The Viscount and the Vixen by Lorraine Heath

December 29, 2106

The Search for a Good Book continues
When one is in the middle of a dry spell, when your auto-buy authors are either not writing,
switched to contemporaries or not living up to ones expectations, what does one do? Well, they can either turn to their old books (which I have) or they can read a new author in hopes of finding someone to fill the void. I’ve been reading my old books and now it’s time to find some new ones. I picked Lorraine Heath’s The Viscount and the Vixen. Lorraine Heath may not be a new author, but I’ve never read her – maybe I keep getting her mixed up with an author from the old days, Sandra Heath. I don’t know why, I’ve just never picked up any of her books, 'til now.

The Viscount and the Vixen
is part of the Hellions of Haversham Hall series, however I don’t believe you have to read any of those to appreciate this one. There didn’t seem to be any left-over mystery to be solved or villains lurking about. The characters seemed to be pretty well-developed, so this one appears to be a stand-alone.

There are four main characters in The Viscount and the Vixen – Locke (our hero), Portia (our heroine), Marsden (Locke’s father), and Linnie (the ghost of Marsden’s dead wife). There are quite an assortment of storylines going on in this book. There is Locke protecting his father, hiding him away from society, making sure he doesn’t injure himself. Why's that, you may ask. Well, this is because Marsden is a little bit off – he wanders around the house, he lives in the past sometimes, and he talks to his dead wife. From what we are led to believe, she talks back. We really never get to see her, except through Marsden’s eyes. This, for me, led to a disappointment later on. We will talk about that later.

Then we have Portia, who is running away from something – she seems to be in danger, she’s desperate, and she has a big secret. This secret leads to another issue I had with the book.

There were a lot of things to like in this book and a couple of things which fall into the category of “If I had written this, I’d have done it this way.” But hey, I didn’t write the book, so that means I can be disappointed.

Here’s the premise of the story. The wily, off-balance Marsden advertises for a wife for himself. His son finds out and becomes outrageously upset, but it is too late because our desperate heroine Portia arrives on the scene, contract in hand. Locke jumps to the conclusion that she’s a mercenary slut and saves his father by marrying her himself. (Which is what Marsden planned all along.) From here on it’s a tale of Locke and Portia having sex one moment and Locke striking out at Portia the next. He likes to call her names, a money-grubbing w…, a no-account woman, and then they have sex, then he calls her names again, then sex. You get the idea. There was so much sex in this book I had to do some skip reading. I also did some skip reading when the father reminisced about his sex life with Locke’s mother. Maybe this was supposed to be funny, but it touched off my ick-o-meter.

For me this was an ok read with glimmers of good writing – but there was a certain unevenness in the story-telling and a couple of things I wish had been done differently. Spoilers ahead! Portia isn’t really a widow, but a runaway mistress. She’s running away because she’s pregnant and the man who is the father will probably put the baby in a baby farm (which I gather means it will die). So, Portia’s desperation in selecting Marsden as a husband is because she is protecting her baby. She believes that since Marsden is hidden away, she will be also. However, Locke steps in and she can no longer keep a low profile. Here’s the problem I had with this storyline. First of all, I found it irritating that we the readers were kept from knowing the secret. I don’t think the story would have been any less tense if we had been let in on it – in fact, I think us knowing the secret would add to the tension. If we had been let in on the secret we would be wondering all through the book just what Locke’s reaction was going to be. (I guessed what it was from the beginning.)

The other problem I had with the protecting-the-baby theme was that when we finally meet the ex-lover/villain he just didn’t seem all that bad to me. In fact, he actually loved Portia. I guess I’m used to some sociopathic villains turning into heroes, ala Anne Stuart’s edgy guys (and that’s just one author). I never knew in this book whether he was as bad as Portia says – he just never exhibited a scary villain personality.

Then we have the ghost. If Marsden is in fact talking to the ghost of his wife – why didn’t we, the readers, get to see it? I would have enjoyed the ending more if the ghost had been visible. As it was all we get to see is what may be the ghostly lip prints on a dead man’s cheek. While that may make for a pretty poetic scene it was a depressing ending.

Overall, for me this was an ok read. Sometimes there were moments of loveliness but those were followed by disjointed storylines and a hero who couldn’t make up his mind whether Portia was a good girl or a gold digger (while all the time he doing the wonka-donka all over the place). I probably will not check out the rest in the series.

Time/Place: 1880s England
Sensuality: Hot


Jumping Jehosophat! Upcoming Historical Romances!!!!!!!!!!! 2017! Yipes!!

Authors with an asterisk*, I'm picking up! For more Upcoming Releases that aren't historical see Hey Delia!!! January 15, 2017 to February 14, 2017. By the way, it is not my fault if a publisher changes the release dates - just so you know, they do not consult me.
Beverly Jenkins
Old West series
January 31
Carol Arens
The Cowboy’s Cinderella
Paper-January 17, ebook-February 1
Eloisa James*
Seven Minutes in Heaven
Desperate Duchesses series
January 31
Heather Hiestand
I Wanna Be Loved By You
The Grand Russe series
February 14
Jane Bonander
The Scoundrel’s Pleasure
The MacNeil Legacy series
February 14
Joanna Shupe
The Knickerbocker Club series
January 31
Kelly Bowen*
Between the Devil and the Duke
A Season for Scandal series
January 31
Kerrigan Byrne 
The Duke
Victorian Rebels series
February 7
Lynsay Sands
Falling for the Highlander
Highlanders series
January 31
Maggie Robinson*
Schooling the Viscount
Cotswold Confidential series
January 31
Margaret Moore
A Marriage of Rogues
Paperback-January, 17 ebook-2-1

I have to ask - What's with the hat and just how old is this guy?
And, is she like a Stepford wife robot?
Marguerite Kaye
The Harlot and the Sheikh
Hot Arabian Nights series
Paperback-January 17, ebook-February 1
Mary Balogh
Someone to Hold
Westcott series
February 7
Mary Wine
Highland Vixen
Highland Weddings series
February 7
Michelle Styles
Sold to the Viking Warrior
Paperback-January 17, ebook-February 1
Sarah Mallory
The Duke's Secret Heir
Paperback-January 17, ebook-February 1
Virginia Heath
Miss Bradshaw's Bought Betrothal
Paperback-January 17, ebook-February 1

Unmasking Miss Appleby, by Emily Lane

December 28, 2016

Oh those manly-men - sort of.

Do your know how we often whine about our heroines dressing up as men? Or maybe it's just me who whines. Well in this story we have a case of our heroine Charlotte Appleby doing just that. (Not whining, pretending to be a man). Except in this case, thanks to a malevolent faerie godmother, Charlotte actually becomes a man - she gets everything a man has; that includes a Mr. Toad and his dangly parts. All of these hangy-down things on her body make for some humorous moments. You see, Charlotte is a pretty innocent woman, even more so when confronted with her newly created man-parts. It's an interesting twist to an old plot-line. In case you haven't guessed - there is a paranormal aspect to this story.

Charlotte Appleby wants to escape the drudgery of her relative's house. She wants something more, but being a woman it's hard for her to get out from under. Her choices are pretty limited. Then on her twenty-fifth birthday she finds out she has a faerie godmother - a real faerie godmother. She can make a wish - of course a number of these wishes come with strings attached; her godmother is a little tricky. Anyway, after reviewing some of her options, she decides she wants the ability of transform her appearance. (That's not the one I would have went for, but it's not my story and I don't have a faerie godmother). Charlotte's priorities are to find something she can earn money at. The only way to earn enough money to live is to change into a man - which she does. She becomes Christopher Albin. She becomes the secretary to Marcus Langford, the Earl of Cosgrove.

Marcus is a widower and there are rumors flying about his wife’s demise. Someone is trying to damage his reputation by spreading those awful tales. On top of that, someone is throwing things through his window and leaving poop on his door-step. So, there's a lot for Marcus to contend with and he needs a new secretary because the last one was in an "accident." He hires Christopher/Charlotte and soon they are looking for the scoundrel/scoundrels responsible for all the hubbub.

Unmasking Miss Appleby was written very well; the mystery and the romance flowed together smoothly. There was a well balanced mix of humor and drama. It doesn't take Christopher/Charlotte long to become attracted to Marcus, but because she's in a man's body she doesn't act on it. This also leads to some pretty funny moments. Her newly acquired Mr. Toad is a mystery to her and because her Mr. Toad is springing up every time she's around Marcus, she must come up with a solution. Her solution is to turn herself back into Charlotte and pretend to have information for Marcus. This information she actually received while she was Christopher. Marcus shows up at the mysterious Charlotte's flat only to find out that she will only give him the information if he has sex with her. What's a guy to do? He needs the information, so he sacrifices himself and has a pretty good night of whankee-roo. Though he does feel guilty later - sort of. So, as Charlotte her inch is scratched, as Christopher she is Marcus' friend and as the bear she scares bad guys. You got it?

If there was anything I had a quibble with it was that we didn't really get to see Marcus' POV for a lot of the book. It wasn't until Charlotte is revealed that we actually are let in on his brain-think. I thought his reaction to the Charlotte reveal was a tad bit excessive considering he didn't react all that much when he found out Christopher/Charlotte could turn himself/herself into a bear, dog, and a bird. Of course, he thought it was Christopher turning into animals, not Charlotte. Although why it didn't dawn on him that if Christopher could be a dog, he could also be a woman.

This was the first book by Emily Larkin that I've read and I liked it well enough to read the next in the series when it comes out. I do recommend this book and if you like a little paranormal in your romance, you'll like this one. This isn't an overpowering paranormal/fantasy book, just a little spattering of faerie dust for your enjoyment.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Hot


Goodbye - Farewell 2016!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

December 19, 2016
"Hello, I must be going.
I cannot stay,
I came to say
I must be going.
I'm glad I came
but just the same
I must be going.

For my sake you must stay,
for if you go away,
you'll spoil this party
I am throwing.

I'll stay a week or two,
I'll stay the summer through,
but I am telling you,
I must be going."
- Animal Crackers (Groucho Marx)

Farewell 2016

Goodbye my dear Jo Beverley and Roberta Gellis. We will remember your voices through the words you have left behind for us.

Some debut authors who have crossed my radar: Abbie Roads, April Hunt, Cat Sebastian, Anna Bennett, Lexi Eddings, Emma Hornby, Melissa Marino, Lisa Jones Baker, Jessica Linden, Brianna Labuskes, Laurel Blount. Congratulations.

This has been a tough year for books which I consider outstanding. There have been weeks and weeks when I've had to retreat to my oldies but goodies pile. As we all know, memory sometimes plays tricks on us but sometimes our memories of good old books work. So, thanks to some hefty support from my older books here is my Outstanding Romance Novels of 2016 - in no particular order.

1. Tessa Dare - Do You Want to Start a Scandal
2. Julia Quinn - It's in His Kiss - 2005
3. Julia Quinn - Romancing Mister Bridgerton - 2002
4. Julia Quinn - The Viscount Who Loved Me - 2000
5. Julia Quinn - The Duke and I - 2000
6. Anne StuartShameless - 2011
7. Anne Stuart – Ruthless - 2010
8. Anne Stuart - The Houseparty - 1985
9. Elizabeth Hoyt - Sweetest Scoundrel
10. Madeline Hunter - Tall, Dark and Wicked
11. Laura Lee Guhrke - And Then He Kissed Her - 2007
12. Eloisa James - A Gentleman Never Tells
13. Lisa Kleypas - Marrying Winterborne
14. Elizabeth Hoyt - Duke of Sin
15. Madeline Hunter - The Wicked Duke
16. Marguerite Kaye - Strangers at the Altar
17. Eva Leigh - Temptation of a Wallflower
18. Courtney Milan - Her Every Wish
19. Jo Goodman - If His Kiss is Wicked - 2007
20. Eloisa James - My American Duchess
21. Loretta Chase - Dukes Prefer Blondes
22. Grace Burrowes - The Laird - 2014
23. Karen Ranney - My Beloved - 1999

Disappointment List. Before I even begin, let's make sure we understand that whether you like a book or not depends on many things. You may even love a book and then 15 years later have thoughts cross your mind, like “what the crap was I thinking! Is this a classic or isn’t it?” Maybe you’re just not in the right mood, or maybe the book just stinks. Whatever the reason, its allll very subjective. I may not like a book which everyone else in the entire book world loves, loves, loves. Will I stop reading an author who has made my disappointment list? Just look at the authors on this list, a number of them were on both lists. So much for favoritism. These are my disappointments and not anyone else's. In no particular order.

1. Julie Garwood - The Wedding - 1996
2. Julie Garwood - The Bride - 1989
3. Cathy Maxwell - A Date at the Altar
4. Sarah MacLean - A Scot in the Dark
5. Julia Quinn - On the Way to the Wedding - 2006
6. Anne StuartBreathless - 2010
7. Mary Jo Putney - Once a Soldier
8. Cathy Maxwell - The Fairest of Them All
9. Jo Goodman - All I Ever Needed - 2003
10. Ashlyn MacNamara - To Lure a Proper Lady
11. Sally MacKenzie - How to Manage a Marquess
12. Stacy Schiff - The Witches (yes, I know it's not a romance - don't care)
13. Kasey Michaels - A Scandalous Proposal
14. Jo Goodman - Let Me Be the One - 2002
15. Tracy Anne Warren - Happily Bedded Bliss
16. Grace Burrowes - Lady Louisa's Christmas Knight - 2012
17. Grace Burrowes - The Duke's Obsession Bundle - The Heir – 2010, The Soldier – 2011, The Virtuoso - 2011
18. Elizabeth Hoyt - Duke of Pleasure


Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt

December 8, 2016
Just three more to go.

Yes, my little Petunias, according to Ms. Hoyt's website 2017 will see the end of the Maiden Lane series. According to her there will be two novellas and a full-length novel. Then I shall be in tears, because I love Maiden Lane - not necessarily the Ghost of St Giles - but the lane itself was such an fascinating place. Anyway, it's not over yet so I will save my whining for later.

In the Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt we have as our hero Hugh Fitzroy, the Duke of Kyle and our heroine Alf. If you remember Alf correctly you will remember she is a woman masquerading as a boy and she been jumping from building to building in a number of books. I haven't been all that interested in her, because the woman aka boy disguise isn't one of my favorite story lines. In the Duke of Pleasures, that story line isn't as irritating because of the way the author has written it.

You see, Alf has been walking around as a boy almost her entire life. One of the problems she has is imagining herself as a woman. I found this to be an interesting way of looking at a standard Romanceland cliché. It could have been intriguing and that, my dears, is my top complaint about this book. It was a "could have been" book. Much to my disappointment this was not one of my favorite books by Ms. Hoyt. For me this book lacked a "completeness." Alf and Hugh were ok, but their characters were not as developed as other Hoyt characters. This book was 261 pages, but the actual story ended on page 234 - the rest was just previews/upcoming/miscellaneous. Even though this book was 234 pages long, for me it had the feel of a short story. It just seemed to me to be a "tired" book.

Then there were the reappearance of the Ghost of St Giles and the return of the Lord of Chaos. I thought maybe we'd seen the last of the Ghost a few books ago, because really it was time for that guy to retire. But guess what - spoiler ahead - not only is Alf a disguised boy during the day, at night she is roof-hopping as the Ghost. We also have (once again) a hero who is the smartest spy in the world but cannot see a woman dressed as a boy when she's standing right in front of him.

Maybe there was just too much going on in this book for the characters or story line to be fully developed. Alf is trying to be a spy and save orphans; in fact there are two orphans she visits. She works for the oblivious Hugh, who has two sons. One of these sons hates his father and the other one has screaming nightmares (never really explained). Hugh is trying to find the Lords of Chaos and at the same time thinking about marrying the friendly widow Lady Jordan, who steals the diary of Hugh's wife and can cypher code. She gives the diary back after she has removed some pages because the boys are just tooooo young to understand, but when they get older and ask, then she will let them see what a whore their mother was - sounds like a sound plan to me. Then there is Raphael de Chartres, who has a scarred face and has been keeping his eye on Alf, but he's really interested in Lady Jordan. The last time we saw him he disappeared into the dark woods. Oh yeah, then there are the Lords of Chaos - a filler if ever there was one.

I think this was my most disappointing Elizabeth Hoyt read. There was just nothing which drew me in. There wasn't any trademark Hoyt vividness. I did not become enthralled, entranced, or fascinated with the main characters. The characters were just ok and not what I have come to expect of Ms. Hoyt. As I said before, this book has a tired feeling. Bummer.

Time/Place: 1700s Maiden Lane
Sensuality: Don't remember, think it was hot.


Memories Schmemories My Beloved by Karen Ranney

November 29, 2016
Whatever happened to medieval romance?

The proverbial light-bulb went off. In my search for a good book, which included hopping into the Wayback Machine, it dawned on me. Most of the books I've been rereading take place in what I would call medieval times. After rereading them, even the ones I didn't particularly care for, I came to the conclusion that the historical genre is missing something. Most historicals now take place in the 1800s or early 1900s. After rereading some of my old books I have arrived at the conclusion that our authors are missing out on some very colorful time periods. It's a shame that medieval and dark ages aren't more popular. These books (even the ones not so good), have been very vivid. These time periods have a lot going on in them which we are missing.

My Beloved, by Karen Ranney. Karen Ranney is not an auto-buy author for me. I pick up her books when I hear good things about them - and, that is what happened with this one. My Beloved is/was a book which has a preponderance of glowing reviews. Since I am in a dry spell, I thought “what the hey, let’s give it a try.” I'm glad I did.

We have for our heroine, Juliana. A shy woman who has been betrothed to Sebastian forever and ever. She's been waiting for him patiently at the local convent. When he finally returns, she is eager to begin their marriage, but there is a stumbling block. Sebastian does not want the marriage to be consummated. He has a reason, a good reason, or at least better than a lot of Romanceland reasons. However, he doesn't tell Juliana what that reason is. Spoiler: I'll give you a hint, he's been locked up, he's wears cloths which cover him from head to toe and he cannot be touched. He is a leper. Not a fake leper, but a real one. Because he was a real leper, I wondered how the author was going to come up with a HEA. Especially considering this was a time period when the treatment of leprosy required isolation in some dark, dank cave somewhere.

Sebastian is a loyal man. He is responsible for his home Langlinais and the people who live on those lands, so his secret must never be found out. Juliana does not want to go back to the convent, so she accepts Sebastian's proposal. She remains with him at Langlinais and begins a life of not touching. Well, these two may not be able to touch, but they can talk to each other - and they do. They become friends and of course they fall in love.

This is a true love story. There is so much to love about My Beloved. Almost everything in this story is full, rich, and colorful. Ms. Ranney has written words which have sounds - you can hear the music of the time. This book contains tons of vivid imagery. The characters are strong, well-developed and lovely. Their time together is very poignant - I was tense myself with the worry of just how Ms. Ranney was going to resolve their problem. Did I like her resolution? Not really. I would have liked a cure coming from some herbal stuff that Juliana creates, instead I got a Ben-Hur cave moment. But that's just me, I'm not a "miracle" type person. Regardless of my dissatisfaction with the resolution, I found My Beloved to be a rich tapestry of lovely words and I would highly recommend this to anyone who loves romance books.

Time/Place: Medieval England
Sensuality: Sensual


Burrrrrr! Holy Cannoli! Upcoming Historical Romances!!!

November 22, 2016

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says ‘Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.’ And when they wake up in the summer, Kitty, they dress themselves all in green, and dance about - whenever the wind blows.” - Lewis Carroll Alice Through the Looking Glass

Authors with an asterisk*, I'm picking up! For more Upcoming Releases that aren't historical see 
Hey Delia!!! December 15, 2016 to January 14, 2017. By the way, it is not my fault if a publisher changes the release dates - just so you know, they do not consult me.
Alexander Hawkins
Waiting for an Earl Like You
Masters of Seduction series
January 3
Amanda Forester
My Highland Rebel
Highland Trouble series
January 3
Ann Lethbridge
Secrets of the Marriage Bed
December 20
Christine Merrill
The Wedding Game
December 20
Emily Larkin*
Trusting Miss Trentham
Baleful Godmother series
January 9
Grace Burrowes
The Trouble with Dukes
Windham Brides series
December 20
Harper St. George
In Bed With the Viking Warrior
January 1
Jane Ashford
Lord Sebastian’s Secret
The Duke’s Sons series
January 3
Jenni Fletcher
Married to Her Enemy
December 20
Julia London*
Wild Wicked Scot
December 27
Julie Quinn*
Elizabeth Boyle
Stefanie Sloane
Laura Lee Guhrke
Four Weddings and a Sixpence
December 27
KJ Charles
Wanted, A Gentleman
January 9

Just so you know - sometimes this link works and sometimes it doesn't. Since I am not an IT genius I cannot explain. The address is good.
Lynna Banning
Baby on the Oregon Trail
December 20
Madeline Martin
Highland Spy
The Mercenary Maiden series
January 10
Manda Collins
Ready Set Rogue
Studies in Scandal series
January 3
Mary Brendan
Compromising the Duke’s Daughter
December 20
Maya Rodale
Lady Claire is All That
Keeping Up with the Cavendishes series
December 27
Sharon Page
The Worthington Wife
sequel to An American Duchess
December 27
Stephanie Laurens 
Lord of the Privateers
The Adventurers Quartet series
December 27


Memories Schmemories, The Wedding by Julie Garwood

November 21, 2016
Second verse same as the first.

In my review of The Bride, I stated that I liked The Wedding better than The Bride. Let me clarify. Just because I liked one better than the other doesn't mean allll that much, cause I didn't like it allll that much betterrrr. I thought the humor in The Wedding was funnier, or maybe I was just in a better mood while reading The Wedding. However, the characters in both books are interchangeable. They are the same except for their name. Maybe this was so obvious to me this time around because I read them so close together and not a year apart like I did when they were first published.  The only thing The Wedding had which The Bride didn't was a revenge plot device. This revenge plot is interwoven throughout the pages and in my opinion it is what makes the hero an almost-bonehead.

Revenge. I hatessss revenge plots. When our hero Connor is ten years old, his father is murdered by another clan chieftain and a secret villain. Connor promises his dying father he will avenge him. Connor and a couple of the other boys are saved and taken in by Alec Kincaid (The Bride). Even though he is raised by the kindly stubborn Alec, he still has dreams of revenge - much to Alec's chagrin.

Then we have Brenna (heroine). Brenna doesn't seem to have any problems, except she has a tendency to leave things behind. When she first meets Connor, she's five years old and is instantly struck by Connor's bigness. If my calculations are correct, Connor is fifteen when five year old Brenna first sees him. Of course, even at fifteen he's the biggest guy in the room. He becomes her knight, and she cannot forget him (remember she's five.)

Years pass. Connor learns that his enemy is about to marry. Of course Connor thinks that kidnapping this young woman is the perfect revenge. I was not able to decipher his thinking on this (must have been a middle age time period thing). Anyway, he kidnaps Brenna and soon discovers she is the little girl from allll those years ago - now she has boobs.

Brenna and Connor bicker, argue, disagree. Connor is beyond arrogant. He's right about everything and he views Brenna as sort of a gnat - a gnat with boobs. She is of no importance to him except as a bed partner - and of course for revenge.

Speaking of bed partner, Connor almost immediately consummates his marriage to Brenna. Remember, they are almost strangers, even if he was her hero when she was five. I wouldn't say that this consummation was a forced seduction, but it came pretty close to it. You would think that after a billion years of romance reading I would be used to strangers doing the deed - but in this case their first dippety-do session came awfully close to setting off my ick-o-meter.

For most of the book Brenna yells, screams and argues with Connor. For his part, Connor ignores Brenna but he expects her to follow his orders and not question him. Brenna seemed to be two people to me - one moment she's arguing with Conner calling him an oaf, the next she's trying to please him. She tries to please him by doing things she thinks he will like. Although she is guessing about what pleases him, because she doesn't try to get to know him and he doesn't communicate. She is also oblivious to the furor she creates (much like Jamie from The Bride.)

I had a big problem with Connor. He's toooo arrogant, toooo omniscient, tooo stubborn, and toooo focused on his revenge. There is also a period of time in this book where he just up and leaves. Doesn't tell Brenna why, where, or for how long. I have no idea why Brenna fell in love with him.

I wish two things about Brenna. First of all I wish she would have stood up to her mother-in-law sooner. For someone who was supposed to be strong, her martyrdom with her in-laws didn't make a whole lot of sense. Secondly, I wish she had a different hero, someone who knew she existed and treated her like a human not a pet monkey.

As with The Bride, I was disappointed with The Wedding. I felt as if the author didn't really work all that hard to create two different stories. The heroes in both books didn't stand up to the test of time. Their means of communication boiled down to a grunt here and there. In the case of the heroines, they were both oblivious to the real world around them and the effect they had on it. At times they came close to being TSTL women. I did prefer The Wedding to The Bride, not because I liked it better but because I liked The Bride less. The Wedding didn’t age well.

Time/Place: Medieval Scotland
Sensuality: Warm/Hot/Oblivious


Memories Schmemories, The Bride by Julie Garwood

November 17, 2016
Contrary to popular belief I am not a whiner...

Except for now. (I have to laugh - ha, ha - because I am a whiner.) I am still going through an enormous dry spell of books that either don't grab me right away or are very
disappointing. I have been resurrecting numerous older books, which is why I had a Garwood rush. After rereading The Secret, I decided to reread two of her connected books (can't read one without the other), The Bride and The Wedding. Much to my surprise I liked one better than the other. Why is that, you may ask. Well, I scratched my head and asked myself how can you like one better than the other when they are almost totally the same! Yes, all one would really need to do is just copy paste the names from one book to the other and save oneself some money. So, how come I enjoyed one more than the other? May have been my mood, but I don't think so. Let's give it a look, shall we?

The Bride by Julie Garwood was written in 1989. In this book we have Jamie, who is the youngest daughter of Baron Jamison, or more correctly his step-daughter. Jamie's mother was already pregnant when the Baron married her, but he couldn't love her any more if she were the child of his blood, aka DNA. Jamie is an interesting character - she has taken over the running of the household, she does all the work, she is the one with calluses on her hands while her step-sisters have none. You might think that would make her a martyr, but in this case she isn't unhappy about any of the work or responsibility. In fact, she's downright proud that she does all the thinking, working, digging, planning - keeping everything ship-shape-shape-ship. She doesn't see that she is being used by her father and sisters. She actually gets downright belligerent at anyones suggestion that she is a walked all over drudge. The problem with this kind of characterization is that to do all of that stuff, you would think a person wouldn't be quite so naive. Wrong. Jamie is one of the biggest, happiest, butterfly-on-shoulder, innocent ever. The workaholic and innocence don't go together. How can she be savvy enough to run a big household, but still be oblivious to what goes on around her. But everyone loves her. She's like an early Disney heroine - everyone loves her, she wins over the meanest ogre with just a winsome smile. But, she's not aware that she's doing it. I found her too good to be believed. Because of that when passages were written with the intention of being funny, I didn't laugh.

Then we have Alec Kincaid. Alec is a typical Garwood Scottish hero - big, big, big, alpha-caveman, me-right-you-wrong, followed by a grunt here and there. He also had an irritating habit of saying "hot" as in "you're hot for me." Wait a minute, wait a minute, isn't this the 1200s something - would guys really say "you're hot for me?" Wouldn't they say something like "milady, you make my codpiece big" or since we are in Scotland "och, ma braw lassie, ma knob is big fer ya." Actually, Ms. Garwood doesn't have Scottish brogue littered throughout her books. Anyway, I found "hot" distracting and it threw me out of the story numerous times.

For me, The Bride didn't hold up well over the years. Except for the horses, I had no sense of being in a different time period. The heroine was tiny, spunky, and close to TSTL. The hero was big, big, big, virile, big, commanding, stubborn, big. In the past I have been known to go into a rant when someone calls my beloved romance novels clichéd. However, I must confess that for me The Bride comes off being very much a formula book.

Time/Place: Medieval Scotland
Sensuality: Creepy Hot (she's oblivious, he's not)


A Date at the Altar by Cathy Maxwell

November 16, 2016

A Date at the Altar is part of the Marrying the Duke series.

Poor Gavin. This isn't the first time we've run into Gavin, Duke of Baynton. In the two
previous books Gavin was a secondary character who kept getting stood up at the wedding altar. He also happens to be a secondary character who almost stole the book in Fairest of the All. If you remember correctly in that book he and Sarah Pettijohn were chasing a runaway couple across the country. Gavin and Sarah were the only good thing about that book and now it's their turn.

I admit, I was looking forward to this book. I was hoping that Ms. Maxwell could create a story worthy of the fascinating secondary characters of Sarah and Gavin. Alas, they suffered from Secondary Characteritis. That's a disease that great secondary character get when they get their own books. One of the symptoms of this disease is a character is written one way when they are supporting, but then they change when they get their own books. So many expectations have been crushed by not enlarging on the way they are written when they first open their mouths in their supporting roles. When this story started I had hopes that this story would go in a direction I might like. But it soon became apparent that I was being lead down a different path. And, as the story progressed I became less and less fond of our hero, Gavin. Realistically I know that a real duke would never offer marriage to an actress (although some have). But as I grow older I'm becoming less fond of heroes offering a less than honorable proposition to a woman they supposedly love. I have a problem with my hero believing he loves the woman he's offering a carte blanche to and still planning on marrying someone else. It's a lose, lose situation for all involved. The mistress and the wife both lose. In the hands of some writers this kind of story line can be pulled off, but Ms. Maxwell doesn't.

This story had all the right ingredients to make it a fun great read. Gavin is a virgin, a rarity in Romanceland, and Sarah has been married before. Gavin realizes he is strongly attracted to Sarah and really really wants to end his virginity. Sarah on the other hand isn't all that interested in a relationship with a man - her marriage was a failure. Due to circumstances beyond her control, she is forced to accept his proposition.

All of a sudden Gavin changes from an uptight stuffed-shirt into a free-wheeling man about town. He is also one of those virgins who know what goes where and how much ding to put in the ding-a-ling. I just wish his idea of honor had been different. I'm tired of "men of their time." As I said before his character didn't set well with me. Sarah I liked better; her character didn't change all that much from the last book.

For me this book was another disappointment in a long line of disappointments. I wish the book had continued the dynamics that were established in the previous book. They were quite humorous then, especially when Sarah was getting on every inch of Gavin's stuffed-shirt nerves. The character momentum just did not carry through. A big disappointment.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Warm