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Release date: September 1, 2010

Setting: 1804 England

Series: #2 of the House of Rohan Trilogy. Can be read stand alone.
Pages: 408 (ePub)
Sensuality: NC-17

FTClosure: I was given an ARC

Tropes: Older woman, the Rake & Spinster, There is no such thing as a frigid woman, and best of all, No-I-will-not-marry-you-even-tho-I-am-carrying-your-baby-because-you’re-not-in-love-with-me

Plot: Charlotte is a 30 year old spinster and poor relation living with her cousin, Lina. Charlotte has the hots for Adrian, Viscount Rohan, the greatest rake in all of bloody England.  For convoluted reasons, Lina decides that it would educate Charlotte to view all the fornication that occur during one of the three day orgies at the Heavenly Host (a thinly veiled Hellfire Club) house party. Charlotte goes as an observor only but guess who is there? Adrian and Charlotte then engage in a 48 hour boink-a-thon, after which he might have possibly shoved Charlotte off a cliff as his “tip”. Strike that. Actually, his tip turns out to be a little nugget in her cave. (Wink wink, nudge nudge.)

There is also a secondary romance involving Lina & the local parson and a suspense plot that is marginally thrown in there.

Ramblings: According to my records, I have read seven of Stuart’s previous works. Altho I don’t consider myself a fan, I ‘ve always admired her clean, almost terse writing style which I think is especially suited to her romantic suspense novels. For those who have read her earlier historicals from the 1990s like the much-admired A Rose at Midnight, Reckless in comparison, is a much faster, more wallpaper-ish read. For about the first 250 pages, I was enjoying this very sexy story until I realized that Adrian & Charlotte do not have much of a connection beyond great sex . . . and aren’t going to.

Stuart’s specialty is the Bad Boy Hero so Adrian the Rake is a character she can do in her sleep. And probably did. He has no discernable characteristics beyond being beautiful, dumb, and slutty.

This is where I find the secondary romance bothersome. It is problematic because of the following – (1) I don’t like secondary romances as a rule. (2) Like most secondary romances, it is better and more interesting than the primary romance.  Charlotte’s cousin, Lina, is arguably the most interesting character in the book.  She is a widow who survived a horribly abusive marriage and unapologetically participates in the Heavenly Hosts orgies. Since she can’t have sex with the reformed sinner-turned-parson (think Russell Crowe’s preacher in The Quick and the Dead, yum!), they do a heck lot more talking and communicating than Adrian & Charlotte. (3) I couldn’t help thinking that if the secondary romance wasn’t present, maybe more depth could have been added to the primary romance, what there was of it.

As the story petered to the end, I was tempted to grade this a C- but decided that I might be a little harsh. After all, there is really nothing wrong with a shallow, smoothly written, by-the-numbers, sexy historical. It’s not Stuart’s fault that I wanted more.

Grade: C

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Surrender of a Siren (2009)

Desperate to escape a loveless marriage and society’s constraints, pampered heiress Sophia Hathaway jilts her groom, packs up her paints and sketchbook, and assumes a new identity, posing as a governess to secure passage on the Aphrodite. She wants a life of her own: unsheltered, unconventional, uninhibited. But it’s one thing to sketch her most wanton fantasies, and quite another to face the dangerously handsome libertine who would steal both her virtue and her gold.
To any well-bred lady, Benedict “Gray” Grayson is trouble in snug-fitting boots. A conscienceless scoundrel who sails the seas for pleasure and profit, Gray lives for conquest–until Sophia’s perception and artistry stir his heart. Suddenly he’ll brave sharks, fire, storm, and sea just to keep her at his side. She’s beautiful, refined, and ripe for seduction. Could this counterfeit governess be a rogue’s redemption? Or will the runaway heiress’s secrets destroy their only chance at love?

Author: Tessa Dare

Genre: Ocean romance, Regency Period

Series: Second in a trilogy

Sensuality: PG-13 to R

Content warnings: None.

Grade: A-

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Author: Terri Brisbin

Genre: 19th Century England (I have no idea if it’s Regency or Victorian)

Series: Stand Alone (Yay!)

Sensuality: PG-13

Reason for Reading: a Send Me No Flowers premise

Grade: B

Ramblings:

The Duke and Duchess of Windmere have been married for 7 years and have a barren marriage. It is both physically barren (the Duchess has never gotten pregnant) and emotionally barren.

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Mating Game (2009)

mating gameNola Grainger needs a man…and fast. Her grandmother has left her everything in her will, with one small catch: Nola has to be married within a month. But if she’s going to get married, she wants it to last. And for her, that means finding a man with as much passion as she has—who can take care of every desire, every day.

Nola finds three prime candidates: her high school sweetheart Billy, hard-dealing businessman Marc, and sexy handyman Tanner. Trying out three very different—and very desirable—men proves to be more fun than Nola imagined.

But she never thought it might prove fatal. Because someone in town is dead set against Nola sticking around. And with three new men in her bed, the danger might be closer than she thinks…

Author: Janice Maynard

Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance

Pages: 304

Sensuality: NC-17 to X

Reason for Reading: Intrigued by Premise

Grade: D+

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not_quite_a_husband_125x200When Kim H., a happily married, 47 yr old mother from Louisville, Ky told me that she was interested in a dialogue about Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas for my blog, I jumped at the chance. I had met Kim (a non-blogger) on a forum and I have always found her to have thoughtful things to say about what she is reading. Kim and I had both read Sherry Thomas’s previous two novels (Private Arrangements and Delicious) and greatly anticipated the arrival of NQAH. We both read it on Release Day and each posted  separate reviews on Goodreads but we have even more to say about it!

Like myself, Kim is primarily a historical reader and her favorite authors include Marsha Canham, Laura Kinsale, Judith Ivory, Loretta Chase, Candice Proctor, and Connie Brockway. The following is our conversation. Please note that we will be discussing the book in depth and full spoilers will be disclosed, so read forth at your own discretion.

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Seton: Well, it’s been a week since we both read NQAH. First, I have to say that although I rated NQAH a B+, it stayed with me and I couldn’t read another romance for several days afterwards because NQAH kept interfering. So, I re-read NQAH again. I still stand behind my B+ rating though even if it doesn’t really indicate how much I just adore ST’s writing. Although I loved Leo, he didn’t blind me to what I consider the book’s flaws which I will get to.
Is NQAH still an A- read for you?

Kim: Yes, I can still stand behind an A- review, because the things that graded it that high for me haven’t, in retrospect, changed.  I missed the secondary romance, but I was also glad for the opportunity to read a Sherry Thomas work without one.  It’s an interesting contrast, and I thoroughly enjoyed being able to see it.

Seton: I was sort of surprised that I did notice the lack of a secondary romance this time. I say “notice” and not “miss” because I usually hate secondary romances with the passion of a thousand nuns. In fact, I stopped reading Anne Gracie (a very good writer) cold turkey just because she assured me that she will always do secondary romances in the future. However, ST has a really delicate touch with her secondary romances and I found it really quite charming in Private Arrangements. Like you, I appreciated the opportunity of reading a ST book without one though.

Kim: I also didn’t have any problems with understanding and warming to Bryony as a heroine.  It probably sounds odd, but I had complete trust in Thomas from the outset, and I knew that she’d develop this character fully enough for me to sympathize with her.  The revelations about Bryony’s feelings for Leo, and what had caused her to withdraw from him and wall her emotions in, didn’t come too late in the story to rescue her as a heroine for me.  I had faith that they were coming, and just knew I was going to get choked up when they did.  I think this is ultimately why this book worked for me.  I very much experienced it on the level of putting myself in the author’s hands and trusting her to show me a good time.  I didn’t need Leo to carry the romance for me.  I always felt that Bryony loved him just as much as he loved her.  Certainly she was terrified of it; most definitely of allowing it show, but I never doubted the depth of her feelings for him.

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Crystal Heart (1982)

gregoryAuthor: Lisa Gregory, aka Candace Camp
Setting: Georgian England and pre-American Revolutionary War Boston

Pages: 312

Sensuality: PG

Reason for Reading: been on a Candace Camp mini-glom. Also, I saw this book mentioned in a thread on some board and I just remembered that I had it somewhere on the TBR so it felt like it was meant to be.

Content warnings: rape (the typical 1980s bodice-ripper overcome-by-passion type), adultery (if you wanna get technical) and a conditional HEA

Plot from Amazon.com (it is really, really detailed and spoilery so highlight to read all of it): Charles is not an attractive man, nor a wealthy one. He is in England, just before the Revolutionary War breaks out, trying to get Parliament to listen to reason. He lives a simple life in Boston, but has some money and property and his views and opinions are highly respected.
Thrown into the company of the rich and powerful, he first meets Lady Lettice at a party and is mesmerized by her beauty. Lettice is a vain, beautiful woman trapped in an unhappy marriage, knowing no other way to be, knowing no other way to live her life. She hides her unhappiness beneath a caustic, brittle exterior.
Her handsome, immoral husband lives off his gambling and wits. He has been know to settle gambling debts thru the loan of his wife, upon occasion. And, although she hates it, she’s forced to do it. She and her husband long ago stopped any intimacy between them. He hurts her when she isn’t easily persuaded to do as he wants.
Charles is given Lettice to take “home” one night when her husband cannot pay what he has lost in gambling. Charles is appalled. He takes her, but then, disgusted, sends her away without touching her. She and her husband get into an argument later that night when she refuses to do that any more and, to save herself, strikes him with a hard object as he is strangling her. When she has recovered from nearly passing out, she finds blood everywhere. She believes she has killed him. In a panic, she disguises herself as a boy and runs to Charles, who is in a ship’s cabin for his voyage to America the next morning. From there on, it is the story of her huge adjustment to a simpler way of life, without the luxuries she has always known, and her attempts to change. The backdrop to this is the secrecy of the beginnings of the Revolution, which plays a bigger and bigger role in the plot as it develops.
(end spoilers)

Cover: I couldnt find a single pic of the cover on the internet so I just had to scan it. (Yeah, you can enlarge by clicking it.) Because nothing sez ‘Colonial America’ like a purple bathroom rug and soft focus nekkidness. I can just hear the Bom Chicka Bow Wow in the background as I am lookin at this. Oh baby!

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The Dog Dies

playing-shiTitle: Playing for Keeps
Author: Shiloh Walker
Copyright: January 2009

Genre: Erotic Contemporary eBook

Series: No
Sensuality: X

Reason for Reading: I heart Walker’s contemps

Content warnings: Menage, anal sex, and read Ramblings section for full spoilers

Plot by seton: Nurse Dana has been getting her freak on with Photog Mason and Doctor Jacob. She has been dating Mason for a year. She has known Jacob all her life and they’ve always been on-and-off-again lovers.  The situation was never suppose to last. Then something unexpected happens and its no longer fun and games.

Grade: B

marleyRamblings: First of all, the dog doesn’t die in this novella. There isnt a dog or even a cat in this story, actually.

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