Sunday, December 7, 2014

Fast Track by Julie Garwood

Title: Fast Track
Author: Julie Garwood
Series: Buchanan-Renard #12
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Dutton (July 7, 2014)
Source: NetGalley eArc
Rating: ☕☕
Cordelia Kane has always been a daddy’s girl—her father raised her alone after her mother died in a car crash when Cordelia was just two years old. So when he has a serious heart attack, Cordelia is devastated, and the emotion is only intensified by the confusion she feels when he reveals the shocking truth about her mother.

Cordelia can’t suppress her curiosity about the woman who gave birth to her, and when she discovers the answers to her questions lie in Sydney, Australia, she travels there to get them.

Hotel magnate Aiden Madison is Cordelia’s best friend’s older brother. He’s oblivious to the fact that she’s had a crush on him for years. When he gets railroaded into taking her along to Sydney on his company jet, he unknowingly puts her life at risk. He’s recently angered a powerful congressman by refusing to purchase overvalued land. Congressman Chambers is not a man to let such an offense slide, and he has the resources to get even and to get what he wants.

In Australia sparks are flying between Cordelia and Aiden, but multiple attempts on Aiden’s life are made while Cordelia is with him, and he realizes he must put a stop to the madness before he loses the thing he values most.
 

My Thoughts: Having been a long time fan of Julie Garwood makes having to admit that her newer books (the ones written in the last 10 years or so) are just one disappointment after another. Although 3 stars isn't a horrible rating I know Garwood can do so much better. I think I'm just getting tired of her new heroines. They are seriously just too perfect. Most of them usually don't exercise yet are perfectly proportioned and thin. They are extremely beautiful yet don't feel that they are (this one drives me nuts). Most are extremely intelligent.

With this particular book even though the idea of Cordie was annoying (perfect women are tiresome to read about) I didn't completely hate her. I actually liked her. The roots that Garwood put down for her made her more humble to me and shortly into the book I actually felt an emotional connection to her. I did have one issue with her though, instead of admitting she wanted Aiden and going after him she chose to run away from her feelings and him. I think as far as characters go, the larger fault, for me, is actually in Aiden. Hot, intelligent, lawyer, millionaire hotelier...what isn't good about him? Well, I just didn't buy into his feelings for Cordie. Sure Garwood added hints on how his feelings were building but I really miss her old historic romance heroes. The ones that are so Alpha they practically beat their chests and grunt when they talk but their love for their woman can bring them to their knees. I miss that "If I lost you, I'd be nothing." moments in her books. This book didn't have any of those moments for me. As much as I really wanted to like Aiden he was either treating Cordie  like a princess by lavishing her with expensive clothing or being her domineering jailer (for her protection dontcha know) with nothing in between. There are names for men who do this. None of them are good and a therapist would recommend to steer clear of these men.

Here's where I got super annoyed....For a big part of the book Cordie was locked in a proverbial ivory tower. The men in her life took care of her and took care of  her trouble for her. Even though she struggled with the captivity the book felt as if Garwood was advertising that women cannot take care of their own trouble and have to rely on big strong men to protect them. This wasn't the only hint of sexism I picked up on. In several instances there were quite a few men wanting to talk to Aiden about business. No women. Most of the women mentioned were ones that wanted to have sex with Aiden. What? Women cannot be shrewd business people? Not in this book I guess.

So, while Cordie was being protected there was little suspense to be had. I wasn't too terribly worried that something would happen to her despite the direction Garwood took the storyline. The bad guy was a bit obvious and it made no sense as to why that person would sit on the information waiting for the shoe to drop for decades. It seems that particular person would have done something years earlier to eliminate the potential threat because of the way Garwood made their character.

One last thing that I struggled with.....Although Garwood's writing was, as usual, pleasant to read it didn't feel like a Garwood. There were so many sentences that began "she said" or "she went" or "she stopped". She. She. She. When it wasn't "she" it was "he". What happened to Garwood's polished prose? At this point I'm not sure if I just never noticed but now I am or she really has changed the way she writes. I'm not sure if I'm inclined to go back and read all of her Buchanan/Renard books again to double check either.

In a Nutshell: An Ok book that would have been better with a more impacting suspense plot, a better leading man and less 50's sexist ideals. But hey, it was a quick read and there are a couple interesting secondary characters that are worth mentioning (Walker and Liam).

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Monday, November 10, 2014

A Hidden Fire by Elizabeth Hunter



Title: A Hidden Fire
Author: Elizabeth Hunter
Series: Elemental Mysteries #1
Genre: PNR
Publisher: E. Hunter; 2 edition (October 13, 2011)
Source: Purchased
Rating: ☕☕1/2


"No secret stays hidden forever."

A phone call from an old friend sets Dr. Giovanni Vecchio back on the path of a mystery he'd abandoned years before. He never expected a young librarian could hold the key to the search, nor could he have expected the danger she would attract. Now he and Beatrice De Novo will follow a twisted maze that leads from the archives of a university library, through the fires of Renaissance Florence, and toward a confrontation they never could have predicted.

My Thoughts: Oh where do I start? Did I love it. That's a big NO. Did I hate it. Not really. My feelings are right up the middle on whether I liked this book or not yet I found so much of the book annoying.

The Good, The Bad and the Other Stuff: Although this book is more than readable, the author's writing is not very polished. Granted this is her first book and some leeway should be given but in my opinion a book that fails to pull me in emotionally is not as good as one that does. The amazing part of  third person narrative is that we get to see our characters from the inside out. We read about their thoughts, their emotions and their actions which in turn lets us connect and identify with the heroine but often the hero too. Unfortunately the author didn't utilize this tool effectively. So much time is spent on the characters talking that we rarely saw the actual thought process behind it, making the emotional response of the character feeling disjointed and unnatural. The usage of an exclamation point doesn't come across as well as the description of a character's anger in many cases. In addition, I prefer to draw my own conclusion on how I feel about a character but many times I felt Hunter told me how I should view Beatrice. 


"She cocked her head to the side in an adorable gesture."

Adorable? To whom, exactly? If this were written as Gio thoughts it might have come across better to me. As it's written the reader is told that Beatrice (and her head cocking) is adorable. Personally, I find it adorable when a toddler cocks their head. I love when my dog does it. I'm not sure it's as adorable when a 22 year old does it.

Another issue I had was all the eye rolling, winking, and smirking going on in the book. Oh, the SMIRKING! Beatrice and Giovanni smirked. They smirked a lot. They smirked at each other. They smirked with others. They were the smirkiest smirkers to ever smirk. I only mention this because the repetition was extremely noticeable and brought my enjoyment level down even more.

Now before I go blowing a review into epic proportions I'm going to quickly mention these other things I found to be a negative within the book. The immaturity of the heroine. The mystery that really wasn't. The smarmy villain who apparently tortures people with boredom instead of scary vampiry things. The slllllooooooooowwwwww pace of the book that suddenly got interesting only to climax into nothing but another 40 pages of sllllllllllloooooooooowwwwwww boring stuff. A sudden declaration of Beatrice being a financial stock brokering genius 2/3 of the way through the book because the last chapter needed a financial stock brokering genius. A hero who treated the heroine like a child and said things like "Don't be naive." to the her on more than one occasion. No HEA or hot monkey sex. I could live without that last one if I felt the characters were more connected. Sure they had some hot kissing going on but where's the passion? Another example of the author telling us there is passion but not necessarily showing us. 

Now don't be fooled by all that. It wasn't a horrible book. The good stuff was actually really good. Despite me not connecting with Beatrice I did get a good sense of Giovanni. He wasn't immediately interested in claiming Beatrice for his mate or whatever she'd be because of her age which was such a good thing for me. Especially since I thought she wasn't a mature heroine to begin with. Elizabeth Hunter's vampires being tied to an element was a nice twist. Plus the secondary characters of Carwyn and Casper were really great. I actually found myself enjoying Carwyn more than the actual hero of the book. 

In a Nutshell: Even though I didn't enjoy this book as much as others did and rated it accordingly I think it's worth a read through and perhaps continuing on to book 2 also. With more experience I think Elizabeth Hunter could pen a phenomenal book so don't write her off just yet. I haven't.

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Friday, November 7, 2014

Betrayed by PC and Kristin Cast


Title: Betrayed
Author: PC and Kristin Cast
Series: House of Night #2
Genre: YA
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (September 2009)
Source: Library
Rating: ☕☕

Zoey, High Priestess in training, has managed to settle in at the House of Night and come to terms with the vast powers the Vampyre Goddess Nyx has given her. Just as she finally feels she belongs, the unthinkable happens: human teenagers are being killed, and all evidence points to the House of Night. While danger stalks the humans from Zoey’s old life, she begins to realize that the very powers that make her so unique might also threaten those she loves.

My Thoughts: For the life of me I have no idea how a book that could annoy me so much could also make me want to read the next in the series.  

What I Didn't Like: My big issues with this book/series are.... The love quadrangle and Zoey our heroine is annoying. Somehow she is so incredibly beautiful that she not only has a boyfriend but an ex that loves her and wont leave her alone and now she has a teacher who seems to like her. That one is my big ICK issue. It's one of the reasons I stopped watching Pretty Little Liars. 

The lack of tying up loose ends happened again in this book as it did in the first one. I hate dangling bits that carry over from book to book to book. It feels like a marketing ploy to get us to keep reading. 

Also, two of Zoey's friends are known as the Twins. They are so close to each other they think alike, talk alike and finish each others sentences. My issue is that they refer to each other as Twin so every other sentence of dialogue says something along the lines of "You said it, Twin!" It got really repetitive.  

The Good(?) Stuff: The good stuff is minimal, unfortunately. I think the elemental affinities to Water, Earth, Fire, Air and Spirit are interesting and I'm glad Zoey is now not the only one with them that we've seen. I like the idea of Zoey's abilities and her special connection to the Goddess Nyx. I also like there are several characters with more depth than they appear. Enemies could become friends and some friends could prove to be down right evil.

In a Nutshell: How the series will resolve what is going on with the children who do not turn but die and the ultimate baddie who is responsible is actually intriguing so I'll move on to the 3rd book but I'm not looking forward to the potential student/teacher love-fest that was hinted at.  

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Storm by Brigid Kemmerer


Title: Storm
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Series: Elemental #1
Genre: YA
Publisher: Kensington Books 2012
Source: Kindle Freebie
Rating: ☕☕☕

Synopsis: Ever since her ex-boyfriend spread lies about her, Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys - the ones she doesn't want. Then she saves Chris Merrick from a beating in the school parking lot. Chris is different. Way different: he can control water - just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. They're powerful. Dangerous. Marked for death.
And now that she knows the truth, so is Becca.
When Hunter, the mysterious new kid in town, turns up with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time, Becca thinks she can trust him. But then Hunter goes head-to-head with Chris, and Becca wonders who's hiding the most dangerous truth of all...

My Thoughts: A decent spot of entertainment with a bit too much snide teenage angsty stuff for my taste.

The Good Stuff: Brigid Kemmerer put to bed the lack of closure questions I had after reading the novella, Elemental. Now I see why things were left completely open ended. Not sure I liked those conclusions but I'm glad they were there. I love the paranormal aspect of people who pull power from nature. Although, as I've said before, elemental magic isn't new but I like Kemmerer's take on it. The Merrick brothers are really interesting and I think the author did a nice job of explaining their background (why their parents aren't around). The book was paced well and there were quite a few exciting scenes that helped propel the plot forward too.

The Bad Stuff: Becca. She drove me bat-shit crazy. Her attitude towards her father is horrible. So her parents are divorced and her dad is away on business a lot. Get over it. She was a total snot to him and I wanted to punch her in the throat. She also exhibited some great back bone (breaking up a really bad fight between several boys against one) but doesn't stand up for herself. Ever. People talk about her and she just lets them. She also has questionable decision making. So, a boy who has started devastating rumors about her wants to talk to her. Privately. Outside. At Night. In the dark. Becca says sure. Really?

In addition to Becca, the Guide who was sent to town to eliminate the Merricks has issues. The guide causes a huge weather situation that flooded out a bridge putting dozens of people in danger, Becca included. His reasoning is stupid and in no way could be construed as appropriate. In addition to the huge safety issue the Guide causes, he also kidnapped half the Merrick clan and instead of destroying the boys he bought them McDonald's. Really?

Lastly, beware of the love triangle. 'Nuff said.

In a Nutshell: Despite some really questionable decisions (some coming from an adult), I am intrigued by the Merricks. I am mostly looking forward to Michael's full story but will read Nick and Gabriel's books in the mean time.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Elemental by Brigid Kemmerer


Title: Elemental
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Series: Elemental #0.5
Genre: YA
Publisher: Kensington Books 2012
Source: Scribd ebook
Rating: ☕☕

Earth, Fire, Air, Water – they are more than you dream.
As an air Elemental, 17-year-old Emily Morgan doesn’t have much power. That’s okay—she knows what happens to kids who do.
Like Michael Merrick. He’s an earth Elemental, one with enough power to level cities. Which makes him sexy, dangerous, and completely off limits. At least according to Emily’s family.
But her summer job puts her in close contact with Michael, and neither of them can help the attraction they feel. When forces of nature like theirs collide, one misstep could get someone killed. Because Emily’s family doesn’t just want her to stay away from him.
They want him dead.

My Thoughts: What started out as an exciting introduction to a new to me series ended with disappointment.

The Good Stuff: Having the power of an element is not a new concept but one I enjoy a lot. I liked that there were varying levels of power amongst the Elementals and the idea that the more powerful they are the more they are ostracized by their own kind. I liked that this short story explained enough of this but didn't waste too many of the precious pages over explaining it which would make it more info dump than part of a story. It was also a sweet boy meets girl story and a  potential star crossed lovers story that was developing nicely.

The Bad Stuff: Not being a fan of novellas it's hard for me to be completely open to them without having preconceived notions that every novella will disappoint me by not being developed enough. I'd love to say this one proved me wrong but it didn't. It, unfortunately, reiterated that point loudly. While happily reading through an exciting scene where our boy and girl have become friends and find themselves running from a bad group of kids the story just stops. Literally. Stops. One minute the two are clasping hands and jumping into the water while the bad gang of kids are almost upon them and then.....nothing. The End. WHAT!?!? You can't end a story that way! Well, Brigid Kemmerer certainly did and I hated it. It was a cliffhanger.......on steroids. 

In a Nutshell: Despite the abrupt ending I didn't throw my hands up and discard the notion of this series. Instead I had the need to move onto the first book in the series. I suppose this was the entire point of this novella. Mission: To suck unsuspecting readers in and brainwash them into continuing on no matter how pissed they are. Well played Kemmerer. Well played.

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Lord of the Fading Lands by CL Wilson


Title: Lord of the Fading Lands
Author: CL Wilson (Read by Stephanie Riggio)
Series: Tairen Soul #1
Genre: Romantic Fantasy 
Publisher: Audio Realms, Inc. 2010 
Source: Library
Rating:


Once he had scorched the world.
Once he had driven back overwhelming darkness.
Once he had loved with such passion, his name was legend...
Tairen Soul
Now a thousand years later, a new threat calls him from the Fading Lands, back into the world that had cost him so dearly. Now an ancient, familiar evil is regaining its strength, and a new voice beckons him--more compelling, more seductive, more maddening than any before.
As the power of his most bitter enemy grows and ancient alliances crumble, the wildness in his blood will not be denied. The tairen must claim his truemate and embrace the destiny woven for him in the mists of time.

My Thoughts: This book/series has come highly recommended by multiple people over the years and when I saw that my library had it on digital audio I thought I'd take the chance with it.

The Good Stuff: Wilson's world building, I believe, is first class in this book. I never felt bombarded with a giant info dump issue because she incorporated it so well into the story that it felt natural. The romance, although relying on a take on the "Fated Mate" trope, was well played out and has an Urban Fantasy feel to it as this is only the beginning of the H/h's story. Their love should develop nicely over the course of several books and we weren't completely whammied by insta-love.

The Good stuff about Listening vs. Reading: Being more of a Fantasy than I'm used to, I liked the fact that someone else was reading the potentially difficult names of the characters and places. I know for sure I'd have stumbled and bumbled my way through them and it would have pulled me out of the story continuously.

The Bad Stuff: No conclusions. Absolutely nothing was concluded. Everything from their courtship to who is trying to harm Ellie is left dangling at the end of the book. To be truthful, the ending felt so abrupt I double checked my kindle to see if I missed downloading one of the audio files. But nope, it really does end with no closure on anything. Another thing that was a bit of a downer was that after finishing the book, I'm still am not sure what a Tairen Soul looks like. It's some sort of shapeshifter and as near as I can tell it's a huge animal with a cat like head, deadly snake venom, giant bat wings with a sharp claw at the joint of the wings, and a long dragon like spiked tail. At least that is what I think it said.

The Bad Stuff about the Audio: Although Stephanie Riggio did an adequate job, I hated her voice for Ellysetta. She sounded like a whiny child and I had a hard time accepting her as a love interest for a Fey King who is well over a millennia old.

In a Nutshell: I would rate the book itself a 4 but the unfortunate voice of Ellie on audio brought the rating down to 3. My library has the next book in audio also but read by a different narrator so I'm going to pick it up soon because I have issues with all those dangly bits mocking me.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Scent of Darkness by Christina Dodd


Title: Scent of Darkness
Author: Christina Dodd
Series: Darkness Chosen #1
Publisher: 2007 by Signet
Source: Purchased Paperback
Rating: ☕1/2

Ann Smith loves her handsome, dynamic boss, Jasha Wilder, but her daring plan to seduce him goes awry when she encounters a powerful wolf who-before her horrified eyes-changes into the man she adores. She soon discovers she can't escape her destiny, for she is the woman fated to break the curse that binds his soul. 

My Thoughts: Highlights--points to Dodd for making a tired shifter trope into one of demons and deal making with the devil. A different take and one I found interesting. The clues surrounding Ann and her birthmark were also very compelling which kept me reading late into the night. The Wilders are an interesting bunch...two wolf shifters, a seer, a hawk shifter, a missing brother and an introduction to a man who is nothing more than a mystery...woohooo!

The negative stuff--the first sex scene is practically rape, after which I couldn't see Jasha as a hero. His subsequent seduction attempts toward Ann had me cringing. Ann's reasons for seeking out Jasha at his getaway home felt weak and screamed "I'm a pathetic lonely woman" which made it difficult to see her as a strong woman. Ann's ability to injure an evil shifter towards the end didn't quite seem clear to me and left me scratching my head. And the "Others" and "The Chosen" weren't very well explained in this book. I was thankful I read Dodd's spin off series first because I knew exactly what Ann was saying when she kept thinking that she brings the bad people.

Overall a decent book and I'm definitely going to read the next book. I'm actually more interested in the missing brother's book (#3) as he has essentially been "kicked out" of the family for embracing evil.
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Sunday, October 12, 2014

This Side of the Grave by Jeaniene frost



Title: This Side of the Grave
Author: Jeaniene Frost
Series: Night Huntress
Published: 2011 by Avon
Source: Purchased Paperback
Rating:

Danger waits on both sides of the grave.
Half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her vampire husband Bones have fought for their lives, as well as for their relationship. But just when they've triumphed over the latest battle, Cat's new and unexpected abilities threaten to upset a long-standing balance . . .
With the mysterious disappearance of vampires, rumors abound that a species war is brewing. A zealot is inciting tensions between the vampires and ghouls, and if these two powerful groups clash, innocent mortals could become collateral damage. Now Cat and Bones are forced to seek help from a dangerous "ally"; the ghoul queen of New Orleans herself. But the price of her assistance may prove more treacherous than even the threat of a supernatural war . . . to say nothing of the repercussions Cat never imagined.
My Thoughts:While I love spending time with Cat and Bones I have to admit that I've lost a little bit of love for this series only because Vlad is so much hotter (literally) than Bones. There I said it. I'm superficial. I love Vlad. Luckily he was in this book a lot. As was Mencheres with special appearances by Spade. How could I not love love love this book? Well, I'm not sure, to be honest.

Cat continues to be intriguing and her ability to absorb powers from those she drinks from is interesting. I just wasn't absorbed into this story. The power play between the ghouls and vampires, although...dare I say interesting, failed to capture my undivided attention because it felt too political to me (which I hate in my reading). The big bad baddy failed to provide me with heart stopping nail biting suspense and the final battle crested to a disappointing conclusion. No head explosions or anything. Bummer.

Despite my complaints the rest of the book was solid. It was nice to see so many of my favorite characters again and the relationship between Cat and Bones continues to stride towards something most people can only dream about. Granted some of it was a bit sappy but thankfully Vlad was there to point out their lovey dovey ways were pukey.
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Talk Dirty To Me by Dakota Cassidy


Title: Talk Dirty to Me
Author: Dakota Cassidy
Series: Plum Orchard
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: 2014 by Harlequin MIRA
Source: Publisher via NetGalley eArc
Rating:
 
Plum Orchard, Georgia, is about to get even juicier…
Notorious mean girl Dixie Davis is back in town and it's payback time. Literally. Dixie is flat broke and her best—make that only—friend, Landon, is throwing her a lifeline from the Great Beyond. Dixie stands to inherit his business…if she meets a few conditions:
She's got to live in Landon's mansion.
With her gorgeous ex-fiancé, Caine Donovan.
Who could also inherit the business.
Which is a phone sex empire.
Wait, what?
Landon's will lays it out: whoever gets the most new clients becomes the owner of Call Girls. Dixie has always been in it to win it, especially when it comes to Caine, who's made it clear he's not going down easy. (Oh, mercy.) Can Dixie really talk dirty and prove that she's cleaned up her act? Game on!
 
My Thoughts: This book took me an extraordinarily long time to read. The reason? The heroine was very difficult to like. She was a mean girl while in high school. Once out of high school she still bullied her way through life. Although this book started a decade after high school it was hard to see her as anything other than mean when every encounter or self musings was a reminder of her past. I find it hard to believe that someone can change so drastically from a horrible person to a kind one. At one point she had already claimed she had a change of heart in her early 20s but ended up the same horrible girl she was as a child. It wasn't until the last 1/4 of the book where I really jumped on the Dixie bandwagon and found I actually grew to like her.

In addition to the hard to like heroine, the book has so many pop culture references that it will not stand the test of time and the hero's "talent" for voices got to be annoying. Sure Jean-Luc Picard's voice may be identifiable as is Sean Connery's but talking like Darryl in The Walking Dead? Um ok.

What helped the book from being only average were the interesting secondary characters and the lovely message from the H/h's deceased best friend (via a DVD made prior to his death.) I found the last 1/4 of the book tied the book up very nicely and whetted my appetite for the next book in the series, which I had decided against reading during the first half but found by the end I changed my mind.

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Duchess in Love by Eloisa James

Title: Duchess in Love
Author: Eloisa James
Series: Duchess Quartet
Published: 2002 by Avon
Source: Purchased Paperback
Rating: 


Disclaimer: I finished this book Oct 29, 2008 at which time I wrote this review. I originally posted it on the Shelfari website but am now transferring all of those reviews to my blog just in case Shelfari ceases to exist.

Review: This was my first Eloisa James book and was a little unsure if I liked her writing style or not. I thought it was interesting that instead of just dancing at a ball she was specific as to what type of dances that were done and even mentioned a few steps involved in one. I didn't know what any of the dances were (except the waltz) so the names read like foreign words to me.

The Duchess Gina and her friends are all married women without husbands. They all live separately from their husbands and tend to cause the ton talking with their actions. Gina was forced to marry Cam when she was 11 by his father to "protect" the family name from the scandal of her birth. Cam was 18 and as soon as the vows were taken he snuck out the window and fled to Greece. 12 years later Gina has grown weary of being a married innocent woman and has met someone else and petitions Cam to grant her an annulment. Cam comes to England to do so but realizes little Gina has grown into a stunning woman.

This book was interesting in the aspect that I really was not sure I was enjoying reading it for the first half of the book. I thought it fell into the "OK" "middle of the road" range as far as books go. Then it got really good. You find that not only are Gina and Cam having their story told but you also see her friends get theirs told too. Esme and Carola find love too. To tell the truth, it was their part of the story that really made me emotional. It is their stories within Gina's that brought my opinion of this book from an average 3 star rating to a 4.

Another thing...any writer who can take a man that you really don't care much for and turn him into a tasty muffin is a great writer. Case in point. Gina plans on marrying Sebastian. He spends most of the book talking about the proper way to act and although marrying Gina he displays no passion for her (that wouldn't be proper). Somehow, Eloisa James turns this stuck up, pompous jerk into a serious morsel. No kidding.



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Conquered by a Highlander by Paula Quinn


Title: Conquered By a Highlander
Author: Paula Quinn
Genre: Historical Romance
Published: 2012 by Forever publishing company
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
☕☕☕1/2

BOUND BY DUTY

Colin MacGregor was born to fight-for his beliefs, his king, and his family's honor. After years away from his beloved Scotland, he yearns to return to its lush, green hills-and he can, after he completes one final mission for the king. Sent to infiltrate a traitor's home, Colin is determined to expose the treasonous plot and triumph on the battlefield . . . until he meets a sensual lass who tempts him towards other pursuits . . . .

BETRAYED BY PASSION

Lady Gillian Dearly is no stranger to temptation. Cast out of her family for bearing an illegitimate child, she's now the ward of a barbarian conspiring against the king. Her only desire: freedom for her son and for herself at any cost, even if it means making a deal with the devil. Yet when a mysterious Highlander appears in their midst, his braw strength and smoldering gaze give her hope for a future beyond the castle walls-and promise a desire unlike any she's ever known. But passion comes at a price . . . 

My Thoughts: While reading this book I unintentionally kept comparing Monica McCarty's Highland Guard series to this book. Comparing the two series was actually not fair to either author. Although both series are about warring Highlanders this particular series is set some 300 years later than McCarty's. This book in particular, set in 1688, focuses on the characters more than the historic setting. For someone like me, who is more character driven, it should have been a home run. So why after several weeks of thinking about did I lower my rating from 4 cups of coffee to 3.5?

For multiple reasons actually...

1) Although I do not like insta-love I don't care for the flip side either. The slow progression towards the lovey dovey outcome made for an equally slow progressing book. As a reader I was moving from chapter to chapter waiting for something to happen being a bit disappointed each time. In addition to the slow romance, the promised fighting action took forever to reach it's climax also. A big battle was hinted at throughout the book and, unfortunately, happened off camera, so to speak.

2) When the I Love Yous were admitted the book continued for another 700 pages. A bit of an exaggeration but you get the idea. There were misunderstandings to resolve, a battle (we didn't witness) to fight, and a reunion to happen. Yet, when all was said and done, I felt I missed something. Some sort of epic momentous declaration in front of God and Scotland about how Gillian was the only woman Colin would ever want and maybe a wedding. I kind of feel that since I had to read another 1200 pages after the I Love Yous I should have got a wedding out of the deal.

3) Why didn't Colin have any issue with Gillian having a baby out of wedlock? In 1688 I'm not sure any man would have taken a fallen woman and her child in as their beloved. Maybe that is why there was no wedding. Perhaps, Colin made Gillian his mistress! Probably not as this is a romance and those things don't smack of HEAs.

The good stuff: I know I said a few things that could be deal breakers for some I do have to say that over all I did like this book. I liked Gillian and her precarious position. I liked her champion/guard George. I thought Geoffry made for an excellent villain (one which proved to be quite smart). And Gillian's son Edmond is precious.  I enjoyed the women from Colin's homeland.  I liked that this book works well as a standalone even though it is book 4 in Children of the Mist series. But I think what I loved best about this book was not the characters nor the plot but the dedication at the beginning of the book...

"To my beloved... Until we meet again in the sweet hereafter. I love you."

In a Nutshell: Despite the issues I had with this book I still found it to be a decent historical read. Heavy on the character, light on the plot. I'd not recommend this book to just anyone but those who are character driven, like myself. Do not compare this series to the Highland Guard series. Read it and enjoy it based strictly on it's own merits.  Oh and I also think that Paula Quinn is grossly over looked when it comes to historical romances. I don't think this particular book is a good one to recommend but I totally recommend her as an author and implore y'all to pick one of her books up.

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Feature and Follow

The Feature & Follow is a blog hop hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it’ll allow us to show off more new blogs!

The Feature part of the week is...

Book Merchandise – show off some of your stuff – posters, t-shirts. Whatever you got!


Unfortunately, I'm laid up with a pulled muscle in my back this week so I'm not able to gather up anything cool to photo for y'all. Not that there is a whole lot of cool things for me to gather. I've received some swag from a few authors in the form of book marks and pens but I think the coolest thing I got was this little tiny backpack (key chain) that had various things inside (like a stick of gum) from Alex Kava back in 2004 when One False Move came out. The backpack and the things inside it tied into the book. I still have it and I wish that I was able to dig through my box of treasures to take a pic for you all.

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Friday, October 10, 2014

HeartThrob by Suzanne Brockmann

Title: HeartThrob
Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published:1999 by The Ballantine Publishing Group
Source: Purchased
☕ ☕ ☕ 1/2

NO WOMAN COULD RESIST HIM . . . Once voted the "Sexiest Man Alive," Jericho Beaumont had dominated the box office before his fall from grace. Now poised for a comeback, he wants the role of Laramie bad enough to sign an outrageous contract with top producer Kate O'Laughlin--one that gives her the authority to supervise JB's every move, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
ESPECIALLY THE ONE WITH THE MOST AT STAKE . . . The last thing Kate wants to do is baby-sit her leading man, and Jericho Beaumont may be more than she can handle. A player in every sense of the word, he is an actor of incredible talent--and a man with a darkly haunted past. Despite her better judgment, Kate's attraction flares into explosive passion, and she is falling fast. But is she being charmed by the real Jericho or the superstar who dazzles the world?

My Thoughts: I've had this book in my TBR forever and despite my past (excellent) experiences with Brockmann I was very hesitant to read this.  I'd love to say that I was totally wrong to keep this book waiting for so long but I just can't. I just couldn't get into Kate's and Jericho's romance. It was hard to believe the sincerity of Jericho when bombarded on every other page what a good actor he was, that his speechy stories were part of a coping mechanism for him. His heartfelt lines felt, well, like lines, just part of a movie he was doing. Kate was just as impossible to like. Flip-flopping from a vulnerable lost little girl to a high powered Frau Ballbreakistein over and over again I ended up doubting her sincerity in addition to her mental health. Heck at least Jericho fully admitted he would probably need therapy for the rest of his life. Kate? She didn't echo those words, unfortunately.

Despite my issues with the characters I did very much enjoy seeing the making of a Hollywood movie. It made me want to see the movie and I'm pretty disappointed that it doesn't exist. Although I didn't believe in the characters' abilities to fall in love I did find that Jericho, Jamaal and Suzie made excellent actors and that movie would have been epic. In addition, Brockmann's writing is consistently pleasant to read and the dialogue flows well.

In a Nutshell: A great backdrop minus a disappointing romance equals a very average read. Not nearly as good as her books with SEALs and one I won't read a second time.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs


Synopsis: Under the rule of science, there are no witch burnings allowed, no water trials or public lynchings. In return, the average law-abiding, solid citizen has little to worry about from the things that go bump in the night. Sometimes I wish I was an average citizen...

Mechanic Mercy Thompson has friends in low places-and in dark ones. And now she owes one of them a favor. Since she can shapeshift at will, she agrees to act as some extra muscle when her vampire friend Stefan goes to deliver a message to another of his kind.

But this new vampire is hardly ordinary-and neither is the demon inside of him

My Thoughts:It's been a long time since I read the first book in the Mercy Thompson series and I was afraid I'd be lost. I was able to just pick up where I left off pretty easily except some of the secondary characters just didn't ring a bell with me.

What I liked :Mercy. Although she's preternatural, she was not super-human. She was quicker than a human but if someone punched her, it hurt her. Unlike some other paranormal characters, who could get beat within an inch of their lives and still walk to the local pub for a pint afterwards. I also liked some of the secondary characters. Stefan is such an interesting character and one I'd like to see more of. Adam and Samuel are also pluses but they didn't intrigue me as much as Stefan did.

What I didn't like: The love....um double triangle? We have Mercy and Samuel. Mercy and Adam. And the possibility of Mercy and Stefan (he cares for Mercy, in my eyes, more than just a friend.) I don't care for love triangles let alone something this complex. Another thing I'm not loving is all the dominance being thrown around with the werewolves. The all seem to want to dominate Mercy. I understand their need to protect but there is a lot of subservience going on that I have a hard time going a long with no matter how much Briggs explains it. Another negative was that I was surprised by all the new world building that happened in this book. By book 2 we've already established general rules and such but this book focused on vampires. There were a lot of vampire rules. At times I felt there was almost too much information coming my way and the term "info dump" kept sneaking into my brain while reading. Oh and what is up with the cover? Mercy has one tattoo. ONE. Why does she have tons on the cover?

In a Nutshell: Not quite as enjoyable as the first one especially with an unexpected info dump which usually doesn't happen in a second book. However, Briggs has created some really good characters. It will be fun to see where they go from there.
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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Spider's Revenge by Jennifer Estep

Synopsis: Old habits die hard for assassins.
And I plan on murdering someone before the night is through.

Killing used to be my regular gig, after all. Gin Blanco, aka the Spider, assassin-for-hire. And I was very, very good at it. Now, I’m ready to make the one hit that truly matters: Mab Monroe, the dangerous Fire elemental who murdered my family when I was thirteen. Oh, I don’t think the mission will be easy, but turns out it’s a bit more problematic than expected. The bitch knows I’m coming for her. So now I’m up against the army of lethal bounty hunters Mab hired to track me down. She also put a price on my baby sister’s head. Keeping Bria safe is my first priority. Taking Mab out is a close second. Good thing I’ve got my powerful Ice and Stone magic—and my irresistible lover, Owen Grayson—to watch my back. This battle has been years in the making, and there’s a good chance I won’t survive. But if I’m going down, then Mab’s coming with me . . . no matter what I have to do to make that happen.

My Thoughts:The fifth book in the Gin Blanco series finally puts to bed the underlying story arc of the Spider vs. Mab Monroe. Although I didn't mind this particular continuing plot I am glad that it is finally at a close and am looking forward to what is in the future for a retired (semi-retired?) assassin.

The romance is minimal in this book but well played out as Gin and Owen's relationship continues to build. To tell the truth the relationships between Gin and her entire makeshift family moved forward in this book which I enjoyed.

My only complaints are the unnecessary repetitions. Estep does a remarkable job of recapping what has happened in previous books for those just jumping on the Gin bandwagon (why would you do this? Go back and start at the beginning!) However, for those of us who are extremely familiar with the series reading that Mab Monroe super heated Gin's metal rune melting it into the palms of her hands, oh, 5 times....is a bit much.

Overall this book was an exciting addition to the series and at this point I hope they remain this good because I look forward to many many more Elemental Assassin books. Plus I can't get enough of Owen.
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Deliver Me From Darkness by Tes Hilaire

Synopsis: Roland once was a Paladin, a warrior gifted with special powers to protect mankind in its earliest days. For hundreds of years he fought alongside his kinsmen against underworld fiends until the unthinkable happened: he was turned by a vampire. Forsaken by his brothers and fighting new violent instincts, Roland believes his soul lost. But then his best friend Logan delivers a young woman for protection. She turns out to be a Lost Paladin -- and the only female Paladin left alive. She’s also Roland’s bond-mate.

Karissa Donovan knows the difference between good and evil, and the sexy-as-hell vampire holding her prisoner is certainly not good. Sure, he might not have sucked her dry—yet, but that doesn’t mean she trusts him. But circumstances force Karissa to put her life in Roland’s hands. With each new danger they face, and each subsequent sacrifice he makes for her, she realizes that the question was never a matter of her trusting him, but of convincing him to trust in the integrity of a soul that he’d never truly lost.

My Thoughts:A different (read this as being good)take on the tired Vampire/demon/other paranormal sub-genre but one that could have been executed a bit better.

The Not So Good Stuff:....At the half way mark I was still a bit confused what a Paladin was and what they could do. It seems that each of them have unique gifts but why one would have the gift of vampire frying God's grace (aka: High voltage Holy Light) and another would have the ability to become shadowy mist is still beyond my comprehension.

In addition to my confusion the idea of a 24 year old virgin heroine grates on my nerves. Yes it is possible yet the reasoning behind it was never explained. No she wasn't F'ugly. No she didn't HeeHaw when she laughed. She wasn't Queen of the Looney Bin either. Yet in this day and age this attractive, single, intelligent woman was mysteriously still a virgin (which the hero could smell by the way....TANGENT UP AHEAD~~~~does anyone else find it a bit yucky that the hero could smell her hymen?~~TANGENT OVER). Karissa not only was a virgin but she went from hating and being scared of our hero, Roland (who spoke terms of endearments in French for no apparent reason other than all vampires should speak French...thank you for that BS Ann Rice), to the Newest Member of Slutsville in a millisecond (or less). Her remarkable attitude adjustment from hatred and fear to acceptance of Roland being her mate was jarring and left me wondering how in the world it happened.

Now for the good stuff....The last 1/3 of the book was pretty awesome. Epic battles between good and evil. Tough decisions were made by several people. The lines were blurred a bit between good and evil. Not to mention some characters separated themselves from the backdrop to become intriguing and totally piqued my interest to where I will totally go on to read books 2 and 3 even though the first 2/3s of the book could have been better.
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Monday, July 21, 2014

Undead and Unsure by MaryJanice Davidson

Synopsis: It's no surprise to Betsy that her trip to Hell with her sister Laura landed them in hot water. Betsy isn't exactly sorry she killed the Devil but it's put Laura in a damnable position: assuming the role of Satan (she may not have the training but she looks great in red)—and in charge of billions of souls as she moves up in the world. Or is that down?
But Betsy herself is in an odd new position as well—that of being a responsible monarch suddenly in charge of all things more earth-bound: like her vampire husband Sinclair who has gone from relieved to ecstatic to downright reckless now that he can tolerate sunlight. And if Sinclair isn't enough to contend with, Betsy's best friend Jessica is in her sixth (and hopefully last) trimester. Considering she's been pregnant for eighteen months, she's become a veritable encyclopedia of what not to expect when you're expecting. Oh, the horror…
And speaking of growing pains, Betsy and Sinclair's adopted little BabyJon is finally starting to walk. And if the increasingly unpredictable toddler is anything like his extended family, precisely where he's headed is anyone's guess.


Disclaimer: Typically in one of my reviews you'll see sections highlighting the good things and also highlighting the bad. In this review, however, you'll only see the bad as that is my entire opinion of this book and I refuse to waste any more of my precious time on this book to even write a decent review. So without further ado....

What I Think: I  finally finished Undead and Unsure by MaryJanice Davidson after slogging through it for ages! Horrible horrible. Scattered vague plot....actually not really a plot but more of a day in the life of an idiot that is Queen Betsy. Add in an author's rant about backyard chicken raising and beekeeping, insulting the entire Mormon religion and flipping around at the end to include bible scriptures in a book that neeeeeeeever should have them and you've got one irritated Christina! Not to mention she took a brooding, part time douche-canoe named Sink-lair (who I actually kind of liked) and turned him into a flower frolicking Forest Gump! AAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNDDDDDD FIIIIIIIIINALLY we get to the part where we know what the plot is....in the last TWO FREAKING CHAPTERS! A waste of time. A waste of natural resources to print it. A waste of a series that was once fun and and fresh. UGH!

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