Sunday, February 28, 2010

Cover Love ~ Whisper Kiss


One man’s mission ignites one woman’s fire…

Niall Talbot has volunteered to hunt down and destroy all the remaining shadow dragons—who were weakened by the destruction of the Dragon’s Blood Elixir—before they can wreak more havoc. Among them is his dead twin brother, making Niall’s mission not only dangerous but personal.

Tattoo artist Rox believes the world is a canvas to be made more beautiful. An unconventional spirit who isn’t afraid of anything, she doesn’t even flinch when a shape-shifting dragon warrior suddenly appears on her doorstep. And as a woman who follows her heart in matters of passion, she makes the perfect mate for a firestorm with Niall.

Whisper Kiss is book 5 in Deborah Cooke's Dragonfire series. It's due for release on August 3. The blurb doesn't really grab me. I can't help but wonder why the heroine easily accepts a shape-shifting dragon. Hmmm... could be she's met one before? That could be interesting.

I still need to read book 4, Winter Kiss. And while I like the series I wouldn't say I'm exactly impatient to read it. I am looking forward to Rafferty's book, due out next year. He's the dragon shape shifter that caught my interest from the beginning. :)

Reviews for the first two books Kiss of Fire and Kiss of Fury.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

In Death Challenge Review: Kindred in Death

Kindred in Death
J. D. Robb
Futuristic

In Death Series/Book 29 (plus 6 novellas)
Putnam/April 2009
Library book

*Some mild spoilers*

From the inside cover ~

When the newly promoted captain of the NYPSD and his wife return a day early from their vacation, they were looking forward to spending time with their bright and vivacious sixteen-year-old daughter who had stayed behind.

Not even their worst nightmares could have prepared them for the crime scene that awaited them instead. Deena has been brutally murdered in her bedroom, and her body showed signs of trauma that horrified even the toughest of cops; including our own Lieutenant Eve Dallas, who was specifically requested by the captain to investigate.

When the evidence starts to pile up, Dallas and her team think they are about to arrest their perpetrator; little do they know yet that someone has gone to great lengths to tease and taunt them by using a variety of identities.

Overconfidence can lead to careless mistakes. But for Dallas, one mistake might be all she needs to serve justice.

For a second there I was caught up on the series then Fantasy in Death was released Tuesday and I'm back to being just a wee bit behind. But that's okay because after I read Fantasy in Death next month I'll get to go back to the beginning. :)

It's another homicide that Dallas and Peabody are called to but this time it hits real close to home. Peabody actually knows the victim and Dallas takes it hard because the victim is a teenage girl. It's a brutal scene they find, made worse because the parents are the ones who come home to find their child murdered. The parts regarding the teenager's death were very hard for me to read. Anytime it's a kid it's just really hard reading. The emotions Dallas, Peabody and the whole gang show makes the reading just a little easier because they are feeling what I'm feeling. Robb as usual does a great job showing the reader the dark, gritty side of the life of a homicide detective.

The focus of the story is really centered on solving the murder, which it should be, but it did seem to be more so in Kindred than the previous books. The secondary storyline of Charles and Louise's upcoming wedding was kept more in the background than usual. Charles and Louise's relationship is one that I enjoy, especially Eve's reactions and confusion about it. She's seen so much in her life and yet she still can't understand how Louise can be okay with Charles' career. Eve's bafflement of friendships and everything that goes with them is an aspect of the series that I love. The evolving relationships of not only Eve and Roarke but all of the cast is, for me, what makes this series stand out.

The murder mystery takes a unexpected turn when another victim turns up. It's up to Dallas, Peabody and the team to figure out how the murders are connected. With the first victim being the daughter of a high ranking police officer there's a lot of pressure to solve the case. Dallas shows her experience by not letting the brass get to her or push her in a direction she thinks is wrong. The one place that Dallas' confidence shines is in the police work. I love reading how she "works the scene" and gets into the killer's head. She is also doing well with training Peabody and giving her more responsibility with the cases. I think that a sign of not only Peabody's maturity but also Dallas'. In the early books she seemed like such a loner, reluctant to ask for help and when she did ask for help it was usually with an attitude of near loathing. Eve hates to show any weakness.

The case moves along and there were times when it seemed to move a little too slow and I found myself hoping we would get some more Eve and Roarke time. This was definitely a darker novel than many of the previous stories. The intricate details in the crimes, finding the clues and discovering how they all relate was for me sometimes a little confusing. There were many additional characters to keep track of. One character that I was happy to see again was Jamie Lingstrom. He was 16 when we first meet him in Ceremony in Death and he's now 18 and in college. He's great because he's got this hero worship going on with both Eve and Roarke. Jaime is super smart when it comes to electronics but he wants to be a cop. Roarke tries to lure Jamie into working for him after college but Jamie is determine to be cop. He adds that youthful perspective to the story and this time he also broke my heart a little. I hope we get to see more of him.

The ending, catching the bad guy etc. was okay. Yes, the evidence all came together but it felt kind of off in that the motivation for the killer was off. I got the why but the motive was just whacked. Sick, crazy people out there I guess. I did like the wedding preparations and hope we get to see more of it in the next book. And if anyone is betting on who the candy thief is, my money is on Feeney. :)

Rating: B+

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Review: My Soul to Take

My Soul to Take
Rachel Vincent
Fantasy/Young Adult

Soul Screamers/Book 1
Harlequin Teen/August 2009
Library book

From the back cover ~

SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH KAYLEE CAVANAUGH

She doesn't see dead people, but...

She senses when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally.

Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest guy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about the need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only Kaylee knows who'll be next...

SOUL SCREAMERS

The last thing you hear before you die...

Before reading My Soul to Take I would strongly recommend reading the free online prequel novella, My Soul to Lose. You can go to Rachel Vincent's website and read it or it can be downloaded free (as of this writing) from Amazon for the Kindle. It's an excellent read and gives you a healthy taste of Vincent's writing style. I got pulled into Kaylee's world when I read My Soul to Lose and was thrilled I had My Soul to Take on the library tbr pile. (yeah, I have a library tbr pile too!)

Do you ever feel like you want to scream? Need to scream? Have to scream? Kaylee Cavanaugh knows exactly how that feels because it happens to her whenever she's near someone who's about to die. And this girl can scream. She screams until she loses her voice and people around her think she's gone crazy. Even Kaylee thinks she might just go crazy when it happens. It's like she goes into another world or dimension and no one else understands just how scary it is.

The story is told in Kaylee's POV but I thought Vincent did a good job giving the reader enough insight into the other characters through their words and actions. It was good that I liked Kaylee's voice. There were a couple of times when she got a little to into the "pity me" mode but she had good reason to. Thinking that you're going crazy and finding out there is an explanation, not matter how strange, can give anyone a little attitude.

I felt this odd connection to Kaylee right away. It's odd because she's a teen and I haven't seen my teen years for a very long time and yet there was something there. Maybe it was the way Kaylee wasn't exactly a loner but she wasn't with the "in-crowd" either. She has the usual teenage angst, adults who don't get her and a dysfunctional family thrown into the mix. She still has this inner core of strength and maturity. No doubt from everything she's lived through with her "panic attacks" and the losses she has faced in her 17 years. I really liked her and the way Vincent wrote her to be true to her experiences and her age. She felt like a teenager, not like an adult trying to act like a teenager.

When Kaylee and her best friend Emma decide to sneak into a dance club the night ends with Kaylee falling fast towards another scream fest and Nash Hudson, her secret crush, there to witness it. With Nash's help, Kaylee is just barely able to keep it together. But what's with Nash's sudden interested in Kaylee? Yeah, Nash is hiding something, it's pretty obviously but what is he hiding? I asked my teen daughter, she had already read MStT, but she just smiled and told me "you'll find out." So I'll tell you the same thing. Read the book and you'll find out. LOL

Nash is a popular guy at school. He hangs with the in crowd but he's not a snob. He's what I would call a mature 18. I liked Nash too! I liked him and Kaylee together. I thought they made a great couple once I got to know Nash. At first I had to wonder what his motives were because as Kaylee points out, they don't really travel in the same social circles. ~

If Eastlake High School were the universe, I would be one of the moons circling Planet Emma, constantly hidden by her shadow, and glad to be there. Nash Hudson would be one of the stars: too bright to look at, too hot to touch and at the center of his own solar system. page 11

I do think Kaylee tends to downplay her importance in her friends lives. She finds out that she is far more important than she ever thought when her friends come through for her. The small circle of her friends widens a bit and an interesting character named Tod comes into Kaylee's world. He's one secondary character that I look forward to reading more about. In fact all the secondary characters, Kaylee's family and friends, Nash's family, are all well written and add dimension to the story without taking away from Kaylee's and to a lesser extent Nash's spotlight.

As Kaylee and Nash grow closer together, Kaylee begins to discover the reason for her attacks and the history behind them. I loved, loved, loved the way Vincent incorporated myths, legends and fantasy into the story. She gives a new twist to the myths and adds a unique touch to the legends, creating a fantasy world that pulls the reader in and holds them tight.

This is definitely a YA series I would recommend for teens and adults. And just in case you're wondering, My Soul to Take and the second book, My Soul to Save both get teen daughter's seal of approval. :) I still need to read My Soul to Save. I had to return it to the library before I could read it so I'm back on the request list. It gives me something to look forward to and I'll still have time to read it before book 3, My Soul to Keep which comes out June 1.

Rating: A

Monday, February 22, 2010

DIK Review: Open Season

Open Season
Linda Howard

Romantic Suspense
Pocket Books/July 2001
Purchased

From the back cover ~

Be careful what you wish for...

On her thirty-fourth birthday, Daisy Minor decides to make over her entire life. The small-town librarian has had it with her boring clothes, her ordinary looks and nearly a decade without so much as a date. It's time to get a life - and a sex life. The perennial good girl, Daisy transforms herself into a party girl extraordinaire - dancing the night away at clubs, laughing and flirting with abandon - and she's declared open season for manhunting. But her free-spirited fun turns to shattering danger when she witnesses something she shouldn't - and becomes the target of a killer. Now, before she can meet the one man who can share her life, first she may need him to save it.

This month's DIK Challenge book was chosen from Ms. Moonlight's list. And she has great taste in books. :) This one and the Simone Eckeles are the only ones on her list I haven't read. I do consider myself a fan of Linda Howard even though there are still a number of her books I have yet to read. Open Season was one of them but not any more.

Open Season starts with a young girl hoping for a better life. She trusts the wrong person and things don't go as planned. The opening is dark with a look at one of the ways illegal immigrants are abused and how those abuses have far reaching affects. The affects are not only felt at the border but by people who live beyond it. Even small town librarians.

Daisy Minor is such a fun, interesting heroine. She's one of those women that, if she were real, I would like to have as a friend. And she's a librarian, which gives her bonus points in my book. :) She's been stuck in a rut for a very long time. Living with her mother and her aunt doesn't exactly help her social life either. She's grown accustomed to going to work, never late, and then spending her free time mostly at home. Her life changing moment is her birthday. Odd that it wasn't her 30th but her 34th. I guess she was deep in that rut. When Daisy's mother and Aunt Jo find out about Daisy's decision they decide to help and enlist someone who they think knows all about makeovers. Here's a fact I didn't know - If you're not sure if a man is gay, ask him what color "puce" is. The things you learn when reading a romance novel. LOL

Before Daisy undergoes her transformation Jack Russo, the Chief of Police takes a notice to Daisy. He needs to use the library and Daisy's there to help. Jack isn't Daisy's type, he's very athletic and well muscled. And Daisy isn't exactly Jack's type either but he does notice her and seems to take pleasure in ruffling her feathers.

Jack is an alpha all the way. He is a former SWAT officer with the Chicago and New York police forces and while he enjoys police work, he decided he needed a change. So he chooses to slow things down and take the job of Chief of Police in the small town of Hillsboro, Alabama. Jack soon finds himself involved with Daisy in more ways than he imagined. Jack is a tough alpha on the outside but a real sweetheart on the inside. He's bossy when it comes to Daisy's safety, doesn't understand what she's talking about half the time and still manages to make her feel special.

Daisy and Jack together were a mismatched pair but Howard made them work. They were funny, often laugh out loud funny with their arguments and sexual escapades. Yep, escapades. For these two, just choosing a condom turns into an episode of "What Not to Wear". I completely delighted in Daisy and Jack's sex scenes and near sex scenes. Between the sexual tension, the humor and the tenderness, their relationship totally worked and I could see them being together long after the book ended.

There is still the problem of what Daisy may have seen and now has someone trying to kill her. That's where Jack comes in and starts to unravel the pieces of the mystery of who and why. Daisy is helpful in getting information and together they are able to keep Daisy safe and discover the darker side of small town life. This for me was the weakest part of the book. It was fairly obvious from early on who was in on what. I prefer my suspense to be more suspenseful. That part of the plot just didn't hold my interest as much as Jack and Daisy's developing relationship.

Even with that minor issue I'm still very thankfully I finally read Open Season and would certainly recommend it to any Linda Howard fan or fan of romantic suspense.

Rating: A-

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Review: Take Me

Take Me
Shelli Stevens
Erotic Romance/Futuristic
Kensington/August 2009

Received for review from Goodreads

From the back cover ~

After years as a slave to the pleasures of the powerful, Talia knows how to make a man mad with lust. But her pleasure counts for nothing—until a handsome, ruthless stranger appears. Ryder dares to look at her… to touch her… to awake in her a desire she’s never imagined. When he kidnaps her to learn her secrets, Talia vows not to let her passion take control. But soon she discovers that her captor’s intense gaze and searching hands can perform their own kind of interrogation, a sweet torture she finds impossible to resist…

Futuristic romances are few and far between. Add in the erotic elements and we have a unique story about a man who does what he must for his world and a woman who's only known a world ruled by men. The planet of Zortou has suffered a shortage of women for a long time. The remaining women are trained and then sold as Rosebelles. Rosebelles are sex slaves and Talia belongs to the most powerful trio of men. Her owners are the Governing Council members. They rule the planet.

Talia was sold as a Rosebelle when she turned 18. She has been servicing the three council members for four years and hates her life. She longs for something more than days spent in sexual submission to the councilors. She doesn't have any choice, her day is scheduled and she is monitored with little to no privacy. She wishes for something better but sees no way out. Then her world is suddenly changed when she is kidnapped and taken to a planet were women are not treated as sex slaves and her kidnapper is not like any man she has ever known.

Colonel Ryder Jacobs is playing a dangerous game when he goes to Zortou to kidnap the beautiful Talia. He needs information and he needs it quickly. He is hoping Talia can give him critical information on the councils' plans for his home planet of Belton. He knows the treaty between the two planets is a sham and the council is up to something. He just needs to find out what and Talia, he feels, is the one with the inside information on the council. The fact that she's beautiful and he finds her very desirable doesn't hurt either. Ryder isn't adverse to enjoying Talia's company in bed. He thinks she will enjoy his bed more than the councils' and he makes that clear to her. This is erotica and the author wastes no time getting these two into bed. Ryder's problem was that he sees Talia as basically the councils' whore. When he kidnapped her he didn't try to see beyond her looks and her position as a Rosebelle. It wasn't until he spent more time with her on his planet that he began to see there was more to Talia than sex and beauty.

I liked these two together. The disparity between Talia and Ryder's lifestyles is evident in their outlook on women. Talia views women as Rosebelles, the property of men. It's how she was raised and all she knew until she is exposed to Ryder's world and it's views of women. Ryder may have grown up with a more advanced outlook on women but he's a male and still thinks with his dick at times. The way Stevens had Talia change her outlook on women and what they are capable of came about in a couple of different ways.

First there was Ryder's sister Krystal. She befriends Talia and shows her that women, even young beautiful women, have choices. Krystal gives Talia a unique perspective of Ryder and how he treats the women he loves. The other woman that Talia encounters is Ryder's assistant, Ines. Ines is also a soldier and had a brief affair with Ryder. She still wants Ryder even after he ended the affair. She's not happy about Talia being there and sees her as a rival for Ryder. The claws come out and Talia gets a taste of what it's like to feel jealous of another woman. Ines was a real bitch. Ryder was right to end it with her. Too bad Talia had to deal with the aftermath.

Ryder and Talia are both young, very attractive, highly sexual people. Good thing since they enjoyed getting hot and heavy just about anywhere. Stevens writes steamy, erotic sex scenes that can at times push things past the comfortable and touch into the realm of bdsm. I did think it was appropriate for the characters involved and the situations they found themselves in.

On the whole, I enjoyed Take Me. I liked the futuristic aspects and Talia and Ryder's relationship was believable in addition to the hot sex scenes. I do wish the story had maintain more of a futuristic feel to it. There were times when the language and atmosphere created that feel but other times it lost it. I was left feeling it was taking place in the here and now. But it didn't stop me from enjoying the overall story.

Rating: B+

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

TBR Challenge Review: Lord Ruin

Lord Ruin
Historical Romance/London/1818
Leisure Books/December 2002
Purchased
*Very Mild Spoiler*

From the back cover ~

The Duke of Sin

The Duke of Cynssyr didn't believe in love. He planned to marry for beauty. But a night of unforgettable passion left him a changed man -- a man tied to a bespectacled spinster. Anne Sinclair's long legs drove him wild with desire, and her quick wit challenged his mind. Ruined for any other, the notorious rake had only one choice; to court his wife. To win her condfidence, however, nothing less than his love would do.

The Divine Sinclair

Anne Sinclair had sworn to protect her sister from the infamous Lord Ruin. Yet she never expected to sacrifice her own virtue. Forced to give the rogue her hand in marriage, she vowed never to relinquish her heart. But Ruan worshopped her body and valued her intelligence, making Anne long to succumb to the ultimate temptation: falling for her husband.


This months theme called for hero in pursuit or virginal hero. I started reading Jodi Thomas' The Texan's Wager because the hero is a virgin and I like Thomas' writing. It turns out I've read that one before. LOL The memory is the first thing to go. It will be my re-read for the month. Then I decided to go with the hero in pursuit theme and chose Carolyn Jewel's Lord Ruin. I've heard much about Carolyn Jewel with regards to her recent historical novels. All good. So when I came across a few of her older novels, Lord Ruin and The Spare, I added them to the ever growing tbr pile. I also like the look of the cover of Lord Ruin. For some reason the hero reminds me a bit of Jackson Montgomery from All My Children. I always liked Jack, except when he was married to Erica.

Carolyn Jewel has written an entertaining regency novel with a murder mystery subplot thrown in. I could have done with less of the murder plot and more of Anne and Ruan together. I liked when they simply talked to each other. That's when they began to realize that first impressions and clich├ęs can be very wrong.

In the beginning they each had very specific ideas of what they thought the other was like. Anne believed Ruan was a rake who cared only for finding pleasure. Ruan thought of Anne as a spinster and couldn't see past her spectacles. Once Ruan gets Anne between the sheets he finds out there's much more to her than he thought. They marry but Anne is determined there will be no emotional attachments and in fact suggests a divorce. Ruan explains that they can not divorce since it would destroy him and he would no longer be part of Parliament or the Privy Council. So it looks like they are stuck.

Anne is the eldest daughter of the four Sinclair sisters. She is also thought to be the least attractive, in fact, her sisters are considered very beautiful, with many admirers, while Anne is considered rather plain. Anne is resigned to her fate of caretaker for her widower father and looking out for her two unwed sisters. While I liked her most of the time there were times when she truly got on my nerves. In part, she was too damn polite. There was a scene that really got me pissed off at her. Ruan's mistress shows up at the ball being held to introduce Anne to society as the new Duchess of Cynssyr. Anne catches them in a compromising situation and she just takes it, like that's how it's suppose to be. She's upset and hurt but she keeps her cool and apologizes for interrupting. ~

Anne backed away from the sofa. "Forgive me, Cynssyr. I did not know you had company." She had every reason to expect this of Cynssyr, so she didn't understand why the sight of them together felt like a dagger to the heart.

"Perhaps in future you will wait for an invitation to enter," he said irritably. Nothing in his expression betrayed the slightest guilt for being closeted with another woman. This woman. One of the most beautiful women she'd ever seen in her life. page 127

I know it was considered the norm for aristocrats to have mistresses even after they married but to have her at his home, during a ball for his wife?! I'm not sure who I was more angry with - Ruan for what he did or Ann because she just took it in stride. Do you think that's how women really dealt with infidelity during that time period? Sadly, they probably did since they were dependent on the husbands and society condoned it. I expect for many it was the rule rather than the exception so I have to give Jewel credit for including it even though it pissed me off. And I figure being pissed off at the characters is better than indifference.

Ruan is a hero that I didn't like, then I liked him a little, then he got on my bad side (see above paragraph) then I found myself slowly starting to like him more and more. He is a product of his upbringing and society but his experiences in war have left a profound mark on him. He does have this attitude of snobbish aristo but that I think was more because that's what the ton expected of him. So that's what he gives them. He is a very powerful man and uses that power to make life better for the less fortunate and help all of his country men, not just the wealthy. He's also very sexy and can't seem to keep his hands off of Anne. That might have helped win me over just a little. : )

The scenes I liked the best were with just Anne and Ruan. When they would talk about everyday things, about Ruan's work in Parliament, about Anne's interests. When they talked you could see how well they fit together, how much they enjoyed each others' company. The physical side of their relationship was important as well. Sure, they got to know what gave their partner pleasure but they also showed that vulnerability that no one else saw. They were both amazed at how great the physical attraction was and how neither of them could keep their hands off the other. The cover may be tame but Jewel can definitely write scorching hot sex scenes.

That brings us to what I liked the least - the mystery subplot. I just felt that it intruded on the developing romance of Anne and Ruan. There were quite a few secondary characters to keep track of that were involved in the kidnappings/murders. There were the victims, the suspects, the investigators, Ruan and Anne's friends and various family members. At times they overshadowed Anne and Ruan and I sometimes just wanted to skip over those parts.

So overall a decent read that left me curious to read more from Ms. Jewel. Which is good since I have a few more of her novels on the tbr pile.

Rating: B

Read Chapter 1

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Review: Slow Heat

Slow Heat
Contemporary Romance
Pacific HEAT series/Book 2
Berkley/February 2010
Purchased

From the back cover ~

After a woman claims she’s pregnant with Wade O’Riley’s love child, Major League Baseball’s most celebrated catcher and ladies’ man is slapped on the wrist by management and ordered to improve his image. His enforcer is the team’s publicist, the tough and sexy Samantha McNead.

When Wade needs a date for a celebrity wedding, Sam steps up to the plate as his “girlfriend.” But given her secret crush on him and that one awkward night a year ago in a stuck elevator with too much scotch, the whole thing is an exercise in sexual tension.

Wade is thrilled when the pretense turns into an unexpected night of hot passion. But the next day Sam is back to her cool self. As a catcher, Wade’s used to giving the signals, not struggling to read them. Now, to win the love of his “pretend” girlfriend, he needs a home run–even it involves stealing a few bases…

Book 2 in Jill Shalvis' series about the baseball players from Santa Barbara's HEAT and the women who love them is another hit for this reader. If you read the first book, Double Play (review here) then you're familiar with Wade O'Riley and Samantha McNead. Wade is the star catcher for the HEAT and Sam is not only the publicist for the team but also the daughter of one of the owners.

Sam is very career minded. You could say her life is her career, she lives baseball. She travels with the team and works not only before and after the games but also does publicity during her off hours. So Sam knows Wade. She's familiar with his public life of partying and women. She doesn't know his private life so much and what she eventually finds out surprises her. I really liked Sam. She's dedicated to the team and her family, even when they mistreat her. She's a good friends with Holly (heroine, book 1). She's smart and not afraid to use her brain. The times when she gave in to her attraction for Wade, even though it may not have been the best thing to do at the time, I liked her so much more for that. When she let herself feel without thinking about how it affects everyone else. Sam had a habit of putting everyone else first; her job, her family, her friends. It was good to see her put herself first. And Wade was very good at putting her first too. :)

Wade O'Riley plays one of the toughest positions in baseball. His abilities on the field are as famous as his abilities off the field are infamous. Wade has a rep as a ladies man. But all that changes when he and a certain publicist have a very hot encounter in an elevator. Months later he finds himself in trouble and his public image is causing problems for the team. It's up to Sam, the team's publicist, to improve Wade's image and they've got a month to do it. It's up to Wade to cooperate and act the perfect boyfriend to Sam. Wade agrees but it's hard for him to play the role when he can't forget the encounter in the elevator. To him, Sam should be off limits, but that never stopped him before.

I loved Sam and Wade together. They knew each other, had known each other for years but still had so much to learn about each other. They're both in denial about their attraction. They both say they want to keep the past in the past and what happened in the elevator was because of the alcohol and just a one time thing. Yeah, right.

"Well, one thing's for sure," he murmured, eyes on the spot where her pulse beat, a spot he'd once ravished and suddenly wanted to ravish again. "It's going to be an interesting month."

"Hmm."

Something about the doubt loaded into the single syllable made him want to push her buttons. "I'll be sure to carry around a flask in case you feel the need for another quickie."

Eyes still closed, her mouth tightened. "You can carry an entire bar with you, I'm not interested in anything happening between us ever again."

"Ever?"

Opening her eyes, she leveled him with one single withering stare. "Ever."
"Yeah." He slid his sunglasses on and eased back. "Me either."

"Good," she said.

Better than good, he thought. Except for two small points. She was lying.

And so was he. pages 17-18

The chemistry is there in the tension, the smart remarks, the witty repartee, the way they let each other see a side they rarely show.

Though she wanted to remain far, far away so that she didn't actually fall to her knees and try to lick him like a lollipop, she allowed him to pull her down next to him.

And then she saw what was in his other hand, the antique pearl pin she always had on her. "That's mine."

"I know. I've seen it on you. It's pretty. Soft and pretty." He cocked his head to look at her, and she knew what he was thinking.

"And I'm not soft," she said. "I know. It was my mother's." Who had been soft and pretty.

At least in photographs.

"I think you're soft," he said quietly. "When it counts."
page 80

Awe, Wade is such a sweetie at heart. I loved those little moments when they let the other see behind the public persona. When they went past the pretend relationship to the potential of a real relationship. And I shouldn't forget the sex. It's hot, steamy and I had my doubts as to whether they would ever make it to a bed. LOL Let's just say the lack of a bed never stopped Sam and Wade from scoring. :)

In addition to working on Wade's public image, new crises arise in both Wade and Sam's lives. New responsibilities challenge their patience and they both find themselves out of their comfort zones. I felt this added another facet to their characters. Seeing how they deal with situations that make them feel uncomfortable and unsure really showed another side of both Sam and Wade.

The Shalvis humor was in full force in Slow Heat. I truly lost count of the number of times this book had me laughing. Shalvis writes witty dialogue but natural too. It never feels forced or like something real people wouldn't say. I've enjoyed both books in this series and will certainly be reading the next book in the series, due out next February.

Rating: A

Review Double Play/Book 1

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cover Love ~ Dark Peril

Yes, I'm still reading Christine Feehan's Dark series. I know, I know... but what can I say? There are still a few characters that I want to read their stories. The books have become library reads since they are hardcovers. Her next release is Dark Peril - Dominic's story. What may be surprising to many readers is his heroine. Read the blurb below if you want to find out who his heroine is. If not, then you probably shouldn't look at the cover either. :)






Dominic of the Dragonseeker lineage, one of the most powerful lines the Carpathian people has, ingests vampire blood laces with parasites in order to be able to go the very heart of the enemy camp and learn their plans. It is a one way mission. He knows he has little time once the parasites and the blood go to work. He plans to get in fast, relay the information to the leader of the Carpathians living in the area and go out fighting—an honorable way to end his life.

Solange Sangria is one of the last of the jaguar people, a royal pureblood. Her people, once many are now nearly extinct, a dying species that cannot recover from the choices they made over hundreds of years. She has long been alone, fighting to save the remaining women who are able to shift, from the hands of Brodrick the Terrible, her own father who slaughtered her family and everyone she loved. Wounded, weary, she plans one last battle, hoping to stop the man who has made an alliance with the vampires, accepting she will not come out alive.

They are two warriors who have lived their lives alone. Now, at the end of their time, they find each other, a complication, neither saw coming.

Release date ~ August 31.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY


Hope you all have a wonderful day with your special someone. If you're still looking for that special someone, here's hoping you're reading a really hot, sexy, sweet and amazing romance novel. :)

*text from hubby's card. American Greetings©.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cover Love ~ Mockingjay

Scholastic has released the cover for the third book in Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy. I loved the first book, The Hunger Games, have book 2 Catching Fire in the tbr pile and it looks like I've got until August 24 to read it before Mockingjay comes out. Scholastic is keeping a lid on what will happen in Mockingjay. No synopsis yet. You can go here to see what they have to say about what you won't find in Mockingjay.

The cover looks pale in comparison to the first two but I think it's one of those that will look much better in person. Go here if you want to read my review of The Hunger Games. Per the little blurb on USA Today, Suzanne Collins is finishing her screenplay for The Hunger Games. I think it would/could make a great movie. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Review: Crazy Beautiful

Crazy Beautiful
Young Adult Contemporary
Houghton Mifflin/September 2009
Library book

From the inside cover ~

"I would give a lot to see that smile again, directed at me. It may not be much, but I would give everything I've got."

In an explosion of his own making, Lucius blew his arms off. Now he has hooks. He chose hooks because they were cheaper. He chose hooks because he wouldn't outgrow them so quickly. He chose hooks so that everyone would know he was different, so he would scare even himself.

Then he meets Aurora. The hooks don't scare her. They don't keep her away. In fact, they don't make any difference at all to her.
But to Lucius, they mean everything. They remind him of the beast he is inside. Perhaps Aurora is his Beauty, destined to set his soul free from its suffering.

Or maybe she's just a girl who needs love just like he does.

A modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Lauren Baratz-Logsted's Crazy Beautiful strips away the original tale to get to its essence, revealing truth about forgiveness, redemption, and the power of love.

Crazy Beautiful is a sweet story about two teenagers that seem to come from very different worlds. Both Lucius and Aurora are new to town and new to the local high school. Lucius, his parents and younger sister moved after Lucius blew up their house. The idea was to get a fresh start, away from the rumors and the bad memories. Aurora and her father have started over too. After years of illness, Aurora's mother died from cancer. Aurora's father decides that they need a change, a big one since they not only move into a different house, they move to a different town and school. That part I didn't get. Why make Aurora change schools and leave her friends after losing her mom? I get the moving into a different house. People seem to either want to stay because of the memories or have to leave because of the memories. But I didn't get the changing schools.

Aurora was easy to like. A little naive at times but she is only 15 and has spent the last few years helping take care of her sick mom. She tries to be nice to everyone she meets even if she doesn't really care for them. She falls in with the popular girls at school. She finds herself not too sure of her new friends. They're okay but she doesn't feel close to any of them. She does notice Lucius. She notices that no one wants anything to do with him and he tends to keep to himself. She makes the first move, says hello. It's hard not to be curious about him. The hooks certainly make him stand out but for Aurora it's more than that. There's just something about him that draws Aurora to him.

Lucius is an odd kid and I'm not talking about the hooks. He's very smart, at times he comes across sounding more adult than how I would imagine a 15 year old boy would sound. At other times his insecurities and lack of confidence in himself sound so much like a teenager. There's a part where he goes to the mall with his younger sister and his lack of knowledge of what is "cool" and "in" shows how much he is on the outside of the in crowd. It also shows how it was never that important to him until now, until Aurora.

The story is told in alternating POV of Aurora and Lucius, by chapter with some of the chapters being very short. As for it being the retelling of Beauty and the Beast, yes I can see that but I think the basics of that story can be found in many romances. Lucius, with his hooks, is the Beast and Aurora; smart, pretty and kind is Beauty. There's also the villain, Jessup, the cool guy at school and the one who wants Aurora and teases and torments Lucius. I liked Lucius and Aurora together. They were sweet and the author did a good job of giving that feel of first love. The problem was that they weren't together much. A little bit here, a little bit there. I would have liked to see them interact more.

The reality is that these two teenagers (they're both 15) are recovering from some very traumatic losses. Losses that most teens don't have to experience. I think that's what helps to bring them together. Both Aurora and Lucius are more serious than their peers. They've both suffered loss and are trying to move on. They still have the usual trials of teenagers, they just have a different outlook on certain things. Aurora is not as shallow as her friends and wants to get to know Lucius better. She's curious about his hooks but can also look past those hooks to the boy.

Overall a sweet story of first love and learning to look beyond the surface and find out what's underneath. Some dark moments about Lucius and how he blew off his arms but mostly it's about teenagers and first love. Would I recommend it? Yes, with a but... Yes, if this sounds like a story you would like. The but is that it's hardcover at $16 USD for about 190 pages. To me, that's too much even if you get a discount. But that's just my (cheap) view. :)

Rating: B+

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Cover Love ~ Bring On the Night...


Cover for the next release, book 3 from Jeri Smith-Ready's WVMP Radio series. That is one big, shiny blade. I wonder why we never get to see Ciara's whole face? Anyway, this is a fun series. You can read my review of Wicked Game, book 1. No reveiw yet for Bad to the Bone, book 2. It's on Mt. TBR Pile. Here's the blurb from the author's website. ~

What's Blood Got to Do With It?

Recovering con artist Ciara Griffin seems to finally have it all. A steady job at WVMP, the Lifeblood of Rock 'n' Roll. A loving relationship with the idiosyncratic but eternally hot DJ Shane McAllister. A vampire dog who never needs shots or a pooper-scooper. And after nine years, it looks as if she might actually finish her bachelor's degree!

But fate has other plans for Ciara. First she must fulfill her Faustian bargain with the Control, the paranormal paramilitary agency that does its best to keep vampires in line. Turns out the Control wants her for something other than her (nonexistent) ability to kick undead ass. Her anti-holy blood, perhaps?

Ciara's suspicions are confirmed when she's assigned to a special-ops division known as the Immanence Corps, run by the Control's oldest vampire and filled with humans who claim to have special powers. To a confirmed skeptic like Ciara, it sounds like a freak fest. But when a mysterious, fatal virus spreads through Sherwood—and corpses begin to rise from their graves—Ciara will not only get a crash course in zombie-killing, but will be forced to put her faith, and her life itself, in the hands of magic.

Release date for Bring on the Night is July 27.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Lisa Kleypas Sneak Peeks...




Lisa Kleypas has posted two sneak peaks for the next books in the Hathaways series.

Go here to read the excerpts.





Married by Morning
(Leo's book, May 25)











Love In The Afternoon (Beatrix's book, June 29).

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

January Reads...

January was an okay month reading wise. The numbers are low but the quality was pretty darn good. Looking back at the grades, I'm wondering if I grade too easily.

Lessons in French/Laura Kinsale ~ A
Three Days to Dead/Kelly Meding ~ B
Graceling/Kristin Cashore ~ A
Heartsick/Chelsea Cain ~ B+
Getting Lucky/Carolyn Brown ~ B-
Forever Blue/Suzanne Brockmann ~ B
Darkness Calls/Marjorie M. Liu ~ A
Her Secret Fling/Sarah Mayberry ~ A
Missing in Death/J. D. Robb ~ B+
Take Me/Shelli Stevens ~ upcoming review
Welcome to Temptation/Jennifer Crusie ~ B+ (audio book)funny, classic Crusie
Bed of Roses/Nora Roberts ~ B+ (audio book) Liked Jack & Emma, can't wait for Laurel and Del.

9 full length novels and 1 novella. I started Slow Heat (Jill Shalvis) on 1/31 and finished 2/1 so I didn't count that. Since finishing it I can't seem to get into anything else. I've started and stopped a PNR, 2 YAs, a historical and a "steampunk". I know what I want to read; Silver Borne, Roadkill, Something About You, Magic Bleeds, The Dead Travel Fast... well, you get the idea. :)

Maybe I'll dig out a category - something quick might get me out of this mini slump. And the baby polar bear has nothing to do with books, I just thought he was cute!

ETA ~ looks at right sidebar - I'm craving Roadkill. LOL The hillbilly in me is showing. Mama would be so proud. *snort*

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

ReRead Challenge Review: Bone Crossed

Bone Crossed
Patricia Briggs
Urban Fantasy
Mercy Thompson/Book 4

ACE/February 2009
Library book

From the inside cover ~

By day, Mercy is a car mechanic in the sprawling Tri-Cities of eastern Washington. By night, she explores her preternatural side. As shapeshifter with some unique talents, Mercy has often found herself having to maintain a tenuous harmony between the human and the not so human. This time she may get more than she bargained for.

Marsilia, the local Vampire Queen, has learned that Mercy crossed her by slaying a member of her clan -- and she's out for blood. But since Mercy is protected from direct reprisal b the werewolf pack (and her close relationship with its sexy Alpha), it won't be Mercy's blood Marsilia is after.

It'll be her friends'.

The exceptional Mercy Thompson series switches to hardcover with Bone Crossed and jumped into the realm of library reads for me. At least for now. I'm still debating if I'll buy the next, Silver Borne, in hardcover. It's suppose to be "Samuel's book" per Patty Briggs. I love Samuel so we'll have to see if I have the patience to wait. :)

I've been in a Patty Briggs kind of mood lately. Listening to Cry Wolf wasn't enough, I needed to do some reading too. I first read Bone Crossed last year, after reading the first three books in the series, pretty much back to back. I soaked up Briggs' writing. The flow of words, the descriptions of places, characters' thoughts and feelings, all made for a fascinating world that sucked me in and hasn't let go.

Bone Crossed follows up with the disturbing and upsetting events at the end of Iron Kissed. Mercy was brutalized and raped by a sick bastard who was then killed by Adam. It's been only days since events in Iron Kissed so Mercy is still on the road to recovery. Not so much physically, she sore with a few stitches and bruises. It's the mental and emotional recovery that's going to take a long time.

Mercy has a unique friendship with Stefan, a local vampire that she has known for 10 years. Her friendship with Stefan has complicated her life by putting her on the wrong side of Marsilia, the head of the local vampire seethe. Marsilia is powerful and hates Mercy. When Stefan is severely tortured and literally dump at Mercy's feet she realizes that she needs to do something before Marsilia begins torturing anyone else that Mercy cares about. An opportunity presents itself and Mercy heads out of town to the home of an old college friend for some ghost hunting. *cue spooky music*

But this is Mercy's world and things are rarely what they seem. Mercy finds that there's something more than a typical haunting going. It amazes me how much political intrigue there is when it comes to supernatural beings. You would think they would be more basic in dealing with their enemies. See an enemy, kill the enemy. But trying to fit into the human world causes the weres and the vamps to sometime resort to more subtle approaches. The vampires are very powerful and yet they have to be careful because if humans knew they existed the humans could wipe out their seethes in a matter of months. But one on one is a different story.

Throughout out Bone Crossed we see how Mercy is still dealing with her beating and rape. She suffers flashbacks and panic attacks. Adam's reaction is very much the understanding mate. There to support her however she needs. What I found myself wondering is if Adam had let out his rage over what happened to Mercy after the fact. He went ballistic on Tim, the rapist. Adam literally tore him apart. But I kept wondering how he is dealing with it now. We know he feels guilty for not keeping Mercy safe. We know this because Mercy tells us. Adam is a rock for Mercy, there to sooth her when she needs it and backs off when she needs space. Since we only get Mercy's POV it was hard to know how Adam was dealing with the aftermath of the rape. It was one of those times that I wish we had Adams POV.

Mercy and Adam's relationship continues to more forward with their mating. Adam does an admirable job of giving Mercy comfort and still being the strong pack Alpha. He lends her his strength and his knowledge of the pack dynamics. Mercy completes Adam. He seems so much more vibrant and approachable than he did in book one.

I found the ghost plot interesting and it added another side to Mercy. We don't know much about her college life but through Amber, her friend, we get to know a little bit of Mercy's college social life. The mystery surrounding the why of Amber's ghost was done well, with Briggs keeping the world building tight while adding more knowledge of the vampires and the wolves.

Overall another solid addition to the series. I am very much looking forward to the next book, Silver Borne, release date March 30.

Rating: A-

Monday, February 1, 2010

Cover Love ~ Elizabeth Hoyt...























Elizabeth Hoyt has posted the cover, stepback and excerpt for her next book, Wicked Intentions. The cover is different from her usual covers, more subtle. But she still has that gorgeous stepback!

You can read the excerpt here. Wicked Intentions is due out this August. First off I like that it's set in 1737. There's plenty of Regency and Victorian set romances so it's nice to have a different time period. Second, the excerpt grabbed my interest. Both the heroine and the hero have potential. I just hope the heroine doesn't cave too quickly to what ever Lord Caire has up his sleeve.

In Death Challenge ~ Review: Missing in Death

Missing in Death/ The Lost anthology
J. D. Robb
Romantic Suspense
In Death series/Book 36 (including novellas)
Jove/December 2009
Library

*Mild spoilers for previous books*

From the back cover ~

While investigating a woman's disappearance on a New York City ferry, Detective Eve Dallas wonders... if she didn't jump, and she's not on board, then where in the world is she?

Very short blurb for a very short story. The investigation takes Eve and Peabody to a ferry in the harbor. There they find a lot of blood but no body. They need to find out who the blood belongs to and where the missing person is. On a ferry with over 3000 passengers, conducting a search proves to be a lengthy task. And with no obvious way off, Eve and Peabody are at an impasse.

I like these little novellas about my favorite detective. It's like a day in the life type of read. They usually take place over a day or so and are quick, sort of check-in type of stories. Just to see how everyone is doing along with a murder mystery thrown in. Are Peabody and McNab still co-habing? Yep. Is Summerset still driving Eve crazy? Check. Is Eve still parking her police issue vehicle out front to drive Summerset crazy? Check. Is Roarke still as hot as ever? Major check! :D

The shorter format doesn't allow for any real external subplot. It's all about the police work. It's a nice change. Eve is as smart mouthed and bossy as ever. The relationship between Eve and Peabody continues to grow. At this point in the series, Peabody has made detective and is now Eve's partner. Peabody is still learning the ropes with Eve's help but she's not as intimidated by Eve as she was at first. She's still got that hero-worship thing going but it's balanced out with their mutual respect and friendship.

The murder mystery plot was interesting. This time around we didn't get the anonymous viewpoint of the killer. That's not to say the murderer wasn't revealed fairly quickly. It was the why and how of the missing woman and murder that proved to be the real mystery. Peabody gave her free-ager take on how no one saw the murderer or the body leave the ship. Eve, of course, shot that idea down but still kept an open mind when nothing else seemed plausible. I like that about Eve. She very direct and usually has a good idea of how things happened with regard to a crime scene but is still open to ideas.

As per usual, Roarke and his unregistered computer system get involved. I do wonder how long it would take Eve to solve the crimes if Roarke wasn't there to circumvent the law by obtaining data through other means. She's very smart but all the red tape would slow her down. Kind a bugs me at times when Roarke has to come to the rescue with his unregistered.

Another thing that we only got very briefly was what I've come to think of as Eve's "red light scene". These are the scenes where Eve flashes back to her childhood in Dallas where her father beat and raped her. There's a red light outside the grimy window of the room she's in. When listening to the audio books I've gotten in the habit of fast forwarding those scenes. Mostly because they are in almost every book and I've heard them enough. It's just not something I want to hear about again.

Okay, it almost sounds like I don't like the series but I really do! Love it in fact. The above are the two points that can bug me at times. But otherwise, this is a fantastic series with murder, mystery, hot sex, good friends and witty dialogue. What more could you ask for?

Rating: B+

*I'm running late on writing up my last few challenges for January. I'll blame it on Jill Shalvis and her newest release, Slow Heat, which is very hard to put down. :)