Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Devil's Delilah by Loretta Chase

Title: The Devil's Delilah
Author: Loretta Chase
Series: Regency Noblemen, #2
Genre: Regency Romance (traditional)
Publisher: Fawcett Crest
ISBN: 0449218945
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 282 pages
List Price: Out-of-Print
Reviewed: March 20, 2009
Rating: 4 stars (4.4)
Warnings: None

Synopsis: The daughter of a notorious member of Society is determined to stop her father from publishing his scandalous memoirs. To help her in this goal is a bookworm who seems far too muddled to be a proper hero.

My opinion: Not your typical run-of-the-mill romance hero, Jack Langdon is neither dashing nor scandalously improper. Not until he meets Delilah Desmond, that is. She seems to bring out his wild side in a delightfully amusing way. She is the daughter of a man known as Devil Desmond, a man who was scorned by Society for marrying an actress. Having been given the example of two very unconventional parents, she is predictably unconventional herself. And yet, I did not find her to be annoyingly belligerent, or "know-it-all" as so often happens with heroines of her nature. These were two characters I quite liked and found myself rooting for. Delilah's father is one of the best “dark” characters I've ever read.

Overall: 4.4 stars. It is very well-written, with plenty of little historical details. This story is connected to Viscount Vagabond, the heroes being friends, and I found that, while I really enjoyed Jack's story, comparatively it lacked something that I can't quite put my finger on...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Viscount Vagabond by Loretta Chase

Title: Viscount Vagabond
Author: Loretta Chase
Series: Regency Noblemen, #1
Genre: Regency Romance (traditional)
Publisher: Avon
ISBN: 0380708361
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 228 pages
List Price: Out-of-Print
Reviewed: February 22, 2009
Rating: 5 stars (4.8)
Warnings: None

Synopsis: Miss Catherine Pelliston runs away from an unpalatable betrothal and finds herself in a brothel begging a half-naked man for help. He, although being quite drunk and not believing her story, extracts her from the sticky situation she'd managed to land herself in and takes her to his lodgings, later learning of her parentage and offering her marriage to save her reputation.

Characters: Sheesh, Lord Rand made me laugh repeatedly. He was just coming off a 6-month dissipation binge when he met Catherine. For anyone familiar with Chase's Lord of Scoundrels, think Lord Dain but toned-down for a traditionally "sweet" Regency. (Please note, it has been a while since I read LOS, but I remember finding Dain's off-the-wall attitude amusing at times.)
Catherine Pelliston was polar opposite. Cursed with an overactive conscience, she was quite preachy at times. A believable personality, I think.
Together, these two were hilarious. When Catherine preached, Rand always had some odd, quirky response that made me laugh more than once. I have to wonder if two such characters could actually find happiness together, but it is a nice fantasy. :o)

Storyline: The storyline was rather typical, ie, hero proposes to save heroine's reputation, heroine refuses, hero gets to know her better and tries to not fall in love, Happily-Ever-After. The difference is Chase's ability to take this run-of-the-mill storyline and throw in several endearing--and not so endearing--characters with an excellent dose of comedy. A very enjoyable, lighthearted read.

Overall: 4.8 stars

Note: I borrowed the image from until I get my copy scanned in again...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Poisoned Apple by Madison Paine

Title: The Poisoned Apple
Author: Madison Paine
Genre: Fiction
Sub-Genre: Allegory
Publisher: Wasteland Press
ISBN: 1600473148
Format: Paperback, 68 pages
List Price: $6.95US
Reviewed: June 24, 2009
Rating: 5 stars (4.8)
Warnings: None

Synopsis (from Amazon): Written in the classic tradition of an allegory, the story chronicles the career of an apple cultivator who discovers her purpose through the triumphs, trials, and tribulations of working for a world famous apple orchard. Readers are challenged to look deeper into the story to discover subtle truths about the United States educational system.

My opinion: This is a very well-written story. It is easy to follow as events unfold and easy to see the correlation between the orchard and its workers and the US educational system. This is definitely something teachers and students need to read.

Overall: 4.8 stars

Her Grace's Passion by Marion Chesney

Title: Her Grace's Passion
Author: Marion Chesney
Series: Three Friends, #3 (unofficially named)
Genre: Regency Romance (traditional)
Publisher: Fawcett Crest
ISBN: 0449217647
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 170 pages
List Price: Out-of-Print
Characters: Duchess of Hadshire, Earl of Torridon
Reviewed: December 9, 2008

Synopsis: Matilda, Duchess of Hadshire is finally free of her abusive husband when he is murdered by his own mistress. She falls in love with the Earl of Torridon, trapped in an unhappy marriage himself. When circumstances lend him his freedom, Matilda's guilty conscience will not allow her to be with him.

My opinion: Ok. This is probably my least favorite of this series but I still really liked it. This heroine was more interesting as a friend of the previous two heroines in this series (The Scandalous Lady Wright & His Lordship's Pleasure) than as the "star" of this tale. The hero was a little of a nonentity although I was sorry for him in his choice of first wife. But, a little over halfway through the book, a new character is introduced. Letitia is over six feet tall and quite clumsy. She is incredibly sweet, however, and incredibly loyal. Her pleasant attitude and amusing antics make the somewhat irritating main characters far more palatable. She was my favorite character. As usual, this is very much like other Marion Chesney books. She succinctly tells a story while dropping tiny little factual tidbits about the selected time period. A light, quick read.

Overall: 3.7 stars

His Lordship's Pleasure by Marion Chesney

Title: His Lordship's Pleasure
Author: Marion Chesney
Series: Three Friends, #2 (unofficially named)
Genre: Regency Romance (traditional)
Publisher: Fawcett Crest
ISBN: 0449217639
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 172 pages
List Price: Out-of-Print
Characters: Annabelle Carruthers, Earl of Darkwood
Reviewed: December 5, 2008

Synopsis: After enduring marriage to a profligate gambler, Annabelle Carruthers finds herself frightened and alone when her husband dies. Desperate, she offers herself as mistress to the Earl of Darkwood. He allows her to think he accepts her offer while secretly just wanting to help her, knowing she will not take charity.

My opinion: I do like this story--it's part of my favorite Chesney series. However, there is an inconsistency in the story regarding her husband's will. Otherwise, it is a typical Marion Chesney Regency with some kooky supporting characters bringing some comedy relief to another fairly serious plotline.

Overall: 3.8 stars

The Scandalous Lady Wright by Marion Chesney

Title: The Scandalous Lady Wright
Author: Marion Chesney
Series: Three Friends, #1 (unofficially named)
Genre: Regency Romance (traditional)
Publisher: Fawcett Crest
ISBN: 0449217620
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 184 pages
List Price: Out-of-Print
Characters: Lady Emma Wright, Comte Saint-Juste
Reviewed: December 3, 2008

Synopsis: Lady Emma Wright is trapped in an abusive marriage to a well-respected member of Parliament. When he is mysteriously murdered, she stands accused until the handsome dilettante, Comte Saint-Juste decides to clear her name. Falling in love with him scares her silly due to the barbarous nature of her late husband.

My opinion: This one, due to the nature of Emma's previous marriage, is not nearly as funny as many of Ms Chesney's other stories. The comte, however, adds a lighter element with his insouciant charm and his best friend, Jolly, is a bit of comic relief. The main focus is on Emma, so we do not get a very good look into the comte's mind. She is a little flighty at times but I suppose that is understandable due to the abuse she's suffered.

Overall: 3.9 stars because I am a Chesney fan and this is probably my favorite series by her because of the element of seriousness that is not often present in her older regencies.

The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn

Title: The Viscount Who Loved Me
Author: Julia Quinn
Series: Bridgertons #2
Genre: Regency Historical Romance
Publisher: Avon
ISBN: 0380815575
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 352 pages
List Price: $7.99US
Reviewed: December 20, 2008
Rating: 5 stars (4.8)
Warnings: Graphic love scenes

Synopsis: Viscount Bridgerton is convinced he will die at a young age. To that end, he is determined to marry a young woman with whom he could not possibly fall in love. He settles his matrimonial sights on Edwina Sheffield, a young woman of great beauty, manners, and disposition. The only problem is her sister, Kate.

Kate does not believe that rakes make the best husbands. She is determined to prevent her sister from making the horrible mistake of marrying one, namely Anthony Bridgerton. Due to an odd announcement of her sister's at a party, however, Kate is forced into company with the man and finds him annoying at first but gradually learns to like him.
My opinion: This is the 2nd time I've read this and I enjoyed it almost as much as I did the first time--you do lose something when you already know what will happen. The characters are very believable and likable, amusing and even unpredictable at times. Their interaction is genuine and the emotion is strong enough to draw the reader in. (I cried after reading the prologue. And then again, later, after certain secrets are revealed.) This whole family is delightful and I will re-read some of the other books in this series at a later time as well as the ones I haven't had the good fortune to acquire yet.

Overall: 4.8 stars.

Sensitive readers beware: This book contains graphic love scenes.

Note: I borrowed the pic from goodreads since Amazon's pic was crap. The currently available edition of this book has a different cover.

Untameable, A Regency Anthology

Title: Untameable
Author(s): Catherine Blair, Kate Huntington, Donna Simpson
Genre: Regency Romance (traditional)
Publisher: Zebra
ISBN: 0821774158
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 256 pages
List Price: Out-of-Print
Reviewed: December 5, 2004
Rating: 4 stars (3.8)
Warnings: None

Since each story is quite unique, I'll comment on each novella separately...

The Rogue's Wife by Catherine Blair: I give this story 2.1 stars. Something about it gave me an icky chill. These two characters, according to a totally unbelievable storyline, fall in love but they are so blind they don't "see" each other. Lady Charlotte thinks the best thing she can do for her husband is push him into all the icky things he supposedly loves to do, namely, drink, gamble, and womanize. John, of course, thinks he should be able to keep his former life—until his wife actually pushes him into it. Both these characters seemed lifeless, abstract, completely one-sided. (July 15, 2009 - I read this and can't believe how harsh I sound. I will re-read this story and reassess my opinion.)

A Breath of Scandal by Kate Huntington: 4.3 stars for this story. In the beginning, I found Miss Abigail Pennington more annoying than anything. The fact that she raised her niece and loved her like a daughter for some reason made it imperative that she obsess over the girl's engagement to a very deserving young man. Enter handsome, charming, wonderfully strong Gabriel Bourbonnais, who may or may not be royalty. Abby's niece takes one look at the enigmatic foreigner and thinks he's perfect, much to her fiance's chagrin. Somehow, according to Abby, this is all Gabriel's fault—which I found rather annoying. Once Abby loosened up a bit, she was an interesting person. Gabriel was mysterious enough to be completely fascinating. The budding romance was more believable in this story than the previous and a certain scene near the end almost had me in tears.

A Rogue's Rescue by Donna Simpson: A whopping 5 stars for Ms. Simpson's touching tale of love and revenge—with an amusing bit of comedy thrown in for good measure. Lord Ingram is one of my all-time favorite Regency heroes. There is just something about a darkly handsome, brooding lord with a reputation based mostly on gossip. The heroine was quite likable, too. Ariadne Lambert is a spinster over 30 and plain as can be. Her self-esteem, however, is wonderful. I was truly impressed. After being told that a certain unscrupulous man is blackmailing a friend of a friend, Ari is determined to teach him a lesson. Her plan is going swimmingly until Ingram decides to rescue her. Not realizing she is trying to set the other man up for a fall, Ingram lets her know the man preys on silly, plain, rich spinsters for their money. It takes him a while to see through Ari's "brainless" act to the intelligent woman beneath. Their falling in love is gradual, believable, and very lovely. Of course, with all these misunderstandings, a mild element of humor is inevitable.

Overall, this book rates only 3.8 stars. Due to my love for the second and third stories, however, Untameable is one of my "keepers."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Girlfriend by RL Stine

Title: The Girlfriend
Author: RL Stine
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Sub-Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Scholastic
Original Publication Year: 1991
ISBN: 059044333X
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 165 pages
List Price: $3.99US
Character(s): Scotty Singleton

Synopsis: Scotty Singleton finds his hands full fending off a psycho girl who won't take no for an answer.

What I liked: The 'cozy memory' feeling this book gave me. I read this when I was a teenager. I loved RL Stine's books and read them constantly. Things have changed a lot since then but I still got a chill at certain points in this story.

What I didn't like: Honestly, I found the characters to be a little flat, even Scotty. It wasn't so bad that I was bored or even disinterested. It was just very, very different from what I'm used to or how I remember this book. Of course, if I'm totally honest, I have to admit that I always did enjoy the Fear Street books far more than the “stand-alones” that Mr Stine wrote.

Overall: 3.8 stars. This will be added to the books I'm saving for my daughter. (She's 5 now.)

Note: The book I read is an older printing. The one currently available has a different cover, is 176 pages with a list price of $6.99US.


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