BEYOND SCANDAL by Brenda Joyce

beyondddPUBLISHING INFO: Avon, 10/1995
GENRE: Historical Romance
SETTING: England, 1856
SERIES: St. Georges, #1
AUTHOR SITE: link
MY GRADE: B

FROM PUBLISHER: Adoring and innocent, Anne Stewart was seduced by Dominick Saint Georges, Viscount Lyons, then brazenly abandoned on their wedding night. Now four years have passed, and England's most mysterious lord has returned to Waverly Hall.

Anne can never forgive Dominick for the shame he caused her. She is determined to resist his advances and ignore the gossip and speculations surrounding them, but shocking revelations and deadly intrigues are drawing her ever closer to her enigmatic husband, to whom she dares not surrender again - his secretive stranger who holds the key to her survival and her heart.


MY THOUGHTS: What an emotional rollercoaster Anne and Dom are on. The story seemed like it spanned just a few months. Anne is from America and is twenty-one. She went to live with relatives in England when she was eleven. She has blue eyes and black hair. She's loved Dom since she first met him when she was an adolescent and is very hurt that he's abandoned her for four years, the entire length of their marriage. I have no idea why he did that to her. Dom is twenty-eight, has golden hair and golden eyes. I got a little tired of them not getting along and the misunderstandings. That alone was a bit boring. What was very interesting was the mysterious things that were happening to Anne. Several people had a grudge against her and they were leaving cryptic clues for her alone to let her know they were behind the scary incidents.

Anne is too passive. Dom is alright except for the fact that he has two illegitimate children by his mistress of five years. It's unclear if he had that mistress, or any others, while married to Anne. I'm assuming he did. Adding those kids to the story was unappealing to me and didn't really serve a purpose.

The cousins Anne's lived with since she was eleven, Felicity and her brother Patrick, were a disturbed pair and I enjoyed them in the story. I didn't really like Dom's mother, Clarisse, too much. She's a bitter, jealous woman, same as Felicity.

Things got a bit convoluted toward the end when Dom found out about his paternity and who's behind the shenanigans.



PLEASURABLE BARGAINS (Eden's Pleasure/Antonia's Bargain) by Kate Pearce

pleasurable bargainsPUBLISHING INFO: Ellora's Cave, 6/2007
GENRE: Historical Erotic Romance
SETTING: England, 1815 & 1816
SERIES: House of Pleasure
MY GRADE: A/B

* This book contains two previously published e-books

EDEN'S PLEASURE- Eight years ago, after a summer of sexual dalliance with Gervase Harcourt and his twin brother Gideon, Eden was forced into marriage. Now widowed and twenty six, she is eager to enjoy her freedom and explore her deepest sexual desires. When she crosses paths with the delectable Harcourt twins again, they offer to make amends for their part in her miserable marriage by fulfilling her sexual fantasies. They introduce her to Madame Desiree's House of Pleasure where any erotic dream can become a reality. She also learns love has its darker side and that for Gideon, not all the fantasies played out at Madame Desiree's are pleasurable. As Eden explores her sensuality she realizes her heart still belongs to Gervase. But is she more than just a sexual plaything to him? Forced to consider another unwanted marriage and convinced that her barren state is why Gervase hasn't offered to marry her, Eden flees from Gervase and the sensual web he's spun around her. But Gervase has learned his own lessons at Madame Desiree's... Originally published in 2005. House of Pleasure book #0.5

MY THOUGHTS: I really liked this. The story was only 88 pages and oddly enough it didn't seem that condensed. Needless to say the story was mostly sex (and it was hot! hot! hot!) but it did have a plotline. Eden was married to an abusive elderly man and had a horrible marriage. She's always been in love with Gervase and is finally free to marry him. His father doesn't want them to because she may be barren but they do anyway. I never felt that they were in love. The twins are twenty-nine, blond and blue-eyed. Eden's got black hair and green eyes.

I felt this short story was more about Gideon than Gervase. Gideon's married to Caroline, a masochistic woman and he just can't deal with it. They have a bad, sexless marriage but he can't divorce her because she'd blackmail him over a secret of his that she knows. I would have liked for this story to have been longer. I find Caroline interesting and would have liked to know more about her and her background.

I grade this story an A.

ANTONIA'S BARGAIN- This book is the stand-alone sequel to Eden's Pleasure. Since the suicide of his first wife, Gideon has avoided emotional interactions with women in favor of less emotionally draining liaisons with men. When he unmasks "Anthony" Maxwell and finds he is, in fact, Antonia, he is still sexually intrigued enough to want to bed her. A reluctant heiress, Antonia knows she has to marry but she intends to do it on her own terms her wealth in return for a husband-free bed. Gideon offers to help her infiltrate the world of the ton dressed as a man so she can see her potential suitors in their natural habitat. In return, she agrees to allow him to teach her every trick in his sexual repertoire as long as he doesn't take her virginity. Her fear of marriage and pregnancy is a puzzling barrier that Gideon, despite his exceptional skills, finds difficult to penetrate. As they become more scandalously intimate, he has to decide whether to help Antonia face her fears or walk away from the only woman he believes he could ever love. Originally published in 2007. House of Pleasure book # 1.5

MY THOUGHTS: This 126 page sequel wasn't as good as I'd hoped. I find Antonia's not wanting to get married or have sex because of her parent's bad marriage silly and odd. I don't find her and Gideon's 'love' believable at all. I like both characters though I like Gideon more, probably because I know more about him. They have the suicide of someone close to them in common.

I wasn't impressed with the sex scenes, which was mostly oral sex. I'm not sure why Gideon wanted to marry her. I didn't sense a love connection. I also didn't like Antonia dressing like a boy.

This story gets a B from me.


ARE YOU IN THE HOUSE ALONE? by Richard Peck

are you in the house alonePUBLISHING INFO: Viking Juvenile, 11/1976
REISSUED: 2000, Puffin Books
GENRE: YA Contemporary Suspense
SETTING: Connecticut, USA
MY GRADE: B

FROM PUBLISHER: Sixteen-year-old Gail is living the upper-class suburban life when she begins receiving terrifying phone calls and notes in her locker. And the calls keep coming. When she's attacked by the town's golden boy everyone refuses to take action against him and his powerful family. A frightening drama that deals with heavy teen issues and the idea of justice (or lack thereof) from bestselling author Richard Peck.




MY THOUGHTS/SPOILERS: I'd never heard of this book before, not until last year when I watched the 9/1978 CBS made for television movie on Youtube. I finally bought the book and received it a few days ago. It's only 160 pages long and needed to be at least 100 pages longer.

The book didn't really seem dated at all. The plotline was almost completely believable. Some of the dialogue from the school's guidance counselors wasn't believable, with them not believing her and also some of the comments the police officer made to her.

The notes that Phil sent Gail were explicit but they weren't detailed in the book.

Near the end there was an incident where a female student was raped and beaten one night and Gail believes Phil did it. No reasons were given for that and no proof was brought forth.

How the film differs from the book: I think in the film they made her seventeen years old. There was no mention of her being on birth control pills. They also changed her last name from Osburne to Osborne. The woman Gail babysat for, her last name was changed from Montgomery to Hirsch. They changed her boyfriend Steve Pastorini's last name slightly to Pastorinis. She met him in the film but when the book began she'd already been dating him awhile. The movie takes place in California, not Connecticut.

I think Kathleen Beller did a pretty good acting job and didn't look too old for the part at twenty-two years old. She's now married to musician/professor Thomas Dolby (She Blinded Me With Science). Her friend Alison's acting was believable too though she didn't speak too much. Dennis Quaid, twenty-four at the time, clearly looked too old for the part. Steve was played by Scott Colomby, who was a younger-looking twenty-six at the time.

The part I mentioned earlier where a girl was raped and beaten, in the film they showed a girl getting the same anonymous note saying that she's being watched. Gail, who's into photography at school, sets up a hidden camera that's pointing to that girls locker. It snaps a photo every two seconds. Sure enough, the camera captures Phil putting another note on the same girls locker. The girl reads the note, balls it up and throws it away but there's no mention of her being raped later. I like that that was expanded on in the movie.

Near the end of the movie Phil beats up Gail in one of the empty rooms at school and is caught for it, but that doesn't happen at all in the book.

In ways each one was better than the other so I don't prefer book over movie or vice versa.


THE SPOOK LIGHTS AFFAIR by Marsha Muller and Bill Pronzini


spook lightsPUBLISHING INFO: Forge Books, 12/2013
GENRE: Fictional Historical Mystery
SETTING: California, USA, 1895
SERIES: A Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery, #2
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: C

FROM PUBLISHER: In 1895 San Francisco young debutantes don’t commit suicide at festive parties, particularly not under the eye of Sabina Carpenter. But Virginia St. Ives evidently did, leaping from a foggy parapet in a shimmer of ghostly light. The seemingly impossible disappearance of her body creates an even more serious problem for the firm of Carpenter and Quincannon, Professional Detective Services.

Sabina hadn’t wanted to take the assignment, but her partner John Quincannon insisted it would serve as entrée to the city’s ultra rich and powerful. That means money, and Quincannon loves the almighty dollar. Which is why he is hunting the bandit who robbed the Wells, Fargo office of $35,000.

Working their separate cases (while Sabina holds John off with one light hand), the detectives give readers a tour of The City the way it was. From the infamous Barbary Coast to the expensive Tenderloin gaming houses and brothels frequented by wealthy men, Quincannon follows a danger-laden trail to unmask the murderous perpetrators of the Wells, Fargo robbery. Meanwhile, Sabina works her wiles on friends and relatives of the vanished debutante until the pieces of her puzzle start falling into place. But it’s an oddly disguised gent appearing out of nowhere who provides the final clue to both cases—the shrewd “crackbrain” who believes himself to be Sherlock Holmes.

MY THOUGHTS: Slight spoilers ahead. I'm so disappointed in this story. It started out so good and interesting but became too far fetched. John and Sabina own a private investigation business and like in the previous book in this series each was working on a separate case that turned out to be connected. Why couldn't they have worked cases that are unrelated in book two? My interest waned when the 'ghostly sightings' came along but that, thankfully, turned out to be something other than what we were lead to believe. I give the authors' credit for originality regarding the suicide/ghostly activity but the story just wasn't believable because of those things, IMO. I think what happened with the suicide was ridiculous and just not likely to have really happened. There was really no good reason for eighteen year old Virginia to want to do that anyway.

The whole robbery plot being connected to Virginia's case wasn't something I'd suspected. The Sherlock Holmes imposter made a very brief yet helpful appearance then went on his merry way. Not a fan of his character but since his time was so brief in the story, I didn't mind him. John is still letting it be known he's interested in Sabina but she's still not interested in him that way. A new man has come into her life so we'll have to see where that goes in the next installment.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


DEATH COMES TO LONDON by Catherine Lloyd (Kate Pearce)

deathcomestolondonPUBLISHER: Kensington, 11/14
GENRE: Historical Mystery
SETTING: England, 3/1817
SERIES: A Kurland St. Mary Mystery, #2
AUTHOR SITE:
link
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: B-

FROM PUBLISHER: A season in London promises a welcome change of pace for two friends from the village of Kurland St. Mary until murder makes a debut. With the reluctant blessings of their father, the rector of Kurland St. Mary, Lucy Harrington and her sister Anna leave home for a social season in London. At the same time, Lucy's special friend Major Robert Kurland is summoned to the city to accept a baronetcy for his wartime heroism.

Amidst the dizzying whirl of balls and formal dinners, the focus shifts from mixing and matchmaking to murder when the dowager Countess of Broughton, the mother of an old army friend of Robert, drops dead. When it's revealed she's been poisoned, Robert's former betrothed, Miss Chingford, is accused, and she in turn points a finger at Anna. To protect her sister, Lucy enlists Robert's aid in drawing out the true culprit.

But with suspects ranging from resentful rivals and embittered family members to the toast of the ton, it will take all their sleuthing skills to unmask the poisoner before more trouble is stirred up.


MY THOUGHTS: I liked this one a bit more than the previous installment. It's a plot about poison and greed. Poor Oliver. Lucy and Robert worked together to help solve the mystery surrounding three deaths. I don't dislike Robert like I did before. He worked well with Lucy. Still no chemistry between them and they definitely have a platonic friendship. I don't like the marriage proposal at all and felt it so out of place, out of the blue, and unnecessary.

The dark plot was interesting but it wasn't too surprising who the culprit was. That's never a good thing. I don't understand why some mystery writers have the killer confess all right at the end. It's so annoying and unrealistic. Another annoying thing is the reappearance of Robert's ex-fiancé. She was in this book for no good reason just as in the previous book. This book is under 300 pages and all characters were underdeveloped.

I received this from the author in exchange for an honest review.