Monday

Duke of my Heart, A Duke to Remember and Between the Devil and the Duke by Kelly Bowen

February 27, 2017
Huzzah! I'm impressed!

Recently I read a great review on In Between the Devil and the Duke by Kelly Bowen. I thought "ummm, I believe I've purchased some of her books in the past, but haven't read them. This sounds like one I should check out." So I did. It didn't take me long to realize I had a really interesting story on my hands. As luck would have it, this book was the third in a series of three (that would be a trilogy for those following along). That would also explain some of the dark looks being exchanged by the men in this story, which I had no idea why they were being exchanged. Some of those looks were downright murderous. After a few "should I buy the other two books" moments I decided the only way for me to find out what the glacial looks were about was to get the other two books in the series. Joy, oh joy, oh rapture! Turns out Kelly Bowen has written a fantastic series in Season for Scandal. What a breath of fresh air these three books turned out to be. I think I can place this series in amongst my other favorites. I haven't really decided which one of the books was my favorite. They are all filled with ultra-strong women and men who aren't afraid of those women being strong. I was enthralled with all three books.

Let's take a closer look. Warning: unlike me, I suggest you read these books in order. First is Duke of My Heart. In this book we are introduced to Chegarre and Associates. This
organization is a fixer-upper place. A place one would go to hide a body or find a missing heir; a place which doesn't leave any traces behind of anything. The person who runs this place is a Miss Ivory Moore (at least that's who we are told she is). But this book is full of mysteries and things that aren't what they seem and people who aren't who they are (or something like that).

The story opens with Maximus Harcourt, the Duke of Alderidge, returning home after years of absence, sailing the seas and ignoring his sister. Well, Max is in for a surprise. Instead of finding his young sister, he finds the Earl of Debarry naked, tied to his sister's bed - and by the way Debarry is dead. Instead of his sister being there, he also finds a couple of women investigating the scene, one of them being Miss Moore and the other being Elise deVries. Before he can even ask "Hey, who are you?" he is swept away by the machinations of Miss Moore. Now, because Max is an alpha male and Ivory is a take charge woman, heads immediately butt. There is an almost constant struggle between these two. But it's a fun struggle to watch.

In fact there is more than just the struggle between the two combatants. There is also a struggle inside both Max and Ivory. As they circle each other and step on each other’s toes, they are also forced to give in. They both learn to accept help from the other. They each let go of some of their controls and in the end form a delightful partnership.

Of course there were some wonderful secondary characters. Some show up in all three books and some don't. But all of the characters are well-rounded and well thought out. If I had any quibbles with this story it would have to be the modern feel of the language and thoughts throughout. But, hey I am a big fan of Julia Quinn and I like the book, so I learned to live with the anachronisms. The other little quibble was the ending seemed rather abrupt, I think I like to see a bucolic family scene in my last chapters.

On to the second book in the series: A Duke to Remember. Like the first book, the opening scene hooks one in right away. This one starts in Bedlam and our heroine is disguised as a male doctor. Elise deVries works for Chegarre and Associates. She is a tracker, she finds things. She is almost a super-hero, she's so perfect. Not only is Elise the best tracker in the whole world, but the best shooter, best actress, and best disguiser ever! She's almost toooo perfect and I might have found that a little irritating, except she has no control over her feelings for our hero so there was a balance.

Our hero is Noah Ellery and he happens to be a manly-man beta hero. He is also in hiding. He is also a duke. When he was a child he didn't talk, so at the age of 10 Noah's father committed him to Bedlam and told everyone that Noah was dead. There are only two people who know that Noah is alive: his sister and his mother. Well, his mother makes the mistake of saying Noah is alive to the wrong person. That person is our villain Francis Ellery. Francis is Noah's cousin and is deep in debt and he needs money now. Francis also wants to be a duke, so he has Noah's mother committed to Bedlam - because everyone knows Noah is dead and here is this looney woman saying he's alive. Remember, this is a time period when women were not really listened to. And, that leads us back to Bedlam and Elise pretending to be a doctor.

Elise has been hired by Noah's sister to find Noah. And, that's just what she does - pretty easily. Actually, this is a pretty simple story and everything is solved fairly easily. But it's still a powerful tale, because both Elise and Noah are pretty complex people. This is sort of a story of two people in love adjusting to each other and not struggling too hard to do so. There is no misunderstanding, no betrayal, not many secrets that remain secrets - there is just growing, and accepting. It's really a lovely love story.

My quibbles: Once again the ending was abrupt, the language modern. There was also a whole cast of village people who are left behind (bye - see ya - I'm a duke now) with no chapter to sum everything up. I guess they went to the Island of Abandoned Secondary Characters. Still this was a wonderful story and I highly recommend it.

Now for the third book in the series, In Between the Devil and the Duke. This is the one I read first and the one which caused me to read the other two. In this one we have Angelique Archer, who is not employed at Chegarre and Associates, but boy oh boy can she count. Our hero is Alexander Lavoie who is a partner in Chegarre and Associates and also the brother of Elise deVries.

It just so happens that Alex owns a gambling establishment. Guess who's counting cards - go ahead, guess. If you guessed Angelique you'd be right. She has visited his gambling den a number of nights, incognito, and she doesn't think anyone has noticed her. But, Alex has been covertly watching her every night she's been there. He hasn't done anything about it, because he suspects she's in desperate straits. When Angelique is accosted by an inebriated sore-loser, Alex steps in. There are immediate sparks between Angelique and Alex. You know, I noticed a pattern in all three of the books: when our pairs met there is never any question of anyone else. Their focus is on the other.

Because Ms. Bowen does not write misunderstandings in her books, Alex and Angelique join forces right away to find out who is blackmailing her. While I was reading this story, I was just as fascinated with the mystery part of it as I was with the romance. There is murder, blackmail, mayhem, and possible villains galore. I had my suspicions early on as to who the culprit was and I was partially correct, but Ms. Bowen threw in a little surprise - and I'm not going to tell you!

In closing, I have the same thing to say about this book as I did the others. It's a good thing I liked them, because if I hadn't the modern thought processes and slang would have really irritated me. And, Ms. Bowen - you really need to work on your epilogues. Having said that, I highly recommend the entire Season for Scandal series. That includes Duke of My Heart, A Duke to Remember, In Between the Devil and the Duke. They are a real treat.

For All Three:
Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Hot

Can I Hear a Holy Cannoli? Upcoming Historical Romances!!!

Authors with an asterisk*, I'm picking up! For more Upcoming Releases that aren't historical see HEY DELIA!! March 15, 2017 to April 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
http://alyssacole.com
An Extraordinary Union
Loyal League series
March 28
Anna Bennett
http://annabennettauthor.com/
I Dared the Duke
Wayward Wallflowers series
April 4
Diane Gaston
http://www.dianegaston.com
Bound by Their Secret Passion
March 21 - paperback, April 1 - ebook
Ella Quinn
http://www.ellaquinnauthor.com
It Started with a Kiss
Worthingtons series
March 28
Greta Gilbert
http://www.harlequin.com/author.html?authorid=2792
The Spaniard’s Innocent Maiden
March 21 - paperback, April 1 - ebook
Juliet Landon
http://www.harlequin.com/author.html?authorid=890
Captive of the Viking
March 21 - paperback, April 1 - ebook
Karen Ranney*
http://karenranney.com
The English Duke
Duke series
March 29
Laura Lee Guhrke*
http://lauraleeguhrke.com/
The Truth About Love and Dukes
Dear Lady Truelove series
March 28
Lauri Robinson
http://www.laurirobinson.blogspot.com
The Cowboy’s Orphan Bride
March 21 - paperback, April 1 - ebook
Liz Tyner
http://www.liztyner.com/
The Wallflower Duchess
March 21 - paperback, April 1 - ebook
Lisa Berne
http://www.LisaBerne.com
You May Kiss the Bride
Penhallow Dynasty series
March 28
Marguerite Kaye
http://www.margueritekaye.com
Claiming His Desert Princess
Hot Arabian Nights series
March 21 - paperback, April 1 - ebook
Suzanne Enoch*
http://www.suzanneenoch.com/
My One True Highlander
No Ordinary Hero series
April 4

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 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. There was a black cloud hanging over my head through the entire story - why wasn'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 be able 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