On My Radar February 14 to March 15, 2013

January 29, 2013

Liz Carlyle

A Bride by Moonlight
St. James Society series
Release date, February 26, 2013

C.S. Harris

What Darkness Brings
Sebastian St. Cyr series
Release date, March 5, 2013

Elizabeth Hoyt

Lord of Darkness
Maiden Lane series
Release date, February 26, 2013

Jillian Hunter

The Mistress Memoirs
Boscastle series
Release date, March 5, 2013

Madeline Hunter

The Conquest of Lady Cassandra
The Fairbourne Quartet
Release date, February 26, 2013

Julia London

The Last Debutante
Secrets of Hadley Green series
Release date, February 26, 2013

Sally MacKenzie

Surprising Lord Jack
Duchess in love series
Release date, March 4, 2013

Ashlyn Macnamara, debut

A Most Scandalous Proposal
Release date, February 26, 2013

Jennifer McQuistan, debut

What Happens in Scotland
Release date, February 26, 2013

Jude Morgan aka Tim Wilson

A Little Folly
Release date, March 12, 2013

Sophia Nash

The Duke Diaries
Royal Entourage series
Release date, February 26, 2013
Saskia Walker

The Libertine
The Taskell Witches series
Release date, February 26, 2013

Emma Wildes

A Most Improper Rumor
Whispers of Scandal series
Release date, March 5, 2013

The Cover Caught My Eye:

Abigail Gibbs, debut

Dinner with a Vampire
Dark Heroine series
Release date, March 5, 2013

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


The Anatomist Wife by Anna Lee Huber

January 24, 2013

I, I, I, I, I!
First person, groan.  I started to read The Anatomist Wife last year when it first came out, but first person POVs make me shudder, so I put it back in my TBR pile.  Well, since then I've stumbled through a number of first person narratives and even though I hatesssss just one POV I decided to give this one another chance.  And I'm glad I did.

The Anatomist Wife is Anna Lee Huber's debut novel and the first in the Lady Darby Mystery series.  Since it's the Lady Darby Mystery series, and since Lady Darby is the heroine, we know she makes it through the first book alive.  I have a very good reason for saying that.  You see, this is a murder mystery.  Kiera, Lady Darby, is our heroine and her background is one of the things that makes this book very interesting.  Kiera is seeking shelter at her sister's home after the death of her horrible, despicable husband.  She's actually doing more than seeking shelter - she's hiding.  Not only is she hiding physically, she's also psychologically underground.  She is just a mass of fear.  Her only solace is her painting, which she can escape into. So she just vants to be alone.  Well, too bad!  Who does she think she is, Greta Garbo?  It's party time!  Her sister is having a party!  This is not just any party, but a party where one of the guests is murdered.  A scream in the night is heard.  Don't go toward it Kiera, don't go...too late.  She stumbles right into a blood-soaked scene replete with a body, a shrieking, fainting woman and a couple of suspects. 

I would have to say this was an old fashioned whodunnit.  Suspects allllll over the place. Noises in the dark, dank spooky castle, invisible eyes watching the heroine, especially when she's where she's not supposed to be.  I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery. I guessed the villain right away and then I thought, “No, not that person.”  However, it turned out I was right, just not for the reason I thought.

I liked Kiera.  Her past life with her husband is all very interesting.  There is a fascinating tie-in with the real historical characters Burke and Hare...dreadfully gruesome people.  Anyway, Kiera's husband was an anatomist...a really nasty piece of work.  Unbeknownst to her, he chose her because he wanted someone to draw his anatomy work.  She is appalled, hurt and humiliated when she finds out why he married her.  However, it is the 1830s and there is no easy way out for her, so she is forced to use the art she loves so much to record his bloody work.  Finally, he dies, but there is a question about just how he obtained the bodies.  Suspicions abound.  Did all of those dead people die a natural death or were people being murdered to provide him with his work?  And although Kiera had no part in the gathering of bodies, society doesn't believe her innocent.  There is a profusion of ridiculous rumors whizzing around her.  She is reviled by most everyone, except her family.  Hence the hiding out.  I found Kiera's character to be fully developed and was intrigued as the author slowly brought her out of the shadows. 

Now, we come to the reason I'm not a big fan of first person POV.  Sebastian Gage, our hero.  He's sexy, smart, witty, fun, charming, handsome, protective, strong...but like the scarecrow, he has no brain.  We never get to hear what he's thinking, never see inside his head and this drives me crazy.  I like to know what my heroes are thinking.  Oh sure, sure, I've read a gazillion romance novels.  I know what a tense shoulder, groan, gasp, growl, hiding behind a chair means.  I've seen what happens to heroes when the heroine's luxurious hair escapes the tight knot on top of her head.  But, I want to know for sure, I want to see the actual words in his brain.  I want to know what drives Sebastian to do the things he does.  Why can’t he look into the heroines eyes?  Why does he start to say something and then stop?  What is he thinking when he is watching the heroine intensely?  Why does he keep clearing his throat?  I hatessss first person.  Oh well, nothing I can do about it.

One other thing, there were moments in the story when the author used some modern slang...but that didn't throw me out of the story too much.  It was just enough to make a note of it.  Overall, this was a diverting read.  Enjoyed the mystery, enjoyed Kiera's taking charge of her life and even though I don't know what he was thinking; I thought that Sebastian made a nice hero.  I'm also looking forward to the next in the series.  I'm looking forward to where Ms. Huber is going to lead us.  Hopefully she'll give Sebastian his brain in the next book...or maybe just a Doctor of Thinkology diploma.

Time/Place: 1830 Scotland
Sensuality: Sweet


Lunch Hour Love Stories Visit

January 21, 2013
A world of small packages.


I must not may attention to what's going on.  Evidently there are a colony/flock/herd/pride/bevy of authors who have started publishing short stories and have launched a website called Lunch Hour Love Stories.  The list of authors participating in this is impressive: Christie Ridgeway, Suzanne Enoch, Karen Hawkins, Juliana Maclean, Candice Hern, Susan Anderson, Stephanie Laurens...and on and on.  These books are supposedly intended for your lunch hours, doctor office waits, between books.  In my case it was the "not wanting to read any book in by TBR pile syndrome".   So, I went on a search for some filler and found The Lady in the Tower by Karen Hawkins and Holly Crawford.  And, by the way, this story took two lunch hours to read.  The Lady in the Tower appears to be the first in The Wicked Widow series.  I'm not sure if the rest of the stories in the series will be short or full-length novels.  I couldn't find too much about the series at Ms. Hawkins website or Lunch Hour Love Stories.  I couldn't find a website for Ms. Crawford, however, she seems to have a presence at Goodreads.

Now, I know that you might think this is a medieval story based on the title, however, The Lady in the Tower refers to a Tarot card that our lovely widow Jane has received.  Richard, is our hero.  They are both doctors, sort of.  Richard is legally a doctor.  Jane, on the other hand would probably be arrested if it became known that she was practicing medicine. I thought this was a charming read, nothing angsty, gritty, gloomy.  It's a story of two adversaries who find love.  The dialog was fun, the hero studly and the heroine just a little head-strong.  But, as a short story it worked and if you need something to tide you over for what ever reason, I do recommend it. 

And, while your at it, check out Lunch Hour Love Stories website.  I bet you just might find more stuff to read!

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Warm/Hot


A Taste of Scandal by Erin Knightley

January 18, 2013
Romance and fairy tales and that ol' HEA

It is with a certain sense of synchronism that I read A Taste of Scandal by Erin Knightley  You see, I just finished reading a blog article by Annie Grace at Word Wenches entitled Manners Maketh the Man — or do they?  The article was insightful.  The gist of it was the difference between social classes and their manners.  Also included was the struggle to fit in with a group of people who set lofty standards.  Ms. Gracie questioned the HEA that many of us romance readers have come to accept over the years.  Those servants/lower class people/heroines marrying into the upper crust and it actually working.  Those diverse couples that have their fairy tale HEA.  I tend to agree with her.  In the real world, I don't believe that two people from two totally different worlds/classes would have much of a chance with a HEA.  And, if they do succeed, it would only be with a major struggle. Probably a pretty painful one.

Well, in A Taste of Scandal, we are presented with just such a situation.  Our heroine, Jane, is lower middle class.  She is a working girl.  Not that kind of working girl!  Jane runs a confectioner's shop and is responsible for some wonderful mouth watering treats.  She is also alone in the world.  Well, sort of.  She has a younger brother and a seafaring cousin who is hardly ever there.  She is training her young brother to be part of the business.  Of course, he doesn't want to be.  He has his eyes turned toward the sea.  He wants to be a seafaring man similar to his cousin.  So, there is that conflict.  Jane doesn't seem to have any friends.  She does, however, have a noisy neighbor.  This same noisy neighbor is related to the landlord and she's pretty much a self-righteous old busy-body.  There is no inheritance waiting in Jane's future, she is the sole support of her brother.  It behooves Jane to have a spotless reputation, no mistakes, no scandals.  If any of those things happen, she could lose everything she has built up.  She and her brother would be out on the street.  I found Jane to be a very sympathetic character.  She loved what she was doing.  She's proud of her accomplishments...and on top of all that she likes to bake.  However, Jane is headed for disappointment and pain.

Enter our hero Richard, Earl of Raleigh.  Richard is painted as a wealthy young man with nothing much to do and perfectly happy with that.  He's just an aimless fribble, no ambition.  He wouldn't even know where to begin, because about the only thing he's good at is bedding women and boxing.  Not many career choices there, but then he will inherit stuff so why should he try.  The meeting between our mismatched couple was fun, I smiled, I rubbed my hands together in glee.  "I think I'm going to enjoy this story", I said.  Alas, the characters got in the way or more precisely, Richard got in the way.  Richard is a careless person, he doesn't seem to have any compunction with getting his own way.  He doesn't seem to be aware of any of the damage his actions may cause.  His intentions toward Jane were never made clear to me.  Oh, sure, he wanted her in his bed, but he also seemed to care for her.  At the same time he is doing whatever it was with Jane he's doing, he was also courting a woman of his own social standing.  It never seemed to bother him if either of these two women were getting hurt in the process of his carefree romp through the pages.  We are also presented with Richard contemplating doing something worthwhile, such as teach boxing.  Teach boxing!  An aristocrat opening a school for guys that want to box.  This came close to a groan moment.  Don't even get me started on the dance in Hyde Park.

While I applaud the writer for the a comprehensive glimpse into class division, I have to say, this wasn't supposed to be a depressing Thomas Hardy novel but a romance.  Maybe if Richard had reformed just a little bit earlier in the story, I would have been happy.  Maybe if I hadn't read that article right before I picked up A Taste of Scandal, I wouldn't have been looking so closely at the inequality between Jane and Richard.  Maybe if Richard hadn't been such a twirp.  Whatever the reason, I was disappointed in this read...mostly Richard.

Now, having said all that, Beatrice (Richard's sister) will be getting her story next.  I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that her hero is a good match.  

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Warm


Grounds to Kill by Wendy Roberts

January 14, 2013
How many adjectives does a story need before they become just filler?


Sometimes beginnings are murder. Fellow readers, has this ever happened to you? You close a book with a sigh, abundant thoughts rapidly forming in your brain, many times they speed by so fast you just can't write them down. And then there are times when you stare at a that closed book and all that goes through the little noggin is "well, that was ok." Sorry to say, that was the case with Grounds to Kill. Of course, for me to say this book was just "ok" isn't right. I must find the words to explain that harsh term. 

This is the first book by Wendy Roberts that I have ever read, so I was entering uncharted territory. And I loved the premise of plot. Even more than the plot, the book was full of some very quirky characters that I found extremely entertaining, especially the heroine, Jen. Jen had the so-called gift of automatic writing. I also found a secondary character, Mallory, and all of her save-everything-on-earth routine amusing. Every character in this book had the promise of fun. They were all there waiting for some over-the-top adventures and I think that with personalities that are so unusual you need to exaggerate what makes them unorthodox. There was a great scene in this book when Jen had to explain to a policeman what she was doing at the scene of the crime. It was a big laugh out loud moment... so much so that I had tears form and after I moved on to the next scene I continued to chuckle for awhile. If everything in this book had been like that scene, this would have been a dynamic read. So, what happened?

Sex-in-the-City. There were times while reading Grounds to Kill that I was reminded of Sex in the City. I confess, I never saw the magic of that show and all the shallow people that inhabited it. However, if the writing is right, I can overlook that popular style of silliness. Often I wasn't sure whether Grounds to Kill was an adult book or a young adult book. But that was a minor hiccup. When I read a book I like to be drawn into the atmosphere of the story. I love it when the outside world fades into the background and all I see are the words on the page. And that's the main problem I had here. Words, or should I say, adjectives.

I understand that flavor is added to a story with the use of adjectives. But not every noun in a tale needs to be modified - once - twice - three times. And at the beginning of this story I found the "blue-jean-clad-thigh" or "estrogen enriched customer" to be overkill. Nothing was ever just plain blue. When there are a plethora of adjectives in a book they just become filler. Instead of all the extraneous descriptors, developing the quirky characters into more complex beings would have taken this novel from "ok" to extraordinary. 

I did see some possibilities in Wendy Roberts writing and I enjoyed the laugh out loud moment.  I am curious enough to give her another try.

Time/Place: Current time, Seattle
Sensuality: Warm


Waking Up with a Rake by Connie Mason and Mia Marlowe

January 10, 2012
"Agog are all, both old and young
Warm'd with desire to be prolific,
And prompt with resolution strong,
To fight in Hymen's wars terrific."
- The Disappointed Duke; or the Admiral and the Heiress by Peter Pindar aka John Wolcott, 1818



Awake on all suits! You know it doesn't take me long to figure out things...no sir. When I picked up Waking Up with a Rake, I thought it was an anthology, because there are two authors' names on the cover. About a 150 pages into the book, my mind is saying, hey, one of these authors is going to get the big shaft. But then the ol' light bulb went off...oh, could it possibly be a collaboration? Turns out it was. Connie Mason (who I've never read) and Mia Marlowe worked together to put together a pretty impressive book. I'm always intrigued by the mechanics of established authors working together. I know one author being creative is a struggle, but two...that would be interesting to watch.  I wonder who is the one who gives in first.

So, after I figured out that this book was about only one couple, I could relax and enjoy the story of a tortured hero whose mission is to ruin our heroine - to seduce her, make her impure so that probably one of the most depraved of the Hanoverian princes (Clarence) will not want her as a wife (although, most of the Hanoverian brothers were a tad bit loose). This story is based on a real historical occurrence, the race (Hymen's War Terrific 1818) to impregnate a woman and grab the throne of England by the Dukes of Clarence, Kent and Cambridge. And, for those who don't know, Clarence later would be king (William some number), however, it is Kent who succeeds in producing an heir (Victoria).

Our hero Rhys, is a rake - not your standard sweet-smelling Georgette Heyer rake, but the more grittier Anne Stuart kind of rake. The kind of guy you find fascinating, but isn't really the kind of guy you want to become involved with. Yes, he's really hot! And, he comes with some baggage to boot. He's been branded a coward, cut off from his family, carries some heavy battleground guilt, and is being blackmailed to seduce an innocent. Did I mention he's hot?  Then we have our heroine, Olivia. While Olivia may be an innocent, that doesn't mean she's stupid; she just doesn't know what goes where...but she's willing to learn. I loved this couple: their dialogue was fun and mostly they were honest with each other. Except, of course for the reason he's there in the first place, which adds a little tension to the story, because we all know eventually she's going to find out, but how will she handle it when she finds out? I know, but I'm not going to tell. I liked the little twists and turns in the relationship and how they worked their problems out - for the most part. There were just a couple of times I thought Olivia's reaction was a little "jump to the wrong conclusion." Rhys answering every problem with seduction bordered on the sordid. But, mainly I thought they made a great couple and it was a good romance.

There was also a bit of mystery and a villain I didn't suspect. I did have a few qualms about the reason for the villain doing what he/she was doing. This particular villain came awfully close to a Saturday morning cartoon; I could almost hear Daffy Duck sputtering in the background. However, other than those few bumps, I thought this was a fast-paced, enjoyable book and I am definitely putting the next two in the series on my list of must-haves.

Time/Place: 1818 England
Sensuality: Really Hot!!


The Lady Most Willing by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James and Connie Brockway

January 7, 2013
No Shakespeare in sight.


What can I say about The Lady Most Willing?  Well, first of all it's an anthology/novella, aka 3 short stories by three of the better romance authors around today.  Connie Brockway, Eloisa James, and Julia Quinn all make a contribution to this book.  Secondly, while the book is a charming, fast read, there isn't any earth-shattering new ground broken and once you put it down it is easy to forget.

I found all the stories pretty much feel good stories and all rather similar in the telling.  And, this time because Eloisa James didn't mention Shakespeare I also had a hard time identifying the authors of each story.  I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.  I also didn't prefer one story over the other; I enjoyed all three.  Also, the three stories were woven together almost seamlessly and the authors did a wonderful job of creating characters who were able to move from story to story without changing their personalities.  I especially enjoyed the obnoxious Uncle Taran Ferguson.

If anyone is familiar with Seven Brides for Seven Brothers or Roman/Sabine women mythology/history then you know the plot of this story.  Taran kidnaps four women for his two nephews to choose from to marry.  Oh, he also accidentally kidnaps the Duke of Bretton who was asleep in the carriage at the time.

All the stories have bits of humor in them, although the first one, by Julia Quinn, seems to have more than the others.  Julia Quinn's characters, the Duke of Bretton and plain Catriona Burns, were a great couple.  I liked this couple a lot - they also provided me with a few chuckles along the way to their HEA.  Some fun dialog.

Eloisa James' story is the second in the book.  Her characters are the Earl of Oakley and Fiona.  Since I have mentioned Fiona, I also need to mention Marilla.  Marilla is Fiona's narcissistic sister and she is sort of the bad girl throughout all three stories.  The bad girl with a giant chest.  I did notice a slight difference from author to author with the writing of Marilla.  Eloisa James' Marilla was a little darker in tone than Julia Quinn's Marilla.  Back to the Earl of Oakley and Fiona.  Their story was probably the most sensual of the three and, once again it was a quick read.

The last story in the group is by Connie Brockway and is about Lord Rocheforte and quiet Lady Cecila.  Lord Rocheforte has a bad boy reputation to overcome and I have a feeling that if the story had been a full-size novel we would have had a "poor me, I'm not good enough" hero to contend with.  Thank goodness this was a short story and we didn't have to put up with that nonsense for too long.  And, this couple was also adorable.

So, if I had to grade each story separately they would all be in the B's.  Overall the entire book was cute.  Yes, cute is the word I'd use to describe The Lady Most Willing and if you want a book that will lighten you mood, this one will fit the bill.  I was impressed with the way the stories melded together.  There was no clear-cut stand-out.  And, in the end, I'm not sure that's necessary.  This anthology was a clever blending of authors, and although I eventually identified Eloisa James' writing, it was hard work and the other two eluded me. 

Time/Place: Regency but Scotland
Sensuality: Warm - Hot - Warm


Lord Gray's List by Maggie Robinson

January 2, 2013
So, tell me again - why don't we like the hero?


Lord Gray's List, by Maggie Robinson, has a couple of very strong characters. One of them, Evie, is so strong she is a human bulldozer. A bulldozer dressed as a man. However, her strength is also her weakness and because of that weakness I had a hard time liking her. You see, she has a grudge against our hero, Benton Gray. A big grudge. Once upon a time, Gray and Evie were lovers. They were also very young and Gray was a bit of a wastrel. But he was also in love with Evie and so he laid his heart on the table for her to carve up and proposed. She declined. Either she blamed him for her father's gambling habits or she thought he was too much like her father. Whichever the case, she turned him down.

Time passed and we move forward 10 years and Evie is disguised as a man and running a newspaper. Or should I say, a scandal sheet! She also seems to be printing all kinds of salacious things about Gray. Evie is really, really peeved with Gray.

Ah, Gray... what an adorable rogue. In fact, he was painted as such a wonderful character, I had a hard time understanding all the hatred directed at him by Evie. She was seething with vindictiveness. For me, this couple didn't seem to balance one another. Evie was just so mean to Gray, and I kept hoping all the way through the book for the big reveal that would explain her one-track mind. Alas, it was not meant to be.

Gray was a delightful character - he was sexy, witty, fun, and while he's a bit of a rake through the course of the story, he grows into a better person. He sees his past life for what it was and tries his darndest to make Evie happy. I was never sure why he spent so much time trying to please this shrew of a woman. Although she couldn't seem to keep her hands, feet, and bosoms off all of him. It was hot sex, hate sex, mad sex, sex, sex, we can't do that again sex - all very irritating. I found her willingness to jump into bed with him, while holding him in disdain, very disturbing.

Gray was such a charming fellow, I only wish Evie was more deserving of him.

There was also a sub-plot involving two other women, which jerked me out of the story. Now, I would probably be interested in reading their stories (especially the fire starter), but these two scenarios distracted me from Evie and Gray's romance.

In the end, I was torn between a very entrancing, fun hero and a peevish, unlikeable heroine. I wish Evie had been a different person, for I would have liked the story better. As it was, these two just didn't connect for me. That doesn't mean I'm giving up on this series. No, this is just a case of heroine-phobia. I will, of course, be picking up the next book in the series.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Scorcher