THE VALCOURT HEIRESS by Catherine Coulter

PUBLISHER: G.P. Putnam Sons, 10/2010
GENRE: Fiction/Historical Romance
SETTING: England, 1278

FROM PUBLISHER: Twenty-four year old Lord Garron of Kersey is on his way home to succeed his late brother, Arthur, as the Earl of Wareham. But on arrival, Garron discovers his home, Wareham Castle, has been nearly destroyed by The Black Demon and his band of bad bad soldiers looking for Arthur's cache of silver coins which remain hidden. The handful of servants who've survived includes a young girl named Merry, supposedly the castle priest's bastard, who is as clever and enterprising as Garron.

Garron is told this Black Demon destroyed Wareham because no one would tell him where Arthur had hidden stolen silver coins. Equally puzzling is the too-smart bastard Merry -- as well bred, literate and brave as any man he's ever known. Indeed, she galvanizes his people to action before he can even ask her assistance. She's a natural leader and a skilled healer, but Merry has secrets of her own...secrets that could endanger Garron and his people. He knows she's hiding something, knows she could bring more bad things down on his head, but he likes her and her fast mind and her ready wit. But can he survive the truth?

MY THOUGHTS: The heroine is blue eyed, red haired, 18 year old Marianna 'Merry' de Lucede Mornay. The hero is Lord Garron of Kersey. He has black hair and blue eyes. The whole plot of this book is Garron trying to get his brothers silver coins back.

This book was terrible. There was some magic running throughout it that I didn't care for, as I'm not a fan of the paranormal. None of the characters were interesting. Merry's mother is a terrible person. Basically, she was trying to sell Merry to someone she didn't want to marry in exchange for the silver coins that were stolen. She needed the money to buy more things to create spells with. Toward the end there was some silly stuff involving a secret sibling thrown in. Pointless. I never saw any love between hero and heroine either.

NEVER KISS A STRANGER by Heather Grothaus

This book is to be released on March 1 and is published by Zebra. Synopsis below taken from

Nowhere in medieval England are three women so powerful -- or adored -- as the heiresses of Fallstowe Castle: Sybilla, the ruthless beauty, Cecily, the pure-hearted innocent... And Alys, the youngest sister, whose wild spirit has yet to be matched...

Lady Alys thinks everyone knows the legend: If a man and a woman meet at midnight within the ancient Foxe Ring ruins, they are as good as married. But when she finds a captivating stranger lurking there in the middle of the night, she discovers the one man who is unaware.

It's a deadly pursuit that brings Piers Mallory to the Fallstowe lands. But now that fate has attached the alluring, and curiously insistent, Alys to his side, it may work to his advantage to play by her rules, at least for a time. Yet the danger Piers courts is no game -- and the passion he and Alys share is all too real...

The story takes place in England in 1276. I think the story only spans about a month or so. The heroine is eighteen year old Alys Foxe. She’s got pale blond hair and brown eyes. She’s the youngest of three sisters. Her parents are deceased and her older sister, Sybilla, runs everything. Alys runs away because Sybilla is making her marry someone whom she doesn’t want to marry.

The hero is thirty year old Piers Mallory. He’s poor and on a mission: to claim his birthright from the King. He comes across Alys sleeping at something called Foxe Ring. It’s a stone ring outside that is supposedly where you go to meet your future spouse. Alys becomes convinced that they’re now husband and wife. I found that to be very annoying.

MY THOUGHTS: At the beginning, Alys is given a monkey, whom she names Layla. The vicious monkey is on almost every page of the story. I didn’t care for that at all. That too was very annoying. I don’t believe a romance book should feature a pet. The monkey was very distracting and pointless, really.

Piers suffers a terrible attack by two people who are very close to him. I like those characters because I feel all books, even romance, need a villian or two. I think they add to any story. I don’t think the ones in this story were given enough time to develop their characters. There wasn’t enough character development with both hero and heroine either. Piers lost his mother when he was just six. We don’t really know anything of his life before he met the heroine. Same goes with Alys. What was her life like, especially with no parents? We learned nothing about their pasts.

Almost from the start she claimed she loved Piers and not long after he claimed he loved her too. That was way too rushed, came too fast. They don’t really even know each other. They were sort of thrown together and they didn’t have anyone but each other during a stressful, scary time. Their feelings for one another grew faster than most, I guess, because of it.

I also didn’t like the ‘wood’ people, who live in trees, literally. I thought that was bizarre and unbelievable, more like something you’d read in a Grimm’s fairy tale. I guess it was a bit creative but a little too out-of-the-box for me.

Overall, I found to this to be silly and I was disappointed. I grade it a C/3 stars.

Heather’s complete booklist can be found here.

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


A LASTING SPLENDOR by Elizabeth Bright

PUBLISHER: Paradise Press, 1/1981
GENRE: Fiction/Historical Romance
SETTING: England, 1910
TIMESPAN: Three months


But Sylvia was no match for her scheming mother who plotted to use Sylvia's sensual green-eyed charms to her own devious ends.

Angry and rebellious, Sylvia disguised herself as her own maid and offered her love to a gentle stranger, the dark and handsome Parliamentarian Arthur Wicklow.

Caught in her own tale of deceptions, Sylvia threw herself into court society -- determined to forget the quiet young politician in a heady whirl of amorous escapades...

But Arthur had opened a new world of honor and duty and passion to a woman who, once awakened, could never forget...

MY THOUGHTS: The heroine is twenty year old Sylvia Hartley. She has honey colored hair and green eyes. She lives at home with her mother and stepfather. She’s out riding her horse when the horse throws her. The hero sees it happen and carries her into his cottage. That’s how they meet.

The hero is twenty-nine year old virgin Arthur Wicklow. He’s got brown hair and brown eyes. He’s described as being unattractive, very tall and very skinny. He’s a member of Parliament. He’s instantly smitten with Sylvia. They end up having sex in his cottage during that first meeting. Sylvia lies and gives him a false name, the name of her maid. They go their separate ways after that but Arthur never forgets her.

Sylvia is bored with life and is unsure what to do with it. She’s got a terrible relationship with her mother, Lady Constance. Her mother introduces her to Philip Waring. She wants Sylvia to have sex with him, for no apparent reason. Sylvia does, eventually. She ends up meeting another man, Charles. He stutters really bad. They end up deciding to get married but she changes her mind when she realizes he’s so against her being a suffragette or associating with them. She’s gotten involved in women’s rights since meeting with her old friend Kitty. Personally, I could have done without all the suffragette stuff. I didn’t find it interesting at all and wanted it to go away.

Arthur helps Sylvia out toward the end of the story. Some bad things happen to Sylvia’s ex-maid, Meg and her husband Brian. Arthur tells Sylvia that he loves her and she tells him the same. I don’t belive it at all. The barely know each other. During the drama with Meg and Brian, we get to see how cold and nasty both of Sylvia’s parents are. It’s hard to believe they could act that way. I don’t believe, in real life, someone would say the things that they did.

I didn’t really enjoy this story. Ignore the cover; I don’t think it’s a romance story at all. There wasn’t a bit of romance in it. I was excited to read it but was let down.

Elizabeth’s book list.

THE PERFECT MISTRESS by Victoria Alexander

This book was published February 1, 2011 by Zebra. The story is set in London, England in 1885.

From Fiction Database:

“Widowed Julia, Lady Winterset, inherited a shocking book that every gentleman in London wants. For a charismatic businessman, it could be a chance to build an empire. For a dashing novelist, it could guarantee fame. But to a certain proud, domineering earl, it means everything..

Harrison Landingham, Earl of Mountdale, cannot let the obstinate Julia release her shameless memoir, as it would ruin his family’s name. The only way to stop her may be equally sordid, but far more pleasurable. Landingham’s rivals are intent on seducing the captivating woman to acquire her book; and he is not the sort of fellow to back away from a competition where the stakes are high. The winner of this game will claim both the scandalous memoirs, and her heart.”

MY THOUGHTS: Widowed Lady Julia Winterset is in posession of her late great-grandmother’s memoir. She’s looking for a publisher who’ll publish it. She’s in desperate need of funds and that’s how she meets the hero, Harrison Landingham, Lord Mountdale. He’s trying to buy the memoir from her because it contains scandalous information about his father.

That pretty much sums up the whole story. I’m sorry to say I didn’t like this novel at all. I found it to be very tedious and long-winded. I felt indifferent toward all the characters, including hero and heroine. I especially didn’t care for the heroes ex sister-in-law, Veronica. She was in this story way too much for my liking. I suspect she’ll get her own story, if she hasn’t already. I didn’t see this as a love story in any way, shape or form. Julia and Harrison’s love didn’t seem genuine to me at all. I didn’t feel any chemistry between them.

I also didn’t like the touch of paranormal that ran throughout the entire book, right up until the last page. The heroine’s great-grandmother, Hermione, writer of the memoir, who has been dead for years, would show up and have chats with her. I don’t like or read paranormals and didn’t appreciate that being in a historical romance novel.

The only thing I did like about this novel were the scandalous memoir excerpts that were at the end of some chapters. Those, I did find interesting.

I grade this novel 3 stars/C. Same review can be found here.

Victoria’s complete booklist can be found here.

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