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


The Most Dangerous Duke in London by Madeline Hunter

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