Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy 2009...

Wishing you and yours a safe and prosperous new year.

Myspace Comments

Fall Romance Book Challenge...


It looks like I'm not going to complete this challenge. So close. Only one book to go but I'm only half way through it. So congrats to those that did complete the challenge. It was fun and I read some great books. A few that I had planned to read and many that would probably still be on that mountain I call the TBR pile. Looking forward to some interesting challenges in 2009. More on those later.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Review: King of Sword and Sky

Title: King of Sword and Sky
Author: C. L. Wilson
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Series: Tairen Soul/Book 3


Tairen's breath of fire reigns,
She of red hair feeds the flame.
She soothes the soul cast in chains
Because of love she holds no blame.

While he embraces her love so pure
And guides her to her waiting fate.
With magic and sword they will secure
This land of legend and truemates.

The third book in the Tairen Soul series is nothing short of wonderful. After reading Lord of the Fading Lands and Lady of Light and Shadows it was obvious that C. L. Wilson wasn't just a one hit wonder. She has what it takes for amazing world building and fascinating storytelling. This isn't just a fantasy romance. This book has everything ~ action, romance, friendship, magic, darkness, light, good and evil. It's epic without being overwhelming. The flow of events and character development is done with a gentle touch here and a push when needed there.

Rainier vel'en Daris. Rain Tairen Soul. Rain. This is the story of his journey to his rightful place as King of the Fading Lands. His battle with himself and with the Fey who still question his leadership. His need to keep his people, both Tairen and Fey, safe from death is what drives him. His love for Ellie is what keeps him from losing hope.

Rain is one of those heroes that stays with you long after you've moved on to other books. You find yourself comparing the hero of your current read to Rain. Is he as loyal as Rain? As smart as Rain? As good looking as Rain? Can he fly? Breathe fire? Can he make that adorable chuffing sound when he laughs? Yes, Rain is a difficult hero to follow. But he does have his faults. He can be overbearing, arrogant, stubborn. But all of that is what makes him such a compelling character. He's not perfect even with all his magical abilities. He is still flawed. And that is what makes him so special. So real.

His love for his blade brothers (love that term) is demonstrated time and again. I think it's so important for the hero to have that core group of friends. It doesn't have to be a big group, just ones that give the reader a chance to see the hero interact with and allow us to get to know him better through those interactions. To see all sides of him, not just his relationship with the heroine.

Ellysetta Baristani. Feyreisa. Ellie. She has come so far since we first met her. She was the shy, quiet daughter of the master woodcarver Sol Baristani and his wife Lauriana. She is now coming into her own power and beginning to feel comfortable with her abilities. Her love for family and her desire to help the Tairen lead her to her destiny.

Ellie wasn't the easiest heroine for me to connect with at the beginning of the series. She started out a little too timid for me but has evolved into a strong, remarkable woman. Her courage comes not necessarily from confidence in her abilities but from her love. It's in everything she does. In the decisions that she makes. Her love is there. She is the driving force behind Rain and his ability to overcome his past. I have come to adore her calm strength and her stubbornness in the face of Rain's own stubbornness. I think Rain acknowledges Ellie's strength by not sheltering her from the truth, even though he knows it will at times cause her pain.

The love between Rain and Ellie isn't just in the way they lean on each other. The physical lovemaking is a very large part of who they are and how they connect. The love scenes are sweet, tender and very hot. With lots of giving and taking by both. There are enough of these scenes to leave no doubt that Wilson can write some very steamy love scenes.

As the story progresses the reader gets to see Rain and Ellie deal with the obstacles that every king and queen may face. Questions about there leadership and their loyalty. The politics that go on in every kingdom also occur in the Fading Lands. We get to see how they deal with these issues, how they rely on each other's strengths. The day to day workings of a kingdom. I found it gave a realistic feel to this magical world that Wilson has created.

Vadim Maur. High Mage of Eld. Nasty bastard. This guy is the Hannibal Lecter of mages. He is evil incarnate. And he is exactly what this book/series needed. To have an antagonist that wasn't up for the challenge of what Rain, Ellie and company could dish out would have left the story lacking. Give me a powerful opponent, one who keeps me guessing. Oh sure, I know in the end the good guys will win but the end isn't here yet and you don't win the war without losing some battles.

And that leaves us with some of my favorite secondary characters. Although, I don't really think of them as secondary, they are such an integral part of the story. They are Gaelen vel Serranis, Belliard vel Jelani (Bel), Kieran vel Solande and Keil vel Tomar. These Fey warriors are the ones that Rain and Ellie trust with their family and at their backs. There is also the pride of Tairens. These great, winged cats. The character development of the Tairens is so vivid. They are not merely large, magical cats but beings with emotions and needs. With love for their pride that is just as strong as what the Fey and mortals feel.

I do want to thank you one and all who read my attempt at poetry at the beginning of the review. I'm not sure what came over me but when I sat down to write that's what came out so I went with it.

Just in case you were wondering, yes, I would highly recommend this book/series. lol It isn't a stand alone so you really need to start with the first book of the series.

King of Sword and Sky is a book you can literally curl up with and loose yourself in. The next and final book in Rain and Ellie's story is Queen of Song and Souls, due out in June 2009. For more on the writings of C. L. Wilson she has a magical website full in information about the Tairen Soul series, characters, language and the world of Rain and Ellie.

Rating: A+

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Catherine Spangler Sentinel Series...

Found the cover for Touched by Light over on Shelfari and Amazon. Still can't confirm who the hero and heroine are. The only thing I could find was a release date of June 2, 2009. Adam and Julia's book is suppose to be next in the series. Checked Ms. Spangler's website and it hasn't been update in over a year. I do hope this is their book and it gets released next year. Adam in particular was such an interesting character. And Julia should fit well with him. I really enjoyed Touched by Darkness and Touched by Fire, the first two books in the series. They were both released in 2007 so it's been a while since I read them. Might need to do a re-read on those. She also wrote another series called the Shielder series that I've heard very good things about. I have those in my TBR pile.

Here's the deets on the Sentinel series from Ms. Spangler's website:

The Sentinels are reincarnated Atlantians, the same souls who were the priests and high priests who served The One (God/Creator/Supreme Being) in the temple on Atlantis.

The Sentinels have returned to Earth, taking on human bodies, in order to track down Belians, also reincarnated Atlantians. The Belians are the souls of those who followed Belial on Atlantis and worshipped dark forces and made human sacrifices—and whodestroyed Atlantis. They are also in human bodies and they, like the Sentinels, have superhuman abilities.

It is a cat-and-mouse game between them, as the Belians mount a reign of terror and evil on current-day Earth, and the Sentinels track them and dispense karmic justice.
The two groups are well matched in physical and psychic powers, but the Sentinels have a slight edge: Conductors—a small group of humans who are able to mentally link with Sentinels and enhance their psychic tracking abilities.

A human conductor who psychically matches a Sentinel is always the opposite sex. When the conductor and Sentinel meld minds and souls in a conduction to track a Belian, powerful sexual energies arise, and it becomes much more than a mental exercise. The sparks fly as Sentinel and conductor come together in a blaze of psychic power and sizzling desire, to track unimaginable evil.


Your Earth is once again touched by darkness.

But those who worship Belial will not win.
There is no escape from destiny.
We are the Sentinels.
We will prevail.

If anyone has heard anything about this book please share. Thanks!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Review: Contact

Title: Contact
Author: Susan Grant
Genre: Paranormal Romance


Jordan Cady is a young widow who is also a single mom. She's worked very hard to get to where she is. Which is why she's is currently sitting in the co-pilot's seat of United Airlines Flight 58 bound for San Francisco from Honolulu. What started out as a normal flight turns out to be anything but normal for the passengers and crew. A thunderstorm that should have been easy to fly around becomes something completely different. What Jordan doesn't know is that her world is about to change ~ literally. That change comes in the form of Kào Vantaar-Moray, former lieutenant in the Alliance Space Force and now a member of the Perimeter Patrol. An alien.

This is my first foray into Susan Grant's writing and I am so glad I took the jump. The story of Jordan and Kào is a wonderful blend of romance with some sci-fi and suspense added to the mix. Ms. Grant is a pilot so there was a very real sense of what happens on an airplane during a crisis and what happens in the aftermath. How the crew is trained to do more than simple serve drinks and peanuts. It was interesting to read the dynamics of how the crew pulls together along with the passengers in the bizarre situation.

Even though Jordan and her crew are not considered prisoners but guests the tension is still there and the crew and passengers don't trust their hosts. Jordan is put in the position of leader by default and has to rise to the challenge. While she usually does manage to meet most of the challenges self doubts do plague her. New friends and old help boost her self esteem. Jordan is a well developed heroine with a strong sense of responsibility to her crew and her passengers. She doesn't want to fall for Kào but is drawn to him.

Kào is definitely a tortured hero. He was a prisoner of war and is still recovering, both physically and mentally. The nightmares of his imprisonment are still with him and he blames himself for many deaths. He is slowly sinking further into depression when he is assigned as the liaison for the crew and passengers. This assignment puts him into contact with Jordan. As he gets to know Jordan he realizes he actually enjoys spending time with her. Soon he becomes conflicted with his sense of duty to his father, the commander, and with his developing relationship with Jordan. Kào's trust is tested and he has to make hard decisions.

The love story between Jordan and Kào is well paced, the development is not rushed but takes into account the extremely stressful and difficult situation they find themselves in. When they do become intimate their passion comes from not only their physical needs but their emotional needs too.

The secondary characters of the crew of both the airliner and the space craft are developed enough to give the reader insight into the workings of both groups. And the tension of the life aboard the ship is felt and shown by both crews. Overall Grant does a good job portraying the different and similar values of both groups of people.

Susan Grant is the author of eleven books and four novellas with more books due for publication in 2009. You can find out more about her at her website.

Rating: A-

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Kreativ Blogger Award...

The lovely Brie at Musings of a Bibliophile has honored me with the Kreative Blogger Award. Brie is one of those readers who not only has great taste in books but has a truly kind heart. She makes you feel welcomed and she has such a variety of books to recommend that there is always something interesting to read at her blog.

Not only is there an award but there is also a MeMe.

Here's the rules for the MeMe:

1. Mention the blog that gave it to you.
2. Comment on their blog to let them know you've posted the award.
3. Share 6 values that are important to you.
4. Share 6 things you do not support.
5. Share the love with 6 other blogging friends.

As Brie mentioned the rules have been tweaked a bit by previous award recipients so I'm going to do a little tweaking myself.

The 6 things that I value this time of year:

Togetherness ~ that means spending time with family that I don't get to see very often.
Honesty (to a point) ~ Do I like the present? Of course I do! I could always use more slippers.
Good Food ~ Do I really need another cookie? Why, yes... yes I do.
Tape ~ wrapping paper-check, name tags-check, bows-check, tape? Where's the tape? Who took the last of the tape?! Finding the tape=Priceless. (In case you hadn't guessed, I can never find tape in my house.)
Good Hiding Places ~ that are kid proof and I can remember where they are. (the gifts, not the kids.)
Warm Fuzzies ~ not the afore mentioned slippers but the feeling you get after things quiet down and you realize how lucky you are to have such a great bunch of people in your life.

The 6 things I do not support this time of year:

Long Lines ~ at the post office, the grocery store, the bookstore, McDonald's drive-thru...
Christmas Music ~ before Thanksgiving!
Bad Drivers ~ OK, I don't like them at any time of year but they seem to be especially bad this time of year.
Rampant Commercialism ~ I do not have to buy every toy in the world to give my kids a wonderful Christmas. Period.
Chia Pets ~ need I say more?
The Clapper Commercial ~ it always gets stuck in my head. Always.

Sharing the love with one and all.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Review: Natural Born Charmer

Title: Natural Born Charmer
Author: Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Chicago Stars/Book 7



Is that a...beaver? Yes, Dean that is a beaver. A big one too. But where's it's head?

The sight that greets Chicago Stars quarterback Dean Robillard, while driving down a Colorado road, is nothing short of bizarre. In the beaver suit is Blue Bailey, an artist who's luck has abandoned her along with all her money and her boyfriend. Her car broke down and the only job she could find is dressing in said beaver suit. Sounds like a country western song gone wrong but things are about to change for Blue when Dean decides to give her a ride. Just to relieve the boredom he tells himself. Dean certainly gets a relief from the boring drive but Blue also gives him a heck of a lot more.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips has done it again. What an entertaining story! I was laughing quite a bit with this one. I also squeaked out a couple of tears during a few scenes. What starts out as a comedy of errors transforms into a family drama. This was a story not only of Dean and Blue and their often times very rocky road to HEA but also the opening and healing of old wounds. The making of a family by blood and by circumstances.

As Dean and Blue head to Dean's farm in Tennessee they do what people usually do on road trips ~ get to know each other better and drive each other crazy. By the time they get to Dean's farmhouse the relationship has evolved from distraction to irritation to sexual frustration.

Once they get to the farmhouse things become even more complicated with family members coming out of the woodwork. All Dean wanted was some time to relax and recover from a shoulder injury. What he got was another chance at mending the relationship of some of the most important people in his life. He also got Blue Bailey in his life and soon he realizes that he can't be without her. It isn't that simple for Blue. She's used to moving around and never really having anything or anyone permanent in her life. But now she's coming to feel too much for these people. To care too much.

Blue was such an interesting character. A genuine original. She's self sufficient because she's had to be most of her life. She is determined not to get involved in Dean's personal life but keeps getting drawn into the drama of his relationships with his estranged family. Blue's childhood was a series of constant change. Change of location, change of what passed for family. She was raised by different people with some visits from her mom who had a "need to save the world" obsession which kept her away a lot.

Dean was lovable, sexy, sweet, sexy, caring, sexy, funny. Umm...did I mention sexy? LOL Yes, he might be one of my favorite contemporary heroes so far this year. His childhood was not even close to normal. His mother was what I would call a "casual parent" meaning that she didn't concern herself with his upbringing personally, merely hiring people to care for him. Unfortunately for Dean, she was too busy fighting her own addictions to give him the security every child needs from their parent. Dean became a man who places a high value on friendship, those he considers close friends he views as his true family. While his family members are viewed more as complications in his life that he tries to avoid.

I really enjoyed Natural Born Charmer. The dialogue was pure SEP and kept me completely entertained. It is part of the Chicago Stars series but IMO can be read as a stand alone. I've only read two other books in the series and had no problem following along. There is very little interaction with other members of the team since the story primarily takes place away from Chicago.

Rating: A-

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cover Love ~ Dreamfever


It's a long way off before the release date of August 25, 2009 but the cover is simply gorgeous! Mac looks like she'll be kicking some Unseelie ass. And the colors are amazing. This has that popular Urban Fantasy cover look ~ showing the back of the heroine. Although it's usually more of a close up and tats are involved. Still, I'm loving it. How about you?

And here's a little teaser KMM sent out for Dreamfever:

I am a kite in a tornado but I have a long string. There is tension in my line. Somewhere, someone is holding onto the other end and, although it cannot spare me this storm, it will not let me be lost while I regain my strength.

It is enough.

I will survive.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cover Love ~ Branded by Fire


Posted on Nalini Singh's blog. So, what do you think? Like it? Don't like it? What I like is the fact that both heroine and hero are on the cover. I'm glad that Mercy wasn't left off. I'd say it's one of my favorites of the series. Release date of July 2009.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Quickie Review: The Magical Christmas Cat

Title: The Magical Christmas Cat
Authors: Lora Leigh, Erin McCarthy, Nalini Singh, Linda Winstead Jones
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: The Breeds by Lora Leigh & The Psy/Changlings by Nalini Singh

The Magical Christmas Cat is an anthology with four stories by four different authors. I've read Lora Leigh and her Breed series and also Nalini Singh and her Psy/Changling series. I enjoy both series and that's why I wanted to read this book. This was my first read by Linda Winstead Jones and I've read Fallen by Erin McCarthy.

Stroke of Enticement by Nalini Singh

This first story was about Zach Quinn, a DarkRiver soldier, and Annie Kildaire, a teacher at a school where some of the students are Changlings. Zach is the uncle of one of Annie's students and comes to take his nephew home after the boy gets into a fight. The sparks begin when Annie and Zach meet and continue through the story. This was a beautiful addition to the series. I don't think Singh is capable of writing a bad romance. She is able to pack so much information, so much "story" into the shortened format and still leave you feeling satisfied.

Rating: A

Christmas Bree by Erin McCarthy

This is about Bree Murphy who is one of three sisters that are witches. Bree's younger sister Abby predicts Bree will meet a lawyer wearing a pink shirt. Totally not Bree's type. But who shows up at the door? Ian, who is a lawyer and guess what he's wearing. Yep, a pink shirt. Bree and Ian seem an unlikely pair but they soon come to know each other and realize they were meant to be together. These two opposites attracted in a big way. It was a quick, cute read but didn't leave me wanting to read the next Murphy sister's story.

Rating: B

Sweet Dreams by Linda Winstead Jones

Ruby attends the annual Christmas party on her street and has the misfortune of being the Secret Santa for Zane Benedict, her new neighbor. Zane is an attractive guy if a bit odd. Ruby and Zane find themselves together due to some scary goings on at Ruby's house. There is a little mystery of who Zane really is and his connection to Ruby. It was an interesting story but I would have like to have it in a longer format. Definitely will be reading more of Ms. Winstead Jones.

Rating: B+

Christmas Heat by Lora Leigh

The last story is about Noble Chavin, a Jaguar breed, and Haley McQuire who is a librarian. If you've read any of Lora Leigh's Breed books you know what to expect. There are some appearances by Breeds from previous books and some new Breed characters are introduced. Overall, Noble and Haley's story was similar to other Breed stories with the initial attraction, the hunt and the taming. A decent addition to the Breed world.

Rating: B+

Just curious ~ did anyone else notice the phallic symbol on the cover?

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Voice In My Head...

Is a man's voice. My current audio book is Nora Roberts' Blood Brothers. And while I'm enjoying the story I can't help but chuckle whenever a female character speaks. It's read by a man and when he does a woman's voice I get flashes of Monty Python going through my head. Or the church lady from SNL. His rendition of Layla, who is from New York City, is particularly funny. As for the male voices, those he does well, giving them enough variance that I can tell them apart. In particular he does a wonderful, deep voiced Cal. The female voices don't bother me enough to stop listening ~ the plot is too interesting. So I simply concentrate on the words instead of the voice.



Over this past summer I listed to Karen Marie Moning's Darkfever and Bloodfever audio books. They were read by a woman and she did a wonderful job of Mac's voice. For me she hit it dead on. But Barrons voice was another story. There were times that he sounded like an angry old leprechaun.


Anyone else listen to audio books and find some of the voices just don't fit the characters? I would imagine it's hard to sound like the opposite sex but I almost think I would rather not have them try than to give what sounds like an SNL skit.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Review: Untamed

Title: Untamed
Author: Pamela Clare
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: MacKinnon Rangers/Book 2

Prisoner. That's what he was. Their prisoner. But not for long. Soon he would be taken by the Abenaki Indians and then he will be made to wish for death. Long for it. But he could not, would not betray his brother or his men to the French. The Rangers were his family and he would die for his family if he must. Then she was there, an angel among the nightmares. She gave him peace and then she gave him hope.

The second book of Clare's MacKinnon Ranger series is about the middle brother, Morgan MacKinnon. The setting is 1759 during the French and Indian War. Morgan took over as leader of the Rangers when his older brother Iain left the Rangers to return to the family farm with his wife and child. Now it is Morgan the men look to for leadership. Along with his younger brother Connor, Morgan fights the French and their Indian allies all the while hoping that the war will end soon.

When the Rangers attack a supply shipment that is being unloaded at Fort Carillon one of Morgan's men is wounded and Morgan goes back for him. While he is able to get his man to safety, Morgan is shot and taken prisoner by the French. It is here that he is tortured but kept alive so he can be given over to the Abenaki Indians where he will be tortured more and burned alive. When Morgan's wounds are being seen to he meets Amalie Chauvenet. She has been asked by the fort's commander, Chevalier de Bourlamaque, to see to Morgan's injuries in the hopes that she may learn something of importance from him.

Amalie Chauvenet is the daughter of Major Chauvenet of the French army. She was raised in a convent but has come to Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga) to be with her father. Her mother, who is deceased, was half Abenaki. Amalie does have some physical characteristics of her Abenaki heritage but she is unfamiliar with their way of life. She is part of two worlds yet not meant for either.

I really liked Amalie. She is a strong heroine but quiet in her strength. She has certain beliefs that are tested as she comes to know Morgan. Her intelligence is such that she understands there are two sides to every situation and she is open minded enough to realize that things are not always black and white, the shades of gray being the hardest to understand and accept. I can not imagine what it would be like to live in the fort with the opportunity for attack always present. What it must have been like, knowing that there was a war going on just outside the walls and that at any moment it could come knocking?

There is a scene where Morgan is holding Amalie and notices that her heart is beating fast...

"Your heart is beatin' like a wild bird's, lass." His lips brushed over her skin as he spoke, his breath warm and scented with brandy. "What is it that's frightenin' you?"

She swallowed, tried to speak. "Tomorrow." page 206

To be afraid of what each tomorrow would bring must have been truly difficult to live with. Clare is able to bring that underlying fear to the story. And by doing so gives the reader the idea of how strong these men and women of the frontier were.

Morgan is similar to Iain in that he has the same innate loyalty to his Rangers, his family. But I sensed that Morgan had become more of the diplomatic type than Iain and is more inclined to weigh all possible outcomes before acting. He was a man pulled in opposing directions ~ his love and loyalty to his Ranger brethren and his feelings for Amalie. No matter what he does there are negative consequences along with the positive. I loved Morgan unfaltering loyalty and love for his men...

But long afore I pledged my loyalty to him, I made another oath ~ to my brothers and my men! Would you have me break that vow and become a betrayer and slayer of my own kin? As you loved your father, so I love them!

She heard his words, felt the conflict within him, but was too hurt, too outraged to care... page 195


And I don't want to forget the love scenes. They are very hot! As the story progresses Morgan and Amalie are not shy about their physical attraction to each other. I was left with visions of Morgan in my head that are definitely x-rated. Not that I'm complaining. Not in the least. *grin*

The situation Morgan found himself in made for an interesting twist to the story that I thought Clare pulled off brilliantly. I thought Untamed was a really good follow up to Iain and Annie story in Surrender. You can read my review of Surrender here. Pamela Clare also writes romantic suspense novels with her I-Team series. You can find out more about Ms. Clare at her website. I would certainly recommended not only Untamed but any of Pamela Clare's novels.

Rating: A

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sick and tired...

funny pictures of cats with captions

The nasty flu bug has been flying around our house. I was hoping it wouldn't land on me but no such luck. I'll try to get a review up later today but for now I'm camping out on the couch and trying to get some sleep. Hope everyone else out in blogworld is staying well.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Surrender Winner...

Big thank you to everyone that entered my first contest. I wish I could give a copy to all of you but I only have one extra copy of Surrender. My daughter Abby and the magic hat worked their mojo and the winner is ~ HILCIA

Congratulations Graphic #7

Please send your snail mail address to lgladnick@cox.net and I'll get the book in the mail to you. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Review: Surrender and a Contest

Title: Surrender
Author: Pamela Clare
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: MacKinnon's Rangers/

Book 1

The British and French are at war in the North American colonies. The MacKinnon brothers who are Catholic and from Scotland, want no part of it. They simply want to farm their land and eventually go on to raise families. One day that changes and they are forced to fight not for France and the Catholics but for their enemy the British. If they refuse to fight it will mean death. Iain, the eldest, chooses life.

An ocean away in Scotland a young woman must also make a difficult choice. She is fighting for her life and chooses to take the arduous road to what she hopes is eventually freedom. Wrongly convicted, Lady Anne Burness Campbell is sent to the colonies as an indentured servant to fulfill her fourteen year indenture. It is here that she meets her fate in the form of Iain MacKinnon.

This first book of the MacKinnon Rangers series sets the tone for what is to be a stunning trip back in time to the late 1750's. When America was still a colony and wars were waged on her soil. Much like her book Ride the Fire, Clare holds nothing back in terms of the brutality of war. She doesn't shy away from the fact that innocent people are brutally killed by both sides. The life of a soldier and that of the frontier families is full of hardship and pain. But through these hardships bonds of trust and loyalty are built. The men who make up the group of Rangers in Surrender demonstrate such a vivid example of those bonds. Clare is able to bring these men to life and gives them such a strong presence in the story.

Iain MacKinnon. Just the name alone makes me sigh. Iain is certainly a sigh-worthy hero. He was born in Scotland and was exiled with his family when he was fifteen. He along with his parents and two younger brothers moved to the American colonies to start life over. Here he was taught the ways of the Muhheconneok Indians when he and his brothers were adopted into the tribe. Iain has such a strong sense of honor and loyalty. Even when he has difficult choices to make his loyalty and honor never waiver.

When Iain sees Anne running from Abenaki Indians he decides he must save her. His brothers, Morgan and Connor, try to talk him out of it. They tell him that he will be in serious trouble with his commanding officer, the same officer who has forced him to fight for the British. They also remind him of the mission they are on and how Iain's rescuing the woman could jeopardize the mission and put his men in harm's way. But he can't turn his back on her and leave her to certain death. So he orders his brothers and the Rangers to leave and risks his own life for that of a stranger.

"Curse me for a fool, but I cannae abandon her. This is of my choosin'. Leave me to it! I'll rendezvous wi' you if I can. Go! Now!" Iain waited until Connor had disappeared into the trees behind him, whispered his clan's motto.

"Audentes fortuna iuvat." Fortune assists the daring.

page 31

Lady Anne Burness Campbell may be a lady born but she is no frail, delicate miss. She is accustomed to the life of an aristocrat but when she is faced with hardships and difficulties she does her best to overcome them. In her own way she is a fierce fighter like Iain. She has her own loyalties and tries very hard to honor those loyalties. Annie Burns, the name she gives to Iain, is a heroine that is full of life and will scrape and claw her way out of danger because of the value she places on life. She also has secrets that she must guard or else jeopardize her shaky future. Even though her loyalties are to the British, as she comes to know the MacKinnons and the Rangers she realizes that there are two sides to every war. That the Rangers are honorable men whose friendships she values.

Iain and Annie's love story develops over time along with their learning to trust each other. First they must travel through hostile territory and get back to Fort Elizabeth. Then once at the fort they are confronted by Lord William Wentworth, commander of the fort and the man who forced Iain and his brothers to serve as Rangers. Wentworth is suspicious of Annie and her background. He decides he wants her for himself and causes no end of trouble for Iain and Annie.

As Iain comes to feel more than lust for Annie he still tries to hold back, thinking he has nothing to offer her until the war is over and he is free to live his life the way he wants to. But he can't seem to help himself when it comes to Annie. The sex scenes are beautifully written and hold such depth and passion along with some humor.

When they are making their way to Fort Elizabeth, Annie is able to take a few moments to bath quickly while Iain leaves to scout the area. She intends to only wash her feet but quickly changes her mind...

Eager to put it all behind her, she washed quickly, first her breasts and belly, then her arms and shoulders. The breeze raised bumps on her wet skin, but the cold water soothed her bruises. As dirt and mud and dried blood washed away, she began to feel like herself again.

“You’d tempt a saint, lass. But I am no’ a saint.”

Annie gasped and covered her breasts with her arms.

He stood not ten feet away, the butt of his rifle resting on the ground, his hand around the barrel, his gaze sliding blatantly over her.

“Y-you ought no’ be watchin’!”

“You ought no’ be naked.” pages 88-89

And when Iain can no longer hold back his passion, he does what he's been longing to do...

He ran his thumb over the fullness of her lower lip. "All I'm wonderin' today, mo leannan, is how I've gone so long wi' out doin' this."

Then he took her lips with his.

With a whimper, Annie gave herself up to his kiss, welcoming the sweet invasion of his tongue, melting into the hard wall of his chest. Heat licked through her, flared deep in her belly, leaving her weak, reckless, breathless. "Iain!"

He growled, took the kiss deeper, ravished her mouth, until her lips tingled and ached and there was nothing in her world but him. The sharp stubble of his beard. The hard curve of his shoulders. The spicy male scent of him.
pages 161-162

And there is also the "shaving scene". Not going to say more, don't want to spoil it. *grin*

The characters of Morgan and Connor, Iain's brothers, are well developed and exhibit that same sense of loyalty and honor that all the Rangers have. I think Iain, being the eldest of the brothers, has more of the natural leadership abilities than Morgan or Connor. Iain seems to understand that while not all decisions he makes as the leader will be the best choice for all he still needs to follow his conscious and is willing to take responsibility for any mistakes he might make.

The Rangers who appear on the pages are such a diverse group of men. Many but not all are from Scotland. They are loyal to a fault to Iain and his brothers and transfer that loyalty to Annie. There is also Captain Joseph who, along with his Stockbridge men, help the Rangers on their missions. Joseph is a Muhheconneok Indian and has been friends with the MacKinnon brothers for many years.

The book is full of action and passion. The action of war and all it's blood and glory. The passion Iain and Annie have for each other and for their beliefs and convictions. The story held my attention long after closing the book. I was fortunate to have Untamed, the next book in the series, to read after finishing Surrender. I can only hope we don't have to wait too long for Connor's story.

I first read Pamela Clare's romantic suspense novels and enjoyed them. I'm so glad I finally gave her historicals a try. It's obvious that she does a lot of research of not only the historical setting but of the type of people that were part of those historical events. Surrender is another exceptional read from Clare. The next book in the series, Untamed, is out now and is about Morgan MacKinnon. I would highly recommend any of Clare's work, both the romantic suspense and her wonderful historicals. You can find out more at Pamela Clare's website.

Rating: A

CONTEST ~ Today, December 2, is the birthday of a someone very special to me. So in honor of his birthday I'm having my first contest. I've got one brand-spanking new copy of Surrender up for grabs so if this sounds like a book you'd like to read leave a comment to this post before noon, Friday, December 5, 2008. I'll put all names in a hat and pick one winner. Due to postage costs this contest is limited to residents of the U.S and Canada. Check back here after noon on Friday for the winner's name. Good Luck!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Vegas Baby!...

We're off to Las Vegas tomorrow for some fun and excitement in Sin City! Look out buffets ~ here we come! LOL Ok, so dh, me and the kids are driving to my brother's house tomorrow for the long Thanksgiving weekend.



We will be going to at least one casino for the buffet ~ my brother gets free tickets for it. We went last year and the kids loved it and are looking forward to going again. The buffets in Vegas are like nothing anywhere else.

We also plan on doing some hanging out with the family. I drove my mom and aunt to the airport yesterday, so their already in Vegas helping SIL cook the big Turkey day meal. Might get in a trip to the outlet mall since it's only 10 minutes away. And maybe some hiking and viewing of Christmas lights. Ethel M's is suppose to have a great lights display and free chocolate ~ can't pass that up!

So I hope those that are celebrating Thanksgiving have a wonderful and safe holiday weekend. Those of you that don't celebrate Thanksgiving, may you read an excellent book or two this weekend. I don't know how much reading I'll get done but it should prove to be a fun time. Be well!

Untamed and a Coupon...

So I'm getting ready to run errands which includes getting Untamed by Pamela Clare. I pop over to Lora Leigh and Roni Chadwick's fun board and find out that Barnes and Noble have a coupon for 40% off any one book. Yep, I snatched that puppy up and went to B&N instead of Borders. The coupon is good until December 1. The catch is you do have to pay with a MasterCard. Here's the link ~ B&N Coupon

I asked the cashier if I could print another coupon and use a different MasterCard and she said she didn't see why not. I'm planning to go back tonight, not sure what book I'll get yet. Maybe one for dd.

So I've started Surrender and I've got Untamed lined up next. YEAH! Happy reading!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Review: One Silent Night

Title: One Silent Night
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Dark Hunters/Book 16


Stryker is back and up to no good as usual. He's decided to wake up War and use him to seek vengeance against Acheron and Nick Gautier. What he doesn't know is that someone has been sent to seek their own vengeance against him. Someone who will gladly kill him. This isn't surprising since Stryker is no saint and has numerous enemies but this enemy comes as a surprise to him because he thought her long dead. He soon finds out that she's very much alive and intent on seeing him dead.

So I've been curious about this book ever since it was announced that Stryker would get his own story. How the heck was Kenyon going to redeem Styker? Well, it turns out she really didn't, at least IMO. We do get glimpses of his own warped moral code and how much he loved his children, even though he killed his own son. In the end he's still a badass out to kill his enemies and use the weak humans as his own personal buffet.

Stryker and Zephyra were young(fourteen) and in love when they wed. But Apollo found out and told Styker that Zephyra wasn't good enough for his son and if Stryker didn't leave her Apollo would have her killed. So Stryker leaves her, eventually they are all cursed by Apollo and become Daimons.

Now they are back together after 11,000 years apart. Zephyra hates Stryker and wants him dead. He's still attracted to her and gets her to agree not to kill him but give him a chance to win her back. So they have to work together to defeat War and not get killed in the process. Stryker also uses this time to try to woo Zephyra into bed again.

Zephyra is totally into kicking ass and hates humans possibly more that Stryker. She hasn't forgive him for leaving her and still wants revenge after all these centuries. I think I might have liked her if she hadn't been so bitter. Granted, she had some very good reasons but centuries have passed, time to move on.

The ending was another "save the world" type of ending with a bunch of the good (and not so good) powerful beings joining together to fight War and his band of merry evil doers. There was a new character introduced that I found intriguing and would imagine will be showing up again. He has an important role in relation to Nick.

The problem I had with this book is that I really didn't care about Stryker and Zephyra. It's hard for me to enjoy a book when I don't have any interest in the main characters. I found myself simply reading this for any new info on the Dark Hunter world. So for that aspect it was worth the read because there are some new developments and new revelations about characters from the series. But for the love story ~ I was very meh about the whole thing.

I should mention this book is printed in a larger font than normal and 310 pages. So it's a quick read. For the most part, if you're a fan of the series, yes, read it if only for the latest developments (try getting it from the library like I did). Kenyon's writing is still good but I just didn't care for the overall story.

Rating: C+

Monday, November 24, 2008

Review: To Seduce A Sinner

Title: To Seduce A Sinner
Author: Elizabeth Hoyt
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Legend of the Four Soldiers/Book 2

It's May, 1765 and Jasper Renshaw, Viscount Vale, finds himself hung over with an aching head and now he's being left at the alter, literally. If that wasn't bad enough he's being left for a curate. But all is not lost for Jasper is about to be rescued by a lady who's name he can not remember but who intrigues him far more than he ever imagined. And so they strike a bargain, this lady and lord, and plan to wed for convenience and heirs but not for love or so he thinks.

I have been waiting anxiously for this book ever since reading the first book in the series, To Taste Temptation. Elizabeth Hoyt can certainly write characters that leave you wanting more. Vale and Melisande's story is no exception. The premise is a bit of a switch with the lady proposing to the gentleman. Melisande is not your typical demure lady and she is more than a match for Vale in both intelligence and wit.

Melisande Fleming knows what it's like to love someone from afar and have that someone unaware of your existence. She has been living like this for six years. Years that she has spent watching Vale and longing for him. Then fate stepped in and Melisande took a risk. She risked rejection but what she got in return was the man she loved. It wasn't something that she could possibly tell Vale, she didn't want to scare him off. So she played her role of dutiful wife and slowly eased her way into Vale's heart.

Jasper is a bit of a laid back hero with secrets of his own. He was a soldier in the Colonies and fought in a bloody battle where he was taken prisoner by the Wyandot tribe. While a prisoner he is forced to witness horrible acts of violence and torture that have left him scarred inside. He hides his feelings of grief and remorse behind his dry wit and devil may care attitude. But he is still determined to find out who betrayed his troops location to the French and the Wyandots. His outlook on his marriage to Melisande is one of practicality at first. But once he realizes that his sedate wife is anything but sedate in the bedroom he is now more that ever curious to find out who she really is.

This story is so different from what I was expecting. There are times when Melisande comes across as more of an alpha than Vale. I think he allows her to take the lead because it's not something he's used to and he's curious to see where she'll lead him. Melisande believes herself in love with Vale but doesn't really know him. As the story progresses she learns more about him and continues to love him despite what he considers the most terrible of faults.

He prowled towards her, the snuff box still in his long, bony fingers. His curling mahogany hair was pulled back in a queue that was coming undone; his face was lined and sad, pouches beneath his eyes, testament to his sleepless nights. His wide shoulders were covered in a brown and red coat with a stain on the elbow, and his shoes were scuffed. She had never felt so angry at another person and at the same time been aware of how beautiful he was to her.

How perfect in all his imperfections. page 322

Vale on the other hand takes his time to figure out his new wife. He comes across as the type of man to analyze and study a situation. His physical attraction to Melisande comes quickly but his emotions are slower to come about having been keep in check for so long. One scene, after Vale and Melisande make love, poignantly shows the difference of where each of them are in the relationship.

But he shifted beneath her and withdrew his flesh from hers. She bit back the cry of loss, because he was lifting her and carrying her to the bed. He lay her down and bent over her to kiss her gently on the lips. Then he turned away and left the room through the connecting door.

He never even saw the arms she held out to him. page 183

Hoyt's writing is as wonderful as always with characters that make you want to know more about them. She reveals pieces of Vale and Melisande to the reader and allows us to get to know them as they get to know each other. There is still the mystery of the traitor to solve and some progress is made on that but more questions are also raised. We are introduced to the hero and heroine of the next story, To Beguile a Beast, which is due for release May 2009. It should prove to be as interesting and captivating a read as To Seduce a Sinner. To learn more about this author you can go to Elizabeth Hoyt's website.

Rating: A-

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Review: Naked in Death

Title: Naked in Death
Author: J. D. Robb
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: In Death/Book 1

Lieutenant Eve Dallas is one of New York City's finest. She has ten years experience and doesn't back down from a fight. She has what it takes to solve the crimes and put the criminals behind bars. But a new criminal is in the city and Eve doesn't have much time to catch him. His crimes are horrendous murders and they're stirring up old memories for Eve. She does take the time to get to know a man who goes by the name of Roarke. He ends up on her suspect list and Eve wastes no time interrogating him.

I've read a few Nora Roberts novels but this is my first J. D. Robb and I must say all the fuss about Roarke was definitely valid! And Eve! Loved her. She is not a woman who's willing to let the men handle it when things get nasty. Eve is more than willing to do her job and not back down.

Eve Dallas is a fascinating heroine. She is smart, funny, carries a laser and doesn't care about being fashionable. She's far more interested in immersing herself in her job, of catching the bad guys and solving the crimes. She would certainly be considered a loner, having a few friends and no long standing relationships with any man. She doesn't socialize much because she either has no time or prefers to stay home when she does have an evening off. She keeps everything locked inside herself, she thinks this keeps her safe. Safe from being hurt and safe from the memories that are buried so deep she can't recollect them. But then situations change, things get out of Eve's control and Roarke enters her life. He is a man who goes after what he wants and he's decided he wants Eve. While Eve tries to stay professional and do her job Roarke starts to push her buttons and Eve starts to feel far more than she ever wanted to.

Roarke, and it's just Roarke, no last name just a reputation of power, money and control. His name keeps coming up in the murder investigations and Eve must try hard to keep her attraction to him under control. But Roarke has other plans for Eve and doesn't stop at using all of his powers to get what he wants. He keeps on trying to break through Eve's defenses and she has a lot. But Eve's stubbornness doesn't deter him. Roarke is an intriguing character with his rough upbringing and his not so legal ways of doing business. His entire lifestyle is about power and money. He appears to be cultured and sophisticated. He lives well and enjoys beautiful, expensive luxuries that Eve has never experienced. At this point in their lives they appear to be such opposites yet they have much in common. They both have a sense of justice that is more from their childhoods and their backgrounds than from what society expects of them. Both are intelligent and driven in their chosen professions. And they both have lifestyles that work to keep them apart from most people.

The plot was fast moving and gave enough details to keep my interest but doesn't give away the identity of the killer easily, Robb makes the reader work for it. Some of the scene are graphic in their details of the murder victims deaths. The setting is the future where prostitution is legal and guns are generally a thing of the past, only thought to be owned by collectors. The setting is different enough to give it a futuristic feel but the overall story is easily relatable to readers. I will certainly continue reading this series and look forward to more developments with Eve and Roarke and their ongoing relationship.

Rating: A-

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I Give Up...

I'm going to have to change one of my book selections for the Fall Romance Book Challenge. I've been trying to read Bound by Shadow for weeks now and can't seem to get past page 127 and have been stuck there for what seems forever. So I've finally thrown in the towel on this one and am selecting a replacement. I feel like I've given it enough chances but it's just not working for me. The writing isn't bad but I just can't drum up any interest in the characters. So, good-bye Bound by Shadow and hello either Eyes of Crow (magic), Wicked Game (vamps) ~ both by Jeri Smith-Ready or One Silent Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon. I'll update the list once I decide.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Pictures and More...

So I'm makes some changes to the blog and I was looking for a picture for my profile. Googling for "classic books" brought up the picture below. So I click on it and it takes me to this site.

What totally and completely blew me away is that these books are edible. And if that's not enough they have chocolate in them ~ YES ~ chocolate! The wonderful site is called Margaret's Workshop and the lady, Margaret, makes all of these incredible, edible, absolutely beautiful cakes and treats. I am so jealous of someone who is that artistic and can make such gorgeous creations. The details on the cakes are amazing. She has pictures of some that she entered in contests and the work that must have gone into them is unbelievable. And to think my kids are impressed when I make brownies!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Review: Twisted Creek

Title: Twisted Creek
Author: Jodi Thomas
Genre: Contemporary

Before starting the review I'd like to give a shout out to Nath over at Books, Books and more Books for her wonderful review of Twisted Creek. Even though I didn't comment on Nath's review, I was still in lurker mode, it's the reason I decided to give this book a try and I'm so very glad I did! And now...the review.

It was a long day at a lousy job that she didn't like but needed, desperately. Allie Daniels made her way home to the Memphis duplex she shared with Nana, her grandmother and the woman who had raised her since she was three. Nana has been there for her all her life. But Nana isn't the only thing that's waiting for Allie when she gets home that night. There's a letter from a lawyer in Lubbock, Texas. If the letter is to be believed then Allie has an inheritance. It's the property of an Uncle Jefferson and it's on Twisted Creek.

Jodi Thomas...I used to read her historicals. Not sure why or when I stopped but after reading Twisted Creek I'll be looking for more of her stories of Texas. Thomas pulled me into this story with the first line...

"If rotten luck were a man, I'd have a stalker."

Right off the bat the images Thomas evokes draw the reader in and she paints such a vivid picture with her words. While there is a developing romance it's really more of an ensemble with the romantic couple, Allie and Luke, taking the leads but the secondary characters being just as important. There wouldn't be a story without them. And I shudder at what Allie's life might have been like without Nana. I really think Nana was my favorite character. But more on that later.

Allie Daniels was so close to getting her art degree and realizing her dream of being an art teacher but it wasn't to be. While in her junior year at college her grandfather died leaving Allie no choice but to move in with Nana. Five years later they're still together and Allie is no closer to her dream of teaching. Instead she's been working at various jobs in various places, barely getting by. So when the letter with news of an inheritance comes it sounds too good to be true. But as Nana says, they're "corner peepers" and so they cash the check that was included with the letter, pack up and move to Texas.

Once they get to Texas things start getting really interesting in the form of their neighbors on Twisted Creek. The secondary characters are such a treat to read. There's Willie, an older man who has a very distinct odor. And Timothy, a young man who has some hard decisions to make. Mary Lynn who is from Twisted Creek but tends to keep to herself. And Mrs. Deals who is the matriarch of the group. She even drives a Caddy! Then there's Paul who shows up with his wife but stays on by himself. There are a few other characters who come and go on Twisted Creek but these are the ones that I felt the reader gets to know the best.

As Allie and Nana get settled in they get to know their neighbors and come to expect their company. There is one neighbor that Allie isn't sure what to make of. He seems to be a drifter but as Allie gets to know Luke Morgan she realizes that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to Luke.

I liked Luke. I think I would describe him as an "everyday man" kind of hero. He wasn't perfect but he was sincere. Personally, I think sincerity goes a long way. He treats people with respect and doesn't judge people based on how they looked but how they act. Of course it didn't hurt that he was good looking and like to swim naked in the moonlight.

I found that I really liked Allie. She's one of those characters that if she were real I'd like to have her as a friend. She didn't have the best life growing up if you take into account that Carla, her mom, essentially left her to be raised by her grandparents. She doesn't know who her dad is. So she has no real relationship with her mom, no dad in her life and she wasn't able to fulfill her dream of graduating but she does have Nana. The fact that she didn't get upset that she was basically stuck with Nana shows what a decent person she is. I think she realized how lucky she was to have Nana. But Allie didn't always have the best outlook on life. She did tend to get down on life and herself at times. But it was never a pity party and she never expected people to feel sorry for her. At the beginning of the book Allie is thinking about where she should be, where she fits in...

"Most of my life I'd felt like the last guest at a dinner party. I kept circling the table looking for my seat as all the food disappeared." page 2

Those two sentences put the image of this sad, lonely woman just trying to find her place and never quite getting there. Thomas' writing throughout the book is like that. Provoking imagines of these characters with such ease.

Eventually these people, these Nesters as they're called, come to know one another and slowly trust is built among them. They become a family of misfits who find that they actually fit. There is some trouble on Twisted Creek and they all have to work together and help each other when things get really bad. I loved how everyone depended on each other and each of their strengths were used for the good of the family.

Jodi Thomas did a wonderful job of giving the reader a story about people from all walks of life, living together, developing friendships and even having some romance under the moonlight. Overall a very delightful tale.

Rating: A

And now for a little extra. I mentioned that my favorite character was Nana. She was such a joy to read. I LOVED the fact that she giggled. The fact that she loved so deeply and so strongly. The saying that the heart of the home is the kitchen seems so appropriate since that was Nana's favorite room and she was surely the heart of this family. So I'd like to close with what I call Nana~isms.

"Nana called us "corner peepers" always thinking something better lay just around the bend." page 3

"You can't always bounce blessings, child. Sometimes you just have to catch them." page 107

"He's puffed up worse than three-day-old roadkill." page 148

"I kind of like sleeping with a memory." page 151

"I think about what might have been sometimes. It's like there's another life I'm living along a road I chose not to travel. When times get hard, I think about that other place and I go there in my mind." page 159

And Nana's way of saying I love you ~ "Her old hand patted my shoulder three times. I love you without words." page 58

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Review: Ride The Fire

Title: Ride The Fire
Author: Pamela Clare
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Blakewell~Kenleigh Trilogy/Book 3


It's 1757 in the Ohio Wilderness and Nicholas Kenleigh is about to be tortured and killed by his captors, the Wyandot Indians. He was taken prisoner while trying to save two young soldiers he had taken under his wing. Now all three face a horrendous death. They are to be tortured and killed by fire at the stake. At the last moment Nicholas is spared only to be forced into an existence that becomes hell on earth. After enduring months of humiliation and becoming someone he doesn't even know, he escapes the Wyandot and travels home to his family in Virginia.

I have seen a number of readers post to say that Ride The Fire is one of their favorites. After reading it I can certainly see why. Previously, I had only read Pamela Clare's romantic suspense and enjoyed them immensely. So when I was lucky enough to win a book from Ms. Clare's blog contest I was intrigued as to what her historicals would be like. Ride the Fire takes place during The French and Indian War and Clare doesn't hold back when describing the brutality of war. Nor the fact that neither side is innocent in committing that brutality.

Once at home in Virginia, the fact that war and being held prisoner have changed him becomes very real for Nicholas. He begins to have nightmares and when he acts out during one of these nightmares, he unknowingly tries to hurt someone he loves. He packs up and leaves his parents and siblings, traveling west and keeping to himself. He is searching, not for peace but for death. After six years of living the life of a trapper and a loner he ends up near Ft. Detroit in what is considered the Northwest Wilderness. It is here that he is injured and has no choice but to seek the help of a woman at a secluded cabin. In the end what he finds is not death but hope in the form of Elsbeth Stewart.

Elsbeth, or Bethie as she is called, is a very pregnant young widow. She has lived alone in the secluded cabin since her husband died two month past. While she doesn't like living alone and is very afraid of what will happen when time for her baby to be born, she has no where else to go. So she tries her best to take care of the animals and the small farm. Young and alone, Bethie is a woman with so much courage, even she doesn't realize how brave she is. She is determined to take care of her baby and herself no matter what.

When Nicholas shows up Bethie is terrified to find a man on horseback in front of her cabin. When she realizes that he is injured she reluctantly takes him in and helps him to heal. This is after he holds a gun to her head. That's how desperate he is.

But Nicholas isn't the only one who is desperate. Bethie drugs him and ties him to the bed. She also takes his weapons from him and refuses to give them back even after he is well enough to help with the chores. Then Bethie's time comes and she has no choice but to turn to Nicholas for help. He uses his knowledge of raising horses and helps bring little Isabelle into the world. After Bethie's daughter is born she and Nicholas both continue to heal and form a tentative friendship.

In the coming weeks Nicholas and Bethie slowly realize they are attracted to each other. The realization comes much slower for Bethie because she was abused and has a huge distrust of men. She has a hard time understanding how she can admire Nicholas' looks given her history of abuse. She wants nothing to do with men or their lust. Nicholas tries to fight his attraction to Bethie since he has no plans to stick around long and he feels he is unworthy of her. He doesn't think it's safe for her to stay alone in the wilderness and plans to help her get back to her family in Paxton which is the last place she wants to go.

Bethie is a contradiction with her innocence and her abilities to live alone in the wilderness. She has no difficulty nursing her baby in front of Nicholas. But on a hot summer night, thinking he is asleep on the cabin floor, she decides to sleep in her shift. When she realizes he is awake and looking at her she becomes upset. I think this contradiction comes from Bethie's upbringing and her view of herself. She views nursing her child as a normal occurrence and doesn't see anything sexual about it. But Nicholas seeing her in her shift she construes as being forward and wanton. These views were literally beat into her by her step-father, Malcolm Sorley.

When Bethie learns that Nicholas can read she is overcome with awe. Having never learned to read because her step-father deemed it "a skill wasted on women", Bethie is thrilled when Nicholas offers to teach her. While teaching her to read, Nicholas is also teaching her to trust again. He realized that she had been hurt by a man and in order to get her to trust him he would have to go slowly with her and let her set the pace.

Eventually Nicholas and Bethie are forced to leave the cabin and make their way to Fort Pitt. On the way they encounter burned out cabins and Delaware war parties. It seems like everyone is heading to Fort Pitt. When they arrive at the fort Nicholas tells everyone that Bethie is wife and Belle is his child. Even at the fort Nicholas continues to protect Bethie and Belle. He still says he is taking her back to her family in Paxton but in his heart he knows he can't let her go. Terrible things happen at the fort and Bethie's past comes back to haunt her.

Nicholas is also learning to trust again. He bears terrible scars on his body from the torture that was inflicted on him at the Wyandot camp. His soul is also scarred and he feels like he will never be whole again, as if he lost his soul in the camp. When he left his family in Virginia he also left any kind of hope of being healed. While living in the wilderness he was simply existing. But Bethie brought that hope back into his life. She is the one that helps him to heal and to trust himself again.

At one point when they are in the middle of making love Bethie panics and tell Nicholas to stop. He can tell that her body is ready for him...

But her mind was not. Her eyes were squeezed shut, her face turned away from him.

"It's all right, Bethie." He fought the raging of his blood, ignored the animal drive inside him that urged him to take her despite his promise. He withdrew his hand. Then he pulled her into his arms, stroked her hair. "Tell me what you fear, love. Tell me who hurt you." So I can kill the bastard~if he's not already dead.

For a moment she said nothing, but trembled in his arms. "Th-there is nothing to tell."

Because she seemed so fragile, because he did not want to upset her further, he let the lie pass. He pressed his lips to her hair. "Sleep. We've a long journey ahead of us." page 158

Nicholas may think he's not fit to be around other people but the way he treats Bethie, and Belle too, tells another story. He doesn't push Bethie into doing anything she doesn't want to no matter how much he wants it. I think it shows that there is more humanity left in him than he thought.

I loved these two characters and watching them interact. At times it seems like they would take two steps forward and one step back but they were still making progress in their healing. While there were other secondary characters the story was truly Bethie and Nicholas'. Clare does a good job in giving the setting a historical feel and also describing the landscape of the period. When describing the lushness of the land even in the most dire circumstances you feel as if you are right there with the character. When Bethie is fleeing from the forest fire Clare does a wonderful job in detailing what is happening around her. This part especially stood out for me.

Then above the roar and crash of the fire she heard screams~the high-pitched screams of women, of children. They came from all around her~piteous, keening cries.

She lifted her head, looked to her left, to her right, saw only flames.

A shiver ran down her spine.

The screams were not coming from women and children, but from the trees. page 138-139

As you can tell I absolutely loved this book. It's the first of Clare's historicals that I've read but not the last. Her latest, Untamed, is due out at the end of month. It is the second book in her MacKinnon's Rangers series, the first is Surrender. You can read an excerpt of Untamed here.

Even though Ride the Fire is the third book in the trilogy it can be read as a stand alone. To find out more about Pamela Clare and her writing you can check out her website and also her blog for updates on new releases. And for readers new to Pamela Clare you're in luck because her first four historicals are being re-released at a discounted price of 4.99 USD. It's a great way to experience this wonderful writer.

Rating: A

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Review: Let Me Be The One

Title: Let Me Be the One
Author: Jo Goodman
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Compass Club/Book One


North. South. East. West.
Friend for life, we have confessed.
All other truths, we'll deny,
For we are soldier, sailor, tinker, spy.
--Compass Club Charter

Hambrick Hall

They were four friends, finding each other and bonding at the boarding school where they all attended. The bonds of friendship stayed, only strengthening with time, through school and into adulthood. Through adventures and through war. And now they are considered eligible bachelors of the ton but none of them have any desire to settle down with a wife just yet. Of course, that's when the unexpected happens and all thoughts of continuing as a bachelor fade, at least for one of this group of friends. As he catches sight of her he knows what he as been asked to do but it becomes so much more after they meet. Then he slowly realizes that there is more to her than meets the eye. More to her than even he suspected. For North, his adventure has just begun.

Jo Goodman has long been a favorite of mine. She has written many historical romances and her Compass Club series is, in my opinion, one of the best. I had read the series when it was first released and found that I enjoyed it just as much when reading it for the second time. The first book in the series tells of Brendan David Hampton, Earl of Northam, North's story and his heroine, Elizabeth Penrose.

North and Elizabeth first meet at Battenburn, the country estate of the Baron and Baroness of Battenburn. Elizabeth is staying with them at the estate and assists with the running of the household for Louise, the Baroness. All four of Compass Club members are present when North first approaches Elizabeth and requests that she walk with him. In fact, as they enjoy doing, the remaining three members South, East and West discuss whether North will be married by the end of the year. South and West go so far as to make a wager on the outcome. This is by no means the first of many wagers for the group and no doubt will not be the last. They are a very close group of men, fitting so well together. Complementing each other with their differences and similarities to form one unified group.

When Elizabeth first encounters the Compass Club she is on the lawn at Battenburn painting a still life. She hears their laughter:

"It was pure pleasure to hear their laughter. Unrestrained, it had almost a musical quality to it. Four voices, all of them with a slightly different pitch, gave it a certain harmony." page 13

This first glimpse Elizabeth has of the four men is so telling in what they are to each other, how well they fit together. While this story is of North and Elizabeth's road to HEA it is also about the strong bond of friendship these four men have.

There are of course difficulties along the way for North and Elizabeth. There is the Gentleman Thief who has been plaguing the ton and stealing their jewels. There is also the reason for North's initial interest in Elizabeth. He had been asked to check on her by her mother's cousin, Colonel Blackwood. North and the other members of the Compass Club have a history with the Colonel and hold him in high regard. North soon realizes that he has more than just a passing interest in Elizabeth.

It turns out that North is accused of theft and Elizabeth provides his alibi. Still keeping secrets from one another they are forced to marry. Their marriage is not a smooth one with the one place they do get along is in bed. While Elizabeth dare not trust North with her secrets, she eventually trusts him with her body. The love scenes are quite steamy when North and Elizabeth follow through on their mutual attraction.

Elizabeth is a very multi-layered heroine which was a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed trying to figure her out. What motivated her, what exactly made her tick. I wasn't the only one. North spent time trying to understand Elizabeth as well. She is much more than a twenty-six year old spinster, working as an unpaid companion to Baroness Battenburn. She has a variety of interests and is called a blue-stocking by many of the ton. She does have a strained relationship with her father but is good friends with her step-mother who is close to her in age. Her father is considered formidable and intimidating and not at all easy to please.

North was not about to be intimidated by Elizabeth's father or by Elizabeth herself. North is the type of hero who once he decides what he wants, or in this case who, he goes after her until he gets her. He is a good listener and shows that he truly care about Elizabeth's opinions and how she feels about the issues of the day. South, East and West also fall under the spell of Elizabeth but it is North who she can't help but want. North is torn in two with trying to love Elizabeth but also getting her to trust him with her secrets. He slowly figures out some of them but is not prepared for what she finally reveals.

This was a wonderful and engaging read. It held my interest to the very end. I look forward to doing a re-read of the remaining books in the series. I believe Let Me Be the One is currently out of print but can be bought used in various places. The other titles in the series are: Everything I Ever Wanted ~ South's story, All I Ever Needed ~ East's story and Beyond a Wicked Kiss ~ West's story. Goodman's site and information regarding this series and her other books can be found here.

Rating: A

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

New Releases...

Today marks some wonderful goodness coming readers way in the form of new releases.

First up is the latest release, Demon Bound, in the Guardians series by Meljean Brook. From Meljean's website:

The seductive and dangerous world of the Guardians now yields a secret that threatens the soul of a woman and the fate of the universe, both Demon Bound…

Among the Guardians, Alice Grey is known as the Black Widow—a woman trapped in a web spun by the demon Teqon. To save her soul, she agreed to deliver to Teqon the heart of the oldest and most powerful Guardian of all, or else be damned for eternity. After more than a hundred years, Teqon is calling in his debt.

Jake Hawkins is a novice Guardian whose gift of teleportation could be invaluable to Alice in determining her next move. But in aligning himself with her he never expected to fall in love. Now, their passionate flight to escape Alice’s damnable bargain is threatening both their souls. For they’re about to discover a hellish secret about the Guardians—something that will change their universe forever.

So I think I'm the last one to read this series. What the heck I was waiting for? I don't know. I have read the short story Falling for Anthony in the Hot Spell anthology and I will definitely be reading more. If you'd like to read some reviews for Demon Bound, Meljean has posted some on her blog here. This is one series I'm looking forward to gloaming! You can find out more about the Guardians and their world at Meljean's site. Demon Bound is the seventh book, including the three anthologies, in the series.

Next up is Sherrilyn Kenyon's latest entry into her Dark Hunter series, Stryker's story One Silent Night.

Blurb from Amazon:

While the world carries on unawares, Stryker, who leads an army of demons and vampires, is plotting an all out onslaught against his enemies—which, unfortunately for us, includes the entire human race. To avenge his sister, Stryker prepares to annihilate the Dark-Hunters. But things go awry when his oldest enemy returns. Enter his ex-wife. Zephyra. Just when he thought nothing could stop him, he’s now embroiled in a centuries old war with a shrew who gives new meaning to pain.

Yep, I'm still reading the Dark Hunters and am curious to see how Stryker will be redeemed, or if he will.

The next new release is a new series by an author that is new to me. The first book in Lisa Hendrix's paranormal series about Vikings, Immortal Warrior, is released today. It sounds absolutely wonderful. The series is about nine Viking warriors who are cursed to turn into animals during the day and are men at night. Each warrior is a different animal and their story takes place during a different century. I will certainly be adding this to my TBR pile.

Synopsis:
He came to England in search of treasure. Two hundred years later, he’s found her…
Ivar Graycloak is a brave warrior, a man known for his strength and integrity. He is also a man with a terrible secret. Long ago he was part of a Viking crew cursed by an evil sorceress to live for eternity as were-creatures. An eagle by day and a man by night, Ivar has lived a solitary existence for over two centuries. Then the king orders him to marry.

Lady Alaida is everything a man could want in a bride—intelligent, spirited, and beautiful—and their wedding night is a balm to Ivar’s lonely spirit. Then a seer brings him word of a dark vision, one that makes Ivar vow to stay away from his lovely wife forever. But now that Ivar has sampled Alaida’s passion, her humor and warmth, he is enthralled. His traitorous body-his very heart-longs for that which hecan never possess.

Lady Alaida may surprise him yet, though, for she has a power of her own-a power that will either destroy everything they hold dear or ultimately set them free…

I'm sure I've missed quite a few new ones coming out but these were the ones that I could remember. So, what new releases are you looking forward to?

Reveiw: Nobody's Baby But Mine

Title: Nobody's Baby But Mine
Author: Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Chicago Star Series/Book 3


Synopsis:

The Plan: Genius physics professor Dr, Jane Darlington desperately wants a baby. But finding a father won't be easy. Jane's super-intelligence made her feel like a freak when she was growing up , and she's determined to spare her own child that suffering. Which means she must find someone very special to father her child. Someone very...well...stupid.

The Target: Cal Bonner, the Chicago Stars' legendary quarterback, seems like the perfect choice. But his champion good looks and down-home ways are deceiving. Dr. Jane learns too late that this good ol 'boy is a lot smarter than he lets on - and he's not about to be used and abandoned by a brainy, baby-mad schemer.

The Explosion: A brilliant, lonely woman who dreams only of motherhood . . . A take no-prisoners tough guy who'll settle for nothing less than surrender . . . Can passion and physical attraction propel two strong-willed yet vulnerable people to a totally unexpected love?

So I'm not doing my usual type of review since I didn't actually read this book but listened to it. It was an audio book that I downloaded from the library and I didn't take any notes while listening and my memory isn't that great. So I've decided to just start with posting the synopsis from the back cover which can be found on Phillips' website.

So we've got the genius Dr. Jane and her would be sperm donor famous quarterback Cal Bonner. Let me just say that while I haven't read everything SEP has written what I have read I have thoroughly enjoyed and NBBM is no exception. Jane and Cal were wonderful. Their back and forth banter and misunderstandings had me laughing out loud. When the woman who set them up(can't remember her name) explains to Cal why Jane wanted him ~ because Jane thought he was stupid ~ priceless. Cal is not at all stupid and graduated from college with a degree in biology and a high GPA. Jane is not at all happy when she finds this out and accuses him of lying to her about his stupidity or lack of.

The chemistry between Cal and Jane is explosive. They both think the other is not their type but it's obvious that they had no idea what their type really was because they are so right for each other. I would say that the scenes with Cal and Jane arguing were some of the funniest. The times when poor Cal was trying to understand what Jane was saying and totally misunderstood were hilarious. Jane also has some moments when her IQ seemed to be lacking.

The process of them falling in love was believable and had a good flow to it. Phillips is wonderful at creating believable characters and settings. You feel like these people are real and even though Jane's plan is crazy, especially for someone whose suppose to be a genius, I still had no problem going with it and Jane to the final conclusion.

The secondary characters add humor and warmth to the story. Cal's family helps give the reader a perception of Cal's childhood that we wouldn't get from him. Watching Jane interact with Cal's family members gave a wonderful insight into what drives her to excel and why having a baby is so important to her.

Overall a wonderful, fun read. I would highly recommend it and will certainly be reading more from Phillips. This is listed as book three of the Chicago Stars series but it can be read as a stand alone. If you haven't read any of her books you're in luck because she has a huge back list which can be found here.

Rating: A-