Friday, April 30, 2010

Review: Anything for You

Anything for You
Sarah Mayberry
Contemporary Romance
Harlequin/September 2006
Library book

From the author's website ~

Since when was his best friend this hot? The world according to Sam Kirk has just turned upside down. His best friend and business partner, Delaney Michaels, has returned from vacation a new woman... a gorgeous, hot new woman.

Suddenly Sam is thinking entirely inappropriate thoughts about his buddy. Worse, with Delaney's changed look, she's abandoning their friendship in pursuit of the picket-fence dream. It's a nightmare come true.


Then one night finds them tangling in the sheets. It should feel wrong, wrong, wrong... instead, it feels very right. And now Sam knows exactly what he'd do to keep his best friend: absolutely anything.

I love a friends to lovers trope and when Sarah Mayberry does it, I can't resist! Anything for You was a sweet story about what happens when one friends decides they want more out of the friendship then what the other is willing to give. Sam and Delaney are the best of friends but Delaney needs more. Mayberry really did a great job on bringing both of these characters alive and getting their feelings across. Lots of different emotions within this story. Many ups and downs for both characters.

Change is scary and it's even scarier when the change you're undertaking is venturing into the unknown. That's what Delaney does when she decides to make some huge changes in her life. She's leaving her job, her home and even gets a complete makeover. Sam, on the other hand, isn't a fan of change. He's thrown for a loop when Delaney announces that she's leaving the company they built together. He tries to change her mind with logic, persuasion and even begging.

I felt for both of these characters. Sam was so clueless at times and I wanted to just whisper in his ear "she loves you, you idiot". But that's not possible so I had to rough it out with him. Seriously, he loved her so much but he couldn't see that love beyond the friendship type of love he had for Delaney. Sam's life gets turned upside down when Delaney, his best friend and business partner comes back from vacation and tells him she's leaving the business. I felt so bad for Sam. He didn't see this coming and has no idea how to respond. He feels like Delaney is rejecting him and Sam isn't used to rejection. And coming out of the blue the way it did, you couldn't help but feel sorry for Sam.

Delaney doesn't make the decisions lightly. She's known for years how she feels about Sam but never thought he could or would reciprocate those feelings. You could call Sam a ladies man. He's good looking and enjoys the company of women, just not for any great length of time. That's another reason Delaney couldn't see her and Sam in any kind of permanent, intimate relationship. Sam doesn't do permanent. It's killing Delaney to leave Sam but she doesn't feel like she has a choice. She's watched Sam and his various women and it hurts her seeing him with those women, wishing he felt an attraction to her.

While Delaney is busy making changes and silently wishing things could be different, Sam is still trying to figure out why things have to change. He thinks she can stay with the company and still find a guy to marry, have kids with etc. Along with Delaney's changes comes Sam's change in perspective. He starts seeing Delaney as more than just his best bud. He starts seeing her as the attractive, sexy woman she is. Bamm! He's shocked! He's not suppose to think of Delaney like that. LOL

So, you gotta know Delaney and Sam are going to give in to their old/new attraction to each other. But after the sex it's back to moving on. Ugh! Why can't they see that they belong together? Then it would make for a short story. So instead they are both in denial. Denial of the potential future they could have together. There were times when it was just heartbreaking, seeing them hurting and neither of them knowing what to do. There's this one scene where Delaney has to interview her replacement. Of course the women is perfect. Delaney is sitting there, trying to be polite and professional while inside it's killing her to imagine this woman taking her place.

Sam and Delaney made a great couple. They had that strong friendship to build on. It just took some major changes to make them realize what they had and what they could have. The one problem I did have was with Delaney. It bothered me that she didn't tell Sam how she felt about him. Instead she proceeded to cut him out of her life. I thought that was cruel and after all those years of friendship, he didn't deserve that. She did have opportunities to tell him but choose to keep quiet about her feelings even when it was hurting Sam. Otherwise, I found it to be a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Rating: B+

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Review: Her Vampire Husband

Her Vampire Husband
Michele Hauf
Paranormal Romance
Wicked Games series/Book 3
Harlequin/March 2010
Received for Review


From the author's website ~

An arranged marriage between a werewolf and a vampire.

There will be blood.


She may resist his bite, but she can't resist his charms...

Werewolf princess Blu Masterson won't allow her seductive vampire husband to consummate their marriage with his bite, marking her forever. Alone in a secluded estate with her sworn enemy, Blu curses the marriage arranged to bring their rival nations together, especially since Creed Saint-Pierre calls out to her most feral desires.

When Blu uncovers her pack's secret plot to destroy the vampire nation—and Creed—she is forced to confront her growing feelings for her sexy undead husband. Will she choose the only life she's ever known or accept his vampire bite?

Eventhough this is the third book in the series I had no problem catching up with what was going on in Hauf's supernatural world of vampires, werewolves and witches. The hero and heroine are an odd couple. He's around 900 years old and she's in her twenties. Not only is there a huge difference in their ages but also in their species. He's a vampire and she's a werewolf. Their marriage is suppose to bring about a truce of the two groups but you know that's not going to happen.

Blu Masterson is a full fledged 21st century woman. She loves to dress up and wear different colored wigs to suit her mood and clothing. Blu likes to have fun and is a total party girl. She's also one of the few female werewolves surrounded by a pack full of males. So you'd think her pack would treat like the princess she is. Nope. Blu's had it rough and has learned some coping mechanisms to survive. I liked Blu and thought she had survived well considering everything she had lived through. She could have ended up a crazy psycho or a cold hearted bitch. She was neither. She was lonely, having few real friends. She was also suspicious of her new husband, not sure what to believe but knowing that she was falling for him. Much of what Blu showed to the outside world was a front for what was really inside. She's smart and has a far greater knowledge of what is going on politically than the males around her think.

Creed has been around for a long, long time. He's thought to be the oldest vampire and has the experience to back up that claim. Thankfully he doesn't look his age but is very good looking. He has an air of intelligence and sophistication many of the younger vampires lack. He's not sure what to make of Blu and her multi-colored wigs. She is an enigma to him with her sexy way of dressing and party girl attitude contrasting with her love of reading and keen intellect. Creed is drawn to Blu, to her love of life and her beautiful body. Creed and Blu were physically attracted to each other and acted on that attraction. Hauf wrote some very hot and steamy love scenes. Aside from the physical attraction I couldn't help but wonder how these two very different people could form a relationship outside of the bedroom.

The later part of the book deals a lot with the two waring factions. Creed and Blu are trying to make the truce a reality but coming up against strong and dangerous opposition. Aside from trying to make something of their marriage Creed and Blu also have to deal with the groups of vampires and werewolves that are against the truce. They find out they are not safe and have to make decisions concerning their loyalty to their nations and each other. The political aspects of the story were complex with different groups within the vampire and werewolf nations at odds.


The secondary character of Blu's boyfriend I found to be a complete idiot and was glad when she finally saw him for what he was. And yes, she did have a boyfriend when she married Creed. It was a political marriage and Blu wasn't expecting it to last. She wasn't at all happy about being married to a vampire, the thought of drinking blood sickened her. I did like her friend Bree, a sidhe. The faeries had no real enemies the way the werewolves did so Bree wasn't as negative towards the marriage to a vampire as Blu was.


I liked how patient Creed was with Blu. His tenderness towards her and his ability to open up to her about his life all helped to bring them closer together. I also liked the way Blu called Creed "Dude". She was letting him know that she's young and hip and he's not. LOL I do wish that the love story of Blu and Creed had been paced better. They were enemies and then they were lovers and then in love. It was after they said the I-love-yous that it felt a little off. It was as if saying the words it erased all of their previous doubts and mistrust.

There were some characters from previous books as well as characters from cross-over books. They came across as interesting with werewolves, witches, more vampires and humans-turned-vampires. They got my interest in the other books in the series. Fortunately I've got a few of Ms. Hauf's books on the tbr pile and plan on reading more of her paranormal stories.

Rating: B

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

In Death Challenge Review: Glory in Death

Glory in Death
J. D. Robb Futuristic Suspense
In Death series/Book 2
Penguin/December 1995


From the back cover ~

In a time when technology can reveal the darkest of secrets, there's only one place to hide a crime of passion - in the heart. . .

The first victim was found lying on a sidewalk in the rain. The second was murdered in her own apartment building. Police lieutenant Eve Dallas had no problem finding connections between the two crimes. Both victims were beautiful and highly successful women. Their glamorous lives and loves were the talk of the city. And their intimate relations with men of great power and wealth provided Eve with a long list of suspects - including her own lover, Roarke. As a woman, Eve was compelled to trust the man who shared her bed. But as a cop, it was her job to follow every lead ... to investigate every scandalous rumor ... to explore every secret passion, no matter how dark. Or how dangerous.


Since I've read/listened to the entire series I've decided to go back to nearly the beginning and do some re-reading. The second book in the series introduces one of my favorite characters - Officer Deliah Peabody. She's a beat cop and a first responder at one of Dallas' murder scenes. Dallas is impressed with Peabody's professionalism and concise reporting of the facts. Knowing what Peabody is like in the latest book, Fantasy in Death, it was interesting to see what she was like when we first meet her.

The murder mystery was pretty good this time around. I was kept guessing at for a while, even through this second read. Apparently my memory isn't what it used to be. :) Eve is in the very early stages of her relationship with Roarke. She's still living at her apartment and feels uncomfortable at Roarke's opulent mansion. And then there's Summerset, Roarke's majordomo, who Eve can't stand.

The first murder victim is someone that Dallas knew and respected. At first there are few clues so Dallas begins by following the money trail. It leads to the victim's family which is not surprising. What is surprising is that Roarke is part of that trail. A branch of it but he still has some involvement and Dallas isn't happy about that. In fact she spends part of the book royally ticked off at Roarke. They are really feeling their way around with this new relationship. Eve is easily spooked by closeness of any kind and Roarke is so desperately wanting to draw Eve in closer. I liked revisiting this early version of the Eve/Roarke couple. As the series progresses their relationship does too into new, different editions. This is the early edition that still has quite a few bugs to be worked out. :)

We get to see Ryan Feeney, EDD Captain and Dallas' former partner. She close to Feeney but keeps things on a professional level this early on in the series. Dallas remains closed off from just about everyone except for Mavis. And even with Mavis she is hesitant to discuss certain things with.

Mavis Freestone is a reformed grifter and currently singing in an establishment called The Blue Squirrel. It's not exactly in the best part of town but Dallas likes it, especially when Mavis is singing. Mavis is Dallas' only real friend. Which is strange since they met when Dallas arrested Mavis a while back. An odd couple to be sure but they fit. Dallas keeps Mavis on the straight and narrow and Mavis adds color to Dallas' world.

The investigation continues as does Eve and Roarke's troubles. You can really feel Eve's pain when she keeps herself at a distance from Roarke. It's her choice and she has to live with it. I felt bad for her because this is all new to her and she doesn't know how to deal with it. She hates having such strong emotions and has a hard time understanding what she's suppose to do about it. She's very much an action oriented character. Even when she's thinking, she's moving. So in true Dallas fashion she pushes it away and concentrates on the job.

Dallas also has a chance to work with Nadine Furst again. Nadine is a news reporter at Channel 75 and as driven at her job as Dallas is at hers. Dallas can't stand reports but she respects Nadine so she is more willing to talk to her and use her help when she needs it. Nadine, with some help from Dallas, begins reporting on the murders and does some of her own digging into the victims lives.

Everything comes to a head when Dallas realizes who the murderer is. The problem is she has to catch him and that proves to be a lot harder than she thought. But we know she'll get the bad guy in the end, probably with some help from Roarke.

A very good second book in the series. Eve is still wearing her protective covering and not letting anyone get too close. Even when she does let Roarke close, she pulls back, afraid of allowing herself to be happy. It's interesting to see how far she's come over the course of the series. It was fun to see where she started at.

Rating: B+

Monday, April 26, 2010

DIK Review: The Man Must Marry

The Man Must Marry
Janet Chapman

Contemporary Romance
Sinclair Brothers series/Book 1
Pocket Star Books/November 2008
Purchased

From the back cover ~

Trying to escape marriage, they are snared by love. When Sam Sinclair's self-made millionaire grandfather sends Willa Ken, a woman none of the three Sinclair brothers have even heard of, as his proxy to an ultra-important meeting of the Sinclair shipping company, most people would think they old man had lost his marbles. But Sam knows his grandfather too well. For some reason, the wily old man has decided that one of his three grandsons should marry Will, and this is his way of trying to force the issue...

So Will and Sam team up on what seems like a wild-goose to find some loophole in Grandfather Sinclair's crazy notion. But as Sam crews Willa's yacht en route to Maine, he finds to his surprise
that his grandfather's offbeat scheme is growing more attractive by the moment. Willa is smart, beautiful... and has a wild streak that sends them soaring together above the clouds.

But Willa isn't about to let Sam fly away with her heart until she knows his true motives. If the man wan
ts to marry for money, then the woman in her says that first he must fall in love.

My first Janet Chapman book and the blurb sums it up quite well. For some reason I thought Chapman wrote historicals - with highlanders. It turns out she does but this isn't one of them. :)

The three Sinclair brothers are in shock when they meet Willa Kent. She's not at all what they expected. Willa comes from a completely different world of the luxury and fine living that the Sinclair brother's are accustomed to. She's far happier at home in her small town in Maine than in the crowded and busy New York City. The brothers also want to send Willa back to Maine and keep her out of their business but their grandfather had other plans in mind for Willa and the brothers.

Sam Sinclair is the eldest of the three Sinclair brothers and by default seems to be the designated leader. He can't believe what his grandfather has done but is resigned to play out the farce that has sent this woman who he likens to a partridge into his world. Sam ends up spending time with Willa and quickly realizes how much courage it took for her to come to New York and take on the Sinclair brothers. She really is out of her element and her klutziness is at an all time high. The poor woman can't make it through one evening without loosing her purse, tripping, slipping and in general showing minimal coordination. At first it was cute but it did get to be a bit much after a while.

Willa Kent is a kind person who believes in helping others. That's what got her into the mess she's in now. She befriended Abram Sinclair when he rented the cottage on her property in Maine. It's because of that friendship that she agreed to act as his proxy for voting in the next CEO of Tidewater International. She has to choose between the three brothers but can't make a quick decision so she decides they must go out to dinner, allowing her to get to know them better.

Sam and Willa get to know each other a lot better. With them falling for each other really, really quick. Sam fell so fast I'm surprised he was able to take a breath and tell Willa how he felt. I didn't feel like it was genuine with Sam, it happened too quick. It was like one minute he's thinking of her as plain and clumsy and then he's so hot for her he can't think straight. I just had a hard time believing it.

Willa is portrayed as a strong woman that is used to taking care of everyone. She feels such responsibility for those she loves that she has a habit of sticking her nose in where it's not always wanted or needed. She's also sworn off marriage since her first marriage left her with the feeling that she and marriage just don't work. She's had some rough times in her past that have caused her to make some drastic decisions. I liked Willa but she did seem to cry a lot. At one point it's mentioned that she cried for three hours. Wow. It was after someone close to her had died but still, three hours? Otherwise I didn't get the impression that she was a crier.

The other two Sinclair brothers are not as involved in Sam and Willa's search to find a solution to who will lead Tidewater International. We do get to know them a little bit when Willa first arrives in New York and then later on. Ben is the middle brother and his book, Tempt Me If You Can, is out now. I'm guessing youngest brother Jesse will also get a book. What I did get to know of the Ben and Jesse, I liked Ben the least. He came across as very abrasive. Jesse came across as easy going and fun loving. But I'll just have to wait until I read their books to find out what they're really like. I do have a heroine in mind for Jesse but... I'll just have to wait for his book to come out.

The main problem I had with the story is the falling in love of Sam and Willa. Like I mentioned, Sam went too quick and Willa was in denial until "boom" she loves him. They just never seem to really fit together for me. And they played these games with Willa dating someone else and Sam pretending he didn't mind.

I did like the small town setting of Willa's home in Maine. The characters were colorful and typical of small towns, always wanting to know every one's business. Willa has a great and unique job that showed her creative side. I also liked that Willa didn't stay a klutz but while sailing she was sure-footed and a better sailor than Sam.

A few problems, mainly with the quick fall of the hero and the over done aspect of the klutzy heroine but overall a decent read. I do hope to read the stories of the other two Sinclair brothers and find out what happens to them.

Rating: B-

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Review: Stolen Heat

Stolen Heat
Elisbeth Naughton
Romantic Suspense
Stolen Trilogy/Book 2

Love Spell/August 2009
Purchased

From the author's website ~

His past tore them apart. Her lies thrust them back together. Now a killer’s out for revenge, but the biggest threat for both may just be the heat they thought they’d already lost…


Antiquities dealer Peter Kauffman walked a fine line between clean and corrupt for years. And then he met the woman who changed his life—Egyptologist Katherine Meyer. Their love affair burned white-hot in Egypt, until the day Pete’s lies and half-truths caught up with him. After that, their relationship imploded, Kat walked out, and before Pete could find her to make things right, he heard she’d died in a car bomb.

Six years later, the woman Pete thought he’d lost for good is suddenly back. The lies this time aren’t just his, though. The only way he and Kat will find the truth and evade a killer out for revenge is to work together—as long as they don’t find themselves burned by the heat each thought was stolen long ago…

After reading and enjoying Ms. Naughton's first book, Stolen Fury, I picked up the second book in the trilogy and dove in. The story starts out with a hero who has reformed his shady business dealings and the heroine is dead. Okay, she's not really dead but everyone, including Peter Kauffman, thinks she is. Imagine his shock when he sees her at an art auction. After Kat comes back into Peter's world, his life becomes an adventure he couldn't have imagined.

Peter Kauffman is the business partner of Rafe Sullivan, the hero of the first book. Peter runs an art gallery and acquires objects for the gallery and it's customers. Over six years ago he met Kat Meyer when she was working on a dig in Egypt. Peter's initial reason for getting to know Kat may not have been honest but once he got to know her, he fell hard for her. Then the unthinkable happened and Peter is left without the woman he fell in love with. He moves on but never has the feelings he had for Kat with any other woman.

Kat Meyer is one hell of a survivor. She's had to learn how to become a different person, to blend in with her surroundings and learn to disappear when needed. She's spent the past 6 years staying out of sight while keeping an eye on Peter and his collection of artifacts. When she faces Peter after all these years it's with sadness and regret. She does help him and shows that her feelings haven't changed. Just the circumstances they find themselves in. Kat is still in love with him but doesn't think there is any chance they can be together.

There are flashback scenes that show how Peter and Kat meet and fall for each other before everything fell apart. I'm not a big fan of flashbacks but I didn't mind these. It lent to the character development and explained the series of events that led to Kat taking such drastic steps nearly six years ago. It also showed a more innocent and trusting Kat. She's darker now, more experienced with the evil in the world. I did like Kat. I liked her ability to use her intelligence and not panic when things don't go as planned. She's very good at thinking on her feet.

Peter is not my favorite hero of the trilogy. It's not that he isn't likable, but he did come across as more closed off and less forgiving towards Kat. I didn't like that he had loved this woman but had so much mistrust for her. He would rather believe the worst of her than give her the benefit of doubt concerning what she did six years ago. It's not that Kat's been perfect but she did have very valid reasons for what she did.

Stolen Heat is a fairly fast paced read with lots of intrigue. The killer that's after Peter and Kat is interesting and kept the action part of the plot moving. And I really liked seeing Hailey Roarke again. She's the ex-wife of Rafe and friends with Peter. She's also the heroine of the third book and IMO the most interesting of the group. Book three, Stolen Seduction, is Hailey Roarke and Shane Maxwell's story.

Rating: B

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Review: Roadkill


Hey there! One of my favorite series is Rob Thurman's Cal Leandros series. It's a fun, wicked and imaginative ride that we go on with Cal, his brother Niko and their good friend Robin. There are an assortment of other wild characters that come along for the ride too.

The fifth book in the series, Roadkill, was released last month and I had the pleasure of doing a buddy review with Nath from Books, Books and more Books and Hils from Impressions of a Reader. Both of these ladies are big fans of the series and we were thrilled to get our Cal, Niko and Robin fix. Want to find out what we thought of Roadkill? Then head on over to Breezing Through for our buddy review. Beware of spoilers. :)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

TBR Challenge Review: Hope's Folly

Hope's Folly
Linnea Sinclair
SciFi Romance
Dock 5 series/Book 3
Bantam/March 2009
Purchased

From the back cover ~

Admiral Philip Guthrie is in an unprecedented position: on the wrong end of the law, leading a ragtag band of rebels against the oppressive Imperial forces. Or would be if he can get his command ship - the derelict cruiser called Hope's Folly - functioning. Not much can rattle Philip's legendary cool - but the woman who helps him foil an assassination attempt on Kirro Station will. She's the daughter of his best friend and first commander - a man who died while under Philip's command and whose death is on Philip's conscience.

Rya Bennton has been in love with Philip Guthrie since she was a girl. But can her childhood fantasies survive an encounter with the hardened man, and newly minted rebel leader, once she learns the truth about her father's death? Or will her passion for revenge put not only their hearts but their lives at risk? It's an impossible mission: A man who feels he can't love. A woman who believes she's unlovable. And an enemy who will stop at nothing to crush them both.

Can I just say how much I love Linnea Sinclair's writing? Yes, I can, since it's my blog. :) Wow. She pulls me in and I'm right there on board Hope's Folly. The suggested theme for this month was SFR or SF/F or fantasy, which fit right in with my need to read Hope's Folly. I love it when it works out that way!

Hope's Folly picks up about 4 months after Shades of Dark (book 2). I really think you need to read this series in order. Sinclair does give you back story on Philip and Rya but I think it makes for a far more richer experience if you read the first two book before reading Hope's Folly. Philip is the good friend and ex-husband of the heroine of the first two books. He also plays an important role in Shade of Dark. IMO, his character development starts long before Hope's Folly. Chaz and Sully are the two main characters in books 1 & 2 and theirs is a beautiful and well developed love story.

Admiral Philip Guthrie has left behind everything he worked for and everything he knew to help lead the Alliance fleet against Imperial rule. He's still recovering from injuries received when helping his ex-wife and her lover Sully. He's now trying to gather a crew for his first Alliance Fleet ship, Hope's Folly. The ship was part of the Imperial Fleet long ago with it's more recent history as a cargo hauler. It's not in the best shape, certainly not battle ready, but Philip isn't one to let anything get in the way of his mission and striking against Darius Tage, the leader of the movement to take control from the current ruler.

I just adored Philip. He wears his age(45) and experiences well, for the most part. He is using a cane while he continues to recover from his injuries. He also has silver hair which makes him appear older than he is. The first time Rya sees him at Kirro Station her impression of him is a just a little off. ~

Officer? Yeah, she tagged that too. It was in the way that he held himself, in spite of the pain and his limp. The set of his shoulders. The lift of his chin. Retired officer, silver-haired, probably in his seventies. Coming here at Commander Adney's call?

God, were they down to that now? Relying on rheumy old men to try to stop Tage's insanity? page 31

Oh, boy. Good thing Philip couldn't hear what Rya was thinking. She then proceeds to offer him her seat. LOL Philip has a major hang up about their age difference. Rya is 29 and was a member of the Fleet Security Forces Special Protection Services for nearly 5 years. They're known as being "polite, professional, and prepared to kill". So Rya is no innocent when it comes to the fleet and the world beyond. She's a real woman with real issues. She thinks she needs to loose some weight, believes she too tall and isn't innocent when it comes to men. That doesn't mean she sleeps around but she does enjoy sex and eventually lets Philip in on that fact. :) She also knew how to stand her ground when it came to disagreements with Philip and I really liked that about her.

Is there romance? Yes, but it's a more subtle, budding romance. Both Philip and Rya have a lot going on from the very beginning and while they are attracted to each other there's the whole running-for-your-life scenario that takes all their attention. But when they do get some alone time and it's very precious and beautifully written. Rya has the hero-worship syndrome going for Philip and Philip tries to think of Rya as the young daughter of his former commander and good friend. That lasts as long as it takes for them to get to know each other and realize their perceptions don't necessarily mesh with the reality. And it's tricky to deal with their attraction since Philip is Rya's commanding officer plus it's her responsibility to keep him safe from any assassination attempts. So they are not only on a ship together but working closely together.

The vast majority of the story takes place on the ship, Hope's Folly. The new crew does need to get to the ship first and Philip commandeers a shuttle to get them off Kirro Station. All doesn't go as planned. They manage to leave after escaping an attack. Once they get to the ship they're short on crew members and there's at least one spy on board. Philip, Rya and crew have a lot of work ahead of them with a variety of things breaking down on the ship and enemy ships coming after them. It's a mystery to find out who the spy is and try to anticipate their next move. I liked the mystery to the story. Nothing was too obvious and no one was exempt from scrutiny. I loved the way Rya and Philip worked together and how Philip treated Rya with respect for her knowledge and security experience.

Another well written, exciting adventure in the Dock 5 series. Next up is Rebels and Lovers, released last month. It's the story of Devin Guthrie and Captian Makaiden Griggs. Devin is the brother of Philip. I can't wait to read it!

Rating: A-

My review of Shades of Dark

Monday, April 19, 2010

Review: Something About You

Something About You
Julie James
Contemporary Romance
Berkley/March 2010
Library book

From the back cover ~

FATE HAS THROWN TWO SWORN ENEMIES. . .

Of all the hotel rooms rented by all the adulterous politicians in Chicago, female Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Lynde had to choose the one next to 1308, where some hot-and-heavy lovemaking ends in bloodshed. And of all the FBI agents in Illinois, it had to be Special Agent Jack Pallas who gets assigned to this high-profile homicide. The same Jack Pallas who still blames Cameron for a botched crackdown three years ago—and nearly ruining his career…

. . .INTO EACH OTHER’S ARMS

Work with Cameron Lynde? Are they kidding? Maybe, Jack thinks, this is some kind of welcome-back prank after his stint away from Chicago. But it’s no joke: the pair is going to have to put their rocky past behind them and focus on the case at hand. That is, if they can cut back on the razor-sharp jibes—and smother the flame of their sizzling-hot sexual tension…


First, not what I was expecting. The romance is there but it's muted with the suspense in the forefront of the story. As I was reading I kept wondering when Jack and Cameron would do more than mild flirting. It's not like I was expecting them to jump into bed right away but I did expect things to happen sooner than they did. There is sexual tension but it really didn't pick up until after the half-way point. They knew each other three years ago but were not intimately involved. Then, they kept it on a strictly professional level. Now, they're forced to spend time together in a stressful and dangerous situation which leads to a more intimate setting.

Cameron Lynde is a hard working attorney. She did work in private practice until tragedy made her rethink her priorities. She decided she wanted to be the one to put criminals away so she went to work as an Assistant U.S. Attorney. It's just her dumb luck that has her as a potential witness to murder. And has a ghost from her past coming back to haunt her. That's what it's like for Cameron when she first sees FBI Special Agent Jack Pallas, like seeing a ghost. To say there's tension in the room is an understatement. They didn't part on the best of terms and neither are happy at the situation they find themselves in. Cameron does act professional when faced with Pallas and thankfully doesn't throw a diva fit. I was concerned that the author might take that road but fortunately she didn't.

Jack Pallas is a smart, confident, good-looking guy. He's also got a deep seated, intense dislike for Cameron Lynde. The one and only time they worked together Jack liked and respected Cameron until things went very bad and he now blames her for the black mark on his career. Jack is shocked when he sees Cameron again. He's also pissed off when he finds out he has to work with her. Then things get dangerous for Cameron and Jack finds himself protecting her while they try to figure out who the killer is and what really went on in Room 1308.

Cameron and Jack have a past that is certainly part of their present. It's there in the mistrust that Jack feels for Cameron and in the secrets Cameron is keeping. I did like when they would talk about everyday things and get to know each other outside of the case. The problem was those times were few and the suspense parts were too many. When the antagonist(s) would come on the scene I was interested for a while, then I got bored. It just felt like things were too spelled out for the reader as to who the bad guys are and their motives. If the murder mystery is going to eat up a large chunk of the book than I would rather there be some actual mystery to it.

The romance was light with mild flirtation and some snappy repartee but not as much, IMO, as the two previous books. I missed that. Maybe it was because of the murder and the danger to Cameron, I don't know but it wasn't as funny as what I was hoping for. Julie James does dialogue very well, that smart, witty Tracy/Hepburn dialogue that I love. I just didn't feel a lot of that here.

So while I liked Something About You, it didn't wow me. I didn't feel there was a good balance of the romance and the mystery. I have a feeling I'm the odd one out since it has gotten a number of glowing reviews. I'll continue to read Ms. James. Her next book, A Lot Like Love, is due for release in Spring 2011.

Rating: B

ETA:
My reviews for Julie James' other books
Just the Sexiest Man Alive
Practice Makes Perfect

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Review: Silver Borne

Silver Borne
Patricia Briggs
Urban Fantasy
Mercy Thompson series/Book 5
Berkley/April 2010
Library book

*Spoilers for previous books*

From the inside cover ~

Mercy Thompson, car mechanic and shape-shifter, never knows what the day-or night-may bring in a world where "witches, vampires, werewolves, and shape-shifters live beside ordinary people" (Booklist). But she is about to learn that while some secrets are dangerous, those who see them are just plain deadly...

Mercy is smart enough to realize that when it comes to the magical fae, the less you know, the better. But you can't always get what you want. When she attempts to return a powerful fae book she previously borrowed in an act of desperation, she finds the bookstore locked up and closed down.

It seems the book contains secrets-and the fae will do just about anything to keep it out of the wrong hands. And if that doesn't take enough of Mercy's attention, her friend Samuel is struggling with his wolf side - leaving Mercy to cover for him lest his own father declare Samuel's life forfeit.

All in all, Mercy has had better days. And if she isn't careful, she may not have many more...

One of my favorite series and after reading Silver Borne, it still is. Ms. Briggs takes us back to Mercy's world and the pack that Mercy is slowing becoming part of. This time the fae figure prominently in the the story. I like the fae of Mercy's world. I'm not always fond of fae in UF, or witches for that matter. But Briggs writes them well and integrates them into the supernatural world of the Tri-Cities.

Mercy is still living at her trailer with Samuel as her roommate even though she's mated to Adam, the local pack alpha. I keep waiting for her to move to Adam's house, it's putting a strain on the pack dynamics, having the mate of the pack's alpha not living with the alpha. I can't help but think the only way Mercy will cement her position as Adam's mate and get the rest of the pack on the road to accepting her is to move into Adam's house. I get that she doesn't want to leave Samuel alone because he's been on the edge for a long time but as much as I love Samuel, IMO, Mercy's first loyalty should be to Adam.

We get lots of Adam this time around. :) His patience with Mercy sometimes makes me forget he's a werewolf, an alpha used to being obeyed. I love reading about Mercy and Adam and their developing relationship. Silver Borne added more layers to Mercy and Adam. Both as individuals and as a couple. The fact that Mercy lived with Bran's pack helps her deal with her feelings for Adam and her conflicting feelings where his pack is concerned. The pack still hasn't accepted Mercy with open arms, something that Mercy knows is highly unlikely. Add to that the friendship she maintains with Samuel and tension stays high.

Samuel is a lone wolf. He's also standing on the edge and about to go over. He's been barely hanging on, about to lose control to his wolf. All that changes when he makes a decision that forces Mercy to come to his and his wolf's aid. Sam (Samuel's wolf) is such a fascinating character to read. I loved seeing this side of Samuel. We usually don't see much of the animal side of shape-shifters in UF or PNR unless they're in attack mode. That wasn't the case here. Sam is a wolf that can interact with others without going into attack mode. The war of power play that we see between Samuel the man and Sam the wolf gives the reader a view of what goes on inside the shape-shifters. The difference here is we get to see it played out, in person, with Samuel and his wolf.

I've always liked Mercy and that hasn't changed. She still works hard at her garage and doesn't want special treatment because she's Adam's mate. Although, it would be nice if some of the pack didn't treat her with such disdain. We again see Mercy's determination and loyalty regarding her friends. She is determined to help Samuel/Sam and her loyalty makes things difficult when she must side-step questions from both Adam and Bran about Samuel. She has to tread a fine line when skipping around the truth with the two alphas.

As I mentioned the fae figure heavily when Mercy tries and fails to return a book and gets caught up in a fight over the book. The tension in Adam's pack hits a peak and Briggs shows us one way that conflicts are dealt with in the pack. I loved the parts with the pack and learning more about the inner workings. Mercy also takes a more active role as the alpha's mate which also helped with the story arc. I was glad to see this since I felt something needed to happen with regards to Mercy's standing in the pack. She couldn't maintain her distance without weakening Adam's control over the pack.

While I liked learning more about the fae, I did feel that and the romantic element regarding Samuel were the weakest points of the story. There was a lot of build up to the finale' of Mercy vs. the fae which is why the defeat was anticlimactic for me. And Samuel's love interest wasn't what I was expecting. I found myself wishing it had been fleshed out more. It felt too much like a quick fix to Samuel's problem. But even with all of that I still loved the book. Still stayed up until 2am reading it. Weird I know, but I think it just goes to the power of Briggs writing that while I had a couple of minor problems they didn't dampen the overall enjoyment of the book.

If you want to read a really great review of Silver Borne, head over and read nath's review. :)

Rating: A-

Friday, April 16, 2010


Blogging mojo has been kinda blah lately. I'm reading a lot and that's good but just not in the mood to write up those reviews. I've got 5-6 books to review and I hope to get a few done this weekend. I'm not even sure what plans we have for the weekend. I think the teen and I are going to squeeze some shopping in - she needs clothes and books. Not sure what dh and the boys have planned. Maybe a trip to the science center.

The boys wanted to go see Kick-Ass. Nope. Not happening. When I explained to them that it's rated R they were disappointed. Personally, I think they just like having a reason to say the title. They do modify it to Kick-A, but they still think it's cool to say. Boys!

My eyes and nose have confirmed that spring is definitely here! Every morning this week I woke up with itchy, watery eyes and sneezing my head off. I take allergy meds and Sudafed so there is some relief. I guess I should be thankful I don't live in the southeast anymore. When I lived in Charleston, South Carolina my blue car would be yellow when I would head out to work in the morning.

I'm officially hooked on another show. I think this is the most TV I've watched in years. Wendy aka Super Librarian blogged about the show Justified. You can see the first 4 episodes on Hulu. Timothy Olyphant plays a U.S. Marshall who has a habit of shooting the bad guys. It's a good show, funny and a little bloody at times. And Timothy Olyphant ... wears a cowboy hat. :)

Anything exciting happening this weekend? I think it might be spring break somewhere. My kids had theirs last month but they get out of school next month so we get ours early.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Review: Long Hard Ride

Long Hard Ride
Lorelei James
Erotic Contemporary Romance/Western

Rough Riders series/Book 1

Samhain/May 2007
Purchased

From the author's website ~

One lucky woman…three sexy cowboys…she’s in for the ride of her life!..

Channing Kinkaid itches for a change; a wild western adventure with an untamed man. Determined to shed her inhibitions and embrace the steamier, seamier side of life, she sets her sights on hooking up with a real chaps-and-spurs-wearing cowboy.

Enter Colby McKay—bull rider, saddle bronc buster and calf roper. From the moment he sets lust-filled eyes on the sweet and fiery Channing, he knows he’s found the woman who’s up to the challenge of cutting loose. What rough and rowdy cowboy could resist a no-holds-barred sexual romp with a sassy young thing starring as his personal buckle bunny?

Intrigued by Channing’s bold proposition of horsing around on the road, Colby impulsively sweetens the deal; sexual escapades not only in his bed, but in the bedrolls of his rodeo traveling partners, Trevor and Edgard.

Although Channing’s secretly longed to be the sole focus of more than one man’s passions, Colby’s demand for complete submission behind closed doors will test her willful nature.

Can Channing give up total control? Especially when not all is as it seems with the sexy trio? Or will the cowboys have to break out the bullropes and piggin' string to break in this headstrong filly?

I always get a kick out of the warnings on Samhain books. Here's the one for Long Hard Ride.

Warning: This title contains the following: lots of explicit sex, going strong long after the cows come home, graphic language that’d make your mama blush, light bondage with bullropes, ménage a trois, and – yee-haw! – hot nekkid cowboy man-love.

This is my first ebook purchase for my new nook™. I've been wanting to try Ms. James' Rough Rider series for some time now. So when I won the nook™ from the ladies at The Book Binge and Barnes & Noble, I knew it would be the first ebook I purchased. Believe me, it was a good ride!

Channing Kinkaid has taken a break from her real life and ventured into a completely new world. The world of the rodeo. Cowboys, horses, bulls and spurs are giving Channing the new experiences she's longing for. Not all of her choices are good ones. Choosing to follow the circuit with Jared the loser cowboy turned out to be a bad choice. Channing dumps Jared the loser cowboy and takes Colby McKay up on his offer to ride along with him and his two rodeo travel partners, Trevor and Edgard. Since Channing is wanting new experiences, Colby is willing to give it to her. If she wants to ride along with the three cowboys, she has to agree to be with all three cowboys. Yee-haw!

It may sound like all that is going on is hot, naked sex and believe me, there is a lot of that. But there was also a story about people and how they react when society tries to dictate what they should be, should do, should feel. The characters are fully developed. James shows us their strengths and weaknesses and their beautiful flaws.

Colby McKay comes from a family of cowboys. Family is a big part of Colby's life. He grew up with four brothers and a sister. His parents are still a big part of his life along with his siblings and an assortment of cousins. Colby is a straight shooter. He tells Channing what he wants from her and what he plans to do to her. Colby is very much a dominant male. He's in charge in the bedroom or wherever the mood might carry him and Channing. There were moments when I felt that alpha-ness came on a little too strong but I never felt he would physically hurt Channing with his domination. There were other influences that spurred Colby's protectiveness towards Channing. I liked seeing how Colby worked through his changing feelings towards Channing.

Channing isn't a cowgirl but a city slicker from back east. She has decided to embrace the rodeo lifestyle if only for a little while. I loved how she was so determined to experience this adventure. She wanted to make memories to take with her when she goes back to her "real" life. Some might say Channing is a loose woman for agreeing to sleep with three men and they might be right. I guess it just depends on your definition of loose. I didn't think of her that way. It's like she wanted to take this period in her life to be someone else. Someone who blurred those lines of traditional values and sometimes, just erased them. Whatever the people of the rodeo circuit thought of her, she had a kind heart and a love of life. Channing was an easy woman to like whom I felt such empathy for. She grew up with such structure that it was suffocating her. This was her one rebellion, her one chance to really experience life and I'm so glad she took it!

Colby's two rodeo pals, Trevor and Edgar, give the story another dimension to what could have been a traditional romance. Channing develops relationships with not only Colby but also Trevor and Edgar. All three relationships are different. Different levels, different intensities. The most intense and deepest relationship was of course with Colby. They play the role of the "traditional" hero and heroine. Channing becomes friends fairly quickly with Trevor. Her friendship with Edgar came at a slower, more tentative pace. I enjoyed the friendships of these four people. The men had that closeness that comes from living and working together. That history influenced how they interacted with Channing. Channing, for her part, helped them to unravel their conflicting feelings and make some hard decisions that they might not have made without her as the catalyst.

Lorelei James writes some very hot, very erotic scenes. The balance between playfulness and seriousness is well written. There are some heavy emotions that are dealt with in the story but there is also fun and joy and friendships made. James shows her extensive knowledge of the life of the cowboy and what it's like to follow the rodeo circuit. I loved that western flavor of living on the road, the excitement of the rodeo and the hard work and hard play that's part of that life.

I've already read Rode Hard, Put Up Wet, book 2 in the Rough Riders series and have Cowgirl Up and Ride, book 3, waiting for me on my nook™. Yep, I'm totally hooked on these cowboys and cowgirls and James' Rough Rider series.

Rating: B+

Monday, April 12, 2010

Reveiw: Her Best Friend

Her Best Friend
Sarah Mayberry

Contemporary Romance
Harlequin Super/April 2010
Purchased

From the back cover ~

Will it be friendship or romance?

What's a girl to do when she's secretly in love with a friend and he's married to someone else? She gets over it. That's what Amy Parker has done. Rather than lose her best bud Quinn Whitfield with an ill-timed, crazy confession of affection, she's taken the smart route. She's eased away from him. Just enough to get past the unrequited bits. And you know, it's working.

Until the day Quinn announces he's now single. That's right. He's single. And he wants to hang out. With her. Get reconnected the way they used to be.

Oh, this is so not good for Amy's equilibrium. Daily doses of Quinn remind her of everything she loves about him. But if he's free.and she's free.well, maybe the time has come for one of those crazy confessions.


One of my favorite romance tropes is friends to lovers, especially when they've know each other all their lives. Often one will stay on in the home town and the other will leave for greener pastures. This time around it's the heroine who stayed in the small town and the hero who left. He not only left, he left with the friend of the heroine. Quinn married Lisa who was a good friend of both Amy and Quinn. It was the three of them in their teens, the Three Musketeers. Amy had a crush on Quinn for years but he always treated her as his best friend. Then Lisa came along when they were all fourteen and changed the dynamics.

Quinn and Lisa have married and move to the city to pursue their legal careers. Amy has stayed in the hometown, working in her parents hardware store, saving up for her dream. Years have gone by and at the age of 30, Amy is finally realizing her dream of owning the town theater her great grandfather built. She runs into some legal difficulties and calls Lisa but instead gets Quinn. He not only offers to help but comes home for a visit.

The feelings Amy had for Quinn are still there. She's fighting the attraction, then Quinn drops the bomb - he's separated and getting a divorce. Amy has so many conflicting feelings. She sorry for Quinn, but now he's single! What the heck is she suppose to do? On top of that, she doesn't think she's Quinn's type. She thinks that Quinn only sees her as a friend, not as an attractive and potential girlfriend. She's just his Ames, his buddy, his pal. Drives her crazy! LOL I did like the tension this brought to the story. She's attracted to him, he's attracted to her, but neither thinks the other thinks of them as anything more than friends. So they both hide their feelings until... the kiss.

Quinn is really messed up. This is not where he thought he would end up when he said "I do" six years ago. You really can't help but feel sorry for him. He's a genuinely nice guy who's now trying to put his life back together. He decides to take some time off work and return to his home town. Seeing Amy again gives him a kick in the pants and makes him realize she's far more than just his best friend from childhood. The problem is that he doesn't know what to do. He wants her but his life is really screwed up. I think going home was the best thing Quinn could have done at this point. Going back to that small town where he grew up really gave him the perspective he need to see where he wanted his life to go. Mayberry does a good job showing how Quinn comes to terms with the choices he's made and the choices he now has to make. The way she had Quinn seeing Amy in a different light - she's still his best friend but he begins to see her as something/someone more. Quinn's biggest fear is losing Amy's friendship. Which is understandable since he's recently lost his wife and marriage.

It was fun seeing Quinn getting hot and bothered over his best friend. One minute he's thinking of her as Ames, his childhood friend, the next minute he sees her as this hot, sexy woman that he's dying to get naked. It's like Quinn had an angel and a devil on his shoulders, trying to be good but desperately wanting to be so bad!

Amy for her part had a crush on Quinn for years. It nearly broke her heart when he and Lisa married. You could feel Amy's sadness when she thought back to when she, Quinn and Lisa were teens and she realized that Quinn was attracted to Lisa. Then when Quinn was about to marry Lisa, Amy felt she had to be there for her friends even though it was tearing her apart. Now it's years later, Quinn is free and they've come full-circle. It's that fear of failure that holds Quinn back and fear of rejection that holds Amy back. As they wind there way back to each other we get to see snippets of their growing up years and how close they once were. I'm not a fan of big, long flashbacks but these worked to show Amy and Quinn's strong history.

Once again Ms. Mayberry has written another fulfilling love story. There were outside forces causing more friction and tension between Amy and Quinn but the focus never ventured far from their story. There were a few parts that moved a bit slow for me. I got a little tired of Amy's self doubt when it came to Quinn's attraction to her but it still proved to be an enjoyable story.

Rating: B+

Friday, April 9, 2010

ARC Review: A Certain Wolfish Charm

A Certain Wolfish Charm
Lydia Dare
Historical Paranormal Romance

Werewolf series/Book 1
Sourcebooks/April 2010

ARC from publisher

From the publisher's website ~

In Lydia dare’s debut trilogy, Regency England has gone to the wolves!

He gets crankier and crankier as the moon gets full…

The rules of Society can be beastly—especially when you’re a werewolf and it’s that irritating time of the month. Simon Westfield, the Duke of Blackmoor, is rich, powerful, and sinfully handsome, and has spent his entire life creating scandal and mayhem. It doesn’t help his wolfish temper at all that Miss Lily Rutledge seems not the least bit afraid of him, and in fact, may be as untamable as he is…

A woman whose charm is stronger than the moon…

When Lily’s beloved nephew’s behavior becomes inexplicably wild, she turns to Simon, the boy’s cousin and guardian, for help. But Simon’s idea of assistance is far different than hers, and Lily finds herself ensconced in his house and engaged to the rogue.

They both may have bitten off more than they can chew when each begins to discover the other’s darkest secrets…

A werewolf in London, Regency London that is. It may sound like a different scenario but it's very similar in ways of a typical historical romance. Society still holds an influence over our hero, the werewolf, and the heroine. They are forced to marry because of what society is saying about the heroine's virtue. Then there's the "Big Secret" that the hero is hiding. The heroine knows he's hiding something and she's resolved to find out just what his secret is.

Lily is a sheltered 23 year old spinster (her word) who is the caregiver for her 12 year old nephew, Oliver. Oliver is the son of Lily's deceased sister Emma and Emma's husband Daniel, cousin to the Duke of Blackmoor. Recently Oliver has been going through some changes that Lily attributes to him getting older and becoming a young man. He's gotten difficult for her to deal with so she's tried to contact Oliver's guardian, the Duke of Blackmoor, to ask for help. Blackmoor's idea of help is to send money. Lily decides to pay Blackmoor a visit, right before the full moon. Simon finds himself attracted to Lily but is also desperate to get rid of her before his secret is exposed. The impression Simon gives Lily is one of an overbearing, arrogant man who cares very little about his deceased best friend's son. Despite all of Simon's attempts, Lily ends up staying and Simon eventually gives into his attraction to her.

The way Lily's background is portrayed, she has had very little experience in the world outside her home in Essex. That's why it was hard for me to believe the way she more or less fell into bed with Simon so quickly. It was a "no, I can't" then "yes, I want you" but "no, I must not" then "yes, I need you". Way too much back and forth from Lily. And the next thing you know, they're married. Lily was a contradiction in that she could be mature when dealing with the well being of Oliver. Her immaturity showed when dealing with the very handsome and desirable Blackmoor.

Simon Westfield, the Duke of Blackmoor, is a typical titled nobleman. He enjoys his clubs, women and all the things that go with being a wealthy nobleman but every month he must remove himself from society to become what he was born to be. I liked Simon, didn't always agree with his logic but I liked him. He was written in a way that you could see the paradox his life had become. He has to give in to his werewolf side every month but he also has the responsibilities of his title. Those two lives become very difficult to balance when Lily becomes part of them.

Simon also has two brothers, Benjamin and Will. Benjamin was only mentioned but Will made his appearance in A Certain Wolfish Charm. I adored Will. He was charming and funny and I can't wait to read his book. Benjamin is a mystery which makes him intriguing since we know very little about him. Looking forward to reading his book too.

The werewolf aspect didn't come into play in the sense that the hero wasn't running around on all fours, attacking people. It was a secret that caused distrust between Lily and Simon. She eventually realizes he's hiding something but can't seem to get a straight answer from anyone. Given his rake's reputation, she has plenty of things to speculate on regarding what he might be hiding. When she does find out, well it doesn't go over well but she keeps coming back to all the evidence that points to the impossible - that her husband is a werewolf.

I do wish the werewolf twist had been more present in the story. We get so few historical paranormals. Simon's two brothers will also have their stories told. I look forward to reading those and hope the werewolves have a greater presence in their stories. Overall, a solid start to a new series.

Rating: B

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Review: Shades of Dark

Shades of Dark
Linnea Sinclair
SciFi Romance
Dock 5 Series/Book 2

Bantam/July 2008
Library Book

*Spoilers for Book 1*

From the back cover ~

For two fugitive lovers, space has no haven,
no mercy, no light—only...

SHADES OF DARK

Before her court-martial, Captain Chasidah “Chaz” Bergren was the pride of the Sixth Fleet. Now she’s a fugitive from the “justice” of a corrupt Empire. Along with her lover, the former monk, mercenary, and telepath Gabriel Ross Sullivan, Chaz hoped to leave the past light-years behind—until the news of her brother Thad’s arrest and upcoming execution for treason. It’s a ploy by Sully’s cousin Hayden Burke to force them out of hiding and it works.

With a killer targeting human females and a renegade gen lab breeding jukor war machines, Chaz and Sully already had their hands full of treachery, betrayal—not to mention each other. Throw in Chaz’s Imperial ex-husband, Admiral Philip Guthrie, and a Kyi-Ragkiril mentor out to seduce Sully and not just loyalties but lives are at stake. For when Sully makes a fateful choice changing their relationship forever, Chaz must also choose—between what duty demands and what her heart tells her she must do.

If you haven't read Gabriel's Ghost, read that first, then read Shades of Dark. Both are amazing stories. I read Gabriel's Ghost last year and it's where Chaz and Sully's story begins. I didn't write a review for it, I wish I had, it would have got an A from me. Seriously love Sinclair's writing. She puts you in the moment. You are there with Chaz feeling what she feels.

Shades of Dark picks up a few months after Gabriel's Ghost ends. It's told in the POV of Captain Chasidah Bergren or Chaz as she's known. Which might have been limiting but because of her unique relationship with Gabriel Sullivan (Sully) we also get some insight direct from Sully's head. Chaz and Sully have a special telepathic link so we get not only Chaz's thoughts but Sully's thoughts in Chaz's head.

Chaz is an interesting character, very much a woman accustomed to command. She's also a very likable character who has evolved since we first met her in Gabriel's Ghost. She's lost some of her prejudices and realizes that good friends come in some of the most unlikely forms. And she's in love. The relationship of Gabriel Sullivan (Sully) and Chaz is still in it's early stages time wise but they have been through so much at this point that they have grown extremely close. I loved these two together. They have so very many problems that they have faced and still must face but beneath it all you feel their love for each other. There are moments when I just wished they'd catch a break. When they could just relax and both be at peace without worrying about being captured by their enemies or wondering who they could really trust.

Sully - my heart hurts for him. Sully is a Kyi-Ragkiril, beings with telekinetic and telepathic abilities that have the potential to be so powerful, they're terrifying. Kyi-Ragkiril are rare but a human Kyi-Ragkiril is unheard of. Sully is still learning about his abilities and when the opportunity to be mentored surfaces, he takes it. The mentor causes serious conflict between Sully and Chaz. She doesn't trust easily and has some deep concerns regarding Sully's emerging powers and the intentions of Sully's mentor. Sully embraces his rising powers but with those powers comes greater responsibility. He tries so very hard to do the right thing but it's as if his life isn't his own and his attempts to be the decent, loyal person he wants to be are hindered by what he can't control.

I love the fact that Chaz has a past (Philip) and it keeps coming back to haunt Sully. Makes for great tension and gives another dimension to Chaz and her relationships. Chaz and Philip go way back. Admiral Philip Guthrie was Chaz's commanding officer when she was with the Fleet. He's also her ex-husband and her friend. Can you say complicated? Philip ends up helping Chaz and Sully as well as having to re-evaluate his allegiances. His story is told in Hope's Folly, book 3.

The action is fast paced with Chaz, Sully and crew traveling in space on their ship, the Boru Karn. They do make some stops along the way at ports and space stations. Sinclair's writing makes the reader believe in this place of space travel, alien races, political intrigue and wars. The camaraderie that comes from living and working in close quarters is evident in the lives of these characters. I loved the different friendships that formed on the Boru Karn. The loyalty and trust that these different races had for each other. At the heart of it all was Chaz and Sully and their love and trust for each other.

Rating: A

Monday, April 5, 2010

Review: Stolen Fury

Stolen Fury
Elisabeth Naughton
Romantic Suspense

Stolen trilogy/Book 1
Love Spell/December 2008
Purchased

From the back cover ~

To unearth a centuries-old secret, an archaeologist must team up with the rakish thief who’s stolen both an ancient relic and her heart…

Oh, is he handsome. And charming. And sexy as all get out. Dr. Lisa Maxwell isn’t the type to go home with a guy she barely knows. But, hey, this is Italy and the red-blooded Rafe Sullivan seems much more enticing than cataloging a bunch of dusty artifacts.

After being fully seduced, Lisa wakes to an empty bed and, worse yet, an empty safe. She’s staked her career as an archaeologist on collecting the three Furies, a priceless set of ancient Greek reliefs. Now the one she had is gone. But Lisa won’t just get mad. She’ll get even.

She tracks Rafe to Florida, and finds the sparks between them blaze hotter than the Miami sun. He may still have her relic, but he’ll never find all three without her. And they’re not the only ones on the hunt. To beat the other treasure seekers, they’ll have to partner up—because suddenly Lisa and Rafe are in a race just to stay alive.

An adventure is in store for readers of Elisabeth Naughton's Stolen trilogy. There's a heroine who's willing to take risks to get what she wants. A hero who's willing to break a few laws to get what he wants. Some secondary characters to round out the story nicely, who, no doubt will get their own stories. (Yeah!) Throw in some underwater caves, an evil mastermind, Furies and steamy sex scenes with the oh so hot and bothered and you have a wild ride with two not so typical lead characters.

I liked the idea of a female Indiana Jones type heroine and Naughton made it work. Dr. Lisa Maxwell is a renowned professor of ancient history and in her free time she's a treasure hunter. Lisa is a woman driven to succeed and has very little time for games. So when she's played by a professional thief she decides to play a game of her own. I loved how she dealt with Rafe. She didn't let herself trust him even though she was very attracted to him. He's hot, he's sexy, he steals from whomever he needs to. Robin Hood he's not. But he does have a softer side. Awe. Until he needs to steal again. :)

Rafe is a hero that hides his heroics. He'll tell you it's all about the job, that he's not a nice guy. But the reality is that he does have a soft heart. He's a good son that loves him mom and takes care of her. Heck, he's even friends with his ex-wife. Rafe came across as a decent guy when it came to looking out for friends and family. When it came to Lisa, he's caught between a rock and a hard place. He needs what she has but boy is he attracted to her. In another time, another place, things might have been different between them. But Rafe has a job to do and he has to use Lisa to get the job done. I felt bad for Rafe at times. He didn't want to hurt Lisa but he also had commitments that he couldn't brush aside. He's very loyal. I liked that about him. Loyalty is always high in my book as long as it's not blind.

Lisa is a different type of heroine. She's very much an action heroine. She'd rather be right there in the thick of it than on the sidelines while the hero takes care of the "heavy lifting". When not teaching and lecturing, Lisa has spent the last 15 years searching for the reliefs of Alecto, Megaera and Tisiphone, the Furies. She's not willing to give up her search, unfortunately, Rafe is also searching for them.

The story is fairly fast paced with Rafe and Lisa doing some globe trotting while searching for the artifacts. The search sends them to Chicago where they meet up with Lisa's brother, Shane Maxwell, a detective for the Chicago PD. They also make their way to Miami and the Florida Keys where they meet up with Rafe's ex-wife who also happens to be in law enforcement. Sequel bait abounds but that didn't bother me. I liked the secondary characters and will be reading their stories.

One thing I liked was that after their initial intimate moments together, Naughton didn't rush Rafe and Lisa into bed. She let them work out their problems and then let nature take it's course. Another thing I liked was that neither Lisa or Rafe were young, inexperienced characters. They were both in their late 30's with some miles on them. They brought those experiences into the relationship they created along with the people who are part of their lives. This made for a much more complete feeling to the story.

There was some pacing issues, with a little too long on the narrative at some points. But the dialogue for the most part was witty and quick. I liked the overall feel of the story if at times I felt that things were a little too spelled out. There is an Epilogue to Stolen Fury posted on the author's website. Scroll down just past the excerpt. It's more sequel bait than anything but it's cute.

Rating: B+

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

My family and I will be spending the better part of the day at my mom's house. We'll be enjoying delicious food and good company. Here's hoping you all have a wonderful Sunday!

Friday, April 2, 2010

March Reads...


March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb, or so the saying goes. I'm not sure about that, all I know is that the flowers are blooming and my allergies are killing me. The goods news is that I did read some great books, only a couple that didn't work all the well for me but overall a good reading month.

Tapestry ~ Karen Ranney ~ Historical ~B+
Ecstasy Unveiled ~ Larissa Ione ~ PNR ~ C+
A Matter of Class ~ Mary Balogh ~ Historical ~ A
The Stolen Crown ~ Susan Higginbotham ~ Historical ~ A-
Roadkill ~ Rob Thurman ~ UF ~ Buddy review to come
Have You Seen Her? ~ Karen Rose ~ RS ~ A-
Naked Edge ~ Pamela Clare ~ RS ~ C+
The Secret Year ~ Jennifer Hubbard ~ YA ~ B+
Stolen Fury ~ Elisabeth Naughton ~ RS ~ Review to come
My Soul to Save ~ Rachel Vincent ~ YA ~ A-
Fantasy in Death ~ J. D. Robb ~ RS ~ B+
Bound by Your Touch ~ Meredith Duran ~ Historical ~ A-

12 Total

Historicals ~ 4
PNR ~ 1
RS ~ 4
UF ~ 1
YA ~ 2

A good mix dominated by Historicals and RS. Which surprised me. I didn't realize I had read that many historicals. No straight contemporaries. I'm sure I'll have some this month. I've got Sarah Mayberry and Julie James on the tbr pile. :)

Any weekend plans? Saturday, I'll make an attempt to clean the garage. We plan to have a yard sale soon so I need to get the junk together for that. I'll get some reading in too and need to wash my car - it's horrible! Do you ever notice how your car seems to run better when it's clean?

Sunday is Easter and we are going to my mom's for dinner. She didn't want me to bring anything but I'll be making fruit salad and bringing cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory. The cheesecake is the frozen kind from Sam's Club but it's still delicious!

*The flowers are from a Bougainvillea in my front yard. The yard is very colorful: reds, pinks and purple flowers are everywhere. Just wish my nose enjoyed it as much as my eyes. :)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

DIK Challenge Review: Bound by Your Touch

Bound by Your Touch
Meredith Duran
Historical Romance/London/1884

Pocket Books/June 2009

Purchased

From the back cover ~

Silver-tongued Viscount Sanburne is London’s favorite scapegrace. Alas, Lydia Boyce has no interest in being charmed. When his latest escapade exposes a plot to ruin her family, she vows to handle it herself. Certainly she requires no help from a too-handsome dilettante whose main achievement is being scandalous.

But Sanburne’s golden charisma masks a sharper mind and darker history than she realizes. He shocks Lydia by breaking past her prim facade to the woman beneath . . . and the hidden fire no man has ever recognized. But as she follows him into a world of intrigue, she will learn that the greatest danger lies within—in the shadowy, secret motives of his heart.


Better late then never, I say. :) I've finally reading a Meredith Duran novel. This one comes from CJ's list on the island. It isn't Duran's first book, The Duke of Shadows, but I'm sure I'll get to that one eventually. This is Ms. Duran's second novel which I found quite entertaining.

It's 1884, and James Durham, Viscount Sanburne is not himself. He's under the influence. Of what, he's not sure. Something his friend Phin created. James doesn't seem to care what's causing the high, only that he can escape reality. The words that came to mind when I first met James were "frat boy". He drinks, stays out all night and in general doesn't seem to give a damn about anything. But there is so much more to James. His dissolution with life comes from what he feels was his inability to keep his sister safe. He blames himself for not getting her out of a dangerous situation. James is also suffering from a broken relationship with his father, Earl of Moreland. James takes distinct pleasure in embarrassing his father in society. Yes, James is determined to cultivate that bad boy image.

Lydia Boyce is nothing like James. She is the eldest of three daughters of Henry Boyce, an archaeologist of some renowned. She is well read and manages her father's affairs while he spends most of his time on digs in Africa. I really liked Lydia from the start. I did feel sorry for when she finds herself in a very upsetting situation early on. Being the eldest Lydia is a natural leader and feels responsible for her sisters. Ana, her youngest sister, is sweet and innocent. Her sister Sophie is a real bitch. Yep, I've got it right here in my notes, "Sophie is a bitch". Lydia put up with a lot of BS when it came to Sophie. I really wish she had shown her backbone regarding Sophie a bit sooner than she did. On the other hand, she had no problem standing up to Viscount Sanburne.

When Lydia meets James the impression he gives is not a good one. ~

But then something went wrong. His laugh started out softly, but he did not seem able to stop it. As his mirth rose in volume, it assumed a lunatic quality. Lydia dimly sensed people scattering back to their seats, but she could not look away from the young lord's face. It was more than morbid curiosity that arrested her. She'd never seen someone lose his mind before, but Sanburne managed it beautifully. The sight tightened her throat, and only this prevented her impulse to - page 23

James is unconventional and Lydia can't help but be fascinated by him. Like a train wreck, she can't seem to look away. And they go on to have another encounter of the bizarre at the home of James' father. Lydia is there for a dinner party when James makes his entrance. Their banter shows off their intelligence and wit. With James teasing and leading Lydia to where he thinks her wants her to go. But Lydia is smart and not one to easily be lead around.

Lydia and James are brought together because of their mutual interest in antiquities, specifically from Egypt. Lydia handles the items her father ships back to England but now the legitimacy of those items has come into question. Lydia is determine her father is innocent of any wrong. James is just as determined to find out what exactly is going on with the forgeries. Their relationship most of the time is at odds with their goals. They begin with a keen dislike of each other based on those goals. They then move to attraction, of course, then a shared goal. Duran plays out the suspense of the story well, giving the reader enough back story to fill in the various characters and their roles.

I did like how James came to appreciate Lydia's intellect. He didn't continue to assume he was the more intelligent one simply because he was the man but came to value her as a person. He still maintained his alpha-ness and tried to protect her but Lydia was a force to be reckoned with. And Lydia learned to look beyond James' playboy facade' to the real man behind the mask. What she found was a man that loved his sister, cared about his friends and society as a whole. He simply didn't know what to do with those emotions. In this way Lydia helped him work out and face his feelings regarding his sister and his father.

Any problems I had with the book were minor. There were times when I felt the narration was a bit too heavy and could have been broken up with more dialogue. Overall I thought that Duran did a good job developing not only the characters but the plot, flavoring it with the costumes and and the workings of the society of that period. The secondary character of Phin caught my interest and fortunately his book, Written on Your Skin, is next in the line up.

Rating: A-