I’m so behind in reviews and can think of no other way to catch up. LOL So here are some very brief reactions to recent reads:
Moonrise by Anne Stuart
A friend recently recommended this title and Wow. This is vintage Stuart that almost made me feel foolish for having waited until Black Ice to discover the ultra dark hero she is known for. I’ve glommed older Stuart titles in the last year or so, but found none this close in spirit to her Ice series. If you think Stuart’s Ice heroes challenge the power of redemption, you need to meet James McKinley.
The Leopard Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt
Buzz around this title suggested it was good, but not as good as Hoyt’s first book, The Raven Prince. I disagree. The Leopard Prince was equally powerful. It is a historical romance that unfolds beyond the secure confines of aristocracy. Even with the darkest noble hero, traditional historicals provide enough order and protection to let readers enjoy the romance in relative comfort. In The Leopard Prince, Hoyt strips us of that comfort, subjecting reader and heroine both to course language, the filth of poverty and the frightening power of mad aristocrats over those without station in England society. I wonder if it is this discomfort that lessened other’s enjoyment? Personally, I liked the grit. And Hoyt employs some of my favorite items in romance. She has a potent and concise voice; a dry, biting wit; and characters who understand the power of silence over chatter. Harry Pye is one of the most compelling heroes in historical romance I’ve read in a long time. Hoyt’s use of another fairy tale to parallel this book’s romance is unique and, as it was in The Raven Prince, serves only to challenge Harry and Georgina’s sense of what is possible. Again, it was a tool I personally liked and believe sets Hoyt apart from other writers in this genre. She bucks stereotype on more than one front. Beyond all of this praise, there is only one complaint I have for The Leopard Prince. Its heroine steps out of character in one instance, fleeing the country and Harry for London. I had a difficult time believing her capable of being influenced so strongly by a single moment of misunderstanding and subsequent pressure from her family. Hoyt righted this wrong relatively quickly and from there, the story played out to a script I found flawless.
A Lady’s Pleasure by Renee Bernard
The only other historical I’ve read in two months, A Lady’s Pleasure was quite a surprise. A book I picked of my own volition. LOL I’ll admit to a reading list comprised solely of other blogger recs and autobuy authors. I don’t have a bookstore nearby, or the time to browse by blurb. In this case, I was using an Amazon gift cert and going for the buy 3, get one free deal. I’m glad for this random pick. Although not entirely unique, the story was delivered with a voice and heat not readily found in historical romance. Bernard writes well—giving readers an easy balance between characters, setting and plot. IOW, she employs a clean voice that simply carries you through the story without distraction. Her characterization is strong as well; strong enough to support a level of eroticism so hot I kept checking the book’s fine print for warning labels. Bernard also managed to deliver a conflict based on a misunderstanding not easily resolved, one so unjust you want to scream in your head. It was the book’s greatest source of emotion for me. I haven’t yet researched Bernard’s backlist (if she even has one) but will certainly plan on reading all future titles.
Sex, Lies and Online Dating by Rachel Gibson
I mentioned an upcoming review of this one some time ago. Never got to it and I’m sorry for that. At the time, it deserved its own full-length review. Too much time has passed however, and I can’t remember all I wanted to say about it. I do remember my surprise. I don’t typically go for light, contemporary romance. And without knowing the first thing about it, I took in this book’s title, cover and blurb and neatly labeled it fluff. Still, Lori and Anne recommended it and put it in my hands. Thanks Friends. Gibson is another author I will add to my reading list as soon as I have time to look at her backlist and coming soon pages. It was not fluff. Nor was it heavy or dark. It was however, smart and sexy with a bit more bite than say a Lori Foster or Jill Shalvis (both of whom I enjoy on occasion as well). Gibson’s heroine is a single, professional woman living an urban life. Unlike the stereotype I carry in my mind (think chick lit), Gibson’s Lucy harbors little angst, shops no more than I do and exhibits a healthy level of common sense. Her hero, Quinn, is a bit darker than I expected (an obvious plus if you know my preferences) but also enjoys a healthy pragmatism. I easily fell in with these two.
Innocent As Sin by Elizabeth Lowell
I fell in love with Lowell’s Donovan series years ago. Unfortunately, before last year’s The Wrong Hostage, I found little else I liked in her booklist. I’m happy to say that for the second year (release) in a row, she has recaptured my attention. Innocent As Sin was an excellent read. It was my first big name release this summer. Obsession by Karen Robards was the second. Not so good. Not bad, but not a zinger either. Hopefully Evanovich’s newest Plum title and Nora’s High Noon will get me back on the positive track Lowell set.
I’ve also spent time (finally) reading Karen Rose, Lisa Jackson and JoAnn Ross—all authors I’ve been meaning to read more of. While I’m not completely caught up with each of their backlists, I’m well on my way. They account largely for the fact that I’ve read only two historicals in as many months. You could say I’ve enjoyed quite a contemporary binge. LOL
Later on I’ll head over to Let’s Gab and recap my 2007 reads by genre, author, etc. Gennita Low challenged us some time back to chat up our top reads of the year thus far and I’ve been meaning to do that. But first, I have to get my books read list in some kind of order. Tonight, after my boy goes to bed, I’ll get my spreadsheet out and play. Right now, I have a copywriting assignment to do so I’m off to work. Happy reading.