Monday

Holy Cannoli!! Upcoming Historical Releases!!

October 23, 2017
Authors with an asterisk*, I'm picking up! For more Upcoming Releases that aren't historical see HEY DELIA!! November 15, 2017 to December 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.
Alyssa Cole
A Hope Divided
The Loyal League series  
November 28

Amelia Grey  
To the Duke, With Love  
The Rakes of St. James series  
December 9

Bettina Krahn*  
A Good Day to Marry a Duke
Sin and Sensibility series  
November 28
Carol Arens  
The Rancher's Inconvenient Bride
November 21
Gina Conkle 
The Lord Meets His Lady
Midnight Meetings series  
December 5
Jane Ashford  
The Duke Knows Best
The Duke's Sons series  
December 5
Jenni Fletcher  
Besieged and Betrothed  
November 21
Laura Martin  
An Unlikely Debutante
November 21
Loretta Chase*  
A Duke in Shining Armor 
Difficult Dukes series  
November 28
Maggie Robinson*
Redeeming Lord Ryder  
Cotswald Confidential series  
November 21
Marguerite Kaye*  
Bronwyn Scott  
Scandal at the Christmas Ball, Anthology  
December 1
Mary Brendan  
Rescued by the Forbidden Rake  
November 21
Maya Rodale  
It’s Hard Out Here for a Duke 
Keeping Up with the Cavendishes series  
November 28
Rachael Miles  
Enchanting Ophelia  
The Muses' Salon Series, novella  
November 28
Sarah McCarty  
Luke’ Cut  
Hell's Eight series
November 28
Sophia James  
A Secret Consequence for the Viscount  
The Society of Wicked Gentlemen series
November 21
Victoria Alexander*  
The Lady Traveler’s Guide to Larceny With a Dashing Stranger  
Lady Travelers Society series 
November 28

The Reunion by Sara Portman

October 23, 2017
Secondary characters - sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

http://www.saraportman.com/
The Reunion is Sara Portman's debut book and I'm always on the look-out for new authors. There's always a hope that each one of them may become one of my auto-buys. So, I always have my fingers crossed dreaming of the day when I have found the new Mary Balogh or Lisa Kleypas. Well, while Ms. Portman's debut novel is a descent attempt, it doesn't quite make it up to the top rung of the ladder.

The good stuff. The novel started off pretty well. The writing had a modern feel about it. There weren't the thought-provoking words of a Balogh or Kleypas, but I can adjust. After all, I'm a big fan of Julia Quinn books. As I said the story started off nicely. The plot is composed of a hero who at one time was quite insensitive to his fiancée. They were both very young, never met each other, and were being forced into the arrangement. So, why should our hero really care what he says to his seventeen year-old fiancée. Especially when he has an axe to grind with his domineering father. Well, anyway, John (hero) insults Emma (heroine) then takes off without any benefit of an explanation, goes to America and then comes back four years later in need of a wife. By the way, he has sort of forgotten all about Emma.

Well Emma hasn't forgotten about him. Unbeknownst to him, his leaving has made her a pariah in society. She has been scorned all those years he was missing. However, and here's one of the satisfying things in the book, Emma is no longer the boo-hoo seventeen girl. She's a strong woman. She speaks her mind and she speaks her mind in public. Woe to those who feel the bite of her sharp tongue. I really liked Emma a lot in the first part of the book. Eventually John and Emma run into each other at a party. He has no idea what he did to her, he doesn't actually even know who she is - but he is interested in her. She knows who he is, though, and she lets loose her tongue. Being a Romanceland hero, he is instantly attracted to her. So he sets out to court her, and she doesn't make it easy for him. That was a fun part of the book. Then they get married.

Now, the reason John wanted to marry so badly was because he had a sister back in America who everyone in the ton thought was dead. He wants to bring her back, but he knows that she will in all likelihood be made to feel unwelcome. So, he needs a strong wife, someone who isn't afraid to stand up to a few aristocratic snobs. Hence Emma. Well, what he has neglected to tell his new wife is that his sister (Charlotte) is a giant termagant - and that's being nice. Having read a few romance books in my time, I of course knew where the Charlotte storyline was going to go. You see, John has an unpleasant friend Hugh whose main purpose in the book seems to be to make snotty comments to Emma and be Charlotte's eventual luv-bub. Yes, there is a secondary love story in the book and it's odd.

The secondary love story was a bit of a distraction. It was almost as if it was a big secret, then there were a few eye-glare moments, then they were a couple. The secondary romance didn't work for me. But that wasn't really crucial to me liking the book or not - my issue was with the secondary character of Charlotte. Charlotte was really, really an obnoxious, unlikable, petulant character. I could find nothing to like about her; I could feel no sympathy. It was also with this character that I started to get irritated with John. Why he didn't do something about Charlotte's annoying behavior was beyond me. I guess I am really not all that fond of men who let other people take care of their problems.

Overall, I will be trying her next book in the series - I haven't given up and I'm still hopeful. I thought the first part of the book was very good, but when Charlotte was introduced in the story I just wanted to reach through the pages and strike a blow.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality:Hot

A Christmas to Remember by Lisa Kleypas, Lorraine Heath, Megan Frampton, Vivienn Lorret

October 16, 2017
Christmas, Christmas time is here,
Time for joy and
Time for cheer…
Time for anthologies.


A Christmas to Remember
is my first Christmas anthology of the year and you would think
with an author like Lisa Kleypas as one of the contributors, I would be ecstatic. You would think. But in the end it was just a so-so read, and one which I suspect will quickly disappear from my memory.


The first story is I Will by Lisa Kleypas and it is a reissue from 2008. Ms. Kleypas is lucky I hadn’t read this before and I didn’t have to rant about repackaging, reissues and such. Anyway, this is a typical rake-wastrel depraved hero, Andrews, and a do-gooder-bluestocking heroine, Caroline, who hates him. But that animosity doesn’t stop Andrew from blackmailing Caroline into pretending to be his girlfriend so he can get back into his horrible father’s good graces again and be put back in the will. I had my hopes up with this story. First of all, it was a Lisa Kleypas. Secondly, it has an antagonistic couple at its center. But somewhere along the line the story lost its focus and scurried along to an unsatisfactory ending. – C-

Deck the Halls with Love by Lorraine Heath.

For those of you who follow Lorraine Heath (I don’t) this short story is connected to her Lords of Pembrook series. The hero is Alastair and the heroine is Caroline, and they already know each other. In fact, they loved each other, but then Alastair broke Caroline’s heart by becoming engaged to someone else. But now Alastair has been turned loose from that engagement (previous book) and he is determined to have Caroline. Here’s the problem: Caroline is engaged to someone else and she is also determined to hold a grudge against Alastair. This is a decent story of a second chance at love. It was the shortest story in the bunch but happened to be the best in the group. – B-

No Groom at the Inn by Megan Frampton

Lady Sophronia – heroine, James Archer – hero. This story has another fake fiancée story line but in this case the participants don’t know each other – at all. James doesn’t like to stay in one place for very long. He travels constantly and he is running scared because his mother is planning a house party with a bunch of single women and he’s afraid of being trapped into marriages and tied down for the rest of his life. Why he simply can’t explain to his mother that he’s not ready is not explained. Also the need for his wanderlust is never adequately explained. Sophronia jumps at the chance to take up with a perfect stranger to escape a life of drudgery.

For this story to work it required a longer format. Both characters in this story required some major changes in their outlooks, and they were not given enough time to do that. – C
 

The Duke’s Christmas Wish by Vivienne Lorret.

You know, taking a modern them and trying to change it into a historical setting doesn’t usually work. And, it didn’t here either. Our hero – the Duke – wants to belong to some scientific club or something and he has come up with a formula. The formula is a way to match people – like a dating site – sort of. He wants to avoid Ivy (heroine) because something about her is disruptive and she could prevent him from getting into this scientific club. It was all very silly and the formula-match-making plot line didn’t work in a historical short story setting. – C-

Overall, even for an anthology A Christmas to Remember was pretty monotonous.

Time/place: Regency England
Sensuality: mixed bag

Seven Minutes in Heaven by Eloisa James

October 9, 2017
Move over Ms. McPhee and Ms. Poppins.

http://www.eloisajames.com/

Seven Minutes in Heaven by Eloisa James reintroduces two characters who were children in previous books; now they are all grown-up, their hormones are frenzied, and they have a story of their own. You know what that means don’t you? That means not only will there be a lot of hanky-panky but a plethora of secondary characters showing up. I, of course, do not remember these characters. You know I love books which are in a series, but as years go by it is becoming more difficult to remember alllll the people peppering these books – unless, of course, it’s Derek Craven.

Anyway, the hero of this story isn’t Derek Craven but Edward Reeve, aka Ward, a bastard son of the Earl of Gryffin. The heroine of this book is Eugenia Snow, the daughter of a Marquess. Eugenia is also a widow and has coped with the pain of losing her husband by running a business. This business employs excellent governesses, some of the bestest governesses in England, maybe in alllll the world. Well, maybe….

It seems that Mr. Edward Reeve, aka Ward, is having trouble keeping governesses who will take care of his two half-siblings, Lizzie and Otis. To say that these two are precocious is an understatement. All the governesses Eugenia has sent Reeve, aka Ward, have run screaming into the countryside. Eloisa James has a wonderful way of bringing children to life in her stories. Sometimes those children are a little bit toooo worldly-wise but in this story they are wonderful characters. In fact, they almost steal the show, especially Lizzie. I found Lizzie’s over dramatic antics very amusing and at the same time filled with poignancy. Well, Reeve/Ward is not amused. He’s worried about his half-siblings and he insists that Ms. Snow make good with her promises.

Of course, this is not a story about the children but a romance book. While the romance is good and sometimes sensual, it is not up to the standard of some of Ms. James' other outstanding stories. I blame the hero for this.

Edward/Reeve/Ward has a lot of preconceived ideas, prejudices, and strong opinions. He is for a long time similar to a horse with blinders. He has tunnel vision. He is so stubborn; his views on what makes a lady a lady are so obstinate. He often chooses the wrong path for the children to travel down. At first I could accept his stubbornness, but it was allowed to go on for far tooooo long – and, I found that irritating. While he eventually did some dandy groveling, his epiphany came too late for me. I also had an issue with the fact that everyone but Edward/Reeve/Ward knew of Eugenia’s aristocratic connection but him. I found that a little hard to believe he wouldn’t somehow have heard of her.

Eugenia, on the other hand, was a charming heroine. Even her Mary Poppins-know-it-all persona was sweet. I thought the chemistry between she and the children was one of the best parts of the book, while on the other hand, the hero was its weakest component.

Overall, this was a fast-paced, fun book, filled with Ms. James enchanting writing. I just wish I hadn’t found the hero so frustrating.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Warm/Hot

Thursday

No Ordinary Love by Mary Balogh

September 28, 2017
Sometimes goddesses have a snafu or three

http://www.marybalogh.com/
As I mentioned before, my goddess Mary Balogh is in the process of releasing some of her old novels and novellas. I am over the moon about this, especially because this brings new
readers into the fold. I was pleased with the first anthology group A Rogue's Downfall, but the next group, No Ordinary Love, I'm not so over the moon with. No Ordinary Love has all the earmarks of author experimentation. Yes, it seemed Ms. Balogh once dipped her toes into paranormal romance. If I may be so bold, I'm glad she decided to stick with what she does best - historical romance (sans ghosts).

I like paranormal romance stories, I've been a big fan of them for a long time. I'm just not as obsessed with them as I am with historical romance. As with historical romance, I have created many rules my authors must abide by. Sure they don't know them, but it's my dime. Anyway, over the years I have adopted some rules paranormal romance books need to follow for me to enjoy them. One of the biggies is they have to make sense. Yes, yes, I know we are dealing with a world where the boundaries are pretty shaky and beliefs are stretched quite far. But the reasons for these far-fetched storylines/beliefs must make sense and loose ends have to be tied up. At least for me they do.

Let's start with The Dark Rider. This story has a bit of Gothic romance feel about it. You know the theme - a sweet nosy heroine, Dinah Ridding, visits a dark foreboding castle which is inhabited by an enigmatic, brooding hero, his secretive mother and creepy servants. Our hero, Edgar Neville, doesn't want the heroine at the castle because...???? He tries to get rid of her by telling Dinah ghosts stories. But Dinah wants to meet ghosts, explore the family portrait gallery and just suck up the scary atmosphere. She even spots the mysterious ghostly rider who amazingly looks a lot like our hero. This story might have worked if a big misunderstanding blow-up toward the end of the story hadn't been inserted. As a romance, this story didn't work and as a paranormal it was mediocre.

The second story is The North Tower. Probably when Ms. Balogh wrote this story she didn't know that the main device of this story is my least favorite paranormal theme - possession. Yes, as soon as our heroine, Daphne, enters the spooky castle she feels things. She's having a hard time sleeping at night because she's having vivid erotic dreams. Dear oh dear, those dreams seem so realistic - she keeps going into a door which isn't there anymore. Like all haunted heroines she starts snooping around and eventually solves an old murder. Spoiler - then we have the type of paranormal ending I haven't been fond of since the days of A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux - almost at the end of the story a guy shows up who looks exactly like the man Daphne has been snooking in her sleep ... and they live HEA.

The last story in the group, The Heirloom, is a time-travel-body-possession tale. I can be a little persnickety. Here’s the deal. I like time-travels, but not when they involve traveling back and landing in a body which doesn't belong to "moi." I have a reason for that, you know – I always wonder what’s happening to the soul who was kicked out, unless there are two in that body and that gets really confusing. So, where did that other soul go? How are they adapting? Are they still alive? It can be quite distracting. Well, this is a short story and all the way through my reading of this I was concerned whether Ms. Balogh’s would have enough time to tie up any loose ends. Well, she did tie it up. Spoiler, she sort of gave the historical couple a happy ending but then jumped to modern time and gave them their HEA. Giving two couples in a short story a HEA doesn’t leave much time for character development. I liked the historical couple and would have liked to see some kind of an epilogue for them, but was not to be. This story could have been better served if it had been in a longer format.

Bottom line, all the stories were weak, both the romance and paranormal theme. I’m glad Ms. Balogh doesn’t dabble in this genre very often.

Time/place: Regency England
Sensuality: Warm

Friday

Hokey Smoke Bullwinkle! Upcoming Historical Romance Releases!!!!

Authors with an asterisk*, I'm picking up! For more Upcoming Releases that aren't historical see HEY DELIA!! October 15, 2017 to November, 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.
Amanda McCabe
The Wallflower's Mistletoe Wedding
October 17

Anna Bradley
Twelfth Night with the Earl
The Sutherland Sisters
November 14

Carla Kelly
Christine Merrill
Janice Preston
Regency Christmas Wishes
October 17

Diane Gaston
A Pregnant Courtesan for the Rake
The Society of Wicked Gentlemen series
November 1

Elizabeth Hoyt*
Duke of Desire
Maiden Lane
October 17

Eloisa James*
Wilde in Love
The Wildes of Lindow Castle series
October 31

Grace Burrowes
No Other Duke will Do
Windham Brides series
November 7

Janna MacGregor
The Bride who Got Lucky
Cavensham Heiresses series
October 31

Joanna Shupe*
A Daring Arrangement
The Four Hundred series
October 31

Karen Ranney
The Texan Duke
Duke Trilogy series
October 31

Lara Temple
Lord Hunter’s Cinderella Heiress
Wild Lords and Innocent Ladies series
October 17

Lillian Marek
Lord Edward’s Mysterious Treasure
Victorian Adventures series
November 7

Linda Broday
To Marry a Texas Outlaw
Men of Legend series
November 7

Lisa Kleypas
Lorraine Heath
Megan Frampton
Vivienne Lorret
A Christmas to Remember
October 17

Lynna Banning
The Hired Man
October 17

Madeline Martin
Highland Ruse
Mercenary Maidens series
November 14

Mary Balogh
Someone to Wed
A Westcott Novel series
November 7

Nicole Locke
Her Christmas Knight
Lovers and Legends series
October 17

Olivia Drake
The Scandalous Flirt
Cinderella Sisterhood series
October 31

Paula Quinn
The Scot’s Bride
Highland Heirs series
October 31

Sara Portman
The Offer
Brides of Beadwell
October 24

Shana Galen
Third Son’s a Charm
The Survivors series
November 7

Sharon Cullen
Bound to a Spy
All the Queen's Spies series
October 24

Valerie Bowman
The Right Kind of Rogue
Playful Brides series
October 31

Vanessa Kelly
The Highlander’s Princess Bride
Improper Princesses series
October 31

Wilma Counts
My Fair Lord
Once Upon a Bride series
October 17