Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Big Sky Country by Linda Lael Miller - guest review @BookBinge

Hey y'all. I have a review up at Book Binge. Yes, huge Linda Lael Miller fan here. I admit it. 

Go see what I thought of her new book - first in a new series. Completely unrelated to McKettricks, as far as I know.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Slow Summer Kisses by Shannon Stacey

Anna Frazier is used to living life at 100 mph, but being downsized out of a job in the financial industry has her permanently stalled. With nowhere to go, go, go, Anna hails a cab to her grandparents' neglected New Hampshire camp to plan her next move. It seems like a good idea–until she realizes there's no takeout to be had and the boy next door has grown into a sexy but surly recluse.

Cameron Mayfield knows he can kiss his peace and quiet goodbye when Hurricane Anna blows in. She was loud and bossy as a ten-year-old–and besides developing some attractive curves, she hasn't changed. Cam's not looking for a relationship, especially not with a woman like Anna. He nearly broke down on that road once before. So why can't he stop thinking about her?

It's not long before their sizzling attraction leads to smoking-hot kisses. But as the days get shorter, Anna must decide if she's found a new road to happiness, or just taken a detour.

25,000 words - novella

So, you may have noticed at some point that I'm a pretty big fangirl of Shannon Stacey. There's good reason. Her books are fun, sweet, romantic, and so easy to relate to. Slow Summer Kisses is no exception. The blurb is actually a pretty good description, and the title is a perfect fit. This book takes place at the campground where the Kowalskis spend their vacations, though no Kowalskis appear in it. Oh, and one more thing. The covers created for this series are absolutely fantastic. Fun, sassy, and sweet. Perfectly reflecting the character of the books.

Anna is a whirlwind - no other way to describe her. She talks a mile a minute, moves a mile a minute, and has a to-do list (or lists) a mile long. She even wants to have sex a mile a minute - fast and hard. She doesn't know how to relax.

Cam has done the rat race, and left it to save his sanity and his health after his dad died of a heart attack. He likes the slow pace of life up at the camp. He likes working when he wants, relaxing at the lake, slow kisses and slow sex.
"You can't rush kisses. You have to slow down and savor them. Lose yourself in them."

"There's no right or wrong way to kiss, Cam."

"There may not be a wrong way, but there are better ways than in Home Depot or kissing so fast I thought a bird flew by and smacked me in the mouth."

Her eyes got big and for a second he thought she might smack him in the mouth. "It was not that quick."

Cam took a half step closer to her, definitely crowding her space a little, and ran his hand from her elbow to shoulder. "A kiss should be anticipated. You should know it's coming so your heart can beat faster and your skin can flush with heat."

Anna was watching his mouth as he spoke, her tongue flicking out over her lip as if her mouth had gone dry.

"I'm going to kiss you again and it's not going to be rushed. I'm going to take my time and savor your mouth."

"Okay," she whispered.

"You're beautiful when your skin gets that hot, flushed look. Is your heart beating faster?"

"Yes." Her voice was little more than a soft exhalation now.

He buried his right hand in her hair and lowered his mouth to hers, barely brushing her lips with his. She sighed and tried to deepen the kiss, but he held back. He teased her, flicking his tongue over her bottom lip while he slid his free hand across her hip.

Not until she whimpered for more and pressed her body against his did he give her what she wanted. As the kiss deepened, his fingers slid under the hem of her t-shirt, touching bare skin. He groaned as her tongue danced over his and pulled his hand out from under the shirt before he started trying to round the bases. It wasn't time for that yet. If ever. He was really hoping for yet.

He kissed her until she felt boneless in his arms and he wasn't sure he had the strength to hold her up - until their mingled breaths came shallow and fast. One final flick of his tongue across her lips and then he broke it off.
He moved back a step because his body had had about all the contact with Anna's body it could take without exploding, and he smiled at the dreamy expression on her flushed face as she opened her eyes.

"Now I've kissed you"...
At first, Anna and Cam butt heads. She drives him crazy, always doing and going, and looking too damn hot. They appear to have almost nothing in common - especially baseball. Having lived with a Cubs and Chi Sox fan growing up, I know how stressful that can be.
"You're a Yankeees fan."
"I kissed a Yankees fan."
"Yup. Really well, too."
It was too late for mouthwash, so he did the next best thing and wiped the back of his hand across his mouth. "Get off my dock."
Hahaha!! When she comes back out to see why he didn't come inside, she agrees to just lose the Yankees shirt, and takes it off.
"Now you're just playing dirty," he said. "Not that I'd expect anything less from a Yankees fan."

She heard some excitement on the television. "Who's winning?"

And afterward...
He'd had sex with a woman who thought the New York Yankees were better than the Boston Red Sox. There was probably going to be a special place in hell just for him. A place with no beer and no sports and remote controls with dead batteries whilw the TVs were all stuck on Real Housewives of someplace or another.
The banter and humor are trademark Stacey. But so are the tender moments. Cam simply can't help himself, and much as he wants to stay away from Anna, he helps her with pretty much everything, from cleaning out her shed to teaching her how to drive. Knowing the whole time that she's probably going to drive away from him to a new job in the city.

Anna, in turn, has a pretty tough time learning to relax. She tries to learn knitting. She drinks decaf. And yet still, Stacey writes the little touches and subtleties in there - like when Anna's laying in the sun, completely believing that she's relaxing, and Cam notes that she's tapping her fingers and he can hear her mind going a thousand miles an hour.

The focus of the book is completely on the two of them, and they slowly become comfortable with each other and begin a really sweet, joyous relationship.

When the job call finally comes, Cam mans up and acts excited for Anna. She thinks she's excited and so races off to her interview. And realizes that she actually can have it all. With a little compromise.

Slow Summer Kisses is warm, witty, romantic, sometimes laugh-out-loud-funny, and touching.Vintage Shannon Stacey.  I didn't want it to end.

Buy it at all the usual places in ebook.

Lori's May reads

Holy crap. Did I really read 19 books in May? The most I've read all year.  And there were some very good books in there, along with a good mix of genres. I'm actually kind of glad I'm over my "must read suspense" hurdle. Just goes to show you that things come and go in waves. I've learned over the years to roll with it. I read what feels right, and occasionally that means I glom a particular genre until the urge passes.

Here's what I read in May.

Finding Chrissten (Legacy, #5) by NJ Walters
4.5 stars
Her voice. NJ's voice. I could read her forever. She has such a musical, soft, yet powerful voice. Much like her characters. I loved Hank & Chrissten. And I admit, I'm dying to know what becomes of Craig & Damek. Lord, I hope she's writing thir story, and I hope it's a m/m rather than a menage. Either way, I can't wait for the next one. This is a wolf shifter series, with a vampire to boot. All the things I dislike, and yet I love this series, and all of NJ's books. It's eminently readable, and her characters are so likeable. Always.

Quinn's Quest (Legacy, #4) by N.J. Walters
4 stars
This precedes the book above, and all the same good feelings apply. The heroine here has been held hostage with the heroine of book 5, and manages to escape. Quinn is the brother of the heroine in book 5 above. As always with a Walters book, I enjoyed the hell out of it.

Deadly Fall by Ann Bruce
3.5 stars.
I liked the suspense part quite a bit. I had a hard time with the unprofessionalism of Nick. You just don't sleep with your primary suspect. But I enjoyed the way that Nick and Augusta opened up to each other and shared. I did have a hard time with Nick's declaration of love after only a few days though.

Guarding Jess by Shannon Curtis
3.5 stars.
I liked the characters. I could see why Jessica was the way she was. Same with Noah. But FCOL, I called the villain the first time they appeared on the page. I was disappointed that Noah was so tunnel visioned when it came to his conclusion of who the villain was. So while I liked Noah as a person, I thought him a tad incompetent. I did like the writing as well, and the secondary characters. I'll read another from this author to see if her heroes get any better at their jobs.

Love Me Knot by Shelli Stevens
3.75 stars.
It was fast and short. My two criticisms. Because otherwise, I adore Shelli Stevens' writing. It's engaging, totally relatable, and it sucks you right in. I can always see myself having a beer, hanging out with her heroines. And thay's a huge compliment, because I'm a heroine hater. Srsly. It takes a lot for me to like a heroine. But I can always see myself being friends with ther characters. Anyway, aside from the almost instalove that ends with a marriage proposal, I enjoyed everything else about this story.

Dear Maggie (Harlequin Superromance #987) by Brenda Novak
3 stars
An oldie that I picked up at the UBS, and then realized I had already read it back in the day. It's the beginning of Novak's contemporary rom susp career, and you can tell it's still a pretty early effort. But I liked both the hero and the heroine, even though I thought he was too secretive and she was a little impulsive, not to mention dangerous in giving away personal information to a man she just met in an internet chat room. TO be fair, though, it was written in the early days of chat rooms and internet safety wasn't yet a big public safety issue.

Beneath the Skin (de La Vega Cats, #3) by Lauren Dane
4.5 stars.
Great book. An example of why Lauren Dane is an autobuy for me, even in the dreaded paranormal arena. Strong, sassy women and sexy alpha men who are helpless against their love for their woman. I love how her heroines always confound the hero with their inner strength, and how the alpha heroes become mush for the heroine.

Barefoot in the Sand by Roxanne St. Claire
4 stars
This is one I hope to review for Book Binge, so only a quick thought - I adore Roxanne St. Claire. It's a contemporary, rather than a suspense. And an older woman, younger man. And I didn't hate it! LOL.

Big Sky Country by Linda Lael Miller
4 stars.
Another I hope to more fully review at Book Binge. Loved the book til about 3/4 through. Then the ending came rather abruptly. But it's LLM, so love.

Endless Heart (Heart, #3) by Emma Lang
5 stars
An emotional, angsty book, yet both hero and heroine come to trust and depend on one another, despite their general mistrust of the world at large. Full review here.

The Scarred Heart by Denise Patrick
3.5 stars
I enjoyed this book. Even though it was full of heartache and angst, I really liked all the characters and the sad story they had to tell. Where it went wrong for me was in how easily Emma seemed to get over being raped multiple times. I thought she might have some fear when making love with Lion again, but she didn't. She seemed to get over her fear of the house almost immediately once she & Lion reconciled. And what was the deal with his mother? She almost seemed mentally ill, as if she didn't remember blaming Emma for her son's death. Why did noone hold her accountable for that? While I wondered at all these things, I really like Patrick's writing, and she made me care about these people tremendously. I assume (hope) she's writing Emma's brother's story, because I think he's got a great backstory and am looking forward to revisiting all these folks.

A Heart of Little Faith by Jennifer Wilck
3.5 stars.
A wheelchair-bound hero who isn't miraculously cured - it's just part of who he is. A single mother heroine still grieving her husband. An interesting pairing. Lots of telling, not showing. But a lot to like, and things that could be improved upon next time. Full review here.

Office Affair by Jess Dee
4 stars
I was a little uncomfortable at the thought of an office romance, especially where one person is a direct report of the other. It's just wrong. However, there really isn't any power play here. Just honest respect for one another. So I was able to overcome it. As in all office romance stories, I wonder how they are able to get away with that much sex in the office. But I enjoy Jess Dee's writing and her characters so much, I overlooked it all and simply enjoyed.

Wildest Hearts by Jayne Anne Krentz
4 stars
Thank you, HelenKay :) I enjoyed this book. Loved being taken back to a simpler time (and when the hell did the 90s become a simpler time?!?!). While I wouldn't call myself a fan now, I still got a lot of enjoyment out of this read. Read the full review.

Thief (Brook Street, #1) by Ava March
4 stars
Touching and tender. M/M historical. A conman and an aristocrat. And really lovely. I like Ava March a lot.

The Wallflower (Halle Pumas, #1) by Dana Marie Bell
4 stars
Totally irreverent humor, insta-love. The insta-love should be a dealbreaker, but I enjoyed the banter so much I didn't care. Bell's voice and sense of humor pulled me in immediately. What brought this down for me was the immediate acceptance of both Emma & Becky that Max & Simon were pumas. Where's the freakout, the threat of a call to the loony bin? Otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed this, even though by my own standards (unbelievable instalove especially) I should have hated it.

California Man by E.C. Sheedy
3 stars
I really enjoyed Quinn a lot. And Emily at first was relatable and my heart went out to her. But when she dumped Quinn I thought she should have been more open and honest, though she eventually was. I felt the same frustration with her that Quinn did. I also thought she needed a better grovel. Quinn made it far too easy for her, but it all fit in with his openness and willingness to put himself out there. I enjoyed the story of their growing love very much otherwise.

The Governess Affair (Brothers Sinister, #0.5) by Courtney Milan
5 stars
As always, Milan's prose is gorgeous, her characters compelling, and her story engrossing. I adored the unconventional and smart, though short, courtship and loved watching Hugo fall for Serena. An epilogue that sets up the series focusing on the two sons of the Duke. Can't wait.

Flash Point (Holding Out For a Hero, #3) by Shelli Stevens
3.75 stars
I really like this series. For this one, I like that Todd acknowledged he was a man-whore and the reason why, and that he eventually shared that with Kate. And I liked that he didn't let weks go by before he realized he loved Kate and wanted to be with her. I liked Kate as well. She was independent and fun, as well as sweet. I totally could have done without the suspense/stalkery plot, but thankfully it was a very small part of the story, and the rest was thoroughly enjoyable. I just wish these books were longer. I so want to know these characters even more.

And though I read it months ago, I wrote my review for Lauren Dane's Captivated in May as well (also a 5-star read) .

So how was your reading month?
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