Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Author: Linda Lael Miller
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Montana Creeds/Book 1
Published: February 2009
Contemporary Romance Challenge
From the back cover ~
After years of wandering, Logan Creed, a cowboy with a dusty law degree, has returned home. To put down roots, to restore his family’s neglected ranch… to have kids of his own proudly bearing the Creed name.
Divorced mom Briana Grant has heard the stories about her gorgeous neighbor. So Logan’s kindness with her young boys is a welcome surprise, especially when her ex reappears. And when an unknown enemy vandalizes her home, Logan shows Briana—and the folks of Big Sky country—just what he’s made of.
I read this book for Brie's Contemporary Romance Challenge. It's odd but I find I'm reading more and more contemporaries lately. I think this challenge has helped me find new authors to try and old favorites to go back to. So thanks Brie for hosting the challenge!
Linda Lael Miller books and I go way back. Decades. I may not know her personally but I know her books well. Up until a few years ago I had read everything she had written. A comfort read is what I would call Ms. Miller. She's an author that I know there is a excellent chance I will take pleasure in whatever she writes. Her books may not always end up on my keeper shelf but I'll almost always receive satisfaction from them. That was the case with Logan's story.
Logan Creed has decided it's time to head home. Back to the ranch where he was raised. The ranch where no one has lived for years, that is in complete disrepair and is in danger of falling apart. Logan has a huge job ahead of him. He must get repairs done to the house, the barn, outbuildings and he has to talk to his two brothers regarding all the changes he wants to make. His brothers, who he hasn't talked to in years, are also part owners of the ranch. The problem is that they don't want to talk to him so he has to be clever. He has to get them on the phone and stop them from hanging up on him. The three brothers were close once but not since their father died. That's when Logan made a mistake that cost him that closeness with his brothers. But now he's back in Stillwater Springs and is unwavering in his determination to get his brothers and the ranch back.
Briana Grant is a mother of two boys and the ex-wife of a loser. Her ex-husband, Vince, left her and her sons standing outside the local Wal-Mart. Talk about public embarrassment. But with the help of Dylan Creed, Briana was able to get her life together and make a home for herself and her sons. Briana thinks Dylan took pity on her and her boys when he gave her the keys to his small house on the Creed land along with the old truck that was in need of some work. Briana was able to get a job at the local casino and can now support her small family without the help of her ex. Which is good since his contact and child support is few and far between.
When Briana and Logan meet they strike up a tentative friendship. They are neighbors and while they both may admit to themselves there is an attraction, publicly they are simply neighbors. One of the things I liked about Logan and Briana's relationship is that they did start out as friends. Oh, the attraction was there, they're both good looking so it's normal for them to be attracted to the other but they really got to know each other and came to care for the other. Logan got to see Briana with her sons and learn how important they are to her and the lengths she is willing to go to in order to provide a good life for them. And Briana slowly pulled the story of what happened between Logan and his brothers out of him. She sees how much he cares for his brothers and wants to repair those relationships. Logan is a bit of what I consider a typical cowboy. Laid back and slow to talk. And also slow to share. So the fact that he didn't open up right away to Briana stayed true to his character IMO.
The two subplots of Briana's home being vandalized and her ex-husband showing up were okay. Some of what went on with her ex just made me roll my eyes but I went with it. My main interest was in finding out what would happen with Logan and Briana. I knew they would end up together and everything would work out in the end I just wasn't completely sure of the details. So I guess comfort reads to me are all in the details. I know how they will end but the details leading to the end are what keep me coming back.
The next book in the series is Dylan's with the third book Tyler's. There is also A Creed Country Christmas book slatted to release this November. The first three books are out now and I've got Dylan's waiting patiently for me at the library. Why the library? Why not buy it? Mostly because while I want to read Dylan's story I wasn't left with a burning desire to read it. Knowing I will eventually read it is good enough for me.
For Ms. Miller huge backlist check out her website. Some of my all-time favorite historicals are by Miller. Her Orphan Train and Quaid books are wonderful. Highly recommend.
Monday, April 27, 2009
From the author's website:
on the day of her first betrothal meeting--and rejection--ai ling discovers a power welling deep within her. she can reach into other people’s spirits, hear their thoughts, see their dreams…and that’s just the beginning.
ai ling has been marked by the immortals; her destiny lies in the emperor’s palace, where a terrible evil has lived, stealing souls, for centuries. she must conquer this enemy and rescue her captive father, while mythical demons track her every step. and then she meets chen yong, a young man with a quest of his own, whose fate is intertwined with hers. here is a heart-stopping, breathtaking tale for fans of action, fantasy, and romance--of anything with the making of legend.
If the blurb and beautiful cover don't pull you in maybe the trailer will ~
Friday, April 24, 2009
The cover is pretty but also similar to many of the covers out there (glances to Daring Time cover on right and Hard and Fast cover in post below). Her name is huge ~ guess that's the trend after an author hits the NY Times list. I do like the colors. And that tattoo has me wondering if it extends to his back and what other tattoos he might have.
As a fan of her Darkyn series I'm looking forward to reading this new series. Judging by the excerpt, is a crossover set in the same universe with some of the Darkyn characters making appearances. I'm all for guest appearances if it's Lucan and Samantha, my favorite couple from that series.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
New to Charlotte, stock car racing country, graduate student Imogen Wilson meets Ty McCordle, a driver who inexplicably has her pulse racing. After an encounter at the track with a woman whose main goal in life is to marry a driver, Imogen realizes she’s hit on the perfect thesis for her Sociology degree. If she follows The Rules on how to get a man, can she steer her way to into the hearts of the drivers and establish their dating—and mating—patterns?
This is the second book in the Fast Track series and while I didn't like it quite as much as the first, Flat-Out Sexy, (read my review here) it was still an enjoyable read. I found the hero, Ty, very likable and a well developed character. Imogen...hmmm. She wasn't quite as likable for me. While I didn't necessarily dislike her she has a tendency to talk a lot! Have you ever met someone or known someone who had this need to say whatever it is they're thinking? She's kind of like that. She has a very inquisitive nature and has an overwhelming need to ask questions and comment about what is going on around her, including sex. Which is fine up to a point. The point being where she needed to just be quiet and enjoy being with Ty.
Ty and Imogen: aka The Odd Couple
Two pieces of a puzzle that didn't seem to fit together - at first. On the surface, they had the mutual physical attraction going on but that was about it. Imogen is all into knowledge from books and asking questions while Ty tends to get his knowledge from experience. Imogen even thought of herself as "an observer instead of a participant". Ty, on the other hand, learned how to drive by getting behind the wheel and just doing it. You could say Ty epitomizes the NIKE slogan.
Ty and Imogen actually met briefly in the first book of the series, Flat-Out Sexy. Ty is a race car driver and good friends with Elec Monroe. Imogen is a grad student who is a friend and colleague of Tamara Briggs. So when Hard and Fast starts, a relationship of sorts has already begun between these two. Imogen believes that her reason for being around Ty is purely research for her thesis. Ty is more than willing to introduce Imogen to the racing world. He's very attracted to her and wants to spend time with her any way he can. He is able to not only show her how the world of professional racing works but he also exposes her to new experiences. Camping, for one. This may not seem like a big deal but it really helped Imogen break out of her shell, so to speak, and become more involved rather than sitting on the sidelines, taking notes.
The Sex Scenes...
There were a couple of odd moments after and during the sex scenes. The first was after Ty and Imogene had sex and they then cuddled up together on the bed and went to sleep. No mention was made of Ty going in the bathroom and disposing of the condom. Then they wake up the next morning and end up the 69 position. This is after some kissing and fondling. No mention of a trip to bathroom for either of them to freshen up. Now I'm not saying readers want a ton of details regarding what characters do in the bathroom but a brief mention would be appreciated. Maybe something along the lines of how his breath is "minty fresh". The lack of a clean up was upper most in my mind when Ty and Imogen were doing the reciprocal feasting. Since this is an ARC, it's possible there will be some mention of a bathroom detour in the final edition. I should say that this is just a hang up of mine so it's quite possible it won't bother other readers.
The evolving relationship of Ty and Imogen was a pleasure to experience. The way their differences complimented each other and also helped them to experience aspects of life they had been missing. By the end of the book it make absolute sense for these two to be together since they were far more compatible then they first seemed.
Suzanne and Ryder were once again a wonderful secondary couple that I hope will get their own book. They were also in Flat-Out Sexy. Ryder is a driver and Suzanne his ex-wife whom he still has a relationship with, albeit an odd relationship. Even though they are divorced I still think of them as a couple who's story hasn't been told yet. The scenes with Suzanne are hilarious and poor Ryder is just as confused as ever. They definitely need their own book. Tamara and Elec also make appearances and the reader gets to see how their lives have progressed after the HEA in Flat-Out Sexy.
While I enjoyed Hard and Fast I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the first book, Flat-Out Sexy. I simply felt more of a connection with Tamara and Elec than I did with Ty and Imogen. So, there you have it. Still a fun, sexy read that was satisfying for this reader. I will be keeping an eye out for the next book in the series (hope it's Suzanne & Ryder's). Information on Ms. McCarthy's books can be found on her website. And her covers are delicious!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Here's a website with a list of different things you can do to help save Mother Earth. Every little thing helps towards having a cleaner environment and a healthier place to live. Try to do just one thing a day ~ it will make a difference!
And today also happens to be mine and Alpha Guy's anniversary. So Happy Anniversary Pooh! Miss you! XOXO
Monday, April 20, 2009
Neverwhere and American Gods ~ Neil Gaiman
Dragon Bones ~ Patricia Briggs
The Name of the Wind ~ Patrick Rothfuss
Kitty and the Midnight Hour ~ Carrie Vaughn
The Keeper ~ Sarah Langan
Nightlife ~ Rob Thurman
The Sharing Knife: Beguilement ~ Lois McMaster Bujold
Storm Front ~ Jim Butcher
Maybe I should have offered a Lora Leigh or a Maya Banks. Or my Jet Mykles' Dark Elves. hehehe. I was good and didn't try to embarrass him. I suppose I could have still slipped a Lora Leigh into his carry-on...
Anyway, I had a pretty good idea which ones he would choose. (He picked two.) I thought for sure he would go for one of the Gaimans and I was right. He chose American Gods.
Released from prison, Shadow finds his world turned upside down. His wife has been killed; a mysterious stranger offers him a job. But Mr. Wednesday, who knows more about Shadow than is possible, warns that a storm is coming -- a battle for the very soul of America . . . and they are in its direct path.
He did surprise me a little with his second choice. He picked The Keeper. Why?
DH, picks up book. "Oh, it takes place in Maine." He's from Maine. *grins*
Some believe Bedford, Maine, is cursed. Its bloody past, endless rain, and the decay of its downtown portend a hopeless future. With the death of its paper mill, Bedford's unemployed residents soon find themselves with far too much time to dwell on thoughts of Susan Marley. Once the local beauty, she's now the local whore. Silently prowling the muddy streets, she watches eerily from the shadows, waiting for . . . something. And haunting the sleep of everyone in town with monstrous visions of violence and horror.
Those who are able will leave Bedford before the darkness fully ascends. But those who are trapped here—from Susan Marley's long-suffering mother and younger sister to her guilt-ridden, alcoholic ex-lover to the destitute and faithless with nowhere else to go—will soon know the fullest and most terrible meaning of nightmare.
He initially picked up Storm Front, then I opened my mouth and pointed out that it was the first book in a series. Nope, no series. And no vampires. This of course reduced his choices dramatically.
A little background on his reading habits. Back in our early years, pre-kids, he used to read a lot of SciFi. Authors like: Orson Scott Card, Alan Dean Foster, Frank Herbert, C. J. Cherryh, Piers Anthony or Gordon R. Dickson. Lately he reads mostly non-fiction but I'm trying to change that. :0)
Anyone else try to get your spouse, SO, family or friends to read more? Any new SciFi author recommends with similar writing styles to the above would be appreciated.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
It's another big contest this time from authors Jill Shalvis, HelenKay Dimon and Alison Kent. Three authors with new releases coming your way. I've only read Jill Shalvis and if you look below this post you can read my review of Instant Attraction. Alison Kent and HelenKay Dimon I have waiting patiently on my TBR pile. Their books look quite yummy!
So do you want to win some books? Maybe even Gift Cards? And who wouldn't want to win a Sony Reader? So click on the link in the image above and it will take you to the contest.
*Note: This contest is not sponsored by Leslie's Psyche. Leslie does not have a Sony Reader and if she did she would keep it! :) Sorry.*
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Author: Jill Shalvis
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Wilder Brothers/Book 1
Published: February 2009
From back cover ~
Accountant Katie Kramer is a quintessential good girl - working hard, recycling diligently, all the while trying to ignore the feeling that she doesn't fit in anywhere. That's all she wants. Well, that - and amazing sex, and the kind of daredevil escapade she can look back on when she's crunching numbers in a dusty cubicle. Which explains why she just took a job in Wishful, California, working for Wilder Adventures and Expeditions. Waking up to find a magnificently built stranger towering over her bed - that part defies explanation...
After wandering the planet for months following a life-changing accident, Cameron Wilder has come back to the only home he knows. Under other circumstances, he might be thrilled to find a gorgeous woman sleeping in his cabin, but now, while he'll risk his body taking clients on adrenaline-drenched excursions, his heart is off limits. Still, Katie's killer smile triggers something deep in his gut...among other places. Showing her how exhilarating it can be to stop balancing her life as if it was a check book is the biggest rush he's ever felt - and an adventure Katie's wishing would never end...
Finally, a review. RL has intruded to the point where it's been hard to concentrate on writing reviews. I've been spending my online time blog hopping with the attention span of a two year old instead of writing. But I'm hopefully back on track with my first Jill Shalvis book. At least I think it is my first. She has a huge back list so I suppose it's possible that I read one of her earlier books but I don't think so. I would have remembered this author. I'm starting to wonder about this rumor about the contemporary being a dying breed. Looking back on my recent reads I've read quite a few very well written contemporaries. Sure the PNR genre is flooded with new series every month but the contemporary is still alive and kicking. Instant Attraction is a perfect example of what a really good romance is.
Katie Kramer got a wake up call one day. It was in the form of a car accident that nearly killed her. After she recovers she feels the need for change but what she not sure of. So she packs up and heads out to the unknown and ends up in the town of Wishful. Katie takes a temporary job as the office manager for the Wilders at their mountain lodge. She's gotten out of the city and into what she feels is a refuge, at least for now. Katie is at the point in her life where she's not sure what she wants or where she wants to end up, both physically and emotionally. The one thing she does know is that she wants to take risks, to do things she never would have done before. Kind of like the bucket list but instead of dying she almost died and now gets a second chance at life. She doesn't want to waste that chance.
What can I say about Katie? I liked her. I understood her motives for wanting to get away from her old life and the pain she went through. She was a well developed character that Shalvis really let the reader get into by seeing Katie's actions and reactions to the situations she finds herself in. She scared of taking chances and trying new things but she's more scared of not trying and losing out on what could be an amazing experience. These emotions come through so well in Shalvis' writing.
Cameron Wilder is so damn tired. When we first meet him he can barely stay awake. He's been moving here, there. Never staying in one place too long. Not knowing where he'll go next only that he can't go back to what and who he was. That old life is lost to him and he can never get it back. And that really sucks for Cam. He doesn't know what else to do. His abilities on the slopes defined him. Made him who he was. Without that he's lost. And where do the lost, if their smart, finally go? Home. Unfortunately for Cameron his home is occupied by a woman. And she's not just any woman but a woman who wants to live life to the fullest when all Cam wants to do is retreat from life.
Katie was exactly what Cam needed. The kick in the ass to get him to realize that his life wasn't over. That he was more than just this famous world champion snowboarder. That there can be life after a tragedy. These two worked so well together. They complimented each other. Push and pull. Katie giving Cam the push he needed to get back into the business of living. Cam giving Katie the pull she needed to go for those adventures she's so certain will complete her life.
And the Instant Attraction is certainly there. They have a hard time keeping their eyes (and hands) off each other. The scenes where the clothes start coming off are sexy, funny and so very hot. You know how readers blog about the various words authors used when describing a man's anatomy? Specifically what's between his legs. Shalvis used a word to describe those man parts that I don't remember hearing before.
No slouch, she got his pants to his thighs, freeing his essentials.
And, oh God, his essentials... He was big and hard and hot, and her being so naked while he was still relatively clothed was a shocking turn-on. page 177
I like it. It has class. Essentials. It even sounds a bit erotic if you draw it out and say it in a sultry voice. Go ahead, say it. You gotta admit it's way better than "man-root".
Katie and Cam weren't the only ones whose essentials were getting some action. The characters of Annie, Cam's aunt, and her soon to be ex-husband, Nick, had an interesting secondary story going on. Poor Nick trying to figure out what Annie really wants from him. With Stone and Cam trying to help him out (the blind leading the blind). Those conversations between the guys had some great male dialogue.
I enjoyed Instant Attraction and will add more Jill Shalvis books to my TBR pile. Can't have enough good books. And with that in mind there are two other Wilder men, Stone mentioned above and TJ the oldest brother who was absent for most of the book. So more Wilder Adventures to look forward to. In fact Stone's book is next, Instant Gratification, due out June 30. Here's an excerpt from Stone's book. And for that extensive back list you should check out Ms. Shalvis' website and blog. Rating: A-
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Plus chances to win books (almost) every day for a month!
Go to http://www.anyabast.com/blog/ for details on how to enter.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Author: Jaci Burton
Genre: Erotic Romance
Series: Wild Riders/Book 3
Published: April 2009
From author's website:
Department of Justice agent Shadoe Grayson is out to prove she’s no rookie, and eagerly accepts her first undercover assignment at a strip club in New Orleans. Working with the Wild Riders, a government agency of bad boy bikers, her goal is to bring down a corrupt DEA agent. All she has to do now is learn to strip like a pro.
Standing in her way is the arrogant and smokin’ hot Spencer King, her partner and one of the Wild Riders. Spence thinks she looks more like a schoolteacher than a stripper, and doubts her ability to do the job. But when he mockingly challenges Shadoe to strip just for him, he finds out there’s more to the surprisingly sexy agent than by-the-book rules and Government Issue pantsuits.
Now Spencer has to resist his baser instincts while Shadoe learns that taking off your clothes doesn’t always equal losing control…
Riding on Instinct is my very first book by author Jaci Burton. Why I haven't read anything by her before, I have no idea. The book was incredibly hot with the hero and heroine building up the sexual tension. There were plenty of sex scenes but they were only part of the story. The relationship that develops between Shadoe and Spence, how they work together in very tense situations was also a big part of the over all storyline.
When Spencer King first meets Shadoe Grayson she is wearing her usual work uniform of pantsuit, no makeup and her hair in a very confined bun. She looks nothing like the stripper she will soon be portraying. She has to prove that she deserves the undercover assignment but it won't be easy to convince Spencer King. At first he sees only the fact that she looks nothing like a stripper and tells her exactly what he thinks. Being blunt is part of Spence's charm. Shadoe's ace in the hole is her photographic memory and the fact that she wants this assignment so bad she's determined to succeed.
I liked Shadoe right from the start. Took me a little bit to get used to her name but she is a character that on the surface you think you understand her and yet she continued to surprise me. She's a resilient field agent when she needs to be, willing to do whatever it takes to reach her goal. She stands up to Spence's disdain for her and leaves him speechless the first time he sees her dance.
And that brings us to Spencer King. Bad boy. Biker. Loner. They all describe him but he is so much more than that. He's smart, funny, sexy as all hell and loyal to his fellow Wild Riders. Spence may be a real ass at times but he's still manages to be likeable. You know the kind that will make a smartass remark then follow it up with a wink and a grin. After meeting and working with Shadoe, Spence must try to convince himself that he doesn't want any serious relationships. That he prefers shallow sex to anything long term, or so he keeps saying. He's really just afraid of taking things beyond sex. Of feeling more than just the physical side of sex. There's a scene at the end that Spence says what I think he was trying to tell Shadoe throughout the story.
Spence to Shadoe ~
"I don't know how to do this, Shadoe."
"How to do what?"
"Love someone. I've never done it before."
Awe, doesn't your heart just melt for him? Yeah, he's a hardass, arrogant SOB at times but he still made a wonderful hero.
So Shadoe and Spence head to New Orleans to try to find a rogue DEA agent. The rogue has been helping the Colombian drug dealers stay one step ahead of the DEA. Shadoe will work at the strip club where the transactions happen and Spence will be her bodyguard. Two other Wild Riders, AJ and Paxton will pose as customers (tough job guys!), keep an eye out for anyone suspicious and be Shadoe and Spence's backup.
I'm not all that familiar with strip clubs, it's been years since I've been in one but I certainly got a feel for what it was like for Shadoe to work in one. The atmosphere of the club was well written as were the descriptions of the various women working at the club. The camaraderie of the dancers was fascinating to read as was the rivalry between some of the women. I liked the fact that Ms. Burton showed how Shadoe connected with some of the other dancers. She gave them personalities apart from simply being strippers.
This is an erotic romance and Burton certainly knows how to write erotica. The way Shadoe and Spence steamed up the pages I'm surprised the edges didn't curl. The plot was one that I completely fell for and who wouldn't love hot guys riding Harleys? The first time Shadoe rode on Spence's bike was very sensual. Shadoe held on to Spence using not only her arms wrapped around him but her thighs against his and her chest to his back. And poor Spence, lol. He was just a wee bit uncomfortable having just seen Shadoe strip on stage and then having her cuddled up against him on the bike. He kept envisioning her on stage in her very revealing costume. Yep, he was just a bit uncomfortable.
What a fun ride Ms. Burton took me on with Spence and Shadoe. I will definitely be getting the first two books, Riding Wild and Riding Temptation, in this series. I need to find out about Mac/Lily and Diaz/Jessie, the couples from the first two books. And I definitely want to read more about AJ and Pax. Let's just say that their very good at sharing and leave it at that. I'm hoping their book is next in the series.
Riding on Instinct was released yesterday so if you can't find it in stores yet it should be there very soon. Jaci Burton has written a number of books, both erotica and romances. She also writes the Demon Hunters series with three books currently out and the fourth due out this June. You can read more about all her books at her website.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Author: Kristan Higgins
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: February 2009
*Some Mild Spoilers*
From the author's website:
Making up a boyfriend is nothing new for me. I’ll come right out and admit that. Some people go window shopping for things they could never afford. Some look at online photos of resorts they’ll never visit. Some people imagine that they meet a really nice guy when, in fact, they don’t.
The first time it happened was in sixth grade. Recess. Heather B., Heather F. and Jessica A. were standing in their little circle of popularity. They wore lip gloss and eye shadow, had cute little pocketbooks and boyfriends. Back then, going out with a boy only meant that he might acknowledge you while passing in the hall, but still, it was a status symbol, and one which I lacked, right along with the eye shadow. Heather F. was watching her man, Joey Ames, as he put a frog down his pants for reasons clear only to sixth grade boys, and talking about how she was maybe going to break up with Joey and go out with Jason...
My very first Kristan Higgins books but not my last. I've heard a bunch of good stuff about her work, she won the RITA last year for Catch of the Day. But I'm not real familiar with the RITAs or how they are chosen which is good since that's not why I read this one. Kristie from Ramblings on Romance posted a review of Too Good to Be True here and after reading her review I decide TGTBT would be my first Higgins book.
Grace is the kind of heroine you can imagine being friends with, hanging out, talking about books, movies and well... the Civil War. She's a history teacher at a private high school and is also involved in a group called Brother Against Brother. They reenact Civil War battles at various locations. Grace and her father both share this passion of reenacting and I enjoyed reading about Grace's enthusiasm while she was "in the heat of the battle". LOL I found myself laughing a lot while reading TGTBT. The dialogue, the slap-stick comedy and the situations that Grace gets herself in are all very humorous.
I don't want to give the impression that Grace was this perfect heroine and that there was nothing about her that I didn't love. In fact one of the things that bothered me the most about this book was Grace. I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with her character. Like I mentioned, she was someone that I could see hanging out with but I know had she been a friend of mine she would drive me absolutely crazy and I'm sure piss me off at times. The way she let her family walk all over her drove me up the wall! The final straw was when her younger sister asked Grace to be her maid-of-honor. Which would be fine except her sister was marrying Grace's ex-fiancé who dumped her 3 weeks before the wedding. As I was reading the scene I kept thinking, "you better say no Grace, don't you dare say yes!". Of course she said yes. Damn it!
Too Good to Be True is written in 1st POV. Most contemporary romances I read are written in 3rd POV so this took a little getting use to . It also, IMO, hampered the reader from getting to know Callahan O'Shea better. He's the obvious hero of the story but maybe calling him Grace's love interest is more accurate. The story is really Grace's with Callahan almost more of a secondary character through at least the first half of the book.
Callahan was an interesting choice for a hero/love interest. Cal had been an accountant but pleaded guilty to embezzlement so his license was revoked. But it turns out that he is also very good with his hands. As is handy around the house. In fact he buys the house next door to Grace with the intent of flipping it. That is he fixes it up and then sells it for a profit. When Cal first moves in he had been released from prison two months before and was trying to get on with his life. When Grace finds out about Cal's prison record she decides to stay away from him even though she's attracted to him. Then she begins to overcome her prejudice and spend time with Cal. After getting to know Cal and hear his side of why he went to prison she stops denying her feelings for him. I did like Cal but I would have liked to get to know his character better.
Grace's family played a very fundamental role in the story. They are such a part of who Grace is. She seemed to define herself by what her role in her family was. She was the middle child so it's no surprise that she was a real people pleaser, especially when it came to her parents and two sisters. I think it was just a matter of the whole family conditioned to treat Grace they way they did and for Grace to react the way she did. I really did not like her younger sister Natalie. She was such a princess. She was kind and sweet but I still got them impression she expected to get her way. Grace's older sister Margs wasn't as bad as Natalie but she still took advantage of Grace. It was frustrating to see Grace stand up when questioned for giving a student a low grade but she wouldn't stand up to her family when they took advantage of her.
There was also Grace's best friend Julian. Now him I really liked and would have loved to see more of his character. He and Grace both decide to look for someone special and the way they went about it was so Laverne and Shirley. Loved the scenes with Julian. And I can't forget to mention Angus, Grace's oh so adorable pooch. He was so sweet and at times the only one that Grace could pour her heart out to. Everyone should have an Angus.
I did mention that this is more of Grace's book than Grace and Callahan but there is a HEA. It's just that I think of the book as Grace's journey to Cal rather than their journey together. If that makes sense. So what grade to give? It was a light and very funny read. But there were a few things that bugged me. I'm going with B+ but very close to an A-.
A list of Ms. Higgins books and excerpts can be found on her website.
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Sunday, April 5, 2009
Author: Lisa Marie Wilkinson
Genre: Historical Romance/1703 England
Published: March 2009
Synopsis from back cover~
It is 1703 and Rachael Penrose is confined to Bedlam insane asylum in London after discovering her uncle Victor plans to kill her brother in order to inherit the family fortune. Victor leads a gang of criminals and uses French privateer/smuggler Sebastien Falconer as the scapegoat for his crimes. When Victor spread the lie that Rachael informed on Falconer's smuggling activities, Falconer vows revenge on the girl.
A dangerously ill Rachael finally escapes from Bedlam only to find shelter in Sebastien's carriage and ends up in his care. It is a twist of fate that will alter both their lives.
Believing she is in danger from Sebastien, Rachael meets up with his estranged twin brother, Jacques, a customs officer intent on bringing his brother, the famous privateer to justice. Btu the real criminal is still at large, and she and her brother are still in danger. Will she discover the truth and save both their lives... and her heart?
Since this is the author’s first novel I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had read the first two chapters online at the author's website so I knew that I was interested. But whether the story could continue to hold my interest was the real question. Fortunately it could and did hold my interest. The time period is not one that I read often but I found myself drawn into the era of the smugglers and privateers. The descriptions of life along the coast of England were vivid and made the scenes come alive. The depiction of the water thrashing the rocks, of the wind and rain blowing against those foolish enough to be caught in it. The author not only brought the characters alive but she also brought the landscape alive.
The heroine, Rachael Penrose, is a strong spirited heroine with a determination to find her baby brother and get them both to safety. But first she must escape Bedlam and her uncle. When the story opens Rachael is locked up in Bedlam and desperately trying to stay sane. The conditions are horrendous. Rachael talks of feeding the rats in her cell in the hopes that they will leave her alone. She has no way of getting in touch with anyone for help. When she realizes that her uncle has every intention of having her killed she knows she must somehow escape. Thankfully, she has help escaping since she has been drugged and is in no condition to get out on her own.
Once out of Bedlam she is on the run from the men her uncle has sent after her. She ends up not with the family that aided in her escape but in the care of her other nemesis, Sebastien Falconer. Before Rachael realizes who is caring for her she comes to feel not only gratitude for Sebastien but also a growing attraction to him. Rachael does try to get away from Sebastien once she finds out who he is. She is not only angry at him but at herself for being inexplicably drawn to him. They both try to fight their feelings for each other, thinking they are enemies. Rachael and Sebastien have not only each other to fight but also her uncle’s men and the customs officials who are lead by Sebastien twin brother. He is out to get Sebastien and will use any means, even Rachael, to bring his brother to trial.
Sebastien Falconer is a Frenchman and a privateer. He was raised by his paternal grandfather to hate all things English. His mother was English but left France when Sebastien’s father died and she took his brother Jacques with her to England. So to say there is rivalry between the brothers is an understatement. Sebastien wants only to clear his name so he can get back his ship and crew. He doesn’t want to have anything to do with Rachael other than revenge. But when she is practically dropped into his lap he decides to keep her with him until he can decide exactly what to do with her. His growing attraction to Rachael only complicates things and he must try to keep her safe from her uncle and his brother.
The story was fast paced with Sebastien and Rachael on the move a lot. At times it seemed like nearly everyone was after them and they barely had time to be alone before they needed to evade the current threat pursing them. The storm known as The Great Storm of 1703, also plays a role in Sebastien and Rachael's attempts to elude their pursuers. The plot is complicated with many players woven in and out of Rachael and Sebastien’s journey to safety and rescuing her brother. The secondary characters were interesting and true to their time period with the men holding the power and the women having a more subtle type of influence over the outcome of events. I enjoyed the way Wilkinson brought the conflict of Sebastien and his brother into the plot but didn’t let it overshadow the romance building between Rachael and Sebastien.
Wilkinson is a new voice in historical romance that I look forward to reading more of. Her next novel, Stolen Promise, is due out March of 2010. Until then you can read excerpts from Fire at Midnight at the author’s website.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: Troubleshooters/Book 3
Published: September 2001
Nath's Re-read Challenge (sorry it's late!)
Voted # 1 on the Romance Writers of America's Top Ten List of Favorite Books of the Year 2001
Her passion is flying. As one of the best helicopter pilots in the naval reserves, Lieutenant Teri Howe is tough, dedicated, and highly-skilled--until a past mistake surfaces, jeopardizing everything she's worked for.
Rock steady Senior Chief Stan Wolchonok has made a career of solving problems. He willingly comes to Teri's aid, knowing that his personal code of honor--and perhaps his heart--will be at risk. But when a jet carrying an American senator's daughter is hijacked, Stan's unflinching determination and Teri's steadfast courage are put to the ultimate test. The rescue mission will be daring and dangerous. But somewhere between peril and resolution, the line between friends and lovers begins to blur, pushing both their lives over the edge...
I've read all of the books in Suzanne Brockmann's Troubleshooters series and Stan is one of my favorite heroes. He's right up there with Jimmy Nash. Which, if you're familiar with the two characters they are very different, at least in looks. But in loyalty, integrity and attitude they are quite similar. While I find something in each of Brockmann's books that I enjoy there are some minor problems that I have with the plot, characters or flow of the story. One of my least favorite are the World War II subplots. Over the Edge had one and while I found it somewhat interesting I'd rather have two separate stories instead of the way Brockmann does it with the WW II subplots.
Stan Wolchonok went into the Navy straight out of high school. He's a career Navy man and has no intention of getting married and settling down. This mind-set comes from watching his parents and how hard being married to a Navy man was on his mother. So Stan focuses on his career and the men in the teams. He's the go to guy when problems need to be solved. His teammates can always count on the Senior Chief to do the impossible. His love life is not a string of one night stands nor is he in a long term relationship. And he certainly doesn't see himself as a ladies man.
He was a scary looking man, not terribly tall but muscular-completely ripped, in fact~with a face that looked as if he'd spent a few years in a boxing ring. His broad cheekbones, big forehead, and heavy brow seemed made for the permanent glower he'd perfected. His jawline and chin were pugnacious and his nose listed very slightly to the left -broken one too many time, no doubt. His eyes were dark and capable of being cuttingly intense or soullessly flat and dead. His hair had lately outgrown his usual no frills crew cut and was thick and wavy and surprisingly blond. His skin was fair ~too-fair ~and he was nearly always sun or wind-burned, with ruddy cheeks and a peeling nose. page 20
So he's not exactly GQ material but that doesn't matter to Lieutenant Teri Howe. She's worked with Stan and seen how his men treat him with respect and admiration. She also finds herself attracted to him. Teri has had some problems in the past with sexual harassment in the work place and she is currently on the receiving end of unwanted advances from another officer. So she decides to keep things strictly platonic with Stan. She also doesn't want to act on her attraction because she thinks Stan doesn't see her as potential date material. He sees her as someone who needs his help fixing a problem.
Stan tries to fix Teri's problem by getting her away from the jerk who is coming on to her. Stan arranges for Teri to go on a training mission with the team. The training mission becomes a real mission when an airplane is taken over by terrorists and the SEALs are needed to take out the terrorists. The terrorists land the plane in Kazbekistan, known as the Pit. Not a place anyone wants to be and Stan is so very sorry he's the reason Teri is there.
Teri isn't sorry, she's excited to be involved in a real mission. All she's ever wanted was to fly. And flying with the SEALs, doing something so important is like a dream come true for her. She is aware of the security risks, Stan is always reminding her to wear her flack jacket, but she still finds the whole experience exciting.
Stan spends his down time in Kazbekistan trying to fix Teri up with Mike Muldoon. An adorable, young attractive SEAL who is also an officer. Teri finds Stan's matchmaking annoying at best. She finally has enough of it and decides to let Stan know exactly how she feels. She does this by getting naked. Sometimes when dealing with men you just have to hit them over the head with a brick.
There are two secondary stories, not including the World War II subplot. The first is with Sam and Alyssa, one of Brockmann fans all time favorite couples. While I like Sam and Alyssa their story seems like such a mess of misunderstandings, miscommunication and negative attitude. They do eventually get their own book, Gone Too Far, and finally get their HEA. In Over the Edge, they are put through the ringer and you can't help but feel sorry for them and the way things have turned out by the end of the book.
The second subplot is about Gina Vitagliano, a hostage on the plane, and Max Bhagat, the head of the FBI's counter terrorism unit and Gina's connection lifeline during the standoff with the terrorists. I really enjoy Max and Gina and how their relationship began and what the potential future of it is. There is a 20 year age difference but I think Gina's experiences on the plane certainly aged her and Max, while trying to deny any amorous feelings towards Gina still has very strong feelings about her that he can't ignore.
Stan and Teri go through many ups and downs during their time in Kazbekistan. With Stan trying to play matchmaker and Teri getting mixed signals from Stan. Then you add the stress of where they are and the mission and you get two people who seem to have very little chance of at any kind of relationship. Brockmann does a wonderful job portraying Stan's feelings of being too ugly and old for someone as beautiful as Teri, there is an eleven year age difference. And Teri was trying to get over her fear of aggressive men with Stan teaching her how to stand up for herself. In the end you can't help but feel like they belong together. That everything they went through brought them to that point.
So this time through Over the Edge proved once again a truly enjoyable read and one of my favorites of the Troubleshooters series. If you haven't read Suzanne Brockmann and you like romantic suspense you should give her a try. I wouldn't consider all of her books keepers or re-reads but I have found something in all of them that I enjoyed.