Monday, April 25, 2011

April 26—Another Super Tuesday in Romancelandia

Almost every Tuesday I have at least one new release on my TBB (To Be Bought) list, but every once in a while there is a Tuesday with a flood of new releases. I call these days Super Tuesdays, and they thrill my reader’s heart and wreck my book budget. 

April 26 is a Super Tuesday.  My TBB list has twelve titles. Four of these gems I’ve already read, but that makes no difference. They were all books I enjoyed, three by autobuy authors and one by a new author who looks to be headed toward autobuy status. As much as I appreciate the free eARCs I receive from publishers via NetGalley, I need permanent copies of the books I love. Why else do we call them “keepers”? 

Here’s what’s on my Super Tuesday shopping list:

1.     Midnight’s Wild Passion by Anna Campbell
This is one of the books I’ve already read; it was a five-star read for me. Antonia is a wonderful heroine, and Ranelaw won my heart against the odds. I know I’ll reread it. You can read my full review at The Romance Dish.

2.     Any Man of Mine by Rachel Gibson
I’ve already read and reviewed this one too. A reunion romance and a terrific addition to Gibson’s Chinooks Hockey series, AMOM is book I recommend to all Gibson fans. To those unfamiliar with the series, I’ll add that you don’t have to be a hockey fan or to have read the other Chinook books to love this one. You can read my full review at The Romance Dish.

3.     Dangerous in Diamonds by Madeline Hunter
DID is the final book in Hunter’s Rarest Blooms quartet. The first three books have made this my favorite Hunter series, and that's saying a lot because I have two other Hunter series on a keeper shelf. I've been eager to discover the truth about Daphne’s past since Book 1. I can’t wait to read this one.

4.     Defiant by Kris Kennedy
I’ve said several times already that Kris Kennedy made me a reader of Medieval romances. I thought The Conqueror was wonderful, and The Irish Warrior was one of my top reads of 2010.  Both combined compelling bits of history, characters I found totally engaging, and lucid, graceful prose. I expect the same from her latest and look forward to spending a few hours in 13th-century England.

5.     Cloudy With A Chance of Marriage (Impossible Bachelor #3) by Kieran Kramer
One of the things I enjoy most about being a romance reader is that I’m never forced into an either/or choice; I can always choose both/and. Lighthearted historical romance fiction is always part of my reading choices, and, based on the first two books in her Impossible Bachelor series, I think Kieran Kramer is among the best in this subgenre. I also love self-made heroes and see too few of them, and therefore, I’m particularly looking forward to Stephen’s story.           

6.     A Turn in the Road (Blossom Street #8) by Debbie Macomber
This seems to be the season for road books, and Macomber’s contribution to the bounty is definitely a good read. I especially liked the three generations of women and the twist Macomber gave the romance element. You can read my full review in last month’s post here on some of the road books I’ve been reading.


      Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart  by Sarah MacLean
MacLean’s Love by Numbers series has been a winner for me. I enjoyed Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake. (I’m still hoping that MacLean will write Benedick’s story.) I thought Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord was even better. I eagerly anticipated Juliana’s book, and she is as magnificent a heroine as I expected. I’m not as impressed with Simon, but others have raved about him. And even with reservations about the hero, I recommend the book. You can read my full review at GoodReads.

2.     Heartache Falls (Eternity Springs #3) by Emily March
I was excited about Emily March’s Eternity Springs series from the time I read the earliest promo, and the first two books have been terrific with lots of interesting characters, a strong sense of place, and perfect balance between the heroine’s journey motif of women’s fiction and the H/H relationship of romance. I’m particularly looking forward to this one since the H/H are empty nesters. I love seeing central characters who give lie to the idea that life and love end at 39.

3.     Touch of a Thief by Mia Marlowe
If someone asked if I liked romances in which the hero or the heroine is a thief, I’d say no instantly. But after some thought, I’d remember favorites such as Connie Brockway’s All Through the Night, Anne Gracie’s An Honorable Thief, Julie Anne Long’s To Love a Thief, and Nora Roberts’s Honest Illusions and admit, as I usually am forced to do, that it all depends upon the writer. Touch of a Thief sounds like a book I’ll enjoy. I find the idea of a jewel thief to whom stolen jewels “speak” intriguing.

4.     Nowhere Near Respectable (Lost Lords #3) by Mary Jo Putney
MJP is one of my never-fail authors. I’ve already reread Loving a Lost Lord and Never Less than a Lady so that all the details about Kiri and Mac from the earlier books will be fresh in my mind. I love the idea of pairing a beta hero with a heroine who is strong, confident, and an expert at hand-to-hand combat. I’m also eager to see more of Lady Agnes.

5.     Face of Danger (Guardian Angelinos #3) by Roxanne St. Claire
I am a self-confessed wimp who rarely reads today’s romantic suspense, but I make an exception for Roxanne St. Claire’s books. She always gives me characters that I like and in whom I believe. I’m already interested in this heroine because of what I’ve seen in the first two Angelinos books. I’m really looking forward to reading Vivi’s story.

      When Tempting a Rogue by Kathryn Smith
This one is a don’t-miss for several reasons. It’s the conclusion to a series, it’s a second chance at love story, and it’s the last book Kathryn Smith will be writing under that name. She’ll be writing steampunk and paranormal as Kate Cross and Kate Locke. I wish her well, but I’ll miss the historicals.

Have you read any of these new books? What's on your TBB list for this week?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

May all of you who celebrate Easter have a blessed day with family and friends and hallelujahs in your heart!

Note: Look for my next post on Monday, April 25.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Terrific Trads

I was one of those readers who went into mourning back in 2005 when Zebra and Signet announced that they were ceasing publication of traditional Regencies. Even though I was reading fewer by that time, my love for the subgenre was steady. Trads that I reread until pages pulled loose and covers grew tattered adorned my keeper shelves in significant numbers. So I greeted with enthusiasm announcements that some of my favorite authors were reissuing some of my favorite trads. I’m still not sure why Dell began Mary Balogh’s reissues with her Web trilogy, which is near the bottom of my list of Balogh books I reread, but I was pleased to have shiny new copies of The Ideal Wife, A Precious Jewel, Dark Angel/Lord Carew’s Bride (a twofer—and the latter my very favorite Balogh trad), and A Christmas Promise. The Famous Heroine/The Plumed Bonnet (another twofer—and the first is another favorite) is scheduled to be reissued in September 2011, followed by A Christmas Bride/ A Christmas Beau and A Promise of Spring/The Temporary Wife in 2012 and The Counterfeit Betrothal/The Notorious Rake in 2013. I’m sure I’ll buy copies of all of them, but I’m especially pleased that A Promise of Spring is included. It’s connected to the Web trilogy, but I liked it much better.

As with Balogh, I started reading Jo Beverley’s books with her first one, Lord Wraybourne’s Betrothed, in 1988. I loved all six of her trads, and after fifteen to twenty years of rereading, they were all tattered and needed replacing. Thanks to NAL’s reissues, beginning with Lovers and Ladies, which included The Fortune Hunter and Deirdre and Don Juan, in 2008, and following with Lord Wraybourne’s Betrothed in 2009 and with The Stanforth Secrets, The Stolen Bride, and Emily and the Dark Angel (one of the best trads ever written IMO) in 2010, a complete set of Beverley’s trads is now easily available. If only they’d reissue “If Fancy Be the Food of Love” and Jo Bev would write the Daffodil Dandy’s story . . .

Ebooks are a great boon to lovers of the trad Regency. Rare paperback copies of coveted trads have been expensive; ebooks are making them affordable. For instance, Candice Hern has recently made available ebooks of three of her trads: A Proper Companion, An Affair of Honor, and A Change of Heart. Paperback copies of these books could cost from $55 to $129, but the ebooks are selling at Amazon and Smashwords for $2.99. I’m still waiting for my favorite Hern trad, Miss Lacey’s Last Fling. More bargains can be found at Regency Reads where ecopies of such hard-to-find trads as Mary Jo Putney’s Carousel of Hearts, Barbara Metzger’s Snowdrops and Scandalbroth, Joan Wolf’s Her Lordship’s Mistress, and dozens of others are available for $5.00.

Even when used copies are available at bargain or moderate prices, given a choice, most readers would choose a reissued book. I’m thankful for the trads that are being reissued in print or electronic formats, but there are so many more I’d like to see added to the list. Here’s a list of the trads I’d most like to see made newly available (in alphabetical order by author):

1. The Devil’s Delilah by Loretta Chase

Before Lord of Scoundrels, this author wrote some marvelous trads. This one is the one I love best. I adore this sort of screwball comedy Regency style featuring a heroine with a scandalous father and a heart-stealing, beta hero who is one of my all-time favorites.

2. Allegra by Clare Darcy
Darcy was the first Regency romance writer I read after Georgette Heyer. Between 1971 and 1982, she published fourteen trads, all titled with the heroine’s name. Allegra is my favorite and the one I most want, although I’d be happy to see them all reissued. It’s very much in the style of Heyer with an independent, impoverished heroine and a pre-Waterloo Brussels setting.

3. Love’s Reward by Jean Ross Ewing
You may know Ewing better as Julia Ross, but before she wrote passionate, complex, historically accurate European historicals as Ross, she wrote passionate, complex, historically accurate trads as Ewing. Love’s Reward, a Rita winner, is the last in her six-book Rewards series. It includes mystery, political intrigue, and a marriage to the wrong brother.

4. Gallant Waif by Anne Gracie
This is the first book I read by Gracie, and as much as I love her other books, it remains my favorite, one of those books that I return to again and again for comfort and joy as a reader and for inspiration and instruction as a writer. Kate is an invincible heroine, Jack is a tortured hero who has multiple reasons for retreating from the world, and if that’s not enough, this book contains my favorite ballroom scene ever.

5. The Country Gentleman by Fiona Hill
If you’re tired of dukes and dances, you can’t do better than The Country Gentleman which features a heroine forced to leave London when she loses her fortune and the man she has loved for a decade and a farmer hero. The book has humor (especially the fish-out-of-water variety), great dialogue, and a love story that develops through interaction and character growth.

6. The Lady’s Companion by Carla Kelly
This Rita winner is one of the few Carla Kelly’s trads missing from my collection. Somehow it was lost during a move. Used copies range from $25-$95. It’s a wonderful story, one that turns some romance conventions on their head. The hero is Welsh, a former army sergeant turned baliff, far below the heroine’s father in social terms, but immeasurably his superior in character. The old lady whom the heroine serves as companion is neither a martinet nor an empty-headed fool; instead, she is intelligent, courageous, and interesting, and she proves a good friend to the heroine. I’d love to see all of Kelly’s pre-Harlequin trads reissued, but this one tops my list.

7. The Unwavering Miss Winslow by Emma Lange
This book is a wonderful example of how a skilled writer can use even the generally trite and irritating to advantage. Jessica Winslow’s great beauty is the cause of all her misfortunes—and they are many, and a Big Misunderstanding lies at the heart of the story, but despite two strikes, Lange hits a homerun. She makes her heroine endearing and shows the H/H as reasonable people who learn to understand and trust one another.

8. Kidnap Confusion by Judith Nelson
How many romances have you read with a heroine whose kidnapping makes you cringe. In this book Nelson upends the kidnapping trope when two young brothers and their groom kidnap the eminently practical and capable Miss Margaret Tolliver, having mistaken her for their eldest brother’s mistress. It’s a comedy of errors that ends in a touching HEA. The proposal scenes alone would send KC soaring to the top of my favorite trads list. Nelson is another author who wrote a number of trads on my keeper shelves, but this one is special, one of my go-tos when I need to laugh.

9. A Royal Escapade by Alicia Rasley
Maybe you know Alicia Rasley for her workshops or the excellent writing instruction she provides on her web site, or perhaps you visit her Edittorrent blog. But back in the 90s, she was best known for her traditional regencies. A Royal Escapade is my favorite. Trads generally won praise for their historical accuracy, and one of the delights of this book is the way Radley weaves historical details and people into her fiction. Her Wellington is a more human-sized character than the one romance readers are accustomed to encountering, and her princess heroine is closer to historical princesses caught up in arranged marriages and burdensome responsibilities than to fairy tale princesses with magic at hand.

10. The Sergeant Major’s Daughter by Sheila Walsh
Frederica and The Grand Sophy are the Heyers I’ve reread most often, so it’s no surprise that this tale of another independent, competent, “managing” heroine is one for which I have a deep affection. Felicity Vale, who spent much of her life following the drum with her parents, is also a heroine with a social conscience and, even rarer, with the determination to add practical action to admirable ideals and change the aristocratic hero’s views in the process.

Are you a fan of traditional Regencies? What are your favorite trads? What books do you long to see reissued in print or electronic formats?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Computer Snafu

Grrr! I've been having computer problems. My April 17th post has mysteriously turned into gobbledygook, and I am forced to rewrite it from my notes. (Sometimes it pays to do early drafts in longhand.) I will return sometime today with my post on reissues of trad Regencies--those I love and those for which I long. Thank you for your patience.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Poem in Your Pocket

Each April since 1996, the Academy of American Poets has led a celebration of the legacy and achievement of American poetry. This month people will gather in schools, colleges, and universities in all fifty states to read aloud favorite poems. Schools and libraries will display the 2011 poster (at left), which this year the line "bright objects hypnotize the mind" from Elizabeth Bishop's poem "A Word with You." This year marks the centennial celebration of Bishop’s life. On April 27, 2011, the Academy of American Poets will present its ninth annual benefit, Poetry & The Creative Mind, at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, where artists and other public figures will read from works of contemporary poets. This year’s guest readers include Meryl Streep, Uma Thurman, Live Schreiber, Michael Cunningham, and Alec Baldwin.

During my years in the classroom, I read in campus read-a-thons, sometimes from poems I had lived with and loved for many years, sometimes from my own work; I led discussions about poems in my classes; I attended poetry parties where quotes from Shakespeare and Shelley filled the air, along with toasts to Emily Dickinson and Wallace Stevens. I have missed those public celebrations over the past few years. The blog provides a venue for a celebration that extends beyond my home, but I couldn’t seem to come up with a way to connect poetry to reading and writing romance fiction. Then I hit a wall in my WIP. I rewrote one scene so many times I lost count and finally gave up. That evening I read a poem, and it led to a eureka moment. In minutes I had the scene that I had lost hope of writing. From that experience came the idea for this blog.

Thursday, April 14 is Poem in Your Pocket Day. Throughout the day, people in libraries, schools, bookstores, and workplaces will be sharing with family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors poems that are carrying in their pockets. The Academy of American Poets suggests that online communities can participate in Poem in Your Pocket Day by posting a poem on a blog or social networking page. I’m going to extend that idea and post a pocket poem here each day this week. And each of the poems will be one that I see as potential inspiration for a scene in a romance novel. On Thursday, the official Poem in Your Pocket Day, I’ll post the poem that inspired my scene and share a snippet from the scene with you.

Sunday’s Pocket Poem: Diamonds by Kathryn Stripling Byer

This, he said, giving the hickory leaf
to me. Because I am poor.
And he lifted my hand to his lips,
kissed the fingers that might have worn
gold rings if he had inherited

bottomland, not this
impossible rock where the eagles soared
after the long rains were over. He stood
in the wet grass, his open hands empty,
his pockets turned inside out.

Queen of the Meadow, he teased me
and bowed like a gentleman.
I licked the diamonds off the green
tongue of the leaf, wanting only

that he fill his hands with my hair.

Monday’s Pocket Poem: Recuerdo by Edna St. Vincent Millay

We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable—
But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table,
We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.

We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.

We were very tired, we were very merry,
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
We hailed "Good morrow, mother!" to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, "God bless you!" for the apples and pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.

Tuesday’s Pocket Poem: Golden Oldie by Rita Dove

I made it home early, only to get
stalled in the driveway-swaying
at the wheel like a blind pianist caught in a tune
meant for more than two hands playing.
The words were easy, crooned
by a young girl dying to feel alive, to discover
a pain majestic enough
to live by. I turned the air conditioning off,
leaned back to float on a film of sweat,
and listened to her sentiment:
Baby, where did our love go?-a lament
I greedily took in
without a clue who my lover
might be, or where to start looking.

Wednesday's Pocket Poem: The Look by Sara Teasdale

Strephon kissed me in the spring,

      Robin in the fall,
But Colin only looked at me
      And never kissed at all.

Strephon's kiss was lost in jest,
      Robin's lost in play,
But the kiss in Colin's eyes
      Haunts me night and day.

Thursday's Pocket Poem: What a Woman Wants by Kim Addonizio

I want a red dress.

I want it flimsy and cheap,
I want it too tight, I want to wear it
until someone tears it off me.
I want it sleeveless and backless,
this dress, so no one has to guess
what's underneath. I want to walk down
the street past Thrifty's and the hardware store
with all those keys glittering in the window,
past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old
donuts in their café, past the Guerra brothers
slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly,
hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders.
I want to walk like I'm the only
woman on earth and I can have my pick.
I want that red dress bad.
I want it to confirm
your worst fears about me,
to show you how little I care about you
or anything except what
I want. When I find it, I'll pull that garment
from its hanger like I'm choosing a body
to carry me into this world, through
the birth-cries and the love-cries too,
and I'll wear it like bones, like skin,
it'll be the goddamned
dress they bury me in.

Note: Serendipitously, this is the same poem that Terri O. posted as her pocket poem in the comment section yesterday. No collusion, I assure you. :) Just two women responding to the same powerful poem.

Here's the promised snippet from the scene inspired by "What a Woman Wants" (Keep in mind please that it is this WIP is still in the rough draft stage.):

“I want this one.”

“Honey, are you sure? That’s definitely a burning-bridges dress.” Saja’s voice was soft, tentative, almost a whisper, as if a louder noise might upset Zan’s careful balance.

“I’m ready to burn bridges.” Zan's words were emphatic. She swung to face her friends, catching them exchanging a look that said as clearly as words “Zan’s not herself.”

Even they didn’t know how sick she was of her Griselda self that turned the other cheek and turned away wrath. Anger burned in her, hotter than the August sun that steamed the sidewalks of Gentry. She wanted to let it explode and destroy forever the good girl who thought if she played by the rules long enough, she’d be forgiven and win the prize. Caleb’s final words to her hammered in her head. Well, she’d show him. She’d show them all. She was nobody’s angel, and that dress, that scarlet dress with sin written in every thread, was just what she needed to light the funeral pyre of the passive creature she’d been for too long.

Friday's Pocket Poem: Some Notes on Courage by Susan Ludvigson

Think of a child who goes out

into the new neighborhood,
cap at an angle, and offers to lend
a baseball glove. He knows
how many traps there are—
his accent or his clothes, the club
already formed.
Think of a preganant woman
whose first child died—
her history of blood.
Or your friend whose father
locked her in basements, closets,
cars. Now when she speaks
to strangers, she must have
all the windows open.
She forces herself indoors each day,
sheer will makes her climb the stairs.
And love. Imagine it. After all
those years in the circus, that last
bad fall when the net didn’t hold.
Think of the ladder to the wire,
spotlights moving as you move,
then how you used to see yourself
balanced on the shiny air.
Think of doing it again.

Saturday's Pocket Poem: Poem #245 by Emily Dickinson

I held a jewel in my fingers
And went to sleep
The day was warm, and winds were prosy;
I said: " 'T will keep."

I woke and chid my honest fingers, --
The gem was gine;
And now an amethyst remembrance
Is all I own.

I invite you to share a pocket poem with us. What ideas for scenes does “Diamonds” give you?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Wedding Bells

This year, April rather than June has become THE month to celebrate weddings, thanks to the wedding that will take place April 29 at Westminster Abbey when Prince William marries his Kate. The release of two anthologies with titles that link them to the wedding that the world will be watching offers historical romance readers pre and post-wedding reading pleasure, the best of it from the pens of established stars in the genre.

Last month Avon launched a new digital publishing romance imprint, Avon Impulse. On April 1, the new imprint released its second epublication, Royal Wedding ($1.99), an anthology that includes short fiction by Stephanie Laurens, Gaelen Foley, and Loretta Chase. One caveat: the stories truly are "short fiction," not novellas.

Laurens’s “The Wedding Planner,” set in London, 1820, features Lady Margaret Dawlish, a duke’s daughter who has used her considerable organizational skills to plan the weddings of her five younger siblings, assorted cousins, and other aristocratic brides and grooms. When she is drafted as the wedding planner for the nuptials of her youngest sister’s best friend to a prince, she discovers one member of the wedding party is a man from her past, Gaston Devillers, newly restored to his estate and his title, the Duc de Perigord. Gaston may have come to England to serve as his young relative’s best man, but he’s most interested in proving himself the best man for Lady Margaret.

I found the segmented structure of the story distracting, but I love reunion stories. And the duc is a wonderfully romantic hero. Seeing him fluster the controlled and efficient Lady Margaret with his determined courtship was a delight. 4 stars

In Gaelen Foley’s “Ever After,” the marriage of a war hero and his wife reaches a crisis against the backdrop of a royal wedding, that of Princess Charlotte of England to Prince Leopold. Eleanor Montford, Countess of Archer, has been a perfect wife to Roland James Augustus Montford, Colonel Lord Archer, managing his home, giving him two sons, and using her social skills to advance his political career. She’s made one mistake, however; she’s fallen in love with her husband, who may have followed the pattern of men of his class and taken a mistress.

I was fascinated by the premise of this story: love after marriage and what happens when one or both parties long to throw off the confines of culturally defined roles. The problem I had with it was that it was too much story for the short fiction format. The transformation of the husband from ambitious, albeit nobly intentioned, politician who is too busy to devote time to his family to one who sacrifices a key appointment for them happened too quickly for me to believe in it. 3 stars

Loretta Chase’s “The Jilting of Lord Rothwick” was the best of the trio. I was hooked by the title and by the time period. The story opens two days before the wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (February 10, 1840). The plot is a familiar one: a destitute lord must marry a generously dowered daughter of a wealthy cit. But the characters are fresh and real. Barbara Findley has written to her fiancé, the Marquess of Rothwick, breaking off their engagement, and he rides ventre à terre to demand an explanation. Just when everything seems lost, she too rides ventre à terre and into an HEA. While I would love to see this story expanded into a full length novel, the focus and scope are narrow enough here to make it a satisfying work of short fiction. 5 stars

Wedding of the Century and Other Stories, HQN’s wedding anthology, which includes novellas by Mary Jo Putney, Kristin James, and Charlotte Featherstone, will be released on May 24. As is generally the case with anthologies, the quality is mixed.

“Wedding of the Century” by Mary Jo Putney (originally released in Promised Brides in 1994 and first reissued in Bride by Arrangement in 2000) is the best of the three. It is the story of Sarah “Sunny” Vangelder of the New York Vangelders and Justin Aubrey, the ninth Duke of Thornborough and a Gilded Age arranged marriage between an American heiress and an English title. Justin falls in love with Sunny when they spend an hour in a garden, but she soon forgets him in the throes of infatuation for a better-looking, less honorable aristocrat. They must overcome their inability to trust one another, the Victorian ideas about female sexuality passed on to Sunny by her mother, and Justin’s mother’s arrogance and general bitchiness before they find their HEA. Some readers may be bothered by the misunderstandings that could have been resolved with some honest conversations, but Putney’s deft characterizations persuaded me to accept them as inevitable. This is not MJP’s best work, but it is an entertaining story that offers an interesting fictional take on the Gilded American Girl/English Lord merger. 4.5 stars

“Jesse’s Girl” by Kristin James is the story of a plain, bookworm rancher’s daughter, Amy McAlister, who is saved from social ruin by Jesse Tyler her father’s most trusted ranch hand who has adored her from afar. Both Amy and Jesse are likeable characters, and their romance is a pleasing blend of tenderness, humor, and passion. However, the secondary characters verge on the stereotypical, and the ending feels rushed. I think the story might have worked better as a full-length novel that offered the opportunity for fuller development. 3.5 stars

The third novella, “Seduced by Starlight,” by Charlotte Featherstone is the only new story in the collection. It is the story of Blossom, a free-thinking, fly-fishing artist and daughter of the Duke of Torrington, and Jase, infamous rake and eldest son of the Marquis of Weatherby. When Jase learns that his younger brother and Blossom’s fiancé has eloped with a ballet dancer, he seizes the opportunity to court Blossom with whom he has long been in love. But Blossom, although tempted by Jase’s kisses, is distrustful of his motives. This was the first thing I’ve read by Ms. Featherstone, but I wondered from the repeated references to the still passionate marriages of Blossom’s parents and Jase’s parents if this were a second-generation tale. Perhaps if I had read the earlier stories, I would have found the amount of freedom granted to Blossom more credible. Not having read them, the freedom she enjoyed kept pulling me out of the story. “Seduced by Starlight” is labeled erotic historical romance, and it has its share of sizzle, although no more in quantity and no greater sensuality level than some mainstream romances. I would have preferred less sizzle and more development of characters and plot. 3 stars

Are you planning to watch the royal wedding on April 29? What’s your favorite wedding in romance fiction?

Note: This post marks a switch from Thursdays to Sundays as the day for regular weekly posts. Special posts may appear on other days from time to time.