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Willaful Review: An Infamous Marriage by Susanna Fraser


Sensuality rating: somewhere between steamy and torrid

Fraser’s third novel confirms my opinion of her as a go-to writer for Regency romance that is actually set in the Regency rather than in that Never-Neverland mash-up that’s been dubbed “The Recency” or “Almackistan.” It’s a gracefully written, authentic feeling story

Soldier Jack Armstrong is too honorable to ignore a deathbed promise, and so he dutifully marries his best friend’s widow just before heading back to the war. But his resentment about being forced to marry a “dull, cold mouse” leads him to live as if he was still a bachelor — not realizing that word of his exploits in Canada could ever get back to his faithfully waiting wife. When he returns home after five years, he’s astonished to realize that the dull, cold mouse is a strong, confident, attractive woman — who wants no part of him. (more…)

Willaful Review: Unnatural Selection by Ann Somerville

Sensuality rating: Steamy


Police Constable Nick Guthrie is a vampire — or as he prefers, a “vee” — in a world in which that doesn’t mean a whole lot. No superhuman strength or supernatural powers– just embarrassing fangs that most vees have capped, the need for a liquid diet, and immunity from disease.  For him, it’s just one more reason to throw himself into work and give up on having a social life. Even the delightful and persistent biologist Dr. Anton Marber finds it hard to tempt him into anything more than one nighters.

But of course the outside world reacts unpredictably to real life vampires in their midst, even though their condition is a medical one, induced in hospitals to save people who would otherwise die. Some bizarrely worship them, some fear them. And when the vampires happen to be gay, as Nick is, that fear and hatred can be exponential. (more…)

Review: His Very Own Girl by Carrie Lofty

sensuality rating: steamy


I love the cover and title of this book; it not only establishes the period, but implicitly promises a story that strives for authenticity and sincerity. A promise that was definitely fulfilled.

The time, of course, is during World War II, some months before the Invasion of Normandy.  Lulu is a British pilot with the Air Transport Auxiliary — hating the war, but relishing the opportunities it’s given her to move out of the traditional women’s sphere.  Doing her part as a morale booster, she also dances with, flirts with, and occasionally shares kisses with soldiers — but only for one night apiece.  After a painful loss, she doesn’t dare risk more with men who could die at any time.

But Joe, a medic who was the first person on the scene when Lulu had a crash landing, tempts her to break her rule:

Never had she imagined seeing him again. His face was unforgettable, like the lyrics to a favorite song. He’d been a beckoning pinpoint of light when her body had liquified and her senses turned traitor.

But more than his surprising calm, then and now, he was undeniably handsome. Hard, tall, simple, guileless — how did one describe an American man? Light brown hair cut close to his skull accentuated the cords of muscle along his neck and the blunt squareness of his jaw. He had substance, solid and strong. Lulu imagined digging her fingers into his wide shoulders and thick biceps until he flinched… if he even would.

Forget Dawson. She wasn’t thirsty anyway.

She was hungry. (more…)

Review: Just the Way You Are by Barbara Freethy

Sensuality rating: steamy

Freethy walks a fine line here between making her characters humanly fallible and making them dislikable. Although I enjoyed the book overall, I sometimes felt they wound up on the wrong side of the line.

This is the story of Alli, who’s recently asked her husband of nine years for a divorce, Sam, who married Alli because he got her pregnant, and Tessa, Sam’s first love and Alli’s sister. Tessa has never forgiven Alli for seducing her boyfriend, and they haven’t spoken since, but when the grandmother who raised them has a stroke, Tessa is forced to return home.  When Alli impulsively tells Tessa that their marriage is done because Sam has never gotten over her, Tessa can’t help but wonder if they can start again. (more…)

SuperWendy TBR Challenge: ChasingTrouble by Anne Stuart (DNF)

sensuality rating: steamy

Grade: DNF

I debated whether to include an unfinished book for the TBR challenge — but hey, it did get it off my TBR.

Chasing Trouble is a film homage, a follow-up to  Stuart’s fantastic Catspaw. But what utterly slayed me in that Hitchcock/Cary Grant tribute fell flat in this “Maltese Falcon” pastiche.  Perhaps it’s too meta: our heroine Sally does her best to find a private detective as much like Sam Spade as possible, in her search for the — God help me — Manchurian Falcon.  Or perhaps ditzy Sally would be great if she were being played by Carole Lombard. In print she’s just annoying.

Mostly I found the plot too boring for words. I skimmed and read the romantic parts and they were pretty good, so if you have a high tolerance for gangsters and hijinks and dizzy women and men being comically driven out of their minds by dizzy women, you might enjoy it.

Chasing Trouble is out of print and not available digitally, but used copies are reasonably priced at Amazon.  Review (such as it is) from a copy I bought used somewhere.