On My Radar!!! Upcoming for April 15, 2013 to May 14, 2013

March 27, 2013
Lorelie Brown

An Indiscreet Debutante
Release date: May 15, 2013

Karen Hawkins

How to Pursue a Princess

Duchess Diaries series
Release date: May 21, 2013

Cathy Maxwell

The Devil's Heart
Chattan Curse series
Release date: April 30, 2013

Kasey Michaels

What a Lady Needs
Redgrave family series
Release date: April 30, 2013


The Titles or Covers or Plots caught my eye:
Christopher Brookmyre

Where the Bodies are Buried 
Det. Insp. Catherine McLeod and PI Jasmine Sharp series
Release date April 16, 2013

Christopher Brookmyre

When the Devil Drives
Det. Insp. Catherine McLeod and PI Jasmine Sharp series
Release date, May 7, 2013

Ken Kalfus

Release date, April 16, 2013

M.J. Rose

Release date, May 7, 2013

Kathleen Tessaro

The Perfume Collector
Release date, May 14, 2013

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


The Last Debutante by Julia London

March 26, 2013

auf Wiedersehen Hadley Green
So we bid a fond farewell to Julia London's Hadley Green series, and I have to say right up front that The Last Debutante is given short shrift.  It has the feel of an author eager to move on to her next project, especially the ending, which has a very rushed feel and a quick wrapping of loose ends.  I was disappointed that I was not allowed to savor The Last

Daria, our heroine, is off on an adventure!  She is the last unmarried girl in Hadley Green, so she must must must find adventure.  So, she talks the "bad" girl into being her chaperone in her little jaunt into the wilds of Scotland to give her grandmother some money.  Now, why Daria's parents would okay Daria journeying anywhere with the resident fallen woman, Charity, is one of those "this would not happen in real life but since this is a make-believe romance we have to do some stretching of the boundaries and no one will care."  Charity's chaperoning doesn't really matter anyway, since she disappears for some behind-the-scenes hanky panky on board ship and then abandons Daria and runs off with a Captain MacKenzie.  This part had me searching my short stories and/or others in the series to see if I had missed something...don't think I did.  And, let me say Charity's character deserved a better treatment than what she was allotted in this book.

The story starts with a bang.  And that is because Daria's grandmother shoots our hero, Jamie Campbell.  There is a reason for that and the reason is one of the mysteries around which this story revolves.  Daria, our plucky heroine, gets left in the lurch by her chaperone Charity and then deposited along the road along with her luggage.  Eventually, she walks to her grandmother's cottage (sans luggage).  And what is one of the first things that meets her eyes when she enters?  A big naked Scottish guy (our hero) asleep in her grandmother's bed.  He's big, big, big.  Daria has never seen anyone so big...everything on his body is big.  Of course, she has nothing to compare it to, being a virgin and all.  Her grandmother returns and lies to her, Jamie wakes up and kidnaps her and holds her at his castle for ransom.  Thus romance is born once again.

I thought this part of the story was fun.  Of course, she wins over almost all of the "I hatessss Sassenach" Campbells.  But, I noticed that there was a little lacking in all of her encounters with the clan.  Her relationship with them was sort of glossed over.  What could have been some well-developed characterizations were lost in the shuffle of bringing out the mystery of her grandmother's secret.  And, then when we finally find out what the mystery is, it also involves a villain.  This villain also has a connection with our missing chaperone Charity.  All these things and more are thrown together in a "hodgepodge" ending that was a disappointing culmination to a lovely series.  Daria and Jamie were great characters; it's just too bad they were in the book that wrapped up Hadley Green.

Time/Place: Scotland early 1800's
Sensuality: Almost Hot


The Conquest of Lady Cassandra by Madeline Hunter

March 20, 2013
What's old is new again.

The Conquest of Lady Cassandra by Madeline Hunter is a delight. Having said that I believe this is a book that some people may have a problem with.  And that, my fellow romance readers, is due to the hero of this story, Yates Elliston.

Ah, Yates, a manly man. A sexy guy, a bit of a chauvinist who reminded me of some of the heroes who lived in the pages of early modern romances. You know the ones I mean: the Rosemary Rogers, Kathleen Woodiwiss kind of guy. Oh, he's not as much of a jerk as Steve Morgan from Sweet Savage Love, but he has the feel of those old heroes. While I thought Yates may have been trained in the Steve Morgan School for Bonehead Heroes, he is a softer version of that all-time king of the jerks. So be prepared for an old-fashioned, powerful man when you open this book.

Don't be worried that Yates is so powerful, so strong that he dominates the pages and the heroine Cassandra. No sir, Cassandra is no shrinking violet. Cassandra takes no prisoners; she is the perfect fit for the strong male who is Yates.

I liked Cassandra a lot. She truly doesn't need a man to make her happy or make her life complete. She is a very independent woman. She is ahead of her time and isn't afraid to speak her mind. And, she has one of the strongest line/lines I've read in a book in a long time.  I loved it when she tells a typical not-listening-male Yates why she didn't marry his friend. - "I.Did.Not.Want.Him." Loved that moment, and that moment got Yates' attention.

For me this story was a fascinating study of two strong people and their journey together. I was happy that I was presented with a couple who were a couple and on top of that there was a romance! The Conquest of Lady Cassandra is a mature couple traveling down a rocky road together, uncovering secrets, growing separately and together.  The slow acceptance of love was wonderful to watch.

Now, there were some quibbles. Without going into too much detail, there was one bedroom scene that bordered on uncomfortable for me because of the way Yates treated Cassandra during and after. This scene was really a strong throw-back to the old bodice ripper stories and I had trouble understanding the point of that scene.

The other quibble I had was the assumptions the three friends, Yates, Southwaite and Kendale jumped to with little or no facts of the event. The grudge against Cassandra these seemingly intelligent men held for so many years was a little puzzling to me.

Overall, I enjoyed The Conquest of Lady Cassandra and Madeline Hunter's strong writing.  And, if you are looking for a sexy manly man, Ms. Hunter has given us one in the guise of Yates Elliston.  This is a very subjective book and it may not be your cup of tea, but for me it hit the spot!

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Hot


Surprising Lord Jack by Sally MacKenzie

March 18, 2013
Tis better to have loved and lost then never to have loved at all - like in this book.
Luv! Luv! Oh, where art thou, luv? One of the reasons I read Sally MacKenzie is because usually her stories have a strong sense of humor mixed with romance.  When Sally MacKenzie is at the top of her game, she makes me laugh.  Sorry to say, Surprising Lord Jack had little humor and hardly any romance.

Here's my take on the plot: our heroine, Frances, overhears her evil aunt plotting to marry her off to a local nincompoop.  Now, Frances has a brother, but he's a creep and her father is absent.  Actually it wouldn't matter if her father was around because for whatever reason he doesn't' particularly care for Frances.  Of course our heroine has an inheritance that is being cared for by a solicitor in London. Well, as all self-respecting heroines know, the only way to run away to London is to disguise oneself as a boy.  For some reason, women in romance novels never look their age when they put on a pair of pants; I never quite understand that.  I know I look my age when I have a pair of pants on.  The only thing that would make me look like a 14-year-old boy would be a face lift. Back to the plot.

As luck would have it,  our disguised-as-a-boy heroine soon has a lame horse and the roads are bad and she's got a blister on her foot because she's wearing her snarly brother's boots. But look, what's that? Why it's an inn! An inn crowded with boisterous men, but an inn nonetheless. The landlady takes pity on the poor unfortunate boy and lets him have a room that is normally reserved for the absent Lord Jack. Our disguised heroine is much tuckered out so her and her blisters fall into a deep sleep. Miles away at the annual matchmaking ball given by his mother is our hero, Lord Jack.  Lord jack does not want to be there, so he escapes into the night.  Guess where he ends up? Well it is his reserved room at the inn, after all. Eventually, he ends up in the room with the 12/13/14 year-old boy. Of course like most heroes he only sees what he is told - a rather coltish boy sleeping.  He doesn't suspect the boy is a woman. And why should he? Frances isn't well-endowed in the chest area. She's one of those heroines with long legs. You know I've noticed that if heroines have long legs they don't have big chests and if they have big chests they are usually short and the top of their heads only come up to the hero's chin. I guess a heroine can't have both long legs and a big chest. Speaking of long legs, when her disguise is eventually revealed, we do have the standard male fantasy of leg wrapping. On with the plot.

So anyway, we have Lord Jack and Frances the woman-disguised-as-a-boy stuck together because Jack must protect this young fellow. Frances, on the other hand, doesn't want anything to do with her savior. You see she hatesssss men - all men - her father treats her badly, her brother treats her badly - all men are evil. And, besides all men being bad, Jack is a rake, lothario, man-about-town. Little does she know that all those horrible rumors about him are not true. Nope, Jack is a good-deed-doer. Why, that house in London which appears to be a brothel is actually a house where he puts the or-ph-ans he has rescued. He also runs around rescuing prostitutes and makes sure they are protected. But he doesn't want anyone to know he is a good-deed-doer; he wants to maintain the facade of lascivious lord. I have to ask why? Why does he want to be perceived as bad? Why can't he let his family know? It's not as if they are some dysfunctional family. They all have novels of their own. Why I bet if his family knew what he was doing they'd want to help - but nooo, it's a big secret. I found this annoying. And, why aren't any of these or-ph-an and save-the-prostitute homes in a better part of the city or out in the country where the air is clean? Why are they still forced to live down some dark street? On with the plot.

So, after swinging by Jack's rescue spa, our couple head toward Jack's home, and it is at this time that the light bulb finally goes off in Jack's brain. Francis is really a Frances! He's a she! Now, he must marry her! He's been in her company for days! He's been in her bed! It doesn't matter that he didn't know she wasn't a boy. They must wed! But faithful readers, he forgot that our heroine hatesss men - all men - she refuses. It's time for Jack to call in reinforcements in the guise of his family. Allll those people from previous novels come barreling in. And the first priority is ... a dress-fitting. Yes, what romance novel could be without the requisite dress maker and all her minions changing our 14 year old boy into a glorious long-legged beauty. This of course leads to the awakening of our hero's Mr. Toad. I have to say that Jack's Mr. Toad was the only sign that there was romance in this story. If it hadn't been for Mr. Toad puffing up behind palm trees I would never have known there was any kind of attraction between these two. Jack and Frances had about as much chemistry as a wet rag.

On with the plot. Well Jack just cannot talk Frances into marrying him. She hatesss men and she wants to live in her cottage by the sea. What we need are more reinforcements! I bet I forgot to mention Frances' family on her maternal side - the loving grandparents who have always wanted to see her but have been refused admittance by the cru-el aunt. So, all is well - ruination is avoided. Frances is accepted back into the bosom of her family - there's no need for Jack.

Did I happen to mention the "silent slasher?" Yep, thrown into the mix is a maniac who's going around slashing women's throats. I guess he's the "silent slasher" because he's not noisy. Well, Jack has made it his responsibility to stop him and that is because he is a good-deed-doer. Almost by himself he is trying to find the villain. Jack, Jack, he's our man! All he needs is a red cape. He must find the killer before the killer finds Frances. Why Frances you may ask? Well, it seems that our villain is killing women who have sinned and Frances has sinned by sleeping in Jack's bed back at the inn when she was a boy. So, she has to be a target and Jack must be her protector. If Jack had only read a romance novel he would know to look for the man with the garlic breath.

In the end, I was disappointed in Surprising Lord Jack. The story meandered all over the place, never making up its mind whether it was a lighthearted romance or a dark moody love story with a murder or two thrown in.  There were too many directions and a weak romance. Jack and Frances didn't work as a romantic couple. There wasn't any spark between the two of them and definitely nothing that would last a lifetime. So far, this is the weakest book in the Duchess of Love series by Sally MacKenzie.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Questionable


What Happens in Scotland by Jennifer McQuiston

March 12, 2013
Close but no cigar.
Spoiler alert! I reveal the villain!
What Happens in Scotland, Jennifer McQuiston's debut novel, had a great beginning and what I thought was a pretty original concept.  We are presented with our heroine (Georgette) waking up naked in bed with a strange man.  The room is in shambles, her corset is hanging on the bedpost, feathers are scattered all around, some are even attached to her feet.  The problem is, she has no idea how any of this came about.  Our hero, the strange man (aka James) wakes up and smiles at her and asks her to return to bed.  Her reply is to boink him in the head with a chamber-pot, an empty one by the way.  She runs out of the room.  He is knocked out, but awakens later to a bloody head and a hazy memory of the events.  And, this was all in the first chapter.  Oh boy, I thought, this is going to be fun!  Smiling, I rubbed my hands together in glee and waited with an-ti-ci-pa-tion for more hoopla.  And, waited...

What happened?  We are introduced to two great characters, neither of them remembering much of anything.  They both go off in search of answers, trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together.  Along the way, they run into some wonderfully quirky characters and situations.  There is a butcher who had his teeth knocked out, a prostitute Georgette hired to be a ladies maid, a young man Georgette taught something to in an alley, a wild horse, a missing horse, a kitten that hasn't been weaned, a dog that bites, a veterinarian roommate, missing money, a noisy brother, an old friend turned enemy who is also the magistrate, a cousin with a hairy nose.  And, by the way, why must we always have some kind of physical identifier for villains?  Usually they have yellow teeth or garlic, we have a hairy nose.  At least with the hairy nose we know he won't be a reformed villain and have his own book.  Of course we all know heroes have hair in their noses too, it's just that when we are wrapped in their manly arms we don't see the hair in the nose - or under the armpit for that matter.  You know, I cannot recall the last time I read about a hero with hair under his arms.  I digress.  Where was I? 

Oh yes, we have all these characters showing up, telling our hero and heroine about what they did the day before, but it was all done separately.  Our couple is each trying to find out what happened on their own...sort of.  James' brother William shows up to help him and Georgette kind of wanders around with her prostitute maid.  And, that's where I had the problem: this couple was finding out all of these wonderful things that had happened, but they are not together when they find out.  And, that's what weakened the story for me...for almost 50 percent of the book our couple is racing around trying to remember, having misunderstandings, but they are not together.  Because they are not together for most of the book, there isn't enough time to build a strong romantic love story.  They are like two sides to a shoe that should have been laced together more frequently.

When Georgette and James are finally together, w-a-y too much valuable time is spent in solving James' 11-year-old misunderstanding with his father.  And, let's talk about misunderstandings.  James, Mr. Jump-to-the-Wrong-Conclusion Guy.  Mr. She's-Guilty-No-She's-Not-Yes-She-Is Guy.  Mr. I-Don't-Have-Any-Evidence-But-I-Know-You're-Wrong Guy.  James was such a back and forth character.  He was a great hero when he wasn't doubting everyone, but when that Mr. Humbug sat on his shoulders he was a very annoying guy.  Is it any wonder his father didn't speak to him for all those years.

Overall, the novel had a great concept.  All this memory chasing takes place over a 24-hour period and it had all the elements there to make a great, funny book.  But, for me there were just too many things that never connected, the couple was apart too much of the time, there were too many "almost" moments in this story...too many plot-lines that didn't go anywhere.  Bottom line, for a romance novel to work for me the couple have to develop as a couple, whether in flashbacks or current time, even if it's only 24 hours...but there has to be a togetherness and sorry to say I just didn't see this couple as a couple.  When the story ended I felt they were still strangers.  

Time/Place: Regency Scotland
Sensuality: Warm


The Natural History of Dragons, a Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan

March 7, 2013
Well this is a bummer!
Big spoiler ahead!  It is rare for me to give a review on a book I cannot finish, but I read 321 pages before I decided I could not go on.  Here are my thoughts on The Natural History of Dragons, a Memoir by Lady Trent.  I was soooo looking forward to this book. I love make-believe, love whimsy, love magical beings, love adventure and I thought that was what I would be getting with this book.  Nothing says magic like dragons, right?  Well, in this case you'd be wrong.  The dragons in this book were not magical, they were written as if they were real animals.  Part of the book had a textbook quality about it.  Much to my disappointment, I found this to be a pretty blase' book.  Maybe it was just me having trouble with a different genre.  Granted I am used to the romance genre, fantasy isn't one of my favorite things but I have read them.  However, I can't think of one fantasy book that has bored me and that's including the ones I didn't like.  Added to the dryness of the novel, was the irritating use of fake names...the heroine of the story isn't just going to the Balkans, she's going to Fliffenhoffersteinfuffle under the Ragerrangerclaussenpepper Mountain range.  I find fake names annoying, even in romance novels.  Big Spoiler Ahead!!  Then, there was the death of a character I loved!!!  Jacob, her wonderful charming husband bites the dust in the last few chapters.  Yes, I did skip ahead after I became disenchanted with the first part of the book.  I wanted to find out if I should continue.  Perchance, there would be a big reward awaiting me at the end.  Thbbft!  Maybe in fantasy novels it's alright to kill off heroes, but not in my world. I loved Jacob, he was a lovely man and he loved his wife.  I had envisioned Lady Trent's other adventures with her husband by her side. So, as far as I was concerned there wasn't any reason for me to continue to read. 

Now, I'm sure for others The Natural History of Dragons, a Memoir by Lady Trent will work, but for me the enchantment was just not there.  There was a little whimsy, but not enough.  A little adventure, but not enough, and while I found Lady Trent's childhood to be fascinating, the rest of the book was too dry for my taste.  And, the mysterious magical dragons...alas, were just not magical enough.  

Time/Place: Victorian fake land
Sensuality: none