Saturday, July 31, 2010

Re-Read Challenge Review: Half way to the Grave

Halfway to the Grave
Jeaniene Frost

Urban Fantasy

Nighthuntress/Book 1

Avon/October 2007


From the author's website ~

Half-vampire Catherine Crawfield is going after the undead with a vengeance, hoping that one of these deadbeats is her father—the one responsible for ruining her mother's life. Then she's captured by Bones, a vampire bounty hunter, and is forced into an unholy partnership.

In exchange for finding her father, Cat agrees to train with the sexy night stalker until her battle reflexes are as sharp as his fangs. She's amazed she doesn't end up as his dinner—are there actually
good vampires? Pretty soon Bones will have her convinced that being half-dead doesn't have to be all bad. But before she can enjoy her newfound status as kick-ass demon hunter, Cat and Bones are pursued by a group of killers.

Now Cat will have to choose a side . . . and Bones is turning out to be as tempting as any man with a heartbeat.

This re-read is due to the fact that I liked this book the first time so why didn't I continue reading the series? I've got the next two books in the the tbr pile, so I don't have a clue as to why I didn't read them. Time is the most likely culprit. Anyway, I decided this would be one series I would finish reading this year - so the re-read is to refresh my memory.

The story starts with Cat and her night job - hunting and killing vampires. Cat is determined to avenge her mother who was raped by a vampire which resulted in Cat's birth. Cat has a dry sense of humor to help cope with her bizarre life. She's looked down on by her mother because of Cat's father and Cat being a half-blood. Cat is driven by guilt and revenge and seduces her vampire victims into thinking they'll get lucky with her then she goes for the kill. She spends her nights trolling the bars, looking for vampires to kill. And her mom knows about it! Yep, good old mom even encourages Cat to kill vamps. I really didn't like her mom. Big, guilty-tripping weight around Cat's neck. And Cat's killing adventures lead her to Bones.

Bones - the only way I could think of him is as a wealthier version of Spike (as in Buffy's Spike). Bones so reminded me of Spike I secretly wondered if Spike's crazy-ass vamp girlfriend Drusilla would show up. I do remember the first read thinking that Bones reminded me of Spike but I don't remember it being so strong. Bones is a very old, very powerful vampire. He takes a liking to Cat, after she tries to kill him. Bones recruits Cat to help him catch his next target. I liked Bones this time through but now I'm wondering if I liked him for him or because he reminded me of Spike.

Cat and Bones begin training and they begin feeling the pull of physical attraction. Cat doesn't want to be attracted to a vampire. That's like the worst thing that could happen to her. Bones, on the other hand, knows what he wants and he can be very underhanded in getting it. I had a few qualms about their relationship. Cat is a virgin but still knows how to play at seductress. It came off as very odd - like she couldn't make up her mind what she wanted to be. Here she'd been killing vampires since she was 16, she's 22 now, and now she's attracted to a vampire. It seemed like Bones is the only one who cared about Cat - but he's an "evil" vampire. Or that's what Cat believed, that all vampires are evil. So Bones throws her a curve when he shows he cares but it could only be that he needs her to get to his target.

Bones training sessions with Cat are meant to be sexy but I found them less than. I don't remember the sexual tension and sex scenes from the first time but this time I was pretty meh about them. I do like the dialogue between Cat and Bones. Usually funny and quick witted with Bones having some great lines. There were times when Cat really showed her youth and her street smarts seemed less than what you would expect. Which was strange when you consider she's been hunting vampires, alone, since she was sixteen. Sometimes her naivety was hard to believe.

The ending is a cliff-hanger which is not doubt one of the reasons why I picked up the second book. This time through I'm not as enthralled as I remember being the first time. It could be that at the time, there was a lot of buzz about the book and I got caught up in it. That's always a possibility. Whatever it was, I do plan to continue with book 2 since I already have it. I hope the character of Cat matures in the next book and Bones becomes less of a Spike reminder and more his own distinct character. I'm curious to see if both Cat and Bones will change and become more solid characters in the next installment.

Rating: B

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Review: Visions in Death

Visions in Death
J. D. Robb

Romantic Suspense

In Death/Book 22

Penguin/August 2004


From the inside cover ~

The summer of 2059 has been long, hot - and bloody. On one of the city's warmest nights, a call from dispatch sends New York police lieutenant Eve Dallas to Central Park - and into a hellish new investigation. The victim was found on the rocks, just above the still, dark water of the lake. She wore nothing but a red ribbon tied around her neck. Her hands were posed as if in prayer. But it is the eyes - removed with such precision, as if by the careful hand of a surgeon - that have Dallas most alarmed.

As more bodies turn up, each with the same defining scars, Eve is frantic for answers. Against her instincts, she accepts help from a psychic, who offers one vision after another - each with shockingly accurate details of the murders. And when Eve's partner and friend Peabody is badly injured after escaping an attack, the stakes are raised. Are the eyes a symbol? A twisted religions ritual? A souvenir? With the help of her husband, Roarke, Dallas must uncover the killer's motivation before another vision becomes another nightmare.

With Peabody being my favorite secondary character, it's not surprising that this is one of my favorite books in the series. The dynamics of Dallas and Peabody's relationship continues to change and grow and that is very much evident in Visions in Death. The killer is a psycho, the psychic is questionable and Mavis is pregnant. Lots of stuff going on here but at the center for me was Dallas and Peabody. Roarke is here too, of course, but he's not as involved in this case as he has been in some others.

The first murder is gruesome, the second, just as much. Dallas and Peabody are working the case but having very little luck connecting the murders. The psychic who offers her help is welcomed by Peabody but leaves Dallas highly skeptical. No surprise there. I liked seeing Dallas interact with the psychic, trying to keep an open mind but not really putting much stock in any evidence until the psychic tells them things that are not public knowledge. Then Dallas starts to believe, just a little.

Sometimes I'll read fans of the series asking if/when Roarke and Eve will have a child. Robb has said that will be the end of the series if/when they do. (from Robb's FAQ). While I don't want the series to end anytime soon, I do like when Roarke and Eve are so far out of their comfort zone when confronted with even the possible involvement with someone else's child. There is a wonderful scene when Mavis tells Eve and Roarke that she wants them there for the birth. These two very capable people are filled with terror at the thought of being there when the baby is born.

[Mavis to Eve] "No. Labor and delivery coach. You'd back up Leonardo when I have the baby."

Eve choked on the canape' and turned white.

"Take a drink, darling," Roarke said with a laugh in his voice. "Put your head between your knees if you feel dizzy."

"Shut up. Are you talking about . . . like, being there? In the actual place at the actual time? In the same room as. . . it."

Then if that wasn't enough to take in, Roarke's in for a surprise.

"We want Roarke there, too." Mavis sniffed into her cloth.

Eve turned her head, and saw - with pleasure - the rare sight of utter panic on his face. "Not so damn funny now, is it, ace?"

Later, when Roarke and Eve are alone, they try to comfort each other in their terror over Mavis' request.

[Roarke]"They could change their minds. It's still months away, and they could easily change their minds and want this. . . event to be a private one between them."

She looked at him as if he'd sprouted a second head. "Private? Private? This is Mavis we're dealing with."

He shut his eyes. "God pity us."

"And it's just going to get . . . more." She pulled away, sprang up. "Before you know it, before you know it she's going to want us to deliver the thing. They'll want to do it here, in our bedroom or something, with cameras - live feed to her fans. And us pulling the thing our of her."

Utter and genuine horror leaped into his eyes. "Stop it, Eve. Stop it now."

They are really one of my favorite couples. The love they share - it's funny and deep and continues to grow. Eve does seem to do more of the growth but Roarke's in there too. He's just more accepting of the changes in his life with Eve now in it.

Roarke's presence is in this one less. He has no relation to the murders through any of his vast holdings and his help is minimal this time around. He is there for Eve when she needs him most. When Peabody is beaten nearly to death, it's Roarke who Eve leans on and Roarke who provides his quiet strength even though he is also hurting for Peabody.

The relationship between Dallas and Peabody continues to evolve and grow. There's a whole bunch of change in Visions, with Dallas trusting, really trusting Peabody with her darkest secret. Dallas has only told a few people about what happened to her when she was a child but because Peabody is not only her partner but her friend, she trusts her. They have come a long way since Peabody first became Dallas' assistant. The scene when Peabody is attacked and what follows are so emotional and vivid.

Peabody's desperate attempt to fight the attacker. McNab's reaction - it killed me. Even though McNab is a cop, a detective, his laid back attitude makes it hard to take him seriously. Plus, the way he gets all geeky with the electronics just detracts from the fact that he does carry a weapon and is a cop. But when he sees Peabody down - that scene totally hit me. Brilliantly written. The love he has for her and his cop instincts, all there for the reader to see and feel.

Then there's Dallas. Her reaction to Peabody being hurt is classic Dallas. She comes into the hospital, demanding to know Peabody's status. Then she sees McNab and the reader sees Dallas the cop but also Eve the concerned friend. I love how Robb wrote this - bringing out all those different emotions in the characters. The raw pain and fear they each feel, not knowing if their friend/colleague will live or die. It's an emotional read that I think advanced not only Dallas and Peabody's relationship but solidified Peabody and McNab.

The hunting of the serial killer speeds up after Peabody's attack. The ending doesn't come as a complete surprise but there is a twist that I didn't see coming and may surprise some readers. At this, the 22nd book in the series, Robb continues to write strong, versatile characters that continue to fascinate this reader.

Rating: A

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Hunger Games Mock Trailer...

Loved the book and now, TheHungerJabberJay, a fan of the trilogy has done an amazing job with this trailer. Makes me wish it was for a real movie. I'd go see it! Book 3, Mockingjay, release date is August 24.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I'm Not Here...

Today is my day at Access Romance Reader's Gab. So come on over and see what I'm gabbing about. I'll give you a hint - I'm confessing my deepest, darkest secrets. Okay, not really but I am making a confession about my reading. Stop by and make you're own confessions. :)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Car Buying Rant & Rave

lolcats funny cat pictures

I'm not a fan of car shopping. Sure, if I had an unlimited amount of money to spend it wouldn't be a problem but I like to get my limited amount of money's worth. So this weekend dh & I went car shopping, not fun but definitely not fun in the summer heat. We knew what we wanted, a small compact, low miles, 2-3 years old. We focused on Honda Civics and Toyota Corollas.

By the end of Saturday we had one possible car to buy - a Civic. But, when spending thousands of dollars you want to know that you've done due diligence and are getting the best car at the best price out there. So today we tried another dealer. Their website showed two Civics that fit our criteria. We get there and before we could get out of the car a sales person is out there waiting for us. We give him our list with the info of the two cars we want to see. He invites us inside, telling us he'll look them up and see if they still have them. We have a seat and he starts taking down our information. Not exactly comfortable with this but, okay. We finally head outside to look at some cars. The two cars on our list were both 2008, low miles (13K & 18K) and $17K & $14K. Same exact models, only difference was the miles and price.

The first car he showed us was an Accord, which is bigger than the Civic and had a lot of miles on it. He tells us the previous owner drove it to Flagstaff every day. That's like 1 1/2 hours away. We told him no. Then he showed us a Civic - a 2010 model priced at $22K. No again. Hey, another Civic, also another 2010 model at, yeah $22K. At this point I'm getting irritated. We come in, very specific with what we want and it's like he didn't listen. His manager shows up, asks how we're doing. We tell him what we're looking for. Then I ask the sales guy, "What about the two cars on the list we gave you?" His response, "Ah, here's the gray." Both cars on the list were gray. And yes, this car was a gray Civic but not one on the list. This was a 2007, which would have been fine except it had 36K miles. Too high. My guy drives 90 miles a day to work and back, he can put miles on the car just fine. :)

I ask about the two cars on the list. Where are they? Are they even out here? His response was that he'd go find out. What?! I thought that's what he was doing when we were inside at his desk and he was looking them up on his computer. Ugh! At this point I look at dh and say, I'm getting pissed, I want to go. His response - Okay. LOL He's usually very mellow but I knew he was already irritated when the guy had us inside, taking our information instead of showing us the cars. So I tell the sales guy that we're leaving. He's like, no, don't go, give me a couple minutes and I'll find the cars. Dude - we already gave you more than a couple minutes! We keep walking to our car, the sales manager guy comes out and starts after us, asking us to wait. I'm like, nope, we're done. We get in our car and the manager asks us "Didn't you see anything you liked?" So dh tells him that the guy didn't show us what we asked to see. And we left.

End of rant. Yeah!

We went back to one of the dealers from the day before and talked to Mo again - a nice salesman who wasn't pushy and showed us exactly what we asked to see. He was happy to see us back and after test driving another car, dh decided he liked the one he drove the day before. We started the massive amounts of paperwork and dh now has a new-to-us Civic. And now I'm wanting a newer car. I've got my eye on a red Honda CRV. But that will have to wait a couple of years. At least now I know where to go first!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Review: Instant Temptation

Instant Temptation
Jill Shalvis
Contemporary Romance

Wilder Adventures/Book 3

Kensington/April 2010

Library Book

From the back cover ~

Get Your Pulse Racing

To Harley, the landscape around Wishful, California, is exhilarating, untamed, and more than a little dangerous. The same could be said for T.J. Wilder, who's invited himself along on her trek to study a rare coyote. Harley's career is riding on this trip, and she doesn't need a stubborn, incredibly sexy distraction. But T.J. is a professional guide who knows when to stay back and when to provide invaluable expertise--just like he's done since they were in high school.

And Harley, as usual, is torn between throttling him and giving in to the raw attraction that's been smoldering all these years.
T.J. knows how proud and capable Harley is, but he's damned sure not letting her put herself at risk when there are illegal hunters in the area. She needs him, with the same soul-stirring urgency that he's always craved her. And here, in this beautiful place days from civilization, he'll finally have a chance to prove it--over and over again. . .

I liked what little we saw of TJ in the two previous books so I have been looking forward to reading his story. Harley is also a character that we got a glimpse of before and I liked the idea of Harley and TJ together. It turns out they worked really good together.

Harley is one of those characters I could see myself being friends with if she existed in RL. She's easy to get to know and like. She does have some blind spots when it comes to her family. Her parents are good parents, they love their two daughters, but they're not exactly responsible when it comes to money and bills. They have come to rely on Harley to help them out. Same thing with Harley's sister, Skye. I don't have a problem with helping family and friends out now and then but with Harley it got to be a habit that was seriously affecting her life in the form of her bills not getting paid. This and Harley having a crush on TJ for years and not telling him are her two weakest traits. But I did like her in spite of those things.

TJ is the oldest of the Wilder brothers. I think the word remote describes him well. He's not cold but he keeps to himself, which is fairly easy since he's gone so much. TJ has a tragedy in his past that he hasn't gotten over. It's clouding his perception of what's really important to him - namely Harley. There were times that, like TJ's brothers, I just wanted to bash him over the head. Don't you just love it when characters make you want to do bodily harm to them? LOL Aside from the whole head bashing thing, I really, really, liked TJ. He's a bit gruff but he has this incredible soft side that you see when he's with his family and Harley. He knows there's chemistry between them, he doesn't deny it, but he's convinced himself that he doesn't do long term relationships. He's just not around enough. Of course his logic if flawed because he could be around more if he wanted to. Run away TJ, run away.

TJ's not the only one who's running away. Harley has been working hard and now it's payoff time. She's going for a permanent job in Colorado. She's convinced herself it's what she wants and what would be best for her. Then she spends some time alone with TJ in the wild and is drawn by the beauty of the outdoors. And the hot, sexy guide that is TJ. :) Harley's always loved being outside but doesn't see herself making a living at it.

Harley + TJ = lots of outdoor sex, indoor sex and pretty much anywhere they could find some alone time. Shalvis knows how to write it hot and adds in a bit of humor. The romance is sweet, funny and heartbreaking. I love these two together! They fit so well, everyone knew it, even Harley and TJ but Harley wanted long term and TJ didn't. It takes a swift kick in the pants for both of them to realize what they really want. It was fun seeing how they got to that nearly elusive HEA, traveling over all those bumps along the way.

I have to mention the other members of the Wilder family. First, there's TJ's two younger brothers - Stone and Cam. Loved the teasing, joking, playfulness of the three brothers. They may give each other a hard time but it's all done in love. Tough love a lot of the time but the love is still there. Then there's Annie and Nick. Annie is the aunt of the three boys who took them in a helped raise them when she was very young. Nick is a good friend to the brothers and Annie's husband. They're a cute couple. It's definitely a family story with the main focus on the romance. A really good end to the Wilder brothers.

Rating: A-

My reviews for books 1 & 2

Instant Attraction
Instant Gratification

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

TBR Challenge Review: Shadowlight

Lynn Viehl

Paranormal Romance

Kyndred/Book 1

Onyx/October 2009

From the back cover ~

With just one touch, Jessa Bellamy can see anyone's darkest secrets, thanks to whoever tampered with her genes. What she doesn't know is that a biotech company called GenHance has discovered her talent and intends to kill her and harvest her priceless DNA.Gaven Matthias is forced to abduct Jessa himself so he can protect her, but Jessa has a hard time believing the one man whose secrets she can-t read. As a monstrous assassin closes in and forces them to run, Jessa will have to find another way to discover if Matthias is her greatest ally-or her deadliest enemy.

This month I picked a book that I bought when it first came out last fall. It hasn't been on the pile for that long but it's one that I wanted to get to soon since the second book just came out. I enjoyed Viehl's Darkyn vampire series so I was intrigued by her spin-off series about human's with special powers. This month's suggested challenge theme was "unusual professions or not your usual setting". I think this could fit that. The hero's profession is not something he could put on a resumé - I'd say it falls in the unusual category. :)

The story has a few flashbacks, which I'm not a fan of, but they do add to the plot and explain character motivation. I didn't find it too distracting, so I was okay with them. Little bits and pieces are unveiled to the reader as the story progresses. Sometimes this worked but sometimes it left me wishing I had some confirmation on what I thought was going on.

Jessa Bellamy runs a company specializing in background checks. She has a unique ability she utilizes in her work. It's that ability that GenHance wants and will do anything to get. Jessa finds herself running from an enemy, saved by a man who wants her to trust him. She only knows what he tells her but her instincts are telling her to trust him. Jessa is smart and a survivor. I liked how she didn't hide in the corner but used her brain, trying to outwit Matthias. She's thrown into stressful situations, her life in danger but she didn't completely panic, although she had her moments but she's allowed. She didn't resort to tears but used logic and reason when dealing with Matthias.

Gaven Matthias is hard man to describe. He's not a typical 21st century alpha hero. He doesn't play games but is very serious. Sometimes I wasn't sure if he knew how to be playful. English is not his native language so it was fun to see him try to understand the some of the slang that came his way. He's a very focused man - focused on his mission even when Jessa proves to be a distraction. He wasn't an easy man to know. He doesn't open to Jessa easily, telling her very little about himself.

The romance between Jessa and Matthias was just okay. I never felt I completely connected with either one of them. I liked certain things about each of them but it was from a distance for the most part. I do wish their backgrounds had been revealed sooner and that Jessa and Matthias could have moved on from there. I found I liked the internal dialogue of the villain and the action scenes more than the romance.

An added bonus is the appearance of my favorite couple from Viehl's Darkyn series - Lucan and Samantha. They show up to extradite a convict and start investigation the horrible murders because of the brutality and the possibility that the murderer might be Darkyn.

So, while I wasn't blown away, Shadowlight proved to be a decent start to the series. The second book, Dreamveil, is about the secondary character Rowan. She's intriguing - I'm not sure what to make of her so I'll be reading her book to find out more. Curious to see her story unfold.

Rating: B

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Review: Texas Tangle

Texas Tangle
Leah Braemel
Contemporary Erotic Romance (m/f/m)
Carina Press/June 2010
Ebook from Publisher/NetGalley

From the Publisher's Website ~

Thanks to her cheating ex-husband and her thieving brother, all horse breeder Nikki Kimball has left is a bruised heart, an overdrawn bank account and an empty home. When sex-on-legs Dillon Barnett and his brooding foster-brother Brett Anderson start showing more than just neighborly attention, Nikki is intrigued...and a little gun-shy.

Dillon and Brett have a history; back in high school, the two friends fought a bitter battle over Nikki. Now, ten years later, Brett still longs to be the man in Nikki's life, but he's determined to stand back and let Dillon win Nikki's heart.

Society says Nikki must choose between the two men she loves. Is Nikki strong enough to break all the rules in order to find happiness?

Nikki Kimball has been on the receiving end of a heck of a lot of bad luck lately. She finally divorced her loser husband and now her lazy ass brother, Phil, is keeping her couch warm. She's a hard working rancher that's nearing exhaustion. When she comes home to find she's been robbed, she's thankful to have the friendship of Dillon Barnett and Brett Anderson. Until it's safe to go home, Nikki stays at Dillon's house so they can keep an eye on her.

Right off, I liked Nikki. She's open with her feelings and you pretty much know where you stand with her. She has made some poor decisions. The first one was in the form of her ex-husband. She married him when she found herself in circumstances that took over her life and left her with nowhere to turn except to her loser ex. Then she got rid of him and took on her druggie brother. One thing I will say for Nikki is that she's loyal and doesn't like to give up. But she does have a limit to how much she will put up with and she finally reaches that limit.

Dillon has wanted Nikki for years. He's happy that they're friends but he wants more and has a plan to take things to the next level. You can see right off that Dillon genuinely cares for Nikki, that it's not all about the sex. They've been friends for a long time so they have that history to build on. I liked Dillon and even the fact that he used whatever means possible to win Nikki over. He wasn't devious, just relentless.

Brett has had a thing for Nikki for years. They got a little hot and heavy one night 10 years ago in high school, then Nikki married the loser and Brett left for college. Now that Nikki seems to be within reach Brett has been making himself available to her. Nikki sees him as only a good friend. When it becomes obvious that things have gone farther than friendship between Dillon and Nikki, Brett decides to keep his distance and tries to bow out gracefully. He doesn't want to take a chance at loosing his adoptive family. But Dillon has other plans.

I liked how Dillon, Nikki and Brett talked about what would happen if they lived openly in a committed ménage. They talked about not only how it would affect them, their livelihoods and their position in the community but also how their families would react. Since Nikki isn't close to her family it was mainly Dillon and Brett's family they were concerned with. I was a little surprised at how well Dillon and Brett's family, specifically their mom, took the news. It's not always easy to pull off a committed ménage. Often one of the trio tends to feel like an extra - the one that was almost an afterthought. With Dillon, Nikki and Brett, in the end it doesn't feel like that at all. They feel complete, with no one being more important than the other.

Rating: B+

Monday, July 19, 2010

Review: Pieces of Sky

Pieces of Sky
Kaki Warner
Western Historical Romance
(New Mexico Territory/1869)

Blood Rose Trilogy/Book 1
Berkley Trade/January 2010
Library Book

From the back cover ~

On a stagecoach traveling through New Mexico Territory, Jessica Thornton is a long way from the cool mists and lush gardens of her native England. An authoress and milliner, she carries the weight of a scandalous secret-a horrible shame that has brought her to the West on a desperate search for the only family she can trust: her brother.

No one prepared Jessica for the heat and the hardships. And no one prepared her for a man like Brady Wilkins. For, despite the rancher's rough-hewn appearance and her own misgivings, Jessica must put her life in his hands after their stagecoach crashes. And she begins to see the man behind the callused hands and caustic wit. A man strong enough to carve out a home in the wilderness, brave enough to fight for his own, and passionate enough to restore her faith in herself-and in her heart.

This book got some good buzz when it first came out and since I like westerns I knew it would make it into my reading pile. At times it's a very gritty, realistic view of life on America's western frontier. Even thought it takes place shortly after the end of the American Civil War there is little influence from the aftermath of the war. It certainly would have had a different feel to it had it taken place "back east". The majority of the story is set in and around the ranch RosaRoja. This huge ranch belongs to the Wilkins family comprising of three brothers - Brady, Hank and Jack. And yes, all three will have a book, Hank's story, Open Country, is out now. But this is Brady's story. He's the oldest and the one that everyone looks up to. He takes on all the responsibilities of the ranch and the people who live there.

The story opens with Brady Wilkins and a soon-to-be dead horse. What better way to open a western than with a cowboy and his horse? I just wish the horse didn't have to die but it does give a realistic view of how harsh the west was, and still is. Brady must make his way to the nearest Overland stage stop on foot. It's there he meets an English lady complete with umbrella. Once he gets his breath back, Brady finds Jessica an oddity that fascinates him. She obviously doesn't belong in the rugged environment of the territory but here she is and Brady finds he enjoys poking at her oh so proper views of manners and behavior. She makes him laugh which is always a good start to a relationship.

Jessica Thornton is running away. She does have a destination in mind - her brother. She only has to find him which is proving to be far more difficult than she anticipated. Jessica comes from a proper, if quiet, English background. With her parents dead, her sister and her sister's children are her only family. A horrendous and devastating ordeal happens and Jessica must run. When she runs into Brady Wilkins it's another shock among many that she has had since arriving in 'the Colonies" as she refers to the United States. Jessica is a classic Englishwoman with set preconceived ideas of America and the colonials who inhabit it. What I did like was that she didn't suddenly become "Pioneer woman" and take immediately to life on the ranch. It was a learning experience for Jessica that started with Brady and continued with his brothers and ranch family. Jessica doesn't always do the right thing either but she doesn't have any major TSTL moments so that was in her favor.

Jessica and Brady together, while not the perfect couple, fit in a jagged sort of way. Neither made what I could call a stellar first impression on the other but they did that odd mating dance that so many do when opposites attract. The story takes place over many months, a year maybe, so there is time for that relationship to grow and become more than the physical attraction that each feel for the other. One main problem they had was seeing past their differences in terms of where they come from and where they belong. Brady was far from an English gentleman and Jessica, while she did well on the ranch, Brady still saw as an English lady. I liked how the author showed this side of them, the whole not thinking they will measure up to the other's expectations. That no matter what they do, it wouldn't be enough. This was more on Brady's part than Jessica's. Brady even pulled a major alpha male moment that pissed me off. Yeah, I get why he did it - he thought he was doing the right thing but still, I thought Brady should have had more faith in Jessica.

There are many hardships that both Brady and Jessica face, one in the form of an old enemy of Brady's. This part of the story was done, classic western rancher vs. outlaw. There were also Brady's two brothers that I found interesting. Hank, the middle brother is portrayed as the big, strong, silent type. Liked him a bunch and have requested his book from the library. Jack, the youngest and most volatile of the three, got on my nerves. Good thing his book is third because he has some growing up to do. I really didn't care for his immaturity and found myself wishing he would follow through with his desire to leave the ranch.

There is a secondary story line related to the old enemy that adds a bit of drama to the overall story but I'm really not sure where it's going or if it's going anywhere. What I liked most was the western feel to the story and Brady. Yep, another book where the hero made the story for me. I did like Jessica but she felt a bit faded when compared to Brady. I like that she brought out this playful side of a very serious man. You got the impression that didn't have much time to be less than serious so when Jessica came along and made him laugh, it was like seeing another side to him. But she still came off as a fairly typical Englishwoman transplanted to the American west.

Overall, a good, solid read with a wonderful hero and a love story that left me satisfied and wanting to read more from this author.

Rating: B+

Pieces of Sky
Open Country
Chasing the Sun (January 2011)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cars, Purses and Vampire Love?

It's a lazy Saturday here. It's hot as, well, the desert in the summer. :) I've been searching for cars online (dh needs a new-used car) and they all started to look the same, probably because I was looking at the same type of cars. Anyway, I'm still searching but it will probably be either another Corolla or a Honda Civic. He drives about 85-90 miles a day to work and back so he needs a car with good gas mileage. His only requests are A/C and cruise control. He's easy to please. :)

I decided to take a break from looking at cars and started looking at purses and wallets. Found this purse and this one. And this wallet. I have two Fossil purses and wallet that I love! I started using backpack style purses when the boys were babies. A lot easier to keep out of the way when you're trying to shop with two little ones, a double stroller, toys and diaper bag in tow. Now that they're older, I've been looking at other styles. One thing that is a must is an outside pocket for my keys. I hate digging around for my keys.

Then got bored with that and went looking at e-books. I started at B&N and sorted by lowest price. I did find Susan Grant's Star trilogy(Star King, Star Prince, Star Princess) for $1.71 each which is a great price, except that I have those on the tbr pile. Then I hit the jackpot!

Some say the vampire craze is dying off. I say No Way! Not when there are still amazing vampire stories like The Cat The Canary and The Vampire to tell. And the cover - it speaks to me in ways you can not imagine.

From L&L Dreamspell Website ~

Sex, Murder, and a Crazy Cat Show.... Synchronicity--a Dangerous Love Connection....

Sexy celebrity author Andrew Augustine's book promotional tour was almost over. His last stop--Houston, Texas--the Gladstone Hotel's Mind and Body Conference. No ordinary man--Andrew was an immortal vampire--constantly on the prowl, always seeking a replacement for his long lost soul mate Samantha.

Devastated from yet another break-up, Valerie Stevenson thought she'd never find her 'Mr. Right.' Hopping into her blue sports car with her award winning Selkirk Rex cat, she headed for the Fall Frolic cat show at Houston's Gladstone Hotel. No idea she was driving into her future--with danger around every curve.

In the middle of everything, Chester the cat took center stage--at the cat show, a jewel heist--even in Valerie's secret relationship with a tall dark handsome mystery man. Playing around with a vampire was like playing with fire. Would Valerie's reckless desire lead to her own destruction?

I actually like the blurb - it sounds like it could be a decent read but that cover - OMG! It looks like a DIY cover with Jim Carey sportin' fake fangs. But... if you do like the cover - guess what? There's merchandise! T-shirts, hats, mugs, bags, even a bib. And a thong. Yep, tempting, I know. :)

I did buy an e-book, no, not the one above. I got Jade Tiger by Jenn Reese. It sounds good - different, which I like.

So, how's your weekend going? Any good reads lately?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Review: Tied Up, Tied Down

Tied Up, Tied Down
Lorelei James
Contemporary Erotic Romance
Rough Riders/Book 4
Samhain/July 2008

From the author's website ~

The strongest bonds are the ones unseen.

Businesswoman Skylar Ellison is firmly in control of her life. So getting tangled up with a sexy Wyoming cowboy - and conceiving a baby in the parking lot of a honky-tonk - wasn't in her plan. Since it appears the daddy has taken off for greener pastures, the only thing to do is pull up her bootstraps and carry on alone...

Cattle rancher Kade McKay returns home after a year on the range, and is knocked for a loop when he learns he's the father of a three-month-old baby girl. When Skylar refuses to marry him, Kade grits his teeth, moves in a plays house by her rules to prove he's a man in for the long haul.

Despite Skylar's insistence they are to remain strictly parenting partners, their old passions flare hot as ta brush fire,, spurring Kade to demand absolute sexual surrender from the headstrong woman. Skylar willingly submits her body to the hot-blooded cowboy but she's leery of handing Kade the reins to her heart.

Can Kade convince Skylar the wicked sex games aren't a temporary distraction? Or will he have to bust out the ropes to show her he wants to be tied to her... forever?

Warning: this book contains: no holes barred kinky sex scenes, wicked rope play, blunt language, and yowzw! lots of hot cowboy nekkedness.

If I were single and the Rough Riders were real, I'd move to Sundance, Wyoming. How can you resist those cowboys and more specifically the McKay cowboys? Tied Up, Tied Down is the story of Kade and Skylar and how they must over come their past mistrust and misunderstandings and make a life together for themselves and their daughter.

Kade McKay has been out of touch for the past year. He was working an isolated section of the ranch, living there alone with little contact with the outside world. He certainly didn't keep up on the town gossip of Sundance. So when he comes back home he's in for a surprise that's as cute as can be. I loved the scene when Kade first meets Eliza. He is dumbstruck and awed by his little girl. Kade is ready to step up and do what he considers the right thing by Skylar and their child. He doesn't convince Skylar to marry him but he does get her to agree to them living together so he can help with the care of Eliza.

Skylar is not used to relying on anyone, she's more accustomed to people using her and walking away. So when she finds herself pregnant and the father is nowhere to be found, she does what she always does, and takes on motherhood alone. When the missing father turns up Skylar is worn out. She's been hard at work at her factory, getting her company up and running. She's also a single mom who is sorely in need of help. She's skeptical of Kade's offer of help but after seeing him with Eliza and his heartfelt desire to help, she takes him up on his offer. It's not a conventional arrangement, at this point their main connection is their daughter.

The arrangement is to live together and share responsibility of Eliza who is still waking up during the night. I can't blame Skylar for accepting Kade's offer of help. She's working 24/7 with some assistance from her sister India but Skylar has a hard time accepting help. I do think part of her wants Kade not only in her daughter's life but in her own except she's not ready to admit that. Living in close proximity to a sexy cowboy whom she has strong feelings for leaves Skylar open to making their relationship more physical than what she had intended. As usual James' sex scenes are smoking hot with both Kade and Skylar showing their vulnerabilities. Kade gets quite imaginative in the bedroom, he even has a secret pirate/wench fantasy. LOL Not only did I find this to be an emotionally fulfilling read but it had that humor that I have come to expect from this series.

We do get to catch up with some of the other McKays that live and work in and around Sundance. It's always fun to see previous heroes/heroines and find out what has been happening with them since there HEA. There is also a developing relationship between Skylar's sister India and Kade's cousin Colt. I like the way the different secondary characters are woven into the main story, adding to the plot but never taking over the spotlight.

I'm nearly at the half-way point in this series and it's still going strong for me. It's labeled as erotic romance and it does have some very steamy, very sensual sex scenes but the building of the relationships is also well written. I'll keep reading this series as long as James keeps writing it!

Rating: B+

Reviews for Books 1-3

Long Hard Ride
Rode Hard, Put Up Wet
Cowgirl Up and Ride

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Review: Married by Morning

Married by Morning
Lisa Kleypas

Historical Romance (London/1852)

Hathaways/Book 4

St. Martin's Press/June 2010

Library book

From the back cover ~

He is everything she wants to avoid...

For two years, Catherine Marks has been a paid companion to the Hathaway sisters - a pleasant position, with one caveat. Her charges' older brother, Leo Hathaway, s thoroughly exasperating. Cat can hardly believe that their constant arguing could mask a mutual attraction. But when one quarrel ends in a sudden kiss, Cat is shocked at her powerful response - and even more so when Leo proposes a dangerous liaison.

She is not at all what she seems...

Leo must marry and produce an heir within a year to save his family home. Catherine's respectable demeanor hides a secret that would utterly destroy her. But to Leo, Cat is intriguing and infernally tempting, even to a man resolved never to love again. The danger Cat tried to outrun is about to separate them forever - unless two wary lovers can find a way to banish the shadows and give in to their desires...

Leo's book - finally! I have been so very curious about Leo since we first met him. He gives off this attitude of ready to indulge in whatever pleasures takes his fancy but there is so much more to Leo than his public persona. He is clearly devoted to his family. His sisters are the most important people in his life and he only wishes for their happiness. His happiness however, isn't truly important to him. He' d rather give off that rake hell attitude while denying himself what he really wants which is Marks.

Catherine Marks comes across as a very staid and proper governess. She is demure and knowledgeable in the ways of deportment. She is also very good at irritating Leo. I don't think she means to do it so much as Leo tends to drive her to it. He brings out this side of Marks that in turn irritates her. LOL They are quite amusing in their banter. It's obvious to everyone that there is something more than employer and employee between the two. It's also obvious that neither one wishes to act on the attraction that has been simmering for some time.

It isn't long before circumstances force Leo to confront his growing feelings for Marks, as he calls her. I liked how he called her Marks - in some ways it's more intimate than calling her by her first name. Men often call each other by their last names instead of first names, implying a closeness and camaraderie. Maybe that's what Leo was doing by dropping the Ms. and simply calling her Marks. Implying, whether he realized or not, that there was something more to their relationship than what was on the surface. He did have occasion to call her Cat as well. That certainly showed an intimacy but at that point Leo had acknowledge his need for her.

At times the story was a fairly standard romance - governess with secret past falls for lord, both resist, outside influences force h/h to confront feelings, give in to feelings, HEA. It's the in between parts that make it stand out and be more than typical. The way Leo and Marks (sorry, only way I can think of her) talked, yes talked, about their needs and wants and how they didn't let the other get away with less than the truth, that's what made this an above average romance. I liked how, when Leo would try to avoid serious conversation, Marks would call him on it. Leo has a tendency to use his dry humor to diffuse what he considers an uncomfortable situation. Marks didn't let him get away with that but instead made him feel comfortable talking with her.

It was good to have the Hathaway sisters and their spouses (except for Beatrix, who is unwed) in the story. I liked hearing Cam and Merripen's words of Rom wisdom and seeing how Poppy and Harry were faring. The main thing that caused this to be, while a good read, not a great read was the lack of warmth I felt for Marks. For Leo, I adored him. He is the type of historical hero I enjoy reading. He doesn't take himself or his position in society too serious but does care about the people he feels responsible for be they family or tenet farmers. And he has that dry humor that I love. With Marks, I don't know if it was her closed off, secretiveness that put me off from her but I found myself far less interested in reading what was going on in her head than when she was interacting with Leo. Perhaps the fact that I liked Leo so much overshadowed anything Marks could have done. Whatever it was, I did start to warm up to her by the end but by then, well, the story was pretty much over.

Even with the lack of warm fuzzies for Marks, Married by Morning was still a well written (hey, it's Kleypas) and entertaining romance. I'm looking forward to reading the last in the Hathaway series - Love in the Afternoon. It's Beatrix story and I'm intrigued by Beatrix. I feel we know so little about her - her animals seem to take center stage and Beatrix is merely their handler. It should be interesting to see inside her head.

Rating: B+

Monday, July 12, 2010

ARC Review: The Iron Daughter

The Iron Daughter
Julie Kagawa

Fantasy/Young Adult

Iron Fey/Book 2

Harlequin Teen/August 2010

ARC from Publisher/NetGalley

*Spoilers for previous book*

From the author's website ~

Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron Fey, iron-bound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her.

Worse, Meghan's own fey powers have been cut off. She's alone in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can't help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart.

If you haven't started this series, what are you waiting for? Seriously, it's an amazing world Kagawa has created with the Fae of the Summer and Winter Courts and the Iron Fey. Meghan is a heroine worthy of the title. So much happens within the pages! The continuation of Meghan's journey into the Nevernever and the land of the faery is filled with danger, heartbreak, laughter and love. I absolutely loved this book!

When we last saw Meghan she had made a deal with Ash, Prince of the Winter court. She agreed to go to Tir Na Nog, land of the Winter Fae, with Ash if he would help get her little brother back from the Iron King. Now it's time to make good on her word. As Meghan leaves her home with Ash, she's not sure if she'll ever return. It's heartbreaking when she has to say good bye to Ethan, her little brother. At this point you realize everything Meghan is giving up. Her whole sense of family and security is being left behind.

Meghan and Ash make a detour when traveling to the Nevernever, to check up on Meghan's best friend Robin Goodfellow aka Puck. He was seriously injured and is still recovering. Meghan's relationship with Puck has been undergoing some changes since she found out that he's not a high school kid like her but is part of the Summer court, sent to watch over her by her father, King Oberon. Puck is another person Meghan might lose. She must say good-bye, for now, and make her way with Ash to the Winter Court.

The Winter Court is cold, both literally and figuratively for Meghan. She is shown to her room and left there, forgotten. Of course she's not really forgotten. Mab, Queen of the Winter Court wouldn't forget Meghan but she knows Meghan isn't going anywhere. It's a scary time for Meghan. She's alone among the Unseelie who wouldn't mind using her as a chew toy. She has no allies in the Winter Court and she doesn't know where Ash is. All she knows is that she must rely on herself to survive.

Ash, Prince of the Winter Court, is very conflicted. He tells Meghan over and over that Summer and Winter are enemies and that will never change. There is a beautiful scene where Ash is telling Meghan that she can't trust anyone, not even him. That he must do whatever Mab tells him to do even if it means killing Meghan. Meghan simply says to him "I trust you", undoing Ash with her honesty and faith in him. He really doesn't know how to deal with her. Until he met her, everything was black and white for him. The Fae of the Summer Court were the enemy. Period. With Meghan, Ash is constantly forced to rethink that idea as he continues to fall further in love with her.

At the Winter Court ice is everywhere giving off a coldness that goes clear to the bones. Danger and intrigue fill the court with Meghan right in the middle, her life always in peril. I loved how the author reminds the reader that while Meghan finds herself in adult situations and has to make adult decisions, she's still a teenager. At one point she finds herself facing a group of mean girls - Unseelie style - with the girls threatening her life if she so much as looks at Ash again. And Meghan crying into her pillow over Ash's coldness remind us that Meghan may be fey but she's also a human teenager with emotions that don't always conform to the cold logic of the fey.

As I read I kept wondering what would happen next because I really didn't know how it would all play out. What did happen, I could not have predicted and Kagawa took me by surprise with the some of the twists that proved Ash correct when he said not to trust anyone. But there are also some surprises in who Meghan can trust. A pack made with an old enemy takes Meghan on a dangerous quest. So much rides on the outcome and Meghan is under such pressure that you would think she would break. She doesn't break but she does crack which I thought added to the believability of her character. Had she been stalwart and continue to overcome all the obstacles without any breakdown, her humanity would have felt fake instead of genuine.

The adversities that Meghan and her friends must overcome are at times nearly insurmountable and there is never any guarantee that they will all survive. The story arc and character development continues to move forward with changes in perception and beliefs. The surprises that the characters encounter not only make them rethink their beliefs but make them rethink what they believe in.

The Iron Fey are again proving to be serious adversaries to Meghan and her allies. I enjoyed reading about the Iron Fey and their continued immersion into the 21st century. They way they manipulate their surroundings and fight the other Fey is exciting and devious. The fight scenes kept me on the edge and the outcome wasn't always what I expected. And the participants - Kagawa's descriptions of the various creatures are so vivid and very creepy. It all felt remarkably real to me, odd I know. While I knew Meghan had to win in the end, I didn't know who the casualties might be along the way. I found myself completely entertained and enthralled by this tale of good and evil where everything isn't always black and white.

In every war and the battles that are part of that war, there are casualties. Towards the end my heart was breaking for Meghan and Ash. After everything she went through, the losses and painful decisions, Meghan finds herself at a crossroads with only one real choice. I loved how Meghan and Ash's relationship not only evolved but the way it evolved made complete sense.

The world Kagawa has created is wild, dark and menacing - leaving you wondering what's lurking in those dark corners. But it's also filled with wonderful surprises of friendship, love and hope. I can't wait to find out what happens to Meghan in The Iron Queen, book 3 in the series, due out in February 2011.

Rating: A+

My review of The Iron King (book 1)

Link to free read, Winter's Passage. This should be read after The Iron King and before The Iron Daughter. (free download until July 31, 2010)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Future Young Adult Releases...

With a teenager in the house that loves to read, I'm always on the look out for YA books. We usually get most of them from the library, since many are released in hardcover and would break the budget if I bought every book she read. If you have a teen reader or are like me and enjoy reading YA, here's a few upcoming releases to either add to your wishlist or request from the library. :)

Winter Longing by Tricia Mills (Trish Milburn)

Winter Craig finally gets up the nerve and tells her long-time friend Spencer that she likes him as more than a friend. The best part? Spencer likes her as more than a friend too. With the perfect boy to love and be loved by, she begins her senior year at her small Alaska school and indulges in the dream of becoming a costume designer for the movie industry. Life is perfect — until tragedy strikes. Winter’s perfect life turns upside down as she deals with an unbearable loss, doubts about her future, a best friend whose home life is getting worse by the day, and unexpected feelings for an unexpected boy. (Razorbill/August 12, 2010)

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Magic is dangerous - but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos. Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length . . . everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world. . . . and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all. (Margaret K. McElderry/August 31, 2010/Infernal Devices/Book 1)

Empty by Suzanne Weyn

It's the near future - the very near future - and the fossil fuels are running out. No gas. No oil. Which means no driving. No heat. Supermarkets are empty. Malls have shut down. Life has just become more local than we ever knew it could be.

Nobody expected the end to come this fast. And in the small town of Spring Valley, decisions that once seemed easy are quickly becoming matters of life and death. There is hope - there has to be hope - just there are also sacrifices that need to be made, and a whole society that needs to be rethought.

Teens like Nicki, Tom, and Leila may find what they need to survive. But their lives are never going to be the same again. (Scholastic Press/October 1, 2010)

Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British navy. It can swallow enemy battleships with one bite. The Darwinists will need it, now that they are at war with the Clanker powers.

Deryn is a girl posing as a boy in the British Air Service, and Alek is the heir to an empire posing as a commoner. Finally together aboard the airship Leviathan, they hope to bring the war to a halt. But when disaster strikes the Leviathan's peacekeeping mission, they find themselves alone and hunted in enemy territory.

Alek and Deryn will need great skill, new allies, and brave hearts to face what's ahead. (Simon Pulse/October 5, 2010/Leviathan series/Book 2)

They all sound interesting to me. I still need to read Westerfeld's Leviathan before reading Behemoth. I didn't include Suzanne Collins' Mockingjay cause everybody knows about that! And I still need to read Catching Fire!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Review: One Reckless Summer

One Reckless Summer
Toni Blake

Contemporary Romance

Destiny/Book 1

Avon Books/June 2009

Library Book

From the back cover ~

It's tough to play it cool on a sultry summer night .

The perfect daughter. The perfect prom queen. The perfect wife. Jenny Tolliver's been the good girl all her life, and it's gotten her nowhere. Now that her marriage has been busted up by her cheating ex, she's decided it's time to regroup and rediscover herself. This summer she's headed back to her hometown of Destiny, Ohio, to the very lakeshore cottage where she grew up, to figure out what life holds in store for her next.

She never dreamed the answer would be Mick Brody, Destiny's #1 hellraiser. He comes from the wrong side of the tracks (or in his case, the lake), and he's landed in hot water more times than he can count. He's exactly the kind of guy Jenny's always kept her distance from . . . but soon the good girl and the bad boy are caught in a raw heat that's out of control. Too bad Mick's got a secret that threatens to tear them apart and ruin Jenny's perfectly, passionately reckless summer . . .

I'm slowly expanding my list of contemporary romance authors to read. I've now added Toni Blake to that list. In One Reckless Summer, Blake brings home two very different characters who find each other while hiding from the outside world. They're both hiding for different reasons and they both need to get past those reasons, before they can move on with their lives.

Jenny Tolliver is so sweet it makes her sick sometimes. She wants to break away from her reputation of sweetness but she's not sure how. Coming back to Destiny and back to the house where she grew up, brings back so very many memories. But it's the man across the lake that brings back some of the strongest memories. Jenny has no husband, no home and no job. But she does have some good friends and a father that loves her dearly. She's come home to take some time and figure out where to go from here. I found myself routing for Jenny. She's really hit bottom and you'd think things couldn't get worse for her, but then she literally runs into bad boy Mick Brody. He's kinda scary but some of that comes from the reputation he had in high school. When Jenny sees him she's a little scared but also intrigued. She wasn't expecting him to be there and the attraction she wished she hadn't felt for him in high school is back. So what's a girl to do but have hot sex in the woods. Yep, told you Jenny wanted to shed that sweetheart imagine. LOL

Mick Brody earned his bad boy rep in his teens but that was years ago and now he's a changed man, mostly. He's back in Destiny, a place he never thought he'd come back to and he's got a wish to fulfill. When he runs into Jenny it's really weird because he's yelling at her to get off his property and telling her not to tell anyone he's there. Then he's kissing her and taking her clothes off. Then comes the hot sex in the woods with his bare ass on the ground - that part made me laugh! Talk about mixed signals. After the sex it's back to "stay off my property and don't tell anyone I'm here" threats. Jenny, bless her heart, tells him to go to hell. You go girl!

You how when someone tells you not to tell anyone something but you've just got to tell someone? Well, Jenny just had to tell her best friend Sue Ann about the wild woodland sex with Mick Brody cause that's what bffs do. Sue Ann of course is shocked, and wants all the deets. :) This book had me laughing at some of the crazy small town logic - Mick is probably a criminal but hey, if the sex is really good... LOL Anyways, Sue Ann promises not to tell anyone but both women are wondering what Mick is doing back in town and why it has to be a secret.

The story progresses with Jenny and Mick spending more time together and having sex just about everywhere, they can't seem to stop themselves! Mick's secret is revealed and now Jenny has to decided if she should keep that secret too. It really puts her in a difficult position and I wasn't too happy with how Mick handled it. I understand why he was doing what he was but when Jenny found out, he should have come clean and not asked her to keep it from her father, the cop.

The attraction between Jenny and Mick keeps getting stronger but they don't know if it can go anywhere. The good girl taking up with the bad boy in a small town is always fodder for the gossips. Blake has some colorful characters in Destiny who give it that small town feel. The reason that came between Jenny and Mick was somewhat standard romance fare but in the end it all worked out and both characters showed some growth and maturity.

I did have a few minor problems with the story. The sex scenes were smoking hot but sometimes they just went on wee bit too long. And I wish Jenny had stood up to Mick when she found out his secret. She wanted to support him by doing what she felt was right but it also meant lying to her dad. And the misunderstand at the end - boy, talk about good intentions and that road to hell. It created conflict but I do wish Mick had had more faith in Jenny. Even so, I'll definitely be taking a trip back to Destiny by reading Sugar Creek, book 2.

Rating: B

Monday, July 5, 2010

Belated Happy July 4th...

Yesterday, here in the states, was Independence Day. The day that we celebrate our break from the British. It's celebrated with parades and cookouts and fireworks. Here's how we celebrated.

With some of this ~

And some of this ~

And this ~

And of Course This ~

And Definitely Some of This ~

But Very Little of This ~

The long weekend is almost over and I've read very little but still had fun. As a bonus - the house is really clean! LOL Whenever my mom comes over I always clean stuff I normally don't clean. She's not at all picky so not sure why I do it, I just do. :)

And the third picture with my middle kid Ryan and the food - notice the green bags in the wine rack? Those are empty bags of Sun Chips - Christine's influence. LOL Youngest and I love those chips and have been saving the bags to bury once we deem we have enough of them. :D

Those of you that celebrated yesterday - I hope you had fun and stayed safe. And to those that have to work today - Thanks! Especially my local Target employees cause I'll be stopping by later. :)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Best of 2010 - So Far...

The reading for the first half of 2010 has been up and down. Some great reads that I know will stay with me for a long time while others will fade from my memory, if they haven't already.

I got out the spreadsheet, sorted by grade and looked over all the A grades. There were 27 A grades with only one A+. Fourteen As and twelve A-s. I decided to pick 5 8 to spotlight of the Best So Far. I picked the ones that really stood out for me and are still stuck in my head. Titles are linked to my review.

Here they are in no particular order ~

Silver Borne by Patrica Briggs

One of my top 5 favorite Urban Fantasy series. I love the world that Briggs has created. The characters are so vivid for me. The phrase "they come alive" really applies to this series.

My Soul to Keep by Rachel Vincent

An excellent Young Adult series that continues to give the reader great character development and story lines. If you are looking for a new YA series, give this one a try.

A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh

Ah, my love for Balogh's writing goes way back, twenty years or so. She delivers such beautiful characters with intriguing stories and A Matter of Class was no exception.

Shades of Dark by Linnea Sinclair

This is the second book in the Dock Five series as well as the second book about Sully and Chaz. I liked Gabriel's Ghost(book 1) a whole bunch but I liked Shades a bit more. Amazing characters, fascinating setting.

Cowgirl Up and Ride by Lorelei James

Oh, boy! So damn happy to have finally started this series. I've enjoyed all the books but this one stands out as being such a funny and emotional read. Loved AJ and Cord!

The Texan's Wager by Jodi Thomas

This was a re-read of Jodi Thomas, another author who I read years ago. She can write some wonderful westerns with unique characters that you wouldn't expect to find in a historical romance.

Roadkill by Rob Thurman

Another top 5 Urban Fantasy series. This is UF and there is a lot of action but Thurman can write relationships like nobodys business. She is truly a gifted author and you're missing out if you're not reading this series.

Darkness Calls by Marjorie M. Liu

Liu's writing is the type that pulls you into the world she's created and makes you to feel what her characters are feeling, whether you want to or not. A dark, gritty series with equal parts action and emotion. I love Maxine's boys. :)

I know I said 5 then changed it to 8 but I had to include the following 2 because they were very good and I would certainly recommend them. And that makes it a top 10 list and isn't that what people usually do? :)

I'll have the review for The Iron Daughter up next week. The review for Chimera is a buddy review with Nath that will be posted at Breezing Through. Titles are linked to the author's website.

The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa ~ A+

You can tell from the grade why I included this in the list. Lets just say I had some serious love for this book. It blew me away with its intensity. Definitely one to read.

Chimera by Rob Thurman ~ A

Another brother/brother story, focused on their relationship but different enough from her Cal Leandros series to make it stand apart.

An overwhelming majority of Fantasy. I did read some good contemporaries but it looks like for now at least, my heart belongs to the Fantasy genre. Here's hoping the second half of the year brings us all some great reads!