the way, Lord Stillwell was a secondary character in What Happens at Christmas.
England 1884…big bustle time

Sensuality: Mild
Nook page count 121 pages.  Your Wicked Heart by Meredith Duran is a set up for her new Rules for the Reckless series.  This is a tale of mistaken identity, mistrust and just a touch of an old fashioned bodice ripper.  This is also a road/sea trip story.  I liked both Spence and Olivia.  I found their journey very enjoyable and was also intrigued by the glimpse into their backgrounds.  I’m hoping Ms. Duran is taking us further into Spence’s family, because I found those little dropped hints very fascinating.
Europe 1885…still big bustle time.

Sensuality: Hot

 Nook page count: 49.  Good Earl Hunting was the shortest one in the bunch and when I was done I wasn’t sure what the point was.  This is the story of Geoffrey and Theodora.  There isn’t much to it – he sees her, she insults him, he follows her, she thinks he likes her sister, he climbs a wall, he kisses her, they discover they love each other, he proposes, she accepts – the end.  Now, it is possible that these two might have been secondary characters in some other book, but if they were I don’t recall them.  These two would have been better in a longer format.
Regency England

Sensuality: Mild
Nook page count: 314.  A Mackenzie Family Christmas comes in as the longest short story of
the group.  And, as much as I love the MacKenzie brothers, I have to say – what a bunch of high maintenance guys.  

So, come on everyone…you are all invited to a holiday party!  But, it will be alright, because there are soooo many people at this party no one will notice just one more.  And, maybe, just maybe, those four tense Mackenzie’s will lighten up, but don’t count on it.   

A Mackenzie Family Christmas is the type of short story filler I do not care for.  It seemed to me that every single character from all of Ms. Ashley’s books put in an appearance.  Toward the end of the story, I almost expected one of her vampires to show up.  One of the problems with so many characters swarming all over the place was that I didn’t remember them or how they fit into past storylines.  There was Hart, Cameron, Mac, Ian, Daniel and their wives.  We also get a gratuitous sex scene for each of the brothers and their wives.   To continue on with who drops in, there is David Fleming, Lloyd Fellow, Louisa Scranton, Earl Ramsey, Sinclair, Andrew, the McBride Brothers, Catroina, Bellamy, Larry, Curry, Moe and on and on and on.  And, don’t forget all the servants.  OMG, who are these people?  I spent half of my time trying to remember who did what to who when.  I was very confused.  And, I haven’t even brought up some of the problems that only happens around a MacKenzie.  I think I prefer my MacKenzie brothers in small doses.
1884 England…still bustle time.

Sensuality: Hot

And there you have it.  The price was right on all of these stories and for the most part it was a great way to spend a bustling holiday.

The Duchess War by Courtney Milan

December 19, 2012
Into everyone's life a little rain must fall.

You know you cannot find a bigger fan of Courtney Milan's than me.  I loved her books from the very beginning!  Most of her books I have rated extremely high and one of them, Unraveled, is one of my absolute favorite books.  I have cheered her on in her new venture into self-publishing...she is just fantastic, so, when The Duchess War was released I was trying to think of a way to read it at work and hope my employer didn't catch on.  However, reading books at work isn't what I'm paid for, so I abandoned that idea and waited until I hit the door at home.  I was very excited, and had high, high expectations.  The beginning caught my interest and I thought, yes, this is going to be a great book!  And, then the unthinkable happened.  Somewhere around page 60 or so, I started to lose interest.  I kept hoping that each page I turned would touch off a spark and yes, sometimes that would happen.  I'd say to it's going to get really good!  And, then it would just sputter out.

Much to my great sorrow, I was just not able to connect with this story.  I've been kicking it around in my head, and I couldn't come up with one main reason why I found this particular story uninteresting, but there were a couple of scenarios in the story that may have been responsible for my reaction.  And, yes there are spoilers. 

There were so many things about The Duchess War that I loved.  For one, the writing.  I just love the way Ms. Milan can glue a few words together and have tears squirting out of my eyes.  And, it's just not the boo-hoo stuff that Ms. Milan can write, but humor also.  There were a number of laugh-out-loud moments in this book that had me waking my husband up from a sound sleep.  The secondary characters were all intriguing and I'm looking forward to Sebastian and Oliver's stories.  Even the secondary characters who don't have a book in the works were fascinating.  Robert's mother was especially strange and intriguing.  I also loved the two main characters, Robert and Minnie, especially Robert.  Robert was a wonderfully troubled angst-ridden hero, just waiting for someone to save him.  And, as with other heroes in her other books, Ms. Milan as a way of making the words floating out of Robert's mouth romantic.  The story was at its best when Robert and Minnie were together, floundering around in their new-found relationship.  There is also an especially tear-jerking moment involving Robert and the alphabet. So, what went wrong for me?

What bothered me were the outside stories that were supposed to create some of the conflict.  I never bought into Robert's attempt at saving the working clods of the world by writing handbills.  I found this bit of sedition to be a distraction and at times absurd.  After awhile I would skip over the parts involving the working men.  The other scenario that kept me from truly loving this book was Minnie's scandalous secret.  When it was finally revealed what the big secret was that made her hide from the world I had a "you have got to be kidding me" moment.  Yes, I understand that she had a trauma as a child.  I understood her fear of crowds, but not her fear of creating another scandal if her true identity was discovered.  A five/twelve year old girl disguised as a boy chess champion who is found out and chased by a crowd and rocks are thrown at her...yes, I understand the fainting in a crowd.  But, I never bought her hiding this for years and years.  If it had happened in the dark ages, then maybe I'd understand...but not this particular time period.  So, those two plots are what kept me from loving this book as much as I have loved Ms. Milan's other stories.

Now, does this mean I'm through with Ms. Milan?  Are you kidding me?  I'll be right there in the front of the line for her next little hiccup is not going to stop me from reading a truly fantastic author.

Time/Place: Victorian England
Sensuality: Hot!!

Goodbye 2012!!!! Farewell!! Adieu!!

December 12, 2012
"Move 'em on, head 'em up
Head 'em up, move 'em on
Move 'em on, head 'em up
Count 'em out, ride 'em in,
Ride 'em in, count 'em out,
Count 'em out, ride 'em in

Well, it’s time to bid a fond swift farewell to 2012.  Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye…good riddance!  And, thanks to everyone for stopping by to visit…and, you know who you are.

Now, I’m going to reflect on this year in my Romanceland.  Much to my surprise, by the time this year started to wind down, I had switched almost entirely to the electronic format.  Never thought that would happen to me, I resisted for so long.  Anyway, I’ve been having a grand time enjoying the publishing world changes.  All those self-published authors, prequels, freebies, old books being released…what a time we are having!

Some romance voices that we will miss: Maeve Binchy, Judy McCoy, Monica Jackson, Marcia Evanick and Penny Jordan (12-31-11.)  And, a special goodbye to Nora Ephron…your work makes me smile.

Lang may your lum reek!  All that hard word finally comes to fruition!  Welcome to all you debut authors…And, out of the many, here are some who caught my eye:  Cecelia Grant (2011), Manda Collins, Anne Lee Huber, Erin Knightley, Nina Rowan, Miranda Davis, Leigh LaValle, Samantha Grace, Jillian Stone, Anna Randol, Pamela Sherwood, Juliana Gray.

Welcome back!  And, finally after years and years and years of checking your websites, welcome back to the fold Jane Ashford, Elizabeth Elliott and Danielle Harmon.

These are a few of my favorite things – la – la – la.  Listed below are the books that were some of my favorite for this year.  They are in no particular order.
  1.  A Notorious Countess Confesses by Julie Anne Long
  2. Sweet Deception by Heather Snow
  3. A Lady by Midnight by Tessa Dare
  4. The Duke’s Tattoo by Miranda Davis (self-published, hazaa)
  5. Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt
  6. Scandal Wears Satin by Loretta Chase
  7. Along Came a Duke by Elizabeth Boyle
  8. The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan (who knew small could be so big)
  9. Confessions from an Arranged Marriage by Miranda Neville
  10. A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare
  11. When Maidens Mourn by C.S. Harris
  12. The Revenge of Lord Eberlin by Julia London
  13. Rules to Catch a Devilish Duke by Suzanne Enoch
  14. A Lady Awakened by Cecelia Grant
  15. Unraveled by Courtney Milan (Dec. 2011)
  16. Lady Amelia’s Secret Lover by Victoria Alexander (electronic download this year!!)
Then we have those disappointments and they are MY disappointments.  Doesn’t mean I will never read another book by that particular author, it just means this particular book didn’t work for me.  No particular order.

  1. The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James (the treatment of Rupert was uncomfortable)
  2. Jennifer Johnston is Sick of Being Married by Heather McElhatton (poop not funny)
  3. The Map of Lost Memories by Kim Fay
  4. Game of Thrones by George R R Martin (yes, I know it wasn’t published in 2012, but, hey that’s when I read it.  And, it is a fantasy land for pedophiles.)
  5. Rules of Engagement by StephanieLaurens, Kasey Michaels, Delilah Marvelle or as it’s called at my house, the Stephanie Laurens show
  6.  At Your Pleasure by Meredith Duran (still there staring at me and I am in the minority)
  7. Between the Duke and the Deep Blue Sea by Sophia Nash
  8. Much Ado About Rogues by Kasey Michaels
  9. The Husband Hunt by Lindsay Sands
  10. What an Earl Wants by Kasey Michaels
Covers.  You know, I think I will join the ranks of whining people grousing for a change in historical romance covers. Yes, I know what “branding” is.  But, I am getting so tired of the shirtless men, giant balloon chested women, woman casting a sultry look over her shoulder even though she must be getting a chill because her back is revealed, and headless people.  And, I used to like the headless look.  After that grumble you might think I didn’t find any…ha ha…I did find a few that were pleasing to my eyes.  Of course there are still the headless, backless women.  However, I loved the richness in the color and the tapestry details in a number of them.  All of these covers caught my eye and made me do a second look, which is what a cover is supposed to do.  Even the Carolyn Jewel "tartified" woman, which caught my eye the first time because of the sumptuous color, then I noticed the pose.  If it had been the pose alone, I probably would have overlooked the cover, because then it would have been just a regular Romance cover.  And, again who are Romance covers supposed to be designed for?

No more wire hangers…Now it’s time for the nominations for the Mommie Dearest Award.  Yes, those women you love to hate and I found a bunch of them this year.  But, I did narrow my list down to some very memorable vituperators.  The social climbing, sister-in-law, step on crocuses Eleanor from One Starlit Night by Carolyn Jewel, part of the anthology Midnight Scandals.  Any woman that deliberately steps on flowers is a spine chiller in my eyes.  Maybe she tripped over one when she was a child, who knows?  Eustace, the nasty words spilling out of the mouth, over-the-top mean sister from Rules to Catch a Devilish Duke by Suzanne Enoch.  The histrionic Lady Shelby from How to Romance a Rake by Manda Collins.  She takes motherhood to a whole different level.  And, now we come to two women who I l-o-a-t-h-e-d…both of them heroines.  The first one was Isabelle from Ravishing the Heiress and Dance at Midnight by Sherry Thomas.  She was the epitome of self-centered, never a thought for anyone else, including her own children.  She didn’t care whose feelings she stepped on in her race to James’ bed.  And, how was she rewarded?  Why she was given her own story… Dance at Midnight.  Granted, Ms. Thomas changes her into someone else, but you can’t fool me, she’s was still a loser.  Now, for the winner.  There is more to this award than just shrieking at the top of your lungs.  Exhibit A: Olivia the snarky heroine from The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James.  Ooooo, I hatesssss Olivia.  There is a fine line between being an amusing cynic and being a hurtful bully.  Even if the person who is the brunt of the humor doesn’t know they are.  They are still a victim.   Rupert deserved better.

We all love our heroes, don’t we?  Ummm, maybe not all of our heroes.  In Romanceland we do have plenty of bonehead heroes and here are some that caught my eye this year.  Let’s see if I can refresh your memory and you too can all groan along with me.  Lucas, the sex-withholder from How to Dance with a Duke by Manda Collins.  Let me see a show of hands.  Anyone here seen any man withhold sex because someone doesn’t say “I love you?”  That’s what I thought…no hands.  Christian, the jump-to-the-wrong-conclusion-I-hate-you-I-hate-you-fickle guy from Beguiling the Beauty by Sherry Thomas.  James, who abandons his wife to become a pirate, from The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James.  Arrrrg.  Braedon, from Unbuttoning Miss Hardwick by Deb Marlowe.  Mr. Gloomy Gus.  He eats worms, boo-hoo.  Michael, from A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean.  He kisses, then walks all over the downtrodden heroine.  And, the winner of the Bonehead Hero Award is Fitz from Ravishing the Heiress by Sherry Thomas.  Granted, right from the beginning I knew I was going to have a problem with Fitz, but he was even more bonehead then I expected.  What an insensitive lout!  He loves to entertain his martyr wife with stories of his prowess in bed with his mistresses.  And, he just cannot get over his lost love, the horrible Isabelle.  Bring me a pitch-fork, puleese!

You would think that with our jerk-wad heroes we wouldn’t need villains.  Well, we do, just to make the heroes look better.  I don’t know what happened this year, but I seem to have only one memorable villain.  Maybe the rest were just cardboard.  Sir Walter Patsworth from the short story What Happened at Midnight by Courtney Milan from the anthology Midnight Scandals.  This guy gave me the willies.  He is not your standard Snidely Whiplash kind of guy, no.  He is a silent, creepy, quiet abuser.

Now, it’s time for those people who take over the story, even when they are not supposed to.  Those wonderful secondary characters.  In Romanceland, a number of these end up with their own story.  Here are some of the ones that jumped off the pages at me this year.  Let’s start with the town folk.  There are three series’ that just shine because their authors
have done an outstanding job of developing the people that inhabit the small villages.  These town-folk just come alive in these pages.  Spindle Cove by Tessa Dare, Pennyroyal Green by Julia Anne Long by and Hadley Green by Julia London.  I love visiting these places.  Now, to individual secondary characters.   Lisbeth the wonderful narcissistic character from How the Marquess was Won by Julia Anne Long; the over-enthusiastic Miss Wharton, from Bedding Lord Ned by Sally MacKenzie; the “handsome stupid man” from The Surrender of Miss Fairbourne by Madeline Hunter, Ian MacKenzie, still stealing scenes and still adorable from The Duke’sPerfect Wife by Jennifer Ashley; Joseph Tinbox, who brought a tear to my eye, from Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt.  And, the winner is Rupert.  Yes, Rupert from The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James.  He was the bright spot in this book.  He stole the show and he should have been a hero.

I don’t have a favorite hero or heroine category; however, if I did Smite Turner from Unraveled by Courtney Milan would be at the top.  Even though this was published in 2011, it was too late to make it to my list last year, which is a shame, because it’s a wonderful book and I loved Smite.  He is one of my favorite heroes of recent years.  Right up there with Derek Craven and Sebastian Ballister, Marquess of Dain.  Ahh, hairpins.

Gus Award.  What’s a book without those adorable little critters stealing the shoes and scenes?  Dr. Gibson, the dog from When Maidens Mourn by CS Harris.  He proved that digging up bones could be mighty funny.  Mr. Muffin, the dog who luved feathers from Along Came a Duke, by Elizabeth Boyle.  Reggie the cat from Bedding Lord Ned, by Sally MacKenzie.  If ever there was a matchmaker, it was he.  Chrybolis the cat from How the Marquess was Won, by Julia Anne Long, provided me with some laugh out loud moments, especially while being rescued.  The nameless horse who was responsible for the amnesia in Tempting the Bride, by Sherry Thomas.  Badger the dog from A Lady by Midnight, by Tessa Dare.  Badger knew how to take sides.  And, the winner is Ghost the dog.  Never were there truer friends then Ghost and our hero Smite.  There were some very poignant scenes with our winner from Unraveled, by Courtney Milan.

Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for, the prestigious, gargantuan Mr. Toad Award.  This award is given to the toad who garners my attention for whatever reason.  Hugo’s Mr. Toad, from The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan.  Hugo had me checking my medicine cabinet for something that was just the right finger circling size.  He also created quite a stir when I read the word “hand” as “hands.”  Poor Theo from A Lady Awakened by Cecelia Grant.  It’s not Theo’s fault that the heroine finds his Mr. Toad repulsive.  No sir, it’s not icky smelly or anything, even if it doesn’t do the normal magical Romanceland woo-hoo.  It’s just the heroine has a few hang-ups.  Oh, Jackson, I’m so sorry.  Nothing says romance like hair; it just depends where it’s located.  In  A Lady Never Surrenders by Sabrina Jeffries, it’s not Jackson’s Mr. Toad who is the problem, it is the hair on his neighbors that make his Mr. Toad worth mentioning.  And, it is hair that is responsible for making this year’s winner a
real winner.  Step forward and receive your award.  Ta-ta-ta-dah!  You, yes you, Winter from Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt.  No, wait a minute, maybe you better not step forward, your appearance sounds a little scary to me. You see, Winter has the standard humongous hero equipment, don’t get me wrong, but he also has so much hair around his navel that it can only be termed as fur.  There is so much fur/hair that one cannot see the belly button, let alone anything else, no matter what the size.  Just the thought of it made me giggle.  So, congratulations gentlemen, you made my year interesting!

And, now as the sun slowly sinks into the West we must bid adieu to 2012 and welcome in 2013.   Personally, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that all the trees remain standing and the electricity remains on.  I’m looking forward to more books by Courtney Milan and hoping for a better way to track self-published authors.  I’m keeping my eyes out for Miranda Davis’ self-published work coming sometime in 2013.  I am also looking forward to the release of the last in the Deburgh series by Deborah Simmons, surprisingly enough called The Last DeBurgh.  Sadly, we have Sherry Thomas taking a break from the Historical Romance world to write Young Adult Fantasy.  And, has Lisa Kleypas abandoned those of us who love historical romance?  I’m still checking for Sara Lindsey and I wish Julia Ross would pick up the pen again.  One can never have enough books to read.  And, to my fellow blog friends, I’m always happy when you drop by.  Here’s to 2013.


Courtney Milan

Notice what is out!!!  Right now The Duchess War is electronic!!!

The Importance of Being Wicked by Miranda Neville

December 10, 2012

"You say eether and I say eyether
You say neether and I say nyther
eeither, eyether, neether, nyther
Let's call the whole thing off!
You like potato and i like potahto,
you like tomato and I like tomahto, 
Potato, potahto, tomato, tamahto!
Let's call the whole thing off!
But oh! If we call the whole thing off, 
Then we must part.
And oh! If we part, 
Then that might break my heart!"  - George and Ira Gershwin
The Importance of Being Wicked is the beginning of a new series by Miranda Neville.  Of course, there was the short novella The Second Seduction of a Lady, which was a prequel to this story.  It is in this short story that we are introduced to Caro.  At that time, she was 17 years old and had eloped.  Actually, Caro was the best part of that short story.  I found her fun, if just a tad bit peppy, peppy, peppy.  And, if I had to really be around a young person that vivacious I would need some ear plugs or margaritas.  However, I was looking forward to how Ms. Neville matured Caro.

And now I shall ponder.  This book puts me in a reflective mood...see my eyes are downcast.  My first reaction was that I really liked this story.  It's a tale of opposites attracting, which, while not different from many standard romance yarns, seemed to have a bit more realism involved.  It was written in such a way, that all the way through I kept wondering just how this couple would ever achieve their happy ending.  Something else I liked was that about half-way through the book Caro and Thomas marry and instead of the instant HEA all of their differences were exacerbated.  The struggle to make their marriage work is what pulled me into the book and had me rooting for them.  I liked both of these characters equally.  Caro was flighty, selfish, and her life decisions were hardly ever thought out.  But she was such a dazzling person, it wasn't hard to understand how stuffy Thomas fell like a ton of bricks.  Stuffy Thomas, on the other hand, was a product of his social standing.  He was everything that was proper.  He was so trapped in his aristocratic box that he couldn't be anything else but stiff.  So, he was drawn to Caro like a moth to a flame.  he was the more innocent of the two and when they were together the story worked.  They balance each other out, and in the end that is the only way this type of marriage could work.  The became better people.  So, that part of the story really worked for me.

Now, there were a few things that didn't work for me quite so well.  While Caro seemed to be this capricious person, she was also intelligent.  So, I never understood why she kept her wastrel of a first husband on a pedestal for so long.  In the of their marriage, things had pretty much hit bottom, but she had these blinders on when it came to him.  Then there is the matter of her so-called "friends."  I believe some of these "friends" are future heroes, so it will be interesting to see how Ms. Neville pulls these selfish, cruel, thoughtless men out of the hero hat.  And then there is the art.  I understand that art will be the continuing background for the future stories, but I am hoping it will be turned down a little because I found it to be a distraction from the main love story.

Overall, I liked The Importance of Being Wicked.  I enjoyed watching the slow growth of Caro and Thomas as they became better people and thought that this was the best part of the book.  I was biting my nails wondering how this mismatched couple was ever going to find their HEA.  There were occasional modern anachronisms that kept cropping up, but I overlooked those.  And, I'm really, really looking forward to seeing how Ms. Neville is going to fix the future heroes.  I do recommend this book; it's a good read.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Hot

What an Earl Wants by Kasey Michaels

December 3, 2012
"The pellet with the poison... the pellet with the poison is in the vessel with the pestle, the chalice from the palace has the true that is brew. Eh... brew that is tru- The pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle, the chalice from the palace has the true that is brew. Eh, eh, brew that is true. Eh. The chestle with the pal- eh, eh, palace with the...

The pestle with t... the pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle, the palace from the chalice has the brew that is blue. Eh, no... The pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle. The cha- eh, the pellet with the plip... the pellet with the poisle's in the vessel with the plazzle. Eh, the plazzle with the vlessle. Eh, the the bless... The vessel with the plozle is the plazzle with the..."
The Court Jester

I'm so confused!!!  Well, I finally finished What an Earl Wants by Kasey Michaels and I have to ask.  Sincerely ask.  What the (insert expletive here) did I just read.  What's going on?  And, by the way ked-does, there may be spoilers ahead - who knows, I'm so confused, I don't know what I may be giving away.

Ok, so we have Gideon, our hero, and Jessica, our heroine.  So far, so good.  We also have the beginning of a new series about the Redgrave family, Gideon being the eldest in the group.  Future books will be about Max, who wears glasses with blue-tinted lenses - I don't know why, maybe they're x-ray glasses and he's able to see through things; Val, the nice one who likes dogs, and cats and fluffy things, which I'm sure he'll run into in his own book; Kate, the beautiful headstrong sister who also has all the ear marks of an energetic nose-sticker-in-er aka TSTL heroine; and lastly, Trixie, the wise-cracking grandmother.  She's too old for her own book, cause you know Romanceland is not ready for sex scenes between a 70 year old woman and 20 year old men.

There is also a mystery-who's murdering all the people?  There are people dropping like flies all over the place.  We suspect the father of Jessica was murdered and the step-mother, and Lord Who's It and Lord What's It.  And it all revolves around the secret hellfire society founded by Gideon's grandfather - passed down to his father.  But some one's killing the old members, no wait someone's killing the new members, someone's going to kill Jessica because she knows - what?  I don't know what she knows.  We must protect her half-brother Adam because he's a son of a member of the secret society - no wait - cancel that - the new society isn't doing that any more.  And we know that because?  I don't know!  And, Trixie thinks there are secret books and journals that have names of the old secret society people.  But, wait we don't care about them anymore because there are new secret society people with new secret names.  There are guys that wear black masks and rose lapel pins and have dark mysterious eyes or strikingly blue eyes.

Have your eyes glazed over yet?  Is there a ringing in your ears?  Well wait.  I did mention the red rose pin, didn't I?  You see, Gideon wore the lapel pin (which was his father's) because he wanted the people in the secret society to know he knew, but then he had second thoughts.  Especially after he met Jessica and had forced seduction sex with her and married her, then had more gratuitous sex with her.  Then, he found out there was a new secret society, and wearing the rose pin wasn't such a good idea.  So, he decided to just go hide in the country with Jessica where they could have more sex and be safe.  In fact, Trixie, Adam and Richard all go hide in the country, because the guy with the blue eyes might know who Jessica and Richard really are.  I suspect the guy with the blue eyes is going to be a future hero, even though he was wearing a French uniform when Jessica and Richard first saw him.  Wait - wait...who's Richard?  Well, Richard is Jessica's partner in an illegal gambling house that she has established in her neighborhood.  They of course must shut the gambling house down when they go hide in the country.  But, that's ok because Jessica was worried that running a gambling house might ruin her standing in society and Almack's if anyone found out she was running one.  Seriously, Jessica.  You don't think that your neighbors might be suspicious of men coming and going to and from your house at all hours of the night?  I know the light bulb would go off in my head.  And then there's Napoleon, traitors and spies.  Groan.

Someone stop the merry-go-round, I want to get off.

This book could have been so much better if it had just been just a romance or if the mystery wasn't' so convoluted.  There were so many unfinished sentences, things hinted at and left unsaid.  I felt as if I was supposed to know things and I was failing miserably.  Normally, I am a big fan of Kasey Michaels.  She has been one of my auto-buys, even when she went by the name of Michelle Kasey.  There are some wonderful gems in her body of work.  However, this one was a disappointment and didn't live up to the expectations I have of Ms. Kasey.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality rating: Hot