Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt

October 28, 2013
Return to Maiden Lane!!!  What a place!

Elizabeth Hoyt has given us the sixth book in a wonderful series. Actually, Maiden Lane is one of my favorite series; I'm keeping my fingers crossed that she's able to keep the momentum

going. I must confess I had a hard time with the last book, Lord of Darkness. In fact, I couldn't get started. So I put it aside. However, with Duke of Midnight I didn't have that problem. In fact, I couldn't put this one down! Many a late night (lucky for me my Nook is backlit so I read with no lights on and snuggled up under my comforter as the cold wind blew outside and my husband snored beside me).

This review comes with a warning...there be some gushing ahead! From the superb writing to the wonderful characters, I loved this book. Oh sure, there were some minor hiccups, but g-o-l-l-y this was a most satisfying read. And, repeat after me...We want Apollo! We want Apollo! We want Apollo! What a great secondary character just screaming for his own book. Also waiting in the wings is another wonderful character, Phoebe. Her character doesn't scream for her own book, just gently whispers. 

Let's take a look at the main characters in this one: our heroine, Artemis, and our hero, Maximus. Love those names! Both of these characters are strong, as a couple and as individuals. Maximus Batten, the Duke of Wakefield, is one of those proper, cold aristocrats. He's on the lookout for the perfect woman to marry. He doesn't necessarily have to be fond of her, but she has to be perfect and not make any demands on him. And, it is with that choice that I had a bit of a problem. He has his eyes on Lady Penelope Chadwicke - a flippertigibbet if ever there was one, so, she's not perfect. But, anyway, she's the one he is watching. However, in the background catching his eye is Artemis, her companion. 

For those of you not following this story, a common thread throughout is the Ghost of St. Giles - a Robin Hood of sorts. Spoilers ahead. Well, it just so happens that the Ghost is more than one man and in this book it is Maximus. And one night while goofy Penelope and I-tried-to-talk-her-out-of-the-bet Artemis are wandering through the back streets of St. Giles they are set upon by some hooligans. The Ghost to the rescue. Of course, as happens in romance books, his signet rings falls off his finger and into Artemis' hand. Funny how rings and things fall off after staying in place for years and years. Anyway, it doesn't take Artemis long to put together that the "big" Ghost and the "big" Duke are one and the same person. So, she decides to blackmail him into helping her rescue her brother, Apollo, from Bedlam. And then the race is on to the HEA.

Watching Maximus and Artemis circle each other was absolutely fascinating. He was so sure of what he wanted and even when he realizes he's falling in love with Artemis he still plans to marry Penelope. His plan is to take Artemis as his mistress. The scene where she agrees to his plan is one dynamic scene. He knows that he will lose her even though she has given him what he wants. He becomes more and more desperate, makes outrageous promises - one house, two houses, anything. 

The Duke of Midnight is one of the strongest in Ms. Hoyt's series. I loved almost everything about it. If I had any quibbles, it would be with Penelope being viewed as a perfect mate for Maximus, and then the out-of-character explosive hissy fit at the theater didn't quite ring true for Penelope. Oh sure, she was a self-centered creature, but I never had the opinion she was mean-spirited, just oblivious to the way she treated people. However, the theater scene where she screams at Artemis raised Penelope from heedless goofball to vicious viper.

I do highly recommend The Duke of Midnight. This story is one dark, dangerous adventure with two fully-developed mature characters. This is a solid read! We want Apollo! We Want Apollo!

Time/Place: Georgian England
Sensuality: Hot


Upcoming Historical Romance Releases, November 15 to December 14, 2013

October 25, 2013
BRRRR! December already!

Authors with an asterisk*, I'm picking up!  For more Upcoming Releases that aren't Historical see Hey Delia! 
Adriane Wood

Stowaway Bride
Highfill Sisters series
November 26, 2013


Alexandra Hawkins

Twilight With the Infamous Earl
Lord of Vice series
 November 26, 2013


Amanda McCabe

Running from Scandal
Bancrofts of Barton Park series
November 19, 2013

Ann Lethbridge*

Falling for the Highland Rogue*
The Gilvrys of Duncross series
November19, 2013

Carole Mortimer

Not Just a Wallflower
A Season of Secrets series
November  19, 2013

Emily Greenwood

Gentlemen Prefer Mischief
Mischief series
December 3, 2013

Hannah Howell

Highland Master
The Murrays series
November 26, 2013

Isabel Cooper

Legend of the Highland Dragon
December 3, 2013

Jennifer Haymore

The Rogue’s Proposal
The House of Trent series
November 19, 2013

Jess Michaels

For Desire Alone
Mistress Matchmaker series
December 3, 2013

Kate Welsh

The Texas Ranger’s Heiress Wife
November 19, 2013

Pamela Mingle

The Pursuit of Mary Bennet, h/o
for Austen lovers, 
November 26, 2013

Sandra Hill

The Pirate Bride
Viking series
November 26,  2013

Sarah MacLean*

No Good Duke Goes Unpunished*
Rules of Scoundrels series
November 26, 2013

Susanna Ives*

Wicked Little Secrets*
December 3, 2013

Suzanne Enoch*

The Devil Wears Kilts*
a Scandalous Highland series
November 26, 2013

Victoria Morgan*

The Heart of a Duke*
December 03, 2013


Zoe Archer

Dangerous Seduction
Nemesis Unlimited series
November 26, 2013

Yowsa! Historicals I Missed First Time Around

Christina James

Kiss of the Dragon, ebook 
July 25, 2013

Delilah Marvelle*

Romancing Lady Stone*
School of Gallantry series
September 10, 2013

Laura Landon

A Risk Worth Taking
October 1, 2013

Patricia Rice

Notorious Atheron
Rebellious Sons series
July 23, 2013

Wendy Lyn Watson

Once Upon a Wallflower
Entangled Scandalous series, ebook
August 12, 2013

Zana Bell

Close to the Wind
October 15, 2013


Bewitching and Dreaming by Jill Barnett

October 22, 2013
Starting at 100, count backward by 7.

Ok, so I failed. Yes, I've already reviewed Bewitching and it's sequel, Dreaming. I had already started to write a new review about Bewitching and had plunged into reading Dreaming when I recognized the name of the dog, Gus. Wait a minute, I said to myself. Don't I give out an award based on a dog named Gus? Yep, I do. So, after some checking I found my reviews for both of these books.

I have to say that I haven't changed my mind about Bewitching. If anything, I love it more than the last time. It was a pleasure to read this story again and to once again visit one of the happiest, most loveable heroines ever, Joyous Fiona MacQuarrie. Her name says it all. Her character is so defined I knew exactly what I was going to get, and I did. She is a nice person, who mostly sees only the good in people and bends over backwards to make people around her happy. She is so charming and sweet that you fall in love with her right along with the hero. Now, because you have read a trillion romance books, you know that someone this bright and loveable is in for a big heartbreak. You also know that heartbreak is going to be given by the hero, and it is. Because Joy's character is so fully-developed when her heart is broken, I actually had a few sniffle moments...and I've read this book before, for Pete's sake! Someone stop me! I feel myself going into gush mode! But, I can't help it...loved the heroine.

Let's look at the guy that hands out the pain in this book, our hero Alec Castlemaine. As much as one wants to dislike this man because of all the pain he inflects on Joy, you can't. Oh sure, you might feel a little anger, but Ms. Barnett as once again fully-developed a character who at first glance is this cold, unfeeling man. He fights Joy's love every step of the way, but you are allowed inside as he struggles with feelings that he has no way of controlling. When he finally accepts fate and is happy with it, it is a very satisfying moment.

For those of you who have never read this book before, there is a slight touch of the supernatural. There is witchcraft of sorts, along the lines of the tv show Bewitched. In fact, Joy (our witch) reminds me a little of Aunt Clara, just not quite as bumbling. Joy just can't get her spells and conjuring right. And, she accidentally dumps herself right into the lap of one of England most unforgiving, starchy, cold aristocrats ever, Alec. 

There is humor all over this book. There is a Joy's familiar, a weasel by the name of Beezle. Beezle likes to chew hair, usually the hair hanging from the footmen in Alec's employ. There are Alec's two friends, the superstitious Seymour and the drunk Earl of Downe. All of these characters add a sense of fun to this charming book. One of my favorite funny scenes ever written in a romance is in this book. It makes me chuckle every time I read it. In case you’re interested, I'll give you a hint: it involves lips against glass.

A very tender moment comes when Alec discovers that he has a brother, Stephen. Stephen was locked up by their father at a very early age. His character reminded me a little of

Quasimodo and for a prideful Alec, who has a fear of imperfection, this is a truly amazing moment to behold. Here comes another sniffle!

Now, let me tap my finger to my chin…I've tried hard to find something wrong with this book, but it was tough. There might be some who would say Joy was a tad TSTL, but I think she was just someone who saw the bright side of everything. And, a number of times this brightness hurt. Maybe Alec said one too many hateful things, but he struggled so hard when he did, I can live with them. And there was a wonderful grovel.

Bewitching is a clever, funny, tender book and after rereading it I believe that I like it more than I did before. This book made me smile; heck, I even liked the epilogue.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Hot
 On to Dreaming. Well, evidently when I read this one the last time, my evil twin sister Ms. Hyde must have done the review, cause she didn't care for the book very much.

 This time around, I would have to say that some things struck me funnier than the last time. And, I of course loved Gus. I also wanted to smack Letty. How many bricks does it take to fall on one’s head before one moves on to someone else? Letty was still just too needy for my taste. However, the hero, Richard, didn't strike me as being such a frat boy this time around. In fact, I felt sorry for him having to deal with a stalker-girl who just wouldn't leave him alone. Overall, however, Dreaming still wasn't as good as the lovely Bewitching.

I also wonder what it means that the authors website hasn't been updated in a while.


The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley

October 14, 2013
Hey, Mr. Perfect...who cuts your toenails?

There be spoilers ahead.  At last Daniel Mackenzie has grown up and I no longer have to feel like an old pervert drooling over a fifteen-year-old boy.  Yes, Daniels all grown up and what a dilly he is.  He is perfection personified...he can do nothing wrong...he is the "bestist of the best!" He's smart, he can fly balloons (not the little red ones), he knows how to invest money, and he knows what everyone is going to do before they do it.  He is an expert on everything.  Languages, yeah he knows them - he knows a bunch of 'em.  Bedroom, well he's been actively seeking women since he was fifteen, so he has become quite an expert in knowing what women want - far be it for Daniel to be a wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am kind of guy.  Nope, not he, not Mr. Perfect man - he takes his time - no matter how l-o-n-g it takes.  He's strong - superhero strong.  He’s just too good to be true.  I bet he doesn't even have toe nails that need clipping.

And, while I'm on the subject, what about those toenails?  You know I've been reading historical romance novels for eons and usually it's the heroine with the hairy armpits or legs that force me to wander down certain paths.  You know what I mean.  Our hero is caressing or kissing a path up the heroine's legs and we all know she hasn't shaved-those legs have to be a hairy forest, but that doesn't deter our hero from his journey.  But I've never thought about the hero - we don't really care about the hair on his legs - his back, yes, his legs, no.  Well, because our hero in this book is soooo perfect I wondered about his toe nails (I don't know why, I just did.)  For some reason I can't envision any hero clipping their own toenails - those strong manly waste products flying all over the place - sort of ruins the romantic mood.  And, maybe, just maybe they could poke your eye out.  Could it be the valet who does the nail clipping?  I may have a whole new respect for those guys if they are the toe-clipper-people.  Toenails - one of life's mysteries.

I digress.  Back to our story and our stupendous hero, Daniel Mackenzie.  I love the Mackenzie clan, at least the four original ones.  They were all strong characters who had some monumental problems, which they eventually dealt with. Ian Mackenzie is one of my all-time favorite heroes and I've loved all his guest appearance in the other books; this one was no exception.  I was looking forward to Daniel's story.  He had all the prerequisites for a troubled hero - his mother trying to murder him and all.  That could put the doldrums on anyone.  However, by the time this story begins his trauma is just a faraway dream.  As it happens it is the heroine who has all the weaknesses.  Violet had been abused by a trusted male friend as a young woman, so there are some trust issues and she has turned into a victim.  And, for me the differences between Daniel and Violet were the problem I had with this book.  They were just really unequal.  If only Daniel had been less perfect and Violet had been stronger and not such a self-effacing martyr, the story would have worked better for me.

The book started off well and I thought Violet was going to be a great character.  You see, she is a fake medium, traveling through society with her mother (a real clairvoyant) doing séances and telling fortunes.  The relationship between her and her mother is never fully explored.  I was never sure whether her mother was a user of people or just a silly woman who every once in while shouted out, "danger!"

Beside the personalities of Daniel and Violet being uneven - Daniel the super-duper-know-everything and Violet the poor-me girl who can only be free when Daniel allows her to be - there were also other things going on.  Lots of things - here's a run-down.  violet conks Daniel over the head when she has a panic attack while he's kissing her, she loads him in a cart and dumps him in the street, packs up her mother and maid and flees to France.  Daniel, not dead, just injured must follow Violet - she is The One.  He must find out where she is, so he asks Ian.  Ian finds her.  Daniel follows. Violet has changed her name and persona, she's now pretending to be Russian.  Daniel finds her, they have a balloon ride - it's exhilarating, almost freeing, they get stuck in a tree, go to a village, pretend to be married, eat cheese, stay the night and don't have sex. They return to the city, she gets in trouble. While running through the city in a panic she sees Daniel getting into a carriage with some whores and his friend who has syphilis. She jumps to the wrong conclusion. She cries. Then she is thrown into jail. Daniel find her, they are all kicked out of France. Daniel, Violet, her mother, and the maid return to England. They join a whole bunch of Mackenzies. They ride a train, Daniel invents a car, Violet drives the car, Violet wrecks the car, Violet learns how to ride a horse, Violet tells her dark secrets to Daniel, Daniel swears vengeance.  They have sex. While sneaking out of Daniel's room, Violet runs into Hart Mackenzie. She smells Hart! Hart harangues Violet. Ian harangues Hart. Seeking justice aka revenge, Daniel and Violet return to France. Violet's mother yells - "Danger! Danger!" Most of the Mackenzie men swoop in to rescue Daniel and Violet in the nick of time. They do have to pound Daniel on the chest to revive him though.  Only two people are killed in the process, but that's okay 'cause they were e-v-i-l.

I'm not sure if this is the last we've seen of the Mackenzie family or not, but I have to ask, when an author writes a series, is it really necessary to have everyone shove their way into another book just to say "Howdy, now I have five children."? Last year Ms. Ashley published a cute Mackenzie novella catch-up Christmas story. Maybe that is what should have been done again this year, because it was mighty crowded in Daniel's story.

Bottom line, this book is middling, even with Ms. Ashley’s standard divine writing.  However, it is not what I have come to expect from her. It's not as good as Ian's story, but hey none of the Mackenzie books were. The story had a hero who was way too powerful and a heroine who just wasn't his match strength-wise. There were also w-a-y too many sub-plots thrown in, making the story drag in the middle. I was happy to see Ian again, but sad to say The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie didn't quite work for me. 

Time/Place: Late 1800's, England and France
Sensuality: Hot

What a Gentleman Desires by Kasey Michaels

October 7, 2013
A Could-Have-Been

After the last book from Kasey Michaels about the Redgrave family, I had high hopes for How to What a Gentleman Desires. Sorry to say, this story didn't work for me. And I do mean
sorry, for if ever there was a couple that screamed good book, it was Valentine and Daisy.

Valentine and Daisy were a delightful couple - they were full of humorous quips and witty dialogue. Valentine was an adorable charmer and Daisy was a smart and spunky heroine. Even when Daisy traveled into TSTL territory, it was tempered with her acknowledging that she knew she was heading into that territory and I had a few chuckles enjoying how the wheels in her brain turned.

The problem for me was that no matter how funny, adorable, and likeable I found this couple to be, they just didn't connect with one another. This is hard to explain. While there was a chemistry in the words between them, there wasn't a romantic chemistry between them. Their romance just didn't work. It happened way too fast and there were no sparks. Too much time was spent developing the back story of the secret society (for those of you who can't keep track of all the series out there - and you know who you are - this is the one with the rose pins worn on the lapels). Anyway, too much time was spent further developing the secret Satan-spy-overthrow-the-government-sacrificing-young-women-and-having-silly-code-names society. Actually, that part of the book was sort of interesting, but like the romance, not fully developed.  The secondary character of Piffkin (the valet) was also entertaining. His relationship with both Valentine and Daisy was full of clever lines and amusing dialogue. I just wish the very talented Ms. Michaels had explored all the characters more fully.

So what we have here is a romance that doesn't work as a romance and a thriller that doesn't work as a thriller. This book had the feel of a story that was put together as an intro for the next in the series.

Bottom line, if you are reading the Redgrave series, you will need to pick this one up somewhere so you can follow along. For me, it was disappointing that a wonderfully fun couple didn't have a better love story.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: There, but no spark


How to Entice an Enchantress by Karen Hawkins

October 1, 2013
Oh that comfort zone!
You know I've been reading Karen Hawkins for a long time. I know when I open one of her books that I'm not going to have to deal with a bunch of angst-ridden people moaning and groaning, so she's reached that "old reliable" stage with me. Some of her books I just love, then there are others that just don't quite make it. Sad to say, what started out promising ended up being one that just didn't quite work for me. And, I can tell you in one word where the problem was - the heroine. Okay, that's two words.

How to Entice an Enchantress returns us to the Balfour sisters, along with a return of the matchmaking, lover-of-pugs, Duchess of Roxburghe. If any of you have read the previous books in this series, you should also recognize Alasdair, our hero. And, let me say, I loved Alasdair! If ever a male character can be called adorable, this one is it. He is one of those guys who just cannot-ever-say-the right-thing. Don't ever ask this guy if the dress makes your butt look big, because he's going to say yes and then add something like but the big butt distracts from the zit on your face. Alasdair just has no social skills; he just cannot lie about anything and because it's not aimed at me, but the heroine, I found his attempts to communicate to be funny, charming and at times poignant. For me Alasdair was a very sympathetic character. The only problem I had with him was his inability to admit that he loved our heroine, Dahlia.

Now, on to Dahlia. Dahlia will not accept anyone unless they confess their love for her. She's on the look-out for this love and it soon becomes very obvious that she has no idea what love is. She is totally blind to all the attempts that Alasdair does to make her happy. She just cannot see through his giant blunders to the man beneath. And, her reaction to the poem fiasco was downright deplorable. I really didn't like her at that moment. I had to scratch my head and wonder, just what does he see in her? 

Overall, I found the hero loveable, the heroine unlikeable, and the secondary characters adequate (except for Mary, who went from nasty to nice in the blink of an eye). I would have enjoyed this story more if I hadn't found the heroine to be so obnoxious. Alasdair was a great character; he deserved better.  

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Warm/Hot