Farewell Bertrice

Bertrice Small
December 9, 1937-February 24, 2015. One of the grand ladies of romance has died at the age of 77. She created one of romance most memorable characters in the form of Skye O'Malley and was the author of over 50 romances.

If the Viscount Falls by Sabrina Jeffries

February 25, 2015
“Where are the clowns?
Send in the clowns.”  -
Stephen Sondheim

Bring on the clown car!

Its road trip time! Yes, If the Viscount Falls has a road trip, and not just any road trip. It’s a crowded road trip. This story is the fourth in The Duke's Men series by Sabrina Jeffries and I have to say, I haven’t been all that impressed with them. And this one is no exception.

We have as our hero, Dom, the disinherited son of a Viscount (which, by the way, I’m not sure could have been legal) and our heroine, Jane. Twelve years before this story begins Jane and Dom were engaged; however, because Dom luvvvved Jane so much he decided that since he’d been disinherited he wasn’t good enough for Jane, so instead of telling her what was going on, he stages a fake seduction of her cousin Nancy. His thinking is if Jane sees him in the act of forcing himself on Nancy, she will break off the engagement and that will somehow make everything ok. I cringed at this silly convoluted thinking. How this plan could possibly work was beyond me, but it did and Jane broke the engagement. However, later in the book it is revealed that she was probably on to him from almost the beginning. But what made her mad was he was making the decision for her. She was peeved. How dare he be so controlling. Let me tell you, her “how dare he be so controlling” attitude became pretty irritating after it was mentioned for the zillionth time in this book. In fact, Jane was quite an annoying character throughout the entire story. If she wasn’t whining, she was haranguing Dom about his leaving her for twelve years, over and over and over and over.

Of course Dom wasn’t any less irritating; he was a controlling bonehead for most of the narration. How he and Jane would ever have a happy ending was beyond me. These were two of the most unlikeable characters I’ve encountered in a lonnnnng time. On top of that they were pretty immoral. She is engaged to a reasonably nice guy by the name of Edwin and Dom is trying to resist Jane’s “Oxytocin putter-outer.” But they fail miserably and embark on an over the top “purple” bump and grind scene – moisture, grunts, groans, spit, slick stuff, hard things all over the place. It was truly ick-worthy, and while I’m on the subject of ick let’s talk about siblings. I love my brother; we have what I can only assume is a pretty typical sibling relationship – we bicker, we tease, we talk. But I would be really uncomfortable if he started to talk about his sex life to me, which is what happens in this book. Dom’s sister Lisette doesn’t seem to have any problem revealing to her brothers what she and her husband do in the bedroom. And this is in the Regency times! I know this scene was supposed to be funny and was supposed to show that these particular siblings could banter, but it was icky.

There were also numerous anachronisms that jumped out at me and threw me out of the book. I’ve noticed in a lot of the historicals I’ve read lately that there seems to be an increase in modern language in historical books, and as I’ve said before if I like the book I can usually overlook them. However, it is starting to bother me all the time and it seems to me that the use of them is starting to increase with authors who have been around the block awhile and should know better.

Let’s talk about crowding. This book has an overabundance of characters… waaaay too many, and I got lost among the horde . I couldn’t keep track of who they were or what book they were from. There’s Lisette, Zoe, Edwin, George, Shaw, Tristan, Nancy, Max, Dr. Worth, Lord and Lady Ravenswood, Yvette, Ambrose, Claudine, Victor, Eugenie… a never-ending supply. While not all of these people show up for the road trip, most of them are there for the epilogue. By the way, the road trip is also crowded. After a few chapters of being alone together on the road, Jane and Dom are joined by Lisette and Max in one carriage and servants in another. It was a silly, over-the-top road trip.

I had a hard time finishing this book. There were numerous times I just wanted to close it and move on. As much as I am a supporter of romance novels and a great admirer of them, this one was tough to read. In the end I cannot recommend this book.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Purple

Catch a Falling Heiress by Laura Lee Guhrke

February 25, 2015
"Oooooh! You're despicable!" - Daffy Duck

I’m a big fan of Laura Lee Guhrke, always have been. She can write strong female leads and hot, manly men. She has done it again with Catch a Falling Heiress. This is the third in the American Heiress series and one of the good things about this book is that it isn’t in the Regency time period. Lately I’ve seen on television and in books, a lot of American women going to England and catching an English lord – must be the influence of Downton Abbey. And, I suspect this time period will become overused, just as the Regency is. Anyway, in this one we have Jack Featherstone, who is just finishing up the revenge he embarked on for his friend Stuart. He seems to be a bit of a misunderstood hero, because just when he should be celebrating a revenge-gone-good, he becomes entangled with Linnet Holland, a very rich heiress.

All through the book I had a great affection for Jack; I thought he was fun, intelligent and a bit misunderstood by our heroine.  At a party he tries to save Linnets reputation by kissing her and then proposing marriage. He is sure that she will be forced into marriage with him - after all, isn’t that what happens all the time when one is caught in an awkward situation? Well, Linnet isn’t having any of that. Even though her reputation will suffer mightily, she turns him down. After a row with her overbearing father, she high-tails it to England along with her mother. Unbeknownst to Linnet, her father makes a money deal with Jack if Jack succeeds in marrying Linnet. It is this deal that is the secret which hangs over Jack's head during his pursuit of Linnet, and is also the plotline that we the reader know will rear its ugly head just when Linnet decides that she loves Jack, which it does.

While I enjoyed this story, it wasn’t the best Guhrke book I’ve ever read. I must admit that while I loved Jack, he wasn’t enough to make this book more than just a pleasant read. I think if I had liked the heroine better, I would have been happier with this story. Linnet has an anger problem; she’s mad alllll the time and most of that anger is directed toward Jack.  Nothing he does seems to please her – she’s just angry, angry, angry. I found her anger very irritating, especially because Jack was such a charmer.

The other issue I had with this book was the epilogue, or lack thereof. I’m not sure why this story ended so abruptly, but it did. A couple of loose ends needed to be tied up and we the readers needed to see the hero and heroine having a picnic with their children and friends. The ending reminded me of some old-school romance when the stories ended with a marriage proposal and acceptance. I need more than that for an ending when I’m reading a romance book, especially with this couple; after all, she could change her mind.

Overall, this was a pleasant read with a charming hero. It’s a nice addition to the series; however the heroine was way too angry for way too long.
Time/Place: United States/England 1880s
Sensuality: Warm/Hot


Ta-dah! Upcoming Historical Releases!!!! March 15 to April 14, 2015!

February 24, 2015
Authors with an asterisk*, I'm picking up! For more Upcoming Releases that aren't historical see Hey Delia!!! For: March 15, 2015 to April 14, 2015. 

Amanda Scott*

Devil’s Moon
Border Nights series
March 31
Bronwen Evans

A Touch of Passion
Disgraced Lords series
March 24
Candace Camp*, aka  
Lisa Gregory, Sharon Stephens, Kristin James

Secrets of the Loch series
March 24
Cara Elliott*

Scandalously Yours
The Hellions of High Street series
March 31
Christine Merrill

A Ring From a Marquess
The de Bryun Sisters series
March 17
Diane Gaston

Bound by Duty
The Scandalous Summerfields series
March 17
Eloisa James*

Four Nights with the Duke
Desperate Duchesses series
March 31
Gina Conkle

The Lady Meets Her Match
Midnight Meetings series
April 7
Grace Burrowes

The Duke’s Disaster
April 7
Jo Beverley

Too Dangerous for a Lady
Rogue series
April 7
Jo Goodman

This Gun for Hire
April 7
Joanna Shupe

The Courtesan Duchess
Wicked Deceptions series
March 31
Julie Anne Long*

Started With a Scandal
Pennyroyal Green
March 31
Katy Madison

Promised by Post
Wild West Wedding series
March 17
Manda Collins*

A Good Rake is Hard to Find
Lords of Anarchy series
March 31
Patricia Rice

Formidable Lord Quentin
Rebellious Sons series
Ebook – Amazon and Ibook
have no time on other sources
March 24
Paula Quinn*

The Scandalous Secret of Abigail MacGregor
The MacGregors: Highland Heirs series
March 31
Sally Orr

When a Rake Falls
The Rake’s Handbook
April 7
Terri Brisbin

Stolen by the Highlander
Highland Feuding series
March 17


Happy Birthday!!!!

This year we celebrate a milestone of sorts! In 1995 the wonderful Lord of Scoundrels was published. Thank you Loretta Chase for creating one of the best heroes ever and congratulations on 20 years.


Forbidden to Love the Duke by Jillian Hunter

February 17, 2015
"Sing Johnny One-Note,
Sing out with "gusto" and
Just overwhelm all the crowd
- Rogers and Hart
After I had finished reading this book, I had to sit back and ponder/contemplate/reflect on why this book was a failure for me.  Lately, Jillian Hunter has been hit or miss - I loved her early books, but her latest works have made me yearn for days gone by.

I will be blunt: this book was like watching a play with actors who are wandering all over the stage trying to find their marks. I had an issue with the narrative and numerous times found myself backtracking to see if I had missed something. Coupled with that was a bonehead hero who stepped on every single one of my nerves.

We have our heroine, Ivy Fenwick, the eldest of the four Fenwick sisters and the Fenwick series starter. When Ivy was at her masked debut ball she was kissed by an obnoxious, "I want you, you want me" guy who was going to war the next day. Of course, he turns out to be our hero, James the Duke of Ellsworth. However, things happen to Ivy that night besides the kiss - her father is accused of cheating and is shot in a duel. This leaves the Fenwick sisters destitute and isolated in a rundown Tutor cottage until five years after the ball when our hero spies the cottage and wants it for his soon-to-be mistress. When he steps onto the Fenwick land, he is run off by the four sisters. So, he goes to his estate where he finds that his brother Curtis' children have been dumped there. Well, he's about to have a visit from his soon to be mistress, Elora, so he can't have kids getting underfoot. He puts an ad in the paper for a governess. Guess who needs the job/money? Yep, Ivy. Now, because James wants Ivy and he knows that Ivy wants him, he hires her... even though his mistress is on the way.

But before Ivy can start her duties, she must go to London to buy a proper governess dress. She takes her beauteous sister Rue with her. Ah, Rue with the dark sultry eyes and dark ink hair. Rue disappears down the hallway and then returns and is downcast and silent and never tells Ivy what happened. Ivy sells her mother's pearls at a pawn shop and meets Sir Oliver Lindon, a poet who allll the ladies are gaga over. Except Ivy, who doesn't seem to notice him, which triggers Oliver's interest. He must follow Ivy back to Fenwick. Besides, he may find buried treasure there.

The Dukes house. Ivy and James are now residing at the same place. They have a talk. James tells Ivy that he wants her and he can tell that she wants him because she has a heaving bosom.

Back at the Fenwicks. Lilac, the youngest sister, has a limp and is in love with their long-lost neighbor boy. She also likes Sir Oliver Lindon and thinks his poems are the cat’s meow. But, she can never luuuvvv another.

Back at the Duke's, Ivy teaches the cardboard children Mary and Walker. James talks to Ivy. He tells her he wants her and knows that she wants him. His neighbor friend Captain Alan Wendover comes over and he and James go fishing.

Over at the Fenwicks', Rosemary, the sister with the ink-stained hands, is struggling to write a book. She likes to read it out loud to everyone. Rue is walking around quietly.

Back at the estate, James' mistress, Elora, turns up. Low and behold, Elora is an old acquaintance of Ivy's. Elora questions James' honorable intentions toward Ivy and sulks because James is no longer interested in her. But that's ok because Elora's always been in love with James' brother Curtis, but because she couldn't have the man she loved she thought it would be kind of fun to go to bed with his brother. James and Ivy go for a walk. He tells her he wants her and he knows she wants him. Ivy gets a dry mouth.

Back at the Fenwicks', Sir Oliver is staying at the guest house or something and Rue has applied for a job as a companion to some Viscountess. Rue is pale and silent. Sir Oliver is searching for treasure and being annoyed by Rosemary.

Back at the estate, Captain Wendover is watching Ivy and James with a knowing eye, giving out sage advice whenever he's not fishing. James has almost broken down Ivy's resistance. He knows that she is almost ready for him because he sees her ripe breasts and has touched her copious moisture. It won't be too long now. If only Ivy knew that James' Mr. Toad had a knob on it, maybe she would have been less copious. You know when I look at the doorknobs in my home and think of James' knob the hair on the back of my neck just stands up on end. But then maybe James needs some kind of battering ram, because Ivy seems to be one of those Romanceland heroines who have a barrier all the way up to her diaphragm. He has to "drive" a long distance to get through.

Curtis comes home. He only has one eye. There's a party. Ivy and James get married. Curtis is struck dumb by the beauty of the Fenwick sisters, especially Rue. Rue brings her employer to the party. Oliver kills a man and stops looking for treasure. The end.

This story was sooooo convoluted. It had people coming and going all over the place. Plotlines for upcoming books were not just set up, but almost completed. There was just too much going on. The different characters' narratives were never seamlessly woven together. There was toooo much information given as to who does what to whom and when that the main romance in the book was overlooked in the shuffle. And James only played one note throughout the entire book which was "he wants Ivy and she wants him." James was a self-important know-it-all who thought only of himself allllll the way through this story. Even though Ivy was a cardboard character, I liked her more than I did our Bonehead hero, James.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Creepily Hot


Never Surrender to a Scoundrel by Lily Dalton

February 11, 2015
Here's the deal.

I am not a big fan of glowing, over-the-top, love-love-love book reviews. I don't trust them. Years ago, I bought a hard-bound copy of a book based on a "wonderful" review and after I read that book, I wanted my $25.00 back because the book really stunk. All of that is by way of saying that here at my blog, my refuge, my place, a book is awarded an "outstanding" review because I like the book, not because I am a friend of an author or like that author or have always bought that author. I'm also not saying that this particular book is an "outstanding" book, rather it was a pleasant read.  What I was pleased with when I read Never Surrender to a Scoundrel is that Ms. Dalton's writing style is improving and someday I suspect that I will be able to give one of her books a glowing review. She tackled a subject matter that could be problematic, and while I wasn't happy with every path she directed me down, I also saw some promise of things to come.

In this book we have Carissa Bevington, the youngest daughter and supposedly the last book in the Bevington sister trilogy. (Although the very last pages of the book hint that we haven't seen the last of the Bevingtons.) Our hero is Dominick Kincraig, aka Blackmer, and if you have a copy that says Donovan instead of Dominick, you must have an ARC copy, because there was one of those author foo-pa's with the name between early review time and publishing time. Anyway, in the previous two books Dominick has been protecting the Bevington family while in disguise and in the second book the ending revealed to all the Bevington's that he was disguised. This book picks up right where the second one ended.

I liked Dominick a lot. Even though he supposedly was a rake, a rogue, and a drunkard, he did an awful lot of above and beyond honorable things. One of the biggest being marrying Clarissa because she has fainted in his arms and her family jumps to the conclusion that she is pregnant with his child. Well, she's pregnant but the child isn't his and that's why I say he does some pretty waaay above and beyond things. Really, how many men would knowingly marry a woman who they know is carrying a child which isn't theirs? Especially when that woman seems to be a tad bit immature. At least that was my opinion in the beginning of this book. I found Clarissa to be pretty annoying and very immature. Toward the ending of the book, she starts to grow a backbone. If I had written the book, I would have had Clarissa confronting the father of the child - yelling and screaming and shrieking at him. In front of everybody. But, hey I'm not the author.

I was also a little perturbed with her sisters and their husbands, who were heroes and heroines in their own books. I thought their treatment of Dominick was a little harsh. Yes, yes, I know they think he dishonored their sister, so yes they had a reason to be disagreeable to him. However, their actions made it harder for Clarissa and created a very tense and unnecessarily ugly atmosphere. Being as how they were previous worthy people, I would think that in this book they should have been more supportive of Clarissa.

The other issue I had was the speed at which Clarissa hops into bed and love with Dominick. In one chapter she's in luv with the father of her child, in the next she's ogling Dominick's chest muscles and big "thighs." The romance should have been allowed to grow just a little more slowly than it did.

Overall, this was a charming read. It was not the bestest book I've ever read and I wasn't crazy about Clarissa. However, I will continue to pick up Ms. Dalton's books because I see some promising material coming from her pen.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Hot


The Ruin of a Rogue by Miranda Neville and The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy by Julia Quinn

February 2, 2015
Timing - timing - timing! Timing is paramount!

Last week I read two books in a row which had similar themes. In each book we have a deceptive hero who is desperate to trick our heroine into marriage. Authors, think about timing. It is the timing of the, "I know what you are up to, you cad!" moment - the moment the heroine discovers the hero's chicanery that makes all the difference in these two books. Because of the timing/placement of the "OMG" moment I liked one book a lot and was very irritated with the other.
Let's start with Miranda Neville's The Ruin of a Rogue. Somehow I missed this book when it was first published in 2013. I don't know how I did, but I did. Anyway, Marcus, our hero, is a con artist in need of money. Of course, you know that means he must find himself a rich heiress. Enter Anne Brotherton, a kind, smart, plain heroine. He has studied her, he knows what she likes, he knows her hobbies, he studies antiquities just so he can talk to her. He even hires someone to nearly run her down with a cart just so he can save her and appear heroic in her eyes. Everything he does is to con her into marriage.

Anne is no dummy. She's heard the rumors and she's been warned away from him by her friends. However, she finds him attractive and starts to fall for him. Then she overhears a conversation between he and one of his friends, and she is the subject of that conversation. So, she's on to his games - she decides to take revenge. Her revenge is rather funny. She becomes a snot, has him take her places she knows he can't afford. The places she picks are downright boring, so boring he's grinding his teeth and she's having a high-ho time making his life miserable. The story takes another turn - Marcus inherits an estate, now he no longer needs Anne. So, he's off, leaving Anne and her revenge behind.

While Marcus is off in the countryside finding purpose in his life, Anne decides she must be ruined and determines to follow Marcus - which she does. And the story takes another turn. I liked this story a lot. Marcus' caddish behavior was found out in the beginning of the book, giving our couple time to adjust, grow and even grovel. There's plenty of humor. Marcus and Anne were a great couple. Because the revelation of Marcus' nefarious scheme was in the beginning of the book, both Anne and the reader have time to forgive Marcus. Timing, timing, timing.

Time/Place:1800 England
Sensuality: Warm/Hot
Now on to The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy by Julia Quinn. In my opinion this book is an example of a flawed "I know what you did" moment.

You know I have always been fond of Julia Quinn's books. I know what I'm getting when I open one and usually I can depend on a chuckle or two happening throughout (even with all the anachronisms.) The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy was no different; there was plenty of humor and I even had a giggle moment when our heroine, Iris Smythe-Smith reads a gothic/romance novel out loud to Richard. However, I've come to the conclusion that all the funny, laugh-out-loud moments in the world cannot save a book if the other "stuff" doesn't work. No matter how much I wanted to, I could not like this story and the main reason for this is our hero, Sir Richard Kenworthy.

Richard, like Marcus from The Ruin of a Rogue, is desperate to get married. His behavior is also deceptive, dishonest, unprincipled. In short, he is a stinking cad. He does every slimy thing that he can to trick our heroine into marriage - and he succeeds. Here is one of my bigggg problems with this book. Richard plays all kinds of games, even seduction (up to a point). There are a couple of hand-jive moments but never a big bang finish. He withdraws and being the typical "step all over me" heroine, Iris thinks the problem is with herself. Supposedly, Iris has a temper and I kept waiting for it, but not until almost the very end do we ever see it.

This book was 246 pages long in my electronic device, and 4 of those pages were dedicated to author stuff. It isn't until page 172 that we and Iris find out why Richard was so desperate. And, that is the biggest problem with me. There was not enough time for Richard to redeem himself - in my eyes he was a Snidely Whiplash, just not as funny. Besides that some of the time that was really really needed to make Richard into a hero was used for a nasty fighting-fit-throwing and all round unpleasant business between Iris and Richard's sister Fleur.

So, timing is paramount to a good romance book. If a hero is going to be a bonehead, he needs time to turn that around and become a knight in shining armor. Even with the numerous fun moments, this book was a disappointment. Maybe Iris was able to forgive Richard his boorish behavior, but this reader wasn't.

Time/Place: 1825 England
Sensuality: Warm/Hot