Thursday, December 14, 2006

Harmony's Way By Lora Leigh

Harmony Lancaster is of the Lion breed, created to be a huntress with a thirst to kill. But the way she seeks justice outside of the law makes her a liability to her own kind. Yet she also possesses information that they need on the existence of the First Leo - who holds the precious secrets of desire.

To save her life, Harmony is paired with Sheriff Lance Jacobs, who tries to tame the killer within her, while protecting the gentle woman he longs to possess. But a dangerous cult leader, bent on destroying the Breeds, could change the way Lance looks at Harmony forever...

Harmony's Way is the most recent installment of Lora Leigh's much loved Breeds Series, her second full length release with Berkley and more importantly just the beginning for this series.

While this book is a continuation of her previous books with Ellora's Cave it can be read in my opinion by those readers that are just discovering her breeds series. I will caution you though, the main character Lance in this book is actively involved in the previous book Megan's Mark. I myself am a bit of a series fanatic, so I would say you should at least read The Breed Next Door in the Honk If You Love Real Men anthology and then Megan's Mark to fully enjoy this installment.

That being said I have to say that as usual Lora Leigh hits the mark with this bold and engaging tale into the life and mind of the closest thing to a perfect killer the genetics council could manage to create. Harmony Lancaster is death personified, yet she is so much more. Forced to fight to survive Harmony has spent the majority of her life alone. For years she has managed to avoid capture and dispense justice for those she felt were wronged, now after her capture she finds herself stationed in the Broken Butte sheriff's department.

Lance Jacobs is the town sheriff, he is Alpha all the way and the first time he see Harmony somehow he knows she is meant to be his. Watching the mighty Sheriff fall in love and fight to protect Harmony had me on pins and needles waiting for those out to harm his mate to strike.

The story is fast paced and continues to reveal more and more of the world of the Breeds, there secrets slowly exposed to us as readers while the characters themseleves are still struggling to put it all together.

The heat of this story like all of Lora's books is strong and hot. Mating heat as it is described by the author can be painful and yet it seems to be the ultimate pleasure as well. The book makes me wish breeds were real. But alas they are not so I'll just have to keep reading and Lora will have to keep writing.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

What I've been reading lately...

I've got a whole slew of stuff to write up, and not a lot of motivation. But I've been having such a great time reading, that I need to at least share my thoughts - thumbs up or down on these books.

Crazy SweetCrazy Sweet - Tara Janzen
OK, this is Travis & Red Dog's story. Meh for the main storyline. Disappointing. It's really hard to write an engaging storyline for a woman whose emotions you've taken away. But, as always, the secondary storyline was fantastic, and kept me glued to the book. Smith and Honey were wonderful, hot, engaging. They reminded me a bit of Kid and Nikki for some reason. I'm assuming (read... hoping) that their story is "On the Loose", coming in 2007. Crazy Sweet gets a thumbs up for the secondary story line. Good save there.

Take Me
Take Me - Lucy Monroe
Loved it. Jared was wonderful - warm and caring. Cali was great - I loved it that she learned how to stand up for herself. I only wish that she hadn't been the cliched married virgin, although at least we get a different and decent twist as to the reason. I think Lucy Monroe has a wonderful way with writing stories that pull you in and make you feel what her characters are feeling. Thumbs up for the entire trilogy.

Under the WireUnder the Wire - Cindy Gerard
Fan-fricken-tastic. Next to To the Edge, the first Bodyguard book, this one is my favorite. I loved Manny and Lily. There was not a moment that I wasn't drawn into the storyline. Not a moment where I rolled my eyes. Not a moment where I got bored. Nothing was overdone. Nothing was faked. Loved, loved, loved it. I cannot wait for Dallas and Amy's book. I only hope it doesn't fall victom to the "long awaited book" syndrome and become a snoozer. I have a hard time believing that any book Cindy Gerard writes would be a snoozer, but Under the Wire will be a tough one to follow up.

Something SinfulSomething Sinful - Suzanne Enoch
In book 2 in the series, An Invitation to Sin, I was disappointed in the way she wrote the characters. I think others were, too. The duke was written as downright mean, and there was no humor at all. This one goes back to more humor. Sebastian, the duke, comes off much nicer. Shay's story is pretty good, aside from the heroine's mother treating her like dirt. Why, oh, why must this happen to all heroines? So cliched. Anyway, this was a much better contribution to the series than book 2.

Something SinfulPleasure for Pleasure - Eloisa James
Well, this is the final book in the Essex sister's series. Josie's story was ok, but the secondary story here shined. Griselda's romance (Mayne's sister) was great (if you do away with the cliched ending). Loved it. There was a bit of the older woman/younger man issue that Kristie blogged about, but it wasn't overpowering. Mostly, they had a lot of fun. As for Mayne and Josie, I got a bit tired of Josie complaining about being fat all the time. Did women back then complain about their weight as much as we do? Just curious. Mayne is one of those milquetoasty heroes, but he was preferable to Josie. I did really love the scene where Mayne prances around in Josie's dress to teach her how to walk properly. And we got glimpses of both his alphaness and his sensitivity when he thought Josie had been raped. So, all in all, I guess if you like the series (which for the most part I did) then the book is a worthwhile endeavor to finish it off.

Touch Me With FireTouch Me With Fire - Nicole Jordan
This is a reissue of one I'd never read before. I absolutely loved every page of it. Great stuff. I only wondered a bit about the believability of some of the gypsy storyline, but I was able to set it aside. Why? I don't know. Perhaps it's because Jordan writes so well, or because her characters are always so beautifully formed - deep, thoroughly fleshed out. Or her love scenes are so dang hot. Beats me. I just know I dug this book. It gripped me from page 1. Love Nicole Jordan. Definite thumbs up.

Beyond the LimitBeyond the Limit - Lindsay McKenna
This is another in the Morgan's Mercenaries series. McKenna's heroes are sensitive, but strong. Their women are strong, but they are never bitchy. The two Trayhern boys are nothing like their father - it's an interesting thing, and McKenna explores it. Pete has a better relationship with his father than his brother Jason did, but he is still a different sort of guy. I love that she always has a strong sense of family in her books, but they are never sickeningly sweet. Quite the opposite, in fact. Just normal people with normal problems in extraordinary circumstances falling in love. These are military romances, heavy on the romance. Good book.

Side note - what's with all the cliched endings in books lately? And has anyone else noticed that I seem to be prejudiced against the heroines in my books? Or do I just have higher expectations of them? Is it because we're women and we're inherently looking for fault in other women? Subconsciously thinking of them as competition for the heroes in the books we read? Or am I just a freak? Do you expect your heroines to be perfect? I'm noticing that I'm really tough on the heroines I'm reviewing. The exception lately was Cassie in Taking Chase. Fantastically written heroine.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A Body In Berkeley Square by Ashley Gardner

This book was published by Penguin as a Berkley Prime Crime Mystery and tagged “A Mystery of Regency England.” It is not romance. It is not suspense. Rather, it is the story of murder in the ton, solved with elegance by Captain Lacey, the book’s single narrator and leading character. I loved it.

Captain Lacey, the story’s only POV, is an interesting man. Instantly likeable. Not a member of the ton, but a ‘working’ man who served alongside bluebloods in the Peninsular War. So, outwardly, he is the sort to get along with everyone—be they privileged or destitute. Inwardly, we learn very quickly that Lacey is neither bland diplomat nor bumbling detective. He is forthright, quick witted, self deprecating, compassionate, stubborn, and the list goes on. In short, he is his own man.

In this story, Lacey investigates a murder for which the prime suspect has already been arrested, lodged at Newgate and ordered to trial. The suspect is Lacey’s former commanding officer and through a shared past and what appears to be a shared love (of sorts), we learn as much about Lacey as we do about the motive for murder. Gardner confounds readers with the mystery—a tricky whodunit—all the while bringing Lacey to life. Seamless. Smart.

Aside from a shared past with the alleged murderer, Lacey has ties to a number of other characters—at least half of whom play a role in the murder investigation. Again, Gardner deftly uses these relationships to further both the plot and Lacey’s characterization. And, despite the first person POV, Gardner succeeds in bringing Lacey’s cohorts to life with equal color and sound.

So, through his shared history, present circumstances and dialogue throughout, we learn much of Lacey’s character. The rest we derive from his own thoughts. Happily (for readers), Gardner applies the same subtlety when building Lacey’s character through the use of internal thoughts. No life story summations to clue readers. Just the comedy and tragedy found in one’s own thoughts. Gave him a depth and an unexpected vulnerability that appealed to me. Again, he is a very interesting character. Charged with unraveling a crafty whodunit. Excellent, excellent read.

Note: This appears to be the fifth book in Gardner’s Captain Lacey’s Regency Mystery series. And, without drilling too deeply into her website, I see mention that the first three books in the series are out of print. I enjoyed this one so much however, that I will scour libraries online until I have located and read the entire series.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Comfort and Joy By Kristin Hannah

In this modern-day fairy tale, New York Times bestselling author Kristin Hannah gives us a very special gift: the heartwarming story of a woman at a crossroads, caught between two lives, who finds a second chance at happiness.

Joy Candellaro used to love Christmas more than any other time of the year. Now, as the holiday approaches, she finds herself at loose ends. Recently divorced and estranged from her sister, she can't summon the old enthusiasm for celebrating. So without telling anyone, she buys a ticket and boards a plane bound for the rural Northwest.

Yet Joy's best-laid plans go terribly awry. The plane crashes deep in the darkness of a forest. Miraculously, Joy and her fellow passengers walk away from the wreckage as the plane explodes. There, amid the towering trees, Joy makes a bold and desperate decision to leave her ordinary life behind and embark on an adventure . . . just for the holidays.

Daniel O'Shea has returned to the small town of Rain Valley, following the death of his ex-wife. Now he is a single father facing his son's first Christmas without a mother. Six-year-old Bobby isn't making it easy, the boy has closed himself off from the world, surrounding himself with imaginary friends.

When Joy and Bobby meet, they form an instant bond. Thrown together by fate, these wounded souls will be touched by the true spirit of Christmas and remember what it means to be a family.

Then a dramatic turn of events shows Joy the price of starting over. On a magical Christmas Eve she will come face-to-face with a startling truth. Now she must decide: In a time of impossible dreams and unexpected chances, can she find the faith to reach for the love she has found . . . and the new life only she believes in?

I'm going to be honest here and say that this is not a book I would have picked up had a friend not only recommended, but mailed to me so I could read. I had never read anything by this author before and in truth had never even heard of her. Since reading this book I did go out an buy another of her stories.

I first I thought this would be your typical Christmas themed story. I was wrong for sure, when they say dramatic turn, they mean it. I was to say the least surprised and more than a little bowled over by this story's plot twist. I have read the many reviews over on Amazon and I can completely see the point of some of those readers. But if you have a little bit of faith are willing to believe in Christmas miracles and want lopreservererveer than you will enjoy this emotionally charged offering from Ms. Hannah.

Some of the plot line has been said to be too far fetched and the characters reactions to certain events not believable and while that may be true for some, I found that I could and did believe their reactions. More importantly I believed them to be true to the characters in this story.

Joy for the most part is doing the best that she can against what I think are impossible odds. This story is told in the first person from her perspective and while I usually don't read books written in first person I don't think this story would work another way. To understand Joy's betrayal by her husband and sister, to sympathize with her emotions and her need to run away you have to read it form her point of view. All the characters there actions and ultimately the outcome are all based on Joy's observations, her emotional struggle and ultimately her decision to forgive or not to forgive the sister she has loved all her life.

This book is so much more than the story of Daniel and Joy, of Joy's relationship with the sad and confused Bobby, more that her sister's need to reconcile and even her ex-husband's need to find a way to love one sister after hurting the other. This book is a journey, one that begins and ends with Joy.

All in all this is a compelling read that asks the reader to believe in the miracle of Christmas, to take that leap of faith into the unknown and while doing so watches as a woman finds her way to live and hopefully love again.
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