Monday, February 28, 2011

Review: Deeply, Desperately

Deeply, Desperately
Heather Webber
Contemporary Mystery/Romance
Lucy Valentine/Book 2
St. Martin's/August 3, 2010

From the back cover ~

The irrepressible star of "Truly, Madly, " is back in business. This time, Lucy Valentine will go to the ends of the earth to find true love for her clients...and maybe even herself.

Lucy wants to breathe new life into her family’s Boston-based matchmaking company. But how? Even though she comes from a long line of ancestors blessed by Cupid with psychic abilities, a freak accident left Lucy with only one special skill: finding things. Car keys, socks in the dryer, needles in haystacks...and now, in a stroke of professional genius, lost loves

It’s not long before Lucy’s on a winning streak, helping old flames reunite and create new sparks. Business is booming. But when Lucy finds herself involved in a possible case of murder, she realizes she’s in too deep. Enter Sean Donahue. Lucy’s handsome fire-fighter turned private-eye neighbor, Sean is just the man she needs to help her on the job. Could he also be the man she’s been looking for all along? When it comes to Valentine, Inc., falling in love is always serious business…

And... she's back! My goodness but I'm so happy I got past the cutesy covers and started this reading this series. Lucy is one of those characters if she were real, I'd love to be friends. She has this wacky, crazy life where sometimes it seems like she's the only sane one in the bunch. Which is funny because Lucy isn't exactly normal.

Lucy is now gainfully employed in her family's business but she not into the traditional match-making. She uses her 'gift' to find lost loves which gets complicated when she also finds a dead body. Things are never simple with Lucy; she's trying to solve a murder, search for a missing person, get some alone time with Sean and possibly stop her best friend from marrying the wrong guy. The subplot of Lucy and her friend Marisol trying to get the goods on their friend Em's fiancé was comical and with help from an unlikely source only adding to the fun. I love the dynamics of the three friends, even with their busy lives, they stay close.

Reporter Preston Bailey is still around, much to Lucy's irritation. She was hounding Lucy for a story in the first book and is now back, with Oscar Valentine's blessing, tagging along with Lucy. Preston adds another dimension to Lucy's crazy life and while there is tension between the two women, there is also an odd affection developing. Odd because they are often arguing with each other. At first I wasn't thrilled with Preston still being around but she's grown on me.

Lucy has a highly functioning dysfunctional family. Her parents are married but live like they're divorced, still friends but leading separate lives. Her grandma, Dovie, is active in protesting for causes and desperate for grandkids. And now Lucy may have stumbled into a family secret that could change her family dynamics.

Lucy and Sean can't get a break when it comes to making some times under the covers or on the couch or even on the kitchen table. Fate or Cupid's Curse seem to be conspiring to keep these two would be lovers apart. Sean's ex is back in the picture and man, did I feel sorry for Lucy and everything she had to go through. I thought she was very mature and while I understood why Sean acted how he did, it was still hard to see how it affected Lucy. This was a surprisingly emotional part of the story. Lucy and Sean finally get that break and boy do they make the most of it! I really like these two together. Webber makes the most of the characters strengths and weaknesses to create a believable couple of Lucy and Sean.

This is a fairly short read at just over 300 pages and with a lot going on but Webber does a great job keeping the different threads from becoming jumbled. There really isn't any down time. It's a fast read, keeping you reading well into the night. Don't start this thinking you'll just read a chapter or two, because the next thing you know, you'll be half-way through.

The only minor problem I had was how things were resolved with Sean's ex. It all happened rather quickly. I would have like to see more dialogue on the part of Sean and Lucy concerning what happened and how they dealt with it. Other than that, I loved this book! If you haven't started this series, what are you waiting for?!

Rating: A-

Books in this series ~

Truly, Madly

Deeply, Desperately
Absolutely, Positively

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Review: Animal Magnetism

Animal Magnetism
Jill Shalvis
Contemporary Romance
Animals/Book 1
Berkley/February 1, 2011

From the back cover ~

This alpha male is going to bring out her wild side…

Sunshine, Idaho, is a small and sunny town—the perfect home for man and beast. Well, maybe not for man, as pilot-for-hire Brady Miller discovers when his truck is rear-ended by what appears to be Noah’s Ark.

The co-owner of the town’s only kennel, Lilah Young has good reason to be distracted behind the wheel—there are puppies, a piglet, and a duck in her Jeep. But, she doesn’t find it hard to focus on the angry, gorgeous stranger she’s collided with.

Lilah has lived in Sunshine all her life, and though Brady is just passing through, he has her abandoning her instincts and giving in to a primal desire. It’s Brady’s nature to resist being tied down, but there’s something about Lilah and her menagerie—both animal and human—that keeps him coming back for more…

A new Jill Shalvis series is something to be happy about. This time she takes us to the small town of Sunshine, Idaho, home to sexy men and women who love animals (and men). This is a quick, light read with a variety of animals running in and out of their humans' lives. I liked how Shalvis incorporated the animals to play off the attitudes of their human counterparts. Brady is a loner with no roots. He ends up with Twinkles, an adorable, needy puppy. Lilah is a collector of people but the animals she takes in, she must let go.

Lilah Young is a woman who gives to everyone, both animal and human, but doesn't like accepting help from others. I felt for Lilah because she has so much love to give but she's so afraid of getting too close to anyone. She has all these friends but she still goes home to an empty house every night. Except for the animals she keeps but those are only temporary. Lilah has quite a few ex boyfriends around town and she has an odd tendency to stay friends with them except for the one that burned her. When Brady Miller shows up, Lilah decides he would be the perfect guy for a fling. He's only staying a month, so there's no worry about getting serious. Between the kennel and school, Lilah doesn't think she has time for anything serious but her heart has other ideas when it comes to Brady.

Brady Miller is the quintessential loner. He's former army and now works as a pilot, flying into dangerous situations around the world. He's only in Sunshine for a month to help his foster brothers. There's chemistry brewing when Brady and Lilah meet and later when they act on that chemistry but Brady doesn't do serious relationships and has no intention of staying for longer than a month. Brady is set in his ways and while he insists he doesn't want a pet, doesn't plan on staying and in no way wants anything serious, he finds himself with a dog, helping at the clinic and kennel and having some very serious feelings for Lilah. I do think timing had a lot to do with it, and Lilah. The way Shalvis wrote Brady, you could see how he was ready for permanency, he just didn't know it because he was so used to moving and not putting down roots. I liked how he changed and became a part of the community and Lilah's world.

The chemistry that's there early on burns bright with scenes steamy enough to curl your toes. Lilah and Brady make the most of their supposed fling. Even all the animals running around doesn't stop these two from giving in to their baser, animal appetites. Between the physical affections, Lilah and Brady also have moments of intimacy that go beyond casual fling and show how they are both falling in love. Which is why it was so hard to see Brady leaving and Lilah trying to be strong and give him what he thought he wanted, to leave.

Brady's foster brothers, Adam and Dell, run the animal clinic, training and rescue groups. They are a big part of Lilah's world and in a way act as brothers to her, which puts a crimp in Brady wanting Lilah. They all work through it, giving their opinions and only wanting both Brady and Lilah happy. Adam and Dell are obvious 'heroes in waiting' and I look forward to reading their books.

Animal Magnetism was an entertaining romance with amusing characters, both human and animal. Lilah and Brady were a couple whose only real issue was recognizing what they really wanted, which was each other and not an extended one night stand.

Rating: B+

Books in this series ~

Animal Magnetism
Animal Attraction (October 2011)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Review: Whisper of Warning

Whisper of Warning
Laura Griffin
Romantic Suspense
Glass Sisters/Book 2
Pocket/April 1, 2009

From the back cover ~


Courtney Glass has been in trouble all her life, but nothing tops being an up-close witness to a brutal murder. Until she’s accused of the crime.

Every scrap of evidence points to her guilt, and only Courtney knows what really happened. Now she must prove that she's not a murderer...but is one of the killer’s intended victims. As police investigators hammer her for answers, Courtney knowns she has two choices: run, or trust the brooding, sexy detective who's made it clear she's his prime suspect.

Will Hodges doesn't need Special Forces training to know that, despite Courtney's killer looks and razor-sharp tongue, her tough-girl act hides a vulnerable woman with a deadly secret. As the body count rises, Will realizes that a lethal enemy has Courtney in his crosshairs. The killer is waiting, watching her every move - and he won't stop until her fear has grown from a whisper to a scream...

I've been looking forward to this book ever since I read Thread of Fear, Courtney's older sister Fiona's story. Actually even before that when I read Untraceable in which the hero, Will Hodges, was a secondary character. Anyway, I've been wanting to read Courtney and Will's story and it certainly didn't disappoint!

We first got to know Courtney Glass in Thread of Fear, when she moves in with her sister Fiona because she's low on funds and her heat isn't working at her place. She crashes on her sister's couch and generally makes a nuisance of herself. Thankfully, Courtney now has her act together. She's back at her duplex, working as a stylist at a upscale salon and has sworn off men, at least for now. Then she finds herself in trouble, the "dead guy in her car" kind of trouble and her world shatters. There is a silver lining, Courtney meets Will Hodges, the detective assigned to the case. Courtney's stubborn streak flies high when Detective Hodges questions her. She's attracted to him but she's not trusting anyone at this point. Not when Will's boss is ready to arrest Courtney for murder.

Detective Will Hodges is a quiet man, former military, who is on his first homicide case. He's worked hard, making his way up the ranks, so he's not happy when Courtney Glass begins to interfere in the investigation. And he's certainly not happy when he begins to have feelings for her, knowing this could not only compromise the case but get him thrown off it. The author did an excellent job of showing how Will, this by the book cop, falls for a suspect and has to deal with this assault on his integrity as a police officer. It doesn't matter that he thinks she's innocent, it still goes against his beliefs to become romantically involved with a suspect. Will was a compelling and well written character. I wish more heroes were like him.

The murder mystery was complex with suspicion falling on more than one character. It was complex enough that I didn't know who did it until the end. I love when that happens! There was a lot of suspense throughout the story. Courtney's life was threatened, the police were after her - not just Will. Courtney herself provided some drama with her own investigation into the murder. All of this and still Griffin was able to keep the story balanced between the suspense and the romance.

Courtney and Will - a case of opposites attract. Courtney is an outgoing girly-girl, into clothes and accessories. She's a hairstylist and loves to change her looks, which are far from conservative. Will is wearing his hair like he's still in the army. He tends to keep to himself, doing his job but he's not exactly the open book kind of guy. When these two meet is oil and water but there's that attraction that doesn't go away. The connection between them was built throughout the book. It didn't happen fast but the author allowed it to grow and allowed the reader to see where it would lead. We know they'll get together but it's the path that they take that made this such a believable romance. By the end, I believed in this couple and that doesn't always happen.

The book went rather quickly, keeping my attention divided between the murder mystery and the romance. Courtney and Will had a heck of a lot of obstacles to overcome before they could even think about a HEA. There were some minor points that left me questioning why Fiona, Courtney's sister, wasn't more concerned and involved in Courtney's problems. Her sister is a murder suspect and Fiona seemed too easily put off by Courtney's lies that everything was going to be okay. Courtney was almost too distrustful of everyone. The lies she told were understandable to a point, but I felt she should have trusted Will sooner than she did.

If you want a story with an interesting suspense plot and a hero and heroine who have to work for their well deserved HEA, then this is the book for you!

Rating: A-

Related Books ~

Thread of Fear

Monday, February 21, 2011

Access Romance Day ...

Happy President's Day to those of you in the US. It's George Washington's birthday and a holiday here in the states. Speaking of historical figures, today I'm at Access Romance's Readers Gab talking about real people in romances. Do you like when a historical figure shows up in your romance novel? Come on by and let us know.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Review: Shadowfever

Karen Marie Moning
Urban Fantatasy
Fever/Book 5
Delacorte Press/January 18, 2011


Note: This really isn't a series to read out of order.

From the inside cover ~

"Evil is a completely different creature, Mac.
Evil is bad that believes it's good."

MacKayla Lane was just a child when she and her sister, Alina were given up for adoption and banished from Ireland forever.

Twenty years later, Alina is dead and Mac has returned to the country that expelled them to hunt her sister's murderer. But after discovering that she descends from a bloodline both gifted and cursed, Mac is plunged into a secret history: an ancient conflict between humans and immortals that have lived concealed among us for thousands of years.

What follows is a shocking chain of events with devastating consequences, and now Mac struggles to cope with grief, while continuing her mission to acquire and control the Sinsar Dubh--a book of dark, forbidden magic scribed by the mythical Unseelie King that contains the power to create and destroy worlds.

In an epic battle between humans and Fae, the hunter becomes the hunted when the Sinsar Dubh turns on Mac, and begins mowing a deadly path through those she loves.

Who can she turn to? Who can she trust? Who is the woman that haunts her dreams? More importantly, who is Mac and what is the destiny she glimpses in the black and crimson designs of an ancient tarot card?

From the luxury of the Lord Master's penthouse, to the sordid depths of an Unseelie nightclub, from the erotic bed of her lover, to the terrifying bed of the Unseelie King, Mac's journey will force her to face the truth of her exile, and make a choice that will either save the world...or destroy it.

The wait is finally over. I finished the book, wow, nearly two weeks ago but had a hard time putting my feelings into words and a review. What I ended up with is a bit different than my usual review. It's pretty long and rambling at times. I don't get into the plot, everyone is still searching for the Sinsar Dubh aka "the book". No one is sure who they can trust. Dublin is a scary place for humans. And Mac is still being Mac, depending on men. The main point of the book was to answer questions and finish the story arc. And the questions are numerous. There were what seemed like a mountain of them that have been piling up since book 1 and the hopes expectations that those questions would be answered were very inherent at the beginning of this book.

The main questions I expected to be answered were ~

1. Who is the beast that died at the end of Dreamfever? I think most of us thought it was Barrons. (It was.)

2. What the hell is Barrons? Much speculation has been made on what and who he might be. A Masters thesis could be written on the numerous possibilities.

3. Who really killed Alina? Mac thought Darroc, The Lord Master was responsible - he either did it himself or ordered it done. But it has never been said for certain who killed her.

4. Mac's real role in the whole Seelie/Unseelie battle? The fact that she can sense the Sinsar Dubh sets her apart from the other sidhe-seers.

5. V'Lane - Mac's friend or enemy? He says he wants to help Mac but can he be trusted? He is Fae after all.

6. What the hell is under Barrons' garage? Is it Barrons? The Unseelie King? Barrons' ex-girlfriends? The possibilities are endless.

All the questions were answered except for what Barrons is. That one was vague in that we learn what he, and his men, can and cannot do but we didn't really learn the why of it. Why could they die but not stay dead? What being/power/entity made them that way? And unless I missed it, no name is given to what they are. I would have like to know more, heck even Barrons didn't know how they got the way they are. Considering how long this carrot has been dangled in front of us, I would have expected a more complete answer. I do know my theory of Barrons being the son of the Seelie Queen and the Unseelie King was wrong. I guess that's something. LOL

The Mac question of what her role is. Wow - that was a real maze of twists and turns. Mac is the incarnation of the concubine. No, She's the Unseelie King. No, no, Mac is the Sinsar Dubh twin in human form. Good grief! It wasn't that it was hard to follow, I got the twisted logic as to why Mac thought these possibilities were, well, possible. It was Mac's internal dialogue that seemed to go on, and on, and on. I was tempted to skim parts but was afraid I might miss new information. As it was, Mac really likes to think things through and then think about it some more. Has she always been like this? I don't remember her being quite so chatty in the head.

Lots of questions regarding Barrons beyond what he is. Like what does he really want with the book? Love Mac or just using her? Why are the shades afraid of him? I don't really see him as a hero. He's too self serving, too cold. His reason for wanting the book was certainly valid, to help his child, but he didn't seem to care what happened after he got the spell he needed. I'm not sure what I was expecting after he and Mac finally became a couple. Maybe Barrons would soften up a little? Yeah, that was just foolish of me. He didn't. Except for the BBQing at the end, he stayed true to character. And that BBQ part was just weird.

Dani, Dani, Dani. I love her! She is one of the best parts of this series. I wonder how many readers saw her shocking revelation coming? I didn't see it. Queen Bitch Rowena making Dani lure Alina to her death was a brilliant twist. I thought Dani had a hard life before but after that disclosure I'm surprised she didn't self destruct. And when you think back to every time she was with Mac, knowing the role she had in Alina's death, that must have torn her apart, little by little. As the book progressed, I was wanting more of Dani, less of Mac.

As far as the numerous questions, yes many were answered but, in the way of keeping the readers panting for more, new questions popped up in fairly regular intervals. What are these new powers Dani has after killing the Hunter? Lor? Well, he's just a big angry bundle of questions. Christian - Unseelie Prince in the making? And the walls - can they/will they get the walls back up? I'm sure there are others but those are the ones that come to mind.

At the beginning of this series I became enthralled with Moning's world building, the diverse characters and the beautiful light and dark setting of Dublin. By the end of the series I find that I am still fascinated by her world building and curious to see how Dublin continues to change with the walls down. Her creativity has always impressed me. The twists and turns in this series are incredible. When a shocking revelation comes to light and you can look back at previous books and see all the little clues leading up to that revelation, that's good writing.

That brings me to another point. Mac and Barrons. Yes, they finally became a couple but certainly not in the traditional romantic way. Not a lot of hearts and flowers going on here. Throughout the series I've enjoyed their interactions and I did expect them to take that finally step where it become more than just sex and the goal of finding the book keeping them together. But towards the end of Shadowfever I knew I was pretty much over them. I was ready for their story to end and ready to move on to someone else. Hence the willingness to want more books from this world, just not from Mac's perspective. I'm not sure I could take more from Mac's perspective.

Speaking of Mac, there was a scene towards the end when I got really pissed at Mac. She comes face to face with this couple, Isla O'Connor and Pieter Van de Meer. They tell Mac that they are her biological parents. They weave this story of how Isla, who is a sidhe seer, was pregnant with Mac when she fled the abbey. How they gave up Mac and Alina for adoption to keep them safe. At first Mac is skeptical. At this point in the story, she is full of herself, believing she is the Unseelie King. Mac really knows how to power trip. But after little proof, Mac buys into this story, ready to embrace Isla and Pieter as her parents.

[Mac] They were saying all the things I wanted to hear. It was breaking my heart. I had parents. Brothers. I'd been born. I belonged. I only wished Alina had lived to see this day. It would have been perfect.
page 515

As I was reading this scene I kept thinking "What about Jack and Rainey Lane?! The people who raised you? " It's like she completely forgot them. Maybe it was because of so many things happening to Mac over such a short period of time, but her character seem to shift from one belief to another fairly easily.

The overall story arc does come to a conclusion with a final showdown between evil and not quite evil. I'm not sure if by the end you could call anyone in this drama truly good. The remaining sidhe seers maybe? Everyone has their own agendas and it wasn't always for the good of the world. I did like the revelation of V'Lane being Cruce. It explained a lot of V'Lane's actions. The Unseelie King didn't impress me much. He acted more like a kid who had lost his favorite toy, his concubine.

So what grade to give? The biggest problem I had was with Mac. And since it's primarily told from her POV it did cause some problems. She is so very wordy and repetitive in her thinking. I know this is a long series with long spans between books. I do appreciate reminders of what has come before, there were just too many long monologues from Mac. Too much back and forth in her thinking. I do love the world building and want more set in the Fever world. And Dani was certainly a positive in the story.

It looks like the good and bad are fairly balanced. But after all the build up, I was hoping to have that sense of "Aaah" and a smile on my face when I closed the book. What I had were more questions and a surprisingly easy time of moving on to another book.

Rating: C+

Books in this series ~


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

TBR Challenge Review: Nick All Night

Nick All Night
Cheryl St. John
Contemporary Romance
Harlequin/June 1, 2002

From the back cover ~

He Was Worth Staying Up For...

Boy-next-door Nick Sinclair had grown up into a hunk extraordinaire - that was Ryanne Whitaker's first shock on reencountering her sexy, single-dad neighbor. The second was that she was facing this broad-shouldered Mr. Gorgeous across the barrel of a gun!

Turned out Nick was Iowa hometown and had mistaken Ryanne for an intruder... but meeting him again like that had certainly unsettled her settling in...

Ryanne had planned her stay in town to be temporary. But that was before Nick kissed her! Was it time for Ryanne to trade in the bright lights of the big city for the warm glow of hearth and home?

This one has been on the TBR pile for a while. When I first starting reading Cheryl St. John, I began searching out her back list, concentrating mainly on her historicals but did manage to snag a few contemporaries, this being one of them. Nick All Night has two of the romance tropes that I love. The friends-to-lovers and the coming-home, where home is a small town. St. John combined these to make one very satisfying romance.

Ryanne left the small town of Elmwood, Iowa for the big city and never looked back. Until her ex leaves her in a financial mess and she has no where else to go but home. She moves back into her childhood home even though her mom now lives in Arizona and her father is off with his new family. Ryanne is trying to keep her finances quiet and initially tells everyone she's on vacation. This is a little hard for sexy neighbor Nick to believe, who would vacation in Iowa in the summer? But he doesn't push - I liked that about Nick. Ryanne thinks of this as a temporary situation while she looks for a job, likely in another big city. Anything between her and Nick can not be serious. She also refuses any help, insisting on doing everything herself. She is trying to be so strong and independent but I do wish she had realized that asking for help is not always a sign of weakness.

Nick is a great guy. Really. He takes care of everyone. He's the town sheriff and he knows his citizens well, helping them to the point of opening his home to them. Plus his son and father live with him and he would do anything for them. So who takes care of Nick? That's what Ryanne begins to wonder. Nick decides to take on all of this responsibility as a way to atone for one wrong decision made when he was younger. I did get the sense that Nick enjoyed taking care of people but it was also what he was use to and it was hard for him to stop. I do wish Nick hadn't been so perfect, even his insomnia worked to his advantage making him available for late night police calls and long drives with Ryanne.

The fact that Ryanne and Nick grew up together and have a history only helped strengthen the closeness they feel as adults. It was not an easy transition from friends to lovers in the psychological sense. Neither one thought they wanted the same thing with Nick firmly planted in the small town and Ryanne planning to move on. The physical part of their new relationship was easy, except for the sneaking around. It is a small town after all. :) Eventually they have to decide what they really want. I liked how both helped each other see different perspectives and the options they had. Nick could follow his dream and Ryanne could find everything she ever wanted in a small town.

The romance also had some help from Nick's son and his father. Both of whom loved Ryanne and want her to stick around. Ryanne had a few scenes with old friends but the story focused more on her and Nick which worked for the shorter format. Overall, a sweet romance with the hero learning he doesn't always have to be heroic and the heroine learning that you can find love in a small town.

Rating: B+

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Review: Chasing the Sun

Chasing the Sun
Kaki Warner
Western Historical Romance
New Mexico Territory/1873
Blood Rose trilogy/Book 3
Berkley Trade/January 2011

From the back cover ~

Daisy Etheridge always yearned to sing. But along the way she fell in love, had her heart broken, and bore a child to a man who loved another. Now she has a second chance to realize her dreams. Needing to support herself and her child during her training - and with no other choice - she turns to the family of the man who abandoned her.

Jack Wilkins never wanted to work his family's ranch. He wanted to travel the world. But when he left three years ago with his childhood love, his devotion to her wasn't enough to keep her. Now, he's back to try and win her one last time - until a woman from his past appears... with a baby who has eyes like his own.

Caught between his feelings for his old flame, his attraction to Daisy, and his new role as a father, Jack offers to marry Daisy - though she's unwilling to risk her dreams for a man whose head and heart are so prone to wanderlust. But when the ranch is threatened, and the Wilkins family is strained to its breaking point, Jack and Daisy must choose what they want out of their lives - and out of each other...

The final book of the trilogy and I'm sorry to see the end of the Wilkins brothers. It's Jack's turn to find his woman, convince her he's the one and ride off into the sunset together. Except Jack's a little confused about what he wants as well as who he wants. And his life is about to get a lot more complicated.

Daisy Etheridge is running out of time and running from the law. She has no choice but to head to New Mexico Territory and the home of the man who broke her heart. She doesn't expect to find him there so she's shocked when he shows up. Chasing the Sun is a reunited lovers story with the added bonus of a baby. Then there's the "other woman" and one sided love. Wow - that's a lot for these confused, former lovers to deal with. Deal with it they do, Daisy showing maturity and Jack, well he's working on it. He does come around and finally makes some decisions he should have made long ago.

Jack is suffering from misunderstandings and misguided love. He has been in love with Elena for years. The problem is that he's always thought it was the love a man has for a woman not the love of siblings or friends. With Daisy back in his life, he's starting to see his love for Elena in a different light. Jack is hard headed and on the outside it looks like he has close relationships with his brothers, Elena and the other residents of the ranch where he grew up. But he's not close with anyone. He's had this adventurous nature, this need to get away from the ranch. I think that's what kept him from getting too close to anyone - knowing that he would eventually leave. It's what he found when he left that has brought him back to the ranch.

Daisy and her daughter Kate make the difficult trip from San Francisco to the Wilkins' ranch in New Mexico Territory. Once there they are welcomed into the family while Jack gets over the shock of not only seeing Daisy again but finding out he's a father. Daisy was pretty good about letting Jack spend time with Kate. She didn't try to use the baby to get Jack to do what she wanted. Daisy is still in love with Jack which is unfortunate since she's aware of his feelings for Elena. It's drama central at the ranch with Elena determined to leave, Jack determined she stay and Daisy wanting to leave but wanting Jack too. Jack does man up and asked Daisy to marry him - she says No. LOL That was funny. Jack has a rep for being a ladies man but his charm wasn't working on Daisy. Jack was surprised but not deterred. In the end, they not only worked out their differences but were both able to live out their dreams.

Along with Jack, Daisy, Elena and baby Kate we also get to revisit with Brady, Jessica, Hank and Molly - heroes and heroines from the previous books. It was good to see how they were doing. Both couples had problems they were still working out while Jack and Daisy worked on their own problems. It did seem like too much was going on at times. I would have preferred there be less of everyone else and more of Jack and Daisy. What there was of them was sometimes sweet and sometimes frustrating with both being too stubborn to see one solution to their problems.

The series ended the way it started, with Brady and Jessica, now in their later years, reminiscing about their loved ones. It was a sweet, sentimental look back on the lives of everyone in the Wilkins family both by blood and by love. A nice way to wrap up the trilogy.

While this may be the end of the Blood Rose trilogy the good news is that Ms. Warner has a new series coming out. Heartbreak Creek, the first book in the Runaway Brides series is out in July. It's another western series which makes me a very happy reader. :)

Rating: B+

Books in the trilogy ~

Pieces of Sky
Open Country
Chasing the Sun

Monday, February 14, 2011

Review: Truly, Madly

Truly, Madly
Heather Webber
Contemporary Mystery/Romance
Lucy Valentine/Book 1
St. Martins/February 2, 2010

From the back cover ~

Lucy Valentine is as smart as can be, as single as you can get, and so not qualified to run a matchmaking service. But when her parents temporarily step down from the family business, Valentine, Inc., it’s Lucy’s turn to step up and help out—in the name of love.

Plus, her rent is due.

Here’s the problem: Lucy doesn’t have the knack for matchmaking. According to family legend, every Valentine has been blessed by Cupid with the ability to read “auras” and pair up perfect couples. But not Lucy. Her skills were zapped away years ago in an electrical surge, and now all she can do is find lost objects. What good is that in the matchmaking world? You’d be surprised. In a city like Boston, everyone’s looking for something. So when Lucy locates a missing engagement ring—on a dead body—she asks the sexy private eye who works upstairs to help her solve the perfect crime. And who knows? Maybe she’ll find the perfect love while she’s at it…

So happy I started this series! I first heard about this last year when Nath reviewed it. Then the series popped up again when Nath reviewed Deeply, Desperately, book 2. Thankfully, I finally took the hint. :)

Lucy is a fun, quirky heroine who is open and easy to relate to. I don't want to say she's misguided so much as having a hard time finding her place in life. She's tried numerous careers but none seem to stick. When Lucy lost her ability to read "auras" she figured she also lost her chance to work in the family business. Fate intervenes in the form of Lucy's dad and a heart attack. While he's recovering in St. Lucia, Lucy must take over the family business of match making. She thinks she's out of her element but she does surprisingly well her first day. It's when she starts digging up the dead and hiding out from the police that the trouble begins.

Lucy has this offbeat group of secondary characters to help her with her efforts in the match making and mystery business. Her eccentric grandma Dovie, BFFs Em and Marisol, hunky PI Sean Donahue and Yoda like chauffeur Raphael. Through Lucy's relationships we see how she is a people pleaser, having a hard time saying no. It may seem like she lets people walk over her but when it comes to the real important stuff, she shows her backbone of steel. I felt sorry for Lucy for having to deal with everything that is dumped in her lap but at the same time, I thought it was just what she needed - to be needed.

The mystery was a good one - a twist, a surprise ending and Lucy is a hero with what looks to be a new career. The pacing is quick with Lucy jumping from one situation to the next. When she's not hunting down leads on her missing person, she's juggling Dovie's match making, her friends career problems, dodging the police and trying not to get distraction by her attraction to one very fine looking PI. The budding romance between Lucy and Sean was sweet to see unfold. Lucy believes in the family curse of no lasting love and sees no reason to get romantically involved. But she keeps turning to him for help and he keeps helping her which puts them together a lot. I'm looking forward to see how their romance continues to progress in the coming books.

There are a number of different sub-plots but it never felt confusing even with the numerous characters coming in and out of Lucy's life. There is mystery, romance and comedy but nothing too heavy even though some of the subjects can be serious, Webber keeps things fairly light. I do think it would have been more fulfilling had Lucy and possibly a few of the secondary characters been fleshed out more. With so many to choose from, we got pieces of each character but not quite enough to complete the whole picture. Which is why I'll be reading the next books in the series.

Rating: B+

Books in this series ~

Truly, Madly
Deeply, Desperately
Absolutely, Positively

Friday, February 11, 2011

Review: Notorious Pleasures

Notorious Pleasures
Elizabeth Hoyt
Historical Romance/London/1737
Maiden Lane/Book 2
Grand Central Publishing/February 1, 2011

From the back cover ~

Their lives were perfect . . .

Lady Hero Batten, the beautiful sister of the Duke of Wakefield, has everything a woman could want, including the perfect fiancé. True, the Marquis of Mandeville is a trifle dull and has no sense of humor, but that doesn't bother Hero. Until she meets his notorious brother . . .

Until they met each other.

Griffin Remmington, Lord Reading, is far from perfect - and he likes it that way. How he spends his days is a mystery, but all of London knows he engages in the worst sorts of drunken revelry at night. Hero takes an instant dislike to him, and Griffin thinks that Hero, with her charities and faultless manners, is much too impeccable for society, let alone his brother. Yet their near-constant battle of wits soon sparks desire - desire that causes their carefully constructed worlds to come tumbling down. As Hero's wedding nears, and Griffin's enemies lay plans to end their dreams forever, can two imperfect people find perfect true love?

Loving this series! Two books in and I have numerous secondary characters whose books I want to read. The excerpt for the next book, Scandalous Desires, left me wanting it like yesterday. And once again Ms. Hoyt added the delicious cherry on top of the sundae by giving us the beautiful story-within-the-story called Queen Ravenhair. I love the extra fairy tale story at the beginning of every chapter. It's like getting a free gift with every purchase except this gift is something you actually want!

They say first impressions are important. You want them to be memorable, because who wants to be forgotten. When Lady Hero Batten meets Lord Griffin Reading for the first time there is no way she could possibly forget him or his beautifully muscled rear end. Their first meeting leaves Hero decidedly uncomfortable in Lord Scandalous' presence and it leaves Griffin curious about Lady Perfect. Yes, they have nicknames for each other, right from the start. While they're not affectionate nicknames they do shift to affection as they fall in love.

We first met Lady Hero in Wicked Intentions and while she didn't get much page time she left enough of an impression on me to want to know more about her. She is a very proper lady of the aristocracy, aware of her place in life. As the daughter of a duke and now the sister of a duke, Hero does everything in her power to maintain a high standard of morals and propriety. Which is why it was so fascinating to see her evolve from this paragon of virtue into a woman making mistakes and letting her heart rule her actions instead of society. And it's not only Griffin that works as a catalyst for this change but Hero's involvement with the orphanage.

Griffin is my kind of hero! He's a devil with a wicked sense of humor and a way with women. He may cultivate the reputation of a rake but he also has brilliant business skills that have kept his family in the black. Deep down he loves his family, we see this in how he treats his mother and sisters. His relationship with his brother Thomas, Hero's fiancé, is more complicated. They had a falling out years ago and now act more like acquaintances than brothers. Griffin gave me this sense of a man who would rather let the world think the worst of him than fight to show the best of him. Hero steps in and begins to change that, giving him a reason to care what she and his family think of him. Love when that happens!

The romance of Hero and Griffin runs concurrent with planning for Hero's wedding which makes for some uncomfortable situations. Once again we see the two sides of Hero - prim and proper colliding with the sensual woman hiding inside. For Griffin, he continues to encourage his rakish reputation while tackling his less-than-legal business problems. It was interesting to see Griffin try to justify his illegal business in the face of Hero's criticism. She pleads with him to stop but he sees no way to earn the money his family needs without the illegal business. It was realistic for Griffin to continue rather than instantly give in to Hero's pleas. Had he given in quickly, it would have refuted the need for the illegal business, and wealth of funds it generated.

The two secondary story lines feature Griffin's brother Thomas and Silence Hollingbrook who now runs the orphanage. Thomas was an ass, plain and simple. He displays this pompous attitude all while trying to get his former mistress back while his wedding date draws closer. I didn't care for him and cheered when Griffin knocked him on his less than perfect ass. The other story is Silence's that began in Wicked Intentions and continues with her taking over the running of the orphanage. She also has Mary Darling, the child left on her doorstep, to take care of. Silence has essentially, if not legally, adopted Mary Darling and loves her as if she were her own. I couldn't help but feel sorry for Silence after everything she's been through with still more sorrow ahead of her. She already has me impatiently waiting for her story.

The romance is steamy hot, with the chance of discovery adding to the sexual tension and excitement. Both Griffin and Hero seemed to enjoy that extra little thrill. I know I found it entertaining! Hero's rigid sense of propriety may be bent but not broken. She continues to try to do the right thing, to protect Griffin from her brother Maximus, the very powerful duke who is determined to shut Griffin's business down. The story culminates in a vicious fight, Hero in danger and Griffin realizing what's really important. Once again Hoyt delivers a delicious romance with an irresistible hero, a intriguing heroine and a cast of captivating secondary characters.

Rating: A

Books in this series ~

Wicked Intentions
Notorious Pleasures
Scandalous Desires (November 2011)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Upcoming PNR/UF Releases...

While I might lament about all the wonderful UF & PNR series I have yet to start, there are still a heck of a lot that I have started and try to keep up with. I may be a few books behind on some series but that doesn't stop me from looking forward to the newest releases. And of course there are all the new series that I can't stop myself from coveting, TBR pile be damned!

Car mechanic Mercy Thompson has always known there was something different about her, and not just the way she can make a VW engine sit up and beg. Mercy is a shapeshifter, a talent she inherited from her long-gone father. She's never known any others of her kind. Until now.

An evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River-one that her father's people may know something about. And to have any hope of surviving, Mercy and her mate, the Alpha werewolf Adam, will need their help...

It's Patty Briggs & Mercy - hands down one of my favorite UF series. If you are one of the few not reading this series, what are you waiting for? Go forth and read. If you are reading this series and want to get a head start on River Marked, you can read the first chapter here.

River Marked ~ Patricia Briggs
Release Date ~ March 1

Some things are better forgotten.

I was alone, and I was lost. I didn’t know where I was; I didn’t know who I was. It doesn’t get more lost than that. Knowing what I knew and not knowing anything else at all, why would I want to be in the darkness where monsters hide?
Because killers hide there, too…

Half-human Cal Leandros has always walked a bloody line between keeping his mortal soul free and clear (sort of) and unleashing the horror of his otherworldly heritage. The one thing that’s always saved him is the memory of his brother, Niko, his friends, and those he loves.

Until now.

Cal wakes up on a beach littered with the recently slaughtered remains of a variety of hideous creatures that were obviously looking for trouble. The fact that he was the one doing the slaughtering doesn’t bother him. The fact that he feels like a natural-born killer doesn’t either. What bothers him is that Cal doesn’t remember Cal anymore…

And he’s not sure he cares.

Love, love, love this series! Cal & Niko - my two favorite brothers are back in book 6 of this amazing series. If you want a gritty, fast-paced, urban fantasy that can have you laughing one minute and on the edge of your seat the next, this is the series for you.

Blackout ~ Rob Thurman
Release Date ~ March 1

They are here. They ride. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

His name is Ares, and the fate of mankind rests on his powerful shoulders. If he falls to the forces of evil, the world falls too. As one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, he is far stronger than any mortal, but even he cannot fight his destiny forever. Not when his own brother plots against him.

Yet there is one last hope. Gifted in a way other humans can't-or won't-understand, Cara Thornhart is the key to both this Horseman's safety and his doom. But involving Cara will prove treacherous, even beyond the maddening, dangerous desire that seizes them the moment they meet. For staving off eternal darkness could have a staggering cost: Cara's life.

A new series from Larissa Ione is something to get excited about! Ione writes sexy heroes and kick-ass heroines. No doubt she will once again deliver smoking hot stories that will leave readers asking for more.

Eternal Rider ~ Larissa Ione
Release Date ~ March 29

A Fiery Temper is Not Easily Extinguished

Half-human and half-wyr, Pia Giovanni spent her life keeping a low profile among the wyrkind and avoiding the continuing conflict between them and their Dark Fae enemies. But after being blackmailed into stealing a coin from the hoard of a dragon, Pia finds herself targeted by one of the most powerful–and passionate—of the Elder Races.

As the most feared and respected of the wyrkind, Dragos Cuelebre cannot believe someone had the audacity to steal from him, much less succeed. And when he catches the thief, Dragos spares her life, claiming her as his own to further explore the desire they’ve ignited in one another.

A new series that has already gotten a lot of buzz and it's not out for another 3 months! Dragons and Fae could prove to be a wonderful combination of awesomeness.

Dragon Bound ~ Thea Harrison
Release Date ~ May 3

Plagued by a war between magic and technology, Atlanta has never been so deadly. Good thing Kate Daniels is on the job.

Kate Daniels may have quit the Order of Merciful Aid, but she’s still knee-deep in paranormal problems. Or she would be if she could get someone to hire her. Starting her own business has been more challenging than she thought it would be—now that the Order is disparaging her good name, and many potential clients are afraid of getting on the bad side of the Beast Lord, who just happens to be Kate’s mate.

So when Atlanta’s premier Master of the Dead calls to ask for help with a vampire on the loose, Kate leaps at the chance of some paying work. Turns out this is not an isolated incident, and Kate needs to get to the bottom of it—fast, or the city and everyone dear to her might pay the ultimate price . . .

So much goodness coming out this spring. Kate Daniels series is a must for any UF fan. It has a sword wielding heroine, a sometimes furry alpha male, magic, shapeshifters and ultra creepy vampires. And pie. ;)

Magic Slays ~ Ilona Andrews
Release Date ~ May 31

Since the moment of her defection from the PsyNet and into the SnowDancer wolf pack, Sienna Lauren has had one weakness. Hawke. Alpha and dangerous, he compels her to madness.

Hawke is used to walking alone, having lost the woman who would’ve been his mate long ago. But Sienna fascinates the primal heart of him, even as he tells himself she is far too young to handle the wild fury of the wolf.

Then Sienna changes the rules and suddenly, there is no more distance, only the most intimate of battles between two people who were never meant to meet. Yet as they strip away each other’s secrets in a storm of raw emotion, they must also ready themselves for a far more vicious fight…

A deadly enemy is out to destroy SnowDancer, striking at everything they hold dear, but it is Sienna’s darkest secret that may yet savage the pack that is her home…and the alpha who is its heartbeat…

It's almost here,the book every fan has been waiting for. Hawk and Sienna! It's been a long wait but it looks like Sienna has grown up and is ready to take on the alpha of the SnowDancer pack. This will also be Singh's first hardcover which is a huge step in her career.

Kiss of Snow ~ Nalini Singh

Release Date ~ May 31

Growing up with an unstable, often absent father who preached about the end of the world, Jenna
never thought in her wildest nightmares that his predictions would come true. Or that he would have a plan in place to save her—one that includes the strong, stoic man who kidnaps and takes her to a remote cabin in the Pacific Northwest.

The mysterious ex-Marine named Mason owes a life-debt to Jenna’s father. Skilled and steadfast, he’s ready for the prophesied Change, but Jenna proves tough to convince. Until the power grid collapses and mutant dogs attack—vicious things that reek of nature gone wrong.

When five strangers appear, desperate to escape the bloodthirsty packs, Jenna defies her protector and rescues them. As technology fails and the old world falls away, Jenna changes too, forever altered by supernatural forces. To fight for their future, she and Mason must learn to trust their instinctive passion—a flame that will see them through the bitter winter, the endless nights, and the violence of a new Dark Age.

I love the sounds of this trilogy! I've been slowly getting into the post-apocalyptic phenom and this fits right in. And with two talented authors behind the words, it's hard to go wrong.

Ellen Connor is a pseudonym for the writing duo of Ann Aguirre & Carrie Lofty.

Nightfall ~ Ellen Connor
Release date ~ June 7

So what new PNR/UF releases are you looking forward to in the coming months? Any that are not to be missed? Do tell!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Review: Whisper Falls

Whisper Falls
Toni Blake
Contemporary Romance
Destiny/Book 3
Avon/December 28, 2010

From the author's website ~

Welcome to Destiny, Ohio—where coming home means finding your true heart and maybe even your true love.

Tessa Sheridan came crawling back home to Destiny after her big city interior design career crumbled. Now not only must she struggle to make ends meet, she has to contend with a biker next door and the roar of Harleys shattering the serenity of her cabin in the woods. Worse still, her sexy bad boy neighbor makes her feel breathless and weak—and shy, petite Tessa knows what a major mistake it would be to get involved with someone so…dangerous.

They say that former teen rebel Lucky Romo has a dark, secret past—that he’s trouble with a capital “T.” Still, Tessa feels all tingly when she sees how well he fills out a pair of tight jeans. And when Lucky invites her into his world, she knows the intense heat sparking between them could lead her somewhere wild and wonderful…and, yes, dangerous!

I'm really enjoying this series! Can't you tell? :) It has that small town feel but it doesn't overshadow the romance, instead it enhances the the characters' lives. The third book may sound like a typical good girl falls for bad boy story but it's much more than that.

Tessa Sheridan left Destiny to follow her dream of working in the world of interior design. She did well for herself until medical issues forced her to leave her much loved career and move back to Destiny to be close to her family. She tried starting up her own design firm but no luck so far. So she's working in her friend Amy's bookstore, trying to make ends meet while still learning to live with her reoccurring illness. I liked how Blake portrayed Tessa and how she dealt with her illness. Tessa was determined to take care of herself, she didn't like anyone seeing her sick. But, she does have enough sense to take help when she needs it - like moving back to Destiny. She doesn't dwell on her illness, it does get to her sometimes, like how it makes her feel less than sexy. All that's about to change...

Lucky Romo was the town bad boy who took off after high school, never coming back. The only think anyone ever heard from him were rumors of his life on the wrong side of the law. He's back but keeping a low profile. He has some major family issues that he's not ready to face just yet. Lucky is not a hero, yet. He's still working on it. He fell in with a bad group and did some things that he's not proud of but he is trying to change. I think that's what's important about his character and what we see throughout the story. Lucky changing and having to make decisions based on his new set of rules to live by. He does have some missteps, big and little, but he keeps trying. After meeting Tessa, he has even more reason to try to put his past far behind him.

The town of Destiny is a slice of American with a side of crazy. There are such an eclectic bunch of characters. Tessa's girl friends provide support and encouragement when she needs it most. They also love to talk about their sex lives or lack of. I found it funny and a bit shocking as to how much details give out all while sitting in the local diner! Seriously, I kept thinking, don't they worry that someone will overhear them?! LOL

Tessa and Lucky made such a great couple. Lucky is a guy that doesn't attract "nice girls" and Tessa is a nice girl. But she also has a wild side to her that Lucky seem to bring out. I loved how once she got over her nervousness around him she was able to let her hair down and didn't care if he saw her dancing on her deck or sunbathing. She secretly liked his attention. Lucky can't figure out why someone like Tessa would want to be around him and he's not sure if he's good enough for her. I really liked how Blake developed their relationship going from neighbors to friends to lovers. It wasn't a fast jump into bed even with the strong attraction they both felt early on. It was a slow burn of looks and touches and finally kisses. Very hot, very sexy kisses and more. Blake knows how to write steamy, emotional sex scenes, giving the characters plenty of room to show their feelings through their words and actions.

As Tessa and Lucky fall in love, Lucky's past is racing to catch up to him. He's also reconnecting with his family and his hard-headed brother Mike, (hero from Sugar Creek) isn't making things easy. Both Tessa and Lucky make mistakes but they were mistakes that anyone could have made given their past experiences. The big misunderstanding reared it's ugly head but it played in with everything that had gone before it, making it work and making the outcome - Tessa and Lucky together - believable.

The next book in the series, Holly Lane, is Adam's story. Adam is from Destiny and has made appearances but we really don't know much about him. I'll be curious to see what direction his story takes and who his heroine is.

Rating: A-

Books in this Series ~

One Reckless Summer
Sugar Creek
Whisper Falls
Holly Lane (Adam's story/November 2011)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Review: Sugar Creek

Sugar Creek
Toni Blake
Contemporary Romance
Destiny/Book 2
Avon/May 25, 2010

From the back cover ~

Welcome to Destiny, Ohio—where two families have been at odds as long as anyone in town can remember.

Rachel Farris returned to her childhood home with one mission in mind: get Mike Romo out of her family’s apple orchard business and out of their lives. But hard-nosed and totally hot Mike, who happens to be the law in Destiny, is convinced the Farris clan stole the land from his family fifty years ago and he’s not backing down. Even when shapely trouble shows up in a pair of designer blue jeans. However, neither the hunky cop nor the sexy prodigal hometown girl can anticipate the electricity that heats things up whenever they’re together—adding new sizzle to an ongoing feud that’s raged for generations, and soon putting both their hearts at risk.

This book and I got off to a rough start. A little background ~ I started Sugar Creek late last year. I had checked it out from the library, started reading, then around page 70 I found a ... stain. I was pretty certain what it was and really grossed out. Let's just say that someone should have used a tissue instead of the book! There was no way I could keep reading this particular copy. I took it back to the library and told the librarian what I had found. Sadly she wasn't surprised. She told me I'd be amazed at the things they find. She asked me if I wanted her to request another copy but I told her no thanks, I was a little gun shy at this point. LOL Anyway, I finally got my own stain-free copy, and went back to Destiny, Ohio. :)

What's wrong with going a little too fast down a country road? Everyone does it right?. It's that speeding that brings Rachel Farris and Officer Mike Romo together and not in a good way. Mike is a by the book cop. No use trying to talk or cry your way out of a ticket with him. Good thing Rachel isn't the crying type. But after trying to talk herself out of a ticket she cops an attitude with Officer Romo and the sparks fly. The Farris/Romo feud is still alive and well, Rachel and Mike's first encounter proves that.

Everyone who leaves Destiny seems to come back. That can be said for Rachel Farris, who left years ago for a fast paced life in the big city of Chicago. She's back now but it's only temporary. Just until the apple harvest is done and her grandma Edna doesn't need Rachel's help with the farm.Rachel is a fun heroine in that she's serious when it comes to her career but she knows how to let her hair down and hang out with her girl friends.

I liked that Rachel doesn't apologize for wanting her career and wanting to live in the city where her career could continue to flourish. She has some very strong beliefs on why she needs the stability of a good job. It's those belief that we see change over the course of the weeks she spends with her grandma and her friends. Blake didn't have Rachel do a quick 180°, instead she had Rachel absorbed that small town life, getting pulled into the friendships and closeness that a community of this type inspires. Rachel also had her feelings for Mike to consider even though she kept telling herself it's not serious. Where have we heard that before!

Mike Romo was born and raised in Destiny. He's known around town as the hard nosed cop with a tragic past. His parents and brother all left Destiny long ago but Mike has his reasons for staying. Mike is very aware of the old feud and there is no way he would ever be attracted to a Farris! The fact that she's so obviously trouble only reinforces his view of the Farris clan. And yet, he can't seem to stop thinking about her, being around her. Mike's funny in how he tries so darn hard to not be attracted to Rachel then gives in, but it's only sex. He's not an easy character to like in that he's closed off, not allowing himself to show his "softer" side. With Mike it was more of a slow burn of liking - the more I got to know him, the more Rachel got to know him, the more I figured he wasn't so bad. He's not high on my list of heroes but in the end he and Rachel worked.

Grandma Edna, Rachel's reason for returning to Destiny, is a hoot! She's far from shy and says what she means. She also has a story to tell. Over the course of the book she tells Rachel how the Farris/Romo feud started. I found Edna's story sweet and sad. She definitely knows how to spin a tale and leave you wanting more. Blake did a wonderful job developing Rachel and Edna's relationship, making it far more than obligation on Rachel's part for being there.

This is a small town romance and with that comes the eclectic group of characters that give the town of Destiny it's flavor. Rachel gets to reconnect with friends from her past and Mike gets to see another side of Rachel, separating her from her Farris heritage. The romance, with all it's influence from outside sources, worked because ultimately Rachel and Mike made their decisions based on what they felt. It did take a near tragedy to get them there but they did finally get there.

The next book, Whisper Falls, is Rachel's good friend Tessa's story. I've already read it and so far it's my favorite of the three. If you like small town romances with strong, well developed characters Destiny, Ohio is a good place to go.

Rating: B+

Books in the series ~

One Reckless Summer
Sugar Creek
Whisper Falls
Holly Lane (Adams story/November 2011)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

January Reads...

The year started off with a bang reading wise. I'm once again keeping track of books read (including audio books), in Excel. We'll see how long it lasts. :)

While I love listening to music, I always have an audio book going too. What I've found is that I enjoy re-listening to audio books as well as listening to the audio books of previously read books. Brockmann's Troubleshooter series and Robb's In Death series are two that I enjoy repeat listens. It's like visiting with old friends. :)

Last month found me listening to Elizabeth Hoyt's Wicked Intentions. I read the book when it came out and decided to refresh my memory by listening to the audio book before reading the next release, Notorious Pleasures. Let me say narrator, Ashford MacNab, did a beautiful job making the book come alive.

I won't be including the repeats in the monthly listing.

Audio Books

Source = City and County Library websites. If you are interested in trying audio books I would strongly suggest checking out your local library website. If you have access to a metro library system and even some of the smaller systems, you should be able to download audio files to your computer and side load to an mp3 player using OverDrive Media.

1. At Graves End/Jeaniene Frost/Urban Fantasy/B+
2. First Lady/Susan Elizabeth Phillips/Contemporary Romance/B+
3. Silver Springs/Carolyn Lampman/Historical Romance/B
4. Glitter Baby/Susan Elizabeth Phillips/Contemporary Fiction/B

The Numbers

Contemporary Romance ~ 2
Historical Romance ~ 1
Urban Fantasy ~ 1

B+ ~ 2
B ~ 2

I have to mention how much fun it was to "hear" Bones from Jeaniene Frost's series. The narrator, Tavia Gilbert, makes me chuckle, in a good way, when I hear his lyrical accent.

Also, listening to First Lady reminded how much I miss hearing Anna Fields' voice. She is truly missed.

Print/Electronic Books

1. Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman/Lorraine Heath/Historical Romance/A
2. The Iron Queen /Julie Kagawa/Young Adult (Fantasy)/A
3. Whisper Falls/Toni Blake/Contemporary Romance/A-
4. The Chief /Monica McCarty/Historical Romance/A-
5. Sugar Creek/Toni Blake/Contemporary Romance/B+
6. The Spymaster's Lady/Joanna Bourne/Historical Romance (Suspense)/B+*
7. The Hawk /Monica McCarty/Historical Romance/B+
8. Call Me Irrisistible/Susan Elizabeth Phillips/Contemporary Romance/B+
9. Dreamveil/Lynn Viehl/PNR/B+
10. A Bride in the Bargain/Deeanne Gist/Historical Romance (Inspirational)/B
11. Thread of Fear/Laura Griffin/Romantic Suspense/B
12. Marry Me /Jo Goodman/Historical Romance (Western)/B
13. No Place to Run/Maya Banks/Romantic Suspense/B-
14. Maybe This Time/Jennifer Crusie/Contemporary Romance (PNR elements)/B-
15. The Lawman/Patricia Potter/Historical Romance (Western)/C+
16. An Independent Wife/Linda Howard/Contemporary Romance/D
17. Rough Cut/Mari Carr/Erotic Romance/DNF**

Titles in red link to my review. I hope to get the remaining 5 titles reviewed.

* The Spymaster's Lady started as an audio book but I got impatient and switched to my print copy. :)

**Rough Cut was a free novella for the nook©. Couldn't get into it.

The Numbers

Historical ~ 7
Contemporary ~ 5
Romantic Suspense ~ 2
Paranormal Romance ~ 1
Young Adult ~ 1

A ~ 2
A - ~ 2
B+ ~ 5
B ~ 3
B- ~ 2
C+ ~ 1
D ~ 1
DNF ~ 1

In case you're curious ~

Ten of the print books were library books.
Four were E-books.
Three were from my TBR pile.

Only a few duds but mostly a very good month number wise and grade wise. I'm going to be pragmatic about this and explain it away as a fluke. The number of historical romances surprised me. I think it's been years since I read that many in a month. So how was your reading month?

Photo Courtesy of Antarctic Photo Library