Some Like It Scot by Suzanne Enoch

October 29, 2015
Another tent sale.

I knew there would be brogue in Some Like it Scot by Suzanne Enoch, and I just came out of  a Jennifer Ashley book. This one is even thicker than Ms. Ashley's story. (By the way, another irritating title, which also happens to have been used in 2010 by Donna Kaufman.) So, the title is not only irritating but there is a bit of lazy publishing going on. Back to the Some Like it Scot by Suzanne Enoch, the historical romance, not the contemporary romance.

Once again we visit the MacLawry family and this time it's Munro's turn. Just so ye know, Munro goes by the name of Bear. In Romanceland that means he's big - big everywhere, if ye get me drift. Although that doesn't seemed to have stopped him from delving into a many burrows. He has a lot of female fans.

I believe this may be the last in the series. Why do I say that? Well, because alllll of the MacLawry's are there and they are allll trying to control Bear. They are trying to push him into a loving matrimony; they want what's best for him and they really don't care what he wants. What he wants is to be left alone and not have to watch his family members' cadoodle-hoo with their spouses and their drooling children. One day he can no longer stand it; he needs to get away from his family, so he goes hunting.  While he has the deer in sight, another hunter shoots first. Bear is just a little peeved. He’s the best hunter in the whole world - no one can outshoot him. Of course, there is also the matter of someone trespassing on MacLawry’s land. What’s a fella to do?  He must follow the thin young lad.  What ho! A thin young lad in a romance book! What could that mean? Enter Catriona.

It doesn't take him long to discover the lad is actually a lassie. Contrary to what his family believes, he's no Hoss Cartwright (for those of you too young, Google on Bonanza.) Both Catriona and Bear are self-sufficient; in fact one might say that Catriona could be Daniel Boone or Annie Oakley as portrayed by Betty Hutton (again fer ye young whipper-snappers, Goggle: Annie Get Your Gun.) Catriona is a little rough around the edges. Why is that, you may ask? Her whacky daddy wanted a boy and he raised her as such. Because of the way she has been raised, she thinks she stinks as a woman and this is one of the reasons she's hiding out in a rundown abbey. She's also hiding her half-sister, a citified lass who has run away from her elderly fiancĂ©. Bear does not see the other sister right away, he thinks it is only Catriona. Is that important to the plot? Not really. Bear is a helper, he’s always bringing back things, collecting broken animals and such. (Except for the deer he was hunting.) He wants to help Catriona - but, she is having no part of him and chases him away with a gun. Now, Bear is really really interested in feisty Catriona. It isn't long before his kilt is tented. He doesn't understand his attraction to Catriona, it must be the pants she's wearing because it's certainly not her personality.

Bear and Catriona could have been a cute couple if not for a few nagging things and this has to do mainly with Catriona. After a while her constant berating of herself gets tiring. Her father wanted a son and she wears pants and stomps and tramps and hunts and spits and people make fun of her because she dresses like a man and no manly-man could eveeerr look at her as a woman, even with all of her two long legs and shapely hips, she's just so ugly, she's not a woman, blah blah blah. Pulease have you ever looked into a mirror? I'm also not going to tell what she's running away from, but when we get the big reveal in the story I thought it was so silly; I may have even groaned.

Bear was the best of the characters in this book and I really liked his pushy, gruff behavior - his cave-man attitude. What grated big-time in this book were the secondary characters - the clan MacLawry, especially the eldest brother, Ranulf. Ranulf was so over-bearing and downright mean toward Bear I had to go back and read my review on his story. Turns out I loved his story. It's really too bad that Ranulf comes off looking like a big ole pile of shite because he made a great hero in his own book. For the most part the MacLawry's appear to be a mean spirited bunch of connivers who have forgotten their own love stories. All of their sensibilities seem to have vanished in Secondary Character Land. I couldn't understand how they could have been hero/heroine material in their own books and then turned into wire-hanger people in this one (Google Mommie Dearest).

Along with the tent sale that was going on in this book, the story was also thick with Scottish brogue - and as I said earlier, thicker than Jennifer Ashley's book. And, that's quite a lot. It was so heavy at times I had to reread some of the sentences to catch the meaning. A bit of overkill on the brogue.

Overall, this was an ok read. Bear was a great character. He was deserving of a better heroine and a better story. Catriona could have been better if she had quit the I’m-a-ugly-woman-no-one-likes-me-guess-I'll-go-eat-worms routine. The secrets of both girls were more of a silly distraction than anything else. But the real problem for me and what made my rating plummet, was Bear's obnoxious family and his horrible brother, Ranulf, a fun hero turned mean.

Time/Place: 1800s Scotland
Sensuality: Hot

The Stolen Mackenzie Bride by Jennifer Ashley

October 23, 2015

Time to turn on my Scottish Dialect Spectrespecs.
When I looked in my new picks for this month, I noticed I have a preponderance of books set in Scotland. They are not authors who do light Scottish dialect but some who are pretty heavy on the brogue. Let's start with Jennifer Ashley's latest Mackenzie story The Stolen Mackenzie Bride.

We have left the Mackenzie's we are familiar with and traveled back in time to Scotland in the time of the Jacobites and battles leading up to Culloden and the aftermath. Knowing what went on during this time period, I knew that this was not going to be a light fluffy read and it's not. There are five Mackenzie brothers: Duncan, twins Alec and Angus, William, and Malcolm. The fifth brother, Magnus died at the age of eighteen. Also present is the hot-tempered Mackenzie father, who is constantly roaring at his sons (in a most affectionate way). This story is about Malcolm, the youngest of the brothers and lovingly called "runt" by them. 

Malcolm and Alec are at a house party in Edinburgh when Malcolm spots an entrancing beauty who looks as if she is doing something she shouldn't be doing. What's a hero to do but follow her to see just what clandestine activity she is up to?

Poor Mary is at that same house party in Edinburgh. She's minding her own business - sort of. Actually, she's minding her sister's business. What she's doing is out of character for her, because Mary seems to be a pretty basic, stoic, level-headed woman who minds her business and does what everyone around her tells her to do. Except when it comes to her sister. Her sister is in love with the younger son of an aristocratic family, Jeremy. Of course, Mary's father doesn't approve of Jeremy. Mary, on the other hand, wants to help her sister and Jeremy, so she is sneaking around the ballroom with a letter from her sister for Jeremy. She has noticed the tall Scottish men across the way, especially the one with the heated amber eyes. But, she has her duty to do, so she tip-toes out.

Of course, Malcolm follows her because he has instantly seen that's her vibrancy is being snuffed out and he's already in luv with her. Malcolm does quite a bit of rakish chasing of Mary in the beginning of this book and I have to admit that he is quite charming. He's has that slight twinkle in his eye, that little lift of an eyebrow, that swoon-worthy lopsided grin - it's easy to fall under his spell. Even though Mary is a very reserved woman, it isn't long before she's dazzled. Malcolm just can't leave Mary alone, so he agrees to help her sister, Audrey, and Jeremy elope. And, they're off.

The beginning of this story is a true romance. Malcolm and Mary are a cute couple. Once Jeremy and Audrey are off to wedded bliss the tone of the story changes; the romance takes a back seat. It is at this time that the horrendous conflict between the Stuarts and the Hanovers comes into play. Ms. Mackenzie provides dates all through the book, so if you are at all familiar with historical timelines or even names you will know exactly what is going to happen next. After Jeremy and Audrey depart, the Mackenzie males take over the book. We are introduced to their father, a bellowing, headstrong man who loves his sons but wants peace. The eldest son is Duncan, who is involved with the Jacobites and following Charles Stuart’s army. There are the twins, Alec, who has a wife in France, and Alec's twin Angus, who is the favorite son. William is a man who is in and out of both armies and whore-houses - always fading in and out in the fog, quiet, listening. Then there is Malcolm - he is doing everything he can do to avoid the coming war. He doesn't want to be on either side and he does all he can do to try to keep his brother Duncan from doing so. That, of course, is impossible.

When I read this book, it was as if I was reading two stories. The first part was a sweet, funny romance, the second part was a story about a family trying to stay together when all around them war is raging. If you know anything about Culloden at all, you will also know that after the main battle there was a "give no quarters" order issued. There were clans turning against each other, slaughters of all kinds; a hectic, devastating gore which serves as the background for Malcolm and Mary. I did find this part of the book very dramatic and stressful - will they make it? Will they find safety? Who will find safety?

Overall, this is a very good beginning to what promises to be a very exciting story of the early Mackenzies - only this time they are living in a time of major trouble. I do recommend this book.

Time/Place: 1745 Scotland
Sensuality: Hot


Huzzah! Upcoming Historical Romance Novels!!!!

October 21, 2015
Authors with an asterisk*, I'm picking up! For more Upcoming Releases that aren't historical see Hey Delia!!! For: November 15, 2015 to December 14, 2015.
Anna Harrington*

Dukes are Forever
The Secret Life of Scoundrels series
November 24
Annie Burrows

The Captain’s Christmas Bride
November 17 paper
December 1 ebook
Bronwen Evans*
A Whisper of Desire
Disgraced Lord series
December 1
Cathy Maxwell*

The Match of the Century
Marrying the Duke series
November 24
Christy English

How to Seduce a Scot
Broadswords and Ballrooms series
December 1
Elizabeth Hoyt*

Sweetest Scoundrel
Maiden Lane series
November 24
Jade Lee*

One Rogue at a Time
Rakes and Rogues series
December 1
Jennifer McQuiston

The Spinster's Guide to Scandalous Behavior
Seduction Diaries series
November 24
Joanna Chambers

November 24
Karen Kay

Black Eagle
November 24
Kathleen Kimmel

A Lady's Guide to Ruin
Birch Hall Romance series
December 1
Laura Stone

Bitter Springs
December 3
Linda Broday

Forever His Texas Bride
Bachelors of Battle Creek series
December 1
Lisa Plumley

Morrow Creek Marshal
December 1 - ebook
November 17 - paper
Lynne Connolly

Reckless in Pink
The Emperors of London series
December 8
Louise Allen*

His Christmas Countess
Lords of Disgrace series
November 17  - paper

December 1 -  ebook
Michelle Willingham

Warrior of Fire
Warriors of Ireland series
November 17 - paper
December 1 - ebook
Monica McCarty

The Striker
Highland Guard series
November 24
Sandra Jones

His Most Wanted
River Roads series
November 17 - ebook
November 24 - paper
Susanne Lord

In Search of Scandal
London Explorers series
December 1

Forever Your Earl by Eva Leigh

October 21, 2015

Titles... ewwwww

You know, when someone asks me what I'm reading I can never ever tell them the title of the book. I usually can never remember most romance titles. I find most romance novel titles
either embarrassing or I end up scratching my head wondering just what it means. Anyway, Forever Your Earl is one of those titles I find irritating. Really? A take-off of Paula Abdul's song Forever Your Girl? Now I have that song stuck in my head. So, when people ask I usually give them the author's name and then wonder why they inquired. When my husband asks me, I always wonder why he wants to know. He knows I read romance, so if I say to him I'm reading Love's Scandalous Deception or whatever, does he now recognize the book? Why is he asking? What's it to him? Leave me alone, let me read my books with the silly titles. I'm digressing, I'm digressing.

Forever Your Earl is a pretty decent reentry back into historical novels by Eva Leigh, aka Zoe Archer. Ms. Archer left us to journey into the paranormal romance world and now has returned to us under a different name. That makes me happy. I loved her very first book, Lady X's Cowboy, and was sad to see her turn her pen to another genre. But things have changed in the publishing world. Authors are spreading their wings and that can only be good for us - I think.

In Forever Your Earl, we have a mature woman, Eleanor Hawke, who is the owner and editor of a scandal rag called The Hawk's Eye. She's proud of her work, and as I was reading some of Eleanor's narrative, I suspect that some of Eva/Zoe's voice about writing was coming through. There were many times when Eleanor found herself defending the kind of writing she did, especially to those people who told her she was too good of an author to write what she did. When the narrative switched to Eleanor's writing passion, I think we are allowed to view the bittersweet side of female authors who write romance.

Of the two main characters in this book, Eleanor is my favorite. She's a strong woman, she's independent, and she doesn't "need no stinkin' man." She's also been around, she's seen her share of Timothy Toads; she's no "oooh will it fit?" When she encounters our hero, Daniel, she stands toe to toe with him. Eleanor does not back down. Their encounters have plenty of banter, fun and dialogue. They like being with each other, even when they start to fall in love.

Daniel, on the other hand, is more along the lines of a typical bad rake with a good heart. In other words, he's a nice guy who knows his way around the bedroom. He's also part of the aristocracy and isn't used to people telling him no. Together, Eleanor and Daniel create sparks. They are from two different worlds, they both know that any lasting relationship will not work. Eventually they will have to part. They both are very much aware of how temporary their togetherness will be, so I was eager to see how Ms. Leigh would bring about a HEA.

Was this a perfect book? No. I found the secondary plot of finding Daniel's missing friend Jonathan irritating.  The only reason for it being there was so that Eleanor and Daniel could be together. I would have been happier if there had been another means to an end. The secondary plot line was a tad bit clumsy for me.

Overall, this was a satisfying reading with two characters who have a great deal of understanding for how the world turns. Eleanor and Daniel make a great couple, although they did seem as if they were in the Victorian era and not the Regency. Because this is the beginning of a new series by Eva Leigh, I suggest you take a look - I think you'll like it.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Hot


The Legend of Lyon Redmond by Julie Anne Long

October 9, 2015
Spoiler: They lived happily ever after...uh, then they died.

Many spoilers ahead. In case you don't know it by now, alllll those heroes and heroines who had happy endings in allll those historical romance books you've been reading over the years are now no longer with us. Of course, they never were because they are fictional, but that's beside the point. So just so you know, they are allll dead.

Where to begin - where to begin - ponder. Once again I find myself in the minority. I am confessing now, I am one of those people who did not care for The Legend of Lyon Redmond. In fact, when I was finished with this book I was deeply disturbed. We should be able to explore these disturbances because I made a plethora of notes while I was reading.

I will also get this out of the way: I stumbled over a number of typos, in this case words that were missing. I even had an entire page that was not there. So, somewhere, someone wasn't watching-editing-whatever or doing their job. Did I call customer service? No. I really don't have time to deal with the person on the other end. But my electronic copy was a careless representation of an author's hard work.

Now, back to The Legend of Lyon Redmond. I confess, I confess! I wanted John, Lord Lansdowne to get the girl. Of course, I knew that the author probably would never go in that direction. I was anticipating that with this book I would be presented with a very very good reason for Lyon and Olivia being together besides the fact that was what the original outline said. Sometimes an author's initial intentions at the beginning of a series doesn't always work when that series ends. Characters and dynamics take over occasionally and the direction of the story changes. The path originally intended is lost and a new one begins - but then the author still goes down the old path. For me, going down the old path of Olivia and Lyon being together didn't work.

The Legend of Lyon Redmond is partly told through the use of flashbacks. I have nothing against flashbacks, sometimes they work sometimes they don't. In this case they sort of work because we get to see a very young Lyon and an even younger Olivia falling in teenage love/lust. It overwhelms them. I was unable to find anything in their relationship but the lust part. I was never able to comprehend any insight into why they love each other or, for that matter why they like each other. While we do get to see how Olivia thinks, we hardly ever get to see Lyon's introspective. Maybe if I had been able to see more of Lyon's thought process I would have liked it better, but he was pretty much a closed book.

So, anyway Lyon and Olivia fall in love/lust at a dance. They are bowled over. They cannot think about anyone or thing but each other. They are also very young. It is Tony and Maria at the dance, only there aren't any Jets and Sharks to do the tap dancing. Then we get to see more of Ton...ur...Lyon and Olivia meeting in secret and the relationship moves from touching each others hands to touching other things. But never the final binga-bang. Lyon decides to tell his father, Isaiah, that he intends to marry Olivia. Isaiah, being Isaiah, says if you do, I will cease all monetary support. Lyon walks out on his father, stalks over to Olivia's place, throws pebbles at her window, and then proposes. Contrary to what he believes will happen, Olivia starts asking question -wayyyyy beyond her years by the way. Questions such as: What will we live on? What will we eat? Where will we live? Who will be our friends? What about our families? Well, evidently that isn't the response Lyon wanted and he becomes really enraged. He stomps off and out of Olivia life in a fit of spoiled-boy temper-tantrum. In the next five years he becomes many things: a pirate, a privateer, an owner of a plantation, a spy, an owner of an estate in Cadiz - he becomes wealthy. Does he attempt to contact Olivia through the years? Does he remain faithful to Olivia? Does he expect her to remain faithful to him? No, no and yes. What a guy.

I never understood why he would hold a grudge for so long. Especially over something so mundane, so logical. And, because I was never given the ability to follow Lyon and his exploits through those five years I was not inclined to like him. I will say this though - I was not upset that he couldn't keep his Mr. Toad inside of his trousers through those five years. I think it's unrealistic to expect a person to remain celibate for five years, especially when supposedly they have moved on. But, what irritated me was that our heroine, Olivia mooned, daydreamed, withdrew, didn't so much as glance at another guy through that time period. Then when she finally breaks free of her boo-hoo-I-cannot-live-without-Lyon mood and became engaged to John and dares to "kiss" him, Lyon lashes out. Lyon makes his grand entrance and has the nerve to berate her for "kissing" her fiancé once...once! Uhggggg, I did not like Lyon.

What is love all about? At no time in this story did I ever discover just why Lyon and Olivia loved each other. Oh sure, I understood the mad crazy lust hormone part, but love...nah. Didn't see it. I especially didn't see Lyon as loveable, he was actually quite a bonehead.

Cadiz.  Lyon kidnaps Olivia and takes her to his big old house in Cadiz where there are waterfalls, beaches and swimming holes. You can run naked in all that water, sand and rocks. You can have mad passionate crazy whankee-roo there! Who cares if you’re engaged to someone else? Who cares if that someone else is the nicest person ever? Not Olivia, that's for sure. She does occasionally feel bad, 'cause she knows what it's like to be hurt and she would never ever ever want to do that to someone else. But who can resist Lyon in the water hole? Not Olivia. Of course, there is a fly in the ointment. After weeks and weeks of humping and bumping in the water Lyon tells Olivia he is sending her back to England. Without him. If she really really really wants him she must fight for him. Fight for him! OMG, is there a ringing in my ears? Why should she! You remember her, Olivia, the girl you left behind. You know the one you didn't say boo to for five long years! She has to fight for you! AAAAkkkk! Why!

By the way, did anybody do anything to prevent any kind of disease or baby-boo-hoo during Cadiz? I don’t remember any Lyon spills on the sacred stomach.

John. Now Olivia has returned to England after her little water escapade. John is one of the nicest secondary characters we've been introduced to in Romanceland. He could have been a wonderful hero. But since he's so nice, I guess it's ok to just step all over him. If Olivia had told John as soon as she saw him that she needed to break their engagement I wouldn't have been so revolted. But that isn't what she did. She waited until she is in front of everyone in Pennyroyal, after John has said yes he will take this woman to be his wife, to drop her bomb shell. I cannot tell you how much I detested this part of the book. If I hadn't been so close to the end, this book would have hit the wall. But the damage had already been done, and this horribly painful book moment will join some other memorable horrible-feel-bad book moments in by brain.  This left an unpleasant taste in my mouth, but there was more to come.

The epilogue. Yes, there was an epilogue in The Legend of Lyon Redmond. It takes place in the future and we have a contemporary woman visiting England finding her roots - in the cemetery. She is descended from the Redmonds, she also meets a man who is descended from them and through their conversation we get to hear about what happened to all of the characters we had grown to love in Pennyroyal - well almost all of them - not John. Anyway, it seems they all die. Who would have thunk it? A HEA doesn't mean people die, it means they just fade Douglas MacArthur. Not only do all the Pennyroyal heroes and heroines die but we also find out that one of the main secondary characters has been murdered at some point in the past. What? Why? What? I sputter. I thought epilogues were supposed to resolve everything.

To say I was disappointed in this book, the last of the Pennyroyal series is an understatement. I was disturbed by Olivia's callus treatment of John. I didn't find anything redeeming about either Lyon or Olivia. The ending was distasteful to me in so many ways. While I enjoyed most of the books in this series, for me this final story wasn’t on par with the rest of them. While others may be happy that Lyon and Olivia are finally back in each others arms; for me, there were just too many backs that were stabbed on the way to those arms. I found this book distressing.

Time/Place: 1820s England
Sensuality: Hot


The Unsuitable Secretary by Maggie Robinson

October 7, 2015
Things that go bump in the night.
No, no, no. The Unsuitable Secretary does not have any supernatural ghosts bumping into things during the night. The Unsuitable Secretary presents us with a virgin couple who make up for lost time. They are the ones that did all the bumping.

Sir Thomas Benedict Featherstone, aka Tubby, needs help. (Digression time: I eventually grew tired of the name Tubby.) Anyway, he has grand plans! Grand ideas! He was filled with an abundance of excitement when it came to these grandiose schemes. For some reason he wanted to open a starving artist commune of sorts. His thinking was that it would just be simply glorious to get all these artist in one place! Creating and not worrying about how they are going to buy their next brush, let alone their next loaf of bread. I guess getting a job was out. But Tubby was a little scattered; he just had tooooo many plans. What he needed was a secretary, someone who could organize and someone who wasn’t afraid of saying no. This was why he found himself at the Evensong Agency being interviewed by a rather scary Mrs. Evensong.

Digression time: I'm not sure why Tubby felt the need to help starving artists, especially when there were other bits of humanity around for him to try to help. But, that's what he wanted. But, I was puzzled, and I didn't think his need was fully explained. If it had been I might have been a little bit more sympathetic to his cause. Because his need to support artists wasn’t ever fully explored, I looked at Tubby as kind of a bumbler throughout the entire book. He seemed to be someone without direction. He was not the kind of hero I'm used to seeing in romance books. He wasn’t as much of a nitwit as Bertie from Lord of the Scoundrels, but he came awfully close. He was a happy-go-lucky kind of guy, the world was his oyster. Just a whistling-tune kind of guy. Whatever intelligence he exhibited went right out the window when Harriet sauntered into the room for the first time. Tubby was no longer able to function as a talking, walking, thinking person. Was this a bad thing? Nope! I actually thought it was refreshing to have a hero who was a bit of a stumble-bumbler. Sometimes it’s nice to see a man who has no claim to being a super-duper-stud-alpha kind of guy. Tubby was adorable in his fumbling and tripping over the wrong words. He may not have known anything about the bedroom, but he was more than eager for Harriet to break him in. It doesn't take too long before he was asking Harriet to be his mistress – of course he doesn’t do that right either. (By the way, are you irritated with the name Tubby yet?)

Harriet. Harriet has one of those horrible fathers who crop up in romance books. I didn't quite understand what his problem was, but he seems to have a boat-load of demons. He didn’t think Harriet should be working. He'd been drugging her in hopes that she wouldn’t be able to do her job. Harriet doesn't understand what's happening to her - yes, she was recovering from an appendectomy, but she also knew that she should be well on the way to recovery and she wasn’t. She never ever considers that her horrible father would be drugging her. Sure he’s an overbearing, nasty, curmudgeon, but he was her father and the thought never crossed her mind. (Digression time: just the thought of having any kind of an operation in 1904 makes the hair on my neck stand up on end.)

Back to the father. Even though her father has a job, it doesn't seem to be enough to support her twin brothers and herself. Her father constantly berates her for going outside to work, especially for someone with the reputation that Tubby has. Eventually one night she stands up to her father and receives a stunning slap across her face. Thank goodness Ms. Robinson had her leave that house and not stay around to become a Romanceland self-sacrificing martyr. It was at this point that I really liked Harriet.

This was a charming book. Harriet and Tubby were fun characters who embarked on a journey of discovery together. I do mean discovery. They try out everything they can. Was it a perfect book? No, however, I found it to be a pleasant read and found myself smiling a lot through it. There were moments that the book slowed down and there was the Harriet-I'm-not-good-enough rigmarole, which I found tiresome. Overall, I do recommend this story, it's a spicy-sweet story, nothing earth-shattering and nothing "wow" inducing, but a nice way to pass the time on a cool autumn night by the fireplace.

Time/Place: 1904 England
Sensuality: Sweet/Scorcher