Dearest Rogue by Elizabeth Hoyt

July 27, 2015
When the mood strikes.

I started Dearest Rogue, part of the Maiden Lane series, in May when it was first released. I don't know, it must have been the mood I was in or something, but Phoebe, our heroine, just didn't sit well with me. So, I sat the book aside for later. Well, now it's later and I've learned that sometimes one should set things aside for a better mood to come along. This time I found Dearest Rogue to be a very charming read.

In this book we have the surly Captain James Trevillion. He's surly because when he was off fighting his horse fell on him and now he has a bum leg. Or, he could be surly because he has a secret from his youth and he won't tell anyone what it is. Or, he could be surly because he's head over heels in love with Lady Phoebe Batten, the blind woman he is being paid to guard. Or, maybe it's all three of those things - read the book and find out.

Then we have Phoebe. If you have been reading any of the other books in the Maiden Lane series, you will know that Phoebe is the sister of Maximus Batten and that she is also blind. She was also in danger of being kidnapped, which is why James Trevillion is guarding her. Now, Maximus is an over-protective brother and she resents the prison he has put her in because he is worried about her. Which is why she is also so very prickly with James Trevillion - he is the guard who is there everywhere she turns. She cannot go anywhere without him being there. She feels suffocated. She wants to be free and that desire causes her to do things that put her in danger. But, after one of many kidnapping attempts, things change.

When an attempted kidnapping of Phoebe fails, James blames himself for it almost succeeding. He knows that his feelings for Phoebe are a distraction preventing him from properly protecting her and he resigns. For Phoebe, his resignation is a pivotal moment. Someone who used to be irritating and in the way is now someone she misses very much.  Unbeknownst to her, James is still investigating to find the person responsible for the attempted kidnapping. And then she is kidnapped again. James takes over, he finds Phoebe and they gallop off to the wild countryside to hide until the mystery can be solved. He lets Maximus know he's taken her but doesn't tell him where. Considering the time period, this was a bit of a stretch. We the reader must accept that the over-protective Maximus will allow his innocent, blind sister to go off "who knows where" with a man, unchaperoned. But, accept it we must, because that's what happens.

It is during this time that James and Phoebe's relationship changes from antagonistic to passionate.  The slow building of one kind of tension to another kind was well-written.  I loved watching Phoebe "see" James through her other senses. I also loved how James tried to back off on the over-protectiveness. There was a wonderfully written scene when he lets Phoebe loose and stands backs as she trips, falls, and stumbles, even injures herself but still comes out of the adventure whole. It was a growing time for both of them.  It is also during this "hiding" time that we learned a little bit more about James' background. We are introduced to his father, sister and niece. We learn why James has such a strong need to protect.

What diminished the story somewhat for me were the number of times Phoebe's kidnapped. One, ok we need that to set up the plot. But two, then three, four, really, she became quite a hand at being thrown into a carriage. It was a little silly. How many kidnappers does it take to change a light bulb? Lots.

While Phoebe and James' story wasn't as dark as previous Hoyt tales, the secondary characters in the book more than made up for that. The Duke of Montgomery. He's is a very strong character, almost overwhelming, very enigmatic and had me wondering if he was going to eventually be a hero or a villain. He was rather creepy in this book, but a mesmerizing creepy.

Overall, this is a richly-textured book, with just a few bumps and a quickly wrapped up ending. While not one of Ms. Hoyt's amazingly outstanding books, this was a pleasant read with a very engaging couple. Next up: Asa Makepeace.

Time/Place: England-Cornwall 1740s


Hi-diddle-dee-dee...Upcoming Historical Releases!!! August 15 to September 14, 2015

July 21, 2015
Authors with an asterisk*, I'm picking up! For more Upcoming Releases that aren't historical see Hey Delia!!! For: August 15, 2015 to September 14, 2015.
Amanda Forester

The Highlander's Bride
Highland Trouble series
September 1
Anna Schmidt

The Drifter: Last Chance Cowboys
Where the Trail Ends series
September 1
Elizabeth Lane

The Countess and the Cowboy
August 18
Karen Hawkins*

The Prince and I
Oxenburg Princes series
August 25
Karen Ranney*

Scotsman of My Dreams
MacIain series
August 25
Kelly Bowen

You're the Earl That I Want
The Lords of Worth trilogy
August 25
Kerrigan Byrne

The Highwayman
To Tempt a Highlander series
September 1
Laura Trentham

An Indecent Invitation
Spies and Lovers series, ebook
August 25
Lauri Robinson

The Rebel Daughter
Daughters of the Roaring Twenties series
August 18
Maggie Robinson*

The Reluctant Governess
Ladies Unlaced series, ebook
August 19
Marissa Campbell, debut

September 8
Mary Balogh*

Only a Kiss
Survivor’s Club series
September 1
Mary Brendan

Tarnished,Tempered and Tamed
August 18
Mary Jo Putney

Not Always a Saint
The Lost Lords series
August 25, 2015
Meredith Duran*

Luck be a Lady
Rules for the Reckless series
August 25
Sabrina York

Hannah and the Highlander
Untamed Highlanders series
September 1
Sally MacKenzie*

What to Do With a Duke
Spinster House series
August 25
Shana Galen

The Rogue You Know
Covent Garden Cubs series
September 1
Sophia James

Marriage Made in Shame
The Penniless Lords
August 18
Sue-Ellen Welfonder

To Desire a Highlander
Scandalous Scots series
August 25
Tessa Dare*

When a Scot Ties the Knot
Castles Ever After
August 25


Mad About the Major by Elizabeth Boyle, Project A-Team, sort of.

July 17, 2015
The last of the Bachelor Chronicles?

This is a short story covering a short period of time - one day. Mad About the Major has Lady Arabella Tremont, the overprotected daughter of Duke of Parkerton (Mad About the Duke). Well, Arabella and our hero, Major Kingsley, make each others' acquaintance at a masquerade party. Kingsley, as a result of a wager and mistaken identity, makes some rather lewd suggestions into the pearly ears of Arabella. Suggestions about putting certain large things inside of other not so large things.  What Kingsley actually receives for his suggestions is a black eye from Arabella's father. And, Arabella gets shipped off to the country to wed the man her father has chosen for her.

However, Arabella has a surprise for her restrictive father. She escapes and jumps into the nearest carriage. Guess who is in that carriage? Yep, Kingsley. Kingsley is also being forced into marriage and is churlishly on his way to his mother's country house to meet the woman his parents have chosen for him. Well, it doesn't take Arabella long to talk Kingsley into granting her three wishes before she is forced into her matrimonial Waterloo. There isn't anything that's overwhelming in this story, nothing that will have the reader scratching their head saying "man, I didn't see that coming." We know that Arabella and Kinglsley are the "parent chosen ones," even though they don't know it and they never seem to figure it out. So this is a short story that takes a whole lot of suspension of belief and an acceptance of fiction with a capital F. Arabella and Kingsley are of the same aristocratic class, yet they never get around to discovering each others' surnames or titles - the light bulb doesn't go off at any time, except at the very very end.

Even with all the unbelievable antics, this short story is a charming read. It a fast, fluffy, light read which will only will take a couple of hours to finish, and when you are finished your world will still be the same, just a little lighter. And, now I turn to a different author.

Time/Place: Regency England, sort of
Sensuality: Warm/Hot

Lord Langley is Back in Town by Elizabeth Boyle - Project A-Team...sort of.

July 17, 2015
Author brain glomming glaze in effect.

As much as I love Elizabeth Boyle, I am happy that Lord Langley is Back in Town is the last of the full-length books in the Bachelor Chronicles for me to read. My brain developed a Boyle glaze over for a short while. Now, that may not sound too good for Lord Langley is Back in Town, especially when one considers I wasn't too fond of it the first time around. But don't get too excited because this time I liked it. I think that my change of opinion on this particular book lies mainly in the fact that I read it immediately after all the others, so this time around I wasn't lost in the plethora of characters that were found in the book. I will be honest, I don't think this is a very good standalone book. There are just too many paths to follow and plots to close from the other books. And, if your memory is shoddy, the numerous characters are overwhelming. However, as I said before, this time around I did enjoy this story and the characters of Minerva and Lord Langley.

Minerva is one of the Standon widows and now that the other two are married she has her whole house to herself and she's really really looking forward to it. She wants to be free, free of any entanglements and she definitely doesn't ever want to be married again, much to the chagrin of her matchmaking aunt. So, Minerva is ready to set in the easy chair with her feet up drinking coffee - wait, that's me - anyway, she's ready to enjoy the peace of the house she's living in without the other two widows and their baggage causing trouble. Knock knock. Uh oh, who’s that knocking at my door? Don't open it, don't open it! Too late, in barges the ex-mistresses of Lord Langley. They are on a mission, they know that Lord Langley's is in this house and they are determined to find him. Minerva knows he's not and she's determined to push these women out of her house. She loses; she is no match for a bunch of worldly, strong-willed women with a mission on their mind. Unbeknownst to Minerva, Lord Langley, who was thought to be dead, has escaped from a French prison and has been hiding out in Minerva's attic.

He is was a master spy who was set up and accused of being a traitor, so he has been sneaking around trying to find the person/s responsible. One evening he returns home to find the mistresses there and decides caution is of the essence, so he decides to climb up the drainpipe and ends up in Minerva's bed. Now, Minerva's reaction to a strange man in her room/bed isn't the quietest; in fact her screaming wakes everyone up. What plan does the master plan come up with? He embarks on a false engagement with Minerva. His thinking is that a public cavorting will bring out the evil villain.

Lord Langley is the fun part of this book. He's smart, good-natured, and playful. The banter between him and Minerva is a lot of fun. None of Minerva's secrets seem to have very much of a detrimental effect on Langley. He accepts most of them without any condemning. In fact, his wicked enjoyment of life pushes Minerva out of her repressed shell. Langley and Minerva are also an older couple, so there was a certain lack of innocence about the couple. The first time I read this book, I thought it would make a good Preston Sturgis screwball comedy and I still do. The shenanigans of a houseful of mistresses just screams for all kinds of demented episodes. I also liked Minerva better this time around. Her starchiness makes a perfect foil for the devil-may-care attitude of Lord Langley.

While I did enjoy this book for the most part, the ending was a little too much with waaaay to many previous characters showing up to save the day. Even though I wasn't confused about who was who this time around, it was just a little bit overcrowded to enjoy. I do wish authors didn't feel the need to include allll of their heroes and heroines from previous books in the final book of the series. I also wasn't too excited about the epilogue and the keeping of the secret from Felicity. Overall, this was a fun read, but it comes with a warning: it should be read in quick succession with the other in the series because it doesn't do well on its own.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Warm/Hot


A Duke but No Gentleman by Alexandra Hawkins

July 13, 2015
Just a few words.
I started and disliked the men in this book so much I skipped ahead. All I can say is rape is never romantic, titillating or anything. And, there are two of them in this book.

Time/Place: Regency England


How I Met My Countess by Elizabeth Boyle - Project A-Team, sort of.

July 8, 2015
More flashbacks! 

Ms. Boyle has once again employed her pen to the use of a flashback to tell a story. Only this time the flashbacks in How I Met My Countess work. The type of flashback makes all the difference. This time there was no interruption of storyline. In fact, the first part of the story is one big flashback, and that's what makes it work.

We also have what appears to be a series within a series. The Bachelor Chronicles is still getting passed around, but we have the beginning of the three Lady Standon's stories. The three Lady Standons were introduced in Love Letters from a Duke and they were just one of many problems which Aubrey Sterling inherited. The Lady Standons are: Lady Minerva Hartley, Miss Lucy Ellyson, Miss Elinor Wraxton - all at one time a Lady Standon - and they don't get along together very well. In fact, you could say they fight, bicker, squabble and seem to spend all of the new Duke's money. Well, the new Duke has a new wife. Remember the very forceful Felicity Langley? The three Lady Standons have met their match in her; she's putting her foot down.

She forces the three women into a house, the one she borrowed, and gives them the Bachelor Chronicles and an ultimatum: find a husband and get out of my husband's hair.

First off is Miss Lucy Ellyson's book, How I Met My Countess, and our hero is Justin Gray, Earl of Clifton. The book begins with Lucy, Lady Standon running into Justin, the Earl of Clifton, literally. Almost immediately we travel back in time to when these two first meet. Justin and his illegitimate brother, Malcolm, have been sent to Lucy’s father to be trained in the rudiments of spying, sneaking, code breaking, covert operations, and the saving of England. Unbeknownst to the two men, Ellyson's two daughters also participate in the training of spy recruits.

Justin and Lucy do not get off to a good start. In fact, they rub each other the wrong way almost from the beginning. He thinks she is just a silly woman and she thinks he is a worthless aristocrat. She plays numerous tricks on him in the beginning, but soon learns that she was wrong in her estimation of his character. As she falls more and more under his spell, she realizes that she could lose him when he starts doing espionage for real, so she decides to make him into the best spy ever. Then he goes off and is not heard of for seven years. Lucy has tried to wait for his return, but due to circumstances beyond her control, she is unable to wait any longer and she marries.  

There are lies, deceits, and misunderstanding galore in this story. There are also a few surprises, some I saw coming and some I didn't. Overall, this was a satisfactory book, it fits into the series pretty well and Justin and Lucy were a delight. It seemed to slow down a little toward the end and I had to push myself to continue. There was more energy involved in knocking down the wall that keeps this couple apart than in actually seeing them fall in love, but still it is a pleasant read. It's not the best one of the series, but it's adequate. We have one and 1/2 books to go in this series.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Warm/Hot

The Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress by Elizabeth Boyle - Project A-Team, sort of.

July 8, 2015
There are flashbacks and then there are flashbacks.

When I first read The Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress in 2009 I had a big problem with the hero, and I was hoping that rereading the story in close proximity to the others in the series might change my belief that Dashwell was a irredeemable hero. Sorry to say I couldn't find it in myself to like this guy and the story is also the first book in the series which I didn't care for. The reread didn't change my mind, only cemented my feelings.

Flashbacks. I'm normally a big fan of the flashback in books - if they are there to support the main story. However, in the case of this tale, they didn't support. They were just a continual interruption to the flow of the storytelling. The flashbacks were written with just tooooo much jumping back and forth between the time periods, which by the way was a period of over 20 years.  Every time something good would happen in one period, there would be a startling jump to the other time. This created a feel that there were two different couples in this book, the young Dash and Pippen and the older Dash and Pippen. In both cases Dash was a bonehead hero. I had a hard time liking him and keep wondering just what Pippen saw in him, other than his big...thighs.

Dash. A big time loser bonehead hero. As a young hero, Dash doesn't seem to have too many scruples. When he first steals a kiss from Pippen, she is just a girl of 15 and easily manipulated. Over the years, Dash continues an unscrupulous seduction game with starry-eyed Pippen and this game set my creep-o-meter off. When Pippen "sacrifices" herself for his freedom, the anger he exhibited was waaay over the top. On the other hand, the older Dash is just an unlikeable drunk, wallowing in self-pity. Why he turned to the dark side I never quite figured out. I guess it was because Pippen left him - but really, for twenty years you are going to live in the dark bottom of a bottle, moaning and groaning. While his efforts to reform his drunken state were realistic, Dash comes off as being a weak man with no redeeming features.

The nice guy husband. Every time I read a book, I have a tendency to think "if I had written this book I would have done such and such." Well this story just screamed out to me to do a rewrite my way. Spoilers: The young Pippen is pregnant with Dash's child - which he doesn't know about. That child is one of the reason's she sacrifices herself. Well, there is this really nice guy, Lord Gossett, who is in love with Pippen. He also suspects she is pregnant. He helps Dash escape, he marries Pippen; gives her children his name (twins), gives her son a title, helps raise her children, is a wonderful, loving man - and pretty good in the sack. But when this story begins he is dead, leaving the path for Pippen to once again take up with Dash. I liked Lord Gossett a lot but like so many nice guys in romance novels he gets the short end of the stick in favor of the rakish so-called hero. Well, here's what I would have done. I wouldn't have killed Lord Gossett off. I would have had Dash come back and reenter Pippen and Lord Gossett's life. Sure there would be tension, lots of tension. I would have had Lord Gossett fighting for Pippen's love and Pippen realizing that her true love was Lord Gossett. I would have had Pippen realize that Dash was a bonehead; at which time he would have sailed off into the sunset, sans bottle, to find another girl - maybe in a novella. But that's my rewrite, and it wasn't to be. Why do nice guys mostly lose in romance novels?

Bottom line - rereading The Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress didn't change my mind from the last time. The jumpy flashbacks were irritating and the hero was despicable. For me, despicable Dash was never able to redeem himself. So far, this is my least favorite book in the Bachelor Chronicles. It doesn't really seem to fit.

Time/Place: 1810-1837 England/Ocean/all over the space-time continuum
Sensuality: Warm/Hot

Confessions of a Little Black Gown by Elizabeth Boyle - Project A-Team sort of.

July 8, 2015
Tally, Tilly, Pilly, Pippen, Dippen, Flippen

Nicknames, schmicknames. If you can get past the nicknames, you will find Confessions of a Little Black Gown to be a delightful book. I've mentioned before that I'm enjoying reading
this series more now that I'm reading them one right after the other as opposed to the last time when I read them as they came out. While the books are written as stand-alones, I'm finding they work better when read in close proximity. This is a series full of rich storytelling and great characters - lots of characters.

Confessions of a Little Black Gown begins with our hero, Larken, as a youth witnessing the murder of his father by a shadowy organization of female assassins called the Black Lily. Fast forward. Larken is one of the many spies who seems to inhabit England and he has been told by the head of the spy organization that he must capture and kill Captain Dashwell, who they suspect is hiding out at the Duke of Hollendrake's house party. There is also a strong suspicion that Lady Phillipa Knowles and her cousin Thalia Langley are responsible for breaking Dashwell out of prison. Larken is sent to do the dirty deed and he's in disguise. He is disguised as a mild-mannered vicar, Mr. Ryder. He considers himself a pretty sneaky guy and a master of trickery. No one will be able to see through his camouflage. Enter Thalia Langley.

Thalia Langley, Tally to her friends, is a woman of unconventional upbringing. She dreams of a dangerous man who can sweep her away and fill her nights with thrilling adventures; none of that humdrum stuff for her. So when she hears a deep sensual voice coming from her brother-in-law's library, she thinks she has found him. Then she sees him, and his physical persona doesn't match the stimulating voice that sent chills down her spine. Immediately she suspects something is not quite right. Now, Tally is one smart cookie and her radar is on high alert. The reason for the high alert is because the suspicions of the English spy organization are correct. Tally did help Dashwell escape and she and Pippen (Lady Phillipa Knowles) are hiding him. She is on to Mr. Ryder from almost the very beginning; she knows he isn't who he says he is. She just doesn't know who he is. She sets out to trip him up and make his life harder. And the sparks fly. Larken, like most of Ms. Boyle’s male characters I'm finding out, just doesn't have a chance once he stumbles into Tally's net.

Confessions of a Little Black Gown is a great story, full of adventure, fun, mystery, villains and a wonderful cast of supporting characters.

Let's talk about Felicity. Felicity is Tally's sister and her story was told in Love Letters from a Duke. As I was reading this story it became abundantly clear to me just how much better these stories were when read close together. If I hadn't just read Felicity's story, I would have considered her a mean-spirited, irritating, controlling shrew in this book. However, because her character was so fresh in my mind, I had no problems with her and understood her better this time around. Felicity comes off better than she would if this were just a stand-alone book.

Overall, once again I was happy with my reread of this fun book, which is part of the Bachelor Chronicles. The test is going to be in the next book The Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress, which I don't believe I liked all that much.

Time/Place: Regency England