The Scarlet Corset

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Archive for the ‘Historical Hook-Ups’ Category

Lucy, you got some ‘splainin’ to do!

Posted by Wanderer on August 16, 2009


Short version review of Tessa Dare’s Goddess of the Hunt can be summed up in the lyrics to Vanessa Williams’ “Save the Best for Last”:

All of the nights you came to me
When some silly [boy] had set you free
You wondered how you’d make it through
I wondered what was wrong with you

Cause how could you give your love to someone else
And share your dreams with me
Sometimes the very thing you’re looking for
Is the one thing you can’t see

And now we’re standing face to face
Isn’t this world a crazy place
Just when I thought our chance had passed
You go and save the best for last

Read on for the special extended edition 😉

Ever the bold adventuress, Lucy Waltham has decided to go hunting for a husband. But first she needs some target practice. So she turns to her brother’s best friend, Jeremy Trescott, the Earl of Kendall, to hone her seductive wiles on him before setting her sights on another man. But her practice kisses spark a smoldering passion—one that could send all her plans up in smoke.

Jeremy has an influential title, a vast fortune, and a painful past, full of long-buried secrets. He keeps a safe distance from his own emotions, but to distract Lucy from her reckless scheming, he must give his passions free rein. Their sensual battle of wills is as maddening as it is delicious, but the longer he succeeds in managing the headstrong temptress, the closer Jeremy comes to losing control. When scandal breaks, can he bring himself to abandon Lucy to her ruin? Or will he risk his heart, and claim her for his own?

Where or where should I begin? I guess I should start with the first thing that really caught my attention. Yes, the opening scene is a good one. It drops you right in the middle of something life-changing but the first moment that really hooked me was in chapter two. It occurs when Lucy (a tomboy) comes to breakfast all dolled up to impress Toby, one of her older brother’s best friends, and something happens to one of the heavy opal earrings she’s wearing. I was not expecting that and it got an audible response from me – sort of a combination laugh-gasp-oh response. I’ve had that response in the past, after reading the “the one eating the shrubs” line from Julie Garwood’s The Lion’s Lady. Considering I’m practically a JG fangurl, I knew it was a good sign for this book.

Lucy is convinced she’s in love with Toby and does her best to attract his attention after finding out about his upcoming engagement to another woman. She plots and schemes to come up with a way for him to notice her as a woman and no longer Henry’s little sister, however, her schemes fail every time. In the beginning, I could see past Lucy’s scheming as I saw her more through Jeremy’s eyes and thoughts. She is a young girl with no experience in dating or even friendship for that matter. Her parents died leaving her to the care of her brother who is pretty much clueless to the kind of guidance a girl Lucy’s age needs so with no exposure to any other company, it’s no surprise that her first major crush is on one of Henry’s best friends. Someone who has come to the manor every summer for the past 8 years and the only one who has shown her the slightest bit of kind attention (btw, I loved the idea of where the title of the book comes from). With all that in mind I began to see Lucy’s behavior more as emotional growing pains. We all go through them and we all are different in our reactions to them. However, later in the book there were moments were she seemed to take 1 step towards maturity but then Toby came within hearing distance and she took 2 steps back. Very aggravating considering how much progress she and Jeremy had made, not just in the physical sense, but I thought he was finally reaching her emotionally. Particularly after Lucy witnessed Toby giving Sophia, his future betrothed, a crown of ivory. I felt since that was what started Lucy’s crush in the first place, seeing Toby give the same gift to someone else would surely snap her out of her daze. Unfortunately, it did not.

As for Jeremy, I really liked him from the start. First, because of the way he handled the situation with Lucy coming to his room in the middle of the night for a ridiculous practice session. Secondly, because he was upfront in telling her how foolish her behavior was yet every time her plans went awry, he was there to pick her back up. I liked that he tried to warn Henry and Toby about Lucy but for all his good intentions they only gave him more reasons to be closer to Lucy. As his fondness for Lucy grows, even as she continues her pursuit of Toby, you can’t help but feel for him. Especially when his efforts are thwarted in the name of Toby….literally in the name of Toby (end of wardrobe scene anyone?). Speaking of the wardrobe scene….yes, it is hot and sensual (it is up there with the scene in front of the mirror from Stephanie Laurens’ Devil’s Bride) but for me the part that gave it that extra oomph, what made it more powerful, was Jeremy’s internal dialogue. His desperate need for Lucy to acknowledge it was him and no other that was with her in that precise moment.

Who was he to her, here in the dark? Was he himself, or some stranger, or – most terrible to contemplate and altogether probable – someone else known to them both?

That extra oomph factor can be found throughout the book. It’s hard to explain exactly but there is so much given to us not only in the dialogue between the characters but also in the internal struggles they’re experiencing. I felt all that internal insight made the emotions that much stronger and Ms. Dare’s writing…I found it to be a bit lyrical and poetic. The way she describes things sort of paints an emotional picture for the reader.

I also liked the supporting characters and the relationships they had with the main characters. In fact, I would count Henry as one of my favorites. Yes, he is the fumbling brother that is out of sorts when it comes to what a girl needs but he is still a funny and caring character. From the song he sings in the beginning to some of the comments he makes (something about frozen stones? 😛 ) to the confrontations he has with Jeremy regarding Lucy. The brother/sister relationship between Henry and Lucy felt very real to me. Especially when he cracks on her being considered a ‘lady’ and also in the descriptions of the letters he sends her towards the end. I was glad that Sophia wasn’t made out to be a villain. She isn’t some stuck up, beautiful yet brainless twit, but a sweet and lonely young lady not unlike Lucy. She’s also learning her way in the world and thinks she’s doing the right thing by marrying Toby but still has her doubts throughout the book. I liked that Lucy and Sophia grew to be friends which also helped Lucy to realize what she truly wanted. As for Toby, I thought he was a jerk in the beginning for knowing how Lucy felt about him but being too chicken to let her down easy. But later on when he’s in London talking to Jeremy, he redeemed himself in my eyes. Then we have the ever-wandering Aunt Matilda. She could have become an annoying character but it was actually very sweet to see how they all cared for her and how some of her wandering aided Lucy and Jeremy’s relationship. I loved the part when they’re departing Waltham Manor and Jeremy sees she’s bringing Aunt Matilda with her. That’s actually one of the main things I liked about GotH – the humor. From the Look, to the Book, to the Letter, to their first ‘completed’ love scene, the humor is sprinkled throughout the story and amongst the characters and is definitely one of the reasons I read GotH as fast as I did.

I have to admit, though, that there was an interesting turn in the book for me. For the most part, I was always Team Jeremy. Then after the wedding and they moved to Jeremy’s estate, I found myself gradually going towards Team Lucy. Where before, Jeremy was always upfront with Lucy and told her what’s what, when they got back to his home and all the memories of his past came at him full force, he became the avoidance king. On the other hand, Lucy finally seemed to grow up and care about the well being of others. I even began to feel sorry for her when Jeremy was avoiding her or away on business. I think I truly joined Lucy’s side when he criticized her for not being a ‘lady’. I thought, “Hey dude that’s the Lucy you fell in lust/love with – the one with the adventurous spirit. You can’t expect her to change just because you put a ring on her finger and a title next to her name.” But this time it was seeing Jeremy through Lucy’s eyes and thoughts that reminded me that yes, it’s still the same, caring Jeremy from before but he has some pretty big demons from the past he needs help in defeating. When they finally come together emotionally in the end, it’s a solid and sweet reunion.

So aside from Lucy’s somewhat childish behavior (which I think could have been remedied had the quantity of foolish schemes been cut back a tad) and the over-use of “dusky red lips”, I found GotH to be a fun and fast read. I was also left with one question regarding a minor character, the doctor’s daughter, Henna. When she is first introduced in GotH, I immediately felt she’d have a very interesting tale to tell. I wonder if there are any plans for her book.

Goddess of the Hunt is the first book in Ms. Dare’s trilogy and I eagerly await the next two of the series, Surrender of a Siren coming August 25th and A Lady of Persuasion coming September 29th.

Final Grade:
A very high

Is everything I hoped it would be and not a pinch more. Better than average, it hit the spot like a tall drink on a hot summer’s day. While it didn’t quite dazzle me with unique or transcendent content, in no way is it a stale retelling.

Around The Net:
Monkey Bear Reviews: B
KatieBabs: A-
Dear Author: B+
All About Romance: B
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books: C
Mrs. Giggles: 84
Romantic Times: 4 ½ stars
Romance Novel TV: 5 stars

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Posted in B, Historical Hook-Ups, Tessa Dare, Trilogy, Wanderer, When Spoilers Attack | 2 Comments »

So tell me have you ever really, really really ever loved a woman…..

Posted by Wanderer on August 3, 2009


This book started out with a Pride and Prejudiced inspired scene. The heroine, Merriam, overheard the man she liked make a hurtful statement about her at a ball. Unlike Pride and Prejudice, though, Merriam came up with a way to get her revenge and show that man she’s more woman than he could ever handle. Looking back, the main events of this book made me think of a certain website. Merriam’s story totally fits the FML requirements. So I present to you a review of Renee Bernard’s A Lady’s Pleasure, FMyLife style.

Seeking revenge, she discovers how delicious a case of mistaken identity can be….

Merriam Everett has always been regarded as a shy, docile creature. But for one night, Merriam the Mouse has become a temptress who will recklessly take her pleasure with the arrogant earl who once slighted her, and then leave him aching with lust. A fine plan, if Merriam had not just seduced the wrong rogue!

Drake Sotherton left England amid dark speculation and has returned to seek vengeance against Julian Clay, the man he believes murdered his wife. Convinced that the masked beauty who seduced him is Julian’s pawn, Drake tracks her down and proposes that she become his mistress for the Season. Every sensual desire, every secret longing will be explored…and fulfilled.

Merriam: Today I overheard my crush, Julian, tell someone that I’m a whey-faced widow. How will I ever face him or the world ever again? FML

M: Today I went to the masked ball and my plan for revenge on Julian went awry. I was supposed to get him hot and heavy and leave him wanting but instead I had smokin’ hot sex with him. FML

Drake: Today I had sex with an unknown woman at a masked ball. She left before I could get her name and I MUST see her again! How will I find her? FML

M: Today I found out it wasn’t Julian I seduced that night, WHO THE F was it?!?! FML

Ok, so aside from the silliness of the ‘revenge’ scheme I was into this book at the beginning. I didn’t mind the set up as long as the rest delivered. I even had a brief moment where I compared Drake Sotherton to Devil Cynster from Stephanie Laurens’ Devil’s Bride. I liked his friendship with Alex and there was one conversation they had where he bit Alex’s head off but immediately apologized for it. He seemed like a decent guy and I looked forward to reading more about him. I also enjoyed reading about his search for the identity of the mysterious Mrs. Lover Lover from the masked ball.

M: Today the man I seduced at the ball found me and wants me to meet at his house tonight. He got me all hot and heavy….then didn’t finish the job. FML

M: Today I went to his house to tell him I was a respectable woman and I didn’t want what he was offering…..until he started serving it up. I’m afraid I also had seconds and thirds. FML

The author did write some good love scenes, I’ll give her that. The scene in Drake’s house that night was super hot and seductive

“Only what you bare,” he whispered, his breath hot in her ear. “Hurry.”

Read the book and you’ll know what I’m talking about 😉

M: Today I agreed to be his mistress for the season but I’m still afraid of what the public will think so we hide out at his place. FML

M: Today we finally made a public appearance in the park and OMG my former crush, Julian, came up to us which made Drake all jealous. He rushed us home, threw me over his shoulder, carried me upstairs where he proceeded to spank me….and……I kind of liked it. FML?!?!

My good opinion of the book started falling the more I read because I didn’t see any positive growth in Merriam and Drake became too possessive and overbearing. Merriam was semi-assertive in bed but if she wasn’t sexin’ it up with Drake she was back to being Miss Dependent. She never stood up for herself or what she wanted and anytime there was a hint of disagreement, they pushed it aside and went for sex instead.

M: Today an acquaintance that saw us in the park stopped by to tell me about Drake’s sordid past. He is known by all, yes ALL, the ton as the Deadly Duke!!! *gasp* Why am I always the last to know these things? FML

M: Today I attempted to ask Drake about his past yet he distracted me with more good lovin’. Could I possibly be falling for a murderer? FML

D: Today I discovered who Merriam thought she was seducing the first night we met. She was looking for my mortal enemy, Julian. Is she in cahoots with him to bring about my downfall? How can I still want someone I don’t truly trust? FML

By now, you’d think Merriam would want to know more about the man she was sleeping with and falling for yet when opportunity arose, she always backed down. You’d also think Drake would man up and ask Merriam more about her revenge scheme at the ball and what her relationship with Julian was. But both seemed to enjoy living in their little sex bubble and ignored any semblance of truth. There were times, however, when Drake was really good to her. This was my favorite part from the book:

“There is only one person’s opinion that should sway you,” he went on, lifting her hand gently to peel off her glove.

“Oh?” she asked, feigning ignorance, anticipating his reply. Typical man! He would say that his was the only one that counted and then pay her a compliment to soothe her bruised confidence.

“Oh, yes.” Drake moved her palm up to his mouth and flicked his tongue over it before kissing it. “Your own. Yours is the only opinion that matters.”

I wanted his actions to back-up those words but sadly it never happened. He was always too busy fuming behind her back wondering what her true motives were or being super jealous of her attentions.

There was also a mystery subplot about what happened in Drake’s past and why he and Julian were enemies. I figured out who did the crime but was mistaken in my reasoning for it. The whole back and forth of “You did it.” “No, you did it.” “No, you!” got old quick because that’s all we got for most of the book. It wasn’t until the end that we discovered some of the background info on the crime – right before the truth of the murder was revealed. Sorry, that was not enough to keep my interest in that storyline.

Other issues I had with the book were the overuse of words or phrases. “You’re incorrigible.” “Who is incorrigible now?” “And you say I’m incorrigible” (the last one may be of my own making but believe me, incorrigible was used way too much). Next would be the many references to the Deadly Duke. I felt like I needed the little sound effect that plays during Law & Order scene transitions every time it was mentioned. Drake also called Merriam ‘familiar’ in reference to how she got his attention at the ball – Merriam was dressed as a cat and sent a message via the butler to Merlin (who she thought was Julian) that his ‘familiar’ had arrived. It was cute the first couple of times but when it was still used at the end, it was beyond overdone.

My review is titled “So tell me have you ever really, really really ever loved a woman” which is from one of Bryan Adam’s song but this book forgets one major thing:

To really love a woman
To understand her
You gotta know her deep inside
Hear every thought
See every dream
And give her wings when she wants to fly.

The meaning of that last line is what’s missing from this book. Sadly Merriam never wanted to fly and even if she did, Drake wasn’t the type to accept that. This is the first in the Mistress Trilogy with the next book being Alex’s story and the third is Julian’s. While I liked Alex in this book, I probably won’t be reading the rest of the trilogy.

Final Grade:

This book is decent but unfortunately I found parts of it annoying, boring, disturbing, and clichéd. Didn’t float my boat but hey, maybe it just wasn’t for me. So I’ll leave you to make your own judgment call. Proceed with caution, though: I came, I saw, I read and was not amused.

Around The Net:

Romantic Times: 4 Stars
Mrs. Giggles: 73

Posted in C, Historical Hook-Ups, Renee Bernard, Reviews, Wanderer, When Spoilers Attack | 4 Comments »

Mission Accomplished

Posted by Wanderer on April 18, 2009

Sorry for the lateness of this post but the real world has a way of getting in the way of my fun 🙂 I want to thank those who offered suggestions for my Mission Possible a couple months back. I read a few of the books mentioned as well as a couple others that I found on my own and final verdict: I read some good stories, a couple ‘bleh’ books but my favorite would have to be A Knight In Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux!

Abandoned by a cruel fate, lovely, thoroughly modern Dougless Montgomery lay weeping upon a cold tombstone in an English church. Suddenly, as if in answer to her prayers, the most extraordinary man appeared.

He was Nicholas Stafford, Earl of Thornwyck…and according to his tombstone he had died in1564. Tall, broad of shoulder, attired in gleaming silver and gold, he was magnificent. Drawn to his side by a bond so sudden and compelling it overshadowed reason, Dougless knew that Nicholas was nothing less than a miracle: a man who would not seek to change her, who found her perfect, fascinating, just as she was.

Yet she could not imagine how strong were the chains that tied them to the past…or the grand adventure that lay before them….

I’ve read a couple of Jude Deveraux’s books in the past and they were just on my OK scale. Decent stories with a cute love story but nothing that stuck with me after the fact. A Knight In Shining Armor broke that mold and is a definite keeper that I can see myself re-reading in the future.

I’ll admit, the beginning started out bad for me. First of all, I have a thing with character names that make my eyes roll and this one had that: the heroine’s name is Dougless. But after seeing the name a few times, I got over it. Then the beginning of the book makes Dougless sound so pathetic with all she puts up with that I thought I had another TSTL heroine on my hands. I did put the book down a couple times but after finally getting over that beginning bump, there was no looking back.

I was happy to see that this wasn’t another lust at first sight story and enjoyed the build up of the friendship then relationship between Nicholas and Dougless. I wasn’t annoyed each time Dougless had to explain an item and it’s function to Nicholas. In fact, most of the time I found it sweet to look at things through his eyes. Actually, I was surprised at how his comments were very relevant to things going on today what with everyone trying to go green and save the earth. It’s very true how much we take for granted and waste in this time.

I loved the humor in the book and found myself smiling several times throughout the story. It was also cool to have two different time-travel aspects in the book, the second being where Dougless is transported back in time. This book even includes the Buffy/Angel dilemma – all you Joss Whedon fans know what I’m talking about. Basically, the “we want to make love but can’t because something bad will happen” dilemma. There’s a part when Dougless has traveled back and they’re about to get it on but then Nicholas stops them and he says something to her that I found heartbreaking and sweet, sad and beautiful, just a whole mix of emotions.

As for the ending, for a few moments I wished that it happened a different way but after some thought, I felt it was perfect as is.

Final grade: A-

Posted in A Knight in Shining Armor, A-, Historical Hook-Ups, Jude Deveraux, Mission Accomplished, Mission Possible, Pilates of the Page, Wanderer | 2 Comments »

Ransom by Julie Garwood

Posted by Wanderer on August 9, 2008

RANSOM is the story of Brodick Buchanan and Ramsey Sinclair who we first met in The Secret. Ramsey’s is the secondary story but for me, his is too unbelievable. I know, I know this is a romance book where all kinds of things take place but even I couldn’t fall for this one. Basically, he becomes a laird and there’s this girl in his clan, Brigid, that all the highlanders want to marry yet she rejects them all because she loves some mystery man. So on and on it goes with her refusing proposals and refusing to tell Ramsey who she’s holding out for. Only at the end does Ramsey realize he’s the mystery man and all of a sudden it’s all “Yes, I love you too Brigid let’s get married”. No explanation of why all the boys got their kilts in a bunch over her or why she loved Ramsey in the first place or any kind of build up to his realization of his own feelings for her.

So back to Brodick’s story…….we find out that he was named protector of his best friend’s son, Alec. This is basically the equivalent of a godfather or guardian. Alec and Ramsey’s younger brother Michael are playing near a waterfall when they decide to play a prank and switch their plaids. While Michael runs off to find something, Alec is mistakenly kidnapped to be held for ransom against Ramsey. Since no one witnessed the kidnapping, everyone believes Alec fell and drowned in the waterfall. This leads us to Gillian, the book’s heroine. She is held captive in England by the same people that kidnapped Alec because she may know the location of a secret box that holds the key to a murder from the past. Anyway…Gillian escapes with Alec and during their journey he tells her of his protector, the brave and fierce warrior Brodick. To comfort the scared little boy, she says she will be his protector until he returns home. When they finally cross the border into highland territory, they hide out in an old church and Gillian decides to send a message claiming to be Laird Buchanan’s bride and counts on that lie being a big enough draw for Brodick to come meet her. She’s right on all counts! Brodick arrives (in all his fine-ness) where he greets her with a scowl and an intimidating stance yet once Gillian lets the boy come out of hiding and he lays eyes on Alec, he is nearly brought to his knees in shock and unbelief.

The reason I like this story so much is that Brodick is not the typical dominant male character when with Gillian. He’s not all “Do this because I’m the man and I said so”. Also I think Julie Garwood has her humorous moments in most of her books. There’s a part when they’re riding back to the holding and they cross paths with one of the Highland’s priests. This priest knows of Brodick’s rep and will not allow the lady to travel alone with such a heathen. So after being told a slightly altered version of Gillian’s claim to be his bride and some miscommunication between the priest and Gillian regarding her consent to marriage, the priest performs their wedding ceremony. Being English and the ceremony occurring in Gaelic, Gillian has no idea she was just wed. When she finally discovers the truth she can’t help but ask Brodick how she can face telling their children she was wed on the back of a horse. But then all protests are forgotten as he carries her off for their long awaited wedding night.

So yes, you can say this has the romance novel formula down to a tee but the difference is the hero is strong and brave yet vulnerable and open when it counts without being cheesy. The heroine is also very likeable without being annoyingly perfect. I thought the plot was good as well but you’ll have to read the book to get the rest!


Posted in B, Historical Hook-Ups, Reviews, Wanderer, When Spoilers Attack | Leave a Comment »