So behind...

I just returned from a vacation visiting relative in the east...It was great...loved every bit of it!!!  But, now I must get caught up. 

And, by the way, we went through Niagara Falls on the way and turned into typical tourists.  You may not believe this, but I did do some whining about the little jaunt to the Falls.  However, I was talked into getting on the Maid of the Mist...OMG...what an exhilarating 10 or so minutes.  So, if you ever find yourself near the Falls, you must get on one of those scary looking boats with the life-jackets that are locked up and join the rest of the tourists.  Once you get past the gazillion sea gulls, I promise you, it is a ride you will remember. 

On My Radar May 15 to June 14, 2013

April 23, 2013
Lecia Cornwall

The Secret Life of Lady Julia
Sequel to How to Deceive a Duke
Release date May 28, 2013

Tessa Dare

Any Duchess Will Do
Spindle Cove series
Release date May 28, 2013

Olivia Drake

Stroke of Midnight
Cinderella Sisterhood
Release date June 4, 2013

Tammy Falkner aka Lydia Dare

The Magic of "I Do"
Fae series
Release date June 4, 2013

Karen Hawkins


How to Pursue a Princess
Duchess Diaries series 
Release date May 21, 2013

Eloisa James

Once Upon a Tower
Fairy Tale series 
Release date May 28, 2013

Courtney Milan

The Heiress Effect
Brother Sinister series
Release date: 
Some time between May and August

Connie Mason and Mia Marlowe 

One Night with a Rake ebook
Royal Rake series
Release date, June 4, 2013


Michele Sinclair

Seducing the Highlander
The McTiernay series 
Release date, June 4, 2013

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


Sweet Madness by Heather Snow

April 19, 2013
Would Elizabeth Bennet have done that?


The Sweetest Madness was problematic for me.  While the writing by Heather Snow was what one comes to expect from Ms. Snow, I had a hard time thinking of this as an historical specific to the Regency time period.  I don't think I would have had as much of a problem with this story if it had been set in maybe the Edwardian time period; in fact it would have been quite lovely.

The characters of Gabriel and Penelope are likeable and well-developed.  They even make a great couple.  They are the kind of couple I like: they are honest with each other, they talk to one another, and they are friends.  Although, I do have to say Gabriel's attraction to Penelope at times bordered on stalker material and I didn't quite get why he was attracted to her.  Oh sure, she was effervescent, but that's all she was, at least in the beginning.  For me there just wasn't anything behind her shining eyes.  After her husband dies and she is once again thrown in with Gabriel, I still didn't see anything other than friendship (at least on her part.)  Sometimes when you read a romance the sexual tension between the couple fairly burns the pages, but in this case it seemed to me it was more of being told Gabriel found Penelope exciting but I didn't really feel that fizz.  I never did figure out what was lacking, except maybe it was Penelope's obliviousness to Gabriel's drooling pulsations. 

As I said before, Penelope and Gabriel made great friends and Penelope's desire to help Gabriel was extraordinary, dare I say Super Woman Stupendous.  She even goes so far as to kidnap him to save him.  You see, he has developed a psychological problem due to being in the war and he is about to be committed to an asylum.  So, phenomenal Penelope conceives a stretch of the imagination romance kidnapping scheme and tricks him into leaving with her.  Then the astounding Penelope hides Gabriel in the country so she can cure him.  I have to ask, really?  I don't think Elizabeth Bennet would do that.  Oh, maybe Elizabeth would try to get help from a man, maybe her uncle, but Ms. Bennet would not go traipsing off into the country and then think that she could actually cure someone with a mental disorder.  Although, she might just utter a smarmy comment or two. 

Back to the astounding Penelope.  While we are talking about the carriage ride to sanctuary, I have to confess I had a icky ewwww moment.  We have are first kiss between Penelope and Gabriel in that carriage.  You know I've read all sorts of first kiss scenarios over the years and some of them really are ridiculous in the setup, but this one I had a little bit of an adverse reaction to.  As our couple are bouncing along the country road to refuge, Gabriel starts having one of his episodes and what is Doctor Penelope's solution to his dilemma?  Why to kiss him, of course.  This scene actually bothered me quite a lot, there were all kinds of ethical boundaries crossed just so we could have a kiss.  If I had been asked, which I wasn't, I would have suggested not having that moment used as the first kiss.

On to another difficulty I had with this book - the astounding Penelope's understanding of psychological problems, in this case battle fatigue/exhaustion (which, by the way, was a term used in WWII and before that it was shell shock in WWI.  In the Civil War [U.S.] the term used was "irritable heart," sometimes Da Costa's syndrome.  It actually wasn't until WWI that shell shock/battle fatigue/exhaustion was recognized as something other than cowardice.)  So, every time I saw the word pop up in the book I was thrown out of the story.  And, while there were some people around who might have been enlightened enough to recognize the psychological problems that happen when you fight in battle, I don't think there would have been enough research on mental disorders around for Penelope to be so wise.  We are talking about a time period where one of the medical treatments was bleeding someone to release humors (not the funny ones).  The medical profession at this time is one of the reasons I would not time travel to meet Mr. Darcy.  Anyway, while I appreciate Ms. Snow's attempt to bring a refreshing change to the Regency landscape, I would have liked it better if the story had been set at a later time period.

And, one last moment of being thrown out of the book: if you are hiding out in the country, you don't want anyone to find you, you are trying to heal your friend, why do you go to a dress-up party?  Oh sure, Penelope wanted to see if her "cure" had worked, but couldn't you have dressed up in servants' outfits and gone to a crowded fair?

Now, having said all that I have to say if this couple had been placed in a later time period the whole story would have worked better for me.  They were a lovely couple; they were friends and there was an enormous amount of trust on both sides. I just wish I hadn't been propelled out of the book so many times. There were too many things that were a stretch for me and that's too bad because I really did like Super Penelope and her sidekick Gabriel the torch-bearer. 

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Hot


With This Kiss by Eloisa James

April 15, 2013
How do you make a novella even smaller?  You divide it into parts and release it as a three-part serial.


With This Kiss has been released two different ways, as a short story in the anthology As
You Wish and as a three part serial.  I happened to have purchased the three part serial and you know what?  I’m not really a big fan of cliffhangers; I like to know who shot JR this season not next, but these tiny serials were released close enough that I could read them in one setting.  Not sure what the value of releasing this short story as a serial is...but hey, I’m not in marketing.  I also didn’t think that the three stories worked as three separate stories.  The parts could not stand on their own; they needed each other to make any sense.

So, let’s take a look at Eloisa James’ With This Kiss.  We are introduced to Grace and Colin.  Grace is the daughter of the couple from The Ugly Duchess.  You remember them right?  Maybe you remember that I recommended James for the Bonehead Hero award…remember he’s the one who abandoned his wife to become a pirate?  He took up with a bunch of mistresses along the way and never apologized.  Well, Grace is their daughter and Colin is the son (sort of) of James’ bonehead pirate buddy friend Griffin from Seduced by a Pirate.

As you may have guessed, these two grow up together or should I say their families spend a
lot of time together.  Of course, Grace develops a tendre, crush, infatuation with Colin and he is, of course, oblivious to her feelings.  Part One explores this period of their relationship.  we watch them grow up and we watch as Grace is hurt time and again by Colin’s insensitivity.  Now, I’m not saying that I didn’t like Colin, I did, but he’s six years older than Grace and he sees her as almost a sister.  So, Colin goes off to war and infatuated Grace writes him.  It is her letters that bring brightness into the days he spends in horrific fighting.  But guess what?  Upon Colin’s return it is Grace’s vivacious sister Lily that Colin falls for...bringing even more pain to Grace.  So much for letter writing.  For the most part I thought part one was a very thoughtful story, Grace is a very sympathetic character and there are some pretty poignant moments in this portion of the story.

Part Two.  This section I didn’t enjoy so much.  There were too many misunderstandings, too many missed chances, people zigging when they should been zagging.  Colin’s proposal was turned down by Lily’s parents, he leaves.  Grace has decided never to write to Colin
again, she finds a nice guy (John) and accepts his marriage proposal and maybe on the road to matrimony she will forget Colin.  In the meantime, Colin realizes it isn’t Lily he loves, but Grace.  So, he gets wounded, can’t see, wears a thing around his head, takes laudanum, returns to London, barges into Grace’s romance with the really really nice guy.  And, then through some far-fetched romance plot ends up in a carriage with Grace and has a laudanum induced sexual romp with the “dream” Grace not realizing that it is the real Grace he is Whankee-woo-hauling…until he gets to the inn and then there is a misunderstanding because Grace thinks he thinks she was Lily when he was a-whanking and besides that she wasn’t all that impressed with the whank and she was a little ticked that he passed out and she had to button him up.

Part Three.  While there were some tender moments in this portion and Colin actually came out of his bonehead persona, this section was really an excuse to showcase a lot of sex.  That is when they weren't jumping to the wrong conclusions.

Bottom line:  As three separate stories, even if they were supposed to be cliffhangers, With This Kiss doesn’t work.  This story works better as one small complete piece of work, although there isn’t anything earth shaking or anything that makes With This Kiss memorable.  Grace is a well-developed character; she’s loyal, tender, and smart and she deserved Colin’s light bulb turning on sooner.  I’m hoping Ms. James give John a happy ending. Sometimes I get tired of nice guys coming in last in romance novels.

Time/Place: Pre-Victorian England
Sensuality: Part Three Hot

The Witch of Little Italy by Suzanne Palmieri

April 8, 2013
Pass the cannoli...Please!


You know if Italian food wasn't already one of my favorite cuisines, it would be after reading this story.  Who knew you could put strawberry leaves in salad.  The use of ethnic food is just one of the things that lends to the feel of family in The Witch of Little Italy.

The Witch of Little Italy is Suzanne Palmieri's debut novel and I believe it's one you won't want to miss.  Even though I don't like to make comparisons, this book reminded me a little of Alice Hoffman's Practical Magic.  However, it is a strong book all on its own.

When I first opened this book, I thought I might have trouble keeping track of all the characters.  There's Elly (our main character, sort of).  Elly is pregnant, unwed and escaping from an abusive relationship with Cooper.  Elly is also insecure and doesn't have a memory of large portions of her childhood.  Regardless of those missing moments, she knows she must return to the family complex.  Waiting there for her are her grandmother, Mimi; Mimi's sisters Fee (who can't hear,) and Itsy (who doesn't talk); and Anthony, who has loved Elly forever.  Not at the complex but making her presence known is Carmen, Elly's distant mother.  And then there are the people from the past - Margaret (Mimi's mother), Bunnie and George (Mimi's siblings)...and more.  So you see, there were a lot of people to keep track of.  But the author created such strong characters that I became captivated by all their stories and how those stories were woven together to make a lovely tapestry of family.

One of the many things I liked about this story was its structure.  We have a couple of first-person narratives and those views shift back and forth between time, telling us an intricate story of the Amore family, mainly the women in that family.  Now, before all of you grumpy flashback-haters start complaining, relax - the author has created an almost seamless tale of following your destiny and changing your destiny.

I also loved the many-faceted characters and the family secrets that Elly must discover to make the Amore family whole again.  And, even if you figure out the many secrets before Elly does, I promise you're going to be rooting for her all the way.  I had one quibble, I would have liked to have found out more about Margaret's Irish family, the Green's.  There seemed to be a lot of mystery there which for me wasn't resolved.

This is a truly magical story, on so many levels, so if you like stories with a little witchiness thrown in, this story is for you.  It's a remarkably gentle story that I will remember for a long time.  The Witch of Little Italy made me a happy camper.

Time/Place: Different Contemporary times/United States
Sensuality: Kiss


A Little Folly by Jude Morgan

April 2, 2013
Wot? A romance novel without spy in it!

Hey, someone pick me up from the floor.  At last fellow romance readers, in A Little Folly by Jude Morgan, we have a story that isn't built around some eye-brow raising, beyond belief plot.  There isn't a woman dressed as a boy trying to escape her evil aunt-mother-father-
brother-guardian by hanging out at the local pub-tavern-brothel.  Nope, no hare-brain scamper through the countryside for our heroine.  There is no group of manly male friends who went to Cambridge, then fought in the war, became spies, got scars, signed secret papers promising never to marry, and have names like Colt, Lance, Saber, Cobra and Roderick aka Humongous Rod.  Nowhere in this book is there a troublesome Mr. Toad who cannot be controlled or who forces our hero to stand behind a potted palm.  If ever there was a book that could claim to be "Austen-like," it would be A Little Folly.  Be warned, this is not a pretend Austen, but a legitimate claimant to the flavor that was Jane.  This is a book that truly has feel of the Regency era, filled with all the wit and undercurrents of that time.  It is a refreshing change from the historical romances that are painted with a broad modern brush.  However, I don't believe I'd want a steady diet of a true Regency - I like a little spice in my books.

Our story is about a brother and sister, Valentine and Louisa, who have grown up under the tyrannical thumb of their father.  And, I do mean tyrannical!  When their father dies suddenly (a rather amusing scene) they are abruptly confronted with freedom.  And it is their reaction to this unforeseen independence and all the missteps it brings which makes this a fascinating read.

One of the scenes that best exemplifies how Valentine and Louisa respond to being their own person is when they decide to get rid of their father's fireplace screen.  Their struggle with this dilemma is both comical and poignant.

This book is a slow-paced, well thought out story.  There isn't a rush to the end anywhere in sight; no loose end scrambling to be tied.  I appreciated the liberal spattering of dry wit throughout the book.  And, do be careful if you are a skip reader, because there are some hidden off the cuff remarks in this book that should be savored.

Now, be warned, this book is not for everyone.  There will be those of you who will find it boring and you know who you are.  If you can, right now, pick up a Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Clare Darcy, Patricia Veryan, Carola Dunn (her Regencies,) Joan Smith and still enjoy them, then you will love this book.  However, if you find yourself saying "I don't get what all the hub-bub is," then this story is not for you.

I recommend A Little Folly for those of you looking for a little step backward into a world that existed a long time ago.  I promise you, there is no long-winded description of clothing or any eye color changing in sight.  This is a lovely, fully developed traditional Regency book.

Jude Morgan is a pseudonym for Tim Wilson, who also writes under the name of Hannah March.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Sweet