Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas - A-Team Project

September 30, 2014
Of course I did it out of order.


However, I don't think reading this particular series out of order will be too much of a
problem because the characters are so lovely that each book stands on it's own merit. I reread this in 2010 and fell in love all over again with Derek Craven, this time around I found him to be once again a remarkable character. I've also heard that Ms. Kleypas is writing another historical romance series for Avon...that makes me smile, for I have missed her very much.

This time around I noticed how much I liked the heroine Sara Felding.  I did think she suffered a little from a Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde complex. Here character in the beginning of the book is totally different from the character she is portrayed as when she returns home.  I thought that she waited just a little too long to stand up for herself against her dreary fiance and I was glad when she did.  She eventually turned into a strong heroine and she really needed to be to be a match for Derek Craven.

Next to Sebastian from Lord of Scoundrels, Derek Craven is one of the most memorable romance hero created.  He's on my list. 

I don't have too much more to add to the review I've already done for Dreaming of You except, if you have never read this story you really should.  It should be a required reading for all romance readers. However, unlike me maybe you should start with Lily Lawson's story in Then Came You...and let me also add, Ms. Kleypas knows how to write some hot bedroom scenes.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Hot!!!!!!!!!!


Upcoming Historical Romances!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Authors with an asterisk*, I'm picking up! For more Upcoming Releases that aren't historical see Hey Delia!!! For: October 15, 2014 to November 14, 2014. 
Ann Barton

Scandalous Summer Nights
A Honeycote series
October 28
Ashlyn Macnamara

What a Lady Demands, ebook
November 4
Beverly Jenkins

Destiny’s Captive
Destiny series
October 28
Carole Mortimer

Darian Hunter: Duke of Desire
Dangerous Duke’s series
October 21
Christine Merrill
Linda Skye
Elizabeth Rolls

Wish Upon a Snowflake, anthology
October 21
Elizabeth Boyle*

The Viscount Who Lived Down the Lane
Rhymes with Love series
October 28
Elle Daniels, debut 

He’s No Prince Charming
Ever After series
October 28
Joanna Bourne*

Rogue Spy
Spymasters series
November 4
Kathleen Bittner Roth

When Hearts Dare series
November 4
Lauri Robinson

The Wrong Cowboy
October 21
Leigh Greenwood

To Love and to Cherish
Cactus Creek Cowboys series
November 4
Lillian Marek

Lady Elinor’s Wicked Adventures
Victorian Adventures series
November 4
Lucy Ashford

The Rakes’ Bargain
October 21
Mary Balogh*

Only Enchanting
Survivors Club series
October 28
Mia Marlowe*

A Rake By Any Other Name
Somerfield Park series
November 4
Paula Quinn

The Wicked Ways of Alexander Kidd
Highland Heir series
October 28
Sally Orr,* debut

The Rake’s Handbook: Including Field Guide,
The Rake’s Handbook series
November 4
Stephanie Laurens

By Winter’s Light
Cynster series
October 28
Valerie Bowman

The Accidental Countess
Playful Brides series
October 28
Victoria Alexander*

The Shocking Secret of a Guest at the Wedding
Millworth Manor series
November, 4

Scandal and the Duchess by Jennifer Ashley

September 24, 2014
Fasten your seat belts, it's manly men time!

Looks like we have a prologue into another series or maybe it’s just a continuation of the MacKenzie family. Depends on how one looks at it. This one is a short story about Captain Stephen McBride whose sister is married to a MacKenzie. There are three other McBride brothers, so, I’m assuming there will be three more stories filled with manly men who have slight Scottish accents and know their way around a bedroom. Of course they will be big big men with big feet and they will be drool worthy, because Ms. Ashley does not write about skinny guys without muscles.

Anyway, in Scandal and the Duchess, our hero is Stephen McBride who is on a short military leave to deliver some bad news to a woman he thinks still loves him or something like that. Honestly, this part of the story was superfluous and didn’t add too much to the tale. For some reason, Stephen is rip roaring drunk and ends up tumbling into our intrepid heroine’s lap. That lap would belong to Rose. Anyway, even when he’s drunker than a skunk he recognizes a lush little bundle when he falls into it. It is immediate lust, and I guess with a short story it would have to be, but then he's  one of those manly men, so who knows. 

There is a plot, sort of. Rose is a dowager widow in need of money because her nefarious step-son won’t give her any. Stephen has taken a liking to our little Rose and has decided to help Rose get the inheritance that was left to her. That would be two pieces of furniture. Rose believes that the two pieces of furniture have something hidden in them. Could be – could be. While Rose's problem is solved are introduced to the rest of the McBride brothers. Of course Ian MacKenzie shows up to solve the secret of the furniture mystery. But really this story is about Stephen and Rose falling into bed together and having mind blowing sex.

This is an ok book, not much to it. The characters are not very well developed and it can be viewed as the intro for the much larger book that is being released in October, Rules for a Proper Governess, which is Sinclair McBrides' story.

Time/Place: Bustle time in England
Sensuality: Hot

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

September 24, 2014
Let’s Do Lunch


I finally finished The Silkworm the second in private investigator Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith. In case you don’t know by now Robert Galbraith is JK Rawlings, which
leads me to a ponder moment.  

Moment: Is it better to be a writer who creates a phenomenon first story or is it better to write mediocre books, get your footing, then have a phenomenon? In a way I feel sorry for JK Rawlings.  Harry Potter will always cast a shadow over everything she does, but hey, she’s met the Queen and I haven’t.

Back to private eye Cormoran Strike. I actually liked the first in the series, The Cuckoo's Calling, but The Silkworm was a big disappointment. It took me forever to read, the middle of the book dragged and I had to force myself to finish it.

In The Silkworm, we get a glimpse into the publishing world seen through the eyes of JK Rawlings, aka Robert Galbraith.  And, it’s not a very pleasant glimpse. First of all our murder victim is an author and all of the suspects have connections with the publishing world.  None of the characters are likeable. The whole book had a murky depressing feel about it. When the story begins, Cormoran Strike has been hired to find a missing author by the authors wife.  Find him Cormoran does; only he’s dead. Now, because the police force of Great Britain seems to be bumbling boobs, they arrest the wife. Cormoran knows she’s not the killer and of course Cormoran is always right, so most of the book is taken up with finding the real murderer. How does he do this? Well, he seems to do a lot suspect questioning in restaurants and pubs. We get to watch him go from one food place to another as he questions all of the suspects. Lots and lots and lots of boring questions. This is not a thriller; actually there isn’t any tension at all.

When I read a mystery/murder story I like to be given enough information to see if I can solve the crime before Hercule/Sherlock/Marple/Spade do. It is always a race toward the end to see which one of us will be first with the solution. In this whodunit the reader is never given any clues. That is because Mr. Strike is a know it all. He either tells us who isn’t guilty or he keeps almost everything to himself with the annoying use of partial sentences and incomplete thoughts. Part of the joy I get out of reading mystery books isn’t reading about the gore that’s covering the pages but trying to solve the problem. After a while I didn’t really care who murdered the author, I just wanted it to end.

I was also disturbed with the glimpse into the publishing world that we are given by Ms. Rawlings/Galbraith. Oh not the murderous villain or the many giant egos that were exposed throughout the tale.  No, I was disturbed by a certain biting undercurrent that was representative of the publishing world portrayed in this particular book. This story was filled with unkind people, authors who think they are more literate than other others because they write words with four syllables, all the while they belittle authors who write "female porn" (romance.) While I realize that all businesses have vicious backstabbing people in it, this one seemed to have an overabundance of it. There wasn’t one character in this book I could cheer on. This seemed to be a book with an axe to grind.

Let me talk about our hero, Cormoran Strike. For some reason in this story I didn’t care for him all that much. Sure, he had his leg blown off in Afghanistan, but I got tired of hearing about it hurting or being red or swollen or his prosthetic not fitting or having to wear crutches or his balance being off…whine whine whine. It’s time for Mr. Whiney guy to fade into the background. Then there is his sleazy user attitude toward women. By the way, for all of his supposed brilliance he is very lacking in understanding his partner/secretary/helper Robin. Maybe it's because of his hair. Hair! He has hairy knuckles and hairy hands. He has big big feet, he’s a big guy. He’s almost like Hagrid, and I’m sorry I just never thought Hagrid was all that sexy – but women seem to fall all over themselves to jump into bed with Cormoran.

I did see possibilities in the Robin character, but she doesn’t have as much play in this story as she did in the last.  Whenever she made her appearance the book became interesting, although, I hope she dumps her horrible boyfriend.  Both Robin and Cormoran could use more character development, because in this book they aren’t any further along than they were in the first one.

I was disappointed in the second Cormoran Strike book; we don’t learn anything new about Robin or Cormoran. It was just a bland story. I may read the third in the series, but if it’s not any better than this one, I’ll probably pass on the entire series.

Time/Place: Current time Great Britain
Sensuality: None
Gore: Plenty


My Highland Spy by Victoria Roberts

September 15, 2014
"Ti-i-i-ime is on my side - yes it is."


My Highland Spy is the first book in Victoria Roberts' new Highland Spies series and it also happens to be the first book by Ms. Roberts that I've read.  I was pleased with Ms.
Roberts' book and it won't be the last by her I will read.  Now, did the book blow me away? No. It was a charming book but there seemed to be a certain lack of any depth to it. 

I am always encouraged when I find a new author with promising talent. Sure this is not Ms. Roberts' first book - she has three other books under her belt - but for me she is a new author. I understand how hard it is to write a romance. One pours so much of oneself into those words - sleepless nights, doubts, sweat and then the nail biting moments when you give it to a friend to read or read it yourself and realize how much more work you have to do.  I'm saying that because I do not take criticism of books lightly, although I will admit I do have an occasional sarcastic word escaping my pen. I am often disappointed in authors who I have loved for ages and seem to have lost some of their magic. On the other hand, I can appreciate young authors who are finding their way and with just a little nudge can become really good. In the case of Ms. Roberts, I believe she needs to slow down her story lines and more fully develop her characters. While the characters in this book are engaging, they could have been so much more if more detail had been given to them - this book needed more atmosphere.

Let's ponder time. Time ponder one. This story takes place in the time period of James VI of England (June 19, 1566 – March 27, 1625) but it felt as if the characters were 21st century people dressed up in costumes. Usually in historicals we are bombarded with dress/costume details and in my opinion this time period was abundant with complicated clothing which identifies it. However, I never had a sense as to what any of these people were wearing unless it was a kilt. Incorporating clothing details would have been one way of establishing some kind of feel for the time period it was set in. Or - language. While we do have some Scottish brogue and even an abundance of Gaelic, the spoken/written English in this book sounds modern, unlike the interesting cadence of 17th century English. For example, just look at this sentence from Prince Frederick to Princess Elizabeth: "I beg of you, be not distressed."  There is no way that could be mistaken for 21st century language, and I still know what the meaning of that sentence is. While I would find it hard to read an entire book filled with 17th century language, there could have been a few words scattered here and there to enhance the feeling of the time period the author was going for.

Time ponder two. My Highland Spy takes place over a time period of a couple of months; however, the only reason I know this is because the author told me. If not for the occasional "time passes" inserted in the book I would not have realized that any more time than a few weeks had gone by.

Characters. Our heroine Ravenna is a spy and I'm not sure I bought into her being one. The courts of James VI and his predecessors were filled with intrigue, so one really had to be on one toes. There were numerous people who weren't and ended up on the block. Ravenna didn't use intrigue to spy - she was more of a Mati Hari kind of spy (and Mati Hari was not all that good at the spy business). Lurking behind a pillar doesn't mean good spying. So, she is sent to Scotland to "spy" on our hero Ruairi Sutherland and teach his son how to speak English. That's her disguise - teaching. It doesn't take long before Ravenna and Ruairi are in lust and kilts are flying by the wayside. But Ruairi has problems of his own, someone’s killing his cows.  He confides his troubles to Ravenna then finds out she's a spy - oh, will they ever have there happy ending?  There are some secondary characters running around in kilts being manly men.  One in particular, Fagan, is slugged in the face by Ravenna's sister, Grace - their book is next, should be great fun and I'm looking forward to their story.

I do not want to put any pressure on Ms. Roberts, but I am going to keep an eye on her and see to what heights she takes her writing. Overall, this was a pleasant read. Even though it's a "spy" story, there isn't too much distrust angst that last very long. If I had been able to feel the time period that this story takes place in, it would have taken this book to a whole other level. Just a little tweak here and there would have made all the difference. It would have made a simply charming story into a great story. However, I am interested in this series and I will be picking up the next book to see where Ms. Roberts takes me.

Time/Place: 17th century England and Scotland
Sensuality: Hot


Why Lords Lose Their Hearts by Manda Collins

September 10, 2014
Woe is me...


This has been a frustrating week; beginning one book, not finishing it, beginning another book, putting it down. I went through four books and none of them grabbed me, and most were by authors I’ve never read before but was willing to give a try. Huge disappointments. So, when I opened up Manda Collins’ latest, Why Lords Lose Their Hearts, I started to be a little concerned when the book began to drag. I persevered though, because this is the last in her series of Wicked Widows and I wanted to see who the villain has been in this series!

Our romantic pair on this occasion is Perdita, the Duchess of Ormond, and Archer, the fifth son of a duke. Notice I said fifth son. Yes, bubba’s, there are four other brothers and they all have hero-like names and they all have different problems and they all make their appearance in this book. So, I see a new series with four new books in our future.

Archer, Archer, he’s our man – he’s our mighty beta man. You know just once, I’d like for a beta man to have a heroine who deserves him. One that realizes right at the beginning that this guy is really really nice and would do anything in his power to protect her. A heroine who can see that this guy is crazy for her. But, no, Perdita is a whiney woman who can never trust another man because her stinker of a husband abused her.  She loved her stinker man you see, so she can never ever trust another man, especially one she might have feelings for.  And, she can never, ever marry another man she might love, because then she might get hurt.  I guess one's feeling don’t get hurt if one never marries the person one loves - at least that’s what I got out of Perdita’s constant moaning and groaning.  I became quite irritated with her continued harping on trust and love and trust, especially since it’s so obvious Archer was such an honorable guy.

And, while we are on the subject of petulant Perdita, can you say stubborn? Someone is trying to kill her and she is ridiculously stubborn in doing what is best for her and for the people who are within 50 miles of her. Archer and all of the people from the previous two books in the series have to resort to kidnapping to get her away from the danger. Of course, that doesn’t really work, because the villain seems to be psychic, the villain seems to know every place she’s going and is always there before she is, with the help of minions. In the end when the big villain reveal is made, it was never made clear to me just how this particular person could have been so omnipresent. They are almost like Q from Star Trek. The ability of our villain to know everything and be everywhere stretched the bounds of believability for me and made the story less credible. 

If not for Archer, whom I loved, I would not have found anyone in this story to like. I wish Perdita had been a better heroine and I wish she had deserved Archer. I don’t understand what he saw in her; just because she was abused in her previous marriage doesn’t give her an automatic right to be an inconsiderate, grumpy, insensitive, stubborn ogress. Perdita didn’t work for me as a  heroine and that made it hard to read Why Lords Lose Their Hearts.

Time/Place: All over Regency England
Sensuality: Hot