Wednesday

Schooling the Viscount by Maggie Robinson

February 15, 2017
"Your silvery beams will bring love dreams, we'll be cuddling soon,
By the silvery moon."
Edward Madden, Gus Edwards - 1909

http://www.maggierobinson.net/

Seeing as how I read mostly historicals, it's been awhile since I've read a Maggie Robinson book (2015 to be exact). Was the wait worth it? Sort of. While this book was decent, I had an overriding sense of agitation throughout the book. Try as I might I could not shake it. So, this agitation caused me not to enjoy this book as much as I wanted to. Let's examine this story.

Captain Lord Henry Challoner has returned from the Boar War with some issues. Physically, he was shot in the foot and lost hearing in one ear from being too close to a cannon. But he's suffering from some major psychological issues and has turned to alcohol, drugs, and women for the solution. Well, his controlling father has decided to put a stop to his son's actions and has him bundled off to a "rehabilitation center" for some "rest." That sentence is actually pretty gentle compared to what actually happens in the book. The place he is sent to is a small village in Cotswold called Puddling-on-the-Wold and while that may seem charming, it is anything but.

At some time during this village's past, it was decided by a "council" that they could make money catering to the "problems" of the wealthy. They take on one client at a time. The whole village transforms itself in order to fix the problem - whatever it may be. For instance, one of the village's previous clients was about to be married and had a weight problem. So the village closed anything to do with food, like the local bakery, and also restricted what the villagers could cook just in case the smell carried to the client. In Henry's case, alcohol vanished and nubile women were hidden away. He was also restricted as to where he could take his walks. It is during one of these walks when he decides to go a different way and stumbles across our heroine, Rachel.

Rachel is the local schoolteacher and she like everyone else in the village must abide by the rules. She seems to have had some problems with the "people who make the rules." And, now she is faced with the village's new client who isn't supposed to be anywhere near her. Another rule for which she will get in trouble. She doesn't want to break any more of the rules because she and her invalid father depend on the money the village rakes in. But she finds Henry to be irresistible from the beginning, so she knows she's in trouble.

There is a mix of humor and drama throughout the entire book. It should have been a pleasant read, but I had this nagging voice in my head all the way through. Our hero is 25 years old, and was a soldier for 6 years. He has his own financial independence, he is an adult. So, how come his father could just bundle him up and dump him in this village? I don't know the legal system of England in the late 1880s but I suspect for a father to do this to an adult male it wouldn't be entirely lawful. Even if it was lawful, I would guess there would have to be some pretty fancy legal foot-work that would have had to be done by the father. So, this bothered me. But that wasn't the only thing. Even if I didn't question the legalities of this plotline set-up, I questioned why a 25-year-old alpha male would put up with being incarcerated in the village. This part of Henry's character weakened the story for me. While he may have whined about being there, he made no attempt to escape and I found it hard to accept that. This a black cloud hanging over my head through the entire story - why isn't Henry doing something about his situation?

There was also a "what the crap" moment. Let's set this up: Rachel is really quite attracted to Henry. She's allll tingly and her woman-parts are wet and throbbing all the time because of Henry. But, she knows she can't do anything about it because someone in the village might see them. So, what does she do to ease her suffering? Well, she goes outside, under the moonlight, in plain sight, and pleasures herself - loudly. Of course Henry stumbles across her doing this and his Timothy Toad becomes an erection set. Really! Outside! Under the bright moon! This was a very silly scene.

This is the first book in a series called Cotswold Confidential. I'm sorry to say that this story didn't work for me. I was toooo irritated with the way the hero was written to relax and enjoy the story. He was an adult male, who was represented as being self-reliant, except he lets his father ship him off to this weird Twilight Zone village. I didn't get it.

Time/Place: England 1880s
Sensuality: Hot

Tuesday

Surrender to Sin by Tamera Lejeune

February 7, 2017
Whatever happened to...

Surrender to Sin, by Tamera Lejeune, was written in 2007. I remember reading it when it
first came out and I remember finding it funny. I also remember reading a couple more of Ms. Lejeune's books and then I stopped and then she just disappeared from Romanceland. I've done a lot of looking but could not find her anyplace. I don't believe she had a website even when she began to write. Maybe she just tired of trying to keep the momentum going and if you have read Surrender to Sin you will understand why I say that. This book was a cross between a fast-paced comedy (think His Girl Friday) and a Jerry Lewis movie (think The Lady's Man.) For those of you who don't enjoy fast-paced farce filled with characters who cross the line between loony and mean, this book isn't for you.


In this book we have Abigail, the very rich daughter of a tradesman by the name of Big Red Ritchie. He has made his money from producing the best scotch in the land. Abigail is a shy person, who has a head for financial matters. She can turn an idea into lots of money, she just can't talk to men. She has also just broken her engagement to her awful fiancé and must flee into the countryside to avoid the scandal. Her father rents her a cottage in the wilds of Hertfordshire. Little does she know that the owner of that cottage and the dilapidated estate attached to it belongs to the handsome stranger who helped her in London. That handsome guy is Cary Wayborn.

Even though Cary is in need of money, he also has a pretty cavalier attitude when it comes to ways to make the cash flow again. He has also been throwing away bills for the alcohol he bought from Red Ritchie. In fact, he doesn't like the man. He does not know that the woman he's been mooning over, Abigail, is Red's daughter. Then she arrives at the cottage. A tree has fallen on the rented cottage which leads to some pretty funny dialogue.

This book is hard to describe, because it's one misunderstanding after another. Mistaken identities abound. There are oodles of outrageous secondary characters - a vicious Macaw, a bird loving corgi, a senile nurse, an unpleasant chaperone, her sensual mysterious nurse, the gossipy neighbors, the actor, Abigail's ex-fiancé, Cary's sister and her fiancé. The entire cast of characters is outrageous. All of them plotting, lying, talking over each other. There's a kidnapping plot, a jewel thief/s, Bow Street Runners. My head was spinning just trying to keep up with all the shenanigans. I had laugh out loud moments, but also moments when I grew tired of all the racing around.

While I found this to be a pretty funny story, there were a couple of things which I had issues with. First of all, Cary's sister Juliet. Evidently Juliet was the heroine in the previous book and I don't remember that book at all. But in this book she was really quite an unpleasant character. She was immature, selfish and her treatment of her fiancé was horrible. I found her character to be terribly unlikable and could only wonder at the fact that she supposedly was the heroine from the first book. She needed to be put in her place, and nobody seemed to be able to. Abigail tried to stand up to her in part of the book, but I wish she had been just a little bit more powerful in confronting her.

The other quibble I had was this book was played mainly for laughs. I love humorous books - I think they are great and I'm always on the look-out for more. In those funny books I like a nice balance of romance and fun. For me the romance lost out to the wacky, zany comedy. Nice try though.

Time/Place: Regency England (I guess - there was no sense of time)
Sensuality: Hottish