Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Damaged by Pamela Callow

How far are you willing to go to forget your past?

Haunted by the death of her sister, and wounded by her ex-fiance's accusations, Kate Lange throws herself into her new career at a high-powered law firm.

When the grandmother of a lonely private school student seeks her counsel, Kate thinks it's just another custody case. Until the teen is brutally murdered. And it isn't only Kate who wonders if her legal advice led to the girl's death.

How far are you willing to go to redeem yourself?

Put on notice by Randall Barrett, the firm's charismatic managing partner, Kate must fight for her career, for her reputation -- and for redemption.

Unwilling to live with the damage she has caused, Kate pursues the case on her own and unearths some chilling facts.

Facts that lead straight to the heart of a legal conspiracy. Facts that lead Kate directly into the surgically-skilled hands of the Body Butcher.


Please note that this review contains some spoilers.

I received this book for review. I’m a big fan of the thriller, and especially the medical thrillers. I do believe I’ve read every Robin Cook and Michael Palmer book out there. So when I went onto Callow’s website to look for information, and she was compared to Robin Cook? I was all about it.

This is a debut novel, and it reads as such. There are a lot of really good things about it, and a lot of things that need improvement. Ethan (a police detective) and Kate (an attorney) were engaged to be married, when a coworker of Ethan’s told a very private "secret" of Kate’s in a very public forum. A coworker that Ethan had an affair with and dumped for Kate. Did Ethan stand up for Kate and get mad at the coworker? Hell no. He got pissed off at Kate and treated her like crap. Until she gave back his ring. Now they find themselves thrown together 6 months later, pulled in by a case which involves them both.

Here’s where Callow made a grave error. Throughout the book, the reader has the impression that Ethan is the hero of the book, and that he and Kate will get back together. Not a problem, except that Ethan treats Kate like shit throughout the whole book. It’s the old, “You’re such a lowlife”, “I want to get back together with you” dilemma. I would have been fine with it if I’d known that Kate and Ethan would not end up together. But I didn’t understand that, and so was ticked off at Ethan for his treatment of Kate, and was ticked off at the author for making such an asshole be Kate’s true love. This lasted until almost the last chapter.

Also appearing is Kate’s boss, Randall. They give each other the looks and it’s obvious that Randall wants her, but although she gets little tingles all over, she resists. Making me think that since Kate was supposed to end up with Ethan, she was also slutty.

For her part, Kate was about as wishy-washy as could be. She felt strongly in her convictions, but the second that anyone suggested alternate outcomes to her on her case, she bought into them. She questioned all her assumptions about each person she encountered if anyone made an opposing remark. I have no problem with people looking deep and changing their core assumptions, but it wasn’t presented that way. Not only was she wishy-washy in her professional life, but she came across as wishy-washy in her personal life as well; unable to choose between Ethan and Randall.

Now, on to the actual story. When a grandmother comes to her seeking custody of her granddaughter, Kate brushes her off thinking that she has no grounds. Then the granddaughter is murdered. Turns out that she was the daughter of a prominent judge. So Kate starts digging. The lead detective? Yup. Ethan. Along the way, they lead 2 completely parallel investigations, very rarely intersecting unless Ethan wants something from Kate. At which point, he insults her and then asks her to break attorney-client privilege, or unethically slip him notes from her case files. And she’s willing to do it! Kate's investigation into the death of this young girl coincides with a case that she is co-defending for her firm involving a tissue bank.

OK. I’ve said there were things I did like, and let me spell those out. First, the setting. It’s set in Halifax – an interesting place, and an unusual one for a book. Callow brings aspects of the city into the book and it definitely worked for me. Also, the legal investigation (as opposed to the police one) was done well, I thought. Kate seemed to be doing the right things (until she went off on her own in a dangerous situation: TSTL Alert!). She did manage to avoid the TSTL, but just barely. Several times she should have contacted Ethan, but because he’d just treated her like crap, she decided against it. I can understand and appreciate that. So why didn’t she contact a member of his investigative team?

The police procedural is not as well done as I would have liked. I never truly got a sense of a team working on serial murders. The police procedural came across as very superficial to me. I couldn’t see how they came to some of the conclusions that they did. It felt like, “Hey that dude is a blonde and we’re looking for a blonde! Must be him!” They jumped to conclusions about everyone they investigated. I could feel Callow trying so hard to bring this team to life for me, but it lost something in the translation.

As for the actual whodunit and why? That was the medical thriller part, and it was a sound premise. As a former medical professional, I liked how she incorporated an actual disease into the story, and actual medical research rather than completely far-fetched ideas. I thought that was the best part of the book. Unfortunately, the threads of all the stories ran parallel without intersecting for too long, so I didn’t really care how they meshed by the time they did. I’m hopeful that since this is a debut novel, Callow can fix some of these plot twists and mesh her storylines a little more intricately in her subsequent books.

Anyway, by the end of the book, when Ethan declares his love for Kate and she turns him down, I was annoyed that I’d been led on for the whole book. Even though I didn’t care for Ethan, I’d been waiting for him to redeem himself, but he just came off as a somewhat ineffective cop who was a major asshole.

Kate is the lead in what is to be a series of books, and her boss Randall seems to be the next choice for hero material. Even though there were a number of holes in this book, I think there is enough good stuff here and enough room for growth that I’ll be willing to give her one more try.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bookwatch: Finding the time to read

I downloaded this one last night. Can not wait to have the time to read it!! Is there anyone that doesn't adore this series? Seriously?

When a patch of ice sends attorney Ginger Paulson head-over-high-heels down a flight of stairs, she has no one to care for her young son and her invalid father—until lethally sexy Kane McKay shows up at the hospital, determined to prove his cowboy chivalry. Past experience has inoculated her against take-charge men, but even Ginger isn’t immune to Kane’s invasive charm and Built Ford Tough body.

For two years rancher Kane McKay has followed the Little Buddies mentoring program’s cardinal rule—hands off his Little Buddy Hayden’s mama. But one look at Ginger’s bruised body and Kane is through watching the stubborn woman take care of everyone but herself. The feisty, curvy redhead needs his help, and he’ll give her the hands-on type whether she likes it or not.

After Kane throws out doctor’s orders and issues his own demands—her full sexual submission—Ginger realizes Kane’s caring nature extends beyond just fulfilling her physical needs.

Can the former hell-raiser convince the gun-shy single mom to look beyond his past…toward a shared future?

And you all know what a Beth Williamson ho I am. This is her newest, written as Emma Lang. It's in the mail to me! Yay!

He led her astray, and she never wanted to go back...

Sheltered all her life, Eliza Hunter never imagined herself alone in the vast Utah plains, much less trailing a mysterious, rugged man hired to hunt down her beautiful younger sister. Unable to reveal the truth about her pursuit of him, Eliza plays student to the teacher, transforming herself in the process. And she when she finds herself sharing the warmth of Grady’s campfire, wrapped in his arms, hypnotized by his power, soon she is a naive spinster no more…

Grady Wolfe is more than a loner, he’s a man forever on the run. With a body and soul finely honed from living off the land, Grady knows he should leave the irresistible woman alone, but she stirs something in him he hasn’t felt before. Now he’s lost in the woods for the first time in his life—with a dangerous job to do. And no one—not even the luscious Eliza—is going to stop him.

I think I will get to both of these on the road to Vegas this weekend. But shoot. I want to read them now! (maybe calling in to work isn't such a bad idea...)

And in the bookwatch column for next week:

After being made a scapegoat in a botched investigation that led to a child's death, Aidan McConnell became a recluse. Still, as a favor to an old friend, Aidan will help on the occasional XI case. But under his handsome, rugged facade, he keeps his emotions in check--for fear of being burned again.

Reporter Lexie Nolan has a nose for news--and she believes a serial killer has been targeting teen girls around Savannah. But no one believes her. So she turns to the new paranormal detective agency and the sexy, mysterious Aidan for help.

But just as the two begin forging a relationship, the case turns eerily personal for Lexie--and Aidan discovers that maybe he hasn't lost the ability to feel after all...

Heh. I have July 6th off work. Guess what I'll be doing?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Meeting and greeting

Last Saturday, we had another Blogger/author get-together. It was, as always, a blast.

We met in Century City, in honor of Pearl's visit. Pearl and hubby were so nice, and I'm so glad we all got a chance to get together.

We started the day at Borders, where I felt no desire to buy anything. Huh, go figure. Then we had lunch at a really great Brazilian place. We had the outside lounge to ourselves (except for the 2 guys that just came in and sat there - whatever). Lots of talking and laughing. I forget who it was that noted that the authors were in a cluster, and the readers were clustered (maybe it was Zoe). But after that, we all mixed it up.

Anyway, once we all finished eating, we went down to the parking lot for the famous book swap, where once again, I felt almost no need to pick anything up. I brought 4 boxes of books, and came home with 1/2 a bag. It was awesome. And hubby is so happy and proud of me for getting rid of all my books. What wasn't taken by any SoCal Blogger, Tracy is taking to her friend who stocks a library. I'll tell you one thing. That library is waaaay better stocked with romances than my library!

Here are a few pics. I'm too lazy to label them, but you all know who everyone is by now...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Portrait In Death by JD Robb

After a tip from a reporter, Eve Dallas finds the body of a young woman in a dumpster on Delancey Street. Just hours before, the news station had mysteriously received a portfolio of professional portraits of the woman. The photos seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary for any pretty young woman starting a modeling career. Except she wasn't a mode;. And the photos were taken after she was murdered.

Now Eve is on the trail of a killer who's a perfectionist and an artist. He carefully observes and records his victims' every move. And he has a mission: to own every beautiful young woman's innocence, to capture their youth and vitality - in one fateful shot...


I actually read this for the challenge last month, but never really got around to reviewing it properly.

As so many have pointed out, some of the In Death books are heavy on the relationship, some are heavy on the procedural. This one is all about Roarke, and the case takes a complete backseat. Someone is killing young adults, who seem to have the world at their feet. Well-liked, beautiful people. Eve and the team have to figure out who is doing the killing before more are murdered.

In this book, Eve learns she can rely on her team. They can do the work, and she learns to trust that it will still be there when she gets back in. It's a huge step for her, both in continuing her realization that she isn't all alone in this world, and that she can ask for help and will receive it.

I love how Eve is on top of the world over Summerset's vacation and when that is ruined by an accident, she can't help but worry about him.

Eve and Peabody are getting closer. There's always been great banter, but Peabody is beginning to really take great pleasure in baiting Eve about her relationship with McNab.
"So why is it my aide and Feeney's detective are chatting about the information in my investigation?

"It just happened to come up - between kissy noises." She smiled, pleased when Eve's eye twitched. "And sexual innuendos."

"As soon as this case is closed, I'm putting in for a new aide - one who has no sexual drive whatsoever - and transporting you to Files."

"Awww. Now that you've hurt my feelings, I'm not inclined to share my sandwich."

"What kind is it?"



Delicately, Eve brushed cookie crumbs off her shirt. "Smartasses always pay."

"You never do," Peabody said under her breath.

Eve lets Peabody take a cold case and work it. Here is more on their growing professional relationship. Eve is trusting Peabody, and now needs to get Peabody to trust herself in order to advance her career. Peabody begins conducting interviews on her own case. One of the people she interviews is named Catstevens. I appreciated the reference.

In this book, we see Eve set aside her case for probably the first time, and put Roarke first, above everything. Their situation is a juxtaposition of their usual dynamics, with Eve being lost and Roarke the rock. Here, Roarke is completely out of his element, lost, adrift, and Eve is his strength, his anchor.

In the meantime, Roarke learns startling news about his mother from a counselor from Ireland who is working at Louise's shelter. Stunned, hurt, shocked, he actually initiates some nastiness between himself and Eve. He is well on the way to getting himself drunk in this scene:
"Roarke - "

"Goddamn it, Eve. I'm busy here." He snapped it out, and stopped her in her tracks."Give me some fucking space, will you? I'm not in the mood to chat or for a quick shag or a replay of your day."

Insult and anger lit her face. "Just what the hell are you in the mood for?"

"To be left alone to do what I'm set to do here."
I can't stand having you here, can't stand doing what I'm doing.

"The time I spend diddling around with your work takes away from my own, and I've got to make it up when I choose. As the bloody door was locked, it might've occurred to you that I didn't want to be interrupted. I've a great deal to do, so why don't you be about your own? I've no doubt you've plenty of the dead to keep you occupied for one evening."

"Yeah." She nodded slowly, and the temper in her eyes had faded into astonished hurt. "I've always got the dead. I'll just get the hell out of your way."

She strode for the door, heard the locks whisper open even before she reached it. The instant she was through, it shut and locked tight.

Inside, Roarke stared into his glass, then simply hurled it against the wall so the crystal showered to the floor like lethal tears.

Ouch. So unlike him, and Eve is totally baffled. In the morning, Roarke is feeling so guilty.
"He'd have a shower, some food, make some excuse to Eve for his behavior the night before. But she wasn't there. The sheets were in tangles, which told him she'd spent as poor a night as he had. Guilt twisted inside him as he wondered if she'd been plagued by nightmares.

She never slept well without him. He knew that.

He saw the memo, picked it up.

"I caught a case. I don't know when I'll be back."

Feeling foolish, feeling raw, he played it back twice just to hear her voice. Then closing his fist around the little cube, he sat on the side of the bed.
Alone, he grieved for a woman he'd never known, and ached for the only one he'd ever loved.

Damn, her prose is so perfect.

They have a huge confrontation about Roarke's attitude, and it is heartwrenching. (For those who want to go back and reread it, p180-188.) Holy cow, so perfectly written. Eve is filled with anxiety as she tries to figure out what is wrong. Is Roarke ill? Did he lose all his money? Has he fallen out of love with her?

It's this last one that makes him realize how much he's hurt Eve while trying to work through this on his own. Suffice to say, it's one of the rawest, most intense scenes ever between them.

In Ireland, where he goes to follow up on his revelations, he has this to say to Eve: (grab a kleenex!)
"I couldn't find my balance, he repeated, until I stood out there in the mist of the morning and saw you. Simple as that for me, it seems. There she is, so my life's where it should be, whatever's going on around it. You know the worst of me, but you came. I think what's here, though I don't understand it all yet, haven't taken it all in, may be the best of me. I want you to be part of that."


Not much else to say. The case is solved, blah blah blah, but after that little speech from Roarke? Yeah. Like I said, not much else to say here.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Night Moves by HelenKay Dimon - quickie

Noticing suspicious activity at her lab, Maura Lindsey used her smarts to dig into the actions of her boss. But when an explosion rocked their offices, the brainy beauty realized she was in over her head. Luckily, she knew just the man—a handsome, tough and extremely qualified man—who could help. All she had to do was convince him to take the case.

Former undercover police officer Liam Anderson never had much time for his best friend's baby sister, but when Maura showed up at his door claiming to be in trouble, he couldn't just turn her away. And he couldn't ignore the intriguing woman she had become. Liam intended to make sure that she stayed out of the line of fire…and stayed safe in his bed.


I think I liked this even more than Dimon's first Intrigue, Under the Gun. Liam and Maura were equals, with different but complimentary strengths. One thing that strikes me about both Dimon's Intrigues is that both heroes come across as human, rather than superhuman. They feel beat up, tired, achy, and not just on the last page. But they summon up the strength to keep going, because to do otherwise would mean sure death for their women (ok, and themselves). They make mistakes, too. But always manage to squeak it out, with help from their heroines.

One scene made me laugh but also struck me as so sweet. Here's a part of it: "She probably thought her running commentary on ther location was helpful. It was driving him nuts." (and it goes on to mention how it's giving him a headache, etc). Yet he doesn't tell her to be quiet because he knows she's been through a lot and he is so grateful that she's ok. So he lets her ramble on, knowing she needs something to do. It reminded me a little of how my husband will let me ramble on about something that I know I've mentioned before, simply because it amuses him and he likes to humor me. While Liam definitely wasn't amused, he tolerates what other heroes wouldn't, just because his woman wants/needs/gets something from it.

For her part, Maura isn't afflicted with TSTL. She asks for help and isn't afraid to let Liam protect her when she thought she needed it. Yet, she was firm about how to proceed when she was sure of herself. She's a smart woman, who never really saw herself as valuable in her own right. She wanted to be just like her boss. She didn't date much. She had no life other than validating someone else's worth. She grew during the book; learned to value her worth and to feel like a strong person.

I also liked that Spanner wasn't typed. I thought he might have been going down that path near the beginning, but Dimon clearly gives him a brain, too. And lets him use it.

I can't imagine how hard it is to write nonstop action (check +), keep a decent plot going (check +), and build a romance at the same time (check), all in a very short page count. Dimon does a good job of it. While the romance is always the hardest part for me to buy in an Intrigue, I definitely felt here that Maura and Liam were headed down the road to HEA. They understood each other and accepted each other's quirks. Maura helps Liam to see that the incident in his past wasn't his fault and that he is extremely worthy, and he helps her to see that there ismore to life than science - she's a beautiful, vibrant, smart woman. I emphasize smart, because although she frequently confuses him, he loves that she is smart.

Another pitfall that Dimon avoids like the plague (and did in her last Intrigue as well) is sex on the run, which while some agree it's fast, furtive, and hot, is simply implausible in most instances. Dimon deftly handles these feelings here on both sides with a gentle hand to the face, a brush of the lips, tender glances.

If there is one thing I would change, it was that Liam proposed and Maura accepted in such a short span. I have no issue with the I love yous, but a proposal seemed rash, given the short time frame of the book.

Looking forward to more.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Some thoughts on format

Lots of folks are beginning to discover the awesomeness that is the ebook, where before they were convinced they couldn't enjoy an ebook as much as a paper book. I've been reading books electronically since about 200...4? Yes, 2004. And I do love them. However, something occurred to me today as I answered someone about sending me a book for review. I told this person that I prefer to read thrillers in paper, rather than electronically. And requested a hard copy of the book.

Depending on genre, I've noticed that there are formats I prefer. I'd rather read really substantive books, thrillers, rom suspense, and historicals in paper. (Note, these are not mutually exclusive, and I realize that "substantial" books occur in all genres). I think it's because I frequently look back for details I may have missed, or to reread a passage, and it's more difficult to do that in an ebook. Or perhaps it's that since I can no longer "see" the book once I've finished it, the details fly out of my head. And as I grow older, that is a distinct possibility.

Other genres I don't really care if I read e or paper. Not to say that a contemporary isn't substantial, but usually I don't feel the same need to go back as I'm reading to fact-check or re-read a passage that may help clarify a current passage. I find that I prefer reading paranormals on my ereader. Not that I read a ton of them, but still... And I actually like to read contemporaries on there as well.

I know that Wendy now reads her Harlequins almost exclusively electronically. I can read them either way. In that one instance, I truly have no preference.

How about you? Are there genres that you prefer to read in paper? Or electronically? Or am I just a freak? (And the answer better be no.)

Friday, June 11, 2010

May Reads

Here's what I read in May. For some reason, I'm sure that I'm missing at least one or two books, but that's the way the cookie crumbles. A couple books came close, but I had no 5-star reads this month. It looks like I read 24 books in May, which brings my total for the year up to 117. Where I wrote a review, I've linked to it so you can have more information.

A Lady's Guide to Improper Behavior by Suzanne Enoch
My Goodreads rating: 4
Truly, nobody writes wounded 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. Both Tolly and Tess are wonderful characters. All the secondary characters are well drawn, too, and support the main couple perfectly.

A Proper Seduction by HelenKay Dimon
My Goodreads rating: 3
This novella had potential, but unfortunately I never felt the connection between Lauren and Justin. We never saw enough of Lauren's thoughts to understand her transitions. It explored some heavy subject matter, but the page count was too short for me to believe that there was a HEA for this couple. Justin basically admitted to raping Lauren, and they didn't have enough time to work fully through it. I did like that Dimon doesn't promise the HEA, only the possibility that it will work out.

Dear Maggie by Brenda Novak
My Goodreads rating: 4
A pretty good read from Novak. First released in 2001. There were inconsistencies in the characters' behavior sometimes, and you can definitely see Novak's growth as an author since. But I enjoyed it despite its shortcomings.

Do You Take This Cop? by Beth Andrews
My Goodreads rating: 3
Heroine on the run story. I didn’t care for the heroine for a good deal of the book – she was so secretive. It’s one thing to hide your true identity, but she was secretive and tight with her emotions and her interactions as well. And I hate how she expected her son to be perfect. One of the reasons I love the HSR line is that it never shies away from the tough stuff, even when that stuff makes the characters unlikable and do unlikable things. There were still plenty of good things to like about this book, though, like Andrews' voice, the premise, and Nick. And it was brave of Andrews to make Faith so unlikable in the beginning. Things I didn't like so much, like Faith, and the ending.

Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey
My Goodreads rating: 4.5
From Carina Press’ launch titles. Great family-oriented contemp with loads of laughter and love. Go get it!

Fixed Up with Mr. Right? (Matchmaking Mamas, #2) (Silhouette Special Edition, #2041) by Marie Ferrarella
My Goodreads rating: 3
3.5 stars. Kind of a meh read. The 2nd in a series of matchmaking mamas. I have always liked Ferrarella, and there was nothing wrong with this one, it just didn’t wow me.

Heated Rush by Leslie Kelly
My Goodreads rating: 4
I liked this one a lot. Sean and Annie were both very likeable. And I liked how Annie's family was incorporated into the story as well. And can I just say? Who wouldn't want to have sex on a Ferrari? Oh, this is a two-parter with Slow Hands, the Harlequin freebie.

Hidden Desires by Elle Kennedy
My Goodreads rating: 4
A different type of book from Kennedy than I've come to expect. No alpha military-type hero. A wonderful story of learning to love and coming to terms with your past. As much as I love her uber-alphas, I loved this even more. She's becoming an autobuy for me for her fantastic heroes and her love stories.

In Pursuit of a Scandalous Lady by Gayle Callen
My Goodreads rating: 4
A really good read from Callen. I really, really liked the hero and heroine. A nice roadtrip book, too.

Kissing Cowboy (Men of S.W.A.T., #3) by J.C. Wilder
My Goodreads rating: 3
I liked the premise, but it fell a little flat for me. It seemed like the heroine folded and abandoned her principles if the hero even looked sideways at her. Her family seemed over the top nasty, and I didn't understand why she seemed to be living at home if that was the case.

Lady of Scandal by Tina Gabrielle
My Goodreads rating: 2
This story of revenge had the potential to be good, but too many implausible happenings kept it from working. How can a young girl, involved in society disappear and no one is the wiser? How can someone with Victoria's intelligence be so dumb? And the villains were so over the top as to be completely caracaturish. A big disappointment.

Lee: Devils on Horseback by Beth Williamson
My Goodreads rating: 4
For some reason, I didn't connect as much with Lee's angst as I did with the other Devils. At least, not his childhood angst. Once the relationship was established between Genny and Lee, I was able to settle into the book and enjoy it more. I’m a huge whore for Williamson’s historicals.

Line of Fire (Firefighters of Station Five, #4) by Jo Davis
My Goodreads rating: 4.5
OMG. This was a really good one. Likeable hero and heroine, good story, and good lovin.

Match Made in Court by Janice Kay Johnson
My Goodreads rating: 4
Another winner from Johnson. Again, the HSR line never shies away from the hard stuff. Aunt and uncle are in a battle to determine custody of their shared niece. Quite good.

McKettricks of Texas: Garrett (McKettricks, #12) by Linda Lael Miller
My Goodreads rating: 4
Another winner from LLM. While I wouldn't say that the book was perfect, there was a whole lot to enjoy.

No Longer Mine by Shiloh Walker
My Goodreads rating: 4
It’s Walker, what else is there to say? It’s emotional, heartwrenching, and tragic. Yet uplifting and satisfying, too.

Portrait in Death (In Death, #16) by J.D. Robb
My Goodreads rating: 4.5
While I found the mystery a little lackluster, it was the smallest focus of the book. Roarke learns a lot about his history, and much of the first 2/3 of the book is focused on this, and on his feelings about it. We get to see Trueheart getting more time with the team, and the relationship of Eve & Peabody grows more, as they start to become almost equals, if not completely in the workforce, then certainly on a personal level. I do need to write a full review of this one, since I highlighted so many parts as I was reading it.

Release by Beth Kery
My Goodreads rating: 4
For the most part, I enjoyed 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.

Risk No Secrets (Black Ops, #5) by Cindy Gerard
My Goodreads rating: 4
This was good but definitely not the best of the series. There were a lot of places that I wanted to scream "info dump!!!" and I knew the ending early on. While it usually doesn't bother me, I was unhappy with that aspect of the story on Wyatt's behalf. The suspense was well done though, and it was great to see the other BOIs. Especially Nate and Juliana.

Sweet Temptation by Becca Dale
My Goodreads rating: 4
Nice "love at first sight" novella that every girl can likely relate to. You get the idea that there could be a HEA for this couple in the future. What kept it from bein a 5-star read was the meanness of Darcy's family. I'm hopeful that most families aren't so cruel. It seemed a little over the top to me.

Ten Things I Love About You (Bevelstoke, #3) by Julia Quinn
My Goodreads rating: 4
Cute book. I loved Seb and how he chose to handle his issues. He always tried to look on the bright side, even when someone else might not have done so. Annabel tried to be a good daughter, knowing she needed to marry for money, and Newbury was the only one offering. I liked that Quinn avoided the Big Misunderstanding for the most part, in that Seb realized fairly quickly that Annabel wasn't trying to keep secrets from him; she just didn't know how best to proceed. In fact, I wondered why he didn't just tell her he was wealthy enough to manage her family's needs when she told him of their problems and why she had to marry Newbury. This had a lot of laughter in it. I had a serious LOL moment when Newbury lay on the floor, presumably dead, and Lady Vickers' response was, "Damn, he's fat." Lots of smile moments in this one. Well done by JQ.

Texas Trouble by Kathleen O'Brien
My Goodreads rating: 3
Pretty forgettable read. Not bad, but not great either.

The Tycoon's Very Personal Assistant by Heidi Rice
My Goodreads rating: 4
I enjoyed this HP far more than I expected to. The hero isn't some jerk (although, yes, he's rich as sin). The heroine isn't a virgin, and has her own issues to deal with as well. I thought it was very well done, from a line I don't usually enjoy much anymore.

Without Mercy by Lisa Jackson
My Goodreads rating: 3
3.5 stars. This isn't Jackson's best work - it was far more predictable than her other books. But I still enjoyed it anyhow.

YOTH: The Prize by Julie Garwood

Back cover blurb: In the resplendence of William the Conqueror's London court, the lovely Saxon captive Nicholaa was forced to choose a husband from the assembled Norman nobles. She chose Royce, a baron warrior whose fierce demeanor could not conceal his chivalrous and tender heart. Resourceful, rebellious and utterly naive, Nicholaa vowed to bend Royce to her will, despite the whirlwind of feelings he aroused in her. Ferocious in battle, seasoned in passion, ROyce was surprised by the depth of his emotion whenever he carressed his charming bride.

In a climate of utmost treachery, where Saxons still intrigued against their Norman invaders, Royce and Nicholaa reveled in their precious new love...a fervent bond soon to be disrupted by the call of blood, kin, and country!


How on earth have I been reading romance for 30 years, and I've never read a Garwood? What a shame. Holy cow, was this book good!

One of the things I like so much about this book was the dialogue - both between the characters, and even their internal dialogue. Garwood does a great job of showing how both Royce and Nicholaa are feeling, and how opposite that frequently is.

"She was pleased that her voice wasn't shaky. Her legs were. She didn't want Royce to know she was a little afraid and very embarrassed about what was going to happen. She was his wife now, not some silly little chit. Why, she didn't even think she was blushing now.

Her face was as red as fire. Royce let out a long sigh..."

They are so frequently on two totally different playing fields, yet they always manage to come together.

Their banter is terrific, too.

"Your William is determined to give me as booty to some man, isn't he?"


She shoved away from his shoulder and glared at him. A leaf fell out of her hair. Her face was bruised and covered with dirt. He couldn't contain his smile. Nicholaa looked as if she'd just lost a tug-of-war.

"I'm not a prize."

He agreed wholeheartedly. "No, you're not."

"She stretched up and kissed him. It was a gentle, undemanding touch. "I will give you your explanation tonight, Royce. When you've heard it, I don't think that you'll want me to apologize. I haven't done anything wrong, and once I've explained, I'm certain you'll agree. You might even have to apologize to me. You do know how, don't you?"

She was smiling up at him so sweetly, looking so damn innocent, too. It was difficult to believe she was the hellion he'd been living with these past two weeks.


"Yes, Royce?"

"You could drive a man to drink."

Dear God, she hoped so. His insult thrilled her. She almost laughed out loud.

There was an absolutely wonderful scene where Nicholaa thinks to get Royce drunk, but ends up soused herself. It was adorable and funny, as Nicholaa determines to hide things from Royce and to seduce him, but ends up giving away all her own secrets. And I loved that Royce didn't take advantage of her in any way - either physically or by using her secrets against her.

What I loved was that even though both Nicholaa and Royce were obviously trying to fulfill their own agenda, things never quite went the way they wanted, and they good-humoredly accepted it, and even learned from each confrontation. They both were basically happy people forced into an unhappy situation. Neither could contain their true character.

I also really liked how fair Royce was. You tend not to think of the conquering armies as fair, but they were made up of individuals, and the lines between right and wrong, good and bad, weren't always clearly drawn. Royce was simply a good man whose job forced him to be a badass. I loved it when he realized that having Nicholaa being all meek and subservient wasn't what he wanted, even after weeks of lecturing her on it. I loved how she wasn't afraid to show her true colors to Royce, and that he could appreciate her, even as he lectured her to change herself. That was truly funny to watch him get all tied up in knots.

I loved the lectures, BTW! Nicholaa pretending to listen to Royce while he went on and on about something or other... blahblahblah... and she's off in her own world daydreaming. Too funny!

For her part, Nicholaa was pretty believable. She wanted to do right by her husband, once they were married, because that was her job. Even though it wasn't the path she would have chosen for herself. But she wasn't a doormat at all. She was smart, and resourceful, defending her keep against 3 attacks until Royce came along. She also was great at making him think he'd won every argument or disagreement. She was the champion of nodding and saying "whatever you want, dear," and then doing (or certainly thinking) whatever she pleased. At the same time, she was very innocent and sweet, wanting Royce to be pleased by her.

The little details made this book extra special, like the chess piece, whose theme and symbolism carried throughout the 2nd half of the book.

The secondary characters were great as well - I loved Justin, although I'd have liked to know a little more of his internal battle from his perspective. And Thurston was an understandable, if not totally sympathetic character. Everyone, down to the servants, and the morally ambiguous Baron Guy was great. Although I don't care for "villains for the sake of villains", in a time of war, even Guy's vassals' actions were almost excusable.

There are so many other examples of how great this was - their handling of the Ulric situation among them - that I could go on all day. Just a fantastic book.

OK - what do I read next?

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Silent Scream by Karen Rose

He knows your secrets.

When a teenage girl dies in a suspicious fire, Detective Olivia Sutherland is assigned to track down the arsonist. Then she discovers something more sinister: a vicious blackmailer who preys on young people and murders without hesitation. Making her work even harder is sexy firefighter David Hunter. He's not only sharing the case, but sparking memories of their long-ago night of passion, when feelings were left unsaid and hearts were broken.

He hears your pain.

David has his own ghosts, and a million regrets. But while he and Olivia try to face the wall of pain between them, a diabolical puppet master is pulling strings to make a group of twentysomethings do his bidding. Soon Olivia and David are scouring the city for a calculating criminal who seems tantalizingly close--and is moving in for the kill.


Like so many others, I couldn't wait to read David Hunter's story. It was beautifully done. I loved how honest David was, and how he and Olivia fought for their relationship. Suspense aside, the rest of the story was a beautiful romance and also a great friend story. Rose excels at that, in the midst of spine-tingling suspense.

David and Olivia spent a night together back in Chicago 2 years ago. Unknowingly, David called out someone else's name (the heroine from Nothing To Fear, with whom he fancied himself in love at the time). Understandably upset, Olivia left without a word while David was sleeping it off. The experience had a huge impact on them both.

I liked that once Olivia told him what he'd done, he owned up to it and apologized and worked his butt off to make her see how much she meant to him. And that Olivia, after some time and space, was willing to let him back in.

I liked that Olivia and David had friends, and they were woven into the story seamlessly; not to highlight anything in particular in the story or to forward any plotline, but just as one would expect: these two characters have a life. Have friends. And yes, given that they work in similar careers, and come from families that have close ties, they know some of the same people.

As for the suspense: Rose uses certainly one of my biggest fears in order to propel her villain. While, as she frequently does, the villain is revealed to us somewhat early on (maybe halfway through?), his motives certainly are not. You come to care about most of the teenagers in this story, and what happens to them is shocking as they become unwitting villains enmeshed in something far bigger than themselves. Definitely another winner from Rose.

If I had one niggle, it was with something that I doubt anyone else would catch unless they are Jewish. One of the characters is an Orthodox Jew, and when he dies, his family speaks about how he was a good boy, he worked for charities, and he went to Temple. I've never heard an Orthodox Jew refer to Temple as 'Temple'. It's either 'going to synagogue' or 'going to shul'. The reference was made only twice, but the first time, it really knocked me back. Also, a bit of space in that chapter was dedicated to Olivia telling the family that Joel would want to do teshuvah; which is a word that essentially means repentence. Which isn't quite the way I'd say it anyway, and it's a term I've really only used in association with the High Holy Days and Yom Kippur. I could be wrong, but while sitting shiva may be an experience a homicide detective may be familiar with (dealing with the aftermath of a death), I had a hard time believing that a police officer in Minneapolis would be familiar with teshuvah. New York City, maybe, but certainly not Minnesota. However, it wasn't a huge part of the book, and likely nobody else would catch that. Otherwise, I thought Rose handled the religious aspects of the character very well, and those little bits didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story.

ETA: OK, I stand corrected. Apparently there is a large Orthodox community in Minnesota. Hubby's co-worker mentioned that he's from Minnesota, and he happens to be an Orthodox Jew. He noted there was a really large community there. So my apologies to Ms. Rose. But really, Minnesota? Who'da thunk it?!

So now, I wait for Tom to finish growing up. Because his story? Bound to be freaking fantastic!
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