November was a great month for me, not just in terms of quantity, but quality as well. There were no duds, and I had 4 5-star books! Four! Taking a week off gave me renewed energy, as well as a lot of down-time. The kids were never home, and hubby and I relaxed and read up a storm. We also had the chance to hang out together, which we hardly ever have time for anymore. That was probably the very best part of vacation.
I hope that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and got some time off from whatever takes up all your time.
Now it's Hanukkah, and we've been crazy busy again. I thought I'd post up Bob's Hanukkah songs again, since there are some new readers here.
Rock n Rollin' Hanukkah
So... on to the books. I read 30 books in November (half may have been on my week off, not sure). That brings my total up to 269. But geez, I only reviewed one book over here. Why, when I try to note something in Goodreads on each one? I so could have done reviews. Maybe that will be my next task, to bring my reviews over from Goodreads. Anyway... here's what I read:
Captain's Surrender by Alex Beecroft. 5 stars on Goodreads. (m/m)
Wow. The almost sweet friendship to romance set against the horrific realities of the time both in terms of war and punishment of infractions. So well done. This definitely isn't an erotic romance but a sweeping historical that happens to have at its heart, two men. Additionally the secondary characters are beautifully well drawn and add such rich flavor.
The Best Laid Plans by Sarah Mayberry. 5 stars on Goodreads.
Another winner from Mayberry. I liked how they both went in eyes wide open, and were ready to conceive in a test tube. The way it would really be done. I really enjoyed Ethan's brother and SIL as well.
The Perfect Family by Kathryn Shay. 5 stars on Goodreads.
This was excellent. It looks at every aspect of a teenager's coming out from the perspective of how it affects each family member individually and in their relationship with the teen, to religion and its place in the family and gay teen's life, and so many other things I can't even begin to go there. Shay has never shied away from hard subjects, and this is no different. Although she stepped away from romance here, it's a beautiful, truthful look at how a revelation like this can whip through a family and how they all work to keep it together out of deep love for each other. Highly, highly recommended!
The Dark Tide by Josh Lanyon. 5 stars on Goodreads. (m/m)
I can't believe I hadn't read this yet. The final book in Adrien & Jake's saga. I've always been a Jake fan, so I absolutely adored this one.
Edge of Sight (Guardian Angelinos #1) by Roxanne St. Clair. 4.5 stars on Goodreads.
Awesome start to this spinoff series. As always, a great hero, and a strong heroine who is more than his match.
Wild Heat (Hotshots #1) by Bella Andre. 4 stars on Goodreads.
This was my first read by Andre. I really enjoyed it. I liked that Logan and Maya were honest with each other - about the fires and that when Maya realized he couldn't be guilty, she immediately said so and cleared him. They didn't play games. Big plus. And although Logan seemed too good to be true, his actions and thoughts backed up the character that Andre built. And who doesn't just adore firefighter stories?!
Hot as Sin (Hotshots # 2) by Bella Andre. 4 stars on Goodreads.
I liked this one a lot. Andre has a great voice for the RS and the firefighters.
Never Too Hot (Hotshots #3) by Bella Andre. 4 stars on Goodreads.
This one was far more introspective - no suspense. It focuses on the injured firefighter from book 1. I loved how he was drawn in, even though he really didn't want to be. Connor couldn't hide his true self, and Ginger was good for him. Supportive and loving. It was a totally different feel in terms of subgenre than the first two. A terrific secondary storyline as well featuring Connor's father and Ginger's good friend.
Corralled by Lorelei James. 4 stars on Goodreads.
This book addresses one of my big questions with all the MFM books I read where there is no jealousy, no competition, no hard feelings. Lainie has been seeing both Hank amd Kyle and when she's caught, the guys suggest they embark on a threesome, a new concept for all of them. While they put it to Lainie that they don't want her to have to choose, and neither one is ready to give her up, in reality both men are vying for her affection amd to be the one she chooses in the end. That was where I felt the book was strongest: in the jealous rivalry between the men as they fight to maintain their close friendship as well as in the one on one interactions where Lainie and the guys just talk.
Because this isn't a permanent menage story, Lainie must choose someone. When the time comes, it kind of slips in subtlely, and both Lainie and the one not chosen both recognize it. A scary event forces Lainie to come to terms with her past.
I liked all three characters as well as Lainie's best friend and Hank's siblings, and imagine that they'll get their own stories. I thought the menage scenes seemed a bit forced, but I imagine that they were meant to, since although it was consensual, it was never intended to be anything other than a vehicle for Lainie to get to know the guys and make a choice.
Beg Me by Shiloh Walker. 4 stars on Goodreads.
What I liked so much here was that in addition to the emotional toll the story takes on Tania, Walker never fails to show the huge effect on Drake as well. Both characters take an emotional journey. The controversial topic didn't bother me so much; Walker never fails to show the emotional impact, and this story is far less about the sex than about Tania's emotional healing and Drake's journey toward a more fulfilling and realistic love.
The Tin Star by JL Langley. 4 stars on Goodreads. (m/m)
I always wonder in M/M, why it is that they never use each other's names? Before they became lovers, Jamie and Ethan were friends who never called each other anything other than their names, and now all of a sudden they have to call each other Blue Eyes and Cowboy? This isn't spercific to this author; it seems to be a trend in m/m that really irritates me. Anyway, aside from that one thing, I really liked it. I'm not sure why it's on everyone's list of the absolute tops in m/m, but it was a good story.. I really like Ethan a lot.
Cowgirls Don't Cry (Rough Riders #10) by Lorelei James. 4 stars on Goodreads.
Wow. Totally didn't expect the beginning. It was very odd, but I understood it as the book went on. Another great entry. I was waiting for Jessie and Brandt and was not disappointed in their story.
Enforcer (Cascadia Wolves #1) by Lauren Dane. 4 stars on Goodreads.
This is a reread for me. And now I think I have to go reread the whole darn series. Loved Nina's irreverence and how it causes Lex such confusion and amusement. Love Dane's wolves. Oh how I adore them. And on this reread, I can see how Dane's writing has changed - not better or worse, just evolved a bit. It also reminded me what I immediately loved about her writing: strong female leads, alpha but sensitive male leads, humor, and great engrossing stories. If I had one qualm, it's how Lex and Cade simply expected Nina to go along with all that was required in order to change fully and complete the tri-bond and Claiming. And then were frustrated when she was ticked off. But in her own time, she came to understand and feel good in her new skin. So it was all good.
Undeniably Yours (Kowalski Family #2) by Shannon Stacey. 4 stars on Goodreads.
I loved the first Kowalski book. And I wanted to love this one just as much. I adored Kevin. He was a great mix of devilish and strong family man. He already felt something for Beth even before she showed up pregnant. So wanting to be with her seemed a natural extension for him.
I had a very hard time warming up to Beth. She kept holding Kevin off, and while I understood the reluctance to jump into a relationship because of the baby, she never gave them a chance to find out if there was anything else there. Her original reason of feeling smothered by her parents was good until I saw them all interacting, and it seemed she had a great relationship with them. She seemed to be inventing excuses and it wore thin after a while. So in a juxtaposition of the usual, it was Kevin who had far fewer doubts, and Beth who really didn't want to get involved.
Once again, I adored the Kowalski family. I loved the bickering, the teasing, the obvious love they shared. They told it to each other like it is. And I always knew they were there for each other. I was so happy to see Kevin stand up for himself at the end, to be willing to let Beth go for his own sanity. And I loved the honest way he accepted her back, too. He didn't play games. He just loved her and wanted to be with her. Another wonderful secondary romance set a great tone here as well.
Second Chances by Lauren Dane. 4 stars on Goodreads.
I read this when it was first published several years ago, and it's no less emotional and powerful today. Although I really don't 'get' the BDSM lifestyle, in Dane's hands it's always handled as something that makes the relationship stronger for both partners, not about one person having all the power. My only complaint is that I would have liked to have seen Rori amd Jude have sex before she agreed to wear his collar. That type of commitment seemed rushed to me. Which is odd, given their history amd the time frame, but it did feel a bit rushed. Go figure.
Passions of a Wicked Earl by Lorraine Heath. 4 stars on Goodreads.
I feel as though Heath is back in her groove. Several of her last historicals haven't been tops on my list. But this is a fantastic book - I can't wait to read the next one.
My Lord Scoundrel (Notorious Bachelors #1) by Emma Wildes. 4.5 stars on Goodreads.
I loved it. A hero and heroine who not only don't deny their feelings, but fight for them and their right to be together. Both smart and resourceful. And with really terrific secondary characters who don't take over the story but are still very interesting in their own right.
Our Wicked Mistake (Notorious Bachelors #2) by Emma Wildes. 4 stars on Goodreads.
I enjoyed this but not as much as the first book, I admit. I liked both Luke and Madeline.
His Sinful Secret (Notorious Bachelors #3) by Emma Wildes. 4 stars on Goodreads.
I was really looking forward to this one - Michael seemed to have so many secrets. I liked the subtlety with which she showed how Michael hurt Julianne by not sharing with her, except in bed. And I liked that she wasn't a doormat for him - she challenged him about the way he treated her. Michael thinks he's doing such a good job keeping his marriage separate from his job, but in the end realizes he hasn't done that at all. Nice finale to the series.
Open Country by Kaki Warner. 4.5 stars on Goodreads.
Another terrific book from Warner. I think she's going to be big. I have book 3 on pre-order.
Rules of an Engagement by Suzanne Enoch. 3.75 stars on Goodreads.
I was chomping at the bit for Shaw's story. I was disappointed that it was almost halfway through the book before I felt a genuine connection between Shaw and Zephyr and felt fully drawn into the story. Once that happened, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Without Reservations (With or Without Series, #2) by JL Langley. 3.5 stars on Goodreads. (m/m)
This was a good book. If you like m/m and shifters, you'll probably like this. It addresses racial and homosexual prejudice, too. Good.
Holiday Bound by Beth Kery. 3.5 stars on Goodreads.
I liked this novella, but not as much as Kery's full-lengths. It may be me. Most novellas don't work for me. Although, I didn't really care for the way that Alex jumped to conclusions about Angeline. Plus, it just addresses some real lowlife behavior, which is gutsy against the backdrop of a romance novella.
The Dickens With Love by Josh Lanyon. 3.5 stars on Goodreads. (m/m)
A nice holiday novella. Not his best; not his worst.
Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord (The Ralstons, #2) by Sarah MacLean. 3.5 stars on Goodreads.
This definitely didn't have the same joy and humor that 9 Rules did, and the heroine wasn't as wonderful, but I enjoyed it a lot. Isabel was a good heroine, though I felt that her final denial of their relationship was forced. I really liked Nick as a hero. Although I suppose it says something that my favorite scene was between Nick and the heroine's 10 year old brother rather than between the hero & heroine. I was really touched during the scene where Nick teaches James to tie a cravat.
Pack Challenge (Magnus Pack, #1) by Shelley Laurenston. 3 stars on Goodreads.
I love Laurenston's irreverent sense of humor, and it was in full force here. But I also thought there were lots of problems- how easily Sara and her friends accepted the shifters. How they had no problem with the carnage they witnessed. And trust me, there was carnage. But any Laurenston book is fun, so I enjoyed this a lot despite the problems.
Emergency: Wife Lost and Found by Carol Marinelli. 3 stars on Goodreads.
A divorced husband & wife doctor team meets back up after an accident. They have to address their heartbreaking history and her intrusive family.
Expecting! by Susan Mallery. 3 stars on Goodreads.
Lassoing Lara by NJ Walters. 3 stars on Goodreads.
A novella that didn't work for me as well as NJ's books usually do. Sad.
Wicked Rake, Defiant Mistress by Ann Lethbridge. 3.5 stars on Goodreads.
It was ok. I liked the hero and heroine, but felt like there was something missing. A free read here: http://www.everyonesreading.com/.