Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Lady's Guide to Improper Behavior, by Suzanne Enoch. A Review by Donna

It’s not an obsession; at least I don’t think it is, but I’ve been staying up indecently late, reading nothing but Suzanne Enoch for two weeks. In fact, my Kindle is currently the home of six of her books, my nightstand another two.  And while in the middle of this frenzy, I unexpectedly received an advance copy of Ms. Enoch’s latest installment in the Adventurers' Club series, to be published this spring.  So as it happens, the circles under my eyes are now a little darker - A Lady’s Guide to Improper Behavior kept me up late another two nights.

When Colonel Bartholomew James returns from service in India, he’s a man plagued by nightmares, enormous guilt and a serious leg injury that leaves him bitter, crippled, and in constant excruciating pain.  A damaged man inside and out, Colonel James has neither tolerance nor patience for the frivolous pleasantries and gentlemanly manners of his past. He pointedly avoids all contact with his elder brother, Stephen, Stephen’s new wife Amelia, and his younger sister Violet, choosing instead to find sanctuary in a secretive club that caters to men like him – returning adventurers with “issues.” Eventually, he is forced to reestablish contact with his family and reluctantly agrees to attend just one small family dinner. Surly, unkempt and rude beyond the pale, he shocks everyone present, with one notable exception.

Theresa Weller is Amelia’s cousin and while just as disturbed with the Colonel’s behavior as anyone in the room, she doesn’t let him get away with it. She calls him out over his rudeness, going so far as to escort the infuriating man out of his own family home. Her virulent response to Bartholomew’s antics surprises everyone in the room, including her own brother, specifically because Tess is the paragon of appropriate behavior.  She wrote the book on it – literally.  Tess is the anonymous author of  “A Lady’s Guide to Proper Behavior,” a widely read and highly regarded “how to” guide for society ladies.

Tess is not lacking in male admirers. An heiress and diamond of the first water, she has several serious suitors – all men with perfectly good manners. So why is she so intrigued by an angry, disagreeable man who insists on ignoring society’s rules? And while Tolly has no use for society, polite or otherwise, he’s fast becoming deeply enamored with a very proper society miss. Is this a case of opposites attracting or are Theresa and Bartholomew more alike than they realize?

A Lady’s Guide to Improper Behavior is a masterful combination of witty dialogue, intriguing circumstances and strong emotions.  Ms. Enoch expertly peels back the layers from Tess and Tolly, while carefully and oh so slowly creating the irresistible attraction between them. The combination is the very essence of excellent romance and no one creates it as well as Ms. Enoch, especially in this book. I should also mention that there is a kick ass proposal scene that left even the most hardened romance junkie (me) in blubbery tears.

A Lady’s Guide to Improper Behavior goes on sale officially May 11, 2010, according to the information on the advanced copy. So, put the date on your calendar and be prepared to forgo a couple of nights sleep all in the name of love. I can't think of any better reason, can you?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Wild Marquis, by Miranda Neville. A Review by Angie

The Marquis of Chase is a naughty, naughty boy.  Brought up by parents who were overly pious and believed the good book was the only book worth reading, Cain is banished from his home at a young age for sins that he did not commit.  For years he has lived in London making his way through the ladies of the ton, and his reputation is well-earned.  A passing glance into a window turns his life upside down as a rare book is up for auction,  a book that he thought he owned.  After some research, he decides to hire J.C. Merton, a notable book seller, to represent him at the auction and reclaim his book.

He is astonished, but overcomes this quickly when he learns that J.C. Merton is a woman, and a lovely one at that.  Juliana Merton is a widow and is still running her husband's book shop.  Her love for books was instilled by her Grandfather and she is determined to keep the shop alive in memory of her husband, whose death remains a mystery.  The two get along well and Juliana spends most of her time trying to resist the advances of the Marquis.  Her ways of "calming" herself are quite hysterical.  The two are an unlikely pair, and her representation of him raises more than a few eyebrows and snide remarks.  There is a mystery of her birth that Juliana longs to solve, and once Cain hears of the particulars, he decided to help her find the truth.   Juliana is convinced they cannot marry because of her status, but they both end up in love.  This makes Cain all the more anxious to unravel the mystery of her birth, and to salvage what is left of his reputation in the ton.  His sister, who flees her home to live with her brother after learning of her mother's plan to have her marry an older man, and Juliana make him realize he needs to find the truth of why he was banished, and to reconnect with his family that spurned him long ago.

There are many mysteries surrounding her birth that are connected to a stolen book being planted her in shop, and attempts to scare her.  As Juliana and Cain attempt to unravel the mystery, little do they realize they have proof sitting on the shelves of the book shop.  More is at stake than her birth and those involved are none too willing to let go of their secret.

Miranda Neville is a new author for me, and The Wild Marquis is the first in The Burgundy Club series.  Her writing is very witty and passionate; the perfect match for our hero and heroine.  Cain is definitely a rake, but he is a lovable one that truly cares for Juliana and falls in love hard.  The hurt from his father and his guilt at leaving his sister behind eat at him making him all the more human.  Juliana is a proper lady that tries her best to fit in with the other male booksellers in London, trying to keep her little shop afloat.  She is a delightful and witty character that more than once stumps Cain.  The Wild Marquis is a great read and one that I recommend you to pick up.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Care and Taming of a Rogue, by Suzanne Enoch. A Review by Debra

Let me preface this review by saying that any author who dedicates a book to Hugh Jackman is more than okay in my view, and that’s before I even turned to the first page of this book.

Captain Sir Bennett Wolfe returns from the Congo and a near-fatal injury unaware that his reputation has been ruined by the theft of his journals. His former expedition partner, David Langley, turns Wolfe’s writing into his own, and in the process, claims all the glory for himself.  With his side-kick, the monkey Kero, perched on his shoulder, Sir Bennett sets out to right this wrong, and along the way, finds Lady Phillipa Eddison.

Lady Flip, as she’s known, has always been in the shadow of her older sister, Olivia. A “blue-stocking,” she’s read Sir Bennett’s previous books and believes him when he says he’s been plagiarized.  The Captain is drawn to Phillipa, as much for her belief in him as her other attributes, which, unbelievably to Bennett, no other gentleman has seemed to notice.  He begins to think that he has found the one person to marry.  On the other hand, Phillipa’s lack of adventuresome spirit worries her.  After all, her love is an adventurer, looking for his next expedition. Would she be drawn to that kind of life? Or will she have to ask Bennett to give up his career in order to be with her?

While Bennett very humorously blunders through a courtship based not on the rules of the jungle, which he understands completely, but that of society's which he does not,  he realizes that he needs to toe the line in order to regain his reputation and protect Phillipa’s as well. Then, to Bennett’s surprise, Phillipa makes expedition plans of her own when she draws Langley into a dangerous game of subterfuge in order to find Bennett’s journals and help him regain his place in society.

This is my first Suzanne Enoch novel. She writes with a great deal of humor and love for her characters. Phillipa and Bennett come to care for each other enough to compromise on what’s most important to each of them; it’s a lesson everyone can learn from. I’ve already put more of Ms. Enoch’s books on my list. While Hugh Jackman gives us something in common to admire, it’s Ms. Enoch’s writing that will keep me coming back for more.