Tuesday

The Last Knight by Candice Proctor

September 24
A visit with an old friend.

http://www.csharris.net/historical.php

Because I happened to mention Candice Proctor recently, I decided to reread one of her books. I was in the mood for a medieval, so I chose The Last Knight, which is not my favorite, but nonetheless I remember liking it.

After reading it, I arrived at the same opinion as the last time I read it in 2009 as part of my Candice Proctor project. This is a story about a fair aristocratic girl who dresses up in boys clothing to chase across dirty, smelly medieval England to save Henry II. And, I must admit that this was really a suspension of disbelief moment. To think that this young woman, Attica, who has had people do everything for her, would actually think she could make it across England was pushing it. She does have a sidekick, Walter, to help her, but he doesn't last very long. And then it's Damion de Jamac to the rescue! I was happy to see that Damion wasn't one of those nincompoop heroes who can't tell the difference between a woman and man...er, young boy. It doesn't take Damion long to see through her disguise, and since she happens to be going the same way that he is - oh what the hey, he'll travel with her...he'll be her knight.

This is a road story. Our plucky pair escape one dangerous situation after another, climb over roofs, hide in stinky stuff, decipher messages, and outsmart the bad guys. The problem I have with this book is the same problem I had in 2009. SPOILER ALERT! Attica's brother, Stephen, is a traitor. Now, Attica loves her brother very much, and she is at the scene of Stephen's death at the hands of Damion. I had a hard time accepting the HEA of Attica and Damion after this very horrible moment. Ms. Proctor has included a rather lengthy grovel, a guilt trip and all kinds of absolution, but I just never bought that Attica would ever be able to forgive or forget Damion's hand in her brother's death. 

I do think this is a good Candice Proctor and I'm glad I reread it. It was nice to be with an old friend.

Time/Place: Medieval England
Sensuality: Warm/Hot

 

Monday

Historical Romance for October 15 2013 to November 14, 2013

September 23, 2013
Authors with an asterisk*, I'm picking up!  For more Upcoming Releases that aren't Historical see Hey Delia!  And by the way, it must be backless month.

Amanda Forester*
http://www.amandaforester.com/

A Midsummer Bride*
Marriage Mart series
Release date: November 5, 2013

 


 

Anna Randol*
http://www.annarandol.com/

Sins of a Wicked Princess*
Sinners Trio series
Release date: October 29, 2013

 



Anne Barton
http://annebarton.com/

Once She was Tempted
Honeycote series
Release date: October 29, 2013

 



Brenda Novak
http://www.brendanovak.com

Through the Smoke
Release date: October 15, 2013


 




Carol Arens
http://www.harlequin.com

Rebel with a Heart
Series
Release date: October 22, 2013


Eileen Dreyer
http://www.eileendreyer.com

Once a Rake
Drake series
Release date: October 29, 2013

 



Elizabeth Hoyt*
http://www.elizabethhoyt.com

Duke of Midnight*
Maiden Lane series
Release date: October 15, 2013

 



Elizabeth Rolls*
http://www.elizabethrolls.com
Bronwyn Scott*
http://www.bronwynnscott.com
Margaret, McPhee*
http://www.margaretmcphee.co.uk

A Sprinkling of Christmas Magic*
anthology
Release date: October 22, 2013

Genevieve Graham
http://www.genevievegraham.com

Somewhere to Dream
Release date: November 5, 2013

 



Gerri Russell
http://gerrirussell.net

A Laird for Christmas
Highland Bachelor series
Release date: October 15, 2013 


Jodi Thomas
http://www.jodithomas.com/

Promise Me Texas
Whispering Mountain series
Release date: November 5, 2013


Julia Quinn*
http://www.juliaquinn.com

The Sum of All Kisses*
The Smythe-Smith quartet
Release date: October 29, 2013



Laura Lee Guhrke*
http://www.lauraleeguhrke.com

When the Marquess Met His Match
American Heiress in London series
Release date: October 29, 2013 


Leigh Greenwood
http://www.leigh-greenwood.com/

To Have and to Hold
Cactus Creek Cowboys series
Release date: November 5, 2013

 



Liz Carlyle*
http://www.lizcarlyle.com

In Love With a Wicked Man 
Connected? 
Release date:  October 29, 2013

 



Marguerite Kaye
http://www.margueritekaye.com/

Rumors That Ruined a Lady
Armstrong Sisters series
Release date: October 22, 2013

 


Mary Wine
http://www.marywine.com

How to Handle a Highlander
The Sutherland series
Release date: November 5, 2013

 



Maya Rodale*
http://www.mayarodale.com

The Wicked Wallflower*
London Least Likely series
Release date: October 29, 2013

 



Michelle Diener
http://www.michellediener.com

Banquet of Lies, h/o
Release date: October 22, 2013

 



Nicola Cornick*
http://nicolacornick.co.uk

One Night with the Laird*
Scottish Bride series
Release date: October 29, 2013

 



Rowan Keats
http://rowankeats.com

Taming a Wild Scot
Claimed by the Highlander series
Release date: November 5, 2013

 



Sherry Thomas*
http://www.sherrythomas.com

The Luckiest Lady of London*
London series?
Release date: November 5, 2013


Terri Brisbin 
http://www.terribrisbin.com

The Highlander’s Dangerous Temptation
MacLerie series
Release date: October 22, 2013

 



Tracy Anne Warren*
http://www.tracyannewarren.com

The Trouble with Princesses*
Princess Bride series
Release date: November 5, 2013

 



Virginia Henley 
http://www.virginiahenley.com

Lord Rakehell
Peers of the Realm Quartet
Release date: November 5, 2013 





A mystery on my Radar!
Tasha Alexander
http://www.tashaalexander.com/

Behind the Shattered Glass
Lady Emily series
Release date October 15, 2013

Wednesday

The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin

"This feather may look worthless, but it comes from afar and carries with it my good intentions." – Amy Tan

http://www.jeannielin.com/
Nothing gets me boo-hooing faster than the opening lines to one of my favorite movies, Joy Luck Club.  Loved that movie – on so many levels – the culture, the relationships, and the exposure to a different time and place. In The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin I have once again been exposed to retelling of a standard romance tale, but this time there is a difference.  The difference is not just the place and the time, but the culture.  And as I read this book, I became totally immersed by the difference.

There are so many things in this story that make it one of my favorites of the year.  We have a couple who are from totally different social stratas and yes, that happens in European historicals all the time, but this one was written so well that I actually felt the difference between our heroine Yue-ying and our hero Bai Huang.  There were times toward the end that I actually had my doubts if I would get a HEA.  It was a real nail-biter.  Yue-ying is a servant to a Tang dynasty courtesan and even in this world of courtesans there is a class division.  It was all very fascinating.  Yue-ying and her mistress, Mingyu, are fully-developed characters.  They reside in a part of the city called the North Hamlet, and even there they are bound by divisions/rules/traditions.  These two women, Yue-ying and Mingyu, will never be anything more than what they are.  It is almost impossible for anyone to leave their little place that they inhabit.

Then we have Bai Huang, an aristocratic playboy.  He is trying to make his family proud of him by passing an exam that will land him a position in the government.  His family has also arranged a marriage to him, and when he passes his exam he will be married.  But in the meantime he has fallen in love with Yue-ying.  He sees her as maybe someday being his concubine and even that would create a scandal within his family.  Of the two main characters in the book, Bai Huang is the most rose-colored glasses romantic person.  Yue-ying is more realistic – more understanding of how the world really works.  The romance between these two was terrific; watching them grow and overcome the obstacles in their way was amazing.

If I had any quibble with this story it would be the mystery that was  incorporated throughout.  While I found all of the characters wonderful, the mystery itself and the resolution, while intriguing, wasn’t on the same level as the rest of the writing in this book.  Nonetheless, I highly recommend The Lotus Palace.  If you’re ready for an exotic ride in a different world, this book is for you.

Time/Place: 847AD China
Sensuality: Subtle Hot


Thursday

I Married the Duke by Katharine Ashe

September 12, 2013
Exit stage left.

http://www.katharineashe.com/

I Married the Duke, by Katherine Ashe, is the first book in a series, The Prince Catchers, about the three sisters trying to find a - Prince. This one is about the middle sister Arabella.
She's a red-headed heroine who hides her hair because she doesn't want people to think she's wanton. Just once I'd love a red-head to actually like their hair. For all you red-heads out there, I think red hair is stunning!

This is my first full-length novel by Ms. Ashe and sorry to say I was disappointed in it. I'm not sure when the last time was that I wanted to bang heads together as much as I did in the case of our hero and heroine. Arabella and Luc - truly head-cracking characters - aaarrgh!

Here's the premise of the book - there is a soothsaying gypsy who says that one of the sisters must marry a prince and then they will find out their past and the reason they are carrying around a ring that's worth a fortune. Fast forward and our heroine has hung the ruby ring around her neck and is off to find the prince. Does she know who the prince is? Don't be silly, of course not and she doesn't seem to have a plan. That is just one of the many convoluted story threads wandering through this tale. Arabella is also some kind of psychic, along the order of Counselor Troi from Star Trek - she feels things. Maybe she's a Betazoid, maybe that's the family secret, maybe this is a Science Fiction book instead of a historical romance. Nah, anyway, we don't know because her ability is never fully explored in the book, it's just mentioned a couple of times and then kind of dropped. Anyway, she's off to find a prince who will know about the ruby ring but first she has to save three children and misses her ship to France. She now needs a ship.

Enter our hero, Luc; he has a ship. He's a pirate, argh ye' matey's...well, maybe he's not a real pirate. You see he is really Lucien Westfall, Comte de Rallis, and any day he may be the Duke of Lycombe. That is if the current duchess doesn't deliver a boy baby. But he does wear a patch over a missing eye. That eye came up missing not in combat but some kind of a duel with his friend, the strikingly handsome Earl of Bedwyr. I'm not sure what the back story is on the missing eye, but it involves a twelve year old girl and jumping to a conclusion. And, as happens often in this book, it is something that is mentioned but not fully developed. Sometimes I thought I had lost my ability to comprehend the storyline (this is a romance for Pete's sake) but I did lose my way occasionally and had to backtrack to find it. There were a lot of things that were hinted at but never revealed and that was irritating. Did I happen to mention that the current duchess hadn’t lived with her husband for a long time, but she’s with child and she has an evil brother who is a bishop. There’s also Christos (Luc’s brother whose past is a secret), Prince Reiner, Reiner’s sister, Anthony (Luc’s other friend)…on and on. Characters were introduced but never fully developed, but nothing comes close to my major complaint...the walking out.

Almost every time our couple are at logger-heads (and they are there a lot) one of them leaves - just walks out that door, turn their backs and exit. Sometimes they stomp, sometimes they stroll, but I became very irritated with this juvenile exiting. And, I'm not even going to talk about Arabella's TSTL moment or Luc's falling in the water and losing his sight in his good eye. These were Puleese moments.

So, sorry to say, I was disappointed in this story and I'm not sure I will continue with the series.

Time/Place: Regency England, a boat, France
Sensuality: Warm/Hot

Monday

The Arrangement by Mary Balogh

September 9 ,s013
"You got to pick 'em up
Just to say hello" - 
Short People - Randy Newman

http://www.marybalogh.com/

Mary Balogh is the queen of writing about normal, everyday stuff and making the humdrum into a romance.  The Arrangement, part of the Survivor Club series, is a slow moving, sweet romance with two Beta characters, Vincent and Sophia.  There isn't much angst in this book and what little there is is quickly overcome by the tweetin' birds and flappin' butterflies. It's a lovely world.  You would think with a blind hero there would be all kinds of despair and mood swings.  But there isn't.  Vincent is a pretty mellow kind of guy.   His main problem, besides the eyes, is that he is being over-protected by his loving family.  He is being suffocated by their affection and worry - so, he escapes to one of his country estates.  Don't worry, he takes his loyal man-servant-friend with him.  Once there his plan is to learn how to live without being smothered by his loved ones.  There in the shadows is Sophia.  Sophia is an invisible relative/companion of her horrible Aunt and Uncle.  She is quiet; when she is in a room she is always overlooked.  Her relatives are embarrassed by her presence, so any push by her to make her presence known would not be viewed very graciously by them.  She even calls herself a mouse.  Actually, she has adopted a mouse caricature as her signature on all of her drawings.  By the way, her drawings are a secret passion.

Anyway, through some interesting missteps Vincent and Sophia are thrown together and married by chapter ten.  They make a marriage of convenience, an arrangement, almost a business arrangement.  This story then unfolds slowly, sort of gently meanders as these two people get to know each other.  There isn't any throbbing passion, jealous fits, kidnappings, oh-woe-is-me pity parties.  There is just some slow growing into better people by both Vincent and Sophia.  Nothing seems to upset Vincent. He is so accepting of everything, of his disability and of all the changes Sophia launches for his own good.  Sophia, on the other hand, has some big self-esteem problems, but her blossoming into a take-charge kind of gal is also done without too many roadblocks - smoothly.  As I said before, this was a really gentle tale, almost too gentle.  And, some of you may become bored with how this story just kind of weaves along - la -la -la.

One of the interesting aspects of this story was Ms. Balogh's approach to Vincent's blindness.  The writing was fascinating because for once we the reader did not get any view from one of the main characters.  We hear and smell what he does, but it's almost as if we are as blind as he is.  We see what he sees, but not through his eyes.  Vincent's character was very well done.  I did have a few quibbles about Sophia.  First of all, I had a hard time believing that someone with her self-esteem problem would adjust as quickly as she does.  And then she's short.  She's fairy-like, she's an elf, she's little, she's a sprite, she's a pixie...she's little, little, little Yes, we get it!  She's small!  After a while this reminder of her size became almost as irritating as a gnat.  When it was first mentioned, I thought, alright, she's diminutive, but it was mentioned so much that after a while it seemed as if her smallness was some kind of disorder.  It was distracting.

Overall, I liked this book.  However, if you are looking for an exciting tale, I don't think this one will work for you.  This is a gentle Mary Balogh story about two people who solve all their problems and slowly fall in love.  It's rather a lethargic romance tale...they just kind of mosey along.  Sophia gets a cat, Vincent gets a dog and, Vincent is still blind at the end of the story.

Time/Place: Regency England

Sensuality Rating: Warm/Hot

Tuesday

Love and Other Scandals by Caroline Linden

September 3, 2013
A sigh worthy story!

http://www.carolinelinden.com/
You know how sometimes you pick up a book and right from the very first page it's a magical journey.  Well, Love and Other Scandals turned out to be just that for me.  Caroline Linden has written a charming story that had me smiling almost all the way through.  It has all the
ingredients that I love; in fact it's one of my favorite books this year.  If you're looking for a dark, gloomy, angst-filled book that has you crying soup or beer (whatever food you prefer), this story isn't for you.  This is a light-hearted, fun read with a truly feisty heroine, Joan, and a sexy lean-on-door-frames hero, Tristan Burke.  In fact Tristan's sensuality fairly oozes off the pages.

The banter between Joan Bennet and Tristan is wonderful and finally we have a couple with chemistry that worked.  I didn't want this story to end, and I had a hard time putting Love and Other Scandals down.  Watching Joan and Tristan circle each other as they fell in love was just simply lots of fun. 

Both Tristan and Joan have some issues - Tristan just wants to be loved for himself.  He never experienced love as a child.  His parents died young, leaving him with his horrible aunt and uncle.  Joan, on the other hand, considers herself an ugly duckling.  And thanks to her oblivious mother's fashion sense she is well on her way to being that duckling. But Tristan sees the swan beneath all the fashionable trappings and encourages her to blossom.

These two endearing people are supported by a great cast of secondary characters.  Joan's parents appear to be a love match, and even though her father seems a bit under his wife's thumb, that's only an illusion.  For all of you who have a brother, Joan's brother, Douglas, was well-written and what I would expect for a young aristocrat with too much time and money on his hands.  Joan and Douglas were written like a real brother and sister.  Even though they deliberately get on each other’s nerves and squabble, there’s always an underlying affection between the two.  Joan's scandalous aunt, Evangeline, and Evangeline's lover/suitor, Richard, were interesting enough that I hope Ms. Linden means to give them a story of their own.  Joan's two friends, the Weston sisters, were also enchanting.

The one quibble I had with this story was that I didn't understand the hold Joan's mother had over Joan and Douglas.  It was never explained fully to me why Lady Bennet was so short-sighted when it came to her children.  Why they seemed so afraid of her.  Why couldn't she see how the fashion of the day wasn't suited to her daughter, I never got it.  For me Lady Bennet was the one weak link in an otherwise great story.

I highly recommend Love and Other Scandals.  Even though I don't like to compare authors, this reminded me a little of Julia Quinn or Loretta Chase.  This is the beginning of a series and if the rest of the books are like this one, I don't think you'll want to miss it.

Time/Place: Late Regency England or Early Victorian
Sensuality: Warm/Hot