Wednesday, July 17, 2013

TBR Challenge: Break the Night

Break the Night
Anne Stuart
Romantic Suspense
Silhouette/May 1, 1993

A silent scream, a bloodstained knife... A century past, the faceless killer had strolled out of the London fog and into history, the most infamous murderer who ever lived. And only reporter J. R. Damien knew he had never died, could never die. It was impossible, and yet it was true--Saucy Jack was back, plying his trade in the back alleys of Venice, California... 

And Saucy Jack takes another life...

Lizzie Stride refused to accept the ravings of this man who swore she was fated to die, again and again, at the hands of a long-dead madman. But J. R. Damien's haunted eyes told her she must follow in a century-old dance of death and desire--with a man who feared he was the reincarnation of Jack the Ripper...

Finally made it!  Every month this year I had every intention of joining the challenge.  I've enjoyed participating in past years and have been disappointed in myself for not doing it this year.  But now, I finally got one off the TBR pile!

While I've certainly heard of Anne Stuart and have a few more of her books, this is the first one of hers I've read.  It proved to be an interesting read; past lives, psychic abilities and one creep villain combined for something different.  There wasn't a whole heck of a lot of romance, what with the Venice Ripper on the loose and the heroine and hero having an eerie connection to him.  But that was okay since it didn't have a romantic feel to it.

Lizzy Stride is pulled into the grisly murders and becomes more terrified as each prostitute is killed. She is also pulled into reporter J. R. Damien's world since he is devoting his life to finding the Venice Ripper.  Damien will do anything to catch the killer, even using Lizzy to lure him out.  Lizzy doesn't want anything to do with Damien but is giving little choice when her life is in danger and the police can't be trusted to keep her safe.  This is where Damien started getting on my nerves.

First he insisted he would protect Lizzy, since in his opinion, the police were worthless.  Then he would change his mind and tell Lizzy she needed to get out of town and as far away from him as possible.  Then, he decides he can't live without her and he'll protect her.  Then, he changes his mind again saying, "you're not safe with me Lizzy".  Those voices in Damien's were driving him nuts!

Lizzy, for her part, does a similar dance.  First, she is angry at Damien and blames him for putting her in danger.  Then she comes to care about this damaged man.  Then she wants to get as far away from him as possible.  Unfortunately, she wants this when he wants her close to him.  While this is going on, Ripper is busy with his killing spree.  He was one nasty bastard.

The past lives slant was interesting, but ultimately what kept me reading was not the relationship between the hero and heroine but the Ripper himself.  I wanted to find out who or what he really was.

Rating: C+

Monday, July 15, 2013

Review: Can't Stop Believing

Can't Stop Believing
Jodi Thomas
Contemporary Romance
Harmony/Book 6
Berkley/June 4, 2013

Cord McMillan gave up his freedom at eighteen when he went to jail for a crime he didn’t commit. Now, ten years later, he’s about to give it up again for a piece of land. Nevada Britain, his neighbor, has just made him an offer he can’t refuse: If he’ll marry her, she’ll sign over a section of property that their families have been fighting over for a hundred years. Nevada refuses to explain why, but Cord knows the bargain is in his favor. He just has one condition—she has to sleep in his bed every night for as long as their doomed marriage lasts. Nevada only wants to maintain her family’s legacy—and redeem herself for a wrong she did Cord years ago. But as she spends more time with her husband by necessity, she discovers something unexpected—a love so deep it takes her breath away.

I love coming back to Harmony, Texas.  There is always a warm welcome waiting for readers.  The hero and heroine of book six are new characters which I thought worked well.  We still get to see plenty of familiar characters but Cord and Nevada are the couple working on their happily ever after.

You can't help but feel for Cord McMillan.  He has no choice but to put up with unfair treatment because of his past.  And if that's not bad enough, he feels like he has no friends, no one there for him.  I liked Cord right off the bat, mostly because of his hard work attitude and his refusal to give in and give up his dream.

Nevada Britain seems to have it all.  Wealth, looks and youth.  But that's what is on the outside, what is on the inside is a woman who has a huge amount of stress and little love in her life.  Nevada wasn't as easy to know as Cord which isn't surprising.  She's hiding things from Cord and until she was completely honest with him, I thought, you know, he deserves better.  He deserves honesty.  Thankfully, Nevada comes to trust Cord and she earned his trust.

As a couple, Cord and Nevada have a hard road since they don't become a couple for the usual reasons but as a business transaction.  Ms. Thomas does well turning that business transaction into a believable romance.

When reading a Harmony novel, part of the enjoyment is catching up with familiar faces.  Without spoiling it, one character's storyline in particular was so well written, so emotional, I think Ms. Thomas gave me something I didn't know I wanted for this character.  Not trying to be a tease but really, just read the book.  The whole series in fact.  I can't wait to visit Harmony again!

Rating:  A

Monday, July 8, 2013

ARC Review: The Newcomer

The Newcomer
Robyn Carr
Contemporary Romance
Thunder Point/Book 2
Harlequin/June 25, 2013

Single dad and Thunder Point's deputy sheriff "Mac" McCain has worked hard to keep everyone safe and happy. Now he's found his own happiness with Gina James. The longtime friends have always shared the challenges and rewards of raising their adolescent daughters. With an unexpected romance growing between them, they're feeling like teenagers themselves-suddenly they can't get enough of one another. 

And just when things are really taking off, their lives are suddenly thrown into chaos. When Mac's long-lost-and not missed-ex-wife shows up in town, drama takes on a whole new meaning. They're wondering if their new feelings for each other can withstand the pressure...but they are not going down without a fight.

After reading the first book in the series, The Wanderer, I was looking forward to reading Mac and Gina's story and was happy I didn't have to wait too long for it.  It turns out it's not just Mac and Gina but we also see Cooper and Sarah's from The Wanderer and the progression of their relationship.  Both couples have obstacles to overcome and a blending of families.  I wouldn't say the focus is an even split between the couples but Sara and Cooper definitely get plenty of page time.  Usually, I don't like so much of the focus taken off what I consider, and what the blurb implies, is the main couple.  But Carr does well in making the reader care about both couples and want to know what will happen to them.

One of my favorite romance tropes is the friends-to-lovers.  Gina and Mac embody this.  They know each other so well but as friends, their relationship takes on a different tone once they become lovers.  There is still that base of friendship but it become even deeper as they become closer.  Carr keeps that friendship going strong when Gina and Mac encounter difficulties in their romance.

The combining of the families is handled well.  There is never any doubt of Mac's love and devotion to his kids.  It's obvious he will do anything for them.  As is Gina's devotion to her daughter.  Gina's relationship with her daughter Ashley takes on a tough subject.  Carr gives it enough time to unfold without overwhelming the romance.  Then there's Mac's ex-wife, well, I could have done without her and didn't completely approve of how Mac handled the situation.

There are a number of coincidences and events that may have been intended to be a surprise but were fairly obvious but the overall story is well paced.  The secondary characters are such an essential part of the story, adding much love, humor, wisdom and stability to Thunder Point.  Another enjoyable addition for Ms. Carr's new series.  

Rating:  A-

Thunder Point Series ~

The Wanderer
The Newcomer
The Hero (August 27, 2013)