Movie Rave: Hysteria


In Victorian London, Dr. Mortimer Granville, a young doctor struggles to establish himself. He is hired by a doctor to investigate treatments for women diagnosed with female hysteria using ‘pelvic massage’. The doctor’s two daughters develop an interest in the young Dr. Granville, each tempting to woo him.


Hugh Dancy as Granville Mortimer

Maggie Gyllenhaal as Charlotte Dalrymple

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A romantic comedy concerning the invention of the vibrator? Yes pleaseeee! 😀

And with such actors as Hugh Dancy, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Rupert Everett, you have a success in the making! I recently managed to get hold of this new movie and I can’t tell you how much I loved this witty, hilarious period drama!

Set in the 1880’s, the story starts with a well-meaning doctor Granville (Hugh Dancy) looking for employment after being booted from his last position due to a disagreement with his old-fashioned boss. He ends up working for a Dr. Robert Dalrymple in what the movie delicately terms as ‘female medicine.’

In case you hadn’t heard, ‘hysteria’ was a term for a number of illnesses plaguing women in the Victorian era from headaches to paranoia to even boredom. The actual god-honest treatment? Masturbation performed on the patient by a doctor. Well, you can imagine how poor Granville felt, ‘handing’ out treatments to multiple patients daily (hehe).

But the movie handles it all surprisingly well. What could have ended up being a vulgar, cringe-worthy, inappropriate R-rated feature was instead very tastefully done with a great deal of tongue in cheek humor. We don’t see the actual process and it’s all handled as professionally as they must have been back in those days.

And my goodness, was it witty! Anyone with a love of intelligent drama will love this delightful movie. The characters were hilarious, especially Rupert Everett and the prostitute working as a maid in the doctor’s house added some naughty humor. 😉

The movie was also about more than just the invention of the famous vibrator. It looked at how archaic science was back then, women’s rights and Mortimer Granville’s struggle with doing work that means something.

As for the romance, Hugh Dancy and Maggie Gyllenhaal have great chemistry and it’s the typical love-hate relationship thing. He’s actually meant to marry her sister which adds to the romantic tension. She’s everything he wants demure and lady-like whereas Maggie’s character is loud, feisty and unconventional. You can imagine how things go. 😉 The only thing I can say about this movie is that the romance could have been a bit more developed. It all wrapped up so fast: one minute they were in love and next they were together without much build-up.

You may be hesitant about the content but don’t be. Overall, this is a great, witty, romantic, well-acted, well-scripted movie that is a great treat for older fans of period dramas. 😉

Historical Drama Rating: 4 and a half stars out of 5

Sexiness Rating: 4 out of 5

Hugh Dancy is always sexy and Maggie surprisingly fits well into period clothing and looks fresh and pretty. The chemistry is undeniable.

Published in: on June 24, 2012 at 10:46 PM  Comments (1)  
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Between the Duke and the Deep Blue Sea by Sophia Nash

Setting: Regency


Six Regency heroes—One royal hangover

An infamous night has been lost to memory. The scandalous Dukes of the Royal Entourage must make amends. The first step is a heroic rescue.

One of England’s most disreputable peers, Alexander Barclay, Duke of Kress, has stumbled upon a perfect opportunity for redemption. Having been exiled to Cornwall by the Prince Regent himself, Barclay discovers lovely Roxanne Vanderhaven clinging to the edge of a cliff, stranded there by her murderous blackguard of a husband . . . just waiting to be rescued.

Back on solid ground, Roxanne is desperate for a new life— once she’s retaliated for her husband’s despicable actions. Surprisingly, she finds herself drawn to her unlikely champion, certainly the last man in England she could count on. Yet, the infamous Duke of Kress isn’t quite the scoundrel he seems . . .

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The Hangover set in the Regency? Sounds like one hell of a ride doesn’t it? Sophia begins her exciting new series with the story of Alex, the duke whose smuggled alcohol caused the biggest royal scandal of the era! Alex also ends up losing his fortune and as a result is commanded by the Prince Regent to seek out a rich respectable heiress in order to make amends.

Enter Roxanne Vanderhaven, a married woman with no fortune at all whose husband tries to kill her by leaving her dangling on the side of a cliff. Clearly, these two have a long way to go before they find their happily ever after! But it’s well worth a read as you’ll discover in this lighthearted, witty tale of two people who never expected to find love.

Sophia Nash is a new author for me and one I can now say will become one of my must-reads. She has this great sense of comedic timing and the dialogue in the book is full of witty, tongue in cheek humor. It was also fast-paced and very engaging. However, some readers may find the plot a bit far-fetched if traditional Regencies are more your thing.

I will say though that I wish there had been more focus on Alex and Roxanne’s blooming relationship then the drama surrounding the murderous husband. I felt the characters weren’t fleshed out enough and seemed like your typical HR hero prototypes. I did like Roxanne a lot though and found her witty comments one of the highlights of the novel.

Other than that, the book thrived on the witty dialogue and the fresh, albeit slightly improbable plot line. If you like your romances less traditional and more adventurous than you’ll love this.

This is a great light read that will definitely brighten up your day!

Sensuality rating-Hot 😉

Verdict: Fun and witty read! Recommended!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Sneak Peek! Debut Author Maire Claremont!

Ok so her book won’t be out till this November but I thought I might as well give you a heads up on this latest exciting new romance author…

She describes her style as “Writing dangerously dark Heroes and the heroines that love them in drug and sex crazed Victorian London.”

Sounds delicious doesn’t it? 😉

And here’s the cover for the first book in her new trilogy:

Click on cover for link to Maire’s blog!


Lord Ian Blake failed to keep the oath he made to his childhood friend Eva that he would bring her husband Hamilton back from India. Though his heart longs for her forgiveness, he knows he doesn’t deserve it, as he is responsible for Hamilton’s death. And not only has Ian failed Eva, he has returned to England too late. Eva’s brother-in-law has locked her away in a madhouse. Nothing will stop Ian from saving the beautiful, independent girl he’s always loved and claiming her—at long last—as his wife.

Lady Eva Carin doesn’t think she deserves to return to society, not after the death of both her husband and young son. When her childhood friend appears in the dismal asylum for women to save her, she cannot ignore the hope that sparks in her heart. Against all odds, fate has reunited her with the one man she has ever loved, but he turned his back on her once before. How will she be able to trust him again?


Other links:

Goodreads page

Maire’s Tumblr

So what do you think? Worth a read?

Published in: on June 16, 2012 at 12:24 PM  Comments (2)  
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A Rogue By Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean

Setting: Late Regency 1831


What a scoundrel wants, a scoundrel gets . . .

A decade ago, the Marquess of Bourne was cast from society with nothing but his title. Now a partner in London’s most exclusive gaming hell, the cold, ruthless Bourne will do whatever it takes to regain his inheritance—including marrying perfect, proper Lady Penelope Marbury.

A broken engagement and years of disappointing courtships have left Penelope with little interest in a quiet, comfortable marriage, and a longing for something more. How lucky that her new husband has access to such unexplored pleasures.

Bourne may be a prince of London’s underworld, but he vows to keep Penelope untouched by its wickedness—a challenge indeed as the lady discovers her own desires, and her willingness to wager anything for them . . . even her heart.

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After very much mostly enjoying Ms. MacLean’s first series Love By Numbers, I figured I would enjoy her next series about four fallen aristocrats living in the underworld of London trying to find their way back to society. A great premise and something different from the usual ballroom and afternoon tea drama. I knew it would be good but not this good. Sarah MacLean has really outdone herself here! I’m so glad I read this book as I can safely say it is one of the best romances I have ever read! 😀

This is a story about two very different people who are thrown together and despite the odds end up falling in love.

The heroine is Penelope Marbury, the jilted fiance from Eleven Scandals to Win a Duke’s Heart who was described in a very unflattering light as ‘the grape’ by that book’s very feisty and scandalous heroine. A very odd choice for a heroine as there was nothing particular special about Penelope except that she is so proper and so perfect. But she really shines in this book and I admired the way MacLean pealed back the perfect, demure (dare I say dull?) exterior and revealed a woman of inner strength and selflessness. She ends being a heroine you quite admire, perhaps more than the usual daring, feisty heroines.

As for the hero, Bourne was not just your typical arrogant, rakish so called ‘bad’ hero with a heart a gold: he really was a scoundrel and he had real problems which took time to overcome, especially his desire for revenge. He was admirable, particularly for driving himself to make a good life for himself as part owner of The Fallen Angel gaming hell after he had everything taken from him.

It wasn’t easy liking these two protagonists and it says something that MacLean manged to make both way more than they first appeared and making us root for their happy ever after. They were amazing together and you really believed they were meant for each other. Putting their childhood letters in at the start of every chapter was a very nice touch and allowed us access to their past association. Alot of their scenes had me sighing and truly touched by the real emotions they held for each other. She had to come to terms with the fact he isn’t the man she used to know and he had to accept the fact that if he wanted a future with her, he had to stop his revenge. There isn’t an easy way out for these two but that makes the ending so much more enjoyable.

MacLean writes in a style that reminds me of Anna Campbell, particularly for this book with its dark undertones and focus on the characters’ feelings. Be warned, this is not a happy, light read. There are moments of lightness though, with lots of funny scenes with Penelope’s sisters and some great scenes between the four heroes of this whole series. I enjoyed the peek into the world of Regency gambling, rife with danger and risk.

I also loved the wit, humor and emotion in her writing. Just when I thought I knew what was going to happen, I was surprised at how things ended up. What an amazing read! 😀

Overall, this book is a great example of what historical romance can be when done right. It is funny, deep, touching, romantic, engaging and thoroughly enjoyable! Some readers might be put off by how ‘prudish’ and ‘dull’ the heroine was at the start but stick with the book and I promise you’ll be surprised. It was a joy reading this book and I’m now very impatient to read book 2 and return to the world of The Fallen Angel!

Sensuality Rating: HOT!

Verdict: Absolutely brilliant. Highly recommended. You won’t be able to put it down!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare

Setting: Regency


Welcome to Spindle Cove, where ladies with delicate constitutions come for the sea air, and men in their prime are…nowhere to be found.

Or are they?

Spindle Cove is the destination of choice for certain types of well-bred young ladies: the painfully shy, young wives disenchanted with matrimony, and young girls too enchanted with the wrong men. It is a haven for those who live there.

Victor Bramwell, the new Earl of Rycliff, knows he doesn’t belong here. So far as he can tell, there’s nothing in this place but spinsters…and sheep. But he has no choice, he has orders to gather a militia. It’s a simple mission, made complicated by the spirited, exquisite Susanna Finch—a woman who is determined to save her personal utopia from the invasion of Bram’s makeshift army.

Susanna has no use for aggravating men; Bram has sworn off interfering women. The scene is set for an epic battle…but who can be named the winner when both have so much to lose?

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I’ve always loved Tessa Dare’s poetic way of writing. As someone who enjoys writing herself, it’s a joy reading her lyrical prose. Tessa never fails to disappoint and I had so much faith in her writing, I had to get this book. Sadly, it didn’t quite meet my expectations and I found myself wondering what went wrong with her usually brilliant 5 star plots.

The premise itself was great. A secret village full of independent women which is invaded by a bunch of military men which cause things to get turned upside down. Such a great fresh idea! My problem in this book though, lay with the hero and the heroine and their lackluster romance.

Bram is your typical alpha male hero, though a leg battle wound has left him with a few scars. Susanna is your feisty, strong independent women but she’s also got some scars (caused mainly by a horrible bloodletting experience she had as a girl). The thing was the romance failed to impress mainly because there was no struggle. The back of the book was misleading, suggesting an epic battle of wits and a love-hate relationship ala Pride and Prejudice. What we get instead are a few fights and the hero and heroine are in love and pretty much together already halfway through the book! So much for romantic tension!

I also had to sometimes roll my eyes at the cheesiness and some of the love scenes which were a bit and over the top and happened too soon especially given how the heroine was supposed to be a leader of this man-hating community.

On the plus side, the characters were fleshed out, the dialogue was witty and entertaining, a lot of the scenes between the men and women fighting over Spindle Cove were hilarious and the plot was very engaging. I just wish the romance could have been better written.

Still, this was a very good start to a very interesting series and I’m looking forward to reading book 2.

Sensuality Rating: HOT!

Verdict: Not amazing but still a good read!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The Famous Heroine/The Plumed Bonnet by Mary Balogh

Setting: Regency


Beloved New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh spins two classic stories of Regency England—splendid novels of mistaken identity and unmistakable passion, where marriage is only the beginning of true love.

Cora Downes has beauty, spirit, and money, but no breeding. Yet when she gains renown for a daring rescue, she finds herself thrust into high society. Innocent and adrift in a world of beautiful banquets, bejeweled gowns, and snobbish standards, Cora is quickly compromised into a marriage—to a frivolous lord whose interests seem to lie elsewhere. But could piercingly blue-eyed and well-mannered Francis Kneller turn out to be the most unexpected love of her life?

Alistair Munro, the Duke of Bridgwater, is looking for love outside the bounds of polite society. And that’s what he expects to receive when he rescues a seemingly disreputable girl in a colorful bonnet off the side of the road. Yet Stephanie Gray, a former governess, has recently come into money and is eager for a proper match with a well-born man. Sure that he’s sullied her name, Alistair offers marriage to make amends. And in this unlikely union, Stephanie and Alistair make a welcome discovery—that sometimes it’s possible to marry first, then fall in love.

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As a huge fan of Mary Balogh, I love getting my hands on anything and everything she writes. Very rarely does she turn out a bad book so when I heard a new book featuring two re-issued classic novels of hers was coming out, I had to read it! The book is well worth the money and what’s better than getting two great stories for the price of one? 😀

Both stories in this collection are part of a broader linked series that began with Dark Angel/Lord Carew’s Bride. The hero of the first book (The Famous Heroine) was the rejected suitor in Lord Carew’s Bride so I was looking forward to reading his happy ending. Both stories dealt with major misunderstandings and were both marriage of convenience tales. In both stories the hero and heroine make certain assumptions of each other before ending up in marriages that began badly but naturally turn out well.

My favorite story was The Famous Heroine which I found funny and lighthearted. It’s always great to see a beloved character getting his/her well-deserved happy ever after. The heroine mistakes the hero for being gay which I found hilarious and original. The heroine was very likable and was a great match for the hero. I loved their chemistry and how they gradually came to love and respect each other after a bad beginning. It was sweet, honest story.

The second story (The Plumed Bonnet) took some time to get into and I found it harder to enjoy mainly because the chemistry was lacking. The hero meets the heroine on the road, thinking her a prostitute and ends up ruining her by accident and then having to marry her to make up for it. She feels majorly obliged to him and does not dare to be herself and he won’t open up to her. They spend most of the book in awkward conversations as neither is comfortable with the other. Over the course of a month, they try to make their marriage work despite the big misunderstandings and it’s not till very near the end do things finally start looking up for them. It didn’t feel natural and seemed like they forced themselves to fall in love, rather than falling in love naturally. It wasn’t very romantic, though it held my attention as it definitely was a different take on a typical romance trope.

Overall, both stories were very well-written and were both engaging despite the lack of an exciting plot. If you like your romances focused more on the characters and their emotions rather than the plot, Mary Balogh is for you. This was a pretty good read!

Sensuality rating-Minimal-Very traditional style Regency romance

Verdict: A great read if you like more traditional romances with emotional depth.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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