Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Scarletti Curse by Christine Feehan

Synopsis with thanks from Shelfari...

Strange, twisted carvings and hideous gargoyles adorned the palazzo of the great Scarletti family. But a still more fearful secret lurked within its storm-tossed turrets. For every bride who entered its forbidding walls was doomed to leave in a casket. . . . Mystical and unfettered, Nicoletta had no terror of ancient curses and no fear of being chosen as Don Scarletti's bride - until she looked into his dark, mesmerizing eyes.

My Thoughts...

Having been a fan of Christine Feehan for many years I have had this book sitting on my shelf for ages always passing it over for one of her Carpathian books or her Ghostwalker books. I still don't know why I was apprehensive of picking this one up. It does have that Feehan feel to it. There is a bit of paranormal woven into the story which I liked quite a bit.

The gothic theme was also intriguing. A dark forboding castle, a young innocent carefree maiden, a brooding attractive man that lives with a curse on him and his family are just a few things that I found quite entertaining.

I didn't care for the fact that the "curse" was not actually a curse. It was more of certain situations that kept occurring over the period of a couple decades. It was more of gossip about those Scarletti's being cursed then an actual curse. With the addition of paranormal aspects I kind of expected an actual curse. Trivial? Probably.

Also the book seemed to drag a bit. Whenever Giovanni or someone else would start talking about their political problems with Spain or where ever I ended up getting a little bored and skipped several paragraphs.

Overall, I think this is an OK book from this author. I don't think it is her best, nor is it her worst. I give this book an even 3 Stars but would recommend that a fan of Feehan should give this one a go but if you are new to Feehan I would maybe skip this one and go for one of her Ghostwalker books instead.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tempting by Susan Mallery

Synopsis compliments of Shelfari....

After three romantic flame-outs in a year and a restaurant career going nowhere, Dani Buchanan needs a fresh start. She goes looking for her biological father, but never expects to find a senator running for president. As his long-lost 'love child,' Dani could seriously derail the election— something his handsome campaign manager Alex Canfield isn't going to let happen. Dani isn't about to let Alex run her life, no matter how tempting she finds him—and Alex isn't going to allow Dani to melt his cynicism, no matter how close he has to get. The last thing either of them wants is love, especially with scandals brewing and family trouble on the way. But Dani and Alex are forced to trust each other, and when trust turns to passion, the potential for disaster is only a tabloid scandal away.

My thoughts....

I am finding myself becoming more and more of a fan of Susan Mallery after every book I read by her. This is the second Buchanan book that I have read and one of my favorites. Although I couldn't identify with Dani's struggles to find her true place with a different family while maintaining her connection with the family she was raised in, Mallery does an excellent job of helping the reader empathize with the situation. I found this to be true with the other books I read by her also.

The Buchanan family has a wonderful dynamic and it makes one wish to be a part of it. Even though this is Dani's story we get a special treat to get back in touch with the other Buchanan's from previous books. This included Gloria, Dani's wicked witch of a grandmother. Susan Mallery once again proves that she can take a character that a reader can dislike and somehow redeem them and make them likable.

The romance of the book is good but I think what I like best was Dani's "new" family. The Canfields have created a family that I admire greatly. All the children are adopted and all have either been labled unadoptable or not "normal". We get to meet Bailey, Alex's 15 year old sister with down syndrome, Ian who has a brilliant mind but who's body struggles with CP and Sasha, the youngest of the bunch who happens to have HIV. This is just a few of them and I absolutely loved reading about them. After working for over a decade with people with special needs they definitely found a spot in my heart.

Katherine Canfield, Alex's mother, is another character that you just identify with. You feel her struggles to accept Dani into their home and lives with the knowledge that the husband she loves more then the moon had a biological daughter with someone else. Even though there was no cheating involved that resulted in Dani's conception, you can just feel that she is torn between taking Dani under her wing and being jealous of the fact that another woman gave her husband something she never could.

Over all I would give this book a 4.5 Stars.

Book Lovers Unite

So I was taking a gander at my followers, which I am pickled tink to say that I now have 4 people who think I might have something that just might be entertaining enough to read. One of them mentioned in their profile that her husband just doesn't understand her love of books. I have found this to be true in my life also. I don't have a husband but in general no one really comprehends the absolute thrill I get from reading books. I bet I am not the only one who feels this either.

My friends give me that "look" a lot. You know the one....that one that says you are one step away from visiting the local nut ward. If you grew another appendage these people wouldn't give you this look. As if my love for the written word was something inconceivable. A third eye could get you sympathy I suppose....but surrounding yourself with books is beyond weird.

Not one of them fully comprehends the contentment and pure joy I get from just walking into a bookstore and taking a whiff of that "book" smell. Come know what I am talking about. Nothing smells quite like it. Even the Starbucks at the local Barnes and Nobel can't mask this wonderful scent.

Picture moving. Me moving with 50 boxes of books. Me moving with help from non-bookies to move 50 boxes of books. At one point one of them said..." really need to get a hobby."

Really?!?!?!?! A hobby? Um....wouldn't reading qualify as a hobby? It certainly isn't a chore. Nor is it a job that I get paid to do. Some people think gardening is a hobby. Personally I think this is a terrible hobby. It's tiresome, dirty and hard work. I know a lot of people love it, but I would rather have my bikini hairs pulled out one at a time on a daily basis then garden. But never would I say it wasn't a hobby.

Ok, so there is my story. I know others of you have similar stories too. So share. Or not. Whatever floats your boat. Just remember when in a boat make sure to store your books in water tight containers. Water damaged books are the worst.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Killer Cowboy Charm by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Ugh. That about sums it up. I have read several of Vicki Lewis Thompson's book prior to picking this one up and enjoyed them quite a bit. I thought that this one would be good too. After all, I like what I have read by her. I love a cowboy story. What could go wrong? Let me tell you....
So Meg is a co-host of a morning talk show reminiscent of Regis and Kelly (Kelly by the way is VLT's inspiration for Meg per her intro for the book) and while engaging in the usual banter with Mel while on air mentioned that she needed to find herself a hot cowboy. Her producer thought that was a fab idea and so off Meg goes on a 2 week tour of 7 states holding tryouts for the hottest cowboy.

Her first stop is Arizona where Clint Walker is the foreman. Clint just wants to run the ranch. He has no interest in TV what-so-ever. He does find himself interested in a tempting TV personality though. Which works out fine because Meg thinks Clint is the hottest cowboy ever.

My thoughts......
Meg is an aggressive woman who knows what she wants and plans to get it. She wants Clint. Clint is all too happy to accommodate. I have no problem with assertive women but to me she was beyond that and it made her look a little ugly.

The bulk of the book (if you can call a book with just a little over 200 pages bulk) takes place in the 2 days Meg is on the Ranch with Clint. During which time they engage in hot monkey sex repeatedly but little else. There was no romance and very little talking. When Meg tries to convince Clint to try out for the hottest cowboy contest even though he has told her he wasn't interested his feelings get hurt because he doesn't think she knows him at all. Really? You think?
Ugh...I have spent more time with my dentist over the years then this couple had together and yet....they are in love. Meg's departure from the ranch made both of them sad pandas and after a 2 week separation they reunite and as the violins sang they declared their love for one another. Ok...just kidding about the violins but get the idea.

I can't recommend this book to anyone even one who likes short romances because although this is short there was little to no romance in the book. A lot of sex but very little romance.

My rating...1 star.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Everything and the Moon by Julia Quinn

Description compliments of Shelfari....

STARCROSSED It was indisputably love at first sight. But Victoria Lyndon was merely the teen aged daughter of a vicar. . .while Robert Kemble was the dashing young earl of Macclesfield. Surely what their meddlesome fathers insisted must have been true-that he was a reckless seducer determined to destroy her innocence. . . and she was a shameless fortune hunter. So it most certainly was for the best when their plans to elope went hopelessly awry.

MOONSTRUCK Even after a seven-year separation, Victoria-now a governess-still leaves Robert breathless. But how could he ever again trust the raven-haired deceiver who had shattered his soul? And Victoria could never give her heart a second time to the cad who so callously trampled on it the first. But a passion fated will not be denied, and vows of love yearn to be kept. . . even when one promises the moon.

So, in my mind I separated this book into three parts. The first part was before the big misunderstanding when the characters were young and in love. The second part was when they found each other and Robert tried to get Victoria to be with him again. And the third part...lovers once more.

I really enjoyed the first part. Their young love was sweet and seemed special. I say young because Victoria was only 17 but I suppose that in 1809 that was a little above the average age for a girl to marry. Robert was 24 and although 7 years older then Victoria still young by a man's standard to marry. Their interaction was, as I mentioned, sweet until both of their fathers manipulated them into believing the worse of the other resulting in two broken hearts.

7 years later we find Victoria a governess for a wealthy family with a horrid child and a worse excuse for a mother. Enter Robert once again. This part of the story I just didn't care much for. Both characters are extremely bitter and borderline hates the other. When Robert discovers that both of them were innocent victims of manipulation that shattered their hearts he decides to follow through with his original plans to make Victoria his wife. Unfortunately Victoria wants nothing to do with his plan even after finding out the truth of their long ago broken wedding plans. It is her attitude that I really had issue with. Over 100 pages of her stubbornly refusing to follow her heart and be with Robert. She has decided that she enjoys her freedom and does not want a man, or anyone for that matter, to tell her what to do. So we find Robert a fool in love and Victoria repeatedly refusing to take the leap.

The last part of the book was quite redeeming, however. I found the last part of the book to be charming and witty. The banter between the characters was funny and finally I got a look at the Quinn that I know and love. Her character interaction is what makes her such a great author to read and I wish this book spent more time showcasing that.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Lost Calling by Evelyn Vaughn

Having only read a couple Silhouette Bombshell books and very much liking them I found that this book did share the same good qualities that those did. Almost 300 pages this book felt whole and complete with good character development. Catrina (Cat for short) is a strong independent woman who's love of history has made her passionate in her quest to preserve it. Finding artifacts seem to be her calling and during an extremely rare and unusual event finds herself in a hole in the middle of a Paris street surrounded by decapitated bodies that appear to be over 200 years old. Her first thought was to preserve the sight as a historical landmark but as she touches a small key that looked as if one of the deceased women had swallowed it, she finds herself in the middle of a psychic vision of a group of women who died during the French Revolution.

This is the first book in the Madonna Key mini-series out of seven.

The book has a Da Vinci Code feel to it with a twist of the paranormal. The action will keep you on the edge of your seat and if you enjoy history, peeks into the French Revolution and it's bloody history should keep your interest.

What I personally liked about this book was that the action was enough to keep my attention, Cat was a strong kick butt woman but still only human and didn't necessarily have mass skills, like, a black belt in karate. She did beat off an attacker with her stiletto heels though. Her love interest, Rhys, was also a nice addition to the book. Once a man of God, he left his calling and the priesthood behind long before Cat. Their conflict between each other was compelling. Both characters were very real in their emotions. Both struggled with his faith. Even though he was no longer a priest, many of his decisions were still based on his religious beliefs. Not a bad way to live your life except that Cat couldn't help but feel she was somehow still involved with a priest and not just a man.

I also loved the first line of this book...."That first earthquake was not my fault."

What I didn't like about this book was that I am not a big fan of books that are centered around religion. Past or present. As fascinating as I thought the history of it all was I found myself skipping some paragraphs just to get through it faster and then finding myself a little lost.

Also even though I thought the development of the characters was excellent I just didn't care much for them. I thought Cat was a bit of a bitch and Rhys was, well, attracted to her. Another thing was that there were many references throughout the book about Cat being a thief. It confused me a bit but then I found out after I read this book that there was another mini-series among the Bombshell books called The Grail Keepers which I am pretty sure Cat made an appearance in and her theft was probably in one of them.

Many of the things I found that I didn't like about this book are completely based on personal taste and should not dictate whether you should read this book or not. Even though I didn't rate this book that high I really would recommend this book to those who liked books like The Da Vinci Code.

I gave this book 2 Stars.

If You Dare by Kresley Cole

The first in the MacCarrick brothers trilogy this book centers around Courtland MacCarrick and a sassy somewhat royal Andorrian named Annalia. When Annalia was out riding one day she finds a Scot who appears beaten to death by the river. With much struggle her and her horse drag him back to her home where she nurses him back to health despite that he is a Scot and probably a mercenary hired by the man who is trying to take over everthing including her home and land.

Both characters argue and bait each other throughout the first half of the book. Annalia has relied on stories and tainted opinions to cloud her judgement of Scots and Court in particular. Some may find her predjudice ways to be intollerable but I didn't have a problem reading about her at all.

When Anna comes to realize that her thoughts and behavior towards Court are incorrect and ignorant she finds that he isn't quite the brute she thought. After a while she think she may want to keep him even.

Court has known the life a mercenary for most of his life. He appears uncaring and uncivilized. He often thought that he would never take a wife and couldn't because of a curse that has been hanging over the family for generations.

I honestly can't do this book justice. I thought it was a simply wonderful romance. I often pausing while reading it just to reflect on something that Court said to Anna. The book made me smile and occasionally laugh. It also reminded me how much I really want my very own Highlander.

I have read a few of Kresley Cole's paranormal books and I even gave them 5 stars, still they were not keepers for me. This one, however, is staying in my keeper bookshelf forever where I can reread Court and Anna's story and feel my romantic soul sigh with pleasure. My rating is 5 Stars.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Summer Lovin' by Carly Phillips

I really wanted to like this book. This is the second Carly Phillips book I have read and both of them are right in the middle as far as likability goes. I neither liked it nor disliked it. The two main characters are just ok to me. Zoe is ex-secret service and is currently opening up her own buisiness with her friend and brother in law. Ryan is a lawyer born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

When Ryan finally finds what happened to his long lost sister who ran away over 16 years ago he is saddened to find she has died but amazed to find she left a daughter behind. A daughter that he will take back to his family and "save" from the foster system. What he doesn't realize is that Sam, his niece, is almost fully adopted by the Costas family. Zoe's own parents are her foster parents and are getting ready to sign and make her officially part of their family.

The Costas family is a trip. They are down to earth with enough kookiness to make reading about them interesting. Perhaps it is their Greek heritage. Reading it I was reminded about the family dynamics in the Movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Not a complete paralell but enough to help me draw a little bit of a connection.

What I liked about this book was the way Phillips was able to create a family out of words and make them real to me. Very vividly colored you might say. This was the same feeling I got when reading The Playboy. I found that the family was interesting and I wanted to read about them. There is another book that came before this one (Under the Boardwalk) which is about Zoe's twin sister which I might read to get another dose of the Costas family.

What I didn't like was that just like my feeling in The Playboy the romance of the two main characters took a backseat to my interest in the family as a whole. I found that I really didn't care if they two got together romantically or not but I guess if they were going to that was ok too. Either way, I was fine with it.

Another thing was that I didn't really like Zoe. I thought she should have been a little more alpha female with her background as an ex secret service member. Perhaps not a scary female body builder wrestler alpha but maybe a little more decisive about her and Ryan's relationship.
Overall I would rate this book 3 stars. I was thinking 2.5 but liked Mama Costas so much she got an extra half just for being interesting to me.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Tiger Eye by Marjorie M. Liu

The first book in the Dirk & Steele series by Marjorie M. Liu is a wonderful book. Delilah Reese is a special woman with special psychic abilities who is on vacation in Beijing. During a shopping expedition to the local Dirt Market she is sold a riddle box by a persistant old woman. Once back to her hotel room she works to open the box. To her surprise out pops Hari.

To some this might seem like a cheesy attempt at a twisted genie in a bottle story but it truly isn't. Hari has been cursed to the box for over 2000 years having to do the bidding of whomever owns the box. His life is nothing but that of a slave to do whatever tasks he is commanded to do. He has been a killer for kings and a concubine for women over the millennia never doing what he would like but only things that his masters want.

Dela and Hari find that breaking his curse isn't the only thing going on. Dela's life is also in jeopardy. On the day that Hari is released from the box Dela is attacked twice. By two different parties even. Hari means to use all his years as a trained warrior to keep her safe.

I found this book very enjoyable enough to forgo sleep in order to read every word. The book takes place in only a matter of days but somehow Liu manages to weave her tale of romance into an extremely believable story. Well, if you believe in shapeshifters and wizards that is.

I normally take issue with books that have a relationship bloom so quickly. The thought of "love at first sight" makes me roll my eyes and want to throw the book against a wall. Dela and Hari do fall in love and happen to do it within a very short time period and somehow Ms. Liu made me a believer of their love.

I give this book a 4.5 Star rating.