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-

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Review: Silent in the Sanctuary

Title: Silent in the Sanctuary
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: Lady Julia Grey Mystery/Book 2


Lady Julia Grey journeyed to Italy after her husband was murdered and her home burned to the ground. Italy was to soothe her soul and help her to heal from all of the changes in her life. She is also trying to come to terms with her feelings for the enigmatic Nicholas Brisbane. So she spends four months traveling with her older brothers Lysander and Eglamour, also known as Plum. Taking in the sights and beauty of Italy are just what Julia needed. Shortly before Christmas the siblings are ordered back home to England by their father, Lord March. Joining them on their return home is Lysander's Italian wife Violante and their friend Alessandro Fornacci. While Alessandro is a friend of Lysander and Plum he has more than just friendship in mind when it comes to Julia.

In Deanna Raybourn's second novel, set in 1880's Victorian England, Julia is still as refreshing and fascinating as she was in the first book, Silent in the Grave. You can read my review of it here. Raybourn's writing is as sharp as ever with well developed characters and an equally well developed story line. She sets the stage and has this ability to drawn you in and make you feel like you're right there, immersed in the scene, watching as everything unfolds around you.

Upon arriving in London the group spends the night in the Grand Hotel with plans to take the train to Sussex in the morning. On their way to the train station Julia is hailed by none other than her sister Portia. Out of Julia's nine siblings Portia is the one she is closest to. Portia is such a fun character. She is widowed, same as Julia but instead of remarrying she took a lover, her late husband's cousin Jane. Portia is funny with a sharp mind and at times an equally sharp tongue. Julia discovers from Portia that Bellmont Abbey, the March country estate, has "a house full of guests" even though Christmas is almost a month away. This leads the sister to believe that their father is up to something.

They make their way to Bellmont Abbey and arrive in time to retire to their rooms to rest and refresh themselves before dinner. As everyone gathers in the hall prior to dinner Julia's father calls her over to him and introduces her to Lord Wargrave or as Julia knows him, Nicholas Brisbane.

Nicholas Brisbane assisted Julia in solving her late husband's murder in Silent in the Grave. Brisbane is a mysterious man who prefers to keep his past to himself. He works as a type of private investigator with his clients mainly among the upper classes of London. He is the kind of man women find fascinating not only because of his good looks but because of the air of danger and the sense of forbidden that surround him. He cares for and is attracted Julia but tells her has no plans to ever marry a woman of wealth. Marriage is the only way he thinks he can have Julia and so because of her wealth he considers her off limits.

As it turns out, Brisbane did not come alone to the Abbey. When Julia is introduced to Brisbane's fiancé my heart broke a little for her. I actually had to stop reading for a few moments. Of course Julia and I both recovered and got through the meeting. When Portia inquires about Julia meeting Mrs. King, Brisbane's fiancé, her response is so typical Julia, I just couldn't help but think "Good for her!".

Portia's eyes narrowed. "You are not shattered. You are smiling. What are you about?"

"Nothing," I told her firmly. "But I have my pride. And as you pointed out," I said with a nod toward Alessandro, "I have alternatives."...

Portia poked me. "What are you thinking?"...

"I was simply thinking what a delight it will be to introduce Alessandro to Brisbane."

pages 87- 88

Even Raybourn's secondary characters come to life. One such example is the venerable Aunt Dorcas. The description of her is so vivid I can easily picture her residing over the room.

"Aunt Dorcas had established herself in the armchair nearest the fire, and it looked as though it would take all of the Queen's army to roust her out of it. No one would call her plump, for plumpness implies something jolly or pleasant, and Aunt Dorcas was neither of those. She was solid, with a sense of permanence about her, as though she had always existed and meant to go on doing so forever. Disturbingly for a woman of her size and age, she had a penchant for girlish ruffles and bows...

...She had gone yellow with age, like vellum, and every bit of her was the colour of stained ivory - teeth, hair, skin, and the long nails that tapped out a tuneless melody on the arm of her chair. But her eyesight was sharp and her hearing even better."

page 88

The secondary characters all play a role in the story and receive wonderful development from Raybourn. Even Grim, Julia's Tower Raven, is brought to life with his own little quirks.

But central to it all is Julia. She is one of those characters that her personality is so strong and so well developed that I tend to forget what she looks like. At first this may seem as if the author didn't describe her physical appearance well. This is not the case at all. It's just that her physical appearance isn't what is upper most in my mind when reading. If you think of the people you know well and like, what comes to mind isn't how they look but who they are. How they act. What drives them. Their likes and dislikes. What's important to them. That is what comes to mind when I think of Julia.

There is still a murder to solve and a ghost to find. The plot is well paced and holds the readers interest with the twists and turns. I enjoyed finding out the different characters' motives and back stories. The setting of the Abbey is perfect for mystery and ghostly occurrences. All the varied rooms and secret hiding places are well used in the story. So too is the history of the Abbey, adding to the sense of mystery.

We also get to see Julia and Brisbane renew their friendship as well as their attraction to one another. While this is not a romance, there are romantic elements most certainly between Julia and Brisbane. I do believe (and hope) that it will eventually become a more romantic relationship between the two. They fit so well together with their witty banter and their oh so very obvious attraction for one another.

"I will search his rooms," he corrected. "It would be highly inappropriate for you to do so."

I felt a little thrill of pleasure at this demonstration of his regard for me. "You mean because a lady should not be present in an unmarried gentleman's bedchamber," I teased, thinking of the many trips I had made to his own chamber the previous night.

"No," he said slowly, his eyes warm with amusement. "I mean it must be done properly and by a professional. You, my lady, are still an amateur."

He was still laughing when I left him.

pages 334-335

I am completely and utterly in love with this series and can't wait to find out what Raybourn has in store for Julia and Brisbane in her next novel.

The next book in the series, Silent on the Moor, is due out March 2009. If you want to read an interesting and informative blog go to Deanna Raybourn's Blog A Go-Go where she posts about a wonderful variety of thoughts and ideas, not all book related.

Rating: A

National Novel Writing Month ~ NaNoWriMo

November 1st starts the National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. The purpose is to write a 175 page novel (approximately 50,000 words) in one month.

From NaNoWriMo website:

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

I have decided to participate, notice the web badge on the sidebar, because I think this might be just the push I need to get the writing out rather than simply thinking about it. I also tend to work better when there is a deadline and the "write on the fly" phrase appealed to me. Will I be able to write 50,000 words? I really don't know. I do have a tendency to edit a lot and this time frame will not allow for much if any editing. So I'm interested to see how well I can curtail that inclination.

My fourteen year old daughter is also participating. She surprised me not because she is writing, she loves to write, but because she has been planning this for months! She has the story planned, knows how many chapters she needs to write and approximately how many words per chapter she will need. I was shocked when she told me since she is not a planner and organization is not one of her stronger attributes.

I have a story worked out in my head but am terrible when it comes to outlining. I truly despise outlining, always have. The characters and setting are there as well as the conflict and back story. It's simply a matter of getting it on paper or computer screen in this case. Even if I don't write 50,000 words I think the experience alone will prove to be something I won't regret.

So to all that are taking part in this endeavour ~ good luck and most importantly, have fun!