Monday, October 31, 2005

Elizabeth Lowell's Remember Summer

When I stumbled across this 20-year old title from Elizabeth Lowell, I didn’t hesitate to pick it up. I loved her Donovan series and hadn’t yet worked my way through the rest of her titles. Have to say I was disappointed.

I didn’t much care for this one. Really liked the premise—black ops kind of guy assigned to protect Olympic equestrian. Even liked the poetic analogy—his winter chill to her summer heat. Unfortunately, long, lyrical passages dedicated to that analogy consumed too much of the book. By the end, Lowell was beating that horse to death while ignoring pivotal events that, had they been fully developed, would have ‘filled out’ or ‘completed’ the story.

To find another gem like the Donovan’s in her library, I’ll just have to keep looking.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

To The Limit by Cindy Gerard

Last week, I read a review of Kill Me Twice by Roxanne St. Clair. The story's premise, albeit a popular and maybe overdone one, appealed to me. Just what I was in the mood for. So, on a rare impulse buy, I picked up this and one other 'similar-in-appearance' book--To The Limit by Cindy Gerard.

I liked them both. But To The Limit was stronger. More complex plot, harder to guess mystery, deeper characterization of both its H/H and secondary characters. And a palpable connection--emotional and physical--between the H/H.

Both feature H/H's in the PI business, all but one with military or government security training. Both feature eccentric billionaires, kidnap victims and decoy corporate mouthpieces. But where Kill Me Twice was a quick, enjoyable read, To The Limit drew me in. Provoked feeling, fear and need.

Its H/H felt more vulnerable, arriving at the conclusion bruised and battered emotionally and physically. In Kill Me Twice, the H/H escape physical harm even in the most dangerous circumstances. That doesn't always bother me--that lack of believability--but I found To The Limit to be a truer telling of relationships, family and dangerous professions. Its believability and strong characterization made it the better of the two reads.

Monday, October 24, 2005

You Never Can Tell by Kathleen Eagle (pub 2001)

This is a modern western romance with a Lakota hero and an Easterner heroine.

Kole Kills Crow was a Native American activist who took the rap for his mentor and ended up in prison. He escaped and has been living on the Ojibwa reservation making flutes and hiding from the world. Heather Reardon is a journalist who has been fascinated by him since she was a child and now wants to write a book about him. As Heather learns more about Kole and the cause, she has a hard time separating her feelings for him from the story. Oops, reporters are supposed to be objective and she never really is. They fight their feelings for each other, as they have very little in common, but the passion flares anyway. Kole decides to call attention to the stereotypes of Native Americans in movies and TV and begins a cross-country trip with Heather. They stop at various reservations picking up characters/protesters on their way to Hollywood. The reader is treated to delightfully subtle Native American humor throughout as Kole and Heather develop a strong bond.

I laughed and sighed throughout the book. The characters (primary and secondary) are so realistically written that I felt that I would recognize them anywhere. I give this five stars.

Review written by: byrdloves2read

Sunday, October 23, 2005

I just Finished

The Dark Highlander by Karen Marie Moning
This is the story of Dageus MacKelter. Like her other highlander stories we begin in modern times and are whisked back to 16th Century Scotland. This is probably been my favorite of all her books. Dageus is the tortured hero I love to read about. In order to save the brother he loves he breaks the Compact he and his clan have with the Tuatha Dé Danaan. In doing so he has cursed himself and fights the ultimate battle for his life.

In walks a brainy and curious woman whosefascinationn with antiquities pulls her in to the war for Dageus very life. Chloe Zanders has no idea what she is up against when she finds herself at the mercy of Dageus. Once she is there she finds that she can not leave and is willing to do anything to save him.

I have to save I loved this book, in fact this whole series of books is well worth the read. What's not to love about 16th Century Scottish Warriors. What strikes me most about this book and her others is the in depth research she has done to include much of the Scottish, Irish and English folk lore. She has you believing that it is very possible that you could travel back and claim your own Highland Warrior. The imagery is vast and the story compelling. It brought this reader to tears. I definitely recommend this book and any in her series. Her website indicated that you can read the stories as stand alone but I found that I had a much more enriching experience reading them in order. Oh yeah did I mention Dageus has a twin.His story is told in the book before this one. Kiss of the Highlander is the story of Drustan and Gwen. This book should definitely be read before The Dark Highlander.

Now I just have to get the next 2 books in the series and I will be all caught up.You can read more about this series at Ms. Moning's website.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

What I read this week...

Thanks Jennifer for setting up this forum! So.... Well, my goodness. Take a woman away from her family and her responsibilities and she has a whole lot of free time on her hands. So, on my weeklong business trip to Atlanta, I read about a dozen books. I'm not very wordy or big on plot summaries, but I'll give it a try. Hopefully you can get the gist of the type of stories these are by my comments. Here's the low-down on this past week's books...

Naked Truth by Amy J Fetzer:
This is my first book by her. Can I say how much I love men in uniform, secret agents and operatives, etc? I loved this book. It had just the right amount of action, romance and sex. Thumbs up.

Too Wilde to Tame by Janelle Denison:
Much anticipated, this is Mia and Cameron's story. It's hard not to like a book about a Wilde. Although, I must admit that Steve and Liz's story Wilde Thing was definitely my favorite, followed closely by Eric's story, Something Wilde (in the I Brake for Bad Boys anthology). Too Wilde to Tame still delivered that great Wilde story, lots of hunky alphas, and lots of steamy sex. Can't wait for Joel's story next. Thumbs up.

Wicked Fantasy by Nicole Jordan
This is the 3rd in the Paradise series. I love this series! Every one of the books has been great! Secret missions, major alphas, hot sex, and Nicole Jordan's storytelling touch. I loved getting to revisit some of the characters from the other books, too. If you like Regency historicals (even if you don't!), this is a definite winner! Thumbs up.

A Mutual Favor by Ann Jacobs
Call me sentimental, I love those "best friends turn into lovers" books. This one started out great, but I felt like it got really bogged down. I wasn't sure that I bought the idea that the hero all of a sudden left his wife, hugely pregnant with twins, to do the dishes every night, to run the entire household, and to make her give him a backrub every night. And what the hell was she thinking, giving him a backrub every darn night and not asking for a little in return? It just seemed totally contrary to his personality when they were friends. I liked the "wicked stepson". The bitchy ex-wife only seemed to exist to be a bitch. Hmmmm.... novel idea. Now don't get me wrong, I did truly like this book, I just thought there were some credibility issues. Iffy Thumbs up.

The Panty Episode by Jessica Darian
Well, it was good to read Kris' story (the travel agent friend from Hedonist's Paradise). The whole entire first day made me roll, I was laughing so hard. I mean, what else could have gone wrong for her? Unless I missed something (I think I must have) by reading it at 3 am (darn those time differences traveling west to east!), I couldn't ever figure out why she was so darn dead set against a commitment. I mean, if an incredibly hunky guy wanted to completely romance me, and kiss me from head to toe constantly (albeit sans actual intercourse), who am I to complain? But no, Kris just wanted the sex. Crazy woman! Anyway, although the rest of the book wasn't quite as comical as the beginning, I still really enjoyed the humor throughout, as well as hunky Derek (sorry Ladies, he's now taken) and nice steamy sex (errr... romance) scenes. A great light read. Definite thumbs up.

Slip Knot by Gail Faulkner
Holy moly! Hot alphas. Here is another special ops alpha team *fanning self*. This is Rem and Kathryn's story. He is one aggressively sexual dude. She is one emotionally scarred ex-stripper. Sparks are flying from the get-go. So when Rem realizes that someone is out to kill Kathryn, all of a sudden, he turns into this pussycat - not an outward sign of the aggressively sexual dude. That is my only complaint. I had a hard time picturing Rem able to turn it on and off like he did. Otherwise, this is an awesome story. I must say, there is a bit of a torture scene (not between the H&H) that if you are squeamish might make you a tad uncomfortable. I think it just showed how well Gail Faulkner wrote the story that that scene made me feel uncomfortable and on edge. I loved all the interaction between Rem's special ops team, and between Rem's sister Tammy and his buddy Miguel. Loads of humor buried underneath all that suspense. Definite thumbs up.

Family Secrets, and The Cattleman, both by Mlyn Hurn
I could tell that these are earlier books by Mlyn Hurn, especially Family Secrets (©2002). It's not quite as developed as her later books. Having said that, I did really enjoy The Cattleman. It is a historical, but I didn't realize it until I started reading it. No worries - I love historicals. So on I read. I liked it a lot. It does jump around a bit in terms of flashbacks, and never tells you what time you are in. If you can get past that (a minor annoyance) then you will really enjoy the story. The H&H have a love-hate relationship their entire lives (Hero is Heroine's big brother's best friend). They get over the "hate part", but have to keep their affair secret (wouldn't want anyone to get a bad rep). H&H get into a buggy accident and Hero is hurt badly. Hero's mother-from-hell is determined to keep them apart, but Hero will have none of it. After he knocks up said Heroine, he insists on them being together for a HEA. I love it when men are so willing to admit and show their love for their women (an EC trait that I truly love). Thumbs up.

Family Secrets: I didn't enjoy this as much, simply because I felt like the herione was a simpleton. If she wasn't, she sure acted like it! The story and characters aren't as fully developed as in some of her later books, and it reads like an early effort, too. Thumbs 3/4 down. Hey, it's not a science!

Twice Upon a Roadtrip by Shannon Stacey
OMGoodness! This was one mishap after another, starting from the very first scene where the heroine inadvertently calls the hero's beloved mother a bitch, dents his car, and altogether makes a complete fool of herself. This was a laugh riot from beginning to end. I loved that the Hero wasn't perfect - he was a mess too. And together they are messy, but very passionate! And Hero makes me really want my own mild-mannered DH to turn into an aggressive, talk dirty guy in the bedroom, too. Definite thumbs up!

OK, I read a few more, but I will save them for another time. I think I've shot my wad for the night.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips' Lady Be Good

Last night, I sat down and read Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Lady Be Good cover to cover—crawling into bed after 3AM. And while I regret the late hour and lack of sleep, I don’t regret this purely pleasurable, completely frivolous read. It was a delicious remake (in a sense) of Fancy Pants and I loved it. Something about twittery (but smart you know) heroines and lean alphas so tall they “unfold” themselves when getting up.

I also enjoy SEP’s humor, particularly in her secondary characters. In this book, that means Torie (our hero’s sister) and Dex (her arranged intended). The whole arranged marriage thing is handled tongue in cheek (as it should be) and the antics throughout the story are pure SEP. Like Janet Evanovich, SEP delivers humor, but in her own distinct voice. Where Evanovich delivers comic relief, SEP delivers dry, wicked wit. Love that.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Madeline Hunter's By Possession

This book jolted me from a rut. A rut wherein just the introduction of the hero instills confidence and calms any doubt about the HEA. When Hunter's hero, Addis, first meets Moira, he is menacing at best. And not inclined to give Moira more than a passing consideration; the briefest remembrance.

Where I recognized and felt her loneliness and isolation early, I felt little empathy for Addis until much later in the book. Even when I 'understood' him, I remained unimpressed and unmoved by his stoicism. Still dug into my rut, I expected him to 'right' things, realign stars and planets if necessary.

This changed, effectively bouncing me out of that rut, in one pivotal moment, when Addis enters Moira's room while she sleeps and slumps down against the wall simply to be near her. This is where I felt his isolation. And the depth of his need for her. This is when I gave credence to his own burdens and stopped faulting him for not assuming control. For not 'righting' things.

In By Possession, Hunter drew me into a love so poignant, it hurt. I wasn't carried gently through the story on whispers of hope (evoked by love powerful enough to overcome). Instead, I labored heavy-hearted, burdened by the same sense of powerlessness, injustice and uncertainty that blackened the skies above Addis and Moira. In the end, the HEA delivered bone-deep relief, not an overwhelming joy. And after I turned the last page, the melancholoy lingered.

Would I recommend By Possession? Well yeah. These characters provoked emotion. Just because they mucked around in misery, killing any chance for a light and happy mood, is no reason to deny their appeal. It is safe to say that I will begin working my way through all of Hunter's titles.
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