What do you do when you go on a 5 day ski vacation with a kid who has a broken leg, and you're the designated company-keeper? You bring a shitload of books. (excuse the poor language, I just finished posting at KarenS's blog LOL). So what did I read all week? There are so many of these, so I will keep them all short and sweet, or else you will be reading all damn day (whoops there I go again - gee, thanks Karen *g*). No deep thinking for me tonight :)
The Bodyguards Series by Cindy Gerard: My blogging partner has already posted about To the Limit, and my other blogging partner Anne posted a fantabulous synopsis and review of all 3 books, so I will keep these very brief. Let me begin by reminding you what a spy/PI/military slut I am :) .
To the Edge: Book 1. I loved this book. Hard, edgy, taut. Tortured, studly, ex-military turned PI hero with a loving, teasing, tremendous family. Stalker storyline. You just know that Nolan is a goner the minute Jillian is introduced and holds her own against him. Did I say I loved this book? I thought this was the best of them all - and I loved them all, but something about Nolan just grabbed me. Sigh. What a yummy hero.
To the Limit: Book 2. This one is about the only sister in the Garrett family. Eve, ex-Secret Service, meets up with Tyler McClain, her high school one-night stand, while trying to find a missing girl. Turns out he's also a PI, and they are both looking for the same missing girl. The dialogue in this one was terrific - I loved the way McClain kept getting referred to as the "rat-bastard" - kept me grinning for pages and pages in the midst of some pretty gripping drama.
To the Brink: This is Ethan's, the eldest Garrett sibling, story. Gerard is very careful to characterize him as seemingly very proper in the first 2 books, always impeccably dressed, but his siblings are always wondering what is lurking beneath all that perfection. We get to find out here, as he races off to save his kidnapped ex-wife in the jungles of the Philippines.
What I really like about Gerard's writing is that there is no extraneous fat. It is taut, to the point, yet incredibly descriptive at the same time. The characters are fleshed out enough that you really get a sense of who they are, but without flowery embellishment. You understand what is driving them. You know why Nolan has nightmares and drinks, why Ethan was overprotective of his wife, why Eve was unwilling to trust McClain. The writing style matches the stories - tightly written, yet captivating. Look for Over the Line, Jason "Plowboy" Wilson's story in June 06. Gerard is making us wait until June 07 for Dallas (the final Garrett sibling) & Amy. Damn her.
Dangerous Curves by Pamela Britton: I have only read Pamela Britton's historicals, but have always enjoyed the heck out of them. This is the first in HQN's contracted series with NASCAR. The heroine is an FBI agent who grew up with and had a crush on our hero, a racing team owner and former driving star. When he believes one of his drivers was murdered, he asks for her to investigate, knowing that she is a race car expert. This was a fun, light read - and suspenseful. I didn't figure out the whodunnit till the very end, and I usually get those very early on. I had read somewhere, I forget where, that HQN had insisted there be no sex in the NASCAR books. Not true with this one.
In the Groove by Pamela Britton: Although I enjoyed the first one more, this 2nd in the NASCAR series was also a fairly fun read. This is the story of a driver in a slump and an ex- kindergarten teacher with a penchant for getting herself into trouble. The story was sweet (sometimes a bit too saccharin sweet for my taste, but not too terribly offputting if you like that sort of thing), and there was just enough humor to make the sweetness tolerable. Not too much action in this one... more of an introspective look for both hero and heroine... learning to trust and love themselves and each other. True to Harlequin storyline. Oh, and this one? No sex. I mean none. That must have been pretty hard for Britton - her historicals can get pretty racy :) The 3rd NASCAR, On the Edge, is due out in September. Hope it's a bit better than #2.
The Penalty Box by Deirdre Martin: I loved Martin's first book, Body Check, but had been increasingly disappointed with each subsequent book. So it was with a cynical eye that I opened up The Penalty Box. I'm glad I did. I enjoyed it, really I did. I think. Other than a slight twinge of annoyance with the heroine's obsession with her weight, and the obnoxious references to her sociology professorship, this one was a winner. And Martin didn't overly dwell on it, no more so than you or I would, but I think that's my point. I dwell enough on my weight, I hate it when I have to think about it in books. And, I work in academia, so the sociology professor thing was too close to home - ick. You probably wouldn't bat an eye at it. But, I don't think either was overdone, so what's my point? I dunno. Shut up, Lori. OK, so our heroine was the stereotypical fat chick in high school that everyone made fun of. Hero was a famous hockey player who had to retire early due to one too many concussions. They meet up again at their 10 year high school reunion. Of course, she's a raving beauty now and no one recognizes her until they read her name badge. He immediately falls in lust with her. They begin an affair. Throw in a stereotypical nasty cheerleader type who hasn't changed since high school (except to get even snarkier), a druggie sister with a Harley-riding tatoo-laden boyfriend named (can you guess it?... I'll wait...) Snake, custody of her hockey-playing 9 yo nephew (guess who's his coach?), a trans-gendered weight watcher buddy, and a boatload of her insecurities and you have The Penalty Box. Did I say that there were some things in the book that were stereotypical? I can't remember. Too harsh? I don't mean to be. I really did enjoy it. I think.
Awaken to Danger by Catherine Mann: I believe I've said before how much I love Catherine Mann. This is the latest in her Wingman Warriors series. Another great WW addition. The twist here is that this is Tag Price's daughter as the heroine, with his co-POW as the hero. They've had the hots for each other forever, but he's trying to deny his feelings out of respect for dear old dad. No can do. Now someone's out to kill her. Who do you suppose is gonna protect her while dad is out of the country? Sparks are flying. Another good Mann story.
Scandal of the Black Rose by Debra Mullins: I really enjoyed this one. This is a historical which explores the ties between twins, love at first sight that must be denied, familial obligations, secret societies, the effects of scandals on families and much more. I loved that the hero, Roman, was so loving with the heroine, yet he was so tortured because he couldn't have her. What a screwed up society England was back then LOL. So honor driven that you couldn't be with the one you loved. Oy. Anyway, a good mystery as well as a good love story. Although I had a good inkling as to whodunnit, Mullins left just enough doubt that it wasn't until the mask was lifted, so to speak, that I was sure I was right. Well done.
A Study in Scandal by Robyn DeHart: Ehhh. So-so. A sweet historical. A girl obsessed with Sherlock Holmes. A straightlaced, stick-up-his-butt detective hero. She is constantly getting in his way. How could he not fall in love with her? I'm glad I didn't pay for it - it was part of the loot I won at the Celebrate Romance conference a few weeks ago, but since it was free, I'm inclined to be a bit more generous toward it. As I said, it was a sweet story, well written. It just wasn't anything special. Although, I have to admit, I did grin through the scene where our straightlaced, stick-up-his-butt hero jacked off to a porno picture book while thinking about the heroine after their first kiss. This was the first in a series about the 4 girlfriends. I'll give DeHart one more chance...
An Unlikely Governess by Karen Ranney: This was another one in my bag of goodies at CR. I'm not a big Scottish historical freak, but free is free, right? And I did really enjoy Ranney's Highland Lords series (thanks, Nicole!). See? I can be open-minded. So I figured I'd give it a shot. It was pretty good. Not great, but pretty good. The heroine was believable, the hero as well, for the most part. I did have a hard time figuring out what his attraction to her was. Ranney went out of her way to describe how unattractive Beatrice was at the beginning, yet Devlen immediately was attracted to her. Pheremones? Must be. I have no other explanation, and Ranney didn't seem to, either. Aside from that, the hero and heroine are drawn together to protect a 9 yo duke (Devlen's cousin). Seems someone wants to kill him. Or is it all in his mind? Plenty of people with motive, including our hero himself. If you are a good guesser, you may get a partial on the whodunnit, but it's definitely a twisted one. This is a dark book for sure. As I said, all in all it's pretty good. If you like Scottish historicals and/or Ranney (do they go hand in hand?), this will be a winner for you, I'm sure.