In Love with a Wicked Man by Liz Carlyle

January 28, 2014
Definition of "plain" - simple, ordinary, unadorned, unembellished, unornamented, unostentatious, unfussy, basic, modest, unsophisticated - unless you are a heroine in a romance novel.

It's been awhile since I've read a Liz Carlyle. I loved her earlier books. A Woman of Virtue is one of my all-time favorite books. However, the last few books I have been unable to finish

and the paranormal phew-phew didn't help. So, it was with a bit of trepidation that I opened up In Love With a Wicked Man and, for the most part, it was an enjoyable book. Actually it seemed as if it were two books - the amnesia part and the post-amnesia part. Yes, I said amnesia! Our wicked, illegitimate, profligate, owner of a gaming hell hero bangs into our heroine with his horse, falls, bumps his head and forgets who he is. Our heroine, Kate, is sorry. Or should I say our "plain" heroine, Kate, is sorry. 

She is plain you see, except in the eyes of the guy who lost his memory. In his eyes, the beauty from within is shining through, making her alabaster skin just glow and her swan-like neck bend softly. (You know, swans have pretty skinny necks.) Anyway, turns out that the girl with the lackluster brown hair and brown eyes isn't really plain after all. Who'd have thunk it.

Anyway, what we have here is a heroine who is strong, smart, mature and sort of the one who is the head of her family. Even though she is a woman, she has inherited her family's title. She is the Baroness d'Allenay in her own right. For all of you historically accurate people, it was/is possible for a woman to inherit in some families. In this case her inheritance also included large amounts of debt, her father and brother both being gamblers and wastrels. So, she doesn't think too highly of gambling dens. Yipes! Just wait till Edward recovers his memory.

I enjoyed the first part of this story very much. I liked Edward's struggle with his amnesia, wanting Kate and all the time suspecting that he's not a nice guy. I liked how these two talked to each other; they had great dialog and they became friends, then lovers. Then he regains his memory and the story took a turn. Now, it didn't take a turn because he regained his memory, but because her mother comes to town. Her mother, bigger than life, always plotting, always has a lover, always bringing some pretty shady "friends" with her. I think this is where Ms. Carlyle lost me. I would have much preferred to see Edward and Kate's romance played out with just the added conflict of his regaining his memory. Edward had more than enough baggage to make for a good story without any outside conflict interfering. 

I also could have done without the "not good enough" boo-hooing that Edward developed after he regained his memory. It went on just a little too long. The other issue I had was when Kate jumped to the wrong conclusion about something based on gossip from a third party. That jumping didn't fit into the Kate persona we come to know in the first part of the book.

Overall, I liked Kate and Edward, especially in the first part of the book. The secondary characters are well-developed, and I even thought the sly mother was interesting. It's just the first part of the book and the second part of the book didn't blend together very well. Because of that, I cannot give this story as high of a mark as I would have liked, even with a most endearing couple.

Time/Place: Late 1840s England
Sensuality: Hot


Between a Rake and a Hard Place by Connie Mason and Mia Marlowe

January 27, 2014

What's that smell? Could it be the heroine's feet?
Between a Rake and Hard Place, by Mia Marlowe and Connie Mason, is the third and final
book in the Royal Rakes trilogy - and I think the best. For those of you who don't remember the plot-line that has drifted through the series, here it is. The Hymen War Race Terrific, or looking for an heir to the throne of England that was done by the Dukes of Kent, Clarence and Cambridge, the eventual "winner" being Kent with the birth of Victoria. While the story about the race was true I have my doubts that any regular person of aristocratic birth was ever in the running. This would be because of all the small noble houses spewed all over Europe at the time. There would have been plenty of small royal houses willing to marry their daughters off to the three old reprobates who were the English Dukes. Nonetheless, there are three hot rakes who have been blackmailed into seducing the three aristocratic women - one in each book. And that is it, in a nutshell.

In this story, our hero/seducer is Jonah - and by the way there is a sub-plot weaving through the stories of these three men trying to prove they are not traitors. Anyway, I liked Jonah a lot - he's the best of all three of the men in the series. His internal conflict as he slowly falls under Serena's spell was wonderful to watch. There is some pretty powerful writing filled with some very vivid and poignant dialog.

As I consider Jonah the best of the three heroes, I also consider Serena the better of the three heroines in the series, although, in the beginning I had my doubts. You see, when she is first introduced to us, she is dressed in men's clothing trying to pass herself off as her cousin. I thought maybe we were going to be led down the silly girl-disguised-as-a-guy-and-never-found-out path. But, that didn't happen. Our hero is on to her right from the start; in fact he's been following her - he just doesn't know the why she's doing what she's doing. And the why part is one of the reasons I liked this story so much.

You see, our heroine has made a list of things she has to do before she is forced to marry the royal duke. When the reason is revealed, I actually felt a tear forming. Without giving too much away, all I want to say is that the bond between a mother and a daughter, no matter how short their time together, is well-written and I promise you, it will pull on your heart-strings.

A distraction. There was a moment in the book where my mind pondered the pristine world of romance. You know that world, the one without hairy legs and armpits. The one where women don't have visits from mother nature unless there is a baby. The one where no one seems to have bad breath except the villains. And, people can go for days without visiting the bathroom. Well, we have one of those occasions in this story. You see, our hero is going to seduce our heroine with his masterful hands. He's going to do a massage, eventually on her thighs. But first he will massage her feet. In order to do that he must remove her boots. Now, she's been in those boots almost all day and I really don't know what the condition of her feet were before she stuck them in those boots, but I've been around my share of feet coming out of boots and let me tell you they can be mighty odoriferous. Yep, feet can be downright stinky, and this guy's going to rub his fingers all over those smelly-feet. I know if it were me, I'd be trying to do all in my power to keep him from touching my funky toes. This is one moment I'm glad romance books are not scratch and sniff.

Back to the book. The characters in this story are well-developed and even with all the angst and melancholy our couple are very charming. They work well together and I had no doubts that their HEA was one that would really work. They balance each other.

I wish I could say that this was a perfect book, but there was an incident in the book that I found mildly distasteful. Maybe it's just me because I see it used as a comedy ploy in movies a lot., but I don't like to know about people's bodily functions or, more to the point, their loss of muscles that hold those bodily functions in place. I didn't understand why it was necessary to let us know that the villain could not hold anything in when he was being hung over the side. Didn't add anything to the story; we know he's a creep so I'm not sure what this was meant to show. I don't find excrement funny in movies and I don't like to read about it in my books. This is the romance world, after all, and none of that exists.

Other than that slight hiccup, this was a good romance with a delightful story and, in my opinion, the best of the three in the series. And, I hope Mia Marlowe and Connie Mason will work together again, because I have enjoyed their partnership. 

Time/Place: Pre-Victorian England
Sensuality: Hot


Upcoming Historical Romances!! February 15 to March 14, 2014!!

Authors with an asterisk*, I'm picking up!  For more Upcoming Releases that aren't Historical see Hey Delia!!!  For: February 15, 2014 to March 14, 2014.
Alyssa Everett*
An Heir of Uncertainty* ebook
March 10, 2014
Amanda Scott
The Warriors Bride
Lairds of the Loch
February 25, 2014
Blythe Gifford
Secrets at Court
Royal Wedding series
February 18, 2014
Cathy Maxwell*
The Bride Says Maybe*
The Brides of Wishmore series
February 25, 2014
Christine Merrill
The Fall of a Saint
The Sinner and the Saint
February 18, 2014
Debra Cowan
The Cowboys Reluctant Bride
Wild West Wedding series
February 18, 2014
Elizabeth Michels
Desperately Seeking Suzanna
Tricks of the Ton series
March 4, 2014
Isabella Bradford
A Wicked Pursuit
Breconridge Brothers series
February 25, 2014
Jane Ashford
The Bride Insists
March 4, 2014
Jeannie Lin
The Jade Temptress
Lotus Palace series
March 1, 2014
Julia London*
The Trouble with Honor*
The Cabot Sisters Series
February 25, 2014
Lorraine Heath
When the Duke was Wicked
Scandalous Gentleman of St. James series
February 25, 2014
Maire Claremont
The Dark Affair
Mad Passions series
March 4, 2014
Monica McCarty
The Raider
Highland Guard series
February 25, 2014
Sarah Mallory
At the Highwayman’s Pleasure
February 18, 2014
Sally MacKenzie*
Loving Lord Ash*
Duchess of Love series
March 4, 2014
Shana Galen
Sapphires are an Earls Best Friend
Jewels of the Ton series
March 4, 2014
Sharon Cullen
Pleasing the Pirate, ebook
February 25, 2014
Tiffany Clare
The Scandalous Duke Takes a Bride
Dangerous Rogues series
February 25, 2014
Books on my radar:
C.S. Harris*
Why Kings Confess*
Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery series, h/o 
March 4, 2014
Jess Michaels*
Her Perfect Match
Mistress Matchmaker series, h/o
March 4, 2014


When the Marquess Met His Match by Laura Lee Guhrke

January 21, 2014

Epilogue:  a concluding section that rounds out the design of a literary work. (Webster)

I'll start at the ending first. If ever a book screamed out for an epilogue, When the Marquess Met His Match does. You know sometimes those epilogues are just downright silly, all those spy/brothers/best friends/schoolmates/cousins/sisters/families/clans getting together for one big ol’ picnic with the thousands of children chasing butterflies and the litter of puppies from the funny dog who appeared in the book. Sometimes, it's just too much and a lot of times I will skip the epilogue. But I really needed it in this book! There were some ends that needed to be tied, some openings that needed to be closed. Now, let's look at the rest of the book.

Ever since I read Connor's Way back in 1996, Laura Lee Guhrke has been on my list of auto-buy authors. Considering that Connor's Way is an American-Western-post Civil War romance, that's saying a lot. Usually, I can count on Ms. Guhrke to deliver some mighty fine writing along with some really well-developed characters. Sad to say, this book didn't quite live up to the strong prose I have come to expect from Ms. Guhrke. 

I'm not sure why the story didn't work. It had all the ingredients for a clever story and a wonderful couple. There is Lady Belinda Featherstone, a matchmaker of sorts. She is making a living at matching American heiresses to English titles. (Even though her marriage to a lorded gentleman was a failure, she is still trying to hook couples up.) Then we have Nicholas, Marquess of Trubridge, who has just had his funds cut off my his father and is in need of some cash...you see, he needs to eat. He is also rumored to be quite a womanizer, which is too bad for him and his association with Belinda. You see, Belinda's husband was a bad-egg and even though she doesn't know Nicholas, she knows of him and as far as she is concerned, he is from the same mold as her late husband. This is a problem because Nicholas has come to Belinda for help in finding a wife and there is no way Belinda is going to throw any young thing in Nicholas' path. Too bad for both of them that Nicholas is instantly smitten by Belinda...or should I say lusting for Belinda. And, this is where I have my problem with this story. Oh, not the instantaneous combustion - that happens all the time in romance books. It's just that I didn't feel the heat between the two. I was told there was heat, but I couldn't find it in the words of the book. 

There were a lot of "could have been" moments in the book. There could have been some really funny parts. The heiresses Belinda picks for Nicholas are just horrendous, and those moments could have been really fun, but the "horrible heiresses" moments were given short shrift. Belinda's initial reaction of publicizing Nicholas' dilemma was another moment that just sort of drifted away. Nicholas could have been really outraged with Belinda for that particular trick, but that also goes nowhere, other than to utter a Daffy Duck "this means war" statement. In my mind, when Nicholas uttered those words I saw all types of comedic events rolling out for me. Never happened.

There were some moments, especially with Nicholas, that I found nice. I found Nicholas to be a wholly sympathetic character, even with his cold-blooded need to marry money. I think part of this was due to his simply horrible father, who had Nicholas under his thumb forever. Ms. Guhrke has done a great job of showing us that Nicholas is the man he is due to his father's domination. If his father says black, Nicholas says white and while he says that he isn't under his father's control, just the acts of constant disobedience over the years have put him under his father's thumb. There was a great scene in which Belinda scolds Nicholas for allowing this to happen. That moment is a real eye-opener for him and one of the best moments in the book. Actually, now that I think about it, if his horrible father hadn't forced the issue, Nicholas would have been content to just go with the flow.

I do like the time period. This story isn't set in the good old Regency, but at a time when standards were a little less stringent. Even though I was disappointed in the first book in the American Heiress series, I will be interested in the next book in the series, which I believe is about Edie and Stuart, who happen to be one of Belinda's earlier matrimonial "successes." Although, I'm not sure success is the correct word, considering the couple aren't living together. There was also another character, Rosalie, who was rather young, but had the makings of a heroine. She seemed to have a very vulnerable side to her, so I'm hoping Ms. Guhrke writes a story about her. I'm also hoping that Ms. Guhrke writes epilogues in her next few books.

And, by the way, if you have never read Connor's Way, now is the time. It has been re-released to electronic format and since it is a good example of a lovely first book, it's one everyone should read.

Time/Place: Edwardian England
Sensuality: Hot


Plaid Tidings by Mia Marlowe

January 15, 2014

Selkies and Tannaisg and Ceasg, oh my!
Yes, it's another Scottish book, with dannae's all over the place, and I have to say in all the books with brogues in them in the last month, this one has the thickest; however, it is also my favorite one. Plaid Tidings fit right into cuddling up under a thick blanket with a cup of hot chocolate, while the freezing wind blew those 16 inches of snow over my car and everything in the outside world came to a halt - except for this charming story.

This is a truly whimsical tale. We have our hero, aka spy for the Hanoverian King of England, Alexander, or at least that's what he is trying to be. He's trying to ingratiate himself into Scottish society. In some very convoluted thinking, he arrives at the conclusion that because he has won a Scottish title and castle, he will also be able to move through Scottish society. Well, as anyone who has ever read a book taking place in Scotland will know, some grudges go on for a lonnnngggg time and no self-respecting Scot likes a Sassenach. But that doesn't stop Alex! He's out to find the trouble makers and maybe stop the English ruler from being assassinated. However, none of that really matters, because all of that is just a reason for Alex and our heroine, Lucinda, to be together.

Oh, yeah...I forgot Lucinda. You see, not only did Alex win an estate and a title in the card game, but a fiancée as well. The fiancée, Lucinda, wants to get married, she wants to be loved, and she wants a family. Besides, this marriage to whoever is the Lord of Bonniebroch castle has been arranged forever and she must do it. Now, Lucinda comes with a bit of baggage. First of all, she has a ghost she talks to. She's been talking to Brodie the ghost since he found her crying her eyes out when she was six. So, Brodie the ghost and Lucinda have a close relationship; he's almost like a father to her. He advises her, keeps an eye on her, and watches out for her when she's in the arms of any rakes. And, in this book that would be Alexander, who can't seem to keep his hands off of her, even though he wants to, because he doesn't want to get married.

As luck would have it, in one of those moments when they just can't help themselves they are caught and forced to wed. So, Lucinda and Alexander are off to Bonniebroch with Lucinda's ghost, who Alex has not seen. However, Alex has seen another ghost, who came through the mirror while he was shaving. This other ghost is from Bonniebroch and evidently ghosts can travel through mirrors. Oh, and by the way, there is a curse awaiting our newlywed, inconvenient, I-don't-want-to-be-married couple when they get to the castle. Only Alex can save the castle and the inhabitants from the curse, but he doesn't know how. The ghost does, but he can't tell, merely drop hints around the place. I actually had a lot of fun being introduced to the wonderful spirit world Ms. Marlowe has created.

I enjoyed both the love story and the ghost story. They were fun, fast-paced, and fanciful. In fact, I found myself getting back up in the middle of the night to finish it. Now, was this a Pulitzer prize-winning story full of angst and drama? Nah, but it was a delightful book and a pleasure to read. I'm looking forward to the next installment in the Spirit of the Highland series and a look at where this new world Ms. Marlowe has created will lead us.

Time/Place: "Regency" Scotland
Sensuality: Hot


In the heart of a Highlander by Maggie Robinson

January 13, 2014

More kilts! 
Well, at least the brogue's not as thick as the old days. You know, I really don't mind Scottish heroes, but this is my third one in a row. And, this one is one of the big ones! Oh, that big
brawny lad in his kilt - and he's grumpy, to boot! I love big grumpy Scotsmen, especially when I'm not married to them. You know, I've been to numerous highland games and I have yet to spot anyone in kilts as described in romance books... and I've looked.

Alec is our grumpy hero and he is seeking revenge against the man who was responsible for his wife's death. He hires our heroine, Mary, to set up the man he holds responsible. To be honest this revenge-setup, destroying-reputation, slimy-villain plot line didn't work for me. While I loved Alec and Mary, and thought they were simply an adorable couple, the means of getting them together seemed a bit contrived and actually quite absurd.

In the Heart of a Highlander worked for me when Alec and Mary were together. Alec was a wonderful hero as he stumbled and bumbled his way through love. He was like a big loveable bear - not like real ones, but stuffed ones. Mary made a great feisty heroine, and stood up to Alec on numerous occasions. She also didn't turn into a wimpy-whiner-poor-me when she discovered she was in love with him - no about face for this heroine. 

I enjoyed the time period. It was a refreshing change from the Regency period, and I do enjoy reading Maggie Robinson's books. It was just I did have some problems buying into the early part of the book when we are seeking revenge. I had numerous chuckles when Mary is behind the wheels of Alec's car. I thought Alec was a wonderful hero when he fell in love with a woman who was so different from what he was used to and he didn't want to change her.

Overall, this was a fun story with a wonderful couple, I just wished I had liked the reason for their being together more. I was not as fond of this story as I was of In the Arms of an Heiress, however, I will be looking for more from Ms. Robinson.

Time/Place: Edwardian/Scotland
Sensuality: Hot


One Night with the Laird by Nicola Cornick

January 9, 2014


One Night with the Laird is the second book in the Scottish Brides series and the first book byNicola Cornick I've ever read. I have asked this many times: do you ever wonder why you've never read an author before? I do. Nicola Cornick has been around forever... well, not forever, but for a long time and I've just never read any of her books. Maybe it's the covers? They look kind of tame, or at least this one does. Maybe it's her name? Nah.  Maybe, I've read a review and never been interested? I don't remember. I suspect in the end it is the cover, which is probably a really good article for someone other than myself to write. 

What is it about those covers that make us pick up and buy - buy - buy? I know I've picked up some pretty cheesy naked-chested covers and been pretty happy with the inside of the book. If I have to say anything about this particular cover, it reminds me of something from the inspirational genre, which I don't read. However, from the very first chapter I soon became aware that any thoughts of this being a kiss/traditional/inspirational were soon squished. This book starts off with a big bang. A big one-night-stand-sweaty-tryst-bang between two anonymous people. It's anonymous because they are wearing masks, and it's probably a good thing they don't recognize each other. You see, they do know each other.  Not only do they know each other, they despise each other. Loathing is too weak a word for what these two feel for each other. They bicker, they spar. They just do not have anything good to say about each other. Well, that is about to change - sort of.

Imagine their chagrin when they figure out that the hot sex that neither one of them can forget was with someone they hate. So begins the rather humorous story of Mairi and Jack. Not only are they befuddled by their one-night-stand, they are also forced together for a house party where they must attend a christening. Oh, yeah - someone is trying to kidnap Mairi, so we have a little mystery thrown in, and Jack is forced to protect the woman he loathes/lusts after, while Maira is forced to accept his protection. The chemistry between these two really works. Mairi is a very lonely woman, a very loyal woman, and at times a bit of a stick. However, she has a secret, which is why someone is out to kidnap her.

Jack is a charmer. A really hot charmer, sensuality simply oozing out of his manly pores. Pass the fan please. This book is pretty steamy, which leads me to my next question. What's the deal with all the bondage?

Lately, it seems I can't read any book without tripping over a scene in which the heroine must prove she trusts the hero by allowing him to hog-tie her to a bedpost. Since this has happened so much since the release of the overrated Shades of Whatever, I can only assume it is the new gimmick. I can just hear an editor shouting "Did you add the rope/bed scene?" In most cases, this extra little titillating scene does not add anything beneficial to the story, and this is true in the case of One Night with a Laird. For me, the bedpost scene was a waste of valuable space. There wasn't any reason for it being there. I am starting to find the plethora of bondage scenes in books monotonous. It seems to me that the time spent in tying those knots could have been better employed in expanding the rather brutally abrupt ending.

Now, let's talk about the villain. I knew right away who it was. What was interesting for me and a little surprising was the reason for the villainy. I didn't see that coming. There was one other thing in this book I didn't see coming at all, but I'm not going to tell you what that is - I'll let you be surprised.

Overall, this was a pleasant read, with a hot, hot hero and a silly tie-me-up-I-trust-you scene.
Time/Place: Scotland 1815
Sensuality: Hot!!



With the help of some friends, we finally managed to dig out. My reviews on the books I read while buried under this white stuff will be coming.