Sunday, May 31, 2009

Re-read Challenge: Worth Any Price by Lisa Kleypas

Bow Street runner Nick Gentry is a complex man with a dark and tortured history, and beautiful Charlotte Howard is a woman running from her past. Neither Nick or Charlotte are wholly what they seem, for each have secrets too painful to reveal, and each has chosen to hide behind a false identity. Once they’re drawn into each other’s worlds, they’re forced to face difficult truths and are compelled to acknowledge the passion that burns between them. For Charlotte, "the challenge of taming him, matching his powerful will with her own, was too tempting to resist." For Nick, "if he could not have her, this endless feeling of being hungry, unsatisfied, cold, would never leave him." But will their love be enough to defeat the obsessed nobleman who covets Charlotte and the thirst for danger that tempts Nick, or is their future together doomed by the pain of their past?

So, I can't remember how long ago it was that I first read this book. What I can remember is that Nick had me at hello. He is such a perfect tortured hero - and Lottie is his absolute perfect mate.

When we first meet Nick, he is the virgin hero; unable to be touched and unable to connect sexually with anyone. He learns in the bed of Gemma Bradshaw, Kleypas' standby madam. I fell hard for him during his first encounter with Gemma - his feelings and emotions were so intense.

When we next meet him, he is on the hunt for Lottie, and from the moment they meet you know they are meant for one another. Nick falls like a ton of bricks, and to watch him deal with the emotions of that while still trying to deal with the physical aspect of not liking to be touched is so heart-wrenching. You can see their love for each other grow daily. And as Nick comes to realize that he doesn't need his old life - all he needs is Lottie - and his "last thoughts" are of her, well, it's just romance at its finest.

Lottie, in turn, is a fantastic heroine. She is strong in her own right and strong for Nick as well. She helps him through the toughest revelations in his life and supports him through thick and thin while enduring some horrific stuff on her own as well.

I love how both characters grew during the course of the book - a key component. They weren't stagnant. They learned from each other and their love made them strong as a couple, but also strong as individuals. Lottie went from strong in the relationship to a strong individual, and Nick went from a (seemingly) strong individual to strong in the relationship.

Did I like this book as much as the first time I read it? Oh yes. Is this one of the few books on my keeper shelf? Oh yes. If you are one of the few out there who haven't read this one yet, go get it and read it asap. And in the Derek/Nick battle? No battle in my mind. Nick wins hands down. (ducking Kristie's tomatoes)

Friday, May 01, 2009

April Reading List - Jennifer B

Eight books in April--best month so far. Quality was up there too. I started the month raving about Julie James' Just The Sexiest Man Alive and ended it immersed in a bonafied page-turner from Annie Solomon--both new-to-me authors. Yay!

Oh, and my reviewing mojo returned--not yet sure if this is a limited engagement or if it's back for the long haul, but since I was able to review most of my April reads, I'm going to do something a bit different here. I'm going to bullet the books, gab them up for a second, then paste a line from my own review. I'll link the line to the review.

Just The Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James
Fabulous, fabulous read. I can't wait to read her (unrelated) follow-up, Practice Makes Perfect.

"Fucking fabulous because James put dialogue at the wheel and left it there to drive the entire story."

Laird Of The Mist by Paul Quinn
This book reminded me of every Scottish historical I've ever read and loved. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

"Where I thought Garwood may have ruined me for others, Paula Quinn proved otherwise."

Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas
Enjoyed myself here too--and I owe it all to a very engaging hero. Interestingly, until I penned my review, I was thinking I'd read and enjoyed the prior two entries in this series. Not so. When I looked back, I learned that Blue-eyed Devil got a meh from me and I'd not even read Sugar Daddy. Plan to rectify that now that the series has turned for me.

"...the hero added measurable portions of the maturity and intelligence I cited earlier. He was the calm assurance, everywhere."

Shattered by JoAnn Ross, DNF
I have loved a number of titles from Ross, but this one was so awful I put it down after 20 pages. It was the writing--sentence after sentence was so convoluted that I couldn't comprehend what I was reading. I literally had to go back and break down sentences, digesting them clause by clause. Beyond awful. Unedited and unrecognizable as Ross's work.

Seraphim by Shelby Reed
With dozens of years of reading under my belt, Shelby Reed remains the only writer to leave me speechless. Her prose alone stirs the senses.

" recollection of Seraphim is entirely of the personal conflict--within and between hero and heroine."

Silent In The Grave by Deanna Raybourn
Loved it. Blogger buzz proved true in this instance and I am thoroughly hooked. Already have Silent In The Sanctuary in my library book bag. Also have to mention that I added Raybourn's blog to my reader--and I'm loving that too.

"She seemed to alternate between an active and passive role--in her own life. Artfully done by Raybourn, but difficult to watch for the reader."

A Highlander Never Surrenders by Paula Quinn
See? I had so much fun reading Laird Of The Mist that I danced right to book two. More fun was had. Sadly, Quinn's series ends here (but will pick up with their offspring I guess).

"She knows no fear. Seriously, she was medieval Scotland's version of Eve Dallas. And I loved her."

Two Fab Historicals
Back in 2006, both Loretta Chase and Liz Carlyle were new-to-me authors, both great finds given my love of historical romance. And while I thought I'd ready every title published by both, three remained on my written TBR list. Without 'researching' the titles, I ordered Your Scandalous Ways by Loretta Chase and Never Romance A Rake plus Never Deceive A Duke by Liz Carlyle.

I read Never Romance A Rake in March, then freaked out because I realized the other one came first in that series. Almost turned the other back into the library unread--thinking why bother now? I've already read 'past' that installment, copyright date is near vintage and hell, maybe that phase of my life is over. Afterall, I'm a dark, edgy paranormal gal now.

Fortunately, because I am also obsessive compulsive (or something like that), I am incapable of crossing an item off my TBR list if I have not read it. Actually removing a title from that list would probably require a court order. Seriously, I'm that committed to my list. So...

Your Scandalous Ways by Loretta Chase
One word: hilarious. I was 20-some-odd pages into it, suffering a been-there-done-that sensation, when Chase snagged me with this one line:

"They say he is a little stupid, but she seems to favor him."

This insight was imparted in a debriefing of sorts--where one man was describing the target (a woman) and her admirers (this one a very young, inexperienced prince). I laughed out loud and happily kept reading, laughing all along the way. No question, Chase penned (and continues to pen) the best of the best historical romances out there.

Never Deceive A Duke by Liz Carlyle
A deeply emotional and satisfying read. I'd forgotten how authors like Carlyle (and Chase and Kleypas) manage to create heroes that are as deeply scarred and fragile as they are strong and possessive. Does anyone write men like this anymore? Wow.

All good, eh? Good month. And since I can't keep my eyes open past 10 o'clock, I won't finish One Deadly Sin by Annie Solomon before month's end. It's a page-turner. Characterization proving both deep and nimble (I'll explain later). This will fall under May reads.

A quick glance at my 2009 reading resolutions:

1) Read almost strictly from my TBR list (not stack, list). Check.

2) Read at least one shiny new release a month. Check. (Smooth Talking Stranger was less than a month old.)

3) Catch up--right up--to the new releases in each of my favorite series. Tried. Got Fire Study by Maria Snyder from the library, but couldn't catch its rhythm in the first few pages. Set it aside for May.
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