Monday, December 24, 2012

All For You by Dana Marie Bell



Synopsis: Someone—or something—is stalking Abby Marcheson. Luckily, she has her brother's hunky friend Seth to keep her safe. Abby falls easily into her protected life, with Seth constantly by her side, and when he asks her out on a date, she's eager to accept.

But Seth is much more than he seems. A Nephilim, a son of Angels with wings of his own, Seth is bound to spend his life hunting the Shemyaza, evil descendants of Angels. He's kept his wings hidden from Abby in order not to frighten her, but as her stalker becomes bolder, Seth begins to suspect that a Shem has Abby in its sights…

As their flirtation escalates into full-blown passion, Seth is torn. Should he reveal his true nature to the beautiful, trusting Abby? Will she accept him, wings and all, or will Abby flee her guardian angel and fall prey to the sinister force that wishes her harm?


My Thoughts: I really wanted to like this book but I had a hard time doing so. It had a really interesting premise with Nephilims but....
1)it could have used a glossary as there were many different types of Nephilims and Shemyazas (their arch-nemesis) most of which we were told via dialogue between the main characters but many had no part in this particular book so it felt like she was info dumping instead of world building.
2)The hero got mad at the heroine because she did something that labeled her TSTL and actually said "Even you aren't that stupid." at which point I would have giving him a big F.U. and left his winged butt where he stood, but not her. Nope she was just smiling like an idiot because she realized he didn't frighten her (which after a violent past as a battered woman it was understandable why a man shouting at her in anger would have made her curl up in a ball but the man said she was stupid! Come on!)
3)The heroine then proved repeatedly that she truly was that stupid and continued to do TSTL things.
4)The hero eventually proved that he was also TSTL.
5)The mystery was explained in a way that I felt completely let down.
6)The heroine has something like 20 best friends (slight exaggeration) all of whom were mentioned at least once during the course of the book even though some were not actually in the book at all.
7)Abby is being stalked and she's terrified it's her ex who is supposed to be in prison for life yet she doesn't try to contact the prison to make sure he is still there. No one does.
8)This book uses a version of the 'mated' theme to explain why couples are together yet it appears that a mate is not a once in a lifetime thing and a Nephilim can indeed have more than one during the course of their lifespan. This seems a bit confusing and it's just not explained enough.
9)The Nephilims have something unique about each one of them but they are essentially human. They don't appear to be super hard to kill. They are not bullet proof and their lifespans are the same as humans. I really prefer my supernatural boyfriends to be a little like Superman. Sigh, yet another disappointment.
10)I had a hard time grasping how old the characters were as their dialogue seemed quite juvenile. I thought the bunch of them were teenagers for a moment (especially when the heroine thought to herself "She hoped they understood how tired she was, because soon she'd be seeing little ponies prancing on the ceiling, farting rainbows everywhere." Really?)

Anyway, it really did have potential and the suspense on who was stalking Abby and why was compelling. I found myself wanting to get back to the book to find out what would happen but I ended up just disappointed. On a side note I think Dana Marie Bell generally writes erotica and it was evident in the wording during the sex scenes. Although I am not a fan of erotica I didn't hate the sex scenes in this book. I liked that the plot was not overshadowed by the sex and the sex scenes did not feel out of place when they occurred.

Overall, I will give this author another try and read the second Nephilim book when it comes out sometime in the future.

(I received this book from NetGalley for my honest review.)
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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Double Danger by Dee Davis



Synopsis: Ignoring his instincts once cost Simon a vital op-and the life of his best friend, Ryan. Now as escalating, violent attacks hit A-Tac, another person he loves is in danger. Homeland Security agent Jillian Montgomery's investigation has suddenly brought her back into Simon's life, and unless they can learn to trust each other, their dangerous mission will fail.
After her husband Ryan's death, Jillian dedicates herself to saving others. She can't afford to be tempted by Simon, even though his every touch reignites the desire they once shared. But in the last desperate minutes before disaster strikes, their second chance at love might be the most lethal trap of all . . .



My Thoughts: Although this book was actually a thrilling rom/susp it had some issues. One of my major issue was that at one point the H/h both got hit up side the head with the stupid stick and became TSTL. After almost being gunned down once and barely escaping from being blown up not once, not twice or even three times but a whopping 4 times they go and investigate a warehouse that looks abandoned. They discuss if they should call for back up but they both decide that it probably really is abandoned and go it alone. Really? As if an ex Navy SEAL wouldn't have the common sense to alert his team that both him and the heroine felt things were a bit off about the building (after being almost blown to bits 4 times....that point needed to be stated again LOL). Oh and not to mention they were thinking ahead to each bring a gun just in case but left their extra bullets in the SUV. Really?

My other big issue with the book was that there appears to be a major spoiler regarding the identity of a bad guy from a previous book. I think this is unacceptable. I do like to read books in order but occasionally don't. This is the 6th book in Davis's A-Tac series and although I do own the first one this sixth installment is my introduction to Ms. Davis's work. A book in a series should be able to be read out of order. It should be the reader's prerogative on which book they read first, last and in between.

There were a couple other things that just prevented me from giving this book higher marks. Some are just personal peeves (terrorism is not one of my favorite plot devices) and some are more substantial (like that the secondary characters are very undeveloped but that could be because this is the 6th book and those secondary characters have already had their stories told...I just haven't read them).

On a positive note the chemistry between the H/h is sizzling and the sex scenes were good. The action is paced so that I was never 'bored' with story. And the ending leads into the beginning of the next book which seems to be about Avery, one of the only secondary characters I was interested in.

So, overall a good romantic suspense but not the best. Definitely a worthwhile read though and one I'd recommend (but only if you've read the other books first because spoilers really chap my butt).

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Let Love Find You by Johanna Lindsey



Synopsis: London society has its very own Cupid. Renowned horse breeder and occasional matchmaker Devin Baldwin pairs eligible young ladies with suitable gentlemen based on his theory of animal magnetism. Unafraid of ruffling the ton’s feathers, this darkly handsome Cupid doles out tips for bettering one’s chances of meeting a mate that are as pointed as the love legend’s sharpest arrows!

Lovely Amanda Locke, the daughter of a duke, is everything a nobleman could desire, yet she enters her third Season still searching for a match. Gossipmongers’ tongues are wagging, and her mystified family is considering drastic measures to find her a husband. But the insufferable advice of this Cupid fellow is the last thing Amanda wants.

When an earl passionate about horses becomes the target of her husband hunt, Amanda knows it’s time to overcome her fear of riding. With her sister-in-law Ophelia hastening the romance along by arranging riding lessons, Amanda is soon taking instruction from infuriating Devin Baldwin. Astonishingly, in her daily encounters with Devin—who treats her as an ordinary young woman, not a prize to be won at the marriage mart—Amanda experiences passion for the first time. Now, her search for a match takes her in an unexpected direction as she finds herself falling in love with Cupid himself.


My Thoughts: I'm seriously wondering if Johanna Lindsey actually was the author of this book or if it is the work of a ghostwriter. The heroine was annoying and self centered and the hero was bland. They had no chemistry together. Some of the writing seemed really clunky to the point I had to re-read a paragraph to understand what was said.The writing was horribly repetitious. There were 2 sub-par sex scenes towards the end of the book that added virtually nothing to the book. If that wasn't bad enough the book had similarities to one of my favorite JL books Man of My Dreams which is quite upsetting. Man of My Dreams has a horse breeder named Devlin.Let Love Find You has a horse breeder named Devin. Really Johanna, really?

Amanda talked in exclamation points and thought in exclamation points. It was completely ridiculous. At one point I realized I was cringing when I saw yet another exclamation point and at another point I realized I was actually counting them. In 15 pages there were over 30 exclamation points. When you start counting punctuation marks while reading a book, you know there are problems.

In addition to the unbelievable amount of exclamation points Amanda's favorite word was a'tall which she used alllll the time. As in “It’s different here, not a’tall like at home in the country, where I’ve got so much to occupy me.” . I've not read a book set in this time period (which I imagine is regency or there abouts) that had as many slang words. A few of the characters used the word aint. And they weren't even commoners. Speaking of words that I'm not used to reading in historical romances I also found it odd that almost everyone had a nickname. Amanda was Mandy. Rebecca was Becky. Ophelia was either Pheli or Phelia. I know it wasn't unheard of but it felt jarring and untrue to the period.

The plot was horrible too. Through more than half the book it appeared that Amanda's search for a husband was the entire plot. After half the book suddenly a new plot device was introduced which was completely underwhelming and not fully realized.

I've read most everything Johanna Lindsey has written and found I loved some but disliked others. This book went beyond dislike. I truly hated it.

Here are a few quotes that I feel show why I dislike the characters and this book so much....in paranthesis I've made a few comments about the quotes....

Amanda sighed. "I have so many, too many really, choices of men to pick from. It's just becoming a bit difficult to sort them all out."
(said the self centered egotistical twit)

Amanda hurried away, not sure what about that old dame annoyed her. But really, Amanda already knew Farrell, considered him somewhat a friend, but for a matchmaker to recommend to her a second son with no prospects? The woman had to be going batty in her advanced years.
(thought the self centered egotistical twit who planned to marry for love but apparently only if that love was not with a second son)

Devin knew that daring Amanda to tackle riding lessons had been a long shot. A man would accept the challenge, a woman would find numerous excuses to decline it.
(thought the man who appears to be more of a male chauvinist pig than a hero)

"As for Robert," Amanda added with a grin,"if I'm not at least a little cold to him because of his near scandal, he won't be repentant enough to make sure it never happens again."
"Sound reasoning, I suppose," Preston allowed.
"Perfect reasoning," Julie agreed...

(because a disproving frown from a proper young lady can change the behavior of a womanizing man....)
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Saturday, December 8, 2012

An Outlaw's Christmas by Linda Lael Miller

Synopsis: With his wild heart, Sawyer McKettrick isn't ready to settle down on the Triple M family ranch in Arizona. So he heads to Blue River, Texas, to seek a job as marshal. But in a blinding snowstorm he's injured -- and collapses into the arms of a prim and proper lady in calico.  — The shirtless, bandaged stranger recuperating in teacher Piper St. James's room behind the schoolhouse says he's a McKettrick, but he looks like an outlaw. As they wait out the storm, the handsome loner has Piper remembering long-ago dreams of marriage and motherhood. But for how long is Sawyer willing to call Blue River home?

As the gray skies clear, Piper's one holiday wish just might bring two lonely hearts together forever.
 


My Thoughts: This is part of Linda Lael Miller's historical romance McKettrick series and frankly I was completely underwhelmed by it. The characters were not fleshed out enough and there was little conclusion to the added conflict. The characters fell in love with each other in a matter of 2 days (never mind that the hero was unconscious a lot of that time) and they were marveling at the admirable character traits of the other that left me wondering if they were having riveting conversations that we readers weren't allowed to witness. I have read several other McKettrick books and liked them well enough to continue reading them but this one was so not up to snuff.

However there were some positives. It was a quick holiday read and parts were simply sweet. I enjoyed some of the additional characters including a woman who works in a brothel. Her daughter is one of Piper's students and I thought their part of the storyline was very good.

Overall not a book that I would recommend to newbies of Miller's work but if you have read her books before and are a fan you will probably enjoy this one too. On a side note this book is not labeled a McKettrick but a stand-alone. Sawyer's brother Clay's book was book #15 in the McKettrick series and this one follows it. Sawyer is definitely a McKettrick so I'm not sure why this is not listed as such on Miller's website.


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Monday, November 12, 2012

Playing the Royal Game by Carol Marinelli



Synopsis: STOP THE PRESS:  THE SANTINA-JACKSON ROYAL FAIRY TALE -- FACT OR FICTION? — It seemed like every girl's dream:  fall in love with a prince and be whisked off for your very own glamorous happy-ever-after -- a royal fairy tale for Allegra Jackson and Prince Alessandro Santina. — Allegra's headline-grabbing family hardly prepared her for a life of public duty, and sinfully delicious Prince Alessandro has always seemed virtually allergic to the idea of settling down in Santa Maria.

Out of all the flamboyant, beautiful women his name's been linked with, the heir to the throne picked ordinary Allegra with the family from hell....



My Thoughts: I have mixed emotions about this book. I enjoyed it very much yet felt the I Love You's were out of place. 

Carol Marinelli did an excellent job of creating characters that I connected to. My heart broke for Allegra and I wanted to cheer for every character who bucked the Santina governing system. The characters were great. The plot was great. The romance could have been better.

Throughout the book the H/h were separated much of the time. When they were together they fought. Allegra was often saying how much Alex had changed from the man she met in London to the uptight cold fish he was in Santina. With that in mind I was not sure how she fell in love with him.

His inner thoughts of love, however,  were actually more believable. I liked that Marinelli didn't say 'and he realized he had loved her since they first met.' Nope. It was at the wedding that he realized he was falling in love with her. No instantaneous love at first sight which I very much appreciate!

I would recommend this book to fans of Harlequin and to not quite fans of category romances. Just keep in mind the I Love You's part is a little hard to swallow but overall you'll find this a great -- curl up in your favorite overstuffed chair by a warm fire on a cold afternoon -- read.



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Friday, November 9, 2012

Blood on Silk by Marie Treanor


Synopsis: The debut of a seductive new contemporary series of vampires, lust, and revenge. While in Romania researching historical superstitions, Scottish academic Elizabeth Silk comes upon the folk tale of Saloman, a seductive prince staked centuries ago, legend's most powerful vampire. Now, in the ruins of a castle crypt, Elizabeth discovers supernatural legends that have come alive. Her blood has awakened him. Her innocence has aroused him. But Elizabeth unleashes more than Saloman's hunger, and it's going to unite them in ways neither could have imagined.


My Thoughts: I seriously had trouble getting into this book. I started reading it in October 2011 and continually set it aside for something that looked better. I can't fault the writing or the plot though. They were solid and well done.

Saloman is an ancient vampire recently awakened after being betrayed 300 years ago and imprisoned (entombed) for all those years. He is not a warm fuzzy vampire (read this to mean completely different from Lynsay Sands' and Kerrilyn Sparks' silly vamps). He is judge, jury and executioner. He needs Elizabeth's blood to get stronger. He needs to kill her to return to his full power.

Elizabeth is a scholar. She sees things in black and white so she really has problems with Saloman who exists in those gray areas. She struggles with the new knowledge of vampires and her part in 'bringing' back a potential threat to humankind. But mostly she struggles with her attraction to Saloman. She doesn't want to want him but she does. Unfortunately she also wants to live. She knows when Saloman is done toying with her he will kill her.

I didn't have any issue with who the characters were. What I had issues with was the romance. It really is more of an Urban Fantasy and could have been better without any I Love Yous. Aside from some serious lustful chemistry and some mind blowing sex I am not sure how they fell in love. Clear up to the end Elizabeth was saying I Hate You. Matter of fact she said I hate you I hate you I love you practically all in one breath. I'm not a fan of "I hate you.... Please don't Leave me" romances. Matter of fact that is the title of a book on Boarderline Personality Disorder. Drawing any connections there?

I am fairly alone in my average rating of this book by the way. Several others have found it to be stunning and a favorite. I just wasn't blown away by it. I will try the second book in the series though. I firmly believe in giving a fair chance to every author.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Recruit by Monica McCarty

Synopsis: Scotland’s King Robert the Bruce is retaking his kingdom from the invading English. To win, he’ll need all the grit and courage of his elite band of warriors, the Highland Guard, men who fight without fear and love without limits.
 
Fiery, aggressive, and bold, Kenneth Sutherland is a true champion—skilled with any weapon and driven to win. Now Kenneth is ready for his greatest challenge: joining Robert the Bruce’s secret army to fight among the elite. Kenneth’s best chance to attain that honor is by winning the Highland Games. Focused and prepared for victory, he is caught off guard by a lovely wisp of a woman—and a stolen moment of wicked seduction. Her innocent arousal and her shameless hunger fire his blood. He will win his place in the guard—and in Mary of Mar’s bed.

The ruggedly handsome hero-in-the-making stirs a heart that should know better. Mary vows that her surrender will be sport only—no promises, no heartbreak, just one night of incredible passion. Nothing, she swears, will persuade her to give up her hard-wrought independence and put her fate in the hands of another powerful man. But with every gentle touch and heart-pounding kiss, Kenneth makes her want more. Now Mary wants his heart. But is this determined champion willing to surrender everything for love?


My Thoughts: Earlier today I finished The Recruit by Monica McCarty and was wowed by it. This is the first book I've read by her and found it to be rich in history and rich in well fleshed out characters. There was a time I felt a bit overwhelmed by it's length (it's about 75 pages over an average historical romance which for some reason intimidates me LOL) but then I was totally swept away by the conflict of Scotland to England and the people who took sides (or was trapped between the two) and the sizzling passion between the two main characters. This is the 6th book in the series and I will go back and read the ones before (especially with the glowing reviews of the first one The Chief) but probably not right away. I want to savor this one a bit longer and don't want to gorge myself until I puke on the Highlander yumminess that are McCarty's Highland Guards. I might have given this book a full 5 stars but for the constant misunderstanding between the two main characters because they didn't communicate... although as a disclaimer I should mention there were very good reasons for Mary to mistrust her husband so the conflict was necessary and explainable. I just got a wee bit tired of it. Oh and Kenneth every now and again would think or say something so chauvinistic I wanted to thwack him with his own sword. Even his boorish attitudes on occasion was explainable as this was medieval times and in 1309 men could pretty much do as they pleased and women had no say (this is something I struggle with while reading romances from this time period.... my inner Gloria Steinem tends to be appalled for all the oppressed women every time.)

 In a nutshell I would totally recommend this book to historical romance readers everywhere.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Dark Night by Kitti Bernetti


***this review contains potential spoilers****

I 'bought' this short erotic novella several months ago when it was offered for free on Amazon.com and decided that since I was between full length books at that moment this would be a fun quick read. At least it was quick. (Oh and the cover is pretty hot!)

Short stories often suffer from underdeveloped characters and/or plot. This one suffered from both. The author told us what she felt we needed to know about the characters but there was little else to discover about them that was worth reading. The heroine was a bucket full of contradictions and I had a hard time suspending my disbelief. I could have sworn I read that she was a virgin, yet performed like an old pro. Who has the dexterity or skill to give a man a foot-job while plummeting towards earth in a thrill ride? (yes that is a foot-job....similar to a hand-job but...well, you get the idea.) The sex was the only thing fully developed within the story to tell the truth. I thought those parts were actually decent which is why this book is getting 2 stars instead of 1.

The heroine, Breeze, is nothing more than a thief and Seb is a pig. Because she was stealing from him he decided she would be his Saturday Whore for the next month. She goes along with it so she wouldn't go to jail. Somewhere along the short Saturday encounters they fell in love.

The ending was wrapped up into a big unbelievable burrito, filled with an annoying message of love can cure everything, even terminal cancer. Really? I probably won't read another short story by this author based on the experience with this one. If you decide to read it I truly hope your experience is better than mine.
 
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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Too Tempting to Resist by Cara Elliott

Synopsis: In the Wolf's Lair . . .

Determined to stop her wayward brother from squandering their dwindling fortune, Lady Eliza Brentford decides to follow him to his favorite den of depravity. There, among the candlelight and raucous revelry, she encounters her brother's role model in debauchery, the notorious Marquess of Haddan, Gryffin Dwight. Staring into his smoldering green eyes, Eliza can't help but find the rakehell nobleman seductively charming-and sinfully attractive.

In a Lover's Paradise . . .

When Gryffin appears on Eliza's estate as a guest of her brother, a stolen kiss among the garden's blooms leads to a night of unbridled passion. Suddenly the lovely widow feels herself opening up, like the petals of a rose. Could this master of seduction possibly feel true emotion for Eliza? Or is he leading her down the garden path to an Eden of delights no woman can resist-and a fall no woman can escape?

My Thoughts: This is the first book I've read by this author and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I thought her opening was interesting and it certainly engaged me but I don't think she was able to sustain that initial feel throughout the book. There were interesting parts and then lulls but there were enough of the entertaining parts that the book didn't lose my attention.

I enjoyed the characters also but think they could have been a bit more fleshed out. After a week they have faded in my mind so much that I only remember a shadow of who they were. I know she paints and he writes. I know she is in need of a knight in shining armor despite her plans to solve her own problems and I know he wanted to be that knight. I remember their actions but not their emotions.

The dialogue between the characters was entertaining and earned a few chuckles from me which is a definite plus. The mysterious element that was to add a bit of depth to the plot was a bit weak as we know who was up to nefarious acts even though we weren't exactly sure what those acts were. To tell the truth Gryff's friend Cam was far more mysterious and intriguing to me than anything. The wrapping up of the mystery/suspense seemed quite abrupt also.

Overall, the author did entertain me. Her main characters were not complete cookie cutters (Eliza is a widow which is fairly rare) and the secondary characters were intriguing. The ending was wrapped up too quickly and the I love Yous were borderline cheesy but I still did enjoy reading this book. Cara Elliott's writing style suited me quite a bit and I will definitely read more (especially Cam's story).

I'd be a bit remiss not to mention that my e-copy was provided by NetGalley for my review and it had multiple formatting issues. Often I'd come across a sentence thatwasnotspacedatallmakingitdifficulttoread. In addition the book would skip from one moment in time with one character to another character later on (or sometimes even the same character several hours later) with no indication that the time frame had changed. For example one paragraph would read that Eliza was pouring tea then the next paragraph would say that Gryff was talking to Cam. It wasn't because Gryff and Cam were with Eliza partaking in tea but because there were no natural or even unnatural breaks other than a chapter break. This often lead to some confusion on my part but it didn't effect my rating of this book. My rating is strictly on the story. 
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Saturday, August 4, 2012

That Thing Called Love by Susan Andersen


Synopsis: For a guy she's fantasized about throttling, Jake Bradshaw sure is easy on the eyes. In fact, he seriously tempts inn manager Jenny Salazar to put her hands to better use. Except this is the guy who left Razor Bay -- and his young son, Austin, whom Jenny adores like her own -- to become a globe-trotting photojournalist. He can't just waltz back and claim Austin now.

Jake was little more than a kid himself when he became a dad. Sure, he'd dreamed of escaping the resort town, but he'd also truly believed that Austin was better off with his grandparents. Now he wants -- no, needs -- to make up for his mistake. He intends to stay in Razor Bay only until he can convince Austin to return with him to New York. Trouble is, with sexy, protective, utterly irresistible Jenny in his life, and his bed, he may never want to leave….




My Thoughts: I've seen Susan Andersen's books gracing the book store shelves for years. Heck, I even have some of her books on my personal TBR shelves. Many bookie friends have praised her and now I can see why. Between extremely realistic characters and a decent storyline it's a wonder I haven't rushed right out and bought up all her books to read right away.


The Characters: Jenny is a girl next door type (with an added pinch of spice) who has loved Austin as a brother since he was a baby and Jake is a jet-setting photographer finally coming home to be the parent he should have been ages ago. Austin is an angsty (yes spell check, I know that isn't a word) teenage boy who desperately wants a father but can't trust the father who has just popped back into his life...with good reason. But honestly it wasn't just the 3 main characters that were the only stars of this book. The entire book is filled with fully three dimensional characters making for a rich and satisfying read. When an author can run my emotions from one extreme to another during the course of a book she gets mega-praise.


The Plot: What you see is what you get. The book opens with the idea that Austin's absentee father just might want to claim his parental rights and take over the raising of Austin, which is exactly what happens. There are no real OMG moments and I don't recall ever uttering "I never saw that coming." but I think this book's simplistic storyline really allows for the readers to become fully immersed into the depths of the setting and characters.  


I did think that the ending was wrapped up too quickly (and by ending I mean the 'I Love Yous'  part.) I think Jake should have had to grovel more than what he did. But maybe that's the sadistic side of me talking.
  
Just so you know, there were some other happenings going on within the book. Jake and his half brother had to finally come to terms with being brothers. Jenny had a less than stellar visit with her father. Austin had his first crush. But honestly these things helped build the characters and not necessarily the plot.


In A Nut Shell: A slightly above average contemporary romance story with excellent characters made for very good read as I am extremely character driven when it comes to books I like. I will definitely read more from Susan Andersen (actually I'm hoping that Jake's brother gets a turn at HEA.) 


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Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Darkest Day by Britt Bury

Synopsis: ALL-CONSUMING DESIRE . . . Izel Campbell was raised to believe she is an immortal Fionn with the magical skills of persuasion. But when she travels to Scotland to visit her ancestral home, Izel discovers that she is actually the world's last living human. Forced to run for her life, Izel crosses paths with Kelvin Kerr, the Campbells' greatest foe-and the most magnificent warrior she has ever seen.   BURNS BRIGHTEST . . . A thousand-year-old battle chief of the Kerr clan, Kelvin lives only to avenge his father, who died at the hands of the bloody Campbells. Honor demands he kill the Campbell heir, but when he learns that the lovely Izel is both Campbell and human, Kelvin is torn between duty and desire . . .
My Thoughts: The Darkest Day had my attention from chapter 1 and despite a couple of things that struck me odd during the course of the book I would say Britt Bury has penned a winner of a debut!

What I Liked: Despite the similarities between Bury's book and Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series (there are quite a few similarities), I found the bulk of this book to be well put together and quite original. Normally if someone would have told me that a chunk of this book was just like the IAD series I might have refused to read The Darkest Day on principle. I love IAD and would hate for someone to make a less than adequate copy of it. However, Britt Bury did not make a horrible copy of a Kresley Cole book. The similarities are done in a way that is more of a shout out rather than a punk copying answers to the test kind of way. I wont get into specific similarities but if you read this book (which I think you should) and you're familiar with IAD you will see right away what I mean.

The Characters: Izel and Kelvin are pretty amazing together. Their banter is fun and made me laugh a few times. Their passion is pretty sizzling too. I was fully invested in them as a couple that towards the end I admit I was a little bit weepy.

The different types of beings: This is the first book I've ever read that has introduced me to a Pookah and a Fionn. I love that Bury didn't rely on the tired Werewolf/Vampire species when building her world. Yes there are vampires but they aren't hunky ones that you want to throw out your morals and bare a dozen undead children with. They are nasty buggers (they're eeeeeeeevilllllll...insert diabolical laugh here).

What I Didn't Like As Much: Her Shielding Glamour...At the beginning you find out that Izel has been glamoured which masked her human-ness from leaking out making her highly sought after....and not in a good way. This, apparently, was done at birth. I had some unanswered questions regarding this. Why did her glamour fail at that specific time? Why did her entire appearance have to change? If the glamour prevented her from feeling emotions why did she never at least try to have a 'normal' physical relationship? She experienced pain so she should have experienced pleasure too. I always have a hard time believing in a 27 year old virgin in the year 2012.

I also thought that even though the different species was interesting I was confused as to what a Pookah and a Fionn were through a large part of the book. Come to find out there is a glossary which helped out immensely. As this is an ebook flipping back and forth between the text and the glossary is something that I struggle with...but that isn't Ms. Bury's issue. It's mine. I just mention it because I want to make sure no one else wonders what the hell a Pookah is through so much of the book.

Izel's Lack of Knowledge About Her Own World: It's like the woman lived in a bubble (which could have been true because of her human-ness but it wasn't). I am just wondering why she wasn't naturally curious about herself, her parents and the other species that are enemies of the Fionns. Plus it appears she is a major player in her Grandfather's Clan....she didn't know about that either. I understand that some of the book relies on her naivety but I would have liked her a little more knowledgeable.

It's the Old Fated Mate Plot: Granted this has worked  very well in the past and Britt Bury pulls it off nicely. I'm just tired of this plot devise being so overused to explain why the couple should be together. Once again this is my issue and not necessarily the book's. I mention it because this review is all about my feelings toward the book.

To Wrap It Up: Despite some drawbacks this book is actually very entertaining and enjoyable. I am really looking forward to reading more in the series and there are a few extremely interesting men who I am hoping get their HEA. Overall, 4 cups of coffee!

Oh and this book appears to only be available in eBook format. Never fear though, you can purchase it at amazon and Barnes&Noble  (in the US) for only $4.99

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

At Last by Jill Shalvis


Synopsis: HER LOVE HAS COME ALONG... — Amy Michaels loves her new life in Lucky Harbor.  A waitress in the local diner, she's looking forward to her first weekend hike through the mountains.  But when a wrong turn takes her off the trail, she finds herself up close and personal with forest ranger Matt Bowers.  And even though she's tempted to kiss that sexy smile right off his face, she won't make the mistake of getting involved with the town heartthrob.

A former cop whose life went south, Matt doesn't let anyone get too close.  But something about the feisty beauty caught his eye the moment he first saw her in the diner.  After a hot night under a starry sky, Matt can't deny their attraction -- or the fact that for the first time in a long time, he feels the stirrings of something more.  Now it's up to Matt to help Amy see that, no matter what is in their past, together they can build a future in Lucky Harbor.


My Thoughts: I've been struggling over the last couple days to put into words what I felt about this book. Honestly it isn't a favorite but it was more enjoyable then an average book. Amy is vulerable yet stubbornly independent. She's struggling to create a life for herself and become something better than who she was in her past. Matt is fascinated with her.

What I Liked: Their attraction. It's really what brings them together, (that and our heroine being lost in the middle of the woods needing a hunka-hunka DNR officer to rescue her) so, anyway, I was not surprised that the love scenes were sizzling. I was surprised that I enjoyed reading them as much as I did. I'm a habitual skipper of the noisy moisture sharing parts in my romance books but didn't skip even one word of the hot lovin' that Ms Shalvis created. I think this attests to her skill in writing these scenes and that she doesn't throw them in to meet some hot monkey sex quota.

The secondary characters were equally fascinating. I am looking forward to the hunky doctor's story and to see where the young homeless person's storyline goes. I'm hoping that we see more of her anyway and she gets a happily ever after someday.

The secondary storyline of Amy's grandmother and her journey to the mountains near Lucky Harbor was also very well done. We learn about it through Amy who is trying to follow the journey made so many decades ago in hopes of finding herself. This storyline gave us insight into Amy.

What I Didn't Like (or rather what I thought could have been a tad better): There was yet another storyline within the book that could have been fleshed out more. We see a group of juvenile delinquents wrecking havoc on Matt and his job but after having read another book with a similar secondary storyline I couldn't help compare them. Which honestly, isn't that fair to Jill to compare her to Nora Roberts but as I just finished reading the Roberts' book I just can't help it. Nora just did it better. I think this secondary storyline was important to the characterization of Matt as it showed his morals, values and his ability to stand against evil (or one snot nosed special brownie eating punk teenager). Because it was important I would have liked to have seen more of it.

Overall a good read that I'm glad I had the opportunity to read. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series (Forever and A Day). Jill Shalvis is quickly becoming my go to author for fun contemporary romances.
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Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Witness by Nora Roberts

Synopsis: Daughter of a controlling mother, Elizabeth finally let loose one night, drinking at a nightclub and allowing a strange man's seductive Russian accent lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive.  The events that followed changed her life forever.  Twelve years later, the woman known as Abigail Lowery lives on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks.  A freelance programmer, she designs sophisticated security systems -- and supplements her own security with a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms.  She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing.  But Abigail's reserve only intrigues police chief Brooks Gleason.  Her logical mind, her secretive nature, and her unromantic viewpoints leave him fascinated but frustrated.  He suspects that Abigail needs protection from something -- and that her elaborate defenses hide a story that must be revealed.

What I liked: The beginning.  I really enjoyed learning about Liz and felt for her when it was clear that her mother was not maternal. I was really able to identify with the decisions she made. I also loved that because of her logical mind she was able to comprehend what mistakes she made that lead up to her life being turned upside down.

I also liked Abigail and her social awkwardness. If you've watched the TV show The Big Bang Theory, Abigail is like Leonard. So smart but socially stunted and completely out of her element when she has to be around other people. 

I really liked Brooks too... I think that Nora really excels at creating men that we women really want but have a hard time finding.  Brooks is a great blend of an Alpha Male and a Beta. His need to protect is great but does not feel emasculated when Abigail does not need him to protect her. He is not one to beat on his chest then throw his woman over his shoulder to 'rescue' her. He may feel like he needs to do so but he doesn't. He's one smart cookie.

What I didn't like: Around the half way mark the book lost some momentum. This is when we are introduced to Abigail. As fascinating as she was (love an uber smart woman) her part of the storyline seemed to drag a bit. There were a few scenes that really did nothing to propel the story forward and could have been cut. 

Which leads me to the length. I read the hard cover version and there were almost 500 pages. There were a few times that I really felt the book was 800 pages long. I really have a short attention span and books that are over 400 pages tend to intimidate me. True story.

I thought Brooks' and Abigail's romance was nice but I just didn't have an big 'sigh' moments.

Back to Abigail...I think there was an inconstancy or two in her behavior towards the last 1/3 of the book. She is so much like Tempe Brennan from the Bones TV show (a good thing!) She is very smart and very clinical. She analyzes everything.  Knowing this I find it strange she would all of a sudden say something like (and I'm paraphrasing) 'you and our love is magic.' Abigail does not wax poetic. She describes mutual physical attraction as a chemical reaction for Pete's Sake! For her to refer to their love as magic (and Brooks in particular) she'd either have had to be drunk or suffering from a concussion. (So now I've totally compared Abigail to two different TV show characters!)

I would have liked to see more of a wrapped up ending when it came to the bad guys too. I find it odd that despite the bad guys being really bad it didn't seem that they were doing much to find Liz. Perhaps if the book would have spent a bit more time from their point of view instead of the once or twice it briefly did I would have felt that part of the book was more developed. I expected more of a thrilling read with Liz being in suspenseful danger but we really didn't see that. 

Overall a decent read but not a favorite. I was hovering between 3.5 or a 4 star rating and ended up with 4 because I love Nora and I'm one of those preferential treatment people.
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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt


Synopsis (back blurb):
A MASKED MAN . . .
Winter Makepeace lives a double life. By day he’s the stoic headmaster of a home for foundling children. But the night brings out a darker side of Winter. As the moon rises, so does the Ghost of St. Giles—protector, judge, fugitive. When the Ghost, beaten and wounded, is rescued by a beautiful aristocrat, Winter has no idea that his two worlds are about to collide.
A DANGEROUS WOMAN . . .
Lady Isabel Beckinhall enjoys nothing more than a challenge. Yet when she’s asked to tutor the Home’s dour manager in the ways of society—flirtation, double entendres, and scandalous liaisons—Isabel can’t help wondering why his eyes seem so familiar—and his lips so tempting.
A PASSION NEITHER COULD DENY
During the day Isabel and Winter engage in a battle of wills. At night their passions are revealed . . . But when little girls start disappearing from St. Giles, Winter must avenge them. For that he might have to sacrifice everything—the Home, Isabel . . . and his life.

My Thoughts: Overall I was impressed with this book. I have read one other Hoyt book (The Leopard Prince) several years ago and both books share a few things in common. Both have women of a social standing much higher than the men. The men are working men, the women are women of leisure. She has money he doesn't. There is also a story within the story. I thought parts of the book seemed to drag a bit but overall it kept me wanting to get back to it. The story within the story was told in short parts at the start of each chapter and it made me want to hurry up and get to the next chapter.

Winter was a pretty good hero but perhaps not as 'mysterious' as Hoyt tried to make him. His 'inner beast' came across a bit silly as he is more of a Beta hero than an Alpha (I don't care what he does in his spare time he is still a Beta....but still wonderful...truly). Isobel comes across as cold and not quite likable but Hoyt does an excellent job of showing us that she really isn't cold despite her various actions throughout the first half of the book that would lead us to believe the worst of her. I think as characters go, standing alone, they would be average but together, as a couple, Isobel and Winter are just stunning.

And what can I say about the love scenes? You will rarely hear me say this but most of them were absolutely wonderful. For someone who tends to skip the moist parts I read a couple of them twice. 

As far as the plot goes, the pace seems a bit slow in spots but this is easily overlooked as we get wrapped up in Winter's need to save the innocent and Isobel's need to save Winter. The mystery aspect of the plot is a bit overshadowed by the romance between Isobel and Winter but not in a bad way, as this is a book one wouldn't read for the mystery anyway.

I am so glad I read this book and after reading a teasing sample of the next book in this series (Lord of Darkness) I can't wait until December.  Elizabeth Hoyt has made me a fan.

My favorite quote: "Never volunteer. Not even when pleasantly filled with warm scones and hot tea. Warm scones were obviously the work of the devil....."





Thursday, June 21, 2012

Undead and Unstable by MaryJanice Davidson

Synopsis: Betsy's heartbroken over her friend Marc's death, but at least his sacrifice should change the future--her future--for the better.  But it's not as if Betsy's next few hundred years will be perfect.  After all, her half sister, Laura, is the Antichrist, Laura's mother is Satan, and family gatherings will always be more than a little awkward.

What's really bothering Betsy is that ever since she and Laura returned from visiting her mom in hell, Laura's been acting increasingly peculiar.  Maybe it's Laura's new job offer: Satan's replacement down under.  Unfortunately, the position comes at a damnable price: killing Betsy, her own flesh and blood.

Over Betsy's dead body.  And for that matter, Marc's, too, since he's not quite as buried as everyone thought.  Now a war has been waged--one that's going to take sibling rivalry to a whole new level and a dimension where only one sister can survive.



My Review: I'm officially done with Betsy. Her constant ignorant chatter and her inability to concentrate was annoying but to have everyone in her life call her stupid or remind her that she's easily distracted by shiny things is beyond palatable. She thinks she's as dumb as a box of rocks. Her friends think she is as dumb as a box of rocks. Her husband thinks stuff too but loves her anyway. Not only has Betsy not grown over the course of 11 books it is apparent that she is sliding backwards. If Betsy was this stupid in book 1 I never would have read book 2.

The actual storyline was all of 3 chapters scattered throughout the book. The rest was filler where Betsy drinks smoothies or semi-mourns her cat or gets chased by dogs or gets arrested. None of which is actually pertinent to the plot.

The time traveling aspect is just silly as there are some events that were altered for the sake of humor but for the life of me I can't figure out how they happened. Nick is now Dick and throughout the book (and the last one) Betsy calls him D/Nick or Nickie-Dickie or some other annoying name. I have no idea how Betsy's visit to the past could have changed one of the character's names but having her repeatedly calling Nick, De-Nick annoyed me.

The writing itself seems chaotic. It's written from Betsy's perspective which is just awful. As I mentioned earlier she is easily distracted by shiny things so her mind wanders. We, as readers, are unfortunate to get to read about how she wonders what hair products so and so uses while that character is talking to her. In addition to this, one chapter opens up with something along the lines of 'and that is how I got arrested' but the end of the chapter before that had nothing to do with being arrested. The explanation of her arrest and the actions leading up to it are explained after the opening of that chapter.




In addition to this the book is not friendly to new readers. You cannot pick up this book and read it without having read any other Betsy Taylor books. Things are reviewed at the beginning of the book on what has happened thus far in books 1-10 but I found some things were not explained. For example why does Betsy call Satan Lena Olin? A new reader wouldn't know and it's not explained.

So, because of the lack of growth on Betsy's part, the lack of a decent plot, the fact that the book is trying to be funny to the point it isn't and the chaos like writing I doubt I will ever pick up another Queen Betsy book.

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Brains Brains BRAINS! (it's a tastey giveaway)

The Bookish Brunette
Who doesn't love zombies? No one that's who. Because everyone loves zombies I'm letting you in on an awesome giveaway over at The Bookish Brunette  called Zombie Craze! I know, pretty sweet huh? Lots of freakin' excellent zombie books are being given away. So, either click on The Brunette's clicky link above or you can click on her pink Zombie Queen link on my right sidebar. Either way works and would be totally worth it! Giveaway ends on 5/31/12 so hurry!

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz


Synopsis: I am the One, the all and the only. I live in the Pendleton as surely as I live everywhere. I am the Pendleton's history and its destiny. The building is my place of conception, my monument, my killing ground. . . .
 —The Pendleton stands on the summit of Shadow Hill at the highest point of an old heartland city, a Gilded Age palace built in the late 1800s as a tycoon’s dream home. Almost from the beginning, its grandeur has been scarred by episodes of madness, suicide, mass murder, and whispers of things far worse. But since its rechristening in the 1970s as a luxury apartment building, the Pendleton has been at peace. For its fortunate residents—among them a successful songwriter and her young son, a disgraced ex-senator, a widowed attorney, and a driven money manager—the Pendleton’s magnificent quarters are a sanctuary, its dark past all but forgotten.

But now inexplicable shadows caper across walls, security cameras relay impossible images, phantom voices mutter in strange tongues, not-quite-human figures lurk in the basement, elevators plunge into unknown depths. With each passing hour, a terrifying certainty grows: Whatever drove the Pendleton’s past occupants to their unspeakable fates is at work again. Soon, all those within its boundaries will be engulfed by a dark tide from which few have escaped.

My Thoughts: This book was a revisit to Koontz's earlier horror type books which was a nice change of pace from the last few that I've read by him. I don't want to get into the plot of the book because to explain it I'd have to be way too detailed than I want to be at 3am but here are some pluses and minuses of the book...

Minuses---

A lot of characters (this is a big city condo building and this book is about the people in the building....there were close to 20)

Very wordy (one of the characters is a conspiracy theorist...I ended up skipping whole paragraphs when the book was focused on him)

Often times the book read a bit complex to where I was confused and had to back track and read parts again (sometimes whole pages)

Ended with some questions unanswered (however the ending was a plus overall)

Big bad evil creatures had a name that annoyed me (granted that is just a weird quirk of mine)

Pluses---
Interesting characters (not all of them but a large portion) a couple of which had some really good banter between them

Time travel (not a big fan of time travel but the way Koontz carried it out was very interesting)

Ultimately the ending (despite the fact that I still have some unanswered questions) was actually wrapped up nicely. Not too quickly wrapped up and it was quite satisfying.

The book is written in a way that I can only describe as each set of characters having their own television channel and we, the readers, are flipping through the channels which are being broadcasted live as the Pendelton building is going through some crazy stuff. So chapter two might have a heading that says Bailey Hawks then in a few pages it will skip to Winny and Twyla. Does that make any sense? There are also very short chapters scattered through the book italicized and titled as The One. These chapters are from the big bad evil's point of view. I think this way of writing this book was excellent especially with the number of characters involved. We were never wondering whose storyline we were reading about at any given moment.

I do wish the book had been at least 100 pages shorter (this book was hardcover at 450-ish pages) but I honestly don't know what he could have cut (other than some of his more elaborately descriptive passages).

Overall this book was an ok read. I think the build up took a long time despite the creepy happenings. Once I got to page 250 or so it sped up. But that is a long time to wait.

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