Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day...

It's Memorial Day here in the US and along with marking the start of summer it's also a time to stop and thank all of those that have fought and given their lives for our country.

From ~

Memorial Day, which falls on the last Monday of May, commemorates the men and women who died while serving in the American military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, at least, it marks the beginning of summer.

The first picture is of The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. I remember going there when I was about 10 and instinctively knew that it was a special, sacred place. The next two pictures are from Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in Point Loma, California. A beautiful and serene place. Walking through Fort Rosecrans gives a person a sense of peace and thankfulness.

Thank you to all of the service members who have died and those still serving as well as their families, for the sacrifices they have made for their country.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

In Death Challenge Review: Ceremony in Death

Ceremony in Death
J. D. Robb
Romantic Suspense
In Death series/Book 5
Berkley/May 1997


From the back cover ~

Even in an age of cutting-edge technology, old beliefs die hard...

Conducting a top secret investigation into the death of a fellow police officer has Lieutenant Eve Dallas treading on dangerous ground. She must put professional ethics before personal loyalties. But when a dead body is placed outside her homes, Eve takes the warning personally. With her husband, Roarke, watching her every move, Eve is drawn into the most dangerous case of her career. Every step she takes makes her question her own beliefs of right and wrong - and brings her closer to a confrontation with humanity's most seductive form of evil...

This time I skipped over a couple of books and picked Ceremony because of the mystical bent of the plot. Eve is totally against anything magical or mystical. She thinks it's all woo-woo crap. LOL I like seeing her out of her comfort zone. When looking for the cover image I knew I wanted the "Blue Lady" cover since that's the one I have. I came across the UK version on Fantastic Fiction and really liked it. It's got that futuristic feel to it. I like the woman but think she's a little too glamorous looking for Eve. Oh, and my "Blue Lady" cover has a bright orange background not that dark red.

The two things about Ceremony that I really liked are the introduction of Jamie Lingstrom and the exploring of religious beliefs. Those are the two things I remember most about this book.

Jamie is the grandson of the first victim, Jan Lingstrom, a well respected police officer. He's a teenager with all the exuberance of a teen but now finds himself with a lot of responsibilty for his family after his grandfather dies. His mother is a wreck, his father is out of the picture and his older sister has her own problems. Jamie is brilliant when it comes to tech stuff and impresses Roarke with his knowledge of all things techie. Eve, not comfortable around kids, feels sorry for Jamie. She even surprises herself because she finds that she likes him. I think Jamie brought out a protective side in Eve. Not in a maternal way but more in an older sister role. I don't think Eve would see it that way, she would say she was just doing her job. But with Jamie I think Eve crosses into that gray area of law enforcement where the victims rights are superseded by the criminals rights. Where is justice then?

The main thing about Eve and Roarke's relationship in Ceremony is they find out about each others religious beliefs. Eve is very black and white. She tries to live in the here and now and doesn't hold any idea of an after life. The impression I got is that she hasn't really thought much about it. She thinks witch craft and the like is all smoke and mirrors. Eve believes in what she can see and touch. Roarke has enough of the Irish in him to give thought to the mystical beliefs of his homeland. He even went so far as to give Eve a ring with mystical connotations. I do think that Roarke, with all his money and power, certainly believes in what he can see and buy but he leaves room for the unexplained and the power of belief.

Peabody throws some of her free-ager beliefs into the pot and stirs things up a bit. She's far more familiar with the terminology and beliefs of the wiccans and tries to help Dallas understand the difference between a white witch and a black witch. To Dallas, a witch is a witch, and they're all crazy! I liked getting Peabody's take on the wiccans with relation to the suspects. I can see where some (Dallas) could say Peabody's viewpoint was distorted but I looked at it as Peabody having more of an open mind when it came to the wiccans. This too, helped Dallas see more of that gray area, beyond the facts and into the people and their motivations.

Ceremony isn't one of my favorites regarding the murder mystery itself but I did like the character relationships and how they changed with regards to their viewpoints.

Rating: B

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

DIK Challenge Review: Pursuit

Elizabeth Jennings
Romantic Suspense
Grand Central Publishing/April 2008

From the back cover ~


A shocking betray
al... her father's murder... and a life-threatening accusation... Heiress Charlotte Court has walked into a waking nightmare - one that sends her running from her wealthy home to anywhere she can hide.


Across the border in Mexico, Charlotte creates a new identity and finds refuge in the battle-torn arms of Navy SEAL Matt Sanders. Fleeing his past, Matt yearns to protect her and replace her pain with pleasure. But Charlotte can't trust anyone, not even someone she's starting to love. She knows she's a target - and out of sight, a soulless killer is zeroing in on his prey...

This month's book I picked from Katie's list. I was in the mood for a romantic suspense. Elizabeth Jennings is also known to romance readers as Lisa Marie Rice. I haven't read anything by Rice but have heard good things about her Midnight books. I do have a few on the TBR pile and hope to get to them soon.

The story begins with murder and ends with justice. What happens in between is focused on two scarred and battle weary people who, at the beginning, are just trying to survive. Pursuit was an easy book to get into. It starts off quickly with Charlotte on the run for her life. Meanwhile, Matt Sanders is busy falling on his face at a VA hospital, trying to recover from multiple gunshot wounds. Both Charlotte and Matt are thrown into very different worlds than what they are accustomed to. Charlotte goes from wealthy and privileged to desperate and terrified. Matt goes from unbeatable warrior to broken, lost and in pain. Charlotte and Matt are exactly what the other needs, they just don't know it yet.

Charlotte Court is extremely wealthy but she doesn't flaunt that wealth. Instead she uses her wealth to help others and pursue her love of painting. She was studying in Italy when her father's health began to decline. She loves her father very much and spends the next two years at his bedside, taking care of him. I liked that Charlotte had a good relationship with her father. Too often we see the hero/heroine having strained or distant relationships with their parents. While we only get to know her father through Charlotte's memories of him, it showed how important he was to her. Charlotte is a likable character who overcomes incredible odds and manages to get away from her father's murderer. She travels to Mexico where she meets a man pushing himself to survive and recover.

Matt Saunders was Lieutenant Commander in the US Navy. A highly trained SEAL who finds himself desperately trying to recover not only his physical abilities but his sense of purpose. He goes to Mexico to stay with a friend and try to figure out what to do with his life. I really felt for Matt. Here's a guy who had it all. He was in a position of authority that he had worked very hard for. His whole life was focused on being a SEAL. Then all his plans are gone and he's got to decide what to do with the rest of his life. It's got to be a big blow to the ego to go from being extremely physically fit to being too weak to walk. When he meets Charlotte he's just beginning to recover physically and is completely focused on that.

When Matt figures out that Charlotte is in danger and hiding out in Mexico, it gives him a purpose. He appoints himself as her protector and begins to earn her trust. Charlotte knows who Matt is but she's still very leery of anyone and she certainly doesn't want anyone to find out her real identity. They begin to spend time together and get to know each other. I liked that Matt didn't push Charlotte towards sex. He definitely wanted her but backed off when she said no. He understood that she had gone through something very traumatic and he needed to earn her trust. In someways, they were a normal couple, going on dates and getting to know each other. In other ways they were far from normal with Matt protecting Charlotte and rarely letting her out of his sight. She didn't seem to mind, instead taking comfort from his presence.

While I liked the premise of the story and the hero/heroine I had a couple of problems that kept me from being able to enjoy it. The first is Matt and his lack of money. He talks of how he's never been into designer clothes or fancy cars so you get the impression that he's responsible when it comes to spending his money, that he doesn't spend it freely. He also says that he had lived on the base in the BOQ (Bachelor Officers Quarters) while he was in the Navy. Matt was an officer, a Lieutenant Commander. That's an O4 pay grade with 10+ years of service. According to DFAS his basic monthly pay would be $5799.00 as of January 2008. That's not including allowances, hazardous duty pay, sea pay etc. that he would have gotten. So why does he only have $13,000? I just couldn't figure out what he did with his money. And it's mentioned a number of times that he doesn't have much money and owns very little. This may be nit picking but whenever his lack of money was mentioned it bugged the heck out of me. Whether this bugs other readers, IDK, but with my dh being retired Navy, I'm very familiar with Navy pay. Now I know how Kristie felt with the inaccurate baseball facts. :)

The other thing that got me was the mention of Matt's friend Tom, also a former SEAL, that now heads a security firm in San Diego. What? Did I somehow start reading a Troubleshooters book? I realize not everyone is familiar with Brockmann's series but still... weird.

I did find the antagonist an interesting character. Jennings got us into his head and I found it very cold and creepy how someone can look at murder as just a job. His musings on tracking his prey and getting into the mind of his prey was intriguing but I did think the final "battle" a bit weak.

There was one scene that I thought was so sweet and had such a feeling of contentment. It's a morning after scene with Matt and Charlotte cuddled up in bed. Charlotte is feeling very happy, waking with a smile on her face. Matt tells her "I can hear you smiling". I loved that line. They're both so happy and relaxed after being so stressed out for so long.

Charlotte and Matt's love story is sweet and genuine. I liked how they got to know each other and became a couple. Unfortunately, by the end of the book the problems I mentioned overshadowed the story for me. That and the ending felt too quick after the build up of the killer's abilities. I think I'll try one of the Lisa Marie Rice books next.

Rating: B-

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Reviw: Rode Hard, Put Up Wet

Rode Hard, Put Up Wet
Lorelei James

Erotic Contemporary Romance/Western

Rough Riders series/Book 2

Samhain/October 2007

From the publishers website ~

Workin’ up a hot, sticky sweat is pure pleasure with a hard-ridin’ cowboy…or two.

Struggling stock contractor Gemma Jansen swallows her pride and tracks down circuit rider Cash Big Crow to offer him a job managing her ranch. Cash agrees on one condition: theirs won’t be strictly a working relationship. She’s the boss during the day, but once she’s corralled in the bedroom, Cash calls the shots. Despite concerns about their age difference, Gemma consents.

Cash suspects the sexy widow hides an untapped wild streak. He intends to loosen her tightly held reins of control—even if he has to break out his horsewhip to do it.

But Cash is in for a surprise. Gemma proves a rough and ready participant in any leather-n-lace game Cash dreams up.

Between riding herd on his wayward daughter, Macie, and rowdy cowboy Carter McKay doggin’ Macie’s every boot step, Cash struggles to hide his true feelings for Gemma – except this time, Gemma’s grabbed the bull by the horns and she’s playing for keeps.

Summer’s going to be a hot one at the Bar 9.

And Samhain's Unique Warning:

Warning: this book contains: explicit sex nine ways ‘til Sunday – including ménage a trois, inventive use of ropes, naughty girls getting spanked, stubborn men getting hog-tied, graphic language and whoo-wee! hot nekkid cowboy action.

This time we get two stories for the price of one. A May/December romance with an older woman and younger man. The second romance is with a cowboy turned artist and the daughter of the man in the May/December romance. This was a fun and at times emotional read. All four characters have baggage, lots of baggage. James doesn't downplay the importance of past loves and past experiences.

Gemma Jansen is a cowgirl through and through. She may be 48 years old but ranching is in her blood and she can't imagine doing anything else. The problem is that ever since her husband Steve died she's had to do it alone. Unfortunately it's proved to be too much for her to handle alone. She's also had some problems with the rodeo circuit and the reps not wanting her cattle. All of this had led Gemma to offer Cash Big Crow a job. Cash could use the work but he wants more than just money in payment. He's wanted Gemma for a long time and this is his chance to have her. Sneaky bastard. :)

Cash has been working the rodeo circuit for years. That's were he met Gemma. He's retired from rodeo but not from ranching. He doesn't have a real home, moving around where the jobs take him. You get the feeling he's not certain what he'd do with a permanent place to come home to. He's also trying to reconnect with his adult daughter, Macie. She was raised by her mother and only saw Cash sporadically over the years. They both want this second chance at a relationship so when Cash accepts Gemma's job offer, he brings Macie with to Gemma's.

Macie hasn't had an easy life. She's learned to rely on herself. It's easier that way and less disappointing. She's not afraid of hard work and gets a job right off when she gets to Gemma's. She meets Carter McKay, an artist who also works at Gemma's ranch. Carter comes from a rodeo family but he never had the desire to get thrown off broncs or bulls. Carter is immediately attracted to Macie and Macie appreciates Carter's sexy, good looks. They have to remember to watch out for Macie's dad, Cash. He's not crazy about the two spending so much time together but there's not much he can do since Macie is an adult.

Carter is a brilliant artist but his also self-centered. He uses Macie as his inspiration and can't see what he has in her past what she means to his art. I liked Carter but there certainly were times when I thought he was a real ass. Macie is such a special human being and Carter doesn't cherish what she offers him.

I liked both of these couples but for different reasons. If had to pick a favorite it would, hands down, be Gemma and Cash. There was such love and tenderness in Cash for Gemma. He got past her hang up with their age difference. Cash is ten years younger than Gemma. And Gemma was stubborn enough to get through to Cash and help him realize he did deserve happiness and that happiness was with Gemma. They fit so well together. Maybe it was because they were older and had suffered such deep losses. With Carter and Macie there was definitely immaturity on Carter's part and some on Macie's too. They were a sweet couple but Gemma and Cash's relationship seemed to go much deeper.

And since this is an erotic romance, yes there was very steamy, smoking hot sex scenes. Boy-howdy! Take the warning above to heart. James writes with vivid details and an even more vivid imagination. It's not all wham bam thank you ma'am. There's tenderness, caring, need and desire. These men and women strive to fulfill their lover's fantasies. It's all about the giving and receiving. :)

Ms. James has written 8 full length novels and one novella in the Rough Riders series along with a number of other hot cowboy erotica. She is also the author of the Julie Collins Mysteries and the new Mercy Gunderson Mysteries. Both written under the name of Lori Armstrong.

Rating: A-

Long Hard Ride (Rough Riders series, book 1)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Review: Atlantis Unleashed

Atlantis Unleashed
Alyssa Day Paranormal Romance
Warriors of Poseidon/Book 3 (plus 2 novellas)

Berkley/June 2009

From the back cover ~

Poseidon’s warriors swore an oath eleven thousand years ago to protect humanity from those who stalked the night. Now those powerful forces are uniting. So are two souls who are all that stand between justice and the eternal darkness…

A warrior prince…

Lord Justice made the ultimate sacrifice for his brother and paid for it with an unimaginable torture. Now he’s back, rescued from death, his sanity shaken, and his mission inescapable—the search for the lost Star of Artemis. But the beautiful human female whom he has sworn to protect is shadowed by an evil that could destroy them both…

A woman of science…

The archaeological artifacts of Atlantis speak to Dr. Keely McDermott, sharing visions of life long ago. The ancient revelations have cast her into a world between past and present, between reality and illusion—and, when she meets the fierce Atlantean warrior assigned to guard her, between terror and temptation. Now as their two worlds collide, so too will danger and desire…

A quest for a lost star…Atlantis is unleashed.

This is a series that I've been meaning to catch up on. I've had books 3 and 4 in the tbr pile since shortly after they were released and there they sat. I picked up book 5 at the library last week so I had to read books 3 and 4. Reader logic I guess. :)

It didn't take long to get back into the world of the Atlantean warriors. Day does a good job of catching up and filling in any back story from the previous books. There is also a glossary in the back of the book. It's fairly short with just the basic terminology but can be helpful, mainly for the definitions of Shape-shifters and vampires.

This is a series that should be read in order. Yes, Day provides back story but the seven warriors are a close group and they all play a role in each others' books. As the series progresses the reader gets to know them. The warriors don't stagnate even when they're secondary characters. There is character development going on, although it may be small, it's still there.

This story is Justice's story. He is the handsome warrior with the big sword and blue hair. Yeah, I had a hard time picturing a big, buff warrior with blue hair. I kept picturing him more like a scrawny punk rocker. LOL He's been the prisoner of the Vampire goddess Anubisa who enjoys inflicting pain and suffering on her prisoners. While imprisoned he has visions of a beautiful women but he doesn't know who she is, only that he needs her. Once he escapes his prison he finds the mystery women and he has to have her.

Dr. Keely McDermott is not just an archaeologist, she's also a object reader. She has the psychic ability to touch an object and see it's history through the eyes of a person who came in contact with it. The visions are usually violent or emotional so Keely needs to protect herself. She wears gloves so as not to inadvertently touch something that could cause a disturbing vision. While I liked Keely I felt sorry for her. She kept herself fairly isolated mainly because of her psychic ability. Her parents thought of her as a freak, sending her to numerous psychologists when she was a child. The fact that she wasn't "normal" made them uncomfortable and kept them at a distance. I thought her parents overacted in their lack of support for their daughter but we really didn't get much back story on them, just the basics, so I chalked it up to them being asses.

Keely gets pulled into Atlantis and the fight against the growing threat from the vampires and the shape-shifters. She's stunned to find out that Atlantis really exists and thrilled to get the chance to explore the fabled underwater city. What she doesn't expect is the blue haired warrior of one of her visions to show up.

Justice is really screwed up after he escapes Anubisa. He's got a nasty voice in his head, trying to take over. Justice is part Nereid and it's the crazy Nereid in his head that's trying to take over Justice's body. One thing the Nereid wants is Keely. It's a battle that Justice fights within himself because he's not sure if Keely is safe from the Nereid. We get to know the Nereid through his voice and he's a true cave man. It was weird to have the two distinct characters in one body. Kind of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with neither one very appealing. It wasn't that I didn't like Justice as much as it was that I didn't feel like I got to know the real Justice until towards the end.

One thing I did like about Atlantis Unleashed is seeing Alaric and Quinn again. They are the Sam and Alyssa of the series. Alaric is an Atlantean high priest and has taken a vow of celibacy so no Quinn for him. Quinn is the sister of Riley, heroine of book one. Quinn is also one of the leaders of the rebel forces. About 10 years ago the vamps and shifters came out to the world and ever since then they've been taking over. They have infiltrated big business and government and continue to get stronger throughout the world. Quinn and her rebel fighters are trying to stop the vamps and rogue shifters from taking over and enslaving the humans. I like Alaric and Quinn but they're story line is starting to drag. It's just gotten really sad and they're due for some happiness, even if it's a quickie. :)

Keely and Justice and their love story... didn't exactly work for me. It was that Mr. Hyde horning in on their alone time, telling Justice to "just take her, fuck her" that really sucked the romance out of it. And then towards the end when I thought they had finally reached an agreement (Justice and the Nereid) the story takes a different turn and Justice and Keely wind up in the jungle. They're looking for one of the lost gem stones of Atlantis. It's crucial to find the gem stones if Atlantis is to rise safely from the ocean floor. They have to battle vampires before they can search for the gem stone. The fight scenes are fairly decent but I had hoped for more romance.

Not sure how to grade this one. I liked seeing all the warriors and previous characters again and getting to know some of them better. I liked the continuing story line of the vamps and rogue shifters gaining power. I liked the rebels, cause they're rebels. :) I just wasn't crazy about the hero and heroine as a couple. Hmmm...

Rating: B-

Friday, May 21, 2010

ARC Review: My Soul to Keep

My Soul to Keep
Rachel Vincent
Fantasy/Young Adult
Soul Screamers series/Book 3
Harlequin/June 2010
ARC from Publisher/Net Galley

*Possible Spoilers for Books 1 & 2*

Isn't that a gorgeous cover? My favorite color!

From the author's website ~

When Kaylee Cavanaugh Screams, Someone Dies and Kaylee is About to Scream Her Head Off...

Kaylee has one addiction: her very hot, very popular boyfriend, Nash. A banshee like Kaylee, Nash understand her like no one else. Nothing can come between them.

Until something does.

Demon's breath. No, not the toothpaste-challenged kind. The Netherworld kind. The kind that really can kill you. Somehow, the super-addictive substance has made its way to the human world. But how? Kaylee and Nash have to cut off the source and protect their friends - one of whom is already hooked.

And when the epidemic hits too close to home, Kaylee will have to risk everything to save those she loves.

If you haven't started this series, what are you waiting for?! It really is that good! I don't know how Vincent does it but she keeps the plot interesting, the tension up and the mystery in full force. And then there's the teen angst. It feels real, not over the top. And boy does it bring back some memories. :)

Kaylee is a very likable heroine. She's smart, responsible and has an innate kindness. She isn't the most popular girl or with the in crowd, at least not until she started dating star football player Nash Hudson. Now that she's with Nash, Kaylee goes to the parties with the popular kids. It's at one of these parties that something goes wrong and Kaylee find herself deep in Netherworld trouble again.

Kaylee Cavanaugh has certainly evolved as a character since book 1, My Soul to Take. In the first book she discovers who and what she really is. And why she has these amazing screaming fits that earned her a trip to the psyche ward. She's a bean sidhe or banshee. The screaming starts when someone nearby is going to die. She now has some control over her screaming and with the help of her boyfriend Nash, who is also a type of bean sidhe, her screaming experiences don't exactly terrify her anymore. It's still a scary experience but now she's not alone and in the dark. Now she has Nash, his brother Tod, Nash's mom Harmony, who's also a bean sidhe and Kaylee's father is back in her life. You would think with all these people she wouldn't feel so alone but there are still times when Kaylee has to make some hard decisions that she handles with maturity and strength beyond her years.

This time we find Kaylee and Nash back together after a month long grounding Kaylee endured after the last run in with the Netherworld. On this night they are just two teens, going to a friend's party. I like that we get to see this side of their relationship. The normal teen side. They are hanging out, making out and just being teenagers. But this is Urban Fantasy and the unthinkable happens. What seems to be an alcohol induced accident turns out to be Demon's Breath induced. Not a good thing! Kaylee and Nash find themselves right in the middle of what has the potential of doing serious harm to many of their friends and classmates.

Kaylee is a good kid but she's not the perfect teen. She has real teenage problems. One of them is Nash. Oh, sure he's a great guy but he's also a guy. And he's an experienced guy when it comes to sex. He doesn't exactly pressure Kaylee but he does make it clear that he wants them to take the physical part of their relationship further. Kaylee, while very attracted to Nash, is still hesitant to take that final step. I thought Vincent handled the sexual situations very well. The situations were realistic in the portrayal of two teenagers with raging hormones. They both want to go all the way (not sure if that term is still used) but also realize it's a big step in their relationship. Kaylee shows her maturity in knowing that once she takes that step with Nash, there's no going back.

The world building, which to me is extremely critical in Urban Fantasy, is intricate yet makes perfect sense. You can throw any kind of creature and mythology at me but it's got to make sense. If I'm lost and can't follow the logic, then chances are, I'm not going to keep reading. What Vincent has created in her Netherworld is a fascinating place. It's like looking through the mirror and seeing a reflection except it's distorted and filled with the unknown and the horrific. It's eerily similar yet terrifyingly different. The way the mythology works makes sense in that there is a balance to the "gifts" Kaylee, Nash and the bean sidhe have been given. I like that Vincent doesn't throw everything at us at once but continues to build on that world as the series progresses. In My Soul to Keep, we meet more beings and creatures that populate the Netherworld, adding to the overall world building with their existence and abilities.

There are lighter parts the the story. It's not all doom and gloom, in fact, Kaylee is not only smart but funny. She can be a smart alec when the occasion calls for it and even when it doesn't. Kaylee, like many of us uses humor when she is nervous or upset. Sometimes she tries to use it to defuse a tense situation. Her outlook on the world is one of realism with a dash of pessimism thrown in.

In My Soul to Keep, Vincent has written a story that had me reading late into the night. I thought I knew where she was going with the Demon's breath and the kids getting hooked on it. In part, I had it right but there were some parts that totally threw me, in a good way. Those parts kept me on the edge of my seat. There's a lot of "edge-of-your-seat" moments and I loved those parts. It took some thinking and planning to getting everything to work out and towards the end I wasn't sure exactly how it would happen. That's the best part, knowing that these characters just have to be okay, yet not quite sure how the author is going to pull it off. Loved It! There is a point in the story where I feel such empathy for Kaylee. What happens to her is shocking and wasn't easy to read but it did make sense in the overall story arc. It left me wondering where she will go from here.

Another wonderful addition to the Soul Screamer's series. I'm looking forward to reading more but will have to wait until My Soul to Steal comes out.

Rating: A

Go here to read the free prequel My Soul to Lose

My reviews for books 1 & 2

My Soul to Take
My Soul to Save

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

TBR Challenge Review: Runabout

Pamela Morsi

Historical Romance/1916 America

Jove/February 1994


From the back cover ~

Tulsa May Bruder has given up on love. Her first and only suitor has broken her heart, and as the town wallflower, Tulsa figures she just wasn't cut out for romance. But when her friend Luther Briggs helps her to stand tall in front of the town gossips, Tulsa suddenly sees a face she's known forever in a whole new light - and finds that falling in love can happen when you least expect it...

When checking the suggested themes for this month's challenge I found one of my favorite romance tropes - the friends to lovers. And imagine my surprise when I found that I had a Pamela Morsi that fit the bill. Yeah! As much as I love Morsi, there are still a few of her older books that I haven't read. There's even a few that I still need to hunt down. :)

What has come to be a Morsi trademark is her unconventional heroines and heroes. Another thing that sets her apart is her time periods. She tends to stay away from the traditional Victorian or Regency periods, instead going for the turn of the century or in the case of Runabout, the period prior to the United States entering World War I. I like that we get a time period that's often overlooked.

The long time friends of the story are Tulsa May Bruder and Luther Briggs. Tulsa is the preacher's daughter of the small Oklahoma town and an only child. Luther is a half-breed Indian and an orphan. He and his younger brother Arthel, came to town ten years ago after their parents died. Their only family was their father's mother, Maimie Briggs but she had no intention in taking in half-breeds. After the Briggs boys were rejected by their grandmother they were taken in by the Reverend and his family. This last about a year until Luther was able to get a job and support himself and his younger brother.

Luther has grown into a very responsible young man. He pretty much had to since he had been responsible for his younger brother Arthel since he was sixteen and Arthel was eight. Luther isn't what I would call a knight in shinning armor to Tulsa's damsel in distress. Luther's armor is a bit tarnished when it comes to his love life. He's enjoyed sowing some wild oats and has no intention of settling down any time soon. But when his best friend Tulsa is practically left at the alter and left for the town gossips, Luther comes up with a plan to stop the towns folk from pitying Tulsa. And what a plan it is!

Tulsa is a sweetheart. Seriously, she's known for her sunny disposition. She sees the good in everyone and looks for the positive in all things. Did that get annoying? Surprisingly, no. I thought it might but Tulsa is also aware of her overly sunny outlook and has no problem using some self deprecating humor to show her awareness. She's also mirror shy. She doesn't like her carrot top hair or what she considers her plain features. Her dislike of her hair is demonstrated through her love of hats. Lots and lots of hats! I really liked that we got to see this side of her. Tulsa isn't one to be deceptive but in this case she hides many of her hats under the bed so her mother doesn't see them. There is a very tender and sensual scene where Luther uses a mirror to show Tulsa how very beautiful she is. Love that scene!

The town and its people certainly play a role in Luther and Tulsa's relationship. Tulsa, being the Reverend's daughter, is always under scrutiny from the locals. I liked the way Luther had no problem standing up to the questions and innuendos that come from friends, neighbors and the nosy biddy bodies. His protectiveness of Tulsa was sweet in a brotherly fashion but that, along with the boundaries of their relationship, changes as the story progresses.

He didn't let her finish. With a tenderness that surprised even himself, Luther brought his mouth to hers. It was the gentlest of kisses. A mere touching of one pair of lips to another. A kiss that might have been considered brotherly. But no brother's heart ever pounded like his. page 152

The way Morsi had Luther and Tulsa getting to know each other in the way a couple gets to know was well done over a period of time. Things like going to church together, going out driving in the Runabout as a couple instead of just friends. They didn't realize it at the time but they were getting to know each other on another level, seeing each other through different eyes. I liked the way the story showed the protective side of both Luther and Tulsa.

The romance is subtle at times, with neither Luther or Tulsa realizing what they are doing. That they are acting like a couple falling in love instead of merely pretending it. There are also times when it's so darn obvious they physically want each other that it scares them senseless. Seeing Luther, an experienced man, embarrassed and perplexed by his need for Tulsa was cute and sweet. Poor Tulsa was just confused, having no real experience with men.

The setting of the small town with all it's flavors of the time period was evident in the language and attitude of the towns folk. There were some scenes of the darker side of small town life and the small minded. I thought Morsi handled the prejudices of race and immorality well. She showed that people can change for the good if given a chance. She also showed that tolerance for others can be subjective and how it's dealt with is just as important.

If you're looking for a historical romance that's different than your typical Regency or Victorian, then give Pamela Morsi a try.

Rating: A

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

ARC Review: Tall, Dark, and Wolfish

Tall, Dark, and Wolfish
Lydia Dare
Historical Paranormal Romance/1816

Werewolf series/Book 2
Sourcebooks/May 2010

ARC from publisher

From the author's website ~

He's lost the most important part of himself...

Lord Benjamin Westfield is a powerful werewolf - until one full moon he doesn't change and his life is shattered. He rushes off to Scotland in search of the healer who can restore his inner beast, only to find she's not at all what he expected...

She would make him whole, if she could...

Young, beautiful witch Elspeth Campbell will give her all to help anyone who calls upon her healing arts. Until Lord Benjamin shows up, and she suddenly discovers she may need him even more than he needs her...

A werewolf in Scotland! After reading the first book, A Certain Wolfish Charm, I still knew very little about the youngest Westfield brother, Lord Benjamin, and I was curious. All I knew is that he was in Scotland and hadn't been in touch with his family for some time. It turns out Ben is in serious trouble and needs help from one very special healer. When he sets off on his journey he doesn't know how special she really is.

Lord Benjamin Westfield is a werewolf who has lost his ability to change. This is a critical part of who he is. In his search for help he is sent to a healer. She is supposed to be in Edinburgh and that's also where Ben's friend, Alec MacQuarrie lives. So Ben drops in on his friend and begins to socialize with some of the locals. That's when he meets Elspeth Campbell. He's immediately drawn to her and can't resist an opportunity to spend time with her.

Elspeth is a sweet, kind and gentle woman who is also a witch. She is an orphan who didn't have an easy childhood. She now lives and takes care of her ailing grandfather. I liked her immediately for her honesty and integrity. Her loyalty to her friends and fellow witches makes this more than just a romance. The five young women of the Còig have a variety of cool powers. I really thought the women added another facet to Elspeth and I loved their bonds of friendship that made them more like sisters. I also completely enjoyed their interaction with Ben. They are suspicious of Ben and his growing relationship with El and they use their magic in very creative ways when they think he is getting too close to their beloved El.

As Ben and Elspeth grow closer Ben's problem becomes a focal point of their relationship. Elspeth is certain she can heal him, Ben is afraid he will hurt her if she does. I liked that Ben being a werewolf was a large part of the story. El, being a witch, didn't run screaming from him, she's too practical for that. (I liked that about her too!) What she does is research his problem as she gets to know him and yes, fall in love with him. The way their love story is written, you can see how they both have reasons for not wanting to fall in love. Ben is a Lord from a powerful family. He lives in a grand house in London while El lives in a small cottage and calls Edinburgh home. She is also burdened with being born out of wedlock. She never knew her father and wishes to find him if only to know why he got her mother pregnant and then left her. The identity of El's father is a secondary story line that adds some mystery.

I'm not a big fan of witches. Witches alone will not grab my interest in a book. This time though, I thoroughly adored the witches of Edinburgh. They are smart, funny and devoted to their sister witches. I delighted in their antics when trying to discourage Ben's attention to El. I do hope we see more of them in future books.

Another thing I liked about Tall, Dark and Wolfish was Will. He captured my attention in book one, A Certain Wolfish Charm and he was back at it, "helping" Ben while stirring up a little trouble in Edinburgh. Will is the middle brother of the Westfield trio and his book, The Wolf Next Door, is out next month! I can't wait to read his book.

As a couple, Ben and El had much to overcome. They went through a lot of difficulties and had to work for their Happily Ever After. There were times when my heart broke for El and Ben. They had to go through so much and were two genuinely deserving people. I so wanted them to get to that HEA. I think having them really work out their problems helped make the ending that much sweeter. Overall, the writing duo that is Lydia Dare has added a well written werewolf historical romance to the mix.

Rating: A-

My review of book one, A Certain Wolfish Charm

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Review: Wolf Signs

Wolf Signs
Vivian Arend
Paranormal Romance

Granite Lake Wolves/Book 1
B&N Free In-Store Read

From the author's website ~

Robyn Maxwell doesn’t care that her brother has to cancel out on their back country ski trip. She can do it alone. The fact she’s deaf doesn’t make her survival skills any weaker. The chance to get away from it all and relax in the Yukon wilderness is just what she’s been craving.

Meeting wilderness guide Keil at the cabin starts cravings of another kind. Keil’s one hot hunk of ripped, tasty male. Now she has to deal with raging hormones as well as strange questions about wolves and mates and challenges to the death.

Keil was trying for a nice reflective retreat before challenging for the Alpha position of his Alaskan pack. He wasn’t planning on meeting the woman destined to be his mate, or finding out she’s not aware she has the genes of a wolf.

Between dealing with his accident-prone younger brother, a deaf mate with an attitude and an impending duel to the death, his week—and his bed—is suddenly full.

Far from the relaxing getaway any of them had in mind…

Warning: Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘talking with your hands.’ Includes dangerous use of sarcasm and hot nookie in a remote wilderness sauna.

If you noticed the info at the top, this was a free in-store read for my nook™. One of the latest upgrades for the nook™ was one hour of free in-store reading per day. The selection is varied from NY Times bestsellers to shorter, sub-genres like erotica. I picked Arend's because I'd heard good things about her writing. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to try it.

One of the first things that's different is the heroine is deaf. I'm always curious as to how an author will portray someone with a disability. Will they play up the disability and make it the focal point of the character? Or will they downplay it and make the character more than her disability? In this case Robyn Maxwell doesn't let her deafness slow her down. Nor does she let it define her. I really liked that about her. She doesn't take shit from anyone either. And she is far from helpless. Sure, she has to deal with situations differently because of her deafness but it doesn't deter her from doing what she wants to. Which is why she goes on the skiing trip alone.

Keil and his brother TJ are not as surprised at having company at the cabin as they are that their company is a woman alone. Good thing for Robyn that these two brothers are gentlemen, sort of. They are in fact werewolves. When Keil realizes Robyn is his mate he has to figure out how to tell her without totally freaking her out. It takes some doing and convincing but eventually they come to an understanding. It must have been the pheromones or the short length of the story but, Robyn and Keil got hot and heavy pretty quick.

TJ is like the Scooby-Doo of the werewolves. He's cute, he's lovable and he's a bit of a goof. His skiing ability is more of an attacking the slopes and barreling down the mountain as opposed to actually skiing down. He's lost three pairs of skis this season much to his brother's embarrassment. I thought it was cute to have a werewolf that was not an over-the-top alpha. He was formidable while in his wolf form but a bit of a klutz in human form.

The romance between Robyn and Keil is there but again, happens fairly quickly. Robyn was a little too trusting of Keil and TJ. I mean, good grief, they're werewolves! She's alone in an isolated cabin with them. How does she really know what they'll do to her? She questions them about their "werewolfness" but pretty much takes them at their word regarding her safety with them. Robyn and Keil connect fast and fall into lust fast. Everything happens pretty quickly.

Overall, a decent werewolf meets mate story. There seemed to be too much going on for such a short story. I would have preferred the story concentrate on the romance and not so much on the pack drama. I do plan to read book 2, Wolf Flight. The e-books are inexpensive and quick reads.

Rating: B-

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Review: Getting Rid of Bradley

Getting Rid of Bradley
Jennifer Crusie
Contemporary Romance

Harlequin Temptation #480/February 1994

Reissued/Harlequin/December 2008
Library ebook

From the author's website ~

Lucy Savage is finally getting rid of Bradley—and his hideous green recliner. Bradley is out of her life for good. Or so she thinks. Turns out Officer Zack Warren wants to arrest the very same Bradley for embezzlement and figures the lovely Lucy can lead him straight to his target.

Good thing there’s a cop around. Because someone shoots at Lucy and then blows up her car. Zack insists she needs twenty-four-hour protection. What does he think her three dogs and attack cat are for? Still, he insists on moving right in to Lucy’s house.

Now there’s danger lurking outside and in her own kitchen, bathroom—and bedroom. Or maybe Zack is just what Lucy needs.…

I picked this one up, really downloaded it, because Nath said she liked it. If Nath says she likes a book, there's a good chance it's a very good book. In the case of Getting Rid of Bradley she was spot on!

The story opens with Lucy and her sister Tina at the courthouse waiting for Lucy's now ex-husband to show up. It was the day her divorce was finalized and Bradley was suppose to be there. He doesn't show so they head over to a diner where Lucy said Bradley might show up. It's at the diner things get crazy. There's bad food, poor service and a couple of hot guys that turn out to be cops. Which is a good thing since it turns out Lucy needs the police.

After getting shot at and grabbed by what she thought was a drug dealer, Lucy finally goes home to her three pound puppies. I absolutely loved the personalities Crusie gives to these adorable dogs. Heisenberg, Maxwell and Einstein are unique characters that add so much flavor to the story. The roles they play in Lucy's life is so important that I can't imagine her falling in love with someone who doesn't love her dogs. Or at the very least like them.

Detective Zack Warren is in for a surprise when the crazy woman from the diner turns out to be linked to a big case he's been working on. He tracks her to her home and after assuring her that he is indeed a cop, he gets down to questioning her. Lucy isn't at all what Zack expected to find after their first encounter. She sexy and sweet and yes, a bit crazy but there is a definite attraction between these two. Zack is not what I would call likable until you get to know him, especially after Lucy's positive influence takes hold. It's not that he's mean or a jerk, he's just gruff, grumpy and unapproachable. Both in looks and manner. But underneath all that he's a real sweetheart.

The more time Zack spends with Lucy and her dogs the more she, and the dogs, drive him crazy but in a good way. :) Crusie had me laughing a lot at the comedic situations Lucy, Zack and yes, the dogs, find themselves in. In between all the witty and sharp dialogue is the threat of pain and possible death as Lucy's life becomes more complicated as the search for Bradley continues. Zack has moved in to Lucy's house, offering protection and the very willing use of his very sexy body. Lucy isn't a pushover and makes Zach work for it. She truly drives him crazy. It's great!

When Lucy divorces Bradley she also decides it's time for a change. She's tired of playing it safe and wants to make her own mistakes and not have her sister Tina bail her out. This makes her more open to Zach and his idea that oh, he can watch over her better from say, her bed. LOL I really liked these two together. The dynamics of their relationship had both of them changing. Sort of a meeting in the middle type of situation. With Zach softening up and Lucy becoming more independent.

The mystery surrounding where Bradley is and what trouble he's gotten into was fun to try and figure out. Even the criminals got in on some of the comedic scenes. This was truly a cute, funny and sweet romance. Definitely a favorite Crusie.

Rating: A-

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

ARC Review: Uncertain Magic

Uncertain Magic
Laura Kinsale
Historical Romance/1797/England/Ireland
Sourcebooks/May 2010
Reprint/1st Published by Avon/1987
ARC for Review

From the back cover ~

A man damned by suspicion and innuendo

Dreadful rumors swirl around the impoverished Irish lord known as "The Devil Earl." But Faelan Savigar hides a dark secret, for even he doesn't know what dreadful deeds he may be capable of...

A woman cursed by the gift of "sight"

Roderica Delamore fears no man will ever want a wife who can read his every thought and emotion, until she encounters Faelan. As the two find their way to each other against all odds, Roddy becomes determined to save Faelen from his terrifying and mysterious ailment. But will their love end up saving him...or destroying her? A breathtaking historical romance filled with poignancy, darkness, love, and an unexpected twist of Gaelic magic...

A classic tale from Laura Kinsale. I remember reading this years ago when it was first released. I'm so happy that Sourcebooks will be releasing Ms. Kinsale's backlist so that new readers can enjoy her unique characters and settings.

I immediately liked Roderica or Roddy as she's called. She's extremely wealthy but is kept fairly secluded by her family. It's because of her gift or curse, depending on who you are and how you view it. Roddy can read minds by hearing people's thoughts. So being in a crowded environment can become overwhelming for her. She does feel a special affinity for animals which is what brings her into contact with The Devil Earl.

When Roddy meets Faelen Savigar she is stunned, not by the fact that he is exceedingly handsome in a devilish way, but because she can not hear his thoughts. Nothing. It's an amazing treat for Roddy to be near someone and not be bombarded by their thoughts. She does have ways of toning down the volume but in crowds it can be too much. Or with people she is close to, hearing their most intimate thoughts can be embarrassing. With Faelen, she has none of that. Of course, there are times when Roddy wishes she could hear his thoughts. LOL She is fascinated by him and thinks he is her chance to have a normal life. A life with a husband and children. It's something that she thought was out of her reach because of her curse. Now, there's a chance she can have that.

It seems The Devil Earl is low on funds and needs money to repair his estate in Ireland. When Roddy encourages his attention, letting him know that she wants marriage, he thinks this is the answer to his problems. He proceeds to court her, quickly, since he is also short on time. They marry with some speculation from the gossip mill.

The Devil Earl isn't an innocent and his more recent mistress makes an appearance, putting Roddy on the defense. The woman makes it clear to Roddy what her relationship with Roddy's husband is and there is also Roddy's ability to hear the woman's thoughts. I felt sorry for Roddy when she finds herself doubting her place in Faelan's life. She worried that he would go back to his mistress even after he showed Roddy how much he wanted her. Thankfully, Faelan doesn't prove to be an ass and he really is coming to care very much for Roddy. They spend some time in London but Faelan must get back to Ireland and see to his estate.

Before they head to Ireland, Faelan's mother, Lady Iveragh descends on the newlyweds. She is a real piece of work. You know she's up to trouble and seeing her interactions with Faelan helped me get to know his past better and perhaps why he is so standoffish. Lady Iveragh is adminant that Faelan and Roddy not go to Ireland. She hates it there and is certain that it's no place for Roddy. Another unexpected guest pays a visit. He is Geoffrey, Lord Cashel. He is friends with Faelan but also neighbor to Roddy. She has known him forever and also has a secret crush on him. But he is married to a perfect lady, not one that can hear his every thought. Roddy knew if Geoffrey had ever found out what she could do it would ruin their relationship.

There is a bit of a love triangle going on with Roddy, Faelan and Geoffrey. It's because Faelan suspects his wife is secretly in love with his friend Geoffrey so it creates some tension when the two men are together. The things that Faelan is accused of and whispered about also creates great tension. Geoffrey may consider Faelan his friend but that doesn't mean he thinks Faelan is good enough for Roddy. Or that Roddy is safe with Faelan. Everyone, except Roddy, thinks Faelan is dangerous. The problem is that Faelan suffers memory loss so he can't be sure he didn't commit the things he's accused of.

The magic in the story comes from Ireland and it's history. There are a number of things happening when Roddy and Faelan arrive in Ireland. There is a revolution brewing and while Faelan is trying to stay out of the crossfire, it becomes very difficult to do that. He would rather spend his time getting his estate repaired and building a home for his new wife. During this time strange things start happening to Roddy. She begins to lose time. I found myself fascinated by what might be causing her loss of time. It was very dramatic and Faelan goes into a tailspin when he can't find her. He is falling in love with her and she with him. I found liked them as a couple even with the drama that they couldn't seem to escape.

There is a point where the plot became a bit heavy with the political drama. The danger that Roddy was exposed to because of Faelan's involvement and the subsequent terror they go through, for me went on a bit too long. It does have it's dark moments and I wouldn't consider it a light read. I did enjoy it for it's different setting (Ireland) and the mystical feel of Roddy's ability and the overall magical feel of Ireland. If you're looking for a well written story of love, magic and romance then Uncertain Magic could be the story for you.

Rating: B+

Monday, May 10, 2010

Review: Savor the Moment

Savor the Moment
Nora Roberts

Contemporary Romance

Bride Quartet/Book 3

Berkley Publishing/May 2010

From the inside cover ~

Laurel McBane has always relied on her friends for support, especially when her dream of attending culinary school was almost ruined by her parents' financial problems. Now Laurel is repaying the kindness of her friends by creating extravagantly luscious tiers of cakes and other confectionery delights that add the perfect touch to their clients' weddings.

As for romance, Laurel believes in it - in theory. But she's too low-key to appreciate all the luxuries that other women seem to long for. What she does appreciate is a strong, intelligent man, a man just like Parker's older brother, Delaney Brown, on whom Laurel has had a mega crush since childhood.

But some infatuations last longer than others, and Laurel is convinced that the Ivy League lawyer is still out of her reach. Plus, Del is too protective of Laurel to ever cross the line with her-or so she thinks. When Laurel's quicksilver moods get the better of her-leading to an angry, hot, all-together mind-blowing kiss with Del-she'll have to quiet the doubts in her mind to turn a moment of passion into forever...

I'm not a huge Nora Roberts fan. What I mean by that is that I haven't read a lot of her romances. I've read all of the J. D. Robb books (Love them!) but the Roberts back list for me remains mostly untouched. The Bride Quartet I started reading after hearing good reviews and I liked the idea of four girls growing up together, not only staying friends but becoming business partners. And you can't get more romantic than a full service wedding business.

I feel like I've been waiting forever for Laurel and Del's story. Okay, not that long but it seemed like it. I really liked Laurel, I think it's because she wasn't as approachable as the other three women of Vows. She's a bit prickly and quick to say what's on her mind, even when it's not the most tactful thing to say. But I liked her! I could totally see being friends with someone like her in RL. She, in fact, reminds me of a friend of mine. So there was definitely a connection before reading Savor the Moment.

Hmmm... Delaney Brown is an alpha male for sure but he's a 21st century alpha. He uses his intellect and business sense to help and protect those he loves. Delaney had a lot of responsibility laid on him early on when his parents died. He took charge of the family fortune and household. He also helped his sister Parker and her three best friends when they decided to open their wedding business. Yep, that's Delaney - responsible, respectable, and an all around nice guy. His problem is that he doesn't see what's been right in front of him. I did like Delaney but boy could he be dense sometimes.

Laurel and Del made for a sweet couple. They had already been friends forever and now they were venturing into new territory. They decide to take it slow with going out on dates. I liked seeing this side of them as a couple. How they interact with each other took on a different feel. They still had that friendship at the core but now they allowed and acknowledge the attraction they felt. And they not only acknowledge it, they acted on it.

I loved seeing the rest of the gang who now include; Carter, hero of 1st book, fiance' of Mac and Jack, hero of 2nd book, fiance' of Emma. They are now part of the clan. I loved the morning interactions of this lively and sometimes not so lively group. Mac is not a morning person, just saying. :) They would all meet at he main kitchen of the Brown mansion, getting ready to start their day with Mrs. G's delicious cooking. Mrs. G has been with the Brown's for years and has known all of the women since they were little. She is wonderful, imparting her wisdom along with her comfort foods.

The main problem I had with Savor the Moment is that I would have liked more Laurel and Del and less of the almost step-by-step instructions of cake decorating. I get that it was Laurel's passion but honestly, it just didn't interest me that much. More Laurel and Del time and more romance. The ending also felt, rushed maybe? It just wrapped up too quickly. Laurel and Del fight, then make up with little inbetween. I almost found myself wishing I had waited and read Savor the Moment right before Happy Ever After (book 4) comes out in November.

Even with those problems I still enjoyed the story and practically devored it. It was hard to put down but part of that was that I kept hoping for a little more Laurel and Del. But I do love the friendships of the four women. That remains my favorite part of the quartet. :)

Rating: B+

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Catching Up...

Hey, hope you all had a great weekend. Mine was busy but good. Friday night was Abby's awards/end of year dinner for both marching and concert band. It was fun and they had a great slide show put together with pictures of the various march band festivals and the different concerts.

Saturday was busy as usual but the big thing is that... we finally bought a new TV! I mentioned months ago that we were ready to upgrade from our clunky, old 27 inch TV to a flat screen. It took us long enough to decide but we finally got one last night. It's a 47 inch and compared to the old one it's really big! LOL We had to move the furniture around and now we have this empty area on one wall. You guys know what I want to put there right? *grins* I can't help it. I see an empty wall and I think - bookcase. :)

Today was Mother's Day here in the states. Did I sleep in? Nope. I stayed up late Saturday, until about 1:00 and then woke up around 6:00 this morning and couldn't go back to sleep. Ugh! So I treated myself to an Entenmann's chocolate donut and got some reading in. Finished Getting Rid of Bradley by Jennifer Crusie. Very funny comedic romance. Then we went out to brunch with my mom and my brother and his wife, who drove down from Las Vegas. I had the most delicious chocolate chip/peanut butter muffin. Next time I make muffin I'm adding peanut butter. I have a friend who adds peanut butter to her rice crispy treats. It's very good that way.

After brunch we hung out at my mom's and then home where I dozed off while reading on the couch. So a very nice and relaxing day.

How was everyone's weekend? Read any good books lately?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Review: Stolen Seduction

Stolen Seduction
Elisabeth Naughton
Romantic Suspense
Stolen Trilogy/Book 3
Love Spell/January 2010
Library book

From the back cover ~

The individual who collects all six statues and deciphers the code locked within will be awarded controlling interest in Roarke Resorts.


Hailey Roarke was never interested in her family’s fortune. That’s why she became a cop. But with her father and now her cousin dead, she’s suddenly on the wrong side of a police interrogation. The only way to clear her name is to solve the riddle before the real killer. Without getting killed herself.

Detective Shane Maxwell can’t deny the spark of lust he feels every time Hailey is near. But the woman is clearly hiding something. Trusting his gut—and the heat in her eyes—he joins her on an elaborate global treasure hunt staged by her late father. Caught between a sizzling seduction and a maniacal murderer, for Hailey and Shane the biggest reward of all will be making it out alive.

The last book in the trilogy features a hero and heroine that were first introduced in Stolen Fury, book one. Hailey Roarke is the ex-wife of Rafe, hero of book one. Shane Maxwell is the brother of Lisa Maxwell, heroine from book one. So we have already met both h/h in previous books. Hailey is a character I liked from the first time she appeared in Stolen Fury. Shane, eh, a bit on the overprotective side and very bossy. But he grew on me.

Hailey Roarke wanted nothing to do with her family's hotel empire. She gets pulled back in when her father dies and leaves a few interesting stipulations in his will. She tells herself her stint in the family business is only temporary, just until she gets the terms of the will cleared up. She's really a cop in Florida but... she admits she's not really good at that either. Her career life is in a bit of turmoil. And her personal life isn't much better. She is friends with her ex-husband, so that's always good. And there was this guy she met a few months ago but nothing really came from that. Then Hailey finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Her cousin, a real ass, is found dead and the police have some questions for Hailey. One of the detectives is especially interested in Hailey. And he just happens to be "that" guy.

There's a bit of a soap-opera feel with all the different character connections but it's not a bad feeling just a lot of coincidences of how all their lives are intertwined. Shane Maxwell, brother to Dr. Lisa Maxwell who is married to Rafe Sullivan, Hailey's ex. Shane is, of course, the Chicago police detective with a special interest in Hailey. They've met before and while there were some sparks, neither made the move to take things all the way. Now they're both involved in the murder investigation of Hailey's cousin. And what the heck is with her father's crazy will? According to the will, Hailey going to have to jump through some hoops to keep the company out of the wrong hands. She's not happy about it but it willing to search for the treasure her father wanted/hoped she'd find.

The relationship between Hailey and Shane is very volatile. They don't trust each other and under the circumstances, don't always like each other. But that spark is still there and the more time they spend together the stronger it gets. There was a surprising amount of animosity between the two, I had to wonder how they would get past it. But they did and Naughton made it work. Shane is a natural protector and now he's into protecting Hailey while he's also trying to sort things out and get to the truth of what happened. He knows Hailey is lying to him, hiding something, and being a good detective he's determined to find out. Hailey is used to looking out for herself and resents Shane's intrusion. It becomes a situation where they have to work together to resolve both of their problems.

The murder mystery coupled with a treasure hunt made for an exciting ride. I liked how Naughton incorporated the police crime solving and the treasure hunting to make a cohesive story line that had both facets of mystery and adventure. We also got to revisit with characters from the two previous books which was fun. A quick read and a good end for the trilogy.

Rating: B+

Stolen Fury
Stolen Heat

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Ryan Reynolds and My Biggest Fear...

Aside from something happening to my family, my biggest fear is being buried alive. It goes back to when I was a kid and saw this movie where this girl was kidnapped and buried alive with enough oxygen and electricity to keep her alive for a specific amount of time. It stayed with me to the point where I'm afraid I'll die but won't really be dead but medical personal will think I am. Crazy I know but...

So what does the ultra hot Ryan Reynolds have to do with this? He's living out my worst nightmare. In a movie.

Here's the description ~ Paul Conroy is not ready to die. But when he wakes up 6 feet underground with no idea of who put him there or why, life for the truck driver and family man instantly becomes a hellish struggle for survival. Buried with only a cell phone and a lighter, his contact with the outside world and ability to piece together clues that could help him discover his location are maddeningly limited.

It was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in January and is due for nation wide release this October. I don't know if I'll see this in the theater. If I do, dh is definitely coming with me. That man can make me laugh at the oddest times and with this movie, I might need that.

So what's your biggest fear and would you see a movie based on it?

Monday, May 3, 2010

April Reads...

*Pics like this make me wish I wasn't allergic to cats. I just want to cuddle him and let him sleep on my lap. So cute!*

Silver Borne ~ Patricia Briggs ~ Urban Fantasy ~ A-
A Certain Wolfish Charm ~ Lydia Dare ~ Historical PNR ~ B
Something About You ~ Julie James ~ Contemporary Romance ~ B
A Delicious Taboo ~ Jennifer Cole ~ Erotica ~ C+ ~ Review to follow
Her Best Friend ~ Sarah Mayberry ~ Contemporary Romance ~ B+
One for the Team ~ Jet Mykles ~ Erotic Romance ~ Review to follow
A Delicious Taboo Plus Two ~ Jennifer Cole ~ Erotica ~ C ~ Review to follow
Stolen Heat ~ Elisabeth Naughton ~ Romantic Suspense ~ B
Long Hard Ride ~ Lorelei James ~ Erotic Romance ~ B+
Blue-Eyed Devil ~ Lisa Kleypas ~ Contemporary Romance ~ B+
Rode Hard, Put Up Wet ~ Lorelei James ~ Erotic Romance ~ Review to follow
Stolen Seduction ~ Elisabeth Naughton ~ Romantic Suspense ~ Review to follow
Hope's Folly ~ Linnea Sinclair ~ Science Fiction Romance ~ A
Anything for You ~ Sarah Mayberry ~ Contemporary Romance ~ B+
Her Vampire Husband ~ Michele Hauf ~ Paranormal Romance ~ B
Lisa's Gift ~ Mackenzie McKade ~ Erotica ~ Review to follow
The Man Must Marry ~ Janet Chapman ~ Contemporary Romance ~ B
Glory in Death ~ J. D. Robb ~ Futuristic Suspense ~ B+
Mind Games ~ Carolyn Crane ~ Urban Fantasy ~ Review to follow
Uncertain Magic ~ Laura Kinsale ~ Historical Romance ~ Review to follow

April was a really good month for reading. Most of that is due to the nook™ that I was lucky enough to win from The Book Binge. I went a little crazy on the erotica, didn't even list a few shorter e-books I read. I hope to have a post/review of the nook™ up soon. There's a lot I want to say about it and I need to get my thoughts together on it. I also need to catch up on my reviews. :)

The breakdown by genre ~

Erotica ~ 6
Contemporary ~ 5
Romantic Suspense ~ 3 (includes Robb)
Historical ~ 2 (includes Paranormal Historical)
Urban Fantasy ~ 2
Paranormal Romance ~ 1
Science Fiction Romance ~ 1

Total read ~ 20

So the majority were Contemporaries and Erotics and the Erotics were Contemporaries. I see a trend here. :) There were a few that, while not DNF yet, just didn't grab me so got set aside for now. I think this month I'll try for more variety. I've got some Urban Fantasies and some PNR I've been wanting to read so I hope to get to those this month. Overall, some very good reads and a few okay ones but no real duds. No surprise that Silver Borne and Hope's Folly were my favorites. And I've got a new series to follow in Lorelei James' Rough Riders. If you haven't started those series you really should give them a try.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Re-read Challenge: Blue Eyed Devil

Blue Eyed Devil
Lisa Kleypas
Contemporary Romance
Travis series/Book 2
St. Martin's Press/March 2008

From the inside cover ~


His name is Hardy Cates. He's a self-made millionaire who comes from the wrong side of the tracks. He's made enemies in the rough-and-tumble ride to the top of Houston's oil industry. He's got hot blood in his veins. And vengeance on his mind.


She's Haven Travis. despite her family's money, she refuses to set out on the path they've chosen for her. But when Haven marries a man her family disapproves of, her life is set on a new and dangerous course. Two years later, Haven comes home, determined to guard her heart. And Hardy Cates, a family enemy, is the last person she needs darkening her door or setting her soul on fire.


The first time I read Blue Eyed Devil I had been looking forward to reading Hardy's story. We were first introduced to Hardy in Sugar Daddy, the first book in the series. I liked Hardy a bunch and couldn't wait to read his story because I knew he had to have a story. Well, he does get a story and a HEA but it wasn't what I was expecting. I was a little disappointed that Hardy wasn't featured more in the story. If this were a movie, IMO, Hardy's name would be below the title, with only Haven's name above it. I think this time around I enjoyed it more because I knew what to expect. I knew that it was more Haven's story than Hardy's. I knew that Haven was featured more prominently than Hardy. I knew that it was told in Haven's POV. Knowing all of that changed my expectations this time around.

The second novel in Lisa Kleypas' contemporary series is not exactly a typical contemporary romance. First off it's only told in the heroine's POV. We usually get at the least, the hero and heroine's POV and sometimes secondary characters as well. This time it's just Haven's voice we hear. First time reading it, I wasn't crazy about it. This time I was fine with it. I also liked Haven more this time. The first time she bugged the heck out of me, the way she put up with the horrible treatment from her boss. I wanted so badly for her to stand up for herself. But this time, I found myself more tolerant of her actions, or lack of actions as it was.

Haven is in a really terrible marriage that she is finally able to break free from. Her ex-husband did some serious damage to her self esteem, grinding her into the ground and making her doubt herself. She comes from a family of strong, opinionated men and going home to those men isn't easy. That's why it takes her so long to make that final step. She doesn't want to believe she made such a bad choice so she keeps making excuses for her husband. Then the breaking point happens and she leaves.

Let me just say that Kleypas is an amazing writer. The grief and despair that Haven feels when she's leaving her husband and calling for help comes through so strong. Kleypas does a wonderful job making Haven's feelings and actions in her situation realistic. I couldn't help but worry about Haven and want her to be safe. I was so relieved when she finally got to Gage and felt that she was finally safe from her rat bastard husband.

Haven slowly gets her life moving forward by getting a job and her own place. She does accept the help of her brother Jack, she goes to work for him and takes an apartment in his building. She does have to work hard, she doesn't want any special treatment because the boss is her brother. I get why she feels like that but I do still think she put up with way too much crap from her immediate boss.

Hardy Cates and Haven meet early on but that's more of an "oops" meeting in a wine cellar. Then a few years later they meet up again when Haven is starting out her new life after leaving her abusive husband. Haven knows Hardy is not a person her family trusts or wants her associating with but she finds herself intrigued by him. She's attracted to him and what really surprises her is that she's not completely afraid to be around him. He's a big, well muscled guy from working on the oil rigs and yet Haven isn't afraid of him.

I liked the way Haven and Hardy got to know each other away from the Travis family. Hardy learns quickly not to pressure Haven and he suspects something had happened with her ex but he wasn't sure what exactly it was. The way he treated her and showed her he respected her went so far in helping Haven learn to trust him. I really liked Hardy and wished there had been more of him in the story. They made such a wonderful couple, with their diverse backgrounds they still had much in common.

So this read was better than the last. I didn't review it the first time but I would have rated it a B/B-. The re-read I liked it better. Still wish there had been more Hardy. :)

Rating: B+