Hokey Smoke!! It's Time for Upcoming Historical Releases!!!

Authors with an asterisk*, I'm picking up! For more Upcoming Releases that aren't historical see HEY DELIA!! July 15, 2017 to August 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. 
Ava Stone    
A Scandalous Vow
Scandalous series
July 18
Candace Camp   
A Momentary Marriage
July 25
Elizabeth Beacon
The Governess Heiress
A Year of Scandal series

Paperback - July 18, ebook - August 1
Grace Burrowes  
Too Scot to Handle
Windham Brides series
July 25
Harper St. George
A Marriage Deal with the Outlaw
Outlaws of the Wild West series

Paperback - July 18, ebook - August 1
Laura Martin
A Ring for the Pregnant Debutante
Paperback - July 18, ebook - August 1
Linda Broday
Knight on the Texas Plains
Texas Heroes series
August 1
Louise Allen
Marrying His Cinderella Countess

Paperback - July 18, ebook - August 1
Megan Frampton
Lady Be Bad
The Duke's Daughters
July 25
Meriel Fuller
The Warrior’s Damsel in Distress
Paperback - July 18, ebook - August 1
Michele Sinclair
Never Kiss a Highlander
The McTiernays series
July 25
Nicole Locke   
The Knight’s Scarred Maiden
Lovers and Legends series
Paperback - July 18, ebook - August 1
Sabrina Jarema

Lord of the Seas
Viking Lords series
August 8
Sophie Jordan  
The Scandal of It All
The Rogue Files series
July 25


June 19, 2017
"Oh, great.
Would you look at this?! Oh my God.
Tuna juice! Oh my God!"
- Everybody Loves Raymond
 May be spoilers ahead. The Most Dangerous Duke in London begins Madeline Hunter's Decadent Dukes Society series. Don't let the title fool you into believing this is a light and fluffy story, because it's not. This is a story about revenge, not my favorite plotline. The character bent on revenge in this book is our hero Adam Penrose, Duke of Stratton. By the way, he has two duke friends - Gabriel St. James, Duke of Langford, and Eric Marshall, Duke of Brentworth. They are in this book because we need to have a few buddy talks scattered throughout. Anyway, Adam is bent on revenge against someone in the Cheswick family. He hasn't quite put all the pieces together, but he believes one of the Cheswicks is responsible for his father's death. When the story begins he is on the way to the Cheswick's home. Much to his surprise he has been summoned by the Dowager Countess of Morwood. The dowager is a Cheswick; and let me tell you I had some problem keeping all the titles and surnames straight. Oh for the days of just plain Smith. For some reason the dowager wants to put aside the ol' family feud between Adam's family and the Cheswick family. It could be that it is Adam's reputation as a duelist which has preceded him and she just wants to protect her grandson Theo. Or it could be something else. When Adam arrives, he finds that she is going to settle the feud by offering up her youngest granddaughter as the sacrifice. She figures he wouldn't shoot his brother-in-law. Well, Adam's no dummy, he holds his cards close to his vest/chest; he's on to her game. And, he's not all that excited about it, but remember he's looking to do some kind of revenge and this young girl might be the answer. But wait! Who is that magnificent creature on that horse? He can tell from a distance that she's got spirit! He must have her! What! She's the old lady's other granddaughter! Revenge! Revenge! You know I never quite understand how marrying someone is revenge, especially if there is some kind of attraction. Now, he could throw her in a dungeon, but that would only hurt her, not the rest of the family. But hey, this is Romanceland and I don't have to understand revenge plots.

Anyway, up on the hill in the distance is the exciting Lady Clara Cheswick. And, she can see the handsome man staring at her. Being a strong woman who takes no guff from anyone, she sticks her nose in the air and rides off. This only makes Adam more intrigued and he gives chase. And, the story begins.

This story was hard for me to review. I like Madeline Hunter. I like her writing. I can depend on her stories to be filled with characters who have more of a mature voice and this one does. There are some interesting back stories which weave their way slowly throughout the entire tale. And, there is just a little bit of a twist to the end of the tale. Ms. Hunter ties up all the loose ends and it was enjoyable traveling down the path to get there. The interesting thing for me about the book was that in the beginning I didn't really care about the mystery of Adam's father's death, but the closer to the end of the book I read, the more engrossed I became with the secret. On the other hand, the romance between Adam and Clara had the opposite effect on me. I started out enjoying their romance, but the closer I got to the ending the less I cared. The reason I found the romance less than thrilling was mainly due to Adam.

I liked Clara a lot. She was a strong, independent woman. Yes, yes - I know there are a lot of "independent" women in romance books, but often those women are portrayed as being so strong-willed they become a caricature of what strong women really are. Yes, Clara is a secret publisher, and she supports other women in their efforts - but at no time in the book did I feel as if I was being hammered over the head by her strong convictions. Everything about Clara - her stubbornness, her strength, her intelligence - was mature. There was a completeness about her. She could see through almost everything that Adam was up to and she would confront him. He changed in the book because she asked him to, not because she forced him. That part of the romance was lovely.

The problem with Adam. I could not connect to Adam and not because of the revenge thingy. He was like a pod-person. There was just nothing there. All I saw was a handsome facade which was supposed to be sexy, similar to a cologne advertisement - looks good, but there is nothing behind the eyes. I was never able to see any vitality. There just wasn't any charisma. He was boring, and he shouldn't have been. For me Adam was just too cold, I couldn't work up any sympathy for him when it came to his father. While there was tons of hippedy-hopping-bedroom-floor-chair-wall sexcapades, they were all rather tedious. And there was even a pool-table scene! Nothing better than a hot pool-table. Could have been a spark - but nooooooo, he had to run upstairs with her - ruined the mood. On top of that I had an ewwwwww moment.

My ewwwwww moment. Why did you include this in your book Ms. Hunter? I have often wondered about the cleanliness of Romanceland - you know underarms, sweat, dirty hair, toilets under beds, hairy underarms, and unclean parts being orally entertained. You know those kind of things. But usually I am never told any of this real world stuff by the author. However, in this book there is such a scene. Adam and Clara have a night of humpidy-bumpidy, an exhausting night - so exhausting that Clara sleeps in later than normal. She wakes up to the aroma of last night's activities and the sudden arrival of her brother and grandmother. Panic time! She throws on some clothes and tries to head them off at the pass. She does not have a chance to pick up her discarded nightgown. She is not quite all together. Her brain is filled with her adventures of the previous evening and trying to prevent her relatives from catching on. She is frazzled. But her uncomfortable moment (and ours) is about to get worse. Her grandmother is lecturing her on all sorts of things and spots Clara's nightie on the floor, picks it up, waves it around and makes some kind of comment about "fish water" smell. Well, that was a vivid kick out of the book moment. But, it doesn't stop there. The grandmother tosses the tuna-water night gown to Clara’s brother. Evidently he is familiar with the smell because he gives his sister a "look" then makes some kind of snide comment about Clara's activities.  It was an ewwww moment. Granted this is not the first time smell has been associated with the morning after in a romance novel, but this is the first time I have been confronted with the identity of "fishy" and then to have a brother knowingly wiggle eyebrows and comment about it. I have expressed this before. I am close to my brother, but there are just some things I hope never to hear, see, or talk about with my brother. By the way my little Petunia's - if there is a fish fry smell after you share some connubial bliss with your better half or just your half, you might want to call the doctor. At least according to what I found when googling fishy smells. Yes, I did google an interesting combination of "fish smell" words. Oh, the wonders of the World Wide Web.

Overall there was much to like about this book, Clara for one, they mystery for another. But I found the hero to be cold and problematic and the ewwww moment jerked me out of the story. It was an okay book, but not one of Ms. Hunter's best.

And now it's time for a little tune:

"Fish heads, fish heads
Roly-poly fish heads
Fish heads, fish heads
Eat them up, yum

In the morning, laughing, happy fish heads
In the evening, floating in the soup

Ask a fish head anything you want to
They won’t answer, they can’t talk

I took a fish head out to see a movie
Didn’t have to pay to get it in

They can’t play baseball, they don’t wear sweaters
They’re not good dancers, they don’t play drums" -
  Kevin Stevenson

Time/Place: 1822 England
Sensuality: Warm/Hot (depending on your definition of sensuality)

The Lady Traverlers Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen by Victoria Alexander

June 19, 2017

The title was promising - too bad.

Victoria Alexander is one of my auto-buy authors. She can be a pretty quirky writer, with bits of humor jumping to the forefront. In case you haven't caught on, I am a sucker for an author who can write funny stuff. When I picked up this book the title made me think I was going to be in for a pretty humorous ride. Sad to say, twas not to be. In fact I had to really push to read this book.

There is a pretty clever set-up which introduces a new series. A trio of elderly women have established a traveling society. They are encouraging mostly women to travel. To see the dream they've always had. To have adventures, have fun. These three women give lectures about the joys of traveling. They are what we might call travel agents. But you see the problem is that none of these women have actually been anywhere and they most definitely haven't done any kind of booking. They have been living off the money they have pocketed. Now, India Predergast's aunt Heloise has come up missing and India wants answers. Enter our hero, Derek.

Derek's aunt is one of the elderly swindlers and he has just found out about what the three women have been doing. His first priority is to find the missing Heloise and at the same time keep his aunt and her two friends from going to prison. When India barges into a private meeting between Derek and the elderly swindlers, Derek has already decided on what he must do. He must follow the missing Heloise's path. He just hadn't counted on taking India with him. She will have it no other way - India is a tad bit head-strong and she doesn't like Derek. In fact, she jumps to the conclusion that he is the ring-leader. So the story is set up.

India and Derek travel together, bickering, fighting and keeping things from each other. India doesn't trust Derek and Derek does some pretty underhanded things. He does keep things from India - things he really shouldn't. After so many chapters of throwing insults, hiding things and not trusting each other, there seemed to be a number of repeated arguments. I became weary. I love a good annoying-couple-getting-on-each-other's-nerves story, but this one seem to become bogged down. It didn't grow. As much as I tried, I could find no chemistry between India and Derek. There was all this verbal sparring going on, but there was never a sensual awareness between the two.

What saved this book for me was the secondary character, Val. Val is Derek's brother and he is hilarious. He stole every scene he was in with Derek and India. He is so funny and fascinating I am concerned about his story. I think he's has his own story coming, although I could find nothing saying that. Ms. Alexander has creating one of those secondary characters who take over the book but he is also one who might lose that momentum when it comes to his own story. I wish Ms. Alexander had put some of Val's sparkle into her main characters. Val was wonderful! But this wasn't his book.

I didn't understand why Derek was considered a rogue. Maybe that's because he was already in the process of reforming when we are introduced to him. So he was already on his way to being a Dudley Do-right. I actually found him a little boring. You know how some authors can write men who just take over the page? All they have to do is cross their ankles and there is a sensuality which just permeates the air - well Derek doesn't have it. For me he was just a flat character who fought with the female lead and had a brother who stole the show.

Ms. Alexander has numerous stories that I just love! She's also written some great short stories. And those are the ones I remember when I see she has another book coming out. For me, this is one by her which will have to go in the other pile - the ones that didn't quite live up to my expectations.

Time/Place: Road trip England/Europe 1889
Sensuality: Warm


Memories Schmemories - Angel Rogue by Mary Jo Putney

May 8, 2017
Oh the good old days

"The rain is on the roof
Hurry high butterfly
As clouds roll past my head
I know why the skys all cry
OM, OM, Heaven, OM"

Road trip! Road Trip! A long long time ago there used to be a publisher by the name of New American Library, or NAL, and they had this wonderful little branch called Signet Regency Romance. They started printing in the late 1970s and lasted until sometime in 2006. Many, many, many authors began with Signet. I loved these little books. I think they would publish three or four books a month and I would be waiting for those books to hit the stands. One of the authors who first came to my attention through Signet was Mary Jo Putney - I loved her early stuff. Then she started writing longer books and then she turned to the dark side and started writing contemporary romance. She even dabbled a little bit in paranormal. She has, of course, returned to historical, but nothing beats some of her older writing. And if any of you have never read The Rake, you should. It is one of my ten favorite romances. But this review isn't about that story, it's about another older book by Ms. Putney. First written in 1990 as The Rogue and the Runaway, it was published by Signet. Later Ms. Putney added a few more pages and it joined her Fallen Angels series under the new name of Angel Rogue (1995). Well, it has recently floated to my attention again through the wonderful world of electronic books. At last, a book with some wonderful words and great characters. It was a pleasure to reread this story.

This story revolves around Maxima (Maxie) Collins and Lord Robert Andreville (Robin). There is also a secondary romance between Desdemona, Maxie's aunt, and Giles, Robin's brother. Both of these romances are quite good, and unlike some stories which have two romances going on at once, they do not distract from each other. Also helping in making this story a lovely read was its length. It is just a tad bit longer than stories which are published today - so there is more substance on these pages. 
Here's the plot-line. Lord Robert Andreville, aka Robin, is home from years and years of spying. He's been through a lot. He's got dirt on his hands, he's been through some awful terrible stuff. Plus, his mistress is now his friend and married to a fellow hero from another book. Not only is Robin sad and blue because of his lost love, he also has some pretty angst-like spy stuff to get over. Unlike a lot of angst-filled heroes, Robin does not drag the entire world down with him. He has hid his melancholy side under a happy-go-lucky facade. That doesn't mean he doesn't have people who are worried about him, because they are - especially his brother Giles and his ex-mistress Maggie. But don't fear, my little Petunia's, because help is on the way in the form of our heroine Maxie.

Maxie is an American. She is also the child of an English aristocratic father and a Mohawk Native-American woman. Most of her life was spent in America living with her mother's people or traveling around with her free-spirited father. By the way, she loved her life with her mother and father - no Romanceland horrible parents here! Maxie's parents are both dead so she is living in England with her uncle and his snooty wife and daughters. Maxie is an interesting character because she is really quite good at standing up for herself. There's a wonderful scene in the beginning when she threatens her cousin with an arrow. When Maxie overhears her uncle talking about her father's death and how "things" must be kept from her, she knows she must find out what happened. She sees nothing wrong or silly with packing her bags, binding her boobs and hiking 250 miles to London. By this time in the book, we the reader have learned what makes Maxie tick and see nothing silly about this premise. So she's off. Oops! She trips over something on the way out. That would be Robin, who is taking a little nap under a tree.

Robin wakes up and knows right away that he has an arm-full of woman. No bound boobs are going to get past this hero. After some talking, Robin and Maxie decide to join forces and journey to London together. This journey covers more than just miles, because during their time together they get to know each other. Along the way they become friends, comrades and eventually lovers. They share their good and bad memories. They also share a number of adventures. The road trip is quite an experience and I enjoyed most of it. I did have a few eye-brows raised moments when Maxie was doing her "talk to the trees, butterflies and clouds" routine, puffing away on her hookah and chanting OMMMMMMmmm. I lied, she didn't have a hookah, but she did come awfully close to an OM moment. Regardless of Maxie's mother-nature incidents, Robin and Maxie were a wonderful couple.

But they weren't the only wonderful couple in the book. There was also a secondary romance between the stodgy older brother Giles and the antagonistic, pushy aunt, Desdemona. These two had absolutely nothing in common and were great fun to watch as they circled each other and gave chase to their little lost lambs. I almost wish they had their own book, but ‘twas not to be. But I had great fun reading when they were in the book.

Except for the "mother-nature" moments I only had one other small quibble. Even with all the extra pages which were added to the story, the ending still had a rushed feel to it. But other than that, this story is a great classic romance and it should be picked up and read. I recommend either the original The Rogue and the Runaway or the one with all the sex, Angel Rogue. It's a truly wonderful novel by one of Romanceland's very gifted authors - Mary Jo Putney.

Time/Place: Regency England Road Trip
Sensuality: Hot


Duke's in Disquise by Grace Burrows, Susanna Ives and Emily Greenwood

June 7, 2017
The never ending quest.  

Even though I know better, sometimes in my never-ending quest for a book I really like I
pick up an anthology. You just never know what you may find. You might find an author who can write really good short stories or you may find a new author who entertains you enough you will want to give one of their bigger books a try. Weeeel, while I found all three stories pleasant, there was nothing in any of the three stories which would draw me in for more. The premise which runs through all three stories is that three guys who are friends and also allll dukes decide to go incognito. You see, one of their members was shot in the but-tocks, so he doesn't want anyone to know that - and that is the foundation which all three novellas builds on.

The first story is by Grace Burrows, entitled The Duke of Lesser Puddlebury. I actually thought the title was rather amusing. This is the duke who was shot in the rear-end. This hero is having a hard time. Nothing he does works out. He's misunderstood by his family, especially his uncle who for some reason controls his money. He doesn't want his uncle to find out about his bulleted-butt, so he's hiding out. Connor, Duke of Mowne, decides to recover at the home of his mother's friend, Jules St. Bellan, only to find out that Jules is really Julianna. Julianna has her own problems trying to keep the village wolf away from her door. This story was a pleasant read, but the back story that was hinted at for Julianna needed a longer format to work.

The second story is Duchess of Light by Susanna Ives. This one introduces the Duke of Lucere who may have a witty tongue but he also jumps to conclusions. He jumps to the conclusion that our heroine, Estella, is a prostitute just because she's trying to earn a living and she has big bazookas. He is pretty much an immature guy who is a jerk. This story is also pretty similar to the first story, but it is a lot weaker - especially when there isn't enough time to change the "hero" into a nice guy.

The third story is by Emily Greenwood called Kiss Me Your Grace. I've never read any of Ms. Greenwood's stories before and while this short story was ok, I'm not sure it would encourage me to pick up one of her full-length novels. In this story we have a heroine pretending to be someone she's not and the hero pretending to not be a duke. Claire is our heroine and she cannot say no - but in this story she gives it a good try. Rowan is the hero who finds her irritating because she is constantly disagreeing with him. There isn't really too much to this story and I was glad when I was finished.

Overall, this was an anthology which filled in some time, but I had a hard time remembering what the stories were about and it's something I really can't recommend.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Supposed to be hot

Holy Cannoli!!! Time for Historical Romance Releases!!!!

May 25, 2017

Authors with an asterisk*, I'm picking up! For more Upcoming Releases that aren't historical see HEY DELIA!! June 15, 2017 to July 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.
Amy Jarecki   
The Highland Commander
Highland Lords series
June 27
Amy Sandas
Lord of Lies
Fallen Ladies series
July 4
Elizabeth Michels  
The Wicked Heir
Spare Heirs series
July 4
Gayle Callen   
Love with a Scottish Outlaw
Highland Weddings series
June 27
Heather McCorkle
Courting the Corporal
Emerald Belles series
June 27
Helen Dickson
The Foundling Bride
June 20
Janice Preston
Cinderella and the Duke
Beauchamp Betrothals series
June 20
Maggie Robinson*
Seducing Mr. Sykes
Cotswold Confidential series
June 20
Manda Collins
Duke with Benefits
Studies in Scandal series
June 27
Michelle Willingham  
Forbidden Night with a Warrior
Warriors of the Night series
July 1
Sabrina Jeffries  
The Pleasures of Passion
Sinful Suitors series
June 20
Sarah MacLean*
The Day of the Duchess
Scandal and Scoundrel series
June 27
Sophia James
Ruined by the Reckless Viscount
July 1
Sophie Barnes
A Most Unlikely Duke
Diamonds in the Rough series
June 27
Tatiana March
From Runaway to Pregnant Bride
Fairfax Brides series
June 20
Theresa Romain
Scandalous Ever After
Romance of the Turf series
July 4
Virginia Heath
A Warriner to Rescue Her
The Wild Warriners series
June 20


Marry in Haste by Anne Gracie

May 23, 2017
When I say jump, you say 'how high?!'

It’s been awhile since I've read an Anne Gracie book. Even though I loved her first couple of books, she never became one of my auto buys. But times are tough and I've been on a desperate search for something I like, so when I read a glowing review about Marry in Haste, I thought - what have you got to lose. Well, I'm mighty happy I read that review. Turns out Marry in Haste was just what I was looking for.

This was a character-driven story. There were no heroic harebrained heroines doing preposterous things. There weren't any groan-inducing-eye-crossing antics which didn't fit into the time line. And, best of all, we have a hero and heroine who actually talk to each other - dare I say, they even become friends. Gasp! They learn to respect each other. It was a charming story.

Major Calbourn Rutherford has been a soldier for over a decade. Even though the war is over there is still some unfinished business. He's after the sniper who murdered his best friend during the war. This is his obsession. But on his return to England there are some problems which must be fixed. It sees Calbourn has two half-sisters who are regular hellions and in need of a firm hand. Being an army guy, he charges in - strong arms his sisters and immediately loses control of the situation. Not only that but he finds out his deceased brother has a daughter who seems to have run wild in the countryside. Now Cal has a problem. He has three young women who resent him and don't follow his orders. He does not have time for this; he has an assassin to catch. He must find someone to rope the girls in - it is time for our heroine, Emmaline Westwood, a teacher from sisters' school. At first he offers her a job of looking after the girls. She turns him down. She needs something which will last a few more years. Cal then gets the brilliant idea of proposing a marriage of convenience. After a few minutes of consideration Emmaline accepts. Cal now thinks he can wash his hands of this sisters and niece and return to his assassin search. Ha! Nothing works the way Cal has envisioned.

Cal was a wonderful, gruff hero. Throughout the book we watch as he discover what is important and what isn't. He is the one who changes the most in this story, but that doesn't mean Emmaline is just a supporting character. Her presence is what this story revolves around. She is the catalyst.

Cal and Emmaline are a wonderful couple. They make for what I would call a good old romance story. They talk to each other, they support each other, and together they build a family. I sense that the three young women will have their own books.

If I had any quibble, it was that some of the loose ends were tied up too tidily, but overall this was a well-written lovely story and highly recommended.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Hot


The Secret of My Seduction by Caroline Linden

May 22, 2017
Just when you thought it was safe to come out of the kitchen, another "Fifty" blah blah blah book appears. Only this time it's different - this one has some good writing in it.

Caroline Linden supposedly finished her Fifty Ways to Sin series with the book Six Degrees
of Scandal. Surprise! There's always room for a novella. This small offering is called The Secret of My Seduction. I confess, I have never read the "Fifty Shades of.." which started the race to include tons of sex in books to the exclusion of a storyline. However, I did watch the trailers for the Razzie winning movie (worst picture and screenplay) and if - if - the writing in the book is as stilted as what appears in these trailers, the best I can say is I probably will never read the books.

So, when I pick up a book which has "Fifty" in its title I always hesitate. It wasn't long before I began to relax and enjoy Caroline Linden's short little book. Not only is it a charming story, it's quite hot!

Now, there's nothing new in The Secret of My Seduction's set-up. Our heroine, Batheshba Crawford, has been writing a series of naughty stories called Tales of Lady X. While she is not an innocent, her experience is rather limited and she fears her stories are not exciting enough and people may become bored with them. Of course, she has a plan. She will ask her publisher, Liam, to help her gain experience by taking her to his bed. Well, Liam is a tad bit shocked. He turns her down. But Bathsheba has read a few romance books in her time, she employs that good old stand-by incentive - "If you won't - dance with me, kiss me, pretend to be my fiancé, have sex with me - I will find someone else who will."  There are no surprises in this story, but it has a fresh feel about it - thanks to the writing.

Both Bathsheba and Liam are fairly well developed. Even though the story is very short there was still time for a back story of both characters. There was also room for plenty of hot, hot sex. All I can say is Wall-banger! Yipes! There were also a number of amusing scenes, especially when Bathsheba takes a notepad and pencil to their first rendezvous.

I do recommend this. Sure, sure it's a short story, but it's a darn good one and as we all know, good short stories are hard to find. So go ahead, take an hour or two and read this story. I think you'll like it. It also would have made a wonderful full-length book.

Time/Place: 1823 England
Sensuality: Hot


Six Impossible Things by Elizabeth Boyle

May 11, 2017
Faster than a speeding bullet, unless it's lodged in her shoulder.
Why? Cause she didn't listen.
More powerful than a locomotive, unless she's tied to the track.
Why? Cause she didn't listen.
Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, and break her legs.
Why? Cause she didn't listen.

Look! Up in the sky! 
It’s a bird.
It’s a plane.

It’s You're-Not-the-Boss-of-Me Girl!
Here's the deal. I've read many, many books in which one or more characters irritate me. Yes, yes, I know you find that hard to believe because I'm such a mild-mannered person. But sometimes a character comes along who is just toooo annoying and when they do, they really ruin the story. Well, let me introduce you to Roselie Stratton, Elizabeth Boyle's latest heroine. See that tear in my eye? I am crying big drops of salt water because Elizabeth Boyle is one of my favoriiiiiiiite authors and is responsible for one of my favorite heroines - Emmaline. But gee willikers, Roselie Stratton is - is - is - so strangle-worthy. I can do nothing but stutter. Words just come out of my mouth, like: gag, suffocate, idiotic, witless - I could go on and on. I don't believe I've been so stunned by such a stupendously stupid, headstrong, heroine in a long time. Yes, during the night Roselie Stratton dresses as a mild-mannered sexy floozy. But when trouble comes knocking on her door she runs to the nearest phone booth and turns into You're-Not-the-Boss-of-Me Girl! Ta-ta-tah!!!

You see, Roselie thinks she can catch a killer. Yes, yes, you heard me - a killer. Not just any old killer, but a dangerous one! (As opposed to the ones who are not so dangerous). But that's all right, because she knows everything and she can do anything allllll by herself - with no help from more experienced spy-like people. For instance our hero, Brody. Brody tries to tell her, warn her, protect her, but she doesn't heed his words. She ignores his advice, she doesn't ask for help. She just blindly charges into one disaster after another. She even manages to come up with a plan to help a friend and that friend ends up murdered.

Roselie ruined the entire book for me. Was the plotline good? Wouldn't know, because Roselie was in there doing stupid things. Did I like the hero, Brody? Yes, I did. But how could he be in love with such a nincompoop as Roselie. In my opinion she treated him like dirt and definitely didn't respect him. Should the head of the spy/agent/operative/whatever office have been fired for allowing an idiot woman to cavort through dangerous places? Yes, yes, yes!!!! What was he thinking? Can women be spies? Sure they can - at least the ones who are smart. There's a reason Mata Hari was shot - she wasn't the brightest bulb in the kingdom!

Not even the presence of characters from other books could take my focus away from You're-Not-the-Boss-of-Me Roselie. I'm all for strong heroines, but you don't have to kick a door in to prove your strength. What could have been a charming book was obliterated for me by Roselie.

I shall now cry in private.

Time/Place:  1811 England
Sensuality: Why her Brody? 


My One True Highlander by Suzanne Enoch

May 10, 2017
I'm just a Prisoner of Love

Ahh, the kidnapping scenario. It's been around in Romanceland for a long time; dare I say probably from the beginning and not just in historical romances either. Maybe when I began reading romance this theme didn't bother me. Maybe rough pirates were exciting or dirty cowboys with kerchiefs around their face were mysterious. I remember a few of these guys from Johanna Lindsey and Kathleen Woodiwiss, but I have long since grown past the age when I find a woman chained to a bed romantic. And, I would like to think that an experienced author such as Ms. Enoch would have moved away from the kidnapping-I-love-my-captor routine by now. While I am not always a big fan of trying to write historical novels with a modern “I-know-how-you-feel-man,  I-see-where-you-are-coming-from, your-pain-is-my-pain” voice, there comes a time when I have to say kidnapping and chaining a woman to a bed is just not romantic. While our hero, Graeme, doesn't do the actual kidnapping, he does chain her to the bed. If the story had taken a different path after the kidnapping I would have been so much happier with My One True Highlander.

Anyway, here's the plot. Lady Marjorie Forrester is going to surprise her brother, the newly minted Duke of Lattimer, by showing up at his wedding. By the way, he was the hero from the previous book, Hero in the Highlands. If you have read Hero of the Highlands you will know that there is a clan war going on, although it was sort of settled at the end - but not really. I know that doesn't make sense, but this is Romanceland for Pete's sake and we have a meandering villain, the Duke of Dunneraigh, who wasn't disposed of properly in the last book. Marjorie and her brother haven't been together for much of their life; their lives have been a struggle and they were both forced to earn livings. Marjorie was a companion until her brother inherited his title and the wealth which came with it. Well, it seems that there are some things which money can't buy and in Marjorie's case it can't buy acceptance into the ton. Something she wants desperately, but has been denied. So, feeling blue, she's off to Scotland. Little does she know that's she's riding right into a clan war.

Meanwhile in Scotland our hero, Graeme, has been visited by the slimy Dunneraigh from Hero in the Highlands. Graeme owes his allegiance to this villain. While Graeme doesn’t have any great fondness for Englishmen, he isn’t about to disturb the Duke of Lattimer but he also realizes that he is irritating the villain. He’s hoping to stay neutral in the clan war. His plans for neutrality are tested when his younger brothers form a plan. By the way the three young brothers are the best part of the book. They are the belligerent Brendan (a very moody teenager), Dughlas (a smart teenager), and Connell (a nine year old scene-stealer). The boys think it would be a good idea to kidnap Marjorie and use her as leverage against the Duke of Lattimir. Graeme is now put in a very tricky situation, there could be all kinds of dire consequences. The story started to fall apart for me when Graeme comes up with a solution.

You come to a fork in the road. Do you pick it, no, no, that's something different. There are numerous paths which Ms. Enoch might have taken to continue her story. She chose to go down the heaving-bosom-days plot device and have Graeme shackle Marjorie to the bed. I'm only assuming this was so there was a reason for Graeme and Marjorie to be thrown together. But he could have returned her to the brother and still have had chances to interact with her. Instead we get to witness a constant battle of wills between Marjorie and Graeme. You know the routine, I-can't-trust-you-because-you're-a-Sassenach on his side. He sees a way out of his dilemma by asking her to marry him. Pshaw - she cannot marry him because she dreams of life among the ton. You know those people who have been snubbing her for months and months. Of course he may not be good enough to marry, but he's good enough to partake of her mommy-parts. Now, I can understand her not wanting to marry him - he did chain her to a bed and he's a perfect stranger. But her still wanting to be part of a society which shuns her was beyond belief. I am also growing weary of historical heroines who find a man hot enough to bed but not marry. That shtick is getting old. 

Graeme and Marjorie do nothing logical to solve the mess they are in. That, my little Petunia's, may be the bottom line to this book - logic. While I am in no way a Vulcan, there are moments in which I crave an author who isn't afraid to tip their toes into the "does this make sense" pool. Why does romance have to defy logic to be a romance? Have we reached a point when authors are running out of reasons for couples to be together? I don't think so. I think this book would have been better if the couple had worked together, if he had returned her to her brother, if they had at least known each other before she permitted him access to her golden tunnel. I could find no chemistry between the main protagonists. The only character in this book who was developed and interesting was the nine year old Connell. He was just toooo adorable for words. But this was not about Connell and all of his animals, this was about Marjorie and Graeme. For me, as a romance this story didn't work.

Time/Place: 1800s Scotland
Sensuality: Supposed to be hot


Congratulations to Beverly Jenkins!!!!
Beverly Jenkins has been awarded the 2017 RWA Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award. This is one of the highest honors RWA bestows on authors. This award is presented to a living author in recognition of significant contributions to the romance genre. 

Beverly has been in the business of blood, sweat and tears (that's writing) since her first book Night Song was published in 1994. She specializes in 19th century African American life and has over thirty published novels to date. Born in Detroit, she graduated from Cass Technical High School and attended Michigan State University where she majored in Journalism and English Literature. 

Congratulations Ms. Jenkins!!!


The English Duke by Karen Ranney

April 26, 2017
“This is like Déjà vu all over again.”

A few months ago I was musing over why Karen Ranney isn’t one of my auto-buys. I just might have stumbled across an answer to my pondering.

To say I was disappointed with Ranney’s latest book, The English Duke would be an understatement. Sure, sure, the story started out with a smart, savvy, strong heroine by the name of Martha. On top of that we have a stoic, manly, avoid-all-humans, scientist hero, Jordan Hamilton, the Duke of Roth. While the language in the story may have been a little stilted, I thought – “Oh it will get better.” Then, because my brain is sooooo agile, I started noticing something. Something familiar. Ummm.

A pet peeve moment. I do not like becoming distracted by a sense of familiar. I don’t like it when I feel I should know someone I’m introduced to or that nagging sense of being in a place you think you've been in before or that book you just know you’ve read before. Why does this bother me? Because I have to find out just why something seems the same and when I do alllll that searching I am not focused on the book I’m holding in my hands. Well, my little Petunia’s, I started to have that feeling with this book. And before anyone says anything, it was not because allllll romance books are the same – they are not. No this was something else, something in the plotline.  Something. Nagging. Ummm.

Our heroine has a terrible sister. A spoiled sister. A conniving sister. Our hero has a friend, a shady character. His friend is attracted to the horrible sister. They were in cahoots. They do hanky-panky – heavy on the hank. The secondary characters were so familiar. I knew I had read something similar before, but where? Was it possible that some other author was doing a little plagiarism? Then the light bulb went off. This secondary theme was almost an exact replica of the secondary theme from A Scandalous Scot written by – Karen Ranney. (And, by the way I know “exact replica” is redundant). Maybe if I had read the story in 2012 I might not have noticed the sameness, but I read A Scandalous Scot in January of this year. (I didn’t like the secondary characters then either). I was perplexed as to why these secondary stories were so similar. An author cannot plagiarize themselves can they? Nah – maybe – don’t know. But they can certainly reuse old ideas or become lazy. I was very disappointed when I found this recycled theme.

Not only was I treated to a reused secondary story, there was also a drugged hero having dream-sex with the heroine scene. Only it isn’t a dream. The evil conniving sister finds out her sister has had her first humpy-bumpy. She has a plan. I could see the writing on the wall, or at least the page. We were going to go down the sex mix-up-marriage-martyr road. The strong sister was going to be a martyr and the hero was going to be in angstville.  And, the evil sister was not going to get her just deserts.

I could go no further. I closed the book. What a disappointment. My illusions have been shattered.

Time/Place: 1871 England
Sensuality: Questionable