Thursday, February 28, 2013

Just One of the Guys by Kristan Higgins

Synopsis: Being one of the guys isn't all it's cracked up to be… So when journalist Chastity O'Neill returns to her hometown, she decides it's time to start working on some of those feminine wiles. Two tiny problems: #1—she's five feet eleven inches of rock-solid girl power, and #2—she's cursed with four alpha male older brothers. While doing a story on local heroes, she meets a hunky doctor and things start to look up. Now there's only one problem: Trevor Meade, her first love and the one man she's never quite gotten over—although he seems to have gotten over her just fine. Yet the more time she spends with Dr. Perfect, the better Trevor looks. But even with the in-your-face competition, the irresistible Trevor just can't seem to see Chastity as anything more than just one of the guys.…

My Thoughts: Being completely character driven I found it hard to completely enjoy this book as I really couldn't stand Chastity. Where others found her to be charming and quite vulnerable when it comes to the hero, Trevor, I found her a bit abrasive and annoying as she pined for her first love for a decade or so.

We first meet Chastity as she is being dumped by her current boyfriend which actually is quite amusing until she regresses into childhood and says something to the effect of "oh yeah? Well you throw like a girl." Many of my reading buddies enjoyed Chastity and her attitude. Unfortunately she annoyed me.

However, the rest of the characters in the book (including Chastity's big lazy dog) are phenomenal. Higgins really knows how to bring depth and a sense of realism to the people she writes about. She does not gloss over family issues within the O'Neill clan nor does she sugar coat anything. The O'Neills are people I know. They yell, they fight, they make up, they love, they laugh, they protect what's theirs. Everything you would expect from a big Irish family. As I said, truly excellent characters.

With that said I really wasn't a complete believer of the ending. Trevor's actions leading up to his declaration didn't fully jive together for me but it did balance out nicely the bitter sweet HEA for Mike and Betty the heads of the O'Neill clan.

Overall I very much enjoyed my first Higgins book. I wish it would have been told in the third person narrative though. I would have loved to have known what Trevor was actually thinking. Even with the 1st person narrative it was a book well done and enjoyable. I'm looking forward to reading more by Kristan.


Cold Sight by Leslie Parrish

Synopsis: After being made a scapegoat in a botched investigation that led to a child's death, Aidan McConnell became a recluse. Still, as a favor to an old friend, Aidan will help on the occasional ESA (Extra Sensory Agency) case.

Reporter Lexie Nolan has a nose for news-and she believes a serial killer has been targeting teen girls around Savannah, but no one believes her. So she turns to the new paranormal detective agency and the sexy, mysterious Aidan for help. But just as the two begin forging a relationship, the case turns eerily personal for Lexie-and Aidan discovers that maybe he hasn't lost the ability to feel after all.

My Thoughts: This romantic suspense book has everything I could want. A mysterious hero with baggage. A snarky intelligent woman who represents everything our hero detests. A deviously twisted sociopath who has kidnapped yet another teenage girl in a town that has put up blinders to what is happening in its poorer section. Sizzling attraction between our H/h. And Psychics. 

I seriously love a psychic twist on the paranormal genre. With so many vampire and werewolf stories it is refreshing and somehow more realistic than the others. Probably because our friendly neighborhood psychics are still basically human.

The romance aspect of this novel was well done but didn't necessarily wow me. To tell the truth I was so caught up in the serial killer/kidnapper aspect I anxiously continued on, biting my nails the entire time just to see if our heroes would save the girl in time. The mystery part really did shine and the deep dark town secret was a bit shocking. 

This isn't necessarily a book for everyone as there are some situations involved that are hot buttons for some and I feel I need to include a warning. Although many of the graphic scenes are glossed over there is mention of the killing and torturing in addition to rape and prostitution of teenage girls.

Not sure what it says about me that I loved every minute of this book but there you are. LOL.

When I picked up this book and it's follow up, I took a chance on an author I'd never heard of before and ended up being very surprised and happy with my choice. I will definitely read book 2 in this series and I really hope Parrish plans on writing many more.

Red Fox by Karina Halle

Synopsis: With Book Two of the Experiment in Terror Series, Perry Palomino and Dex Foray trade in the stormy Oregon coast for the unforgiving deserts of New Mexico. In the for­got­ten town of Red Fox, a Navajo cou­ple is tor­tured by things unseen and by motives unknown. Wild ani­mals slink through their house in the dark, a bar­rage of stones pound their roof nightly, and muti­lated sheep car­casses are turn­ing up on their prop­erty. Armed with a cam­era and just enough to go on, Perry and Dex travel to the des­o­late locale, hop­ing to film the super­nat­ural occur­rences and add cred­i­bil­ity to their flail­ing web­cast. Only their show has a lot more work­ing against them than just grow­ing pains. Tested by dubi­ous ranch hands, a ghost from Dex’s past, and shapeshift­ing decep­tion, the ama­teur ghost hunters must learn to trust each other in order to fight the most ancient of myths…or die trying.

My Thoughts: With this second installment of this series I am finding myself more intrigued by Perry's 'abilities'. Although her ghost seeing was not factored into this book she is becoming more of a complex person as we determine what it is about her that is making her so susceptible to the influence of the other world.

Dex, on the other hand, doesn't seem to be growing as a person but does seem to be evening out despite the fact that he admits in this book to not having an even keel on his emotions (read this as saying he is probably bi-polar). His attraction continues to miss me completely but I did find him less condescending towards Perry with his smarmy attitude and sleazy smiles being kept to a minimum in this book.

Perry and Dex continue to grow closer during the course of Red Fox but Perry's surprising admission (to herself) of love seems premature as they have only been together for a few days since they met a paltry month earlier.

The build up of suspense is quite good throughout the entire book but the ending had very little closure with the bad guys running for the hills and Dex and Perry running for home.

This ebook is offered as a great deal by Karina Halle, who self published this series. (Purchase at here) Don't let the term 'self published' keep you away from this series though. Unlike many self published books I've read (or attempted to read) I was never pulled out of this particular story by glaringly obvious spelling and grammar mistakes. This says to me that Halle is someone to be taken seriously in a booming industry and that she wants to make sure we are reading her best efforts.

With that said, even though I found this book to be average it was well worth the money I spent purchasing it.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Return to Sender by Fern Michaels

Synopsis: At seventeen, Rosalind “Lin” Townsend finds herself pregnant and alone. Her father, deeply religious yet cruel, throws her out of the house. Nick Pemberton, her baby’s father and the man she naively hoped might marry her, rejects her. Yet even at the lowest point in her life, Lin vows to succeed on her own terms, and to give her son, Will, all the love and happiness she’s been denied.

Nineteen years later, Lin has made good on her promises. She’s the owner of a thriving diner in her Georgia hometown, and Will has grown into a fine, intelligent young man who’s about to start his freshman year and NYU. But when Lin visits New York with Will, she crosses paths with the one man she was sure she’d never see again -- Nick Pemberton, now a millionaire CEO, the man who sent back all her letters unopened, marked “Return to Sender.” Seeing him fills Lin with anger -- and she resolves to right the wrong he did to Will.

Helped by Jason, a hired detective, and her best friend, Sally, Lin sets out to disrupt Nick’s life and his finances, with spectacular results. But the truth is more complex and surprising than she imagined. And soon Lin must choose -- between the revenge she thought would free her, and the bright new future that’s about to be delivered to her door

My Thoughts: (and boy do I have some.) First of all this is not a romance as the romantic elements are not introduced into 2/3 of the way through book. Once introduced they are mild and secondary to the primary plot of a woman scorned who wants revenge on her son's dead beat dad. So I would classify this more as women's fiction. Second, we readers have to suspend our disbelief that *A)a girl who found herself pregnant at a young age would have no financial/food stamp/child support  assistance from anywhere...B)would have been allowed to go to school with urine soaked pants day after day without a teacher calling in Social Services...C)this woman managed to build a backwoods diner into a thriving business in a matter of a few years making her extremely wealthy...and D)She kept every single letter she sent to her baby's daddy (all returned unopened Return to Sender) without actually looking at the Return to Sender Stamp on the envelope for 19 years. 
*Keep in mind that this was in 1989....not 1949.

If you can believe all of this you might be able to enjoy this book. However, I couldn't. Lin is made out to be a strong selfless woman who pulled herself out of the hopeless situation she found herself in to be able to provide the kind of life her son deserved yet is completely consumed by the need for revenge upon learning that her baby's daddy donated millions to a charity. Knowing that he was able to drop so much money on strangers but never sent a dime for his son's care sent her on a mission to ruin that man's life. I for one can't empathize with such a woman. 

As I am character driven in the books I read my inability to connect with Lin (or even like her for that matter) and believe her storyline made this book a complete dud for me. If you factor in the sub par romance it makes it even worse.

Fern Michaels has written something like 100+ books and I'm sure she has some great ones and I can't fault her writing....much. The only downside of it was on a couple occasions she repeated entire pages (which was not a publishing oops by the way.) For example...Lin told a back story on what her father did to her. We readers got the whole story as she told her friend. Then she went and told someone else the same story. Instead of Michaels saying something to the effect of "and so she began her story for the second time" and leaving it at that she actually repeated word for word the entire thing. This happened twice and was completely unnecessary as readers, in general, are not stupid. 

Other than that her style is pleasing to read and I will definitely read more by her based on that fact alone. But as far as this book goes I really didn't like it at all.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The League of Illusion:Legacy by Vivi Anna

Synopsis: London, 1851 Former thief Jovan Davenport is the black sheep in a family of powerful sorcerers. But when his dying father—head of the League of Illusion—reaches out for help, Jovan has no choice but to accept. He must find his missing brother Sebastian and stop the power-hungry Hawthorne family from taking control of the council. If only they'd appointed someone other than Skylar Vanguard to help him in his quest. Skylar, a druid and accomplished tracker, has spent three years trying to forget her past, especially Jovan Davenport. Once in love, she left Jovan when she discovered his betrayal. She wants nothing to do with him or his family, but must obey the council's will by accompanying Jovan and reporting back on his progress. Forced to work alongside each other, neither of them expects their passion to return so quickly. But as the conspiracy deepens in a steam-powered world of dirigibles and mechanical golems, will their secrets stand in the way of their mission…and their love?

My Thoughts: Good ideas. Not enough pages to fulfill them all.

My biggest disappointment in this book, by far, was the romance.  This could be, in part, due to my personal peeve of the reunited lovers storyline. I prefer to read about that first meeting and the build up of love and romance. With this book you have two characters with a painful breakup past thrown together to thwart evil by finding the lost brother. In some cases it works but I'm not sure it did here. There was so much rehashing of the past I'm surprised they fell in love again. It's hard to move towards the future when you are stuck in the past.

In addition to the romance aspect, the characters fell flat for me. They were not underdeveloped just inconsistent. Jovan starts the book out with an "I'll do what I want. I'm magic Baby. That's how I roll!" attitude about his abilities but by the end (which is only a few short days) he does a total 180 and he's so smitten with Skylar he's ready to accept consequences for all of his actions over the years. In addition as much as this is Jovan and Skylar's story it was his brother who seemed to be more of a hero.

The mystery aspect of the book as a whole also falls short as the entire storyline is left dangling for further exploration in future books. The bad guys sail off into the sunset and the good guys end up on trial for their past. None of which screams HEA to me.

The book is really short (more of a novella) and many of these plot threads could have been fleshed out more and had more conclusions if it were longer but what action it had was good. Skylar had an interesting tracking ability (although it could have been utilized more) and Jovan's remaining brother is intriguing.

I might have rated this book higher if not for the last scene in the book which was a sex scene between the bad guy and his woman. It was not romantic and frankly it left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I enjoy a good sex scene in my romances but it has to be well written and appropriate to the book and to the timing. This one did nothing to enhance the book other than to potentially meet a sex scene quota (I don't know if there is such a thing but it's the only logical conclusion I can come up with.) The scene could have been cut. It would have only helped the book in the long run.

With all that said I will read more by Vivi Anna. Her writing style was pleasant to read and her ideas are good. This book just didn't do it for me.

Immortally Yours by Angie Fox

No one patches up the incoming wounded like Dr. Petra Robichaud. Recruited by the gods for her uncanny medical skills, she’s the best M*A*S*H surgeon in the Army. Along with a nosy guard sphinx, vegetarian werewolf, and other paranormal paramedics, she bandages soldiers who are built like Greek gods (literally). But when one sexy immortal ends up on her operating table – half dead and totally to-die-for – Petra’s afraid she’ll lose her patient and her heart…
Commander Galen of Delphi is one gorgeous but stubborn demi-god. When his spirit tries to slip out of his fatally wounded body, Dr. Petra has to slip it back in – unwittingly revealing her ability to see ghosts. Now that Galen knows her secret, he’s convinced she’s part of an ancient prophecy. If the oracles are right, Petra could lead Galen’s army to peace. And if he seduces her on the way to hell and back? Heaven knows – all’s fair in love and war.

My Thoughts: I really wanted to like this book and I did, overall. The premise is unusual and intriguing and the characters were well developed.There were funny times and serious times throughout the book with a nice balance between the two. The action was consistent throughout and I wanted nothing more than to get back to the book instead of working for the man to keep Top Ramen in my cupboard

Characters wise, Angie created some great ones that were fun and interesting. Dr. Petra is a strong heroine who has the ability to see ghosts and Galen is the warrior hero that Petra saves (and who doesn't love an Alpha man huh?) Even the secondary characters are great.

The romance, however, felt a little underdeveloped. Petra and Galen have some amazing chemistry and their intimacy is off the charts. Unfortunately, I was left wondering how exactly they fell in love. I could see the potential but between the action and their time apart I'm not sure there was enough time to develop a completely believable love.

On a positive note I do think what shines in Immortally Yours is the world building. Having been a fan of M*A*S*H* since I was young (I had a secret crush on Hawkeye shhhhhh don't tell) I was in love with the setting before I even started the book. For this reason alone I would tell everyone to give this book a chance.