Monday, November 29, 2010

Review: Indulgence in Death

Indulgence in Death
J. D. Robb
Futuristic Romantic Suspense
In Death/Book 31 (plus 7 novellas)
Putnam/November 2010

*Potential Spoilers for Previous Books*

From the inside cover ~

First it was a limo driver shot through the neck with a crossbow. Then it was a high-priced escort found stabbed through the heart with a bayonet.

Random hits, thrill kills, murderers with a taste for the finer things in life-and death-are making NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas angry. And an angry Eve can be just as an efficient and dangerous predator as the killer.

As time runs out on another innocent victim's life, Eve's investigation will take her into the rarefied circle that her husband, Roarke, travels in-and into the perverted heart of

After thirty-eight stories about Eve and Roarke, Peabody and McNab, Feeney and all the rest of the gang you would think this series would slow down, become boring or just feel like the same story rehashed over and over. There have been some books I liked better than others but the overall feel of the series has stayed constant. The characters continue to develop and progress in their relationships with Eve making the greatest internal changes.

The story starts with Eve and Roarke on holiday, visiting Roarke's family in Ireland. Eve can't seem to get away from dead bodies, she finds one in Ireland. It seems Ireland is full of surprises. The relationship with Roarke's family continues to surprise Eve, both with their easy acceptance of her and her comfort around them. I enjoy seeing this side of Eve, her ability to adjust to situations where Dallas the cop may feel out of place but Eve the wife is learning to fit in.

The holiday ends and it's back to the city Eve loves. It doesn't take long before she's caught a case, an unusual one. Man dead by crossbow. Not something you expect to see in the city. It turns out Dallas and Peabody will get even more unusual murders before they put a stop to it. I've come to realize that I like the books when we don't know who the killer or killers are. I like the investigative aspects and when we find out early on who did it, that seems to lessen the importance of the investigation and by degrees, my enjoyment of the story. I'd much rather be surprised by the identity of the murder. Or at the least, figure it out but still have the tiniest smidgen of doubt until the last minute when Eve does her big reveal. Indulgence in Death didn't work that way and I think that's what made this a slower read for me. Since we find out early on who Eve will be "locking up in a cage" as she puts it, I had a hard time drumming up that urgency to get to the end and find out who did it. I already knew!

So the investigation didn't wow me but I did like the relationships in this one. Eve is once again learning all about friendships and how they need that give and take to make them work. She is learning to give more of herself to her friends. You certainly get that Eve was not used to giving much of herself outside of her work until Roarke and then Peabody came into her life. She had Mavis and that was pretty much it. Feeney to a lesser extent but he was part of the job. This time we see some of Morris and Eve's camaraderie of not only the job but also the mutual respect and friendship. They remind me of a close brother and sister relationship. They kid around, tease each other a bit but underneath it all there's that deep concern and love.

Speaking of love, I do love Roarke. He's got everything a hero should have but... you'd almost think he didn't have a job. LOL Once again Roarke is able to set aside his bid for world domination to help Eve work her case. This can get to me at times. Roarke gets too involved in the cases, spending far too much time working on them when he is this inter-planetary billionaire with so much work of his own. I find I have to bend reality a little to make his involvement plausible.

While not a favorite, still a worthwhile read. Wish it had had the big reveal but Indulgence did give me moments of truly laugh out loud, shake my head, enjoyment. These characters have cemented themselves into my reading life and I never want to give them up.

Rating: B

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Review: Reaper

Rachel Vincent
Young Adult/Urban Fantasy
Soul Screamers/Novella
Harlequin Teen/December 2010

From Books on Board ~

The story of how Tod died and was recruited as a reaper . . .

Tod Hudson was a typical teenager. He liked girls, sports, food and tolerated his younger brother, Nash. In fact, he had his whole life in front of him--and due to his bean sidhe heritage, it was going to be a very long life indeed. And then the car accident occurred.

Suddenly Tod's future wasn't so sure, and he had to make a choice. Life . . . Death . . . or something Between . . . .

A couple of things first. This is a novella of approximately 17,000 words. Most full length novels run closer to 90,000 to 100,000. Reaper comes in at 64 pages in Adobe Digital Editions. The great news is that it's free right now! Yes, you can go right now and download it for free from Books on Board in Adobe PDF format. It's showing up at places like Amazon and B&N for pre-order, set to release on December 1 for $2.99 (minus discounts). If you don't want to pay for it, Ms. Vincent has said it will be available for free on her website. Personally, I think this is a great way to introduce new readers to Ms. Vincent's writing and get current readers excited about the next release in the series, My Soul to Steal (January 1).

As you can see from the blurb, the story is from Tod's perspective, telling about the events that led up to him becoming a reaper. But that really simplifies this little gem of a story. Those of you that have read the previous books in the series know who Tod is and, if you're like me, want to know more. This is the more. Tod is complex in a way that only a teenage guy could be. He likes hanging out with friends, his girlfriend and partying. He finds his little brother irritating as only little brothers can be. He loves his mom but doesn't always listen to her. See, a typical teenager. Tod's also smart, he gets the consequences to his decisions. He's loyal and loves his family so fiercely, he'll do anything to keep them safe.

I loved this look at the series from Tod's POV. He's a character that we've gotten to know through the series but still leaves us so many questions. In Reaper, we get to see what makes him tick, what drives him to make difficult decisions and still maintain that smart ass humor that is oh, so Tod. It was also heartbreaking, making me tear up a bit and feel Tod's sorrow and regrets coming through in Vincent's writing.

This novella only adds to the layers of this series. Since the bean sidhe are all about the dying, it's not surprising that reapers are part of their world. In Tod's world, there are rules that he doesn't mind bending and even breaking a little. Tod showed how mature he could be and gave this reader a greater appreciation for his part in Nash's life. I hope we get more of Tod and possibly his POV in future books. Since he's an integral part of Nash and now Kaylee's life, I can't imagine we've see the last of him.

Rating: A

My reviews for books in this series ~

My Soul to Take
My Soul to Save
My Soul to Keep

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What Are You Thankful For?

Hey All ~

I'm over at Access Romance's Readers Gab today talking about - yep, what I'm thankful for. Come on over and chime in on the discussion. I'll bet you can guess my answer. :)

And Happy Thanksgiving to those of you that celebrate turkey day. If you're traveling over this holiday weekend, may your trip be safe.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

ARC Review: Kiss Across Swords

Kiss Across Swords
Teal Ceagh
Erotic UF/Time Travel/MMF
Time-Crossed Love/Book 2
Ellora's Cave/November 2010

From the author's website ~

Taylor Yates never dreamed growing up she would end up happily living with two drop-dead sexy vampires and time-hopping through their thousand years of personal history. Her life is complete…or is it?

When she finds herself at the siege of Jerusalem during the first crusade, Veris doesn’t know her at all and doesn’t want to. Worst of all, he and Brody are total strangers, and Taylor drives a wedge in deep between them by trying to seduce Veris at their first meeting—not something a lady of the day does if she wants to keep her head.

Taylor and Brody must woo Veris using the customs of medieval England, win his heart and his full commitment before Jerusalem falls in four days time—or when they return to their own time, their lives as they know them will be gone…

After reading Kiss Across Time, the novella where Taylor meets and falls for vampires Brody and Veris, it was easy to get into their continuing story in Kiss Across Swords. It's been four years since the three became lovers and now Taylor wants to be turned. The only problem is Brody and Veris are not completely on board with the idea. The past is very much in the present with both men having strong feelings about the significance of turning a human to a vampire.

The time travel they had previously done bore no ill effects but now things are changing and Taylor might lose her lovers. This time Brody and Taylor time travel back to when Brody and Veris first met. Taylor being there causes a disruption in Veris and Brody's past. When they should have become lovers, Veris now thinks Taylor is Brody's wife and tries to keep his distance from them.

The scenes when Brody is telling Taylor how he and Veris first became lovers all those centuries ago I found to be very erotic. These two men are warriors but they are also very sensual men. Ceagh shows the reader how beautiful and seductive two men can be when they unleash their desires for each other. I don't read a lot of books with m/m but I found the love story between Brody and Veris moving and powerful. This time, with Veris not knowing Brody or Taylor, both of them took part in seducing Veris. I loved reading about when Brody and Veris first met. How they came to know each other and built their bond over the centuries. It wasn't easy for Taylor and Brody to get Veris to trust them and begin to form that bond.

This is a time travel and through that travel we get to explore the land of the Crusades. The history in the story is fascinating. When Veris and Brody first meet it's 1099 and they are fighting in the first Crusade. The feel of that time and place comes through in the descriptions of the land, the people and the politics. It was interesting to see how 21st century Brody and Taylor especially, acted in a time from so long ago.

All three characters are well developed with distinct personalities. Brody is the peacemaker and tends to defer to Veris, believing him to be the more intelligent of them. Veris is more stoic, exhibiting a calm demeanor. He is a man that keeps much to himself and likes to think things through before acting. I saw Taylor as a bit of a wild card. She's intelligent and thoughtful but can let her temper loose when angered. She also loves very fiercely and shows it through her actions and selflessness with Brody and Veris. The author did a wonderful job showing the give and take between these three.

The story was filled with history, passion and emotional love scenes between three unique individuals. It's a romance that has a number of elements, all combined to make a very captivating story. I'm looking forward to reading more in this imaginative series.

Rating: A-

Monday, November 22, 2010

Review: Shade

Jeri Smith-Ready
Young Adult/Urban Fatansy
Shade series/Book 1
Simon Pulse/May 2010

From the inside cover ~

Best. Birthday. Ever. At least, it was supposed to be. With Logan's band playing a critical gig and Aura's plans for an intimate after-party, Aura knows it will be the most memorable night of her boyfriend's life. She never thought it would be his last.

Logan's sudden death leaves Aura devastated. He's gone.

Well, sort of.

Like everyone born after the Shift, Aura can see and hear ghosts. This mysterious ability has always been annoying, and Aura had wanted nothing more than to figure out why the Shift happened so she can undo it. But not with Logan’s violet-hued spirit still hanging around. Because dead Logan is almost as real as ever. Almost.

It doesn't help that Aura’s new friend Zachary is so understanding—and so very alive. His support means more to Aura than she cares to admit.

As Aura's relationships with the dead and the living grow ever complicated, so do her feelings for Logan and Zachary. Each holds a piece of Aura's heart…and clues to the secret of the Shift.

There are a few of Ms. Smith-Ready's adult novels on my tbr pile but when I saw this one at the library I had to get it. I had planned to get it when it came out but, it got lost in the shuffle. It's not that I need to start yet another series, believe me I don't. It's not that I'm heavy into young adult novels or getting them for the teen. In fact, she hasn't read this one yet, she's re-reading her Mercedes Lackey books, again. I simply love Smith-Ready's writing and the premise of the story intrigued me.

In a world where kids can see and hear the dead, it maybe be cool at first but can become annoying fairly quickly. For Aura, it's been annoying for a while. She works for her Aunt Gina who provides legal counsel for the dead. Since Aura can see and speak with the dead, she acts as a translator. Aura isn't all work, she's a high school student with a boyfriend who's in a band. She's busy with her friends and school. Just a regular teenager. It's when things go horribly wrong that Aura begins to realize that she may not be just a regular teenager. She was the first one born after the Shift and the significance of that will play into Aura's future.

Wouldn't it be weird if teens has this power to see what adults couldn't? It puts them in a unique position. But there's more to it than just seeing ghosts. Aura is determined to find out why the Shift happened. She teams up with the new guy at school, Zachary, to work on her research of what caused the Shift. She doesn't tell anyone, afraid they'll think she's crazy, but Zach figures it out. But Aura isn't the only one keeping secrets. Zach is keeping some pretty big ones too.

Since Aura grew up after the Shift seeing ghosts has always been part of her life. But when that ghost is your dead boyfriend, that makes it odd in a way she wouldn't have imagined. After Logan dies, he visits Aura and she's happy he's there but she knows he needs to move on. The problem is that the circumstances of Logan's death are not cut and dry and Aura finds herself in the middle of the conflict. Aside from typical teen issues, Aura certainly has some unique ones. Her boyfriend is dead and is now a ghost and there's the new boy at school that she finds herself attracted too. Nothing like a little love triangle, no matter how odd, to add drama to a teens' life.

The world building is first rate with ghosts part of society. The government, of course, is involved and not always on the side of the innocent. I liked how Smith-Ready incorporated the various government entities into this world that now includes ghosts and the more darker Shades. The Shades are the ghosts that basically turn mean. They are not bound by the elemental laws that govern the standard ghost. The Shades are powerful and dangerous, something to fear. Loved that twist that made this so much more than just a simple ghost story.

So, it's another YA series I'll be adding to my reading list. I enjoyed this different take on ghosts and Aura's world. I'm curious to see where Aura is heading and hope the next book, Shift, (May 3, 2011) will answer some of the questions that Shade left us with.

Rating: A-

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Review: Kiss Across Time

Kiss Across Time
Teal Ceagh
Erotic UF/Time Travel/MMF
Time-Crossed Lovers/Book 1
Ellora's Cave/May 2010

From the author's website ~

Taylor Yates just got fired from her university for insisting that the 5th Century British poet and playwright, Inigo Domhnall, existed. When she hears the poet’s lyrics in a death metal song, she engineers a meeting with the dark-eyed, dark-haired lead singer, Brody Gallagher. An unintended kiss sends them spinning back to the poet’s time, when Saxons were pillaging King Arthur’s Britain, and a warrior expects a proper farewell from his woman before he sets off for war.

Brody’s all for kissing her again. More, he’d like her to try kissing his friend and lover, Veris, just to see what will happen. His blond, tall, blue-eyed Saxon friend Veris.

Kiss Across Time is the first book in a unique time travel series. The heroes are centuries old vampires who find their mate in Taylor Yates, a 21st century woman. What makes the relationship even more exceptional is the fact that they can time travel with a kiss. Yes, they kiss and are transported back in time. I love that part!

When Taylor shows up at the concert for the death metal band Noctural Rain, it isn't just to hear the music. She also wants to meet the man who wrote their songs. She needs to get backstage and find this songwriter. Her backstage pass comes in the form of a kiss. Kisses and kissing are obviously important in this series. I liked how a simple kiss becomes so much more within the story line.

Taylor meets not only lead singer Brody Gallagher but his lover Veris and both men know there is something very special about Taylor. She is open minded which is good since she's about to take two vampires as her lovers. The plot moves quickly with both Brody and Veris trying to show Taylor why she's so important to them as they seduce her into going home with them.

The three can hardly keep their hands off each other. There are some wickedly hot sex scenes as all three lovers enjoy exploring the new dimension of having three people in the bed or limo or wherever they may be. *grins* Taylor isn't a prude and she's very attracted to both men and wants to act on that attraction. She also needs Brody and Veris if she wants to find the answers about the poet, Inigo Domhnall, that she's spent so many years researching.

There is a lot of history packed into this novella. We learn some things about Brody and Veris' pasts and how their relationship has evolved over the centuries. We see some parts of the workings of the vampire world, learning how these vamps function among humans. Both of these men are powerful, older vampires but their not evil vamps, merely comfortable with who they are. The links between Veris, Brody and Taylor are far more than what they first seem and as the story continues, we see how connected their lives really are.

Kiss Across Time was a quick read and gave this series a solid start with three interesting main characters. I really enjoyed the time travel aspect of the story and looked forward to seeing more of that in the second book. Kiss Across Swords (book 2) continues the story of Taylor, Brody and Veris, and what happens when two vampires become a threesome with a human while doing some major time travel.

Rating: B+

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cowboys & Aliens Movie Trailer...

Cowboys must be the new vampires. Can you imagine a western Twilight? Cowboys & Aliens comes out next summer and it's a western - love westerns! With Daniel Craig & Harrison Ford. And cowboys with some cool alien toys. It sounds silly and has a cheesy title but still. . .

Blurb ~
1873. Arizona Territory. A stranger (Craig) with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution. The only hint to his history is a mysterious shackle that encircles one wrist. What he discovers is that the people of Absolution don't welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde (Ford). It's a town that lives in fear.

But Absolution is about to experience fear it can scarcely comprehend as the desolate city is attacked by marauders from the sky. Screaming down with breathtaking velocity and blinding lights to abduct the helpless one by one, these monsters challenge everything the residents have ever known.

Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation. As this gunslinger slowly starts to remember who he is and where he's been, he realizes he holds a secret that could give the town a fighting chance against the alien force. With the help of the elusive traveler Ella (Olivia Wilde), he pulls together a posse comprised of former opponents-townsfolk, Dolarhyde and his boys, outlaws and Apache warriors-all in danger of annihilation. United against a common enemy, they will prepare for an epic showdown for survival.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

TBR Challenge Review: The Surgeon

The Surgeon
Kate Bridges
Historical Romance/Calgary 1889
Canadian Mounties/Book 1
Harlequin/December 2003

From the back page ~

A wife shouldn't be a surprise package.

But Mountie surgeon John Calloway suddenly found himself saddled with a special delivery he hadn't signed for - mail-order bride Sarah O'Neill. He had no room in his life for marriage! But why then did he feel compelled to protect Sarah from all things dark and dangerous - including her own unspoken past?

If John Calloway didn't want her, fine! Sarah would survive - an thrive! - without him! The rugged, committed doctor dismissed his proposal as an elaborate prank. So how come the two of them kept finding themselves in each other's arms? And what would Sarah be forced to deny in order to stay there?

One of my favorite romance tropes is the mail-order bride. I don't know why, maybe it's the sense of adventure. The mystery of two people getting to know each other after promising to "love, honor & obey". I think part of the appeal is that the mail-order bride almost always heads west and I love westerns. This month's pick for the TBR Challenge is a Kate Bridges Harlequin. I had a number of Ms. Bridges titles to choose from but chose this simply because it is her first novel.

The Surgeon refers to Dr. John Calloway, a Canadian Mountie stationed at Fort Calgary, Alberta. Dr. Calloway is not just a doctor but also a policeman. He has a very black and white outlook on criminals and never forgets that he is a member of the North-West Mounted Police. John holds the admiration and respect of the men at the fort. He is also a bachelor and at 40 years old, an old bachelor. His men decide to change that with the arrival of Sara O'Neill.

Sarah O'Neill has a unique past for a women of her time. Her father was a gunsmith and a watchmaker who taught Sarah both trades. She comes to Calgary in the hopes of not only becoming a bride but finding her brother. It's with happiness that Sarah greets her intended, only to learn that he knows nothing about her. She is horrified at the turn of events and has little recourse but to find a job so she can stay in Calgary and search for her brother. After a misunderstanding and small town gossip, Sarah and John marry. Their marriage doesn't have the best beginning but they do try to make a go of it.

The reality of the marriage is that Sarah and John are strangers. They have a physical attraction and act on that attraction but they still don't know each other. Sarah wants this to be a real marriage and works towards that end. John wants that too but he doesn't change his routine or his attitude when it comes to making decisions. John was a very static character through most of the book. His harsh view of right and wrong keeps Sarah from telling him why she is searching through records and keeping secrets from him. It takes a dangerous situation to make John realize that life isn't always black and white.

The life at a fort in the Canadian wilderness is harsh and beautiful and not the life for the weak. Sarah is able to fit in through sheer tenacity. She makes a few friends and assists John with his patients. I got why John didn't trust Sarah after he discovered she was hiding something from him but he was so unbending in his views. He was attracted to her but didn't trust her which made him really grouchy! He wasn't any easy hero to like and I never really warmed up to him.

Sarah I liked and thankfully she didn't fall into that trap of relying on her man after marrying. She was still an independent woman with her own beliefs, even when they differed from John's. In some ways the story followed a predictable pattern. With John and Sarah falling in lust before love. Misunderstandings and distrust driving a wedge between them. Then a crisis that brings them together. I liked how Sarah and John worked together, even when they were at odds with each other. And the descriptions of the fort and life at outpost town were interesting and kept this from being merely an okay story.

The setting is different and the Mounties are an added bonus. I only wish I liked the hero more. He came across as too stiff and set in his ways. He was lucky to have a woman like Sarah but he took too long to appreciate her, letting his inflexible convictions stand in the way of his happiness. Still, a quick, entertaining read.

Rating: B

Monday, November 15, 2010

Review: Happy Ever After

Happy Ever After
Nora Roberts
Contemporary Romance
Bride Quartet/Book 4
Berkley/November 2010

From the inside cover ~

Parker Brown turned the quartet's childhood game of Wedding Day into their dream jobs. And now she's the face of Vows - the one who meets every bride's demands; keeps every event on schedule; and brings Emma's romantic flowers, Laurel's delicious treats, and Mac's stunning photography together intone glorious package. She knows how to make dreams come true. . .

Mechanic Malcolm Kavanaugh loves figuring out how things work, and Parker Brown - with her mile-long legs - is no exception. But as a good friend of Parker's brother, Mal knows that moving from minor flirtation to major hookup is a serious step.

No man has rattled Parker in a long time, but the motorcycle-riding, raven-haired Mal seems to have a knack for it. His passionate kisses always catch her off guard, much like her growing feelings for him. Parker's business risks have always paid off, but now she'll have to take the chance of a lifetime with her heart.

Sigh. The last book. I was thrilled to finally read Parker and Mal's story but at the same time was sad to see this series end. I loved spending time with the women of Vows. Along with their heroes, they are such a diverse and fascinating group of characters. The four women are really the core of the series. It's their hopes and ambitions that drive not only their business but each other. They cheer each other on, provide encouragement and that shoulder to cry on when needed. We should all be so lucky to have friends like these.

Parker Brown is an intensely, organized woman. She has to be to deal with brides-to-be 24/7. Not to mention their sometimes equally crazy and annoying family members. But she does it with class and style. She's a brilliant diplomat and her organizational skills are unmatched. It sounds like she would be hard to get to know and possibly hard to like but she's not. Parker is a character that we could all use in our lives. She's that friend that you know will be there for you. When she says she'll get something done, you know she means it.

Mal - oh boy, did I like Mal. He's smart and sexy on his big, bad motorcycle. But he also loves his mom and has a great relationship with her. That, I think, is sexy too! So often we see very little of the hero's family. Maybe a sibling but rarely much of the parents. Mal's mom, Kay Kavanaugh, was right there and it was clear she was a big part of his life. They not only worked together but they also lived next to each other. That's not to say she was interfering. Just a little and only when her son needed that kick-in-the-pants that only a mother can give. :)

Mal was a hero that also knew how to push and when to pull back. He definitely pushed Parker when she needed it. He was also understanding about her work ethic and didn't give her a hard time about taking business calls during their dates. It was important that Parker be with someone who understood that Vows was a huge part of her life. If Mal had come off with an attitude of resentment towards Parker's work, it would have made them unbelievable as a couple. Instead, they worked as a couple because they had respect for each other.

On the surface, Parker and Mal are an odd couple. Parker is this polished, sophisticated, high society woman. Mal is a man who enjoys getting dirty and working with his hands. His idea of dressing up is changing from his work clothes into clean clothes. Mal didn't try to make excuses for his blue collar life. I liked that about him. Parker does like the finer things in life, in a big way. From her love of shoes to her ridiculously fabulous closet, complete with mini fridge, Parker is wealthy and doesn't hide or nor apologize for it. But she doesn't come off as a snob, she has money but she also works very hard, no lazying about for her. Did she seem too perfect at times? Yeah. Every crisis - Parker dealt with. She manages to manage the unmanageable. (say that 3xs fast!)

For all their perfection, Mal and Parker did have some issues and yes, they worked them out and maybe those bumps in the road were small but they were there. The romance was sweet, funny and had all the hallmarks of a classic fairy tale.

And while I like the romances in each of the books it's the women of Vows that I enjoy the most. I loved when they were on the page. Parker and Laurel working out in the home gym in the morning, with Mac and Emma dragging themselves in. The three engaged friends harass Parker endlessly about her blossoming romance with Mal. Those women gave no quarter when it came to getting the deets on Parker's love life! I found myself envious of these women, having their best friends right there with them everyday. Was the whole set up a little too perfect? Yes, but. . . the title is Happy Ever After so of course it's going to be full of rainbows and sunshine. It was an enjoyable was to spend a few hours, catching up with friends and reading about the latest going ons at the Brown Estate.

Rating: A-

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Review: Magic Bleeds

Magic Bleeds
Ilona Andrews
Urban Fantasy
Kate Daniels/Book 4
Ace/June 2010

*Spoilers for previous books*
*Strongly recommend reading series in order*

From the back cover ~

Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren’t for the magic. When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it rose.

Kate Daniels works for the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid, officially as a liaison with the mercenary guild. Unofficially, she cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to handle—especially if they involve Atlanta’s shapeshifting community.

When she’s called in to investigate a fight at the Steel Horse, a bar midway between the territories of the shapeshifters and the necromancers, Kate quickly discovers there’s a new player in town. One who’s been around for thousands of years—and rode to war at the side of Kate’s father.

This foe may be too much even for Kate and Curran, the Lord of the Beasts, to handle. Because this time, Kate will be taking on family…

Ah, one of my favorite Urban Fantasy series and one of my favorite kick ass heroines. I bought Magic Bleeds when it came out back in June (wow, time flies) and I kept reading great/glowing/awesome reviews. So what did I do? I set it aside. I just couldn't make myself pick it up. Funny how that can happen. You would think I would be dying to read it but no, those glowing reviews made me a little leery. I finally read it simply because I got tired of it sitting there, taunting me. And because I was in the mood for some Kate and Curran. Did it blow me away? Not exactly. It did enjoy it but also had a few problems. Nothing major and certainly nothing that would make me stop reading the series. But... Magic Strikes still holds my favorite spot.

Kate is waiting and waiting. She isn't exactly known for her patience so for her to wait on someone for nearly three hours says a lot about that person. In this case it was Curran she was waiting on. Magic Bleeds picks up weeks after Magic Strikes and Kate is making good on her bet with the Beast Lord. Or at least she's trying to. Right off we see Kate's softer side, her vulnerable side where Curran is concerned. It was important to get that out there because Kate isn't one to show that side very often. We might see it when Andrea, Kate's best friend, is involved. Or Julie, Kate's adopted niece. But otherwise Kate tends to keep her emotions to herself, unless she's pissed, then she'll let you know. This sets the tone for Kate and Curran through the first part of the book. She's decided to treat him as the Beast Lord, not as her boyfriend/mate/lover. It's business, not personal, not any more.

The shit has hit the fan as Kate finds out when a group of bad boys stir up trouble in Atlanta. This part of the story is complex and at times seems to go from one crisis to the next with Kate running from here to there, trying to figure out what the heck is going on. There were a lot of antagonists to keep track of. Honestly, I can't remember them all. There were times when I felt like I needed to slow down my reading so I could take in everything that was happening. The sheer number of enemies coming out of the woodwork made me think Kate really deserved a bonus and maybe an employee of the month award.

There seemed to be more talk of mythology, deities and magic this time around. I'm not sure if that's the case but that's how it came across to me. Those were parts I could have done with less of. The mythology is interesting but only in sparse amounts. I'm more interested in the characters and the action than a history lesson on the deities attacking Kate. The action scenes were fierce and intense. Lots of blood, guts and body fluids being stepped in and mucked about. You knew some of those stains just weren't coming out. There were also scenes of detective and diplomacy type work for Kate. She got very little down time and very little sleep. When she wasn't fighting she was playing office or pack politics. Kate did have help but often times it seemed like it was Kate against the world.

Kate and Curran - readers have been asking for some major Kate and Curran action for some time now. Magic Bleeds had it but... I'll admit, I was expecting more. Maybe it was all the build up - yes, Kate and Curran finally get together but it felt too brief, too much of a side story as opposed to a integral part of the main plot. But I'll take what I can get.

We do learn more about Kate's family history and about what Kate will face in the future. This is not a series that should be read out of order. The overall story arc is far more effective when reading the series in order. Kate is certainly a character that has grown since book 1. Her relationships are evolving and we are getting to see more and more of what's under that hard, outer shell of hers.

While I wasn't blown away by Magic Bleeds, I still found it an enjoyable read and will certainly be reading Magic Slays when it come out next May.

Rating: B+

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Warrior's Way Movie Trailer...

I have sooooo got to see this! Ninjas, outlaw cowboys and one kick-ass chick. It's like a UF come to life! "Ninjas. Damn"

The Warrior's Way, release date, December 3, 2010.

Seriously hope this is as good as it looks!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

Thank you to all our veterans and active duty military. Thanks to my dad, big brother and husband. For everything you have done, given and sacrificed. Thank you to all the military families for everything you have done, given and sacrificed. We are all fortunate to be in the company of such quiet heroes.

Hug A Vet Today

*1st picture taken at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. One of the most peaceful places I have ever been to. USS Constellation is in the background.

*2nd Picture ~ Statue titled "Unconditional Surrender". San Diego, CA.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Let Them Eat Cake...

As you can see on the sidebar, one of the books I'm reading is Happy Ever After, the final installment of the Bride Quartet by Nora Roberts. As with the previous three books, many of the scenes take place at the Brown estate, home of Vows, the wedding business the four heroines own.

I was reading along as the flowers, the decor and the cakes, those wonderful, deliciously scrumptious cakes, were being described and I found myself wishing the book came with pictures. Seriously, wouldn't that be the ultimate? Pictures of Emma's gorgeous flower arrangements throughout the magnificent Brown estate. And Laurel's delectable creations. . . Pardon me while I wipe the drool from my chin. :)

But sadly, none of the books come with pictures. So off to Google I went and found an abundance of wedding cakes. I decided to concentrate on the cakes, probably because I was hungry at the time. :)

My goodness, they have certainly come a long way from the traditional white, three tiered cakes of old. There are still the beautiful traditional white wedding cakes with some special added touches. But there are also some amazingly creative cakes that took my breath away. With so many bakeries to choose from I decided to go with a hometown bakery. All of the pictures below are from Piece of Cake Desserts. My niece is getting married next November & I really hope she gets her cake here!

I'm posting just a few 12 of my favorites, believe me it was hard to choose! You can see a whole bunch more at Piece of Cake Desserts website.

Simply Elegant

Love the color and the details on this one.

Love the black & white with the punch of color on top.

Flowers ~

More flowers ~

Another one with beautiful flowers. The initial(s) on top seems to be popular.

The next three blew me away. Are these common at weddings? I would be tempted to pick one of these. So unique.

And for the whimsical couple ~

If you were a client of Vows, which would you pick? One of these or maybe another one from the site? Or maybe you've got your very own creation in your head just waiting to be baked!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Review: Life As We Knew It

Life As We Knew It
Susan Beth Pfeffer
Young Adult/
Post Apocalyptic
Last Survivors/Book 1
Harcourt/October 2006

From the publisher's website ~

When Miranda first hears the warnings that a meteor is headed on a collision path with the moon, they just sound like an excuse for extra homework assignments. But her disbelief turns to fear in a split second as the entire world witnesses a lunar impact that knocks the moon closer in orbit, catastrophically altering the earth’s climate.

Everything else in Miranda’s life fades away as supermarkets run out of food, gas goes up to more than ten dollars a gallon, and school is closed indefinitely. But what Miranda and her family don’t realize is that the worst is yet to come.

Told in Miranda’s diary entries, this is a heart-pounding account of her struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all–hope–in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar time.

This is one of those trilogies that I kept hearing about but put off reading for one reason or another. I did finally get what I thought was the first book for my teen. It turns out it was the second book, oops! I then got the first and third books for her. She liked all three and yet I still didn't read them. Finally, I was in the right mood or something and got them once again from the library. The odd part is that I can be a bit fanatical when it comes to reading series, trilogies, etc in order. But for some reason the second book in the series, which has a different narrator and takes place in NYC, didn't appeal to me. I wanted to find out what happened to Miranda, the narrator of the first book. So I skipped book two and went on to book three. Which probably wasn't the best thing to do but not the worst and turned out okay.

This is a dystopian/post apocalyptic type of story but there isn't the massive fighting of alien invaders or zombies or creatures of the night. This world comes about from a natural disaster and takes place in suburbia. How plausible is the science of the story? I don't know. I didn't really focus on the plausibility of the moon pushed closer to Earth by a meteor. Do I think it could happen? Sure, except somehow I think aliens would have to be involved. :)

The story is told in Miranda's POV so if you don't like her voice, well, I think it would be hard to like the book. Fortunately I did like her voice. She comes across as a real teen with real teen problems. She doesn't care about the meteor, she's more concerned with getting her drivers license or seeing her dad. Her parents are divorced and her father moved away and remarried. So Miranda doesn't get to see him as much as she would like. Typical kid stuff, nothing she can't handle. Then the meteor hits and her world is turned upside down.

It was fascinating to see how people reacted. There was the standard panic and disbelief. The run on the grocery store, people grabbing what they could. You see those survival instincts come out in force in Miranda's mom. She really kept her cool and had the intelligence to do something other than panic. If it wasn't for Miranda's mom taking the situation as serious as she did, the family wouldn't have survived as long as they did.

I have a very limited amount of experience in disaster type situations. I grew up in Illinois, blizzards and tornadoes were sometimes a problems but my parents took care of us kids. As an adult, I lived in Southern California for 15 years and experienced some earthquakes. I did keep an earthquake kit but the possibility for disaster wasn't in my thoughts every day. Those were minor situations compared to what Miranda and her family had to go through. So it's not easy to relate to her situation. I do think the writing lends itself to pulling the reader in and experiencing what Miranda is going through. You're reading her journal and feeling like you're there with her. Even though you know the tragedy can't touch you, you still can't help but wonder what if...

Life As We Knew It isn't a happy book. There are moments of happiness, of joy. But it's more a book that makes you think. It makes you wonder what would you do in Miranda's situation? Or in her mother's situation with kids to take care of? The story not only shows us how their life style continues to deteriorate but how they continue to grab onto that one little bit of hope. One thing that surprised me was what some of the characters thought were important. Whether it was a case of misinformation or not wanting to acknowledge the new reality, it was a study in human dynamics and left me wondering who could be that naive to think things would get back to normal. Would I be that naive? No. I think I'm too much a pessimist. I wonder how others would react. Maybe not in the way they think they would.

The story follows the days, weeks and months after the meteor hit and takes place in Miranda's small suburban Pennsylvania town. As things progressively worsen, we see how people can crack under the pressure of living day to day, not knowing what might happen next. They receive very little information from the outside world and what they do receive isn't encouraging. They don't know what has happened to many of their family and friends but much of the news is not good. In our world of instant access or near instant access to everything and everyone, suddenly finding yourself cut off from the outside world. It's another shock that Miranda and her family must deal with.

I wasn't sure if I would like Life As We Knew It or if I would find it too much of a downer. Yes, it was depressing but it was also fascinating to see how one decision leads to another and has the potential for a fatal outcome. It was very tense at times and hard to put down. There are many instances when what should be a simple choice could prove to be catastrophic. There is hope, that underlying feeling that things just have to get better. The reader comes to care about this family and wants them to survive the harsh environment they find themselves in.

Rating: A-

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mr. Beaudine and the plague...

Hey, SEP sent me a note this morning. Okay, she sent it to every one on her newsletter list but still it's cool to see "A Note from Susan Elizabeth Phillips" in the email subject line. I felt special. :)

The note was about her next book Call Me Irresistible, the long awaited story of Ted Beaudine and his heroine. And we have a cover!

If you want to read an excerpt go here and go here to enter the monthly contest. Up for grabs, $50 to the bookstore of your choice. The bad news, it's only open to US residents. :(

I'm looking forward to this book for two reasons. 1) I love SEP. Even her books that didn't wow me I still liked (except for that one historical). 2) I like Ted's heroine. I'm not saying who she is in case there's someone out there that doesn't want to know. And if you don't want to know, don't read the excerpt!

In other news. . . the plague has hit the ol homestead. Yep, we're all in various stages of the ickies. It started Tuesday with youngest waking me just before 5 am to announce that he had thrown up. Not the best way to start the day. Then Wednesday night, middle, not to be out done, decided to copy youngest - multiply times. Ugh! Today, they're doing better but now the teen and dh are home. And me? Well, I knew it wouldn't pass me by and sure enough yesterday was my day to spend on the couch or in the bathroom. I'm feeling better today, not great but getting there. I feel like I have a million things to do but not much energy to do them. And I'm actually hungry but afraid to eat much. Sticking with toast and crackers for now. Hope none of you are visited by the plague. *fingers crossed*

So, what have you guys been up to this week? Anything interesting I missed? What's everyone reading? I just finished Ilona Andrews' Magic Bleeds. It was good but not my favorite. That spot's held by Magic Strikes. I need to go through my library books and see what has to go back soon and get going on that pile. And, the library is holding the next J. D. Robb book Indulgence in Death! I hope I can pick it up tomorrow.

No plans for the weekend except rest. The holidays are coming fast and I need to get going on my shopping. I'm planning on doing a lot of it online instead of dealing with the crowds, not a fan of crowds. What's everyone doing this weekend? Anything exciting?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Review: The Best Laid Plans

The Best Laid Plans
Sarah Mayberry
Contemporary Romance
Harlequin Super/November 2010

From the back cover ~

On the edge of something big!

Boundaries. The key to how corporate lawyer Alexandra Knight manages her busy life. However, lately all her precisely drawn lines are getting blurred. Blame it on her out-of-control biological clock that is ignoring her single status... and on Ethan Stone.

Because her sexy, no-strings colleague has posed an outrageous solution to her dilemma - he'll be her baby daddy. This from the guy who avoids all commitment? Okay, so they're attracted to each other. Really, really attracted. But crossing the line from coworker to co-parent with Ethan could ruin Alex for all other men. After all, when you've had the best...

I have a confession to make -hero/heroines as lawyers - not my favorite. In fact, I'm less likely to pick up a book if the hero or heroine is a lawyer. The one exception is a Julie James book. I like her lawyers. :) Anyone else, unless it's a romantic suspense, I can do without them. In Sarah Mayberry's latest, an author I adore, both the hero and heroine are lawyers. I wasn't crazy about that but it's a Mayberry so an auto-read for me.

Alexandra Knight is a smart career woman who, up until 18 months ago, was in a long term, committed relationship. She's now single and feeling that baby clock ticking away. Her ex made it clear that he didn't want kids but Alex thought he would eventually change his mind. He didn't, they split and now she's running out of options. After doing some research, she decides to use a sperm bank. She finds out that you can basically order the sperm on line. Isn't the internet grand? Alex is intelligent and practical. She wants to fall in love, get married and have a kid or two but she doesn't feel that time is on her side. I liked that Alex was realistic in her plans to have a child. She didn't completely give up on her dream of a traditional family, she simply modified her plans to fit her reality.

Ethan Stone is a partner in the same law firm as Alex. He's an older hero, 42, which I thought was a nice change. I suppose Mayberry could have gone with a younger guy but I'm glad she went a few years older than Alex's 38. Ethan has a reputation as a player, one that he doesn't rightfully earn but doesn't do anything to correct either. He does date but nothing serious. He not looking for serious. He's been there, done that and has no desire to try again. He did have hopes of having children but those hopes were put aside when his wife left him. When he finds out about Alex's situation, he sees the possibility of having a child of his own.

Alex and Ethan are not only partners in the same law firm, they are friendly outside of work. They have the occasional lunch together and play racquetball every week. They're not close friends, Ethan has a reputation and Alex doesn't want any involvement with a player. I'd say they're comfortable in each others company, talking of work and life in general. No sharing of secrets or any intimate details. They're both aware of the attractiveness of the other but neither chooses to act on that attraction, preferring to remain just friends.

Mayberry could have gone either way with this. She could have had Ethan try to wine and dine Alex into having a child with him. Ethan could have made Alex think he wants her when all he really wants is a child. But she didn't go that route and I'm so glad she didn't. Ethan, it turns out is an honest man and approached Alex with his plan that they become co-parents. It would be set up like a divorce without the marriage. They would arrange custody and financial obligations in the same way divorcing parents would, except without the drama. It made sense but it also came across as very cold, certainly not romantic. And that was the main problem I had with the story, not enough romance. I think I would have been happy had they gone ahead and became co-parents. It would have been interesting to see them remain as friends throughout the pregnancy and after the baby was born. Instead I kept waiting for the romance to happen.

The first approximate two-thirds of the book is about the process Alex, then both Alex and Ethan, go through of having a child through non-traditional means. We see Alex and Ethan get to the point where they are ready to go to the lab, undergo the process necessary to have a baby through in vitro. It was all very clinical with them trying to keep it more like a business transaction without all the emotional baggage that goes with creating a child with someone you love. Since this is a category romance, it's short, just under 250 pages. If it had been longer I'd have been okay with the amount of page time devoted to the process but it took time away from the romance.

But this is a romance so Alex and Ethan become romantically involved. This turns their relationship upside down and pulls some great emotional moments from both characters. I absolutely loved the last third of the book. Alex is still hoping for a man to love and who loves her. Ethan doesn't think he can give her that. He's afraid of taking the chance at anything permanent. It's a real roller coaster of a romance with neither Alex or Ethan sure of the others feelings.

So, not my favorite Mayberry but it still had well developed characters and an emotional ending. If only there had been more romance. . .

Rating: B-

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Review: Willing Victim

Willing Victim
Cara McKenna

Ellora's Cave/August 2010

From the publisher's website ~

For the past couple of years Laurel's been coasting, hiding in the backseat while her life drifts off course. Then one summer afternoon a tall, built bruiser named Flynn strides in and steers her straight into an infatuation she never saw coming.

Flynn introduces Laurel to things she's never imagined - to the violent but exciting realm of the underground boxing circuit, to rough sex and even rougher role-playing, and to an attraction she craves even as it intimidates her. As Flynn invites her deeper into his world and his life, Laurel has to make a choice - let fear keep her holed up where it's safe, or take a chance and fight for the man who makes her feel more alive than she'd dreamed possible.

Reader Advisory: Although all sex acts are 100-percent consensual, Willing Victim contains role-playing scenarios that may upset some readers who are sensitive about rape, even in a simulated capacity.

First off, please head the advisory above. I found Willing Victim to be a well written story but if this is not your thing, then you should take a pass on this one. McKenna does a good job in making it clear that the simulated rape scenes are consensual and a safe word is in place. Not once did I think Flynn would ever disregard the safe word.

Laurel White is drifting through life. She quit her engineering job to work as a waitress. Not what most would consider a good career move. She's rooming with two other women and has no real direction in her life, until she sees Flynn. It's a chance encounter that brings her into his world and changes her perceptions of herself and what she wants. For Laurel, Flynn is the catalyst that causes her to look deep into her needs and desires and give herself permission to enjoy what Flynn is offering.

Michael Flynn, or just Flynn as he prefers, is a man who's comfortable in his skin. He knows what he likes, what turns him on, what gets him off. He's fine with being different, his kink certainly isn't mainstream but it's his. He owns it. I liked that right off about Flynn. There's no bullshit with him. What you see is what you get. He's very open about what he thinks and has no problem telling Laurel. This takes Laurel by surprise at times but I also think she found it refreshing. No games with Flynn, just honesty. Sometimes very brutal honesty but it opens Laurel up to new experiences and that's what she wants, needs and craves.

Flynn's world is something that Laurel has no real reference point for. He's a boxer - he enjoys it and he's built for it. It's a brutal world of violence and pain. Laurel finds herself fascinated by it and drawn into this dark side of life she knew nothing about. Part of the allure is the feel of the forbidden. The boxing, the sex - it makes Laurel feel things she had no idea were inside her. I liked that she was brave enough and honest enough with herself to admit her attraction to this dangerous man even when her conservative side was telling her she shouldn't be.

Laurel isn't the only one who changes over the course of the story. Flynn does some changing too. His changes are more subtle, following his developing relationship with Laurel. McKenna's writing makes it believable that this man, whose life seems so structured at the beginning, now opens up a piece of himself to this woman who accepts him for who he is. For Flynn, that isn't easy to find. You get the feeling that he's closed himself off from truly feeling anything with any of his other lovers than the basic and often brutal physical aspects that his limited relationships give him.

Willing Victim is a very different romance. And I do think it's a romance. Laurel and Flynn come together for one reason, sex, but as their relationship progresses it changes and grows with their new needs. Each experience leaves an impression on the characters, changing them in ways they weren't expecting. Laurel's changes are more pronounced, with her opening up and realizing that rough sex is what she likes. It isn't an easy thing for her to admit but with Flynn's help, she's able to be honest with herself about what she wants not only regarding sex but also about where her life is heading and what she wants out of it. Flynn changes but I think he was open to the changes but wasn't expecting them to happen simply because of lack of opportunity. Whereas Laurel wasn't expecting the changes because they were out of her realm of experience.

The writing is vivid and graphic with the imagery putting the reader right in the moment, experiencing everything with Laurel. It's told in her POV which was a good move on the author's part. It's Laurel's emotions that we need to know. Flynn is an open book, he puts everything on the table. But Laurel's a jumble of emotions. She's overwhelmed with stimuli and must process her newly gained knowledge. We need to know what she's thinking and feeling not only for the plot to be believable but for the reader to know that everything is consensual, that Laurel wants to be with Flynn and she can stop it at any time. I think that's essential to the validity of the story. If at any time I felt Flynn would have disregarded Laurels needs and used his greater strength to force her to do something she didn't want, I would have stopped reading.

The one major complaint was towards the end when I felt the relationship took a turn and became more than sex. It had been venturing in that direction but when it finally did, it felt rushed. I would have liked more time spent on seeing Laurel and Flynn explore those avenues. The emotional facets outside of sex would have added more depth to the story. While we saw some of this, more would have been nice and lent a greater feeling of completion.

I do want to address the sex scenes with regards to the roughness and the role-playing of forced rape. At any time Laurel could have stopped it. McKenna wrote those scenes as well as what proceeded them, with a talent that left no doubt that Laurel was in charge. That it was her decision to continue in this unconventional relationship with Flynn.

The characters in Willing Victim are well developed with the story being more than the sex and violence. We get to see the insecurities and flaws of these characters. We see how Laurel and Flynn handle their everyday lives as well as the nights they are together. We see them acting the way any couple acts when getting to know someone and deciding what to share about yourself with them. Overall a well written, highly erotic novel.

Rating: A-

Monday, November 1, 2010

Review: Simply Irresistible

Simply Irresistible
Jill Shalvis
Contemporary Romance
Lucky Harbor/Book 1
Grand Central/October 2010

From the back cover ~

Maddie Moore's whole life needs a makeover.

In one fell swoop, Maddie loses her boyfriend (her decision) and her job (so not her decision). But rather than drowning her sorrows in bags of potato chips, Maddie leaves L.A. to claim the inheritance left by her free-spirited mother-a ramshackle inn nestled in the little coastal town of Lucky Harbor, Washington.

Starting over won't be easy. Yet Maddie sees the potential for a new home and a new career-if only she can convince her two half-sisters to join her in the adventure. But convincing Tara and Chloe will be difficult because the inn needs a big makeover too.

The contractor Maddie hires is a tall, dark-haired hottie whose eyes-and mouth-are making it hard for her to remember that she's sworn off men. Even harder will be Maddie's struggles to overcome the past, though she's about to discover that there's no better place to call home than Lucky Harbor.

It's not a secret that I'm a Jill Shalvis fan and Simply Irresistible is another reason why Shalvis is one of my go to authors when I'm craving a delicious contemporary romance. Maddie and Jax are funny and sweet and hot as all get out. They are a romance readers fantasy when it comes to couples who feel real and have hopes and fears just like we do.

Maddie Moore is desperate. She's in limbo with no job, no home and only a smidgen of hope of finding either. When she arrives at Lucky Harbor it's to find her inheritance of a run down inn filled with dubious decor. Her two half-sisters, Chloe and Tara want to sell and get back to their lives but Maddie doesn't have a life to get back to. She wants to make a go of the inn but needs her sisters to agree to her plan.

Maddie is adorable! She's funny and klutzy and doesn't take herself too seriously. She's also nicknamed the mouse for her inability to stand up for herself. She's determined to shed that nickname and take charge of her life. I loved how we get to see into Maddie's head when she's figuring out how to assert herself. She tries to emulate strong fictional characters like Trinity from The Matrix or Louise from Thelma & Louise. Maddie is a real work-in-progress, experiencing some setbacks while learning to grab hold of what she wants.

Jackson Cullen aka Jax is in for a surprise when Maddie comes to town. He's a local boy who made it to the big time but has come back home to his roots. He's well known and well liked by many in town and readers will agree that Jax is a man comfortable in his faded Levis and tool belt. He's attracted to Maddie right off the bat which is good since circumstances keep bringing them together. Jax is smart enough to know when a good thing happens and that good thing is Maddie.

Maddie's half-sisters, Tara and Chloe, bring their own baggage and their quirky sense of sisterhood to Lucky Harbor. The dynamics of the sisters relationships can be seen through the roles they take on. Tara the eldest, takes charge and isn't afraid to voice her opinion. Chloe is the youngest and the free spirit of the three. She doesn't hold on to responsibilities but shrugs them off as quick as possible. Maddie is the middle sister doing what she can to keep the peace even if it means keeping her feelings to herself. I liked all three sisters for different reasons which surprised me. Usually, with siblings, there's often one that I don't click with, but not in this case - Maddie, I've already mentioned, Tara for her hidden vulnerability and Chloe for her love of life.

Lord, I love Shalvis' sense of humor! The romance is sweet and funny. Jax and Maddie did a bit of stumbling around, learning about each other as they fell in love. Their relationship begins with wonderful chemistry and progresses into mutual care and respect. There are some secrets, really big secrets, that need to be dealt with before they can completely trust each other. Shalvis does a remarkable job of bringing all the threads together and weaving a story full of romance, passion and family.

The next book in the series, The Sweetest Thing (April 2011), is sister Tara's story and after reading Simply Irresistible, I can't wait to read Tara's book. Seriously, the way things are left between Tara and her hero, I know the tension and emotions will be high. But until then, if you're looking for a fantastic story with an adorable heroine, a sexy, tender, tool belt wearing hero and a couple of sisters to drive them crazy, Simply Irresistible is it.

Rating: A