When Romance Dies

caWARNING:  This post has spoilers for the TV shows Castle, Downton Abbey, ER, Robin Hood, and Being Human.

I will admit, I love the television show Castle but I haven’t been as loyal a viewer as I used to be.  For the years it was appointment television I was definitely a CasKett shipper and would find myself cheering every time they got closer or getting upset for each missed opportunity.  When news broke that actress Stana Katic was leaving the show I was quite upset with the online chatter claiming her character Kate Beckett might be killed off in the season finale.  In the fictional world of the show that would be a bombshell to say the least. (This post was written before the final aired.) Continue reading

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DIKlassic: The Knight and The Rose by Isolde Martyn

Title: The Knight and the Rose

Author: Isolde Martyn

Grade: A

Setting: Medieval Romance (1320s England)

Sensuality: Warm

Readers who loved Isolde Martyn’s The Maiden and the Unicorn (Our DIK review is here.) have been waiting (patiently or not) for the stateside publication of her next book. Here it is, and it takes the reader for an exciting ride as it follows the story of a forced, falst marriage and how the two parties involved eventually make it a true union.

Lady Johanna Fitzhenry is looking to escape from her husband Fulk de Enderby, who beats her constantly and has not gotten the heir he demands. She manages a bit of freedom when she is summoned to her parents’ home at Conisthorpe, although Fulk has sent along his odious sister Edyth to keep an eye on Johanna. Once at Conisthorpe, Johanna’s mother, Lady Constance, decides to help her daughter and enlists Geraint, a rebel fleeing from the Battle of Boroughbridge who is passing himself off as a scholar named Gervase de Laval. Continue reading

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Alexis Hall interviews K.J. Charles (and a giveaway)

KJ Charles’s three Society of Gentlemen Regency romances were all rated Desert Isle Keepers by All About Romance. A Seditious Affair, which was awarded a coveted A+, was voted tied first for Best LGBTQ+ Romance in the All About Romance annual poll, and received Honourable Mentions for Best Romance and Best Historical Romance set in the UK.

Today, author Alexis Hall interviews KJ about the Society of Gentlemen trilogy.

AJH: What drew you to the Regency period as a setting?

KJC: When I wrote the initial story, The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh, it was pure homage to the classic Regency romances. I wanted sexy queer Heyer, so I did my best to write some. But the Regency is an incredibly interesting period of social change and turbulence, war, riots, upheaval, the old order hanging onto power and the rise of modern thought. So when I was thinking of expanding the short story into, erm, a massive trilogy, it seemed like a good opportunity to explore some of that. Continue reading

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A Guest Post & Giveaway from Stella Riley

Lords of Misrule March 2016

Still tied to his desk in the Intelligence Office, Colonel Eden Maxwell has become increasingly disenchanted with both Oliver Cromwell and his own daily existence; and with the advent of new Royalist conspiracies, he despairs of ever getting away.
Then a brick hurled through the window of a small workshop sets in motion a new and unexpected chain of events. After all, who would want to hurt Lydia Neville – a young widow, giving work and self-respect to maimed war veterans considered unemployable elsewhere? But when the assaults in Duck Lane escalate, threatening the life and remaining limbs of some of Eden’s former troopers, finding the culprit becomes personal.

At their first meeting, Lydia finds Colonel Maxwell annoying; by their second, having discovered that he had arrested and questioned her brother in connection with the Ship Tavern Plot, she mistrusts his motives. On the other hand, it swiftly becomes plain that she needs his help … and has difficulty resisting his smile.
Solving the increasingly hazardous mystery surrounding Lydia is not Eden’s only task. Between plots to assassinate the Lord Protector and a rising in Scotland, he must also mend the fences within his own family and get to know his son. Life suddenly goes from mind-numbing boredom to frenetic complexity.

With reckless Cavaliers lurking around every corner and a government still struggling to find its way, Lords of Misrule is set against a time of national discontent and general failure. But readers of the previous books in the series can look forward to catching up with old friends as well as meeting new ones … while, against all the odds, Eden and Lydia find danger and reward in equal measure.


Continue reading

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TBR Challenge – Expect the Unexpected

leviswill I’m a fairly eclectic reader (just check my Goodreads account for proof of that), so when confronted with a theme calling on me to pick out something completely different, I found myself at a bit of a loss. I decided to go with the “outside my comfort zone” side of things, and I picked up Levi’s Will by W. Dale Cramer. I read plenty of inspirationals, but I have often been candid about Amish books just not being my thing. I only had this 2005 novel in the TBR because a couple bloggers I respect had praised it to the skies. Having read it, I now see why.

The book opens on an Amish farm in the 1940s as 19 year old Will Mullett flees his father’s home together with his younger brother Tobe. The two eventually find their way south from Ohio, where they end up taking on various manual labor jobs to support themselves. Early on, we learn that Will has fled not only the Amish religion and way of life, but also an impending marriage. The young woman he was courting is now pregnant and Will is expected to marry her. Knowing this makes Will a more morally ambiguous and complicated hero than we normally find in inspirational fiction, watching him grow and grapple with larger questions of faith, morality, and identity makes this book a real standout.
Continue reading

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Dee Ernst on Writing, Getting Older, and Lessons Learned (and a giveaway!)

I began writing when I was in my forties, and I began for one important reason — I couldn’t find any books that I really enjoyed reading.

I was a grown-up woman in a happy marriage, with kids and friends and a job history that had afforded me independence and had left me with the feeling that yes, I could do anything I wanted.  And every time I picked up a book, especially a genre fiction book, I was reading about characters that were totally outside my realm of understanding.

I was not a virgin beauty, kidnapped by a falsely accused Duke who also happened to be incredibly hot and great in bed. Nor was I a Vikings daughter battling my way to reunite with my One True Love, even though we only shared one smoldering (of course) kiss.

I was not a twenty-something, scatterbrained, country bumpkin, lost at sea in the big city, desperate to please her man, her boss, and afford new shoes.  I didn’t stumble over myself in new situations, turn to jelly in the presence of an attractive man, and didn’t take bullshit from my roommate, mother, or possible sister-in-law.

I was not a fragile fawn that had been beaten, raped, run away, overcame drug addiction, gave birth and finally learned self-worth, all before the age of sixteen. (I’m looking at you, Oprah Book Club.)

Where was the smart, savvy woman who took charge of her own life and unapologetically went after what she wanted?  THAT was a character I could get behind. Continue reading

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Midweek Minis

Here’s another in our occasional series of mini-reviews.  We’ve got five DIKs here along with three B reads!  Here’s what Caroline, Caz, Maria, Heather, Shannon and E.B. have to say about some of their recent reads:

Caroline’s Read:

I just finished The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon. It’s a fantasy/dystopia novel about Paige Mahoney, who can spirit-walk in a world in which paranormal talents are illegal, and whose life using her abilities for an underground syndicate is disrupted by her arrest. She finds out that the entire structure of her world isn’t what she thinks, and she’s placed into the custody of the mysterious and powerful Warden. I have a guilty love of prisoner-captive books, and this is an interesting one, with solid sexual tension and a couple that plausibly has to work through some trust issues. I liked that the heroine already had abilities, so we ddn’t have to go through the standard “Gosh, could it be me?” reveal. The author is British and her UK setting shines, especially a fantastical version of Oxford, which she actually attended (it’s been done, but it’s hard to blame people – that place is pretty amazing.) Plus, it’s a dystopia/fantasy of the old school: some deaths, some darkness, but not a bloodbath contrived for the sake of GUYS THIS IS SERIOUS FICTION. I’m definitely excited to start the sequel The Mime Order right away.

Grade: A              Sensuality: Kisses

Continue reading

Posted in AAR Shannon, Caroline AAR, Caz AAR, DIK, Heather AAR, Maria Rose, Mini reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

DIKlassic: Never Love a Cowboy by Lorraine Heath

Reviewed on April 20, 2000

Grade: A

Setting: Post-Civil War Texas

Sensuality: Warm

Never Love a Cowboy is the kind of book that makes me wonder why I’m not more familiar with Lorraine Heath’s name. Why is everyone buying that latest glossy big-name hardback when they could be reading this little jewel? Between these inexpensive green paper covers is a book with more emotional depth than anything I’ve read in a long time.

Harrison Bainbridge is one of a trio of exiled British noblemen who find themselves in the dusty little frontier town of Fortune, Texas. He is a charming clothes-horse with a gift for poker, but beneath his well-groomed exterior lies a man who believes that he is incapable of love. He was gravely abused by his mother, and always felt that his father, an earl, had no interest in him except as a spare heir. He feels he has nothing to offer a woman but sex.

Jessye Kane is a nice girl, but she was raised in her widowed father’s saloon and has no reputation to speak of. In her foolish youth, she was led astray by a sweet-talking man, an affair that led to a shatteringly painful experience, one that still haunts her with regret. She longs for love but wants never to find herself in a man’s power again. She intends to raise a little money and be entirely independent, and hopes that her need to be loved will go away on its own. Continue reading

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Linda Howard’s Troublemaker: A Pandora’s Box

Today, AAR reviewers Maggie Boyd and Mary Skelton tackle Troublemaker, the latest book by New York Time’s bestseller Linda Howard.

Here is Maggie’s summary of the novel:

Isabeau “Bo” Maran is surprised – and displeased – when she receives a self-igniting birthday card from the ex-step-brother she loves to hate. She is even more displeased when she finds that the present alluded to in the card is actually a sick man in need of a very private place to recuperate. She is happy with the bribe she receives to play nursemaid – $150,000.00 will go a long way to alleviating the debt from a bad business decision and putting her back in financial solvency. Looks like she and her dog, Tricks, will be entertaining a house guest.

As the leader of a paramilitary group Morgan Yancy is used to facing danger. He just didn’t expect to find it waiting for him in his own driveway after a day of fishing. Six weeks in hospital after the gunshot wound and he’s ready to break out of that establishment but the open-heart surgery and subsequent pneumonia have proven pretty serious setbacks. He’s in no condition to kick ass and take names like he needs to. When his boss sends him to finish his recuperation – and hide out from whoever ambushed him – at a lazy little West Virginia town he expects to be bored out of his skull within a week. Instead he finds a dog who loves to keep him on his toes and a dog owner who makes his blood sing. But Bo is none too pleased to have him camping out in her home. Can he somehow convince her to give in to the passion between them and let him make this place –and her- his permanent base?  Continue reading

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O Harlequin, Where Art Thou? asks Michele Mills

Once upon a time, back in the dark ages of the late eighties, I read a Barbara Cartland.

I figured, why not give it a go? I’d heard Ms. Cartland was related by marriage to Princess Diana and the stories sounded so royal and romantic. So I went in, read maybe two of them and stopped. At the time, deeply tanned, emotionally stunted heroes and helpless virgins weren’t doing it for me.

Around this same time I also tried reading a few harlequin-type categories marketed towards teenagers. They were sweet, but a bit yawn inducing for my tastes so I gave up mmb1on those too and that was that. I didn’t bother graduating to actual Harlequins thinking I’d find more tame story lines so I skipped them entirely and focused on sci fi books and sweeping historicals with shirtless pirates, cowboys and purple prose sex scenes and called it a day.

Fast forward twenty-five years (I know, I’m ancient). Continue reading

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