Friday, March 23, 2012

A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare

From Goodreads: When a devilish lord and a bluestocking set off on the road to ruin…Time is not on their side. Minerva Highwood, one of Spindle Cove’s confirmed spinsters, needs to be in Scotland.

Colin Sandhurst, Lord Payne, a rake of the first order, needs to be…anywhere but Spindle Cove.

These unlikely partners have one week
- to fake an elopement
- to convince family and friends they’re in “love”
- to outrun armed robbers
- to survive their worst nightmares
- to travel four hundred miles without killing each other

All while sharing a very small carriage by day and an even smaller bed by night.

What they don’t have time for is their growing attraction. Much less wild passion. And heaven forbid they spend precious hours baring their hearts and souls.

Suddenly one week seems like exactly enough time to find a world of trouble.

And maybe…just maybe…love

Book 2 in the Spindle Cove series

I thought I'd focus on the feelings the book inspired in me rather than the actual plot, since y'all can easily find a ton of plot summaries anywhere, including the one above. I hope to do a quote-filled love-fest after the book releases and y'all have had a chance to read it.

This is a road romance, with a bluestocking heroine trying to get to an academic meeting to have her fossil discovery recognized, and a hero for whom everything always seems to go wrong who reluctantly agrees to accompany her. It is a huge winner for Tessa Dare. There was romance, there was tenderness, there was passion, there was humor - and how, always with Dare's sly subtlety that lets you know she admires her readers' intelligence and their ability to 'get it' without conking them over the head with it.

Dare infuses little bits of backstory and detail into the storyline that melt your heart for both Colin and Minerva. Sometimes if you blink you miss them, but they add such texture, such depth of character that you definitely want to slow down and savor every word.

As always, she is a genius with the written word. Her prose is gorgeous, always just right for the characters. She'll write these beautiful scenes, full of delight and wonder and emotion and follow it up with an exasperated "For the love of tits" from our hero. Pretty sure I personified a romance cliche when I "barked with laughter" at that one.

Dare's heroes have that ability to say the most romantic things. To convey with a single, simple, powerful sentence what others take pages to say. They are men you want to cuddle and hold tight, yet in addition to their vulnerability, they are manly and possessive. Colin is no exception.

Dare heroines are frequently super smart, daring, and bring the hero to his knees. Completely unintentionally, but they own him nonetheless. Minerva is just such a heroine.

Because I received this as an ARC from the author (thank you, by the way!), and my copy is already gone from my reader *sniffle - why do they do this?!*, I plan to have this delivered to my house on release day, which is 27 March. I will want to read it again to savor all those yummy little details. It just made me feel good not only after I closed the book, but while I was reading it. You always want the opportunity to reread a book that makes you feel that way.

Somehow I missed the first book in this series, but I picked it up at Passion and Prose. So more happy reading for me.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

TBR: series catchup. Donovan sisters by Jennifer Haymore

How fortuitous that I realized I was way behind in her latest series when I saw Jennifer Haymore at the Passion and Prose event last month. And this month's theme is series catch-up. So I played catch-up on the Donovan sisters. 2 1/2 books of awesome. Yet I found I have very little to say. Other than how I was reminded that Jennifer Haymore writes amazing romance. Her heroes and heroines are very romantic. It's easy to get completely lost in the romance when reading her books. Definitely go get them if you haven't read them.

Confessions of an Improper Bride (book 1)
Serena Donovan left London six years ago, her heart broken and her reputation ruined by devilishly handsome Jonathan Dane. Now, with her family's future in peril, she reluctantly agrees to return to England and assume her late twin's identity. The price? Marry a man she doesn't love and spend the rest of her days living a lie.

Jonathan Dane, Earl of Stratford, has become an incorrigible rake, drinking, gambling-and trying to forget Serena Donovan. Yet the moment he's introduced to the prim and proper "Meg", he recognizes the sensual young woman who captured his heart. Haunted by his past mistakes, he refuses to lose Serena again. But convincing her to trust him is no easy task. Claiming his lost love means exposing the truth and destroying the life Serena has sacrificed everything to rebuild. With the future of all the Donovans at stake, and their undying passion capable of triggering yet another scandal, how much will Jonathan and Serena risk for a chance at true love?

Oh, how I loved Jonathan and Serena. Serena was trying so hard to do what was expected of her, to take up the mantle of her sister Meg. But she was unable to hide her feelings of love for Jonathan, her teenage first love.

I love how Jonathan couldn't hide his love either, and yet they both wanted to do the right thing and not hurt Will, Meg's fiance.

Jonathan and Serena are very poignant together, and I truly believed they were in love 6 years previous and now. I liked that he owned up to his part in their breakup in the past, and that when the truth came out, Serena believed him. Even as she continued to express her hurt.

Their story was romantic, and sad, and lovely.

Once Upon a Wicked Night (book 1.5)
Seven years ago it was a young Serena Donovan and Jonathan Dane who shocked the ton when they were discovered in a most compromising position. Tonight they return for the first time as the Earl and Countess of Stratford. And while Serena hopes for a quiet evening to introduce her younger sister Olivia to society, Jonathan’s only desire is to pick up where he and Serena left off…

Though innocent Olivia secretly longs for the kind of passion her sister shares with her husband, none of the men she’s met spark a fire inside her heart—least of all the notorious Marquis of Fenwicke. When his request for a waltz turns into something sinister, Olivia must use her wit and wiles to evade a powerful peer who vows if can’t have her, no man shall...

Very short novella that sets up book 2. I felt, after having read the 2nd book, that it could have simply been included in Olivia's book. Page count restrictions perhaps?

Secrets of an Accidental Duchess (book 2)
With her pale hair and slim figure, Olivia Donovan looks as fragile as fine china, and has been treated as such by her sisters ever since a childhood bout with malaria. But beneath her delicate facade, Olivia guards a bold, independent spirit and the kind of passionate desires proper young ladies must never confess...

It was a reckless wager, and one Max couldn't resist: seduce the alluring Olivia or forfeit part of his fortune. Yet the wild, soon-to-be Duke never imagined he'd fall in love with this innocent beauty. Nor could he have guessed that a dangerously unpredictable rival would set out to destroy them both. Now, Max must beat a Madman at his own twisted game-or forever lose the only woman to have ever won his heart.


My favorite parts of the book were of the growing love between Max and Olivia. I wish that the Fenwicke storyline hadn't taken up so much of the book. Everytime he was on the page, I longed to get back to the beautiful prose, the soft, lovely courtship of Olivia & Max.

It's not that the kinappy-suspense wasn't well written and interesting, because it was. It's just that Haymore's talent and voice shines through so beautifully when she's concentrating on the love story.

I'm definitely looking forward to the next installment.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Romantic Suspense Authors/Readers - I need your help!

Hey all. I've hit a snag once again. My son's girlfriend is asking for more book recommendations. She loves the grisly and wants some romance in there as well. Is it any wonder I love this girl? She's perfect for me! ...errrrr...... him.

The problem is that I am not that comfortable recommending most of the awesomely amazing rom-susp books I read to her because of all the S.E.X. Somehow giving my son's 17 year old girlfriend a book full of explicit sex, including oral, and very open bedroom doors just seems wrong. So very wrong. And OMG, what if her mother found out that she got the books from me? Noooooo. And yes, I'm totally aware of how dorky I sound.

She's a voracious reader and would easily read a book or two a week (did I mention I love this girl?), so the few things I've come up with should hold her for a while, but I just know there's something perfect that has completely slipped my mind.

I've been wracking my brain, and I've come up with a few books/authors I'm fairly comfortable with recommending to her. Here's what I've got:

Mariah Stewart's FBI series (I've reviewed most of them here)
Lisa Jackson's rom-susp
Some Karen Rose (the stuff from the last few years, where she's gotten more thriller-y and less romance-y.)

And.... then I'm done. Everyone else I was thinking about has just a little more sex than I'm comfortable with, although I'm thinking Allison Brennan's books might likely work, since I lent her Mary Burton's Breathless and  Senseless and she loved them both. Some of the other Burtons had a little more sex than I was comfortable with sharing, though, so I stopped giving them to her.

Yes, I know I must sound silly, and in a few more years I won't care, but now? Does it sound really prudishly mommy of me to say I really don't want to give these kids any more ideas than they already have? I know that they're teenagers, getting ready to head off to college, they've been together for a year and a half, so they've likely done some of the things I'm trying to shield them from (nooooo!!!!!!!!!!), but I kind of feel like it's not really my job to be giving her books with very explicit sex in them.

And then I think back to reading books like Forever by Judy Blume. I read it in junior high, and though I would have to reread it to be sure (BTW, her books are all coming in e!!), but I recall that their first sex scene was fairly explicit, although not erotic by any stretch. Bear in mind, that's my 35 year old recollection, so I may be way off base.

So... can you all recommend any romantic suspense, heavy on the suspense and light on the open door sex?

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Hey there. So, the drive by is one I wish I didn't feel obligated to do, but sometimes I just don't have it in me to write more than a few thoughts about a book. Anyway, I enjoyed these two, so I thought I'd pass my words of immense wisdom on to you. *snicker*

Claiming Colleen by Beth Kery
From Forbidden Crush…To Forever Love?

In high school, small-town princess Colleen Kavanaugh had had it all, and Eric Reyes was the outsider with his nose pressed against the glass. Then a sudden change in circumstance led to a reversal of fortune. Now Eric was a wealthy, successful, arrogant surgeon who rubbed the onetime golden girl the wrong way.

When an ironic twist of fate forced Eric and Colleen back together, the single mom found herself drawn to the irresistible doctor despite their dark history. Sure, she’d felt something for Eric when they were teenagers, but those memories were long forgotten—or so she thought. It wasn’t long before he wooed her into his arms…and his bed. But could their newfound passion lead to the happily-ever-after of their dreams?

This is book 3 of the Home Town Harbor series. I really enjoyed the first two. The underlying story is that the Kavanaugh's father caused a car accident many years ago that killed him and 3 other people. The books all deal with interactions between those families and the fallout from the accident years later.

I loved the continuation of the story arc here in book 3. Loved Eric, and how he admitted early on that he wanted Colleen, even though he wasn't quite sure for what. Colleen's been very prickly over these 3 books, and she stayed true to form. I wish she had warmed up sooner. But I really liked that she owned it, and apologized to Eric.

The evolution of all these characters from animosity, distrust, and fear to acceptance and becoming a family has been lovely to watch, and I think, quite realistically portrayed.

A well done series. I'll definity be interested to read oldest sister Deirdre's story, since she really is at the heart of it all.

A Simple Amish Christmas by Vannetta Chapman
Annie Weaver always planned to return home, but the 20-year old RN has lived in Philadelphia for three years now. As her time of rumschpringe is about to come to an abrupt end, bringing for Annie an overwhelming sense of loneliness. She returns home and finds herself face-to-face with a budding romance with an Amish farmer and important choices to make.

I find that I really enjoy reading Amish romances. This one, I thought was very well done. The religion factor doesn't bother me in Amish romance because it's just such a way of life for the Amish that it seems like the story would be lost without it. Where in other inspys, I often feel as though the story could be told without the religious aspect.

Chapman did a lovely job of showing that the Amish are just like anyone else, with hopes, dreams, fears, insecurities, and deep love. Annie and Samuel are a nice couple, and I really enjoyed reading their story. I liked all of Annie's siblings and the community.  It's nice sometimes, in the world of romances.that get more explicit and our lives that get so crazy busy, to slow down and think about life in a simpler way, but with the same depth of feeling. Chapman really conveyed a ton of emotion, and there is all of one (maybe two?) very chaste kisses in the book, right at the end. A perfect example of how we don't need sex in a book to make a lovely romance, even though oftentimes a book doesn't feel right without it. Here, the romance was full, and the characters evolved nicely, even without any sex whatsoever.

I would read another book by Chapman in a heartbeat.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lori's February roundup

So February was another slow month for me. But again, I don't feel deprived. I'm working, spending time with my kids and hubby, and catching up on my DVR'd shows. Volleyball season has begun at the high school, so my youngest is very busy with that. Watching him play at the high school level is so amazing. This is my artistic, musician child. And yet, put him on a volleyball court, and he becomes an athletic killing machine. Wow.

Anyway, here's what I read in February. 11 books, 3 of which were 5-star. Plus a couple of duds.

A Week to Be Wicked (Spindle Cove, #2) by Tessa Dare
5 stars
Review to come next week, as it releases on the 26th. Suffice to say, go preorder this now. NOW. I'll wait.... ok, done? Good.

Shane's Last Stand by Suzanne Brockmann
A meh story for Brockmann. An interesting way to prequel a series set in the future (timeline = approx the same as the In Death series). There is no worldbuilding at all - it could have taken place modern day. It's so short, I thought it would do better as a prologue or 1st chapter in a full-length. At least then the opportunity for worldbuilding could happen. I'll still read the 1st book, but Brockmann has some extraordinary writing to do to convince me it's not her usual rom-susp.

Addicted to Love by CJ West
Review here. Such an awful message for a romance. Ugh, just ugh.

Conor's Way by Laura Lee Guhrke
5 stars
Review here. Full of amazingly wonderful awesome.

Northern Exposure (Compass Brothers, #1) by Jayne Rylon
I liked the concept, but the execution lacked. I enjoyed the parts of the book without any sex, but the sex scenes were cliched and there were never any moments of hesitancy as the man Colby and Lucy loved came back sfter 10 years. Although he had a compound fracture of his femur, and was only a few days post surgery, Silas was able to screw them both. The talk during the sex scenes completely threw me out of what was otherwise a good story. The sex scenes seemed to be all about sex, but lacking the emotion that I thought was required to tie the three together completely. I was intrigued enough to be curious about the other 3 brothers, but not enough to go buy their stories.

It's Not Christmas Without You by HelenKay Dimon
Review here. Although this had Dimon's trademark banter (awesome!), I felt like the characters were still a little immature and worried for their HEA.

Guardian Agent by Dana Marton
A decent story, and the suspense plot intrigued me. But it was so short that the romance (over a few hours) was not believable. Sure, Jasmine had loved Gabe when she was a teenager, but there was no basis for an adult love there. Especially on Gabe's part, since he hadn't had any romantic feelings fir his friend Jake's sister back in the day. If the next book (Jake's) is a full-length, I would be willing to read it. I'd like to see if Marton can deliver a good romance with a higher page count. And I'm interested in how the suspense arc plays out.

Edge of Midnight (Chasing Evil, #3) by Leslie Tentler
Review here. Each book gets better than the one before it. Tight suspense. Romance that was as believable as it was inappropriate. Evil villain. Vicious murders. Cops & FBI that actually work, and long hours. Well done. I'll definitely be on the lookout for another release from Tentler.

Last Man Standing (Black Ops Inc., #7) by Cindy Gerard
Review here. Oh, how sorry I ma to see this series end. I adore Gerard's SpecOps dudes, and the BOIs were so awesome. Can't wait to see what she has in store for me next.

Rocky Mountain Haven (6 Pack Ranch, #2) by Vivian Arend
I liked this even better than book 1. While we still get glimpses into the Coleman family life, I felt like more of the focus was on the hero and heroine here. I really adored Daniel and Beth. Daniel was almost too good to be true - understanding, sweet, loving. But somehow, he wasn't boring because of that. He was interesting. And exciting. And sigh-worthy. And the way he handled Beth's kids? Full of win. Beth was the one with the serious baggage here. Overcoming an abusive relationship, she still let herself be open to learning about love with Daniel. His suggestion of becoming friends as well as f-buddies was the key to opening her heart. I love that they became friends. And that once she realized it was more, she didn't compare Daniel to her husband. She acknowledged that he was different. Better. And I love that they talked. About their infertility, about their feelings. Oh, one other thing. That Helen bitch better not show her face ever again. Just sayin.

This Time Next Year by Alison Kent
5 stars
Every time I read something Alison Kent has written, it's like discovering her all over again. I loved this story. And Kent's writing. Brenna and Dillon drew me in. I loved their conversations, the fact they wrote to each other, the fact that they didn't have their HEA until they both did what they needed to do. There's this great quality in Kent's writing. I can't pin it down, but it combines realism with fun & humor, and yet deep emotion shines through. A lovely cabin romance. I wish this book had been 300 pages. Not because it needed it. I just didn't want to say goodbye to Brenna, Dillon, and Gran.

I still need to read the other two stories in the Holiday Kisses antho.
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