Better late than never. I'm starting to find it difficult to track my reads. This is definitely the furthest I've ever made it into the year. I had a bit of a slump last month, in that I didn't really want to read anything on my pile. So I spent the month rereading and coming back to my comfort genres; historicals and romaantic suspense. The rereads were the Hearts of the South series, which I absolutely adore. Many of the things that bothered me so much last time I read the series didn't irk me as much this ttime around. Huh. Anyway... I ended up reading 24 books over the month, bringing my total for the year to 189. Only 1 5-star read, but several 4.5 star reads.
A Kiss to Kill (Passion For Danger, #3) by Bruhns, Nina: 4 stars
Another fun entry in the series.
The Lawman's Redemption by Crooks, Pam: 2 stars
The heroine drove me batshit crazy. She alternated between blaming the hero for her family's woes and noting that her brother and mother weren't the most upstanding folks. She never did acknowledge that they brought their fate upon themselves. I never did see what the hero saw in her. She seemed immature emotionally and unrealistic, constantly blaming Jack for everything. Even afyer she tried to kill him and she kept her pregnancy secret, he still accepted her without any qualms. I wanted her to grovel and grovel hard. Her inconsistent behavior ruined the book for me, unfortunately.
A Little Bit Wild (York, #1) by Dahl, Victoria: 3.5 stars
I liked the story, a lot, but there were a few things that bothered me. First, the first couple chapters were devoted to how ugly Jude is, in the heroine's opinion. Saying it once, maybe even twice would have been sufficient for me. So that threw me right at the beginning of the book.
Second, and perhaps more important, the heroine is selfish and spoiled. And yes, I understand that's the point and that Dahl goes out of her way to show it, but Marissa came to her realizations too late in the book for my wholehearted approval. However, I did like that the hero loved her for that, and for who she was. I also really liked that they both grew and learned about themselves and each other in order to become more accepting.
Loved that by the end of the book, what Marissa saw in the beginning as unattractive features on Jude, at the end struck her as intensely masculine (yum) and perfect for him. (And her).
Lots of bits of humor as well, to keep me entertained. Dahl has a wicked sense of humor, and it shines through. Love that.
And the opening? I really liked it. Very different for a historical, for sure.
Her other historicals have been far more serious (and I admit that I enjoyed them more). This one reads like one of her contemporaries voice-wise, but in the historical setting.
On These Silken Sheets by Darby, Sabrina: 3 stars
Interesting, but I felt like there was so much sex that it drowned out the stories.
The Longest Night by Dees, Cindy: 4 stars
I love Charlie squad. Dees has really brought this team to life. Howdy has always been a character that's been hard to pin a personality on. But I loved how he empowered Shannon and how she brought him back to the land of feeling.
Because the book takes place over such a short period of time, you're required to suspend belief, but I'm willing to do it with this team of soldiers. Another wonderful entry in her series.
Deadly Fear (Deadly, #1) by Eden, Cynthia: 4 stars
I was a bit worried in the beginning that there would be a lot of sex on the run and in completely unprofessional situations. As the book went on, by the 3rd or 4th chapter, Eden seemed to settle down to the story. And although there was still some inappropriate sex, it fit better into the book as it went on.
I really liked the suspense portion, and thought it creepy enough to satisfy me. Looking forward to the 2nd book!
Stolen Kisses by Enoch, Suzanne: 4 stars
Cute but not memorable.
The Icing on the Cake by Kent, Alison: 4 stars
Very interesting - the first group of reality-based romances to be released. I liked it but I felt like I was a voyeur, and that made me a little uncomfortable.
Married By Morning (The Hathaways, #4) by Kleypas, Lisa: 4.5 stars
I love Leo. He maintained his irreverent personaliy and Catherine was ascerbic and gave as good as she got.
What keeps this from 5 stars is that I thought she held out too long. Her indecision lasted too long and began to grate on my nerves.
Love in the Afternoon (The Hathaways, #5) by Kleypas, Lisa: 4.5 stars
Loved Beatrix's book. I'm a big damaged hero fan, and I loved how accepting Beatrix was of Christopher. The ""we'll get through it together"" theme rather than ""you'll be ok"" makes me feel good - acknowledgement that there is an issue, but that they were a team. It wasn't Christopher's problem to fix, but theirs. A terrific ending to the series.
Heaven Forbids by Ranney, Karen: 3.5 stars
This reads much like Ranney's early work - has an epic feel of love found, lost, and found once again. It felt a little more disjointed than others I've read from her, however, and also was a little more morally ambiguous. The hero and heroine fall in love at first sight, but he is married to her niece. It would have been easier to accept had Sarah been a horrible person, but she wasn't.
As Sarah descends into madness (brought on by an OD of laudanum?), Hugh and Kathryn love more and feel guilty as well. But they are unable to turn away from one another. Once they do, they are both miserably unhappy.
In the end, they come back together following a multitude of tragedies.
If you can overlook adultery in the face of true love, and can deal with the imperfections of an early book, then you will surely enjoy this book. If you can't, then I recommend you don't even try.
The Heat Is On by Shalvis, Jill: 4 stars
Loved how each admitted to themselves that they wanted more but I wish they'd told each other sooner. Reallyloved their chemistry, and great dialogue as always. Also enjoyed the secondary characters, Jacob's brothers especially. Another Shalvis winner.
Desiring the Highlander by Sinclair, Michele: 3.5 stars
I liked this one, but not as much as the other two. I thought Elle and Cole were both well-drawn and believable. I enjoyed the secondary characters, too. But a few things bothered me. First, there was a lot of internalizing. Next there was a lot of analysis of emotions with what I perceived to be modern verbiage. "Cole internalizes his emotions" just doesn't sound like something a 14th century woman would say. I was disappointed that Colin was barely mentioned. And that he and hiswife didn't appear for the wedding.
And last, this book contained my latest pet peeve. A kidnapping for no reason. The conflict could have been handled another way, but I just knew a kidnapping was coming and I awaited it with dread. Authors, please stop with the "kidnapping as climax" endings. I beg of you!
So overall I liked this one, but there were a few things that bothered me.
The Chesapeake Diaries: Home Again by Stewart, Mariah: 3.5 stars
I didn't care for this one as much as the first in the series, but I'll definitely still be reading more.
What Mattered Most (Hearts of the South prequel) by Winfree, Linda: 4 stars
Suh a great start to the series. Although I knew what was going on, I have to admit that Lainie bothered me a little more this time around. I don't know why - she acted completely consistently with a head injury, and that is good, but it still bugged me that she was so unyielding.
Truth and Consequences (Hearts of the South, #1) by Winfree, Linda: 4 stars
While the villains are over the top, I really enjoyed everything else about this book.
His Ordinary Life (Hearts of the South, #2) by Winfree, Linda: 5 stars
I love the marriage in trouble trope. Winfree treats it with respect and has both characters accept responsibility and grow and learn. Something about her characters' emotions speaks to me. I always feel kicked in the gut when I read one of her books. Here, Del and Barbara aren't perfect. Tgey each come across as selfish occasionally as well as giving and loving and troubled and in love an all the other things that happen when two people love each other but are committed to working itout. Their kids are also portrayed realistically in their actions and emotions. I liked that even while having difficulties as a couple, they never played the kids to their own advantage. They presented a united front and did what was best for the kids.
I loved this even more the second time around.
Hold On to Me (Hearts of the South, #3) by Winfree, Linda: 4 stars
Tick & Cait's book. Loved it.
Anything But Mine (Hearts of the South, #4) by Winfree, Linda: 4 stars
Another great entry in the series. Winfree doesn't back away from the heartache, that's for sure. She always delivers an emotional kick in the gut.
Memories of Us (Hearts of the South, #5) by Winfree, Linda: 4 stars
Celia and Tom's book. My heart broke for her. And I just loved Tom.
Hearts Awakened (Hearts of the South, #6) by Winfree, Linda: 4.5 stars
As before, love Mark and Tori. Tick being a jerk about Mark still bothered me, but not as much as the first read. Loving rereading this series.
Fall Into Me (Hearts of the South, #7) by Winfree, Linda: 4 stars
Love Troy Lee. Love Angel, especially once she got over her older woman/younger man issues. Love their relationship. Am now afraid to let my teenage boy back in the car. Hate the epilogue. Still.
Facing It (Hearts of the South, #8) by Winfree, Linda: 4 stars
I loved both Ruthie and Chris. But I felt that the romance happened too quickly for Ruthie's past, and it bothered me that that Ruthie was the one who instigated the hurried pace.
I like that they agreed to go slowly, though (even if they couldn't keep to that promise). It showed they were both wary (Chris especially) and that they were aware of potential issues.
However, even though I thought it all happened too fast, I thought that Winfree handled the domestic violence aspect absolutely fantastically. She has a way of dealing with deep emotional issues that cuts right to the heart of the matter.
Chris is one of my favorite Winfree heroes, throughout the series.
Uncovered (Hearts of the South, #9) by Winfree, Linda: 4 stars
Last time I gave this a 3. This time it gets a 4. Ash is a great guy, and Maddie grew on me this time. I do love how Winfree weaves the other characters into subsequent stories, and although I still felt like the series is becoming the Tick & Cait show, it felt a bit more balanced to me on the reread.
I've heard that after a hiatus, Winfree is back writing again. Cannot wait to read another from her.
September is proving to be a fairly slow month for me, but I'm incredibly busy at work, and will be so through the entire month. I'm testing web code again for a huge release, so am putting in extra hours and am totally drained by the end of each day. Not a lot of energy left to read. :(