Monday, August 31, 2009

Review: Come Spring

Title: Come Spring
Author: Jill Marie Landis
Genre: Historical Romance/1892/Wyoming
Series: Flowers series/Book 4
Published: October 1992

Nath's Re-Read Challenge 2009

From the inside cover ~

In, 1892, lovely Bostonian Annika Storm is traveling to meet her brother in Wyoming. But her plans go awry when tall, blond trapper Buck Scott mistakes Annika for his mail-order bride - and kidnaps her from her train! By the time he will admit his error, they are snowed in at his tiny mountain cabin until spring.

Passion grows between Annikia and Buck, and when it blossoms into ecstasy she is ready to share his life forever. Then Annika is kidnapped again, by outlaws seeking reward money. Believing she has run away, Buck feels betrayed. Yet he vows to find the woman who has stolen his heart.

Come Spring has been at the top of my potential re-reads for this challenge. What made me choose it this month was the overwhelming need to read a western. :) That was brought about by Kristie, Wendy and Sybil and their Great Western Drive. And while Come Spring may not be a western with cowboys and gunslingers, it was still a very enjoyable read and I loved it this time as much as I did the first time around.

The hero, Buck Scott, isn't a cowboy or gunslinger but a skinner. He's a mountain man who makes his living trapping and skinning animals, then selling their pelts. His trade is not well thought of by most and he is looked down on by many. Buck Scott does come across as a man who prefers his own company to others. He's not open or friendly and he's rather intimidating in size at over 6 feet in height and well muscled. But for all his gruffness there lies the heart of a gentle soul. Buck was such an easy man for me to like. At one point even Annika tells her brother that it's hard to stay mad at Buck. :)

Buck is a very giving individual without being obvious about it. It's the little things that he does that made a big impression on me. His patience with Baby, his 3 year old niece, is amazing given that he has only the very basics to hold her attention. He's rough with Annika in the beginning but that's more out of frustration and urgency than it being his true nature. He gives her his gloves to wear while the travel up the mountain. Once they are snowed in he makes sure she can fend for herself and Baby if something should happen to him. He makes her a coat and carves the buttons for it. He's so sweet when he gives it to her, so afraid she won't like it.

Annika Storm was raised by two loving parents in a home where her every need was seen to. She has never had to work for what she needs or worry about having food or a place to live. She has lived a life of privilege and secure in a family filled with love. I wouldn't say that she's spoiled so much as that she's simply accustomed to wealth and a loving family. All that changes when she is kidnapped and taken to a mountain cabin. It's a crude one room cabin with the basic necessities but none of the comforts that Annika is accustomed to.

At first Annika thinks she will only have to suffer Buck Scott's company for a couple of days but when those few days turn to weeks she is forced to adjust to life in the small cabin in the valley. Annika for all her pampered upbringing adjusts well to life on the mountain. At first she's standoffish and not so easy to get to know but once she spends more time with Buck and Baby she became a heroine worthy of her hero. Annika takes fairly quickly to Baby but with Buck the process was more slow and steady. Each of them exploring the other person that was so different from everyone they had known before. Her relationship with Baby came about a lot easier than her relationship with Buck. With Buck it was anger and fear. Then she just got good and pissed off. LOL This was after Buck realized his mistake, that Annika wasn't his mail-order bride, and he agreed to take her to Cheyenne as soon as the pass was clear.

There was one part where Buck is gone hunting all day. When he gets back Annika is angry that he had left her there alone with Baby. During the day her thoughts had gone from fear at being alone in the cabin to anger that Buck might be with a woman. This happens before they sleep together. When Buck returns it's an angry Annika that greets him. ~

"Where have you been?" she yelled.

"Why are you shouting?" He pushed her aside and stepped over the threshold, intent on getting warm. Walking straight to the bed, he stood for a moment and gazed down on Baby as she slept, then turned to survey the room. The fire was burning brightly, there was a stack of clean dishes on the kitchen bench. He was relieved to note that everything looked fine.

Everything but Annika. She was still glaring at him.

"Close the door," he said softly, so as not to wake the child.

She slammed it shut. Baby stirred and rolled to her stomach.

"Are you going to tell me where you've been or not?"

"I was until you started ranting. What are you so upset about?"

"Upset? Upset? I'm not upset! I'm furious. How dare you leave me here all day to watch over this place and that child while you go traipsing off, God knows where. I won't do it again, do you hear?"

At this point Annika gives him some coffee and biscuits and tells him he's lucky to get that much. LOL Buck's response ~

"If I thought I would have gotten this much kindness out of you I'd have stayed away all daylong before now," he said around a mouthful of biscuit.

She gasped aloud and turned on him. "You are an outrageous imbecile, Buck Scott."

"Anyone every taught you any manners, Miss Storm?"

"What's that suppose to mean?"

"I mean real manners, like not shouting in the house, not making too many demands on a person, like giving out a bit of the milk of human kindness?"

She lifted her hands and appealed to the ceiling. "And this from a man who dragged me here against my will."

"A mistake you're not ever likely to let me forget."

"Not while I live and breathe."

Buck threw back his head and laughed. It wasn't a mere chuckle, nor was it a quick bark. It was loud and long and came from the depths of his soul.

pages 145-146

It was so sweet and such an intimate moment between these two. They realize that they missed each other, missed the arguing and banter.

For a great deal of the book Buck and Annika are together, along with Baby, aka Buttons. I liked the addition of the child in this story. She played a pivotal role in the plot because she was the reason Buck needed a wife. He couldn't continue to hunt and trap with Baby along and he couldn't leave her alone at the cabin. So he placed the ad for a wife. Buck's relationship with Baby was also a joy to read. This big, mountain man and this adorable little baby who has him wrapped around her finger. He would do anything for this child, even marry a stranger. Or give Baby up to a good home. The emotions that came through in the writing, of Buck's love for Baby, show what a beautiful person Buck is beneath the gruff exterior.

The plot itself is fairly standard. Hero kidnaps heroine, they're forced to spend time together, they are separated, they are reunited through adversity. It's what Jill Marie Landis does with that plot that makes this book stand out. The events that bring these two people, who are such opposites, together and then create this little family are what make this such a wonderful read. The character development is such that the reader gets to know, care and forgive Buck and Annika of their flaws, mistakes and misunderstandings. When they are separated I found myself thinking "they have to get back together" and "he can't just leave her" even though I knew they ended up together I was swept up in their story and worried that their stubbornness would keep them apart.

As you can see from the book info above, Come Spring is the fourth book in the series. The first book is about Annika's parents, Analisa and Caleb, Sun Flower (loved that book!)

The second book is Wild Flower. I'm embarrassed to say that I don't remember this one. All I could find was this:

From the great peaks of the West to the lush seclusion of a Caribbean jungle, two 1830s' lovers discover the deepest treasures of the heart. Dani braves the Rocky Mountains alone, dressed as a man, until a handsome explorer kidnaps her on a dare. Now her heart holds nothing but passion.

If anyone can jog my memory, I would appreciate it. :)

The third book, Rose, is about Annika's brother Kase and his love, Rose. This one I remember as a fun read with Rose a beautiful stubborn Italian cook and Kase a grumpy, good looking sheriff.

Both couples, Analisa and Caleb and Kase and Rose, also appear in Come Spring. It was fun to revisit with this characters and gave me an itch to do some more re-reading of Ms. Landis.

Ms. Landis has a fairly extensive back list with both historical and contemporary novels. She is currently writes Inspirational Western Romances for Steeple Hill Books. Information about Jill Marie Landis and her writing can be found here.

Rating: A+

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Cover Love ~ Silver Borne

From Patricia Briggs Website ~

This will be the fifth Mercy Thompson novel. I may be premature putting it up, but a number of people write wanting to know if Bone Crossed was the last in the series. Happily, ACE has contracted for a total of seven Mercy novels, and it's possible the series could go even longer.

Another awesome cover by Dan Dos Santos. Thanks to Orannia over at Walkabout for the heads up. This is definitely one of my favorite UF series. I do hope we get more than seven Mercy books. It's one of those series that I could read for a very long time. It does amaze me how big the author's name gets as the sales increase. :) Silver Borne is set for release in hardcover on March 30, 2010.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

YotC Review: In Care of Sam Beaudry

Title: In Care of Sam Beaudry
Author: Kathleen Eagle
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: May 2009
Silhouette Special Edition

Keeping the people of his Rocky Mountain hometown safe was Sheriff Sam Beaudry's top priority. But his quiet life suddenly came under scrutiny when a young stranger came to town, claiming to be Sam's secret daughter, upsetting his very existence, not to mention his budding relationship with lovely nurse Maggie Whiteside.

Maggie wasn't swayed by all the talk surrounding Sam. Because she believed that she and the rugged lawman shared something special. Maggie and her young son had always known that he was a man to count on.

Now she had to show him that he could count on her...

What a beautiful cover. The colors are stunning in RL and even though it doesn't feature the hero or heroine I still like it. There is some horseback riding in the story but it's minor so my guess is that the horses on the cover are just there for show.

This was a short, sweet story. The local boy, Sam Beaudry gets out of the Marine Corps, comes back to his home town of Bear Root, Montana and becomes the sheriff. Sam's an easy going guy who has finally come home to settle down after doing some hard living. He left town years ago to work the oil fields. While traveling around the west he met and fell in with people who loved to party and use illegal drugs. Sam joined the Marines in the hopes of straightening his life out. Once out of the Marines he headed home, knowing that's where he really belonged. Sam's a hero that's easy enough to like but I didn't quite know what he wanted. He seemed like he was settled into his life as sheriff and had no ambitions beyond that. Sam is attracted to Maggie but he's certainly taking his time acting on that attraction.

Maggie has lived in Bear Root for almost two years, which is considered by locals about the time most outsiders leave. But Maggie intends to make this home for her and her son. She's a good nurse and good mom. She's easy to talk to and easy to like. Maggie is a single mom to her 12 year old son Jimmy who happens to idolize Sheriff Sam Beaudry. I liked Maggie for the straight forward way she had about her. She let Sam know that her son comes first and that she wouldn't do anything that wasn't in his best interest. She's attracted to Sam but doesn't think he's right for her. She isn't looking for anyone but can't seem to stop looking Sam's way.

Sam and Maggie dance around their attraction. Hilda, Sam's mom, has been encouraging the two to get together but so far she's having no luck. They are friends but keep that friendship from becoming more. When they finally do come together it's more of a clandestine meeting late at night. This is a small town and there is always talk and Maggie doesn't want that talk to hurt her son. Then there's Sam's past to deal with and the possibility that Star, the little girl, is his child. Who really is Star's father? Sam's not so sure it's him but he can't help but feel protective towards the little girl. The problem is he's not sure who or what he's protecting her from. There is an element of suspense and a bit of mystery to the story with no one knowing for sure who Star's father is.

I think this is one of those stories that while I enjoyed it, it could have done with more back story and more fleshing out of the characters. I didn't feel like I got to know them as much as I would have liked. Sam also has a missing brother, Zach, who might get his own book but I was unable to find any information on it. There was a character, a friend of Maggie's, that seemed to have a history with Zach. Maybe the two old flames will reunite in an upcoming book.

Rating: B

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

For All You Werewolf Lovers...

This looks wicked!

Synopsis from IMDB ~

Nobleman Lawrence Talbot (Del Toro) returns to his ancestral homeland, where his brother has gone missing and villagers are being killed by a nightmarish beast. The search reunites him with his estranged father (Hopkins) and draws him near to his brother's fiancée (Blunt), however, Talbot's lager concern is the discovery of a side to himself which he never could have imagined existed ...

Great casting with Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins and Hugo Weaving. I'm getting DH to take me for Valentines Day. LOL Perfect gift. :) I still remember seeing the old Lon Chaney B&W movie on TV when I was a kid. I loved it even while it scared the heck out of me.

Scheduled for release ~ February 12, 2010.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Coming Soon ~ Shades of Midnight...

I still like this series even with my less than favorable response to the last book, Ashes of Midnight. I couldn't find a blurb on the author's website, found the one below on Fantastic Fiction. Releases December 29. Enjoy...

In a frozen wilderness steeped in darkness, the lines between good and evil, lover and enemy, are never black or white but drawn in Shades of Midnight.

Something inhuman is stalking the frigid Alaskan wilds, leaving unspeakable carnage in its wake. For bush pilot Alexandra Maguire, the killings stir memories of a horrific event she witnessed as a child and evoke in her the inexplicable sense of otherness she has long felt within herself but never fully understood . . . until a darkly seductive stranger with secrets of his own enters her world.

Sent from Boston on a mission to investigate the savage attacks and stop the slaughter, vampire warrior Kade has his own reasons for returning to the frigid, forbidding place of his birth. Haunted by a secret shame, Kade soon realizes the stunning truth of the threat he faces-a threat that will jeopardize the fragile bond he has formed with the courageous, determined young woman who arouses his deepest passions and most primal hungers. But in bringing Alex into his world of blood and darkness, Kade must confront both his own personal demons and the even greater evil that could destroy all he holds dear.

The Breeds are off to Alaska for this one. This is Kade's book and I'm looking forward to the different setting. It sounds like he's alone on this mission, too bad since I was hoping for more of Sterling Chase. The heroine, a bush pilot, has potential. She's got to be tough and smart to survive being a pilot in Alaska. I do like that Adrian makes the heroines part of "the team" and doesn't leave them sitting on the sidelines.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Westerns are Alive and Well...

Doesn't everybody love a western romance? I know I do and so do many of my fellow bloggers. In case you haven't heard, KristieJ of Ramblings on Romance, Wendy of The Misadventures of Super Librarian and Sybil from The Good, The Bad, The Unread declared last week The Great Western Drive. They blogged about western romances all week. Their posts have brought back some great memories of some of my favorite reads and in the true sense of romance bloggers they have added to my TBR pile. :)

If you haven't had a chance to check out their posts about all thing western then mosey on over to their blogs and get some great recommendations of some truly fine western romances. And there are some great giveaways too. I have a feeling we will be seeing a lot more reviews of western romances in the near future. And if you prefer contemporaries - they're on the list too.

Many of my favorite authors were recommended and if you haven't read a western romance or it's been years since you have, I encourage you to give them a try.

Since the ladies gave so many good suggestions I thought I would make a different type of suggestion.

Authors I Wish Would Write A Western Romance

If you've been reading romances for any length of time you know that authors will sometimes do a switch. Either a switch in genres or sub-genres and their readers are not always happy about that switch. Personally, I would be happy if some of my favorite authors wrote one western romance. Just one please.

Lisa Kleypas ~ As a long time fan of Lisa Kleypas I have always enjoyed her heroes. Now imagine some of those heroes in a western setting. Maybe Nick Gentry as a card sharp in Tombstone? Or Derek Craven running a house of ill repute in Deadwood? Kleypas could definitely write a western hero to rival all western heroes.

Nalini Singh ~ The changelings out west... I know you can picture it. :) The wolves and cats all out in the wild west. They would have a heck of a lot more room to roam and the ancestors of Lucas and Hawke could really go wild.

Kresley Cole ~ Kresley Cole has written 5 historicals but no westerns. How much trouble do you think her Valkyries could cause in the old west? Lots! The Valkyries could be gunslingers, madams, ranchers, gamblers or trail bosses. Anything thing a man could do and still look beautiful doing it. I think they would fit right in. Three words: Nix ~ Train Robber.

So which of your favorite authors would you like to see write a western romance?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Review: Hot Pursuit

Title: Hot Pursuit
Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Troubleshooters/Book 15
Published: July 2009

From the inside cover ~

Alyssa Locke is no stranger to dealing with danger. As team leader of the nation's number one personal security company, Troubleshooters, Inc., she's seen more than her share of action, survived plenty of close calls, and holds her own with the best of them--and against the worst of them. Guarding lives is her game, and no one plays it better. But her toughest challenge will be protecting herself from a serial killer she’s been after for years -- known only as “The Dentist” -- who is determined to make her his ultimate trophy.

The assignment was supposed to be an easy one: teach self-defense techniques to a newly-elected New York State Assemblywoman and her chief of staff, after a political controversy generates a blizzard of hate mail – including some death threats -- from hotheads and cranks. But as soon as she mobilizes in New York City with her squad of moonlighting Navy SEALs, Alyssa begins butting heads with the hard-case cop who thinks they’re chasing shadows.

Until they discover a dead body. And then another. Now Alyssa really has her hands full ---bodyguarding two independent, busy women, managing a murder investigation, and trying to find time for her husband, Troubleshooters operative Sam Starrett, and their infant son. Meanwhile, it wouldn't be a Troubleshooters operation without romantic sparks and heated rivalries--and any time the SEALs of Team Sixteen are involved, there are plenty of both.

But then, while investigating a suspect, Alyssa is ambushed, and suddenly finds herself imprisoned by The Dentist. Now cut off from everyone she loves and relies on, Alyssa must call upon all of her strength and skill to survive this final confrontation with the sadistic monster, and trust that her Troubleshooter teammates, led by her beloved Sam, will reach her before it’s too late.

I wasn't sure what to expect with this latest installment in the Troubleshooter franchise. It was said to be Sam and Alyssa story, again, but while they did get a bunch of page time I think it would be safe to say they were not the center of the book. Brockmann had a number of story lines going so it read more like an ensemble than simply Sam and Alyssa's book. I have to confess, I know Sam and Alyssa would probably be listed as a favorite couple of many fans, they're not mine. I do like them but I was never crazy over them. I did find that I had a greater liking for them after reading Hot Pursuit. I think it was because Sam has finally got his shit together. I just find him far more likable now than he was in his own book. *ducks head*

It's January in New York City and Alyssa, Sam and some Navy Seals are there as a security detail for Maria Bonavita. Maria is a State Assemblywoman, who is also a good friend of Savannah von Hopf, wife of Ken Karmody of SEAL Team Sixteen. It's like that six degrees of separation thing. Anyway, what usually happens when the Troubleshooters take what is suppose to be a working vacation? Murder, mayhem and sex. Cause you just have to have the sex. :) The plot was fairly standard with the gang running here and there. Protecting the civilians, setting up security and looking in the wrong direction for suspects. Jules and Robin decide to join the gang. Jules brings Robin with because it's suppose to be a pseudo vacation and Robin whined and complained until Jules agreed to bring him. (Sorry, not a big fan of Robin, aka BW).

So far it sounds like I didn't like Hot Pursuit much and while there were parts that I could have done with out: Danny and Izzy - just grow up already! And Jules - please stop calling everyone "Sweetie", kay? Thanks! One part that I did like was Dan Gillman's new love interest. I'm trying to keep this spoiler free so I'll just say that I enjoyed their interactions and even though their relationship developed very quickly, I still like the way it developed. In the short time frame, I do think Brockmann did a good job in making the feelings they had by the end believable.

There was also Sam and Alyssa, who at this point, have been married for almost 6 years. Wow - how time flies. They also brought their baby son Ashton with since everyone and their brother thought this was an easy assignment. Izzy and Robin get babysitter duty. I did get the feeling that Brockmann was foreshadowing Robin, Jules and baby makes three. *shrugs* - wouldn't surprise me. It's obvious she uses her books to help promote gay rights. So to have Robin and Jules with a baby down the road only makes sense. Jules, IMO would make a great father. Robin eh, still too immature.

Back to Sam and Alyssa. I liked both of them more this time around than I have in the past. Alyssa seems more, I don't know, approachable? She comes across as a more open character, fulfilled and less closed off. And Sam, while he is still a stubborn, opinionated S.O.B. at times, he's mellowed and learned to let his teammates take the lead at times, especially Alyssa. He still has one heck of a temper but he's learned to control those impulses far better than before.

There are still a number of characters, both old and new, that are left at loose ends. Brockmann did keep my interest through most of the book with a few stops and starts and minimal eye rolling at some of the language. Maybe I just don't spend enough time out on the streets, hanging with the cool kids, but there were a few times when I just had to shake my head at the lingo. I do think a small part of me was waiting for Izzy to say "I'm outtie." :)

Check out Suzanne Brockmann's huge back list at the author's website.

Rating: B

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

When You Least Expect It...

Last night my oldest had marching band practice at 5. So I dropped her off and then headed to the library. Just a quick stop before picking up the pizza for dinner.

In the lobby is where The Friends of the Library have set up their bookcases with the books for sale. These are donated books and sell for .50 to 2.00. There are mass market and trade paperbacks as well as hardcovers.

I first search through the trade fiction. I've gotten lucky here a few times and picked up some Ellora's Cave and Aphrodisia's that were like new. No luck this time so I head over to the romance shelves. I spy an old Mary Balogh, Deceived, that I don't have. It's worn but still, it's Balogh. I see a few books that have been here awhile and then my eyes light on a familiar cover. I've never actually see the book, only pictures of the cover around blogland. But I would recognize it anywhere. The elusive book that readers seem to either love it, hate it or simply can't finish it.

The Windflower.

That's Cuddles with the famous (or infamous) book. It's been a while since he's had his picture taken. I think it was way back last year when I got Broken Wing. I was very surprised to find The Windflower. I've been on the lookout for it but never really expected to come across it.

I have no idea when I'll find time to read it. It's definitely a long book, the font is tiny! Will I be a reader that loves it or will the prose drive me mad? Or maybe some of both. :)

What book have you been looking for in what seems like forever and finally found it? Did it feel like you found lost treasure or was the hunt more exciting than the find? Or are you still hunting for that elusive novel?

*The reason why I'm just now posting this? I couldn't find the damn cord for the camera. I think I found every cord we own: cell phone cords, mp3 player cords, other camera cords, cords for things we don't even own anymore. I did try another camera but the pictures came out terrible. I would love to have a universal USB cord.*

Monday, August 17, 2009

Review: A Reason to Live

Title: A Reason to Live
Author: Maureen McKade
Genre: Historical Romance/1865/U.S.
Published: September 2006

Series: Forrester Brothers Trilogy/Book 1

From the back cover ~

How could I refuse the wish of a dying man?

May 30, 1865: During the Civil War, I watched over too many young boys in the hospital, comforting them as they cried out for those they loved, as they whispered their final thoughts to me. Keeping a record of their names, families, and last words seemed a small tribute to their sacrifice--until the war ended, and I found a new mission in life.

I would visit the loved ones of those poor soldiers and deliver their messages, so that some comfort could be found even in grief...

But Laurel Covey never expected to find a man like Creede Forrester--an ex-gunslinger who rode all the way from Texas to Virginia in the hope of finding his son, and ended up saving her from a band of ruffians. It pains her deeply to tell him of his boy's death, and she believes that in his heart, Creede blames himself for driving his son away. But there is something more to this rugged, weary man. Something that draws Laurel closer to him...something she cannot resist...

I'm not sure why I picked up Maureen McKade's books from the library. I think it might have been another Kristie influence. :) Whoever suggested McKade ~ thank you! Back in the day when almost all I read were historicals, one of my favorites settings was the American west. I love cowboys, horses, gunslingers (current or reformed) and the women who were just as tough as the men but usually smelled better. :) There's just something about a man who can ride a horse well, it's a thing of beauty. I know I definitely romanticise the great outdoors and just overlook the lack of indoor plumbing but it still has great appeal for me.

This isn't what I would call a typical western. The heroine isn't a young virgin running from a bad guy and the hero isn't the no name bounty hunter that the townsfolk whisper about. The heroine, Laurel Covey, is a war widow in her late twenties. She was a nurse for the Confederacy army but now the war is over. She has no home and her family in Massachusetts disowned her when she married a southerner, choosing to follow his allegiance to the south. What she does have is her journal and the names of the soldiers who died while under her care. In those names are some of the last words that nearly two dozen of those soldiers spoke. Laurel has taken up the quest of delivering those last words to the families of those soldiers. It's all she has to live for.

The widower father of one of those dead soldiers is Creede Forrester. He tries to come across as a simple man but he is so very complex. He's a reformed hired gun who set his gun aside when he fell in love with his wife Anna, becoming a family man. He's older now, mid 30's, and with the losss of his son he's lost his reason to stay on the right side of the law. When he received word that his son Austin was wounded during the war he traveled east to Virginia, hoping to find his son. Creede didn't believe in fighting in the war, living in Texas he didn't feel it was their war to fight. So when Austin left, it was with harsh words and bitter feelings between the father and son. Creede doesn't find his son but finds Laurel instead. He stops two men from stealing from her and worse. When Laurel realizes that Creede's son is in her journal she breaks the news to Creede. Creeded decides to travel with Laurel to Texas, her last stop on her quest.

I really liked both Laurel and Creede but they are not happy-go-lucky characters. There's a dark sadness surrounding both of them. Laurel is suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) but she thinks she's going crazy. Creede is grieving for his son and everything he's lost. They've both nearly given up on life. Laurel really can't see her life beyond finishing her quest and Creede has no real desire to return to his home. Escorting Laurel to Texas gives him a reason to return there. Creede, I think latched on to Laurel not only because he felt the need to protect a woman traveling alone but also because he felt something for her. He may not have recognized his feelings at first but just the fact that he actually felt something other than grief and pain was different. They do have bright and funny moments in their travels and their growing relationship. It's like glimpses of the light at the end of the tunnel. They just have to make it through that tunnel.

The people and places that Laurel and Creede travel to all play a part of their discovering of each other. The people they help along the way and the ones that treat them with caution and distrust. The country is a scary place so soon after the end of the war. People are trying to recover from such horrendous loss and deprivation. The mistrust and anger they feel as a defeated people comes through in McKade's writing. The sorrow, desperation and anger is right there along with the seeds of hope and the need to go on. When Laurel goes to the homes of the deceased soldiers she has no idea what type of reception she'll receive. The reactions vary and the weight of of her guilt is such a burden for Laurel. Creede is there to help shoulder that burden even when Laurel continues to tell him she doesn't need him.

So if you're expecting a funny, light romantic read, this isn't it. A Reason to Live does pull the reader in and makes you care about these two people. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. It's not an easy read with it's flashbacks of what Laurel experienced during the war. And it surprised me by how short is was, just under 300 pages, but still packed in a heck of a lot of story and character development. I really feel like I got to know these two people and needed to find out how they would get their HEA.

A Reason to Live is the first book in a trilogy. The second book, A Reason to Believe, is the story of Creede's brother Rye Forrester. The third book, A Reason to Sin, is the story of Slater Forrester, also Creede's brother. My guess is that they are stand alone but I'm definitely reading the next two and calling it a trilogy. :) Ms. McKade and her books can be found here.

Rating: A-

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Christine Feehan Releases...

I'm still a reader of Christine Feehan's Dark series. The über alphas and their determination to claim their lifemates at all cost can get on my nerves. But Feehan has been giving readers a variety of heroines so it kind of offsets some of the sameness of the males. I do love her intricate world building ~ the language, the rituals and the setting of the Carpathian Mountains. Since the series has gone to hardcover I get them from the library. I just don't want them bad enough to pay hardcover prices - so I wait.

I did try her Drake Sisters series but couldn't get into it. I'm not a big fan when magic is the main paranormal aspect. The Nightwalker series I've read but I'm behind a few books. The last one I remember reading was Jack and Briony's story. It was good but didn't leave me eagerly awaiting the next one. I have the two Leopard series books in my TBR pile, who knows when I'll get to those.

I know some readers have fallen off the crazy, Carpathian I-can-see-rainbows-you-are-my-lifemate-let's-sleep-in-the-dirt train but I'm still hanging in there. There are a few characters' stories I'd like to read. Dominic Dragonseeker ~ I want to know more about him. What we've seen so far is a typical Carpathian male but I'm wondering what he's like after recovering from his injuries he suffered in Dark Demon. Dimitri and Skyler ~ the few times they've been together have merely wetted my appetite for their story. I think it has the potential to be heartbreakingly wonderful. And of course Zacarias ~ he'll need a strong women to put up with him and not break under his will. My guess is Zac's mate will be Solange but nothing has been confirmed. Just some major foreshadowing in previous books.

The next book in the series, Dark Slayer, is set for release on 1 September. I've got it requested from the library so it will probably be a few weeks after release day before I get it. I'll try to stay away from spoilers but the reality is that I never do. :)

There is also the paperback release of Dark Curse coming September 29th, which was released last year in hardcover (blue). What's interesting is that the cover has been changed. I'm really not sure which one I like better. Neither really. LOL I do however love the cover for Dark Slayer and hope the book lives up to it's potential. The last time Feehan had a kickass heroine was Natalya from Dark Demon, which I enjoyed despite the book's purported easier to hold format. No more tall paperbacks please!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dreamfever Audio Excerpt...

KMM has posted an audio excerpt from Dreamfever on her blog. There are spoilers so consider yourself warned. :) Phil Gigante who did the Highlander audio books is doing this excerpt. Love his voice! Go here to listen to the excerpt but only if you want to be spoiled.

Dreamfever's release date is this Tuesday, August 18th.

After listening to the excerpt I'm nervous but still anxiously waiting for this book. Will do some searching tomorrow but have a feeling I won't find it until Tuesday. There are a few early reviews at Chapters' site (thanks Phaders!). Give a listen and a read and let me know what you think?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Review: See Jane Score

Title: See Jane Score
Author: Rachel Gibson
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: January 2003

Contemporary Romance Challenge

From the back cover ~


A little subdued. A little stubborn. A little tired of going out on blind dates with men who drive vans with sofas in the back, Jane Alcott is living the Single Girl existence in the big city. She is also leading a double life. By day, she's a reporter covering the raucous Seattle Chinooks hockey team—especially their notorious goalie Luc Martineau. By night, she's a writer, secretly creating the scandalous adventures of "Honey Pie"...the magazine series that has all the men talking.


Luc has made his feelings about parasite reporters—and Jane—perfectly clear. But if he thinks he’s going to make her life a misery, he’d better think again.


For as long as he can remember, Luc has been single minded about his career. The last thing he needs is a smart mouthed, pain in the backside, reporter digging into his past and getting in his way. But once the little reporter shed her black and gray clothes in favor of a sexy red dress, Luc sees that there is more to Jane than originally meets the eye.

Maybe it’s time to take a risk. Maybe it’s time to live out fantasies. Maybe it’s time to....


I've never read a book by Rachel Gibson. Don't really know why not but I would guess because I don't read that much contemporary romances. Thanks to Brie's challenge I have been reading more and trying some new authors. I have a few favorites that I read: Brockmann, SEP, Julia Harper, Linda Howard etc. So why Gibson? And why this book in particular? I blame nath, Monroe and Kristie. You see, nath and Monroe did a wonderful review of Jill Shalvis' Double Play over at Breezing Through . And that's where See Jane Score was mentioned by nath in the review and then again by Kristie in the comments. Sold! And in case you're wondering why I didn't read Double Play, the library didn't have it in yet but they had See Jane Score just sitting there waiting for me. :)

So we've got Jane, a very likable heroine. She's the type of heroine that you'd want as a friend. She practical and loyal. She's also funny and easy to talk to. She's a reporter that writes a monthly column, Single Girl in the City, for the Seattle Times. She also supplements her income writing very explicit stories for the men's magazine, Him. Those explicit stories star Jane's alter ego Honey Pie - the woman who loves men so much she puts them into comas. :)

No one but Jane's editor and her best friend Caroline know that Jane is the author of the Honey Pie serials. The last thing Jane wants is for that information to get out. When she's offered a job as the traveling sports reporter for the Seattle hockey team, the Chinooks, she takes it even though she knows nothing about hockey. Jane has a dream of someday owning her own home and taking the sports reporter job will get her that much closer to fulfilling her dream.

Luc Martineau is the star goalie for the Chinooks. He's not only talented, he's also got the looks to go with all that talent. He suffered an injury two years ago that lead to surgery and recovery. Now he's back playing the sport he loves. What did I think of Luc? I could have just gobbled him up. :) When Luc says the word 'about' he pronounces it 'aboot'. So cute! He is definitely sigh worthy. His relationship with his teammates and his 1/2 sister were just part of what made up this wonderful hero. While he's far from perfect, he has such heart for the sport he loves. Gibson has Luc's heart coming through so vividly in this story in how he treats others. He's very protective of his privacy and his teammates. Hockey is his life but that starts to change when he becomes the guardian for his 1/2 sister Marie and then Jane enters the picture.

Luc + Jane = perfect couple. I just loved these two. It's not that they're perfect people but that they are perfect for each other. It doesn't start out that way. Jane is sooo not Luc's type. Luc's type is the super model, Barbie doll type. Jane, ummm... isn't. There's a scene where the team and Jane are on the road and they're at the hotel. Luc leaves his room to get ice for his knee when he spots Jane at the vending machine. Jane, in need of a late night snack, decided to make a quick trip to the vending machine in her pjs, thinking that the players were already in their rooms.

She bent over, and that's when he noticed her nicely rounded butt with cows on it. In fact, she had cows all over her blue flannel pajamas. The thing was one piece and from the back looked like long johns. She turned and he was confronted by a horror worse than those pajamas. A pair of black-rimmed glasses sat on her face. The lenses were small and square, and he supposed they were in style with militant women's groups. They were just plain ugly.

Seeing him, her eyes widened and she sucked in a startled breath. "I though you guys were supposed to be in bed by now," she said.

Damn, he didn't think a woman could look any more sexless. "What is this?" he asked and pointed the bucket at her. "The I-don't-ever-want-to-get-laid-again look?" page 47

So to say that Luc wasn't attracted to Jane at first would be accurate. But he was intrigued by her. Also annoyed by her. :) And as he slowly started to noticed little things that he found attractive about Jane, he still couldn't believe that he was attracted to her. Poor, confused Luc. LOL And I'll briefly mention the sex scenes - hot, funny, hot, tender and yeah, hot. Trust me, these two work very well together, once they get together. ;)

Jane can't help but notice that Luc is good looking. She gets to go into the locker room after the games, seeing a whole lot a Luc before she even gets to know him. He's not her type either but he's the star and she needs his cooperation. They're both stubborn and aggressive when they need to be. Luc wants nothing to do with Jane the reporter. He has a reputation for not giving interviews and Jane wants an interview. They butt heads a lot and finally come to an agreement.

On the whole hockey aspect ~ I don't watch hockey but I did as a kid growing up in the burbs of Chicago where everyone rooted for the Blackhawks. I even played some hockey at at the neighborhood rink. Usually because the boys took over the rink and if we girls wanted to skate we had to play. We were good too! :) The first game in See Jane Score has the Chinooks traveling to Phoenix to play the Coyotes. The way Gibson describes the games gives the reader enough info to understand what's happening on the ice but it's more about what the players, in particular Luc, are feeling and thinking. She also has the fans reactions, specifically Jane. I totally got into the hockey aspect and even had the crazy thought of going to a Coyotes game. LOL

The secondary characters and the overall plot had a good, even flow to them. Luc's teammates were real characters. LOL There's some real guy talk going on in this book. Had me laughing and thinking that yes, guys really do talk like that. Their superstitions with regards to the game were both interesting and amusing. When I did have to put the book down I had no problem getting back into the story. See Jane Score scored high with this reader. Now my question is, which Rachel Gibson book should I read next?

Rachel Gibson and her books can be found here at the author's website.

Rating: A

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Only one week to go until Dreamfever's release! I listened to the audio book of Faefever last week and I did enjoy it more than I thought I would. Based on some of the negative reviews that came out last year I wasn't expecting to like it very much but it took me by surprise and sucked me right back into Mac's world. I do wish there had been more development of the Mac and Barrons relationship. It seems like it should have gotten farther along than it has by now. I did like the way Mac and the sidhe-seers interacted more and their relationship moved forward. The ending was considered controversial by some readers, many disliked it but it didn't have the same impact on me as I thought it would. I think it was due to the fact that I knew what was going to happen and have know since Faefever came out last year. So time and distant had diluted the shock for me.

Dreamfever synopsis from author's website ~

*Spoilers if you haven't read the first 3 books*

MacKayla Lane lies naked on the cold stone floor of a church, at the mercy of the erotic Fae master she once swore to kill. Far from home, unable to control her sexual hungers, MacKayla is now fully under the Lord Master's spell. In the New York Times bestselling author Karen Marie Moning's stunning new novel, the walls between human and Fae worlds have come crashing down. And as Mac fights for survival on Dublin's battle-scarred streets, she will embark on the darkest-and most erotically charged-adventure of her life.

He has stolen her past, but MacKayla will never allow her sister's murderer to take her future. Yet even the uniquely gifted sidhe-seer is no match for the Lord Master, who has unleashed an insatiable sexual craving that consumes Mac's every thought-and thrusts her into the seductive realm of two very dangerous men, both of whom she desires but dares not trust.

As the enigmatic Jericho Barrons and the sensual Fae prince V'lane vie for her body and soul, as she rallies the sidhe-seers to fight an impossible battle, and the power of the Dark Book weaves its annihilating path through the city, Mac's greatest enemy delivers a final challenge...

It's an invitation Mac cannot refuse, one that sends her racing home to Georgia, where an even darker threat awaits. With her parents missing and the lives of her loved ones under siege, Mac is about to come face-to-face with a soul-shattering truth-about herself, and about the world she thought she knew.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Review: Blood Memories

Title: Blood Memories
Author: Barb Hendee
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Vampire Memories/Book 1
Published: October 2008

*Some mild spoilers*

From the back cover ~

For ages, they have lived among mortal man, surviving in the shadows, hiding their true selves from the eyes of humanity - until now.

Eleisha Clevon is irresistibly pretty - with a man of golden locks surrounding innocent hazel eyes and the face of a teen angel. But she is no angel. And she's far older than she looks. Like most vampires she has a special gift. In her case, it's the ability to make men want to care for her. A few even survive the experience. Eleisha doesn't like to kill, but self-preservation comes first.

So when an old friend destroys himself by walking into sunlight right in front of her, Eleisha is shocked. And what she finds afterwards points to how very sick of his existence her friend had become—piling drained corpses in the basement and keeping records of other vampires' real names and addresses. That's a problem.

Because now, there are policemen on the case: two very special humans with some gifts of their own. They know who Eleisha is, and, even more dangerous, what she is. But Eleisha realizes that being known and understood may have its attractions - even if it puts her and all her kind at risk.

I'm not sure what to say about this book. There was a point early on when I thought of putting it down. I didn't like how the heroine and the other vampires had to feed. Maybe I was being picky, they are vampires after all but I wasn't sure I wanted to continue reading. What made me continue was the writing and the need to know what happens to Eleisha. It's weird but I didn't really like most of the characters, except for Eleisha, but I still felt the need to find out their stories, how they became vampires and got to the point of where they are now.

The story is told in Eleisha's POV and while I generally expect 1st POV from UF, in my ever expanding experience there seem to be two types of 1st POV for me. The one type is what I think of as the "along for the ride" POV. This is when the author gets you deep into the characters head to the point that you feel you are right there in the thick of it with the hero/heroine. The other type is the "storytelling mode". This is when it feels more like the character is telling you a story of what happened but you're necessarily experiencing it with them. And for me it has nothing to do with the writing being in present tense or past tense. It's more to do with how much that character lets the reader in. With Eleisha I never felt like I was fully in her head, as if she was holding something back.

Blood Memories is about vampires but Hendee has given them a new twist. They each have a different "gift". Basically what it means is that whatever their dominant trait is when they are turned, that trait is enhanced and becomes their special ability or their gift. I thought the author made the story more interesting to have these characters projecting their most dominant trait. Instead of having them all become super strong, fast, turning to bats :) etc. Eleisha had the ability to look helpless and lost, making people feel the need to take care of her. Another of the vampires was beautiful when she was turned. Now that she's a vampire she becomes even more beautiful and irresistible when she uses her gift. They use these gifts to lure their prey into trusting them so they can then suck them dry. *evil grin*

The characters of the police, Dominick and Wade were... weird. Dominick was just plain crazy and Wade was very odd. The way Wade took to Eleisha and her whole world - I would have expected him to be more afraid but he seem to take it all in stride. And Dominick was a cop turned psycho trying to kill all the vampires. Their special abilities were interesting but overall I really didn't care for the whole psychic angle to the story.

The vampire Julian was the one the other vampires feared. But he really wasn't in the book very much. Some background on him and how he's connected to the other vamps but he's more an evil presence through most of the book instead of right there on the spot. Didn't care for him - paranoid vampire on the loose. :)

Eleisha starts out as a caretaker to an elder vampire, William. He was sick when he was turned and the turning didn't cure him. So Eleisha is made his keeper. She enjoys her life with William and doesn't really think of any type of future she might have. She's resigned to care for William indefinitely. I felt kind of sorry for her at times, she was very young when turned and has taken care of William all this time. When her old friend commits vamp suicide she starts to question their existance more. She wonders why there are so few of them and why they have always been told, by Julian, to live separate.

Eleisha finds some answers to her questions and discovers things aren't all what they seem. She finds out that she is capable of much more than she knew and she begins to build a new life based on those answers. The ending does leave some unanswered questions for Eleisha and the reader along with a cliff-hanger. And while I wasn't wowed by the book I do plan to get the second book from the library. Book 2 in the series, Hunting Memories, comes out this October. Visit the author's website here.

Rating: B-

Friday, August 7, 2009

Review: Mr. Darcy, Vampyre

Title: Mr. Darcy, Vampyre
Author: Amanda Grange
Genre: Paranormal Historical Romance/1802
Published: August 2009

ARC Review

From the author's website ~

The wedding day is magical but when Elizabeth and Darcy embark on their wedding tour, Elizabeth discovers that Darcy has a secret . . .


December 1802

My dearest Jane,

My hand is trembling as I write this letter. My nerves are in tatters and I am so altered that I believe you would not recognise me. The past two months have been a nightmarish whirl of strange and disturbing circumstances, and the future . . .

Jane, I am afraid. If anything happens to me, remember that I love you and that my spirit will always be with you, though we may never see each other again. The world is a cold and frightening place where nothing is as it seems. It was all so different a few short months ago. When I awoke on my wedding morning, I thought myself the happiest woman alive . . .

Many readers have very fond memories of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. And with good reason. But if you've ever wondered what happened after the wedding, well Mr. Darcy, Vampyre is certainly one interesting version. When I first heard of this twist on the brooding Darcy I was intrigued but cautious. Would the author stay true to the characters of Darcy and Lizzy or would they be faded version of the originals?

As I began reading I was quickly caught up in the story. I had no problem believing I was reading what might have happened to Darcy and Lizzy if their lives had taken a paranormal direction. :) I found myself waiting with anticipation of finding out what Darcy’s strengths and weaknesses were as a vampire. How did he become a vampire and what are his true motives towards Lizzy? Would the author make Darcy seem authentic without coming off as a spoof of the original character? Not to worry, Grange did a fantastic job of not only recreating the characters of Darcy and Lizzy but also weaving the history of the original story into the new plot.

The story opens on the wedding day of Elizabeth Bennet and her sister Jane. They are like most brides ~ nervous and excited and looking forward to starting their new lives with their husbands. But Lizzy is in for a surprise when she finds that her honeymoon trip will not be to the Lake District as she thought but to Paris instead. There are more surprises in store for Lizzy as she and Darcy travel to Paris, a castle in the Alps and then to Italy. Lizzy soon realizes all is not well in her marriage and Darcy may not be the man she thought he was.

Throughout the story we get to read Lizzy's letters to Jane. Lizzy writes of her love for Darcy and her new experiences in her travels but she also writes of her concerns regarding Darcy's lack of attention in the bedroom. She mentions her encounters with Darcy's family and friends and the strange undercurrent that she sometimes feels with Darcy. As if something isn't quite right but she's unsure as to what it is. The letters show how important Lizzy's family is to her and the closeness she shares with her sisters, especially Jane. I liked reading the letters, seeing Lizzy pour out her feelings of frustration and uncertainty to Jane. There are times when you can feel how lonely Lizzy is without her family nearby and only the brooding Darcy to comfort her.

Lizzy fears that Darcy has already come to regret their marriage. When she voices her concern to Darcy he assures her that it isn't the case and he loves her very much. I never doubted that he loved her but he was very distant at times and he definitely did some major brooding. There are moments when Darcy and Lizzy are the carefree newlyweds, enjoying each other’s company. But there is an underlying menace that follows them and eventually catches up with them, forcing Darcy to confront his past and protect Lizzy from it.

The vampire factor is not at the forefront of the story. Rather, the reader is given clues throughout the book to explain Darcy’s suspicious actions and his need for Lizzy even while he refuses to follow through on that basic need. I was surprised at how understanding Lizzy was when Darcy continued to decline to visit her bedroom. She questions him about it but doesn’t push the issue the way I would expect her to. Still, she is not an experienced woman and the honeymoon journey is proving to be a great distraction. Between the parties and salons in Paris, the harrowing trip through the Alps, traveling to Venice and being introduced to so many new people, Lizzy deals with the changes quite well.

There were moments of darkness and moments of lightness. At times I wasn't sure how safe Lizzy was in this new world and if Darcy would be able to save her if she needed him. I liked that uncertainty. We know from the title that Darcy is a vampire or vampyre but I didn't always know where Grange was going with it. The unknown made the story that much more interesting. And the other characters, I caught myself wondering ~ Is he a vampire? Is she? There were characters that I was certain were vampires and others I wasn’t sure of. I liked the way Grange used the various myths of vampires to create Darcy’s legacy. By the end all the little clues added up and make sense. Even with the problems facing them, Darcy and Lizzy remain in love and stay true to that love.

There was a gothic feel to the story, especically when they were at the castle, the home of Darcy's uncle. Lizzy could feel the darkness there and was relieved to leave that place and travel to Venice. Add in the running for your life in the dark and dangerous night and you have an enjoyable story.

While Mr. Darcy, Vampyre is different from my usual reads it proved to be a nice change for me. If you’re looking for something that’s well written and gives some interesting twists and turns to a beloved classic then Mr. Darcy, Vampyre could be the book for you.

Amanda Grange has written a number of books set in the time of Jane Austen. You can find out more about this author on her website.

Rating: A-

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Review: Dark Time

Title: Dark Time
Author: Dakota Banks
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Mortal Path/Book 1
Published: July 2009

From the back cover ~

Three hundred years ago, she sold her soul to a demon. Now she wants it back. For centuries, the woman calling herself Maliha Crayne has lived a second life--as an assassin for the malevolent creature who owns her soul. A haunted killer with the blood of countless victims on her hands, she has finally discovered a way to nullify the demonic pact that chains her: If she saves a life for every one she has taken, she will be free. But if she fails, her punishments will be unspeakable, unendurable . . . and neverending.

I was fortunate enough to receive a copy for review of Dark Time, the first novel in Dakota Banks' new Mortal Path series. When I read the blurb and the first chapter, found on the author's website, I knew I wanted to read this book. The fact that the heroine hasn't been exactly heroic for centuries and has finally reach the point where she feels and cares about what she is doing really got my interest. She finds a way out of the pact she made, not an easy way out either. Now she has to save a life for every life she's ever taken. I really like that twist. Usually we see a one time, nearly impossible quest that has to be completed for redemption but Banks has Maliha in a life long quest with the odds against her of ever completing it. Balancing the scales won't be easy since she's been an assassin for centuries and she ages whenever she saves a life. So time is not on her side. Added to that she needs to keep her real identity of Maliha Crayne a secret while still maintaining her current career as novelist Marsha Winters.

Susannah Layhem (Maliha Crayne) suffered a horrible fate. Convicted of witchcraft in 1692, she not only lost her family but her life when she is burned at the stake. But a Sumerian demon, Rabishu, gives her a choice ~ eternal death or immortal life as an Ageless one, if she enters into a contract agreeing to obey him. Susannah signs the contract and begins her life as Maliha Crayne, an assassin for the demon. She is not only ageless but is given superior healing powers, speed and strength. She is then trained in martial arts and excels in her new profession. Then all the killings finally catch up to her and she comes to a point where she refuses to kill. After many years of searching she had found a way out of the contract.

Maliha Crayne is a heroine who doesn't start out as a heroine but as someone seeking vengeance. She accepted the contract with the demon so she could live to seek revenge against her accuser. The reality of what she was and what she would become didn't sink in until later. At this point her overriding emotions are grief and revenge. It takes her a very long time for her to start to feel anything else. I liked Maliha and the way she evolved after she decided to break the contract with Rabishu. She started to see people as people and not merely targets. Her emotions that had been buried so deep started peeking through. Once she begins to save lives she in turn begins to let others into her life.

There are a very select few people that Maliha allows to remain in her life. Banks introduces these varied and interesting people through their current relationships with Maliha and through flashbacks on how they met. I'm not a big fan of extended flashbacks and at times the ones in Dark Time ran a bit long for my taste but they did provide insight to how Maliha has been changing with each life she saves. How she is coming back to having a small part of Susannah Layhem become a part of her again. She can never go back to who she was before but she may be albe to reclaim a part of her that found the joy in life.

The plot of Maliha trying to stop a corporation from selling information, compromising America’s security is at times interesting but at other times lags. The scenes having to do with Maliha’s infiltration of the corporation and finding out who’s behind the selling of information could at times be a bit jarring. They would go from present time to Maliha thinking of her past and how she got to be at this point in her life. I also had a bit of a problem with her unending wealth. She spends a ton of money on creating her safe haven and drives a million dollar car and rents a private plane. All this on a novelist’s salary? She is a successful novelist but still… So I chalked it up to her longevity and her previous unlimited supply of funds when she was an Ageless.

I found I far more enjoyed the scenes with Maliha and her select group of friends. She even attempts to have a social life by going on a blind date, which doesn’t turn out all that bad. Seeing her interacting with these people and trying to have at least a piece of a normal life was more interesting than the intrigue of saving the country. There were a number of fight scenes that showcased Maliha’s abilities and I definitely enjoyed those scenes. She may be saving innocent lives to break the contract but she has no problem eliminating the bad guys.

Overall, a solid start to a new series. In general I expect to experience some bumps with the first book in a new series and Dark Time was no exception. But even with those bumps I enjoyed the ride of Maliha and her path to salvation. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, then I would recommend giving Dark Time a try. There are some unanswered questions by the end of the book and I’m looking forward finding out what happens in book two ~ Sacrifice, which come out next year. The publisher HarperCollins has a wonderful feature that offers readers a sneak peek at the first 50 pages of Dark Time. Just follow this link. For more information about Dakota Banks, visit her website.

Rating: B

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Review: A Heart So Wild

Title: A Heart So Wild
Author: Johanna Lindsey
Genre: Historical Romance/Texas - 1872
Published: December 1986

Nath's Re-Read Challenge 2009

From the back cover ~

A Heart So Wild

Courtney Harte gasped in disbelief. There, in a Texas newspaper, was a photograph of her beloved father... thought slain several years back in a savage Comanche massacre. The honey-haired beauty vowed to find him - but whom could she trust to accompany her through wild, dangerous Indian territory?

His name was Chandos. Tall and dark, with eyes the most startling shade of blue, he was the best gunslinger around. Courtney put her faith in him... little dreaming of the dark secret that burned in Chandos' soul... little imagining the fires that would ignite under the hot summer sun, driving them together in an ecstatic frenzy that only passion understood... and love could tame.

I have loved Johanna Lindsey books forever. She was one of the first romance authors I read along with the likes of Roberta Gellis, Beatrice Small, Janelle Taylor and Cynthia Wright. Lindsey's regencies, westerns, the sci-fi romances and who could forget the wonderful Malory series were well anticipated and enjoyed. But lately I've fallen off the Lindsey train. The last book of hers I remember reading and enjoying of Lindsey's was A Loving Scoundrel (2004). The adorable Jeremy Malory's story. After that it was if she had lost that spark that we readers hear about. So with some trepidation I decided to choose a Lindsey for the re-read challenge. At first I thought to go with either Tony or James Malory's books (Tender Rebel and Gentle Rogue). Those two always seem to get rave reviews. But I was in the mood for a western. I thought of maybe re-reading Angel, one of my favorites or Savage Thunder (I think that's the one the h/h do it on horseback *grins*) but I decided on A Heart So Wild because of Chandos.

Chandos is a bit of a mystery. He's a gun fighter and bounty hunter but we don't know much else about him. Nothing really about his background. Even Courtney doesn't know much about him when she hires him to take her to Waco, only that she feels she can trust him. Chandos is one of my favorite types of heroes. He's the anti-hero hero. He's definitely got that bad boy attitude but in an old west sort of way. He's a man of few words, gruff and cold with looks that say "keep away" unless you're looking for trouble. So when he does agree to take Courtney to Waco he doesn’t cater to her every need but instead decides to teach her a lesson in survival. Things don’t go as planned and he ends up falling for her which he doesn’t like at all! He feels she deserves better because he has nothing to give her and his secret will keep them apart. I really liked Chandos and the way Lindsey kept his character true to form. She didn't have him change overnight when he fell hard for Courtney. He still maintained his gruffness but showed his care for Courtney in other ways. And the fact that he is tall, dark and handsome doesn't hurt one bit!

Courtney isn't one of my favorite Lindsey heroines but she didn't annoy me so that's a big plus! She’s likable enough but I didn’t fully connect with her. When we first meet her she’s a shy, fifteen year old who’s traveling from Chicago to Waco, Texas with her father and new stepmother. Her father has become withdrawn and depressed and Courtney feels this so strongly she has also become quiet and withdrawn. She can’t seem to please her stepmother and has very little self-confidence, relying on food for comfort. She’s described as “short and chubby” which only adds to her lack of confidence.

After the attack Courtney is left with her stepmother as her only family. Four years later she has become far more self-reliant and hard work has trimmed her figure into one that attracts the attention of men whether Courtney wants it or not. She still maintains some of her shyness and aloofness but it’s directed at the men who want more than to just talk. She works hard but has dreams of moving back east where she feels safer. I did like the way Courtney would choose her battles when it came to dealing with her stepmother, Sarah. They still don’t get along and with Courtney working for Sarah and relying on her for a place to live she has had to learn to keep her opinions to herself.

When Courtney sees Chandos there is a spark between them but there is also a healthy fear on Courtney’s part. She knows he’s dangerous and wants to avoid him at all costs. Until she realizes she needs him and overcomes her fear and asks for his help. Was it a smart thing to do? Nope. But she was desperate and really had nowhere else to turn if she wanted to find her father. Lucky for Courtney, Chandos wasn’t all bad and she ended up falling for him hard. ~

All the next day, Courtney was in love. Nothing bothered her, not the heat and insects, not the monotonous riding. Nothing penetrated her bliss.

Two days later, she wasn’t sure. And three days later she had changed her mind. She couldn’t possibly love an exasperating man like Chandos. She could still want him – and despise herself for it – but couldn’t love him.

What had Courtney fuming was that he returned to his enigmatic self. He had made her his, transported her to the heights of ecstasy, and then treated her with the same old indifference! She was stupefied. Page 175

Chandos is feeling the same aggravation as Courtney. His discomfort when he’s around Courtney has only gotten worse now that he knows exactly what he’s missing. :)

I wasn't sure how the plot would hold up after all these years. It's a fairly standard romance plot: heroine asks hero (anti-hero) for help and while he reluctantly helps she falls for him, he falls for her but he thinks he's not good enough for her and can't be with her even though he wants to. Ugh! These guys can be so stubborn! Then there's the whole Comanche slant and Chandos' relationship with the Comanche that added more drama to the story. And Chandos' background that comes into play when his secret eventually comes out. Courtney and Chandos were together for a large part of the story and their interactions and getting to know each other flowed well within the context of the story. How they dealt with every obstacle and could still find a HEA was a pleasure to read. Overall I thought the story of how these two met and fell in love was well written and their experiences on the trail were an added source of interest for this reader.

So I've conquered my fear of re-reading Johanna Lindsey. Yeah! I still enjoyed Chandos and Courtney's story just as much as before and have every intention of re-reading more of Lindsey's books. Maybe another western? Or a Viking or medieval?

Johanna Lindsey doesn't have an official site that I could find but you can get info on all her books at Fantastic fiction.

Rating: A-