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Married To The Viscount
Married To The Viscount
by Sabrina Jeffries
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Another sexy read from Sabrina Jeffries, Feb. 20 2004
Sabrina Jeffries is one author that has written romance novels that I have absolutely loved and written others that I could barely finish. What have I not liked in those books? Aggravating heroines. But Married to the Viscount's heroine, Abigail Mercer, did not fall into that category. She was a highly likable heroine and I loved this tale of Abigail and her viscount. True to Jeffries style, her hero is strong, strong, strong and in control - or at least he tries to be.
Viscount Spencer Law has recently returned from a trip wherein he visited his brother in America. During his trip he had become acquainted with Abigail Mercer, the daughter of a successful medicinal inventor. Spencer never intends to marry so he ignores his attraction to Abigail. His refusal to marry is at the heart of Married to the Viscount and is not your usual "I don't plan to marry" hero talk. Spencer plans for his younger brother to continue their family line. However, his brother doesn't want that responsibility either although their reasoning is vastly different.
Abigail was fascinated with Viscount Spencer Law when he visited America. She fondly remembers him and eagerly accepts his proposal of marriage by proxy. Spencer's brother stands in for him at this proxy marriage and makes plans for Abigail to travel to England to join her new husband once her father dies. Abigail arrives in England at the viscount's residence about a month later and gives the viscount one big surprise. It seems that Viscount Spencer Law knows nothing of his proxy marriage. Their initial confrontation is made somewhat public since the viscount is hosting a dinner at the time. Abigail faints, as she is thoroughly humiliated and greatly saddened at the truth - she is not married. The viscount is confused, enraged, and at the same time sympathetic of Abigail's vulnerable situation. He wants to do bodily harm to his scheming brother who masterminded this fake proxy marriage but he can't. His brother has disappeared and taken Abigail's dowry with him.
Just how this debacle is resolved is, of course, the story of Married to the Viscount. Abigail is well rounded, sensible and mature. She is also older than most virginal heroines. Spencer is not so mature although he is the older, more seasoned of the two. It is his fears and hurt that drive the interaction between the couple. It is not a boring book in the least - it is a fascinating story that I found difficult to put down. The action begins within the first dozen pages and it is basically a love story. There are no villains lurking around the corner. The couple doesn't spend time with silly misunderstandings or lies. Jeffries treats her readers to an intense love story beyond the typical romance plot lines. The story is a luscious one as well and the sensual rating is about a 4.25 out of 5.0 (see More About Me for rating guidelines).
All said - I think you can tell that I highly recommend Married to the Viscount. It is a refreshing romance that I will keep to read another day.

Dream A Little Dream
Dream A Little Dream
by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Edition: Audio Cassette
7 used & new from CDN$ 27.05

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stirring-loss, survival, passion, & the love of a little boy, Feb. 11 2004
Susan Elizabeth Phillips is quickly becoming a favorite author of mine. This is her fourth book I have read in the past month and I have given three of those books the highest rating. Her stories are so touching and full of life. In Dream a Little Dream, her leads are very likable with well-rounded and interesting secondary characters. And one of those secondary characters is Rachel's five-year-old son, Edward. At times your heart loves him and breaks for him as he attempts to guard his mom, arrange a marriage for her, and put down roots in Salvation. This is not some cutesy kid - this is a heartrending portrayal of the son of a single mom who doesn't expect any one to like him and requires so little in life for happiness. As the son of a crooked, notorious, deceased televangelist, he has experienced a lot of rejection. There is a lot to be worked out in his life and it is a very dear sideline for this story. His relationship with the hero is realistic - filled with problems and those problems propel the turning point of the book.
Rachel has returned to her former home of Salvation, North Carolina - a place where she is despised because she is the widow of the deceased televangelist who put Salvation on the map and then ran away with millions from his ministry. They believe she was involved in the religious scam and spurn her and her son at every turn. Rachel is totally without money, friends, family, or resources. Her car breaks down as she is nearing Salvation at an old drive in movie theatre. There she meets Gabe Bonner who has purchased the old drive in and is restoring it. He has advertised for help and she decides she will fill the job. However, Gabe wants nothing to do with this woman and her young son. He is unkind, insulting, and pushy as he demands that they get off his property.
Gabe is a rugged, good-looking man recovering from a tragic loss. Even with his pushy, rude treatment of Rachel and Edward in the beginning of the book, he still appears as an overall attractive and very desirable man. Gabe is unaware that Rachel's broken down car is their home and calls a tow truck to get it and them off his property. But Rachel won't give up so easily. She is probably the most persistent heroine I have read and Gabe eventually gives in and hires her. Gabe and Rachel find themselves drawn to one another although neither wants a relationship. While Rachel would deny to anyone her poverty status, Gabe begins to recognize the many things Rachel and Edward go without and attempts to help them financially. It was rather refreshing when Rachel accepted his help - that seems to be in the "no-no" book of rules for romance heroines. So often the heroine refuses sensible help because she doesn't want to appear "bought". However, Rachel had no such qualms.
The characters from Nobody's Baby But Mine return in this book. I have not read this prequel to Dream a Little Dream. I think I would have enjoyed this book even more if I had but it also stands fine as a read alone book. One adult secondary character you will really enjoy is Gabe's younger brother - a pastor in Salvation. I have read few - if any - realistic portrayals of a minister in romance. But this one is really well done and adds greatly to the story line. Cal, Gabe's older brother (and the hero from Nobody's Baby But Mine), is quite the antagonist and behaves rather badly towards Rachel. He's a former good guy who becomes one you "love to hate" at one point in Dream a Little Dream. His comeuppance is served so well and with such subtle humor that it is one you will definitely remember.
I highly recommend Dream a Little Dream. It is a moving story in so many aspects. There are no silly misunderstandings between the leads and they both act quite maturely once they become involved. The sensual rating is about a 4.0 out of 5.0 (see More About Me for rating guidelines). Dream a Little Dream is the third of four books in the Chicago Stars series. First in the series is Heaven, Texas followed by Nobody's Baby But Mine, then Dream a Little Dream, with This Heart of Mine as the last.

The Marriage Bed (Leisure historical romance)
The Marriage Bed (Leisure historical romance)
28 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sexy monk? Definitely!, Feb. 4 2004
The Marriage Bed has been in my "to be read" shelf for some time now. I kept avoiding it because I could not find much romance in the book's synopsis. The hero is a monk, living in an abbey, and even when forced into marriage by the king, wants to remain celibate. Okayyyy - that certainly sounded like a boring premise for a romance. But, I went on the favorable recommendations of many reviewers and took a dive. Was I knocked off my feet! It was "full steam ahead" from the first pages and I knew I was reading a great romantic tale.
Richard, the hero, was highly appealing despite his morose thoughts. Although we see Richard in the abbey, he never appears monkish. Oh - he wants to be a monk but he struggles daily - possibly even hourly - with lust. He's a very lusty guy, shut away in an abbey, attempting to rid himself of this blight on his soul. And the abbey has done nothing to tame his domineering personality
Isabel is the only heir to a large keep, Dornei, and her father has just died. She is betrothed to an heir of another large keep and the marriage has been arranged to align these two strong properties into one. In the opening pages, Isabel is running from Dornei to the abbey for protection. Although she is betrothed, there is more than one man who wants to lay claim to Isabel and her inheritance. The abbey allows Isabel sanctuary and sends for her betrothed only to be notified that he has died. The second son also is dead, leaving the third son as heir and the newly proclaimed future husband to Isabel. That third son is Richard. Isabel is thrilled because she has loved Richard since she was a young girl and never wanted to marry his brother. She has prayed for Richard to be her husband and has only dreamed of such a union. Now it is happening and she cannot hide her immense joy over the union.
Richard is a resident of that abbey Isabel flees to for protection. Soon after her arrival, he is notified of the death of his two older brothers and informed that he is to marry Isabel. Richard is furious and refuses to marry her. But the king's wishes for this marriage win out and Richard goes fuming into his own wedding. He believes Isabel is a spoiled young lady who has gotten her way and resents her greatly. He exhibits no feelings towards Isabel and refuses to have anything to do with her. As they ride off towards Dornei, now man and wife, Isabel remains ecstatic with her marriage and Richard only grows angrier over the union. . As soon as Richard and Isabel reach Dornei, he is immediately about the business of being lord. He is very efficient as he attends to his new duties - with the exception of the marriage bed. That is something he just doesn't want to face - yet.
The Marriage Bed is quite an unusual romance in several aspects:
- The vast majority of the story occurs over just a few days.
- There is sufficient cause behind Richard's angst to cause his actions seeking absolution. His hidden secret is not the usual unbelievable childhood with a cruel, abusive father or mother.
- Although this story occurs over just a few days, there is a tremendous amount of growth for both the hero and heroine as they deal with the truth and uncover the secrets.
- The heroine wants the marriage bed more than hero but don't let that little fact influence your choice to read this book. This is one very virile hero.
- The sincere concerns about morality play a huge part in the undercurrent of the story.
- The hero and heroine have known each other well since childhood.
- This hero was a very humble man - so much so that it made him a much stronger individual.
- Religion is a significant part of this story. Even the two experienced, strong knights who come to help guard Dornei spend time kneeling in prayer. Religion is given the proper place it truly occupied in this time in history. It is not harsh but seen as a means of desired stamina.
This book does not contain the overused plot line of a misunderstanding. The dialogue between the leads is honest although hurtful at times. They don't throw ugly words at one another. The hero may desire celibacy in the beginning but this ends up being quite a sensual book. The sensual rating is 4.25 out of 5.0 (See More About Me for rating guidelines). I loved The Marriage Bed and highly recommend it. It is only my second Dain book and I will now eagerly read more of her backlist.

Suddenly You
Suddenly You
by Lisa Kleypas
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.54
93 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars This is a perfect representation of great, sensual romance, Jan. 26 2004
I first read Suddenly You about two years ago, when I first began reading romance. I did not write reviews at the time but would make a few notes to myself concerning how much I enjoyed the book - if it were keeper status - and then assigned a grade to it. Of course I gave Suddenly You the highest rating two years ago but my only notes were "Read again and again and again!" Although I have a fairly large keeper shelf, I seldom read books that second time. I think I'll change my mind about that because I enjoyed Suddenly You as much or more the second reading and it still goes back on my keeper shelf. It is a great romance with a bit of naughtiness and great leads. I remember that I had relished Kleypas' unusual characters in that they were - refreshingly - not members of the aristocracy. And even though I have literally read hundreds of romance books since Suddenly You, I still remembered the opening scene. It really sticks in your mind. Where else in romance have I read of a nineteenth century spinster hiring a man to take her virginity for her thirtieth birthday present to herself?
Amanda Briars is a strong mature heroine who also is a well-known author. She lives a contented life in London in her small home with three servants. She is not rich but she has a comfortable income and decides that before she is too old, she wants to experience a physical relationship with a man just once. She never plans to marry and believes it would be foolish to hope for marriage at her age. Although she is very attractive, she does not see herself as much beyond plain. The night of her thirtieth birthday, a man shows up at her door to talk with her about publishing one of her books and Amanda mistakes him as her "gift".
Jack Devlin is a man who knows what he wants in life and accomplishes almost anything he sets out to do. He has risen from a penniless youth to own the largest publishing house in London and has diversified this publishing business into many additional sources of income. He is our classic hero with an extreme amount of arrogance, alpha deluxe, handsome, and rich. He is a workaholic basically and doesn't care much for society unless it is to advance his business interests. He visits Amanda Briars one evening to discuss publishing with her and is greatly surprised to find that she believes him to be her hired "gift" for the evening. The resulting scenario is quite entertaining but Jack ends up being a good guy in the end (he thinks) by not completely fulfilling the "gift" role. He leaves without making Amanda aware of his true identity.
Within days of this encounter, Amanda formally meets Jack for the first time at a party and is greatly mortified and incensed that Jack played along - even a little - as her birthday "gift". The delicious repartee between the two fill pages as they get to know each other and as Jack pursues Amanda concerning publishing one of her novels. But Jack doesn't just pursue Amanda for business purposes. They both are highly attracted to the other and although each is determined not to indulge in an affair - it seems it is beyond their control. The book is highly entertaining and quite sensual. The sensual rating is a strong 4.50 out of 5.0 (see More About Me for rating guidelines). Amanda keeps a pretty sound head throughout it all. I thought most of her actions seemed realistic and well warranted considering the social expectations of the day. Jack is not as protective of Amanda's reputation as he should be and thus the story spins.
Suddenly You is probably my favorite Kleypas book to date. I have read nine of her books and I can't remember being disappointed in any if them. Once I began reading her books, she quickly became one of my favorite authors. She also holds the status of a "must read" author when she releases a new book. She consistently writes highly entertaining historical romance.

This Heart Of Mine: A Novel
This Heart Of Mine: A Novel
by Susan E Phillips
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.54
109 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars An absolutely awesome contemporary romance!, Jan. 20 2004
This Heart of Mine had it all when it comes to a great contemporary romance. The leads were well written and very likable, the story line did not have even one boring page, the secondary characters were really interesting, the romance was the primary emphasis throughout the book and the chemistry between the hero and heroine was sizzling. Add to that a most charming location, a very original story line, great humor throughout the book - yet a depth that kept this tale from being light hearted - and you have one of the best contemporary romances I have read in some time.
Kevin Tucker is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and plays for the Chicago Stars. Kevin is quite the celebrity and is very dedicated to his profession. Although Kevin is a bit of a womanizer and is known to date a lot of women that aspect makes up very little of the actual man Kevin is. He has been playing professionally for ten years for the Stars and plans to stay with the Chicago team even beyond his actual football career. He envisions coaching the team someday and remaining within the Stars corporate environment even beyond that. Football is his job and he makes sure his personal life does not cross with his professional life. Part of that isolation involves not becoming too close to the family that owns and manages the Stars. He is friends with the owners but never even considers a relationship with the owner's sister although he finds her attractive.
Molly Somerville is considered a spoiled heiress. Her sister owns the Chicago Stars football team and although Molly is very close to her sister and her family, she does not want or live a high profile life. In fact, the fifteen million Molly's father left to her now sits in a non-profit organization she created for a charity. Molly did not like the life of an heiress and her tendency to rely on her father's money rather than hard work for her living. So, she gave it away and now lives month to month as a fairly successful children's author. She loves her life and is actually quite mature in her life choices. She does not date men frivolously. When she finds herself sharing a vacation home, by mistake, with the famous quarterback of the Chicago Stars, she is quite startled by her overwhelming attraction to him. I can't say much more without giving away a portion of the story but this is the beginning of a somewhat reluctant relationship between Molly and Kevin. The book is quick to draw you in and has a most unusual beginning to the leads' improbable romance.
This was a book I did not want to put down. I loved the story - laughing again and again and then alternately feeling a tender sadness for Kevin and Molly - both with their experiences and vulnerabilities. This very entertaining story has quite a serious side but Phillips is very talented at blending the two aspects into an entrancing story. The sensual rating is about 4.0 out of 5.0 (see More About Me for rating guidelines). Two of the secondary characters, who are age 50 and 50 plus, add a very sexy flair with their relationship. This is a welcome surprise for the many romance readers out there that are members of the baby boomer generation.
I highly recommend This Heart of Mine. It was thrilling to find such a good book after a rather dry run in reading. This is my second Phillips book and I am eager to work through her backlist. It is a definite keeper.

LAST SUMMER
LAST SUMMER
by Theresa Weir
Edition: Hardcover
11 used & new from CDN$ 0.17

5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, outstanding contemporary romance!, Jan. 20 2004
This review is from: LAST SUMMER (Hardcover)
It is difficult for me to find contemporary romances that I really enjoy. Too often I find the story lines the same with little character development, no depth to the story, and usually an ill attempt at humor - while the hero and heroine circle each other trying to prove who is the most sexually aggressive. Last Summer certainly does not fall into any of those categories. It is a serious romance with realistic characters - even if one is a Hollywood bad boy. It is a tender story of two imperfect people who seem too different for a relationship yet find themselves drawn together by circumstance again and again. There are very moving scenes as well as some delicious dialogue as the leads attempt to discover the truth about each other.
Johnnie Irish is the local bad boy who has made it big in Hollywood. He doesn't enjoy the thought of returning to his hometown - he hates it. But they have invited him to be the star of a parade - it might be entertaining to see people act like they adore him when he received nothing but rejection from them growing up. Johnnie seems to have little value for life and even less ethics. He plays the part of a spoiled and immature Hollywood hunk but it's just an act. He hides his pain from the world and himself well. That is until he meets Maggie.
Maggie Mayfield is a normal, everyday schoolteacher in a small town in west Texas. She is a widow who lives a very controlled and pleasant life. Maggie is more mature than most romance heroines. She is refreshing, solid and real but not at all perfect. She never dreamed that Johnnie would ever consider her as more than a summer fling. Her honest and sensible way of life makes quite an impression on Johnnie. Yet she is dishonest and fearful later in the book. And I think that is one of the best things about Last Summer. The leads were human and made mistakes just like all the rest of us. There was nothing unbelievable about the story - no stretches of the imagination are required.
Maggie and Johnnie form a friendship of sorts as he decides to stay in his hometown for a few weeks. Maggie discovers that Johnnie is a diabetic and becomes genuinely concerned about his careless attitude towards his illness and life. Their relationship develops in many aspects and soon you find yourself thoroughly engrossed in this exceptional story. The book covers a longer period of time than most romances and the leads actually live hundreds of miles from one another much of that time. However, the author does not make us wait out those separations. Time passes quickly for the reader when Maggie and Johnnie are apart. Regardless of their separations, they are still together for the vast majority of the book. The sensual scenes rate about 4.0 out of 5.0 (see More About Me for rating guidelines). And best of all - this is a story about Johnnie and Maggie's relationship. There are no villains planning evil in the background. It is true romance at it's best.
I highly recommend this story and believe you will be delighted as each entrancing layer unfolds. Now I am searching Weir's backlist for more great reads. Last Summer has found a permanent place on my keeper shelf.

Complete Abandon
Complete Abandon
by Cheryl Holt
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
32 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific - this is Holt at her best, Jan. 20 2004
I have really enjoyed Cheryl Holt's books with the exception of Absolute Pleasure, her novel prior to Complete Abandon. Absolute Pleasure was average at best and disappointed me because I expect above average writing from Holt. But she is at her best once again with Complete Abandon and I was able to determine that within the first fifty pages of the book (and I'm not talking about the sensual scene from the first few pages).
Viscount Wakefield, John Clayton, is one of those immoral heroes who is too wealthy for his own good. He isn't too pleased with the many responsibilities required of a viscount who owns numerous properties. He has spent years in decadent living - always partying, gambling, womanizing, and whatever else he can do to provide a thrill to his very tainted life - a life that is becoming quite boring. He visits one of his estates, Wakefield, and begins the tedious task of making the estate profitable once again. Fearing boredom, John has brought with him to Wakefield his mistress, brother, and a crowd of equally decadent revelers who are ever willing to accept John's immense hospitality.
Emma is a heroine with a lot of zest, purpose, and down right audacity. She is the daughter of Wakefield's deceased vicar and is known to protect those she loves. The villagers petition Emma's assistance when many receive eviction notices from the newly arrived viscount. Emma is incensed when she realizes the eviction notices are directed to those retired, ill, or fatherless. She eagerly takes up the village's cause and tromps to the estate family's home to confront the viscount with his poor judgment, stingy inclinations, and downright villainous tendencies as he evicts the most needy from their homes. Emma has heard all of the horrible rumors about John Clayton's despicable behavior and it only makes her more determined to face him down and hammer some sense into him.
John is having a fairly boring morning, complete with a boring sexual encounter with his mistress. This is the opening pages scene that has been commented on in many reviews. Afterwards, he is holding a rather boring informal business meeting with his brother when this unknown woman demands entrance to his home. His butler is unable to keep her out of the house and this stranger barges straight into John's library where he sits with his brother and his mistress. Well, John is one of those alpha males who always want to be in charge but, as a gentleman, he attempts to placate this furious, beautiful lady and get her out of his house. Soon John is speechless as he learns this vicar's daughter doesn't think too highly of him and is actually criticizing him! And insulting him - a lot! She is dictating to him about his duties and detailing his many failures. As he attempts to speak to Emma, she keeps up her tirade and refuses his efforts to dismiss her. So John, ever the devil viscount that he is, makes a rude and shocking proposition to her in exchange for his withdrawal of the eviction notices. Of course, his intention is to cause her to run from his house - away from his evil, reprehensible suggestion - and the obviously depraved person he is. He expects this vicar's daughter to scamper away in fear and out of his home forever. But Emma is one step ahead of him and stuns him by taking up his challenge. This all occurs within the opening pages of the book and is one of the more entertaining scenes I have read in romance writing. I really savored this interaction between the two. John is stunned as Emma not only agrees to his proposition but also insists he put it in writing.
So, Complete Abandon is off and running fast. There is not a dull moment from page one and Emma and John's relationship is at once adversarial as well as intensely sensual. Their relationship is unlike most romance plots. Oh there are similar elements to mainstream historical romances but the situations between Emma and John are unusual and refreshing. Most of all they captivate you as they each try to outmaneuver the other. It is a rollicking story with many ups and downs as well as containing some serious overtones. John's continued shock at Emma's behavior is humorous throughout the book. Their relationship, as to be expected, does become physical eventually and these sensual scenes rate a strong 4.5 out of 5.0 (see More About Me for rating guidelines). John holds true to his alpha character but it does not rule the book, as is so often the case. Emma remains strong and resilient without becoming tiresome or irritating. The chemistry is strong between these two yet their situation is a bit sad since neither expects anything lasting from the other.
I highly recommend Complete Abandon. It goes on my keeper shelf - I have not had many of those lately. Thanks Cheryl Holt for a fantastic and fun story.

Rosehaven
Rosehaven
by Catherine Coulter
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.50
87 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Subtle humor and great love story regardless!, Dec 11 2003
This review is from: Rosehaven (Mass Market Paperback)
This review is written and ready to go online. As I prepare to enter it, I am amazed at the tremendous criticism of this book I see already posted. It is apparent my views differ greatly from some other reviewers. I tend to read a book within the context the author has created. If I don't like that author's writing style, I don't read their books again. Coulter is a writer that is on the rougher side of romance. Many would tame that by stating that her writing is politically incorrect. However, when I pick up a Coulter book, I know it is probably not going to be warm and fuzzy and it will probably contain an overly aggressive hero. And since I believe overly aggressive heroes are common then and now, I submerge myself into this different type of romance. I am not making a political statement with this review. I really enjoyed this book and am not ashamed to admit it. I liked the hero and the heroine and don't believe this writing or me to be sick. I think it was very entertaining. Now for my review in it's original form:
I have only recently discovered Catherine Coulter. While I know her writing style can cause great controversy, I have found most of the four Coulter books I have read to date to be quite entertaining. I am somewhat bothered by the hero's ruthlessness in some of her books but I am also one that accepts such ruthless behavior as part of the story and can accept a tarnished man as a hero. Rosehaven is my favorite Coulter book to date. It has a delightful underlying subtle humor and both of the lead characters were well written. I especially liked the heroine, Hastings and how easily she spoke her mind without hatefulness. Usually I don't relish the presence of too many secondary characters but they were so interwoven into the overall story and lives of the hero and heroine that I found them quite interesting. Overall, I had a great time reading this book and put it down only with great reluctance. I eagerly watched for the next time I could continue reading it.
Severin is the hero, a medieval knight who has performed well in the Christian Crusades and is recognized as an accomplished, courageous, and talented man. The Earl of Oxborough has chosen Severin to wed his only daughter, Hastings, claim all of the family's vast estates and riches, and continue the family line. When he first appears at Oxborough Castle, he seems an unfeeling, dominating man who definitely believes he is in charge. He does not hide his disdainful attitude towards his bride-to-be. He is wedding her to obtain lands, title, and riches and in turn will provide heirs and excellent management of the estates. At this point, I was not too crazy about Severin. He seemed totally without feelings as was well noted by Hastings as she told Severin that he had the feelings of a toad.
Hastings is a vivacious and fun heroine forced into an unwanted marriage to this most insensitive man. She attempts to talk her dying father out of the forced wedding but he refuses and insists they marry immediately before he dies. And then there is yet another reason for the urgency - the villain is coming to attack the castle and steal Hastings away and thus obtain her family's lands. Through it all, Hastings keeps her chin up and is quite charming.
One of the greatest criticisms of this book is the abusive hero. Yes, he is an aggressive husband who is definitely tarnished in that he forces the marriage bed. He also humiliates Hastings as he disciplines her for her violent behavior. Although I did not like his choice of discipline, I have to admit that Hastings's continual temper tantrums and many attempts to physically hurt Severin were tiring. She would lose all control and I am amazed a medieval hero would tolerate it as well as he did. Overall I found Severin to be quite a pleasant guy. It was very amusing to watch his love for her grow and grow although he didn't realize it was happening. And that is what I liked best about Rosehaven. Through many trials and tribulations, we get to see the love develop between Severin and Hastings little by little throughout the book. It is not a love that comes together suddenly at the end. We are given pages and pages to savor the growth of this relationship and their romance is the primary storyline. We actually get to see them happy together prior to the end of the book. There are quite a few sensual scenes that rate about a 3.75 out of 5.0 (see More About Me for rating guidelines). Although these scenes are not explicit, they are definitely sensual. There is a lot of great chemistry between these two.
Overall, I loved this book! I have not been this enthusiastic about a book in some time. My ability to accept some politically incorrect behavior as part of medieval times definitely plays into this high rating. I realize not everyone can accept the hero's negative behavior. But since I have read other Coulter books, I can compare him to a few of her other heroes. Compared to the heroes in The Devil's Embrace or Season of the Sun, this hero is tame. I am looking forward to yet another Coulter adventure. One thing I have discovered about her writing is that her books can vary tremendously.

Awaken, My Love
Awaken, My Love
by Robin Schone
Edition: Paperback
20 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Schone's first book and I think her best, Dec 2 2003
This review is from: Awaken, My Love (Paperback)
I don't usually read Robin Schone books. Well, actually, I have read all of her books, but have decided they are too dark and explicit for my tastes. But after getting rid of Gabriel's Woman and The Lover (yes - I had to keep The Lady's Tutor), I had let Awaken My Love, Schone's first novel, sit unread for well over a year. Now, after reading it, I think this is the best of Schone's books. As are all of her books, it is far from the norm as far as romance writing goes. It is very entertaining reading although it has a most unusual time travel twist. I usually don't care much for time travel stories but this is a definite exception.
Charles Mortimer, Lord Arlcotte, is the extremely appealing hero. He has a very strong personality, alpha extreme, but is just so downright cool that you want to melt as you read about him. He has a great problem on his hands. His young bride has never let him even touch her since their marriage a year ago. No matter - he is determined to have a heir. He decides she will come to his bed and learn to like his touch. He WILL warm his cold frigid wife. After their joining however, he is quite discouraged. She apparently despises him. Imagine his surprise when he finds his wife emerging from her bath. Charles knows something is awry - Morrigan has not taken a full bath since their marriage. She is different somehow and although he is still angry over her distaste of him, he cannot seem to resist tormenting and teasing her. He is continually drawn to this oddly different Morrigan and is encouraged to proceed with her education despite her protestations. He can see the difference in her eyes - he senses she will now accept his advances.
Elaine Metcliffe is a twentieth century gal, thirty-nine years of age, who is a computer analyst married to a really boring guy. They have been married for years and he has never been too interested in their love life and has no desire for children. One morning she awakens to find herself in another time and another body. Her body is no longer the slightly chubby body close to forty - it is a very young and slender body of a woman named Morrigan. An old hateful nag is apparently her maid - one who acts like a mad, religious zealot, constantly shouting about Morrigan's sins and her need for cleansing and forgiveness. Attempting to adjust to this highly distressing change of events, Elaine (Morrigan) asks to take a bath and all hell breaks loose. Insisting on a bath and then dressing in one of Morrigan's many beautiful gowns, gains the attention of everyone in the household. Morrigan has only worn one ill-fitting gray dress for the past year. She has never desired to wear any of the beautiful clothes her husband gifted her with as her trousseau upon their marriage. And certainly she has never taken a bath! Elaine is startled when she sees an extremely handsome and obviously very virile man standing in her room as she is finishing with her bath. Soon she discovers this is now her husband and he is very angry with her for some reason.
So begins the sensual education of Morrigan (and actually Elaine as well since she is a sexually repressed twentieth century woman). Highly intrigued by her husband's lessons, she also feels unfaithful to her twentieth century husband. Charles, on the other hand, is alternately thrilled at his wife's apparent sexual awakening and angered by her denial of it. But he has become very determined in his quest and will brook no argument. This portion of the book, which is the majority of it, is overlaid with tenderness as Charles comes to appreciate and cherish his strange wife. This is what sets Awaken My Love apart. Although nothing is spoken of love early on, the leads' relationship develops slowly into one of trust and respect. It is that which drives the overall tone of the book. Yes, true to Robin Schone, the sensual scenes are just that - very sensual and numerous. They rate a 5.0 out of 5.0 (see More About Me for sensual rating guidelines). I can think of only one other book I have rated 5.0 in this matter. I had read in the reviews of Awaken My Love that it was not as sensual as Schone's other novels. Well, yes - it may not be as explicit as her other novels, but it is still highly sensual - make no mistake. It still rates far above the average romance novel in this aspect.
Elaine is somewhat too meek in her role as Morrigan. Sometimes, I wanted to shout "Speak up Elaine!". Her inability or lack of willingness to stand up for herself was the only irritating thing about the story. Occasionally she would demand attention or her way but far too seldom. But this was not a story full of disagreements or misunderstandings. It is the story of a relationship, written in a definite spicy manner, but a precious one all the same. I am sure there is some hidden psychological yearning behind the heroine's age and it feeds well into a fantasy of once again living in a body eighteen years younger yet with the wisdom of a thirty-nine year old woman. It only adds to the overall charm of the book. I have read that this is an expensive book once you find it. It is well worth the effort to find it and only a few dollars more than you expect to pay for a used paperback. It is a definite keeper.

My Dark Prince
My Dark Prince
by Julia Ross
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
29 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars A dark prince with a whole lot of problems, Nov. 27 2003
The dark prince in the book The Dark Prince is certainly that. Prince Nicholas is Sovereign Prince and Grand Duke of Glarien, a small nation that has gained much notice among the European nations during the Napoleonic wars. It is a critical pawn because of its strategic location. Prince Nicholas is to marry the heir to their neighboring country, Alvia, to join forces and present a more powerful presence and thereby prevent takeover by a stronger nation. The prince has been raised to perform his duty for his country first and foremost - shunning all personal desire. He realizes he is a symbol, a necessary figurehead of a county that must use him as is necessary for political gain. Therefore, Prince Nicholas lives a dark life - never expecting to find any real joy or peace in his life. He has no personal desire to marry the princess of Alvia but that does not matter. Only the state of Glarien matters. Tortured by events of his past, his throne threatened by takeover by his cousin, Prince Nicholas has one mission that must be accomplished and that is marrying the princess immediately and creating the needed political union of the two countries. There is one big problem with his plan, however. The princess of Alvia has been kidnapped by the prince's cousin to prevent the wedding, which is to take place in England.
Prince Nicholas also has an English heritage and an English title. He is also Earl of Evanlode, a title inherited from his father. When it is discovered that his bride has been secretly abducted, the prince delays his arrival in London and escapes to his English estate, Rascall Hall, to revise his plans and avoid a political catastrophe. Shortly after arriving at Rascall Hall, he meets Penelope Lindsey (Pennie), who possesses a bold and straightforward manner for a woman. Not only is she not impressed with his title of prince; she also dares to touch him! He is royalty and is used to being treated as such but it makes no difference to Pennie. But Prince Nicholas immediately determines that it is best to avoid reprimanding this outlandish woman and attempt to remain in her good graces. It seems that Pennie is the illegitimate cousin of the Princess of Alvia and is her exact likeness. The prince is shocked to discover this treasure at his England estate. He decides that Pennie must be taught to be "royal" and travel to London with him and impersonate the princess at the royal wedding. Pennie does not like this idea at all and refuses again and again. But the prince wins out or so it seems. Eventually she agrees to the charade and allows him to train her in the mannerisms and customs of nobility and Glarien. But Pennie really has no desire to lie and risk everything in her life for this cause and repeatedly changes her mind. Of course, she eventually does assist him but falls in love in the process and in doing so, dooms herself to immense misery.
Knowing this extensive premise gives you solid ground when you begin reading The Dark Prince. Ross writes an unusual romance and it is sometimes work to really get into her novels. She is a superb author but The Dark Prince disappointed me. There were a lot of intriguing moments in the book but overall, there was just too much angst. There were always problems and Pennie's behavior drove me a little crazy. She was alternately loving Nicholas at one moment and hating him the next. She was kissing him one moment and then hurling horrible insults at him during the next. It happened again and again and again. And she cried and cried and she certainly at times had reason to cry. But she cried and cried even without reason. I have never read a heroine that cried this much. Her on again/off again feelings towards Nicholas grew very tiresome.
Then we have Prince Nicholas and, being a typical man, he tells Pennie exactly as it is - he cannot ever have a relationship with her. He is most emphatic about this and is usually unkind in the process. But Pennie continues to hold out hope in this impossible situation with absolutely no encouragement from the prince. As the reader, you are unable to discern if the prince is a basically kind soul or a bloody manipulator. The enigma surrounding the prince's character is the finest part of this book. A true mystery enshrouds his genuine nature and he ends up holding more secrets than I expected. Yes, the hero and heroine eventually become involved and there is a sense of romance budding here and there but it is always, always suffocated by his duty to his country, which must forever be first. Since the prince is so secretive and closed and Pennie is continually bouncing here and there, the misunderstandings between the two do abound. But somehow, a relationship of sorts does develop. There are few sensual scenes and they rate about a 3.25 out of 5.0 (see More About Me for rating guidelines).
On the whole, I cannot recommend this book as more than an average adventure. Although Ross's writing could fall into more categories than romance, it is still primarily a story that is structured around the romance. Therefore, it is most likely to be read by romance fans and will ultimately disappoint many in that realm. There were many things that mesmerized me during my reading of The Dark Prince. But there were also too many maddening scenes, essentially played over and over again, that reduced the book's overall appeal.

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