Tuesday, May 25, 2010

YotH: In Pursuit of a Scandalous Lady by Gayle Callan

The biggest secret in London is about to be . . . revealed.

Every gentleman is wondering: Who is the beauty in the scandalous nude portrait hanging in one of London's most fashionable clubs? Is it true that she's a member of the ton? Who would be so daring? So reckless?

Julian Delane, Earl of Parkhurst, has a good idea. So good, in fact, that he's willing to make a wager on it. If only the bet were all that's at stake…
Determined to clear the family name from a scandal that claimed his father's life, Julian believes the ravishing model will lead him to answers. Rebecca Leland—spirited, adventurous, with a bit of a wild streak—is just as determined to evade his questions. But when Julian finally corners his quarry, he may find Rebecca well worth the pursuit.


This is the start of a trilogy. Julian and his friends come upon Rebecca and her sister and cousin trying to steal a portrait from their men's club. They claim that the naked portrait is of one of them. The men bet the ladies that they can figure out who is in the portrait.

This first story is about Rebecca (sister of the hero in Never Marry a Stranger) and Julian, Earl of Parkhurst. The woman in the portrait was wearing a diamond that belonged to Julian's family, and he wants it back. Since Rebecca was in possession of the diamond, he focuses on her. She received the diamond from the artist, and assuming it was paste, he gave it to her to keep. Someone else is apparently after the diamond as well, and when Rebecca is accosted, she and Julian go on the road to find the artist and determine how he came in possession of it.

This road trip story was pretty good. I wish the element of suspense hadn't been in there, or at least that the villain wasn't so obvious. It made what was an otherwise wonderful story somehow less outstanding.

Julian is remarkably open, as is Rebecca. One of the things I liked so much is that these two really talk to each other. And they take care of each other. On the road, they pose as husband and wife, but Julian is determined not to take Rebecca's virginity. She, on the other hand, is determined that they will make love, even though she's not exactly sure what that entails. As they become closer, and share more of their pasts and learn what drives each other, you can see the love bloom between them. The final scene really touched me and made me smile.

I know this is really disjointed, and I really need to stop writing reviews late at night, LOL. Bottom line is overall I really enjoyed this book. There were a few things that seemed contrived (like the villain), but otherwise this was a beautiful character study of Julian and Rebecca. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series

Sunday, May 23, 2010

ARC: Insatiable by Lauren Dane

Desire is the most dangerous sensation of all.

With tensions between the Federation and Imperial ‘Verses rising, one woman may hold the key to victory. The dangerous mission to smuggle her out of Imperial Territory falls to Daniel Haws and his team, the ultra secret Phantom Corps. This elite squad of the Federation Military is the only one trusted and skilled enough to remove her from under the watchful eye of her father, the Supreme Commander of the Imperial ‘Verses.

Carina is used to wearing a mask. Her father and his men think her little more than a pretty prize to be won by a man more ruthless than the rest. When he announces his intention to marry her to one of his henchmen, a man known for his cruelty, Carina knows she has to move as soon as possible to get out. But getting secret information to the Federation has served her well for years and she appeals to them for help.

She expected rescue from a man who’d been her enemy. But she wasn’t prepared for just how intense her attraction to Daniel Haws would be. Born as adversaries into different ranks, and on the run for their lives, they now need each other to survive–by holding on to the only thing they have in common: a growing desire that is dangerous, irresistible, and insatiable…


Thank you to Lauren Dane for allowing me to read this book early. Insatiable is Dane's next entry in her Federation series (and the beginning of the Phantom Corps).  Daniel is the brother of Abby, the heroine in Relentless.

This book takes place as the Federation is preparing for all-out war. Secrets are revealed, spies are needed, and enemies are targeted. Daniel is a trained assassin. His team does whatever is asked of them. Normally you wouldn't think that an assassin is a good thing, but it's an interesting juxtaposition of Daniel's true good spirit and his job as a soldier that can accomplish almost anything by doing whatever is necessary.  It's always an interesting thing when your hero (or heroine) does something traditionally out of 'hero' roles. We see almost immediately how good Daniel is at his job, when he completely changes himself for his first introduction to Carina. She is in possession of files that reveal her father's illegal actions against the Federation. Daniel's team's job is to get her back to Ravena, where the information can be analyzed.

I loved how Daniel was so surprised by Carina - he was expecting a pampered, spoiled princess, and what he got was anything but that. She was strong, but not afraid to admit when she needed/wanted help. Daniel was sensitive, but also kickass. I loved the interactions of Daniel's team. They were in turn funny and compassionate, and above all else, extremely competent... no... excelling completely at their jobs.

This is at heart, a road trip story, where Daniel and Carina learn about each other as they go. At times implausible, and at times heartbreaking, like when a team member is killed in the line of duty, this book is always engrossing. Daniel comes to admire Carina's strength, intelligence, and compassion. She in turn, admires his courage, protective nature, and his caring, despite his need to suppress that part of himself.

While Dane is known for her erotic romances, there is a sex scene that stayed with me so much, and Daniel and Carina aren't even in the same room. A little voyeuristic, and a lot sexy, Daniel is masturbating while Carina watches, unbeknownst to Daniel. Rather than to titillate, it serves to strengthen their emotional bond.

During the course of the book, we get the sense of Daniel's feelings of... not inferiority, but unworthiness for Carina. Not because he is unranked, but because of his job. He feels he is too tainted for her. Daniel needs to come to terms with who he is, and where that puts him in the grand order of the universe. He's a good, family man at heart, but the nature of his job has forced him to be tough and inscrutable. He's a hardass, but he adores his family. He's completely in charge, but feels unable to take charge of his personal life.

Carina is one of those people who is just naturally nice. She tries to see the good in people, and 100% believes in Daniel and his team. Believes he will take care of her, love her, and protect her. And at the same time, begins to see herself as a strong, independent woman who can make it on her own, despite being raised to be none of those things. Her heartbreak when she realizes she will likely never see her mother again is palpable, yet she stoically perseveres, and strives to do the right thing in a world gone awry.

As with Relentless, Dane effortlessly incorporates her world-building into the story. Modes of travel, differences in the many 'Verses, ranked vs unranked. They all are effortlessly woven together to make a world that seems natural, not contrived.

The hallmark of Dane's writing is her amazing heroines, that could seemingly get lost because of her yummy heroes. Dane heroines are strong women, who come to be confident in their abilities, recognize their strengths, and love completely. Her heroes are strong, caring, manly men, who want to take care of their women, but always help them to see their strength and inner beauty. They are family men, dedicated to doing right for the ones they love. The way that her heroes and heroines teach each other to recognize and embrace their strengths is one reason why I always enjoy reading a Dane book.

Although this can be read as a standalone, I recommend reading Relentless first - for background and because it's just such an awesome book.

ARC: Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey

When Keri Daniels' editor finds out she has previous carnal knowledge of reclusive bestselling author Joe Kowalski, she gives Keri a choice: get an interview or get a new job.

Joe's never forgotten the first girl to break his heart, so he's intrigued to hear Keri's back in town—and looking for him. Despite his intense need for privacy, he’ll grant Keri an interview if it means a chance to finish what they started in high school.

He proposes an outrageous plan—for every day she survives with his family on their annual camping and four-wheeling trip, Keri can ask one question. Keri agrees; she's worked too hard to walk away from her career.

But the chemistry between them is still as potent as the bug spray, Joe's sister is out to avenge his broken heart and Keri hasn't ridden an ATV since she was ten. Who knew a little blackmail, a whole lot of family and some sizzling romantic interludes could make Keri reconsider the old dream of Keri & Joe 2gether 4ever.

First, a huge thank you to Shannon Stacey for letting me have a sneak peek at this book. Exclusively Yours is one of Carina Press' launch titles. I really enjoyed it. It's one of just a few straight contemporaries that Shannon Stacey has published. It reads with Stacey's signature humor, but resonates more than her RS books (The Devlin Group) and is more introspective than her western historicals.

Keri and Joe were high school sweethearts until Keri up and left for California and left Joe to nurse a broken heart. It isn't until far later in the book that we find out why Keri left. And it's a good enough reason for a young 18 year old girl. Add to that the fact that Joe's twin sister was Keri's best friend and now hates her for breaking her brother's heart, and is having marital problems of her own. Also, Joe's brother is in a bit of a marital pickle as well. It all adds up to a fun, crazy, emotional family vacation.

Keri and Joe spend 2 weeks together on a Kowalski family vacation so that Keri can conduct a do-or-die interview with Joe for her magazine. While together, they rediscover each other on an adult level, and fall in love again.

If I could change one thing about this book, it would be that Keri would tell Joe exactly why she left. I wish they could have talked that out, much in the same way that Joe's brother and sister talked out their problems with their own spouses.

Joe's sister and brother each carry on their own side romance in this book, but although they are strong stories in their own right, somehow they don't overshadow the main couple. I thought that Terry and Mike's stories were realistic, and in turn heartbreaking, sad, and uplifting.

Stacey's clear love and knowledge of the 4-wheeling, camping lifestyle shines through in this book, and I enjoyed reading about it. Keri's initial horror at it keeps the reader from feeling left out of the inner circle.

What I loved: Joe isn't an alpha, but I wouldn't call him a beta either - he's a regular guy and like most, can't be typecast. His success hasn't tempered his love for his family. He's a total family guy.

Keri, while seemingly shallow at first for wanting the good things in life, slowly reveals more of herself, and in the end doesn't let her desire for success color her best judgment. Although she didn't really thing she'd be continuing a relationship with Joe, she never shut herself off to the possibility of getting to know him better either.

I adored the Kowalski family. They were so real. Family squabbles, marital issues that seem all too real, a bone-deep love and caring for one another. It may have seemed at times that there was too much going on outside the main couple, but Stacey managed to make it all work without overwhelming Joe and Keri's romance.

This is a strong, family-oriented book, full of laughter, heartbreak, fun, romance, and love. As much as I adore Shannon Stacey's Devlin Group (and when do we get Jack's book, hmmmm?), I think her true strength lies in contemporaries, and revealing people that a reader can completely relate to. Strongly recommended.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Drive-By Reviews

Hi All... here are some Drive-by Reviews of what I've read lately...

Trouble . . .

Chelsea Ross's acting career has been a total bust. The closest she ever came to stardom was her brilliant performance as "Pretty Dead Girl #1." But leaving Hollywood to become the personal assistant to a famous hockey player could be her stupidest career move ever.

More trouble . . .

Injured superstar Mark Bressler's glory days are over. The bad-boy ex-jock could at least be civil to the pint-sized, pink-haired bombshell who the Seattle Chinooks hired to be his P.A. If Chelsea didn't need the money, she'd be running from the world's biggest jerk as fast as her feet could carry her.

Big trouble!

Chelsea can deal with Mark's rotten attitude and dark moods. The problem is those biceps and that red-hot bod! And when the bad boy starts to put the moves on her, Chelsea knows it's time she banished him to the penalty box . . . if only she could resist the kind of trouble he has in mind!

I loved it. I love all Rachel Gibson's books. While there truly wasn't a ton of serious conflict, the book was fun...really fun... and, as always, Gibson's sex scenes were HOT. The ending felt rushed a bit--but then again that could be because there wasn't much conflict and it was an easily resolved situation, but overall I enjoyed the book very much.

I'm gonna do the next ones a bit different--short synopses of thoughts and then an all around take on the series.

Wedding photographer Mackensie "Mac" Elliot is most at home behind the camera, but her focus is shattered moments before an important wedding rehearsal when she bumps into the bride-to-be's brother...an encounter that has them both seeing stars.

A stable, safe English teacher, Carter Maguire is definitely not Mac's type. But a casual fling might be just what she needs to take her mind off bridezillas. Of course, casual flings can turn into something more when you least expect it. And Mac will have to turn to her three best friends-and business partners-to see her way to her own happy ending.

Okay. I so wanna cheat and post the review that publisher's weekly posted because they say it so much better here. Mac's mother is a nightmare, one she would rather just pay off than deal with. She meets Carter again (knew in high school) and sparks fly. They hook up and he wants more from it than she does as he's always had a thing for Mac. She's complex and yet simple. I love Carter's geekiness and the fact that he's a klutz. It's endearing and adorable. A great ending. Sighs.

In Bed of Roses, florist Emma Grant is finding career success with her friends at Vows wedding planning company, and her love life appears to be thriving. Though men swarm around her, she still hasn't found Mr. Right. And the last place she's looking is right under her nose.

But that's just where Jack Cooke is. He's so close to the women of Vows that he's practically family, but the architect has begun to admit to himself that his feelings for Emma have developed into much more than friendship. When Emma returns his passion—kiss for blistering kiss—they must trust in their history…and in their hearts.

This is a friends-to-lovers story but a much more complex one as it not only involves Emma and Jack, it also involves a close-knit family of friends--on the part of both Jack and Emma--as well. They are reluctant to take it to the next step but a kiss on the stairs changes everything. It leaves them both thinking and wanting more, but afraid to take the leap. When they finally do, it's fantastic. The conflict is real, the worries on both parts are very very real. Another great ending. Le sigh.

Wedding baker Laurel McBane is surrounded by romance working at Vows wedding planning company with her best friends Parker, Emma, and Mac. But she's too low-key to appreciate all the luxuries that their clients seem to long for. What she does appreciate is a strong, intelligent man, a man just like Parker's older brother Delaney, on whom she's had a mega-crush since childhood.

But some infatuations last longer than others, and Laurel is convinced that the Ivy League lawyer is still out of her reach. Plus, Del is too protective of Laurel to ever cross the line with her-or so she thinks. When Laurel's quicksilver moods get the better of her-leading to an angry, hot, all-together mind-blowing kiss with Del-she'll have to quiet the doubts in her mind to turn a moment of passion into forever...

Laurel is truly complex and I guess I'd say closed off. She comes across to those who don't know her as quiet--a woman of few words I guess, but once they get to know her, they have to love her. She's sweet, caring, funny and an amazingly talented baker--the cakes she creates-wow. I wanted to be eating some of those while I was reading this book. If you've got a sweet tooth like I do, you're gonna want cake or pastries while reading this--be sure to get some :)

She's had a thing for Del forever--he's never looked at her in quite that way--or had he? She kisses him in front of the refrigerator out of pure frustration and he is stunned and she's a bit baffled that she took the first step in such a manner...she intends to apologize but he's thinking along different lines. They're going to take this to the next level and date--but no sex for 30 days which-of course-spurs a bet amongst the other characters. They learn many things about each other they didn't know before. While some may not find Laurel likable as she's complex and defensive and kinda bitter at times, I like her because she's complex. And she and Del are kinda opposites in that right, but it makes for a fantastic relationship between them. Laurel finds herself, every now and then, defensive about money--Del and Parker are brother and sister and wealthy while Laurel is not. She has issues with her family and her social status as well which adds to the conflict that is truly Laurel and Del--but where she sees conflict, he sees none which is what makes Del a truly lovable hero. I want a Del of my own. The ending, omg the ending of this book--tears. I loved it. Honestly and truly loved it. I can't wait to see what happens between Parker and Mal in book 4, Happy Ever After which doesn't come out until NOVEMBER. WTF? Cries a lot. I want that book RIGHT NOW.

Okay--let me summarize the series a bit.

As little girls MacKensie, Emma, Laurel, and Parker spent hours acting out their perfect make believe "I do" moments. Years later their fantasies become reality when they start their own wedding planning company to make every woman's dream day come true. With perfect flowers, delicious desserts, and joyful moments captured on film, Nora Roberts's Bride Quartet shares each woman's emotionally magical journey to romance.

And thus far each journey has been very magical. I enjoyed each book but for different reasons as each of the heroines have so many distinct differences and issues. This makes for a very well-rounded series, IMO. Ms. Roberts takes us into the lives of wedding planners and what each woman has to do to fulfill their duties. With Mac it was photography. With Emma it was floral arrangements and decorating. With Laurel it was the cakes and pastries(still want cake!). And with Parker it's the details, the coordinating, the defusing of frazzled brides and those of the brides' families. Parker "handles" things... I think in book 4 she's going to find Mal "handling" her if I have to guess and I am looking forward to that...someone taking Parker's "crackberry" from her and showing her there is more. Anywho--the series is a delight. BUT I must admit that I had just read 3 J.D. Robb Books before this series and, like Lori and many others, I prefer the story telling of J.D. Robb to la Nora. I'm not sure how this is so... maybe it's because in the In Death series we see most everything from Eve's POV and some from Roarke. I'm not sure. Though I did enjoy this series very very much thus far, I have to, once again, admit that I prefer the older Nora Roberts novels to these. I love and frequently reread Nora's classics like the Chesapeake Bay series and The MacKade brothers--The Heart of Devin MacKade SWOONS! Fave Nora book EVER!.

BUT--don't let this discourage you from reading this series because it is quite enjoyable and right now on Amazon the books in the series are at phenomenal prices! Vision in White $9.36 vs. normally priced $16.o0, Bed of Roses $6.99 vs. normally priced $16.00, and Savor The Moment $9.36 vs. normally priced $16.00... so go buy them! You won't be disappointed. These are happy reads and we all love those, don't we? :)

ARC: McKettricks of Texas: Garrett by Linda Lael Miller

Fast track up the political ladder, fast cars, fast women—that’s Garrett McKettrick. Make that was. A scandal has brought him home to Blue River, a place where a man can slow down, take stock and plan his next move. Which doesn’t include staying at the family ranch with his brothers. A city boy for a long time now, Garrett doesn’t think he has the land in his blood anymore. But Blue River has other attractions, like his former high school nemesis, Julie Remington.

Now a striking woman and much-respected teacher, Julie comes complete with a precocious four-year-old cowboy, a three-legged beagle and deep ties to the community. Good thing they have nothing in common—except their undeniable attraction and a future brighter than the Texas sun.


Another winner from LLM. This is the 2nd  in the McKettricks of Texas series, being released on May 25. Garrett could have come off as too slick, but he was just a sweet, sensitive guy. I love the way he interacted with Calvin. Julie took a little longer to warm up to, simply because of her overprotectiveness as a parent. But she loosened up a little as the book went on, and her sense of humor and goodness began to shine through. I liked that even though she thought there likely wasn't a chance in the long term for her and Garrett, she always remained open to possibilities.

I liked the sibling relationship between the sisters and the brothers as well. While Libby, Julie, and Paige all seemed to have their roles within their family down, Tate, Garrett and Austin are still struggling for that same balance. It kept everything from becoming too pat.

Even after working in politics for years, Garrett hadn't lost his sense of idealism and hope. And although I found Calvin to be a bit too precocious for a 5 year old, I enjoyed him, and liked the fact that LLM let the relationship build slowly between Garrett and Calvin. I also liked that she didn't make Julie's ex into a villain - he was just a guy who acknowledged he made mistakes and wanted to right this time around.

While I wouldn't say that the book was perfect, there was a whole lot to enjoy, and to look forward to in Austin & Paige's book.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Lady's Guide to Improper Behavior by Suzanne Enoch (quickie)

The Rules:

A lady should always make polite conversation . . .

Theresa Weller understands the rules of decorum, and is appalled when Colonel Bartholomew James disrupts a perfectly civilized dinner. This rude, insensitive man is the complete opposite of everything a gentleman should be—but with one searing kiss, Tess can think of no one else.

A lady should never lose her temper . . .

Aggravated beyond bearing by a man who speaks his mind, Tess wishes there was a guide to men like Bartholomew. Surely, with such an assortment of handsome, polite suitors to choose from, Tess should not ache for him.

And a lady should never pursue a gentleman.

She invites him on carriage rides and dares him to dance, and almost makes him want to return to Society. Bartholomew knows Tess wants to be seen as a proper miss, but deep down, he knows she is precisely the sort to spark his desire . . . A most improper lady.

Tess and Tolly meet at a dinner thrown by her cousin. Tolly comes off as a total asshole, but there was something compelling between the two, especially after Tess stood up to him, when his entire family was really afraid to rock the boat. 

Truly, nobody writes emotionally (and physically) wounded war heroes like Suzanne Enoch. Although Tolly recovers far more easily than does Bit (from England's Perfect Hero), she gives him the same wounded soul. It was wonderful to see him open up, bit by bit, to Tess, and to watch her struggle with her own issues about manners and proper behavior. And to finally let them go.

One of my favorite parts is about Tess realizing that the way she's living isn't working for her. Just the last 2 sentences of this passage begin her transformation: "For several years now she'd been working quite hard at being amusing and pleasant and proper. It all seemed to be wearing a bit thin."

They are both wonderful characters, and I admit that Enoch surprised me by not having Tess' other suitor be in league with the villain. Refreshing. All the secondary characters are well drawn, too, and support the main couple perfectly. And the ending? Loved it. Flat out loved it. So freaking romantic.

Release by Beth Kery (quickie)

His need for her was so absolute, he agreed to share her with another man in order to possess her.

Genny loved her husband Max, but something was missing—a sexual charge that was instead ignited by his business partner, Sean. He was ruggedly handsome, with a heart-stopping smile and a slow, sexy New Orleans drawl that made Genny weak. The more time they spent together, the stronger the attraction between them became and when her husband offered to share her with Sean for one intoxicating night, both Genny and Sean were too tempted to refuse.

That night in the company penthouse, Max and Sean showed Genny the heights of ecstasy. But it was Sean who scored her very spirit, and one-on-one, they were red hot. But as Genny learns, there’s a price to pay for such impulsive pleasure. What began as a night of forbidden desire spirals into a whirlpool of murder, sensual submission, secrets, and a scorching passion that threatens to consume everyone it touches.


Sean and Genny were both likable characters. Although they were already in love when the book starts, through flashback, we see how that happened, and what happened to tear them apart.

There is a light suspense subplot, but it mostly serves to keep Genny and Sean in the same apartment together. I liked them both, and thought that Kery did a credible job of showing the D/s and Genny's thought processes during it. (Did I mention some hawt sex? It's Kery, duh.)

The one thing I didn't care for, and it seems to be a recurring theme with me this year in several books, is the New Orleans accent that Kery insisted on showing us. Sean calls Genny "girl" all the time, and several times it's mentioned he says it "gull". That just made me think of Genny as a seagull... sorry. There are other places that Kery felt the need to show exactly *how* Sean says particular words. Just telling me he's from New Orleans and has a Southern drawl is enough to get me there.

Aside from that issue, I did enjoy it. Lots of emotion-charged scenes, the characters are honest with each other and (for the most part) talk things out so they don't come to a head. Not as raw as Wicked Burn or as engrossing as Daring Time, but a satisfying and good read nonetheless.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Line of Fire by Jo Davis

To his fellow firemen, Tommy Skyler has it all. But the golden boy of Station Five hides a private pain. He was once a star quarterback until tragedy derailed his dream. Since then, he's struggled with his choices-including his decision to become a firefighter. His one ray of light shines in beautiful nurse Shea Ford. When a dangerous rescue lands Tommy in the ER, what better opportunity to win her over? But when a conspiracy culminates in deadly arson, Tommy realizes that a ruthless enemy is closing in, threatening to destroy the couple's love- and their lives.

Sorry for the disjointed thoughts that follow. I want to do this without spoilers, and I'm sitting at work, too, hiding my monitor *g*.

Just a couple things niggled at me, and they are likely my own issues. First, Tommy is 23. How the hell is he so practiced a lover? A serious hottie in the bedroom. K, I'm sure it's my own experiences here, since he was a star college football player and then a firefighter. But still... onward.

Tommy and Shea are just flat-out nice people. It was hard to find something not to like. Tommy's immaturity did show itself a few times, like when Shea said she already had a date to Zack & Cori's wedding, and he felt like he needed to bring someone hot so he wouldn't seem like he was pining for her. But overall, I liked him. In fact (sex aside - completely, utterly, and forever aside) I could see my oldest in him. Unfailingly polite, athletic, fun, and just plain nice. (In hindsight, I think this is why his prowess in the bedroom bothered me so much. He reminded me too much of my son.)

Shea was also a nice girl. In fact, the two of them were so nice, that's the other thing that kept this from being a perfect read. And how silly is that, because I really, really liked them both. Anyway, they each have some issues to work out individually, and then they have to share them together. They worked well together.

Tommy and Shea resolve their conflict fairly early on, but each leaves some things unsaid, and that comes back later to bite them both in the butt. Thankfully, they are both talkers at heart, and again, the tension is resolved. The end of the book is driven by the external conflict - the resolution of the whodunnit (which was not a secret). Things come to a head with Sean in this one - finally, and with some seriously major consequences. And the preview she gives us into Sean's book? I don't know how I'll wait.

Davis knows how to torture a hero, that is for damn sure. Her firefighters are more tortured than any heroes in recent memory. (Zack anyone?) My heart broke for Tommy after the warehouse fire. Another little niggle: I was surprised that it only took a visit from his friends two weeks after his release from the hospital, to pull him out of his well of self-pity. But in the long run, it worked ok for me.

I enjoyed Line of Fire very much despite any little niggles I had with it (some that were, admittedly, my own).

Monday, May 03, 2010

Bookwatch: Cowboy heaven from Linda Lael Miller

It's no secret that I'm a huge Linda Lael Miller fangirl. I adore those McKettricks more than anything. She has two more books coming out in the McKettricks of Texas trilogy. I've already read the first one and loved it. (And isn't it interesting how they all seem to breed in 3s? LOL!)

The books are:
McKettricks of Texas: Tate (Feb 2010)
McKettricks of Texas: Garrett (May 2010)
McKettricks of Texas: Austin (June 2010)

Go get those Cowboys!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

April Reads

April was a pretty good month for me. I enjoyed most of what I was reading quite a bit. And I think this is the longest I’ve tracked my books for. Yay Goodreads! Here’s the wrap-up. Those that I've reviewed here are linked; most of the others have thoughts that can be found on my Goodreads account.

Her Best Friend
(Harlequin Superromance, #1626), Sarah Mayberry
Harlequin, 2010, Goodreads Rating: 4
4.5 stars. Great friends to lovers book. Mayberry has written another beautiful, believable story, full of charm, wit and love.

His Wanted Woman (The O'Reilly Brothers #1) (Silhouette Romantic Suspense #1585), Linda Turner
Silhouette, 2009, Goodreads Rating: 4
A 4.5 really.I really liked this one a lot. Both h & h were very likeable. The plot was one straight out of National Treasure, but quieter, as I imagine it would be in real life. The author took time to develop the relationship, and they actually talked to each other! About fears, their pasts, and their lives.
The only thing that gave me pause was how fast Patrick came to trust that Mac was innocent, and had no qualms about getting involved with a woman he was investigating. But everything else was so well done that I simply overlooked that. This book is a great example of why I still love to read category.

Betrayal in Death (In Death, #12), J.D. Robb
Berkley, 2001, Goodreads Rating: 5
It's so rare that we see Rourke as vulnerable as he was and Eve so forthcoming with her affections... her love. She initiates the I love yous several times not only with Roarke, but with Mavis, too. She listened and offered advice to Peabody. She takes great strides in her relationships.

Seduction in Death (In Death, #13), J.D. Robb
Piatkus Books, 2004, Goodreads Rating: 4
This one is very case-focused, but no less engrossing.

Insatiable (Federation Chronicles, #3) (Phantom Corps, #1), Lauren Dane
Berkley Heat, 2010, Goodreads Rating: 5
Dane's next entry in her Federation series (and the beginning of the Phantom Corps). I’ll do a full write-up closer to pub date (July), but I highly recommend you pre-order this so it’s waiting on your doorstep on release day.

Reyn's Redemption, Beth Cornelison
Samhain Publishing, Ltd., 2010, Goodreads Rating: 4
An RS that is fairly relationship-focused. Firefighter hero goes back to confront his past. I liked it a lot. \

Lethal Attraction (Silhouette Intimate Moments), Diana Duncan
Harlequin, 2008, Goodreads Rating: 4
While the premise of this one was a bit more farfetched, I do adore Duncan's writing and she managed to make almost all of it believable. Powerful emotions from h/h as well as all the secondary characters. Nice to revisit the O'Rourkes again in the last installment.

Reunion in Death
(In Death, #14), J.D. Robb
Piatkus Books, 2004, Goodreads Rating: 3
3.5 (minimal spoilers) This book was a real step forward in Eve coming to terms with her past. I enjoyed it, and as I wrote my review, I discovered so much more to like about it than I thought while reading it.

Scandalous (Banning Sisters trilogy #1), Karen Robards
Pocket, 2003, Goodreads Rating: 4
I really liked this one. However, I wondered about a couple things: first, with all the barging in her sisters do without knocking, how is it that nobody ever found out about Nick and Gabby? Especially after she awoke from a nightmare with a scream? I kept expecting a sister to barge in on their first lovemaking. And I must read the followup, so that I can see how the other girls are possibly accepted after the scandal at the end. Speaking of the end... I loved it. I wondered at the easy acceptance of everyone that Nick wasn't Marcus, but I loved it anyway.

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, Sarah MacLean
Avon, 2010, Goodreads Rating: 4
Really enjoyed it. What a great heroine (and I don't usually say that!). A wicked hero that is in turn tender, passionate, and frustrated *g*. Lots of humor and lots of love.

Nothing But Trouble, Rachel Gibson
Avon, 2010, Goodreads Rating: 4
The next in Gibson's Chinooks saga. I loved how Mark turned tender almost against his will. Didn't quite understand how he was so put out that Chelsea had been offered a bonus for staying on, but I did love how this gruff, angry man turned into a loving one. It was believable. Also liked Chelsea's transformation.

Instant Temptation, Jill Shalvis
Brava, 2010, Goodreads Rating: 4
Last installment in the Wilder brothers trilogy. Well worth it. Loved TJ and Harley.

Sinful Surrender, Beverley Kendall
Zebra, 2010, Goodreads Rating: 3
I love the friends to lovers theme, but this book didn't strike me quite right. The heroine seemed desperate for much of the book, and the hero, while I think the author was going for tortured, just seemed like an ass.

Irresistible, Karen Robards
Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group, 2010, Goodreads Rating: 4
Most of this was a roadtrip/cabin story. I found it interesting that Robards had Claire commit adultery, and while I raised my eyebrows at them actually completing the act, I understood it. It did add a hint of moral ambiguity to this story that made it a little more interesting. Overall, I really liked both Claire and Hugh. Am now on the waitlist for the 3rd book (released in HC - don't get me started!).

Calling Dr. Love, G.A. Hauser
CreateSpace, 2009, Goodreads Rating: 2
Hauser addresses a lot of stereotypes in this book, such as the gay porn star, society's views and prejudices against such, gay promiscuity, etc. While the characters themselves didn't appeal to me at first, their introspection helped them grow on me. Plus, the errors in this e-book were astronomical. Something about Hauser's books keeps me coming back, though, even though I haven't truly liked the last several I've read. I think they are written with honesty and if she could avoid the language that perpetuates the stereotypes that I personally don't care for (cause don't you know it's all about me?), then I'd probably like the books better.

Lord Ruin, Carolyn Jewel
Leisure Books, 2002, Goodreads Rating: 4
Thanks to Leslie for this one. I really loved it. Sweet story, but not gag me.

Rule's Bride (Bride's Trilogy, #3), Kat Martin
Mira, 2010, Goodreads Rating: 4
I thought Violet was a fantastic heroine (not something you hear often from me). She was strong, smart, compassionate. Rule was a good hero - dedicated to his wife, and to doing the right thing. What kept this from being a 5-star read for me was that Rule didn't understand love. His two brothers were deeply in love with their wives, and yet he claimed he didn't know what love was. It didn't sit well with me.

Purity in Death (In Death, #15), J.D. Robb
Piatkus Books, 2005, Goodreads Rating: 3
3.5 stars. This one was lacking for me a bit. Perhaps it was that I enjoyed the previous couple of books so much. This one was very case-focused, which has happened in previous books, but there was very little conflict between Roarke and Eve. I must admit to smiling a good deal of the way through the book, as this one had them bantering even more than usual. And as much as everyone (including me) loves that Roarke calls Eve "Lieutenant", I love that she calls him "Ace."

Shoot to Thrill (Passion For Danger, #1), Nina Bruhns
Berkley Sensation, 2009, Goodreads Rating: 4
Really enjoyed this one. I need to order the next couple in the series. I view them kind of in the same way I would a Janzen. Suspend your disbelief and take it at face value, and it was awesome.

Romeo for Hire, Jane Beckenham
Samhain Publishing, 2010, Goodreads Rating: 2
This started out ok, but I hate it when things can be resolved if the h/h would just *talk* to each other. They both stewed in their own juices, loving each other, but unwilling to say it. Drove me crazy. Plus, the end? Time & place ceased to exist. I think they had their final heart to heart in the few minutes after Carly delivered a baby. Really? Having been there... twice... I can say that's completely unrealistic. And he got down on one knee? Right after she delivered? The only thing that came to mind during this heartfelt declaration of love was ewwwwww. I’ve been in the delivery room. You don’t want to be on the floor. Trust me. Anyway, it had the potential to be a decent book, but lack of communication and unrealistic situations caused it to sink.

Marshall's Law, Denise A. Agnew
Treble Heart Books, 2003, Goodreads Rating: 3
Some suspense, some humor. But not as much fun to read as most of Agnew's books.

The Rake's Inherited Courtesan (Harlequin Historical Series #941), Ann Lethbridge
Harlequin Enterprises, 2009, Goodreads Rating: 4
3.5 stars. The ending was a little too pat, and I never understood why Sylvia never just told Christopher he was wrong about her. Pride is the downfall of all heroes and heroines. However, a different take on the usual historical, and that's one of the reasons I enjoy HHs so much.

Lessons From a Scarlet Lady, Emma Wildes
Signet, 2010, Goodreads Rating: 4
A married couple, and she decides she wants him to really love her and hunger for her. It was adorable, and I love a married couple story.

Five-Alarm Affair (Silhouette Romance, No 613), Marie Ferrarella
Silhouette, 1988, Goodreads Rating: 3
Kind of a meh read for Ferrarella. Bummer, that.

Pride and Passion, Jenna Bayley-Burke
Samhain Publishing, Ltd., 2010, Goodreads Rating: 3
3.5.the first half of the book I thought the hero was just an asshole. It read like a 90s Harlequin - hero comes in and tells heroine he's going to marry her and that's all there is. He pushed and prodded, relentlessly. No matter her feelings about it. The second half redeemed the book, IMO. Jake still insisted she would marry him, but he allowed her to spread her wings a bit and stopped being so domineering. I have liked Bayley-Burke's voice in other books, and I'm glad she got back on track in the 2nd half.
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