Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tender Rebel by Johanna Lindsey

I really liked Tender Rebel. The heroine had some very dopey ideas and acted very pissy at times but to be fair, she did have people after her, and she did own it later in the book by admitting she had been acting like a bitch. The hero was totally great and made this book for me. I liked how he reacted to how difficult the heroine was being. Some heroes in other books might not have taken that kind of treatment by the heroine as well and been really nasty or done some stupid stuff in retaliation.

Abandon by Jillian Hunter

I enjoyed Abandon - it's one of those stories with a heroine who is all earth mother/magic friendly/enchants all the males she comes in contact with. I liked the hero in this a little more. I'm not sure how to accurately say what I mean - he's set up as a little bit of a baddie because he's selling the island that all of the inhabitants don't want messed with, however his reasons for selling are the most altruistic. He's fair-haired (I'm pretty sure, at least that's how I picture him), intelligent, teasing, strong but not bulky. Interesting plot w/ surprising villain. The hero made this book for me though.

My Scandalous Bride by Dodd, Laurens, Bradley, LaFoy

I loved the stories in My Scandalous Bride by Christina Dodd (I swear I think she just does the best anthology stories) & Stephanie Laurens. The story by Dodd has a very smart, very capable heroine out to avenge her dead brother. The hero is a very sexy spy. The sparks were coming off the page w/ this one. I like what Dodd does w/ short stories - she creates characters that have had some type of prior relationship/interaction that happened in the past/"off stage" so that the short story doesn't feel like a rushed story with two strangers. Laurens does a similar thing in her story - the hero & heroine are not strangers. They grew up together, shared a kiss, and unbeknownst to each other had a tendre for the other. The hero has been out of the country for a few years and they have not seen each other during that time. They meet at the home of some other childhood friends who are now married. The couple is hosting a house party. What the heroine doesn't realize is that her two friends are swingers who host orgies. Some funny moments and nice chemistry between h/h.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Say You Love Me by Johanna Lindsey

This is book 5 in her Malory series. This is also the first book I've read by this author. This may be the nicest, as well as the only book I read, in which the heroine prostitutes herself. It's so "best case scenario", so wonderfully unrealistic, and not gritty. Almost up there with Pretty Woman as far as fantasy goes. What helps make it palatable - The virgin prostitute has a first and only client who is so charming, so good looking, and such a nice guy, with nice charming friends. I loved a lot of things about this book. The main characters are both likable, the hero is never cruel to the heroine, the hero's buddies - Jeremy & Percy remind me a little of Pennington & Berkley from the Effington series by Victoria Alexander. The villain in this is truly vile and gets such a good punishment. I also like the aunt's attitude toward her husband when she finds out about his shenanigans.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Move Heaven And Earth by Christina Dodd

I just finished Move Heaven And Earth by Christina Dodd. I have heard about this book for awhile now and it's been on my TBR list. Finally I snagged a copy yesterday for .50 @ a library book sale. Yea!

This book was very intense and I finished it in a day but it seemed to take me longer to finish than most books. There's just a lot of things going on and a lot of characters with some heavy issues. Sylvan Miles (the heroine) has been hired by a Duke to come nurse his crippled brother - Lord Rand Malkin. Sylvan comes from a family w/ money and doesn't have to be a nurse for hire. However she feels compelled to help heal and was a nurse during the battle at Waterloo. Her experiences as a nurse on the battlefield still haunt her. Rand can't walk and is confined to a wheelchair. Through the course of the book you find out that his paralysis is more of a mental paralysis. There is a sanctimonious preacher who tries to intimidate everyone. Garth, the Duke, is the oldest brother but has so far refused to marry for his own reasons. Garth is committed to building/running a fabric mill - it's something that helps the local economy but there are those who oppose the mill. Then there is Gail - a little girl embraced by all of the Malkin family but nobody speaks of who her father is. And then there is the ghost.....there is a "ghost" figure attacking local women - who could it be?

In spite of all the drama, I enjoyed the story. The only thing that makes me go back & forth between rating it a 3 or 4 stars is that toward the end the hero pulls one of those "I'll push her away for her own good/I know what's better" - grrrrr. Just one of my pet peeves.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

His Christmas Pleasure by Cathy Maxwell

There some very involved relationships here. The heroine lusts after Sherwin who ends up getting engaged to Abby's cousin. He's really quite the worm - he & Abby would meet and had quite the little undercover (though entirely chaste) romance, but he won't run away w/ her and marry her to prevent her from an unwanted arranged marriage. And then gets engaged to her cousin. Jerk. Andres - our hero - overhears this and proposes to Abby himself. He's totally up front about needing to marry money. He's a total sweety, very kind, charming, hot guy from Spain. I loved both main characters. I love how they both supported each other even when times were tough and things didn't turn out exactly as they planned. Abby wasn't a whiner & Andres is so good to Abby and even when things don't work out for him, he never takes it out on her and says cruel things - as commonly happens in some novels under similar circumstances. All in all very good book. The ending is very good.

The Secret Desires of a Governess by Tiffany Clare

This is a good book for those of you who enjoy gothic romances. True to formula - the heroine is actually a governess & a virgin, but she's not a goody-goody. She admittedly lies when it suits her purpose and is accomplished at it, and she does give it up to the dark, brooding hero. I like that she is strong-willed and does what she thinks is right. The hero is a great mountain of a man (the author seems to like her heroes exceptionally big & brawny) but he genuinely loves his son and tries to protect both him and Abby (the heroine & governess). There are quite a few love scenes in this book, but I felt like there weren't as many as there were in the previous book. I kind of figured out who the baddies were pretty much from the start but I liked the book and the great wind-swept, gothic atmosphere.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Middle School Gets Married by Francine Pascal

I just finished reading The Middle School Gets Married by Francine Pascal - it's a Sweet Valley Twins book. I knew from the description of this book that it would be a hoot and that I would have to read it.
As part of a health-class project, all the students at Sweet Valley Middle School are pairing up into simulated marriages.
 Did you ever have to do that for a class? I never did, but I had friends in high school that took a child care elective and had to do the whole "carry around an egg and treat it like a baby" thing. It all seemed a little silly to me at the time. The spouses are picked by picking names out of a hat. Todd & Lila are together as well as Bruce & Elizabeth, and Jessica & Rick Hunter. Jessica realizes what it's like being Elizabeth because she is forced to be the responsible one in the marriage because Rick is even more irresponsible than she is (if that can be believed). Elizabeth also gets a taste of how she might come off sounding to Jessica because after an afternoon of male bonding w/ her dad, Bruce is all Super Family man and is even more of a perfectionist & control freak than she is. Many eggs died a horrible death during the course of this book. Very cute, very funny.

It looked as though Mr. Cool was back. Thank goodness, Elizabeth thought.
"So listen," Bruce said, trying hard to keep his voice casual. "This husband and fatherhood thing was cool and all, but I'm afraid it's time to go back to my bachelor ways."
"OK," Elizabeth said agreeably.
He studied her for a moment. "But, uh, even though we're not married anymore, remember what I said. OK?"
"About what?"
"Calcium and iron," he answered.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Reckless by Anne Stuart

I think Adrian from Reckless might be the most likable hero in this series (not counting secondary heroes - the secondary heroes always seem to be nicer in this series for some reason). These books have interesting stories but I always think they're more about erotic fantasy than anything else. In this book, the heroine is 30 (gasp!) and has always been secretly hot for the hero. She accompanies her naughty cousin Lina to a house party where there will be orgies and all kinds of goings-on. She manages to meet up w/ the object of her lust by chance and the rest is history. So far this was my fav in the series. And I love the heroine's quote to the hero near the end:
"I'm smart, I'm talented, I'm essentially kindhearted and I'm not a complete antidote. I shouldn't have to settle for the kind of cold-blooded union you're suggesting. It's so kind of you to condescend to offer for me, but you can take your proposal, if that's what it was, and stuff it up your bum. I'm worth more, I deserve better, and I'm not settling for someone like you."

A Rake's Guide To Pleasure by Victoria Dahl

This is the 2nd book I've read by this author and I really liked this book. The hero - Hart (a Duke) - was quite the rake in his day, until a woman he loved and his father saw to his public humiliation. Now he is known for having a frosty reputation. Enter the heroine. She and the hero meet while she is masquerading as a widowed Lady in an attempt to fleece the nobilty through gambling. She has a sad past. Her mother, father, & baby brother are all dead. The mother and brother she mourns - the father was a worse reprobate than the hero and responsible for her brother dying. The herione (Emma) also has a crazy stalker to get rid of. She justs wants to have enough cash to have a little cottage by the sea to live out her days in peace. The hero throws a wrench into her plans by being intrigued by her and determined to seduce her. I loved the sparks between them & the wordplay between them. Be forewarned - anybody who dislikes graphic sex scenes will not be happy. Apart from anything else, I thought they made sense for the story because of who the main characters were and what their issues were. I loved the ending and I loved how - eventually - Emma & Hart were able to pour out their hearts to each other and discuss their issues (something that I just don't think happens enough of in books/done well). This book and this hero was how I wish the "House of Rohan" books by Anne Stuart were.

Almost Married by Francine Pascal

I just finished SVH #102 Almost Married. This is book 2 in a 3-parter. In this book, Elizabeth & Bruce find damning evidence that makes it appear that her mother & his father were once married. Adding fuel to the fire - Bruce's mom is moving out, and Liz's mom & Bruce's dad are supposedly away on business together. During the course of their playing Nancy Drew & Frank Hardy and finding all this stuff out about their parents, they inevitably get in a lovey-dovey mood. This all blows big time for Liz's boyfriend Todd & Bruce's (long-suffering) girlfriend Pamela. There were some smoochie moments but in the end it's Liz & Todd back together at the end.

However, during the majority of the book......poor, poor Todd. I really did feel bad for him in this one. Todd's feeling a little guilty for treating Elizabeth shabbily in recent books so when his parents are away for awhile and by happy coincidence her parents are away.... he thinks it would be cool for him to camp out at her house. "If we're together all the time, I can make sure she never falls in harm's way, Todd meditated."

TODD: So, what do you say? The timing's perfect - I could bring my stuff over this afternoon. Just think, Liz, we can cook dinner and do our homework together and stay up all night talking and watching TV - we can be together 24 hours a day!

ELIZABETH: 24 hours a day?
(feeling somewhat dazed)
TODD: OK, not 24 hours. I'll sleep on the couch or in Steven's room.....

TODD: I think I could get used to this living-together thing. We've struck a nice balance, don't you think? We went out for ice cream and now we're watching some TV, but we did our homework first. Pretty mature and responsible of us, eh?"

You just have to smile at stuff like that. Lol. The catch is that they (and it ends up being pretty much just Todd) have to do Jessica's chores for the week and make her breakfast so she won't squeal on them to the parents. I think Todd got a pretty raw deal out of all this. He gets stuck with all the grunt work, his car breaks down (only for him to be picked up by Liz & Bruce), he has a laundry mishap, he passes on going swimming out at the lake w/ his buddies all in an effort for together time w/ his girlfriend - who ditches him at every opportunity to hang out sleuthing, swimming, & salsa dancing w/ another guy - the same guy who tried to force himself on her in SVH book #3. I'm just sayin'.....

Playing with Fire by Francine Pascal, Kate William

This should be a cautionary tale about what happens when you give a young guy too much control.

This was a re-read for me. I remember reading this back in the day. This is the one that Jessica starts dating Bruce. Jessica is too stupid to live in this one (and mean to poor Robin), Liz is an enabler, and Bruce is a total douche. When I 1st read this when I was younger I couldn't believe how badly Bruce treated Jessica - I mean she was one of the most popular girl at school, thin, blonde (*jealousy alert*) but he ended up two-timing her. Now that I'm a mature woman of experience :) I realize that guys who do that are all about playing games and power tripping because they can. The woman they are with could be a rocket scientist, multi-millionaire, swimsuit model and it wouldn't matter - it has nothing to do with the woman.

Funny time-warp moment when one highschooler passes out a TAB. LOL

The best part was when Jessica is made wise to Bruce's naughty goings-on and he gets the pizza in the face/soda over the head/falling in the fake fountain, and general humiliation in front of his classmates. Score!

The Lady in Question by Victoria Alexander

This is book 7 in her “Effington Family” series. I think this author must love old movies. Her one book kind of had an homage to the film Pillow Talk at the ending. In this book, I am reminded of the Audrey Hepburn/Cary Grant film Charade. At the start of the book when we first meet the heroine (Delia) – she is a widow of a few months, but she was only married four days. We also learn right away that, unbeknownst to Delia, her husband was an English spy. Delia was the twin who never had to be watched, always did what people expected of her. When Charles (her future husband & spy) met her he swept her off her feet. His mission just involved getting close enough to ferret out info about her powerful family, but he ended up falling in love with her & marrying her. He dies at the opening of the book. Enter Anthony St. Stephens (also an English spy). He is dispatched to find anything Charles may have left behind, what if any was his wife’s involvement, and sort out the murky circumstances of Charles’s death. He and his fellow spies infiltrate Charles’s house (now Delia’s) under the disguise and pretense of being household staff. Anthony is in the disguise of an elderly butler. Delia befriends him and they play games and she confides in him. He, of course, falls for her. He begins to court her as himself. Wonderfully funny & wonderfully romantic.

Mackenzie's Magic by Debra Dier

The present day in this book is some time in the 1800s. Dominic Stanbridge is a titled rake who desires plain Jane. He is drawn to her because of her disinterest. He thinks she is just playing at being disinterested because he’s wealthy, titled, handsome & quite the ladies’ man. He can’t help but be intrigued. He manages to manipulate circumstances so that he wins Jane in marriage. He’s intelligent so he makes a bargain w/ Jane – If he can’t get Jane to consummate the marriage within 6 months, he’ll give her an annulment. If that would have been what the whole book was about I would have been happy because I like the set up and they seem like interesting characters. I was thinking of Devil In Winter by Lisa Kleypas – and Dominic reminded me a little of Sebastian. However that’s not what the story is about. At some point Dominic takes a knock on the head. That night the magical being Aisling comes to him and speaks of his destiny. When Jane next encounters who she believes is Dominic Stanbridge, Marquess of Lancaster (it’s like Freaky Friday – inside the person is different than the outward person, so it looks like Dominic) who she really has is Colin MacKenzie , a Scottish earl who lived 300 years before. This story is a really good story – probably as good as the story that never was. The sparks fly between Jane & Colin and they like each other as well as being attracted to each other. Throughout the book Jane fears that it’s not real and any minute the reality will be that Dominic recovers his memory and Colin will be no more. At the end of the book, the author has a note saying “Was Colin transported 300 years to meet his destiny, or did a bump on the head alter Dominic for the better? I will let you be the final judge.” I don’t want to spoil it for anyone but there are enough things thrown in the story to make you believe that Dominic & Colin did switch souls – each of them were meant for another time and place. So there is one actual story and 2 potential stories with this book. I would love to have also read the story of Dominic’s trip back to ancient Scotland, but sadly I don’t think the author ever writes about it with another book.

Surrender the Dream by Debra Dier

Torrie is sort of an interesting character. There were moments when reading this book that I got an Alfred Hitchcock kind of feel - because of the sexual elements, especially regarding the heroine. In a teeny way she made me think of the Marnie . She's a rich unmarried young woman being pushed to marry by her frigid Victorian, ideally feminine mother and by her mogul father. However, after being left at the alter by her jerk fiance, and after he tried to force intimacy, she is gun shy about getting involved w/ a man. She masquerades as a tough old lady and helps raid brothels to help young women forced into prostitution. The hero - Spence - is perfect for Torrie. Honestly when reading this I kept picturing James Garner. He's a man's man - kind of like one of Lisa Kleypas's businessman heroes. But he is an honorable man who can be soft when a woman needs softness. The two baddies in this - the madam of the local brothel and the guy kingpin are both totally evil. The real identity of the guy bad guy - throughout the book he is referred to as "Slattery" - is a shock. Great evolution of the heroine. Only a few minutes of banging my head against the wall toward the end when the hero/heroine didn't reveal feelings to each other and almost pushed each other way.

Sweet Valley Confidential by Francine Pascal

I was prepared for the worst with this book after reading all the scathing reviews, but was still compelled to buy it (with a coupon) & read it. I was a big fan of the Sweet Valley High books, & read the specials but none of the SVU books. I was always an Elizabeth fan & thought Jessica got away w/ too much.
I ended up giving this book 3 stars. I would have given it more if it would have had more of what I wanted. For example, I thought there should have been a bigger “where are they now?” section at the back. I think if the character got a book of their own, or was a frequent recurring character, they should have got a mention at the end. I realize that might be a lot of characters, but 1 or 2 lines would have sufficed. I also could have done without all the flashbacks – although I found the ones with Bruce helpful in understanding the dynamics of the present situation. I have never been a Todd fan. I always thought of him as being a tool. I just never liked him, was glad when he moved away, bummed out when he came back like a bad penny. So needless to say, I am stoked that Elizabeth & he are no longer together. I say let Jessica have him and good riddance. Although….can I just take a minute and say “Ewww!” – going back and forth between two sisters is icky, going back and forth between twin sisters is major icky.

I understand, since it’s a story about twins, that the story can’t focus solely on one of them but for me Elizabeth was my focus. Although I do like that Jessica made the trip on her own to NY in order to make things right with her sister, rather than leaving Elizabeth to pick up the pieces and clean up the mess like she always did in the past.

I really don’t get what other readers meant when they accuse Elizabeth of being too mean in this book. I mean she says how she has a few revenge fantasies because of the big betrayal but nothing psycho given the circumstances. And her big naughty plan…… to bring a hot guy to her grandma’s birthday party to see if Jessica throws herself at him thus proving she’s a big ho. C’mon, seriously? The guy was going to be in the area anyway, she tells people at the party that they’re not dating, she doesn’t do any Jessica-style manipulating & lying to force them in compromising positions. All she does is bring a guy who looks like Jessica’s type to a party to test her and see if she makes a move and jumps him. Ooh, how Machiavellian. It was immature, and not that nice but as revenge plans go………she’s not gonna win any Dr. Evil awards for naughtiness any time soon. And was I the only one who got the giggles when reading that whole grandma’s birthday scene with everybody shushing everybody? I also had a giggle attack when Elizabeth seemed like she was floundering trying to level some insult at Todd and ended up calling him a shithead. Classic. :) I just thought, "You go girl! You unleash your repressed hissy fit!" A shame granny's party got caught in the cross-hairs though. I liked the relationship Elizabeth has with Will – it seemed like she was exorcising Todd, but at the same time it was a healthy friendship and not cheesy. I loved who Elizabeth winds up with. I have been waiting for that for a long time. I know some people were surprised or found it stupid – but I liked it.

Between the Devil and Desire by Lorraine Heath

Jack Dodger may be my fav character in this series inspired by the Charles Dickens book Oliver Twist. Throughout this book I kept thinking of the song “As Long As He Needs Me” from the musical Oliver. At the beginning of the book, you can sympathize with Olivia – her husband died and this rake is listed in the will as guardian of her young son and both of them have to live in the same house. Jack first comes off as very obnoxious and needles Olivia mercilessly and so I thought I would hate him. After reading more about both of them and seeing how Jack treats her son as well as his friends, you can’t help but fall for him. Olivia starts to be nicer to him once she sees how well he treats her son, which in turn causes him to soften toward her. The chemistry was electric I thought. Very good story.

The Pursuit of Marriage by Victoria Alexander

I love the great verbal back and forth between characters. It's something that is a highlight in all of her books. When the author was writing this, she must have been watching the film "Pillow Talk" - the heroine hires out her interior decorating services, she says about a million times how she does not go for the rake type of man, the ending is very similar to the ending of the film - what she does to his drawing room is the same thing Doris Day ended up doing to Rock Hudson's apartment. Lol. One of the main differences, apart from the fact that this story is set way back when, is that the hero in the book is really a good guy who only invented a more dangerous, rakish facade in an effort to appeal to women - while the lothario in the film was a total womanizer who plays nice before falling for Doris Day. This book was loads of fun. Can't wait for books about the heroine's brothers.

Breathless by Anne Stuart

This is the 3rd book in her House of Rohan series, but it's the 1st book I've ever read that she's written. I go back and forth in my mind between rating it 3 stars or 2. It was an interesting story, and the characters were very interesting. Both the heroine and her longtime friend have romances and both are resolved by the end of the book. The friend's romance is more sweet, whereas the heroine's love story is more complicated and a little twisted. It's one of these stories in which the hero pursues the heroine in an effort to punish her family for something her brother did to his sister. I think this story would be unbearable to read if it didn't have the hero's point of view from time to time and a window into his thoughts. He is a scarred hero and he genuinely believes that he is avenging his crazy (hello Mrs. Rochester) dead sister. One of the things that bug me about the hero is - he had a hand in the heroine's ruination two years before meeting her in person and falling in love w/ her but at no time does he either express guilt in his own thoughts (instead, he is cheered that he himself is spared having to deflower a virgin) or express remorse or regret, or beg forgiveness from her (she doesn't find out until the very last few pages). I thought the ending was a tiny bit abrupt and could have really benefited from an epilogue - which would have been a great point for the expression or remorse. Overall, it was something different and I thought the heroine was pretty strong given circumstances that would have broken a weaker woman. I will plan on reading the others in this series and giving them a try.

A Decadent Way To Die by G. A. McKevett

Another great book in this great mystery series. I loved the mystery and the characters - I never get bored by what's going on. I loved the new developments w/ Dirk & Savannah - Yea! I was a little shocked by the sub-plot involving Tammy. I can never pace myself w/ these books. They are like a box of candy that you just devour in a matter of minutes. Can't wait until the next one!

The Mad, Bad Duke by Jennifer Ashley

This is a paranormal historical. The hero & heroine start out being under the influence of a love spell. Not to worry though - they figure it out right away and there are no tedious recriminations like you might expect. All in all, a very good story w/ interesting, great characters. Really liked the side story w/ Myn & Anastasia (but kinda wish they would have had a book to themselves. The Duke is from the country of Nvengaria & finds out he has latent shifter tendancies (he frequently takes the form of a panther - which I think is cool because what could be better? - hot guy & cool cat). This is actually book 2 of a series - once again I am not reading a series in order. TONS of steamy scenes.

The Marriage Lesson by Victoria Alexander

This is book 3 from her Effington family series. This was a very funny book the last Alexander book I read. This is part of a kind of mini-series within the bigger series. This book involves a bunch of male friends: Thomas Effington, Pennington, Berkley, & Beaumont. Right now the only one I haven’t read is Beaumont’s book - The Prince's Bride.

This was so silly at times that I thought, “What are they trying to prove to one another?” Marianne – the heroine – is a writer and wants to go off and have adventures rather than marry young. Thomas Effington is looking after her & her sisters while her brother is away. He is supposed to oversee their Season and try and find them husbands. Thomas can be a little dopey at times but Marianne never fails to put him in his place. Marianne’s little “Sex & the City” –esque bit she has published in a little newspaper is funny too. It’s something like “Adventures of a Country Miss”. Very tame but funny tales supposedly “absolutely true” based on her experiences in London. I also liked Thomas’s attempts to give Marianne adventures like the ones in books – very cute, and some giggles.

The Courtesan's Secret by Claudia Dain

These books are just so completely fab. There are so many characters but the writing is done so well and the characters are so interesting that it never comes off as too crowded. You want to follow the different characters through each story to see what develops with your favorite characters. This story started out with Blakesley pursuing Louisa who was pursuing Dutton (and her pearls) who was pursuing Anne Warren who was seriously contemplating marriage to the much older but totally sweet Lord Staverton. Lord Dutton is a typical rake - he completely expects Anne to fall for him like every other woman. He keeps getting pummeled throughout these books & most times he deserves it. Still.... his & Anne's romance that never was kind of breaks my heart. They share a magical kiss but she is too practical to be seduced by him and settle for the empty promises he can offer her. He kind of slowly deteriorates through the books & I think it's because he can't realize what missing out on Anne cost him but he suffers nonetheless.
The hero - Blakesley has been in love with Louisa for two years. He doggedly follows her and keeps her company as she throws herself at Dutton. Finally, through some meddling by Lady Dalby & some wagers, he gets her to pursue him. For Louisa it's like a switch is flipped. She has had blinders on and focused so intently she never noticed what a hottie her buddy Blakes is. Once they kiss, it's damn the torpedoes & full speed ahead. Very enjoyable & delicious romance.

Secrets of a Scandalous Bride by Sophia Nash

This is book 4 in The Widows Club series. As usual, I read things out of order, so even though this is book 4, this is the 1st full length book I've read by this author. I really liked it and I'm curious to read a few of the earlier books in this series. The only thing that is a tad confusing is all the names - the various titles and regular names. I know this is a historical, but every so often I kind of went "huh, who?" But good story with interesting sub-plots with other characters. The hero was a great one - anybody who loves the manly men w/ hearts of a softy, self-made men like Lisa Kleypas heroes should like this hero.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Little Bit Sinful by Adrienne Basso

This is prob my fav book by this author so far. The previous book in this series was so-so, but this was totally fab. You could tell that the author was heavily inspired by "Sense and Sensibility" - she even names the heroine Eleanor. Eleanor is the older sister with all that comes with that, and her father is a class A jerk. The hero pursues her as a way of getting revenge on a wrong her father did him, but true love develops. The relationship that develops between the two is very charming and feels very real. Even though, at the end of the book, only 5 months pass between the last time they see each other and when they reunite, so much has happened - he inherits a greater title/she becomes pregnant - that I keep thinking of the hero as a much older man then he actually is toward the end.

Promise Me Forever by Lorraine Heath

"Promise Me Forever" is another great one by Lorraine Heath. She's one of my fav historical authors right now. I just love how her stories tend to be character driven and the charcters are great & well-developed. Her books are also big on emotions. This one was no different. I think the author was a little influenced by "Persuasion" by Jane Austen. The main story takes place in England, but the flashbacks take place in Texas. The hero & heroine first met when they were both living in Texas when she was 14 & he was 16. Young love bloomed, but then the heroine's mother married an English nobleman and moved the family to England. The mother burned all the hero's unopened letters so both thought the other had lost interest. It's a great story about reunited lovers and the change from young love to a more mature love.

One Kiss From You by Christina Dodd

So, so, so good. First off, I love trading places stories. I loved how the heroine grew as a person over the course of the book, and gained more confidence – although I thought she was a cool person right from the beginning. I love that the evil stepmother got what was coming to her in the end. And the hero - *sigh* - he was just so sexy, so intelligent, so crazy over the heroine. Anybody who loves the Cynster guys (written by Stephanie Laurens) should love this guy. I also liked that there wasn’t a big chunk of time at the end when the hero/heroine were at odds w/ each other. The chemistry between the hero & heroine was phenomenal. This is the 1st full length book by this author I’ve read, and I will def look for more.

Scottish Brides by Stephanie Laurens, Christina Dodd, Julia Quinn, Karen Ranney

Scottish Brides” by S. Laurens, C. Dodd, J. Quinn, and K. Ranney. The J. Quinn story was typical of her style – very funny, very romantic. A sister is traveling in search of her brother who left a note saying he’s eloping, and a Scottish hottie is traveling to London pursuing his sister who has fled to her aunt’s hoping to have a London season. Both sibling issues are resolved, but hero & heroine fall for each other. The Laurens story is typical of her Cynster stories – strong male pursuing strong female – erotic cat and mouse game ensues. I really liked C. Dodd’s story. This didn’t feel compressed because her story is kind of like the last twenty pages of a regular novel. Before the story starts, the couple have had a history, and this story picks up 2 months after the heroine pushes the hero away. He returns and they have their happily ever after.

My Devilish Scotsman by Jen Holling

I thought this was a Scottish gothic tale. It had a forbidding, devilishly handsome hero with a questionable past (did he murder his wife and a few others?), ghosts, creepy scottish castle, poisonings, attempts on the heroine's life - very good story, very good romance.

Seducing the Moon by Sherrill Quinn

I thought the 1st book in this series was way better. I think the main reason I disliked this book was because of the heroine. The hero (Declan) & the heroine (Pel) have a bad history. He hurt her years ago, still loves her, but she won’t forgive him. The wrong he did her only involved exposing the criminal activities of a close family member of hers. Unfortunately the spotlight was turned on her and she was temporarily arrested because the family member used her, without her knowledge, in his criminal activities. For that – not for something like infidelity or unforgivable sin he committed – she verbally castrates Declan every chance she gets. She ignores all his apologies, explanations, and declarations of love. When she finds out that he’s a werewolf (which he became a mere 4 mos. before the time of this story) she yells at him for not telling her right away. Gee, I wonder why he felt the need to withhold that little gem seeing as how she was so forgiving and understanding about everything else.

Something About Emmaline by Elizabeth Boyle

The hero (Alex) pretends he has a wife to avoid hounding by everyone to get a wife. It’s such fun when he gets reports about and comes to his town house to find a flesh and blood woman actually in the role of his wife. The chemistry was really good between the hero & heroine. The ending was extremely unbelievable and wonderful, but the characters were so great that you overlooked how much you had to suspend your disbelief for.

Just Wicked Enough by Lorraine Heath

A very touching story about a man who auctions off himself & his title to rich Americans due to his penniless state – the American who wins the auction gets him as a son-in-law. It’s interesting watching the relationship develop between the couple. She has a past love who tries to re-enter the picture while he has a family secret. One of the interesting things about this story is that the father wrote it into the marriage contract that his daughter would be the one to control the money. The ending was satisfying.

This Rake of Mine by Elizabeth Boyle

I looked forward to this after the previous book but was disappointed. I thought the secret of the heroine's identity was too drawn out, and that there was not enough romance.

My Immortal by Erin McCarthy

This book was a historical/paranormal romance with the feel of The Twilight Zone/Tales From The Crypt. The story goes back and forth between the present and the past (circa 1790, and later the 1830s). This story was interesting for a few reasons. dotted throughout the narrative were letters from an important character in the hero's past. The heroine had a few things in common with that character. There were a lot of religious and moral questions because the story was dealing with demons and the concept of sin. I thought the book dealt w/ these subjects on more of a "horror" level than the way they are typically treated in regular paranormal romances. The demons themselves were very complex especially the character Rosa. The hero & heroine were also very complex w/ great chemistry and you really felt their inner struggle with deciding what "the right thing to do" is.

As You Desire by Connie Brockway

I just read "As You Desire" by Connie Brockway. It was ok. There were some really romantic parts. But, because of the way the hero promoted himself as a flip, mercenary, charming rogue, who refused the advances of the heroine when she was 17 and never told her his real feelings....... some of the romantic attempts by the hero seem to not ring true. That being said, the lovely parts were very lovely, and the story did keep me interested.

The Most Wicked of Sins by Kathryn Caskie

"The Most Wicked of Sins" was a good book in which the heroine hires the hero to play......himself. Just a teensy far-fetched to believe that the heroine should approach a guy at random and request that he play himself. Still a good romance though. The heroine was sympathetic & there were sparks between her & the hero. I understand why the heroine's father kicked her & her siblings out of his house, but it irks me a little that she was so desperate for his approval when he is essentially withholding his love until she conforms to his idea of how she should be.

Goddess of the Hunt by Tessa Dare

The first 3/4s of "Goddess of The Hunt" was really, really good. The hero is one of the heroine's brother's best friends. They have never considered each other in a romantic way until............ the heroine tries to practice her seduction skills on him because she is hot & bothered over Toby - one of her brother's other friends. After the first kiss, the story becomes a fun romantic cat-and-mouse game. Jeremy's feelings for Lucy grow exponentially and Lucy becomes attracted to Jeremy. The last 1/4 of the book almost ruins the book. It's a situation where a little communication could have saved a lot of hurt feelings. Still worth reading the book for the first 3/4s.

The Immortal Highlander by Karen Marie Moning

Just read "The Immortal Highlander" by Karen Marie Moning. Adam Black - Yum :) ! Normally I prefer anti-heroes to the traditional "bad boy", but Adam Black 1st caught my interest in the 1st book in Moning's highlander series. In that book he was drop deady sexy, but such a jerk. I wanted to slap him a good one, and then kiss it and make it all better.

I liked this story, and the characters. Loved the hero and liked his character development. I could sympathize w/ the heroine. With the way Adam was invisible & etc. to humans (except heroine) it kinda had a ghost vibe to it - and I love stories w/ ghosts.

The Renegade Hunter by Lynsay Sands

Jo Willan is my fav Willan sister. She is funny and smart. I love her wit and I like how she handles herself in a difficult situation. Some heroines in her situation would whine, or be angry at everyone & reacting before thinking, but Jo is not like that at all. At first I thought she would have made a good life mate for Bricker – and I’ve just gotta say: I WANT A BRICKER STORY ASAP! – but I really liked Nicholas. He was interesting, compassionate, and fit well w/ Jo. This was the best of the “rogue hunter” books. I didn’t think the action overpowered the romance and it was very well written, and you cared about the characters. I can’t wait for the major bad guy to get what he deserves – and his sons too.

Lord of Seduction by Paula Quinn

I didn't care for this book. I'm not sure if it's because I just didn't like it or because I felt that the description on the back of the book was deceptive. The description made it sound like it was your typical fluff fun story - overconfident guy with arranged marriage tries to win woman. That wasn't really the way the book was. The guy is a sweetie who knew the heroine years ago when they were kids and they were friends for a short time until they were separated. Fast forward to the present story and he has returned to marry her and seal a peace agreement between governments. They fall for each other pretty quickly - there's no real courting to speak of. The hero is a prince, but one who lives simply and in a small cottage amongst his people. The ending is a little jarring. You can sympathize and understand why the hero does what he does, but.......if I was the heroine I think it would be awhile before I forgave him. I would be interested to read a book about the character Madoc.

Rules of Engagement by Kathryn Caskie

This was a fun book with goofy, sweet, and slightly loony elderly matchmaking aunts. The aunts plan to get 2 nieces married by using a war manual as their guide. I loved the chemistry between the main couple, but I also liked that there were actually 3 couples in this story and that all 3 relationships were resolved by the end of the book.

Hero, Come Back by Elizabeth Boyle, Stephanie Laurens, Christina Dodd

I borrowed this book from the library for the Stephanie Laurens story - I never read anything by the other two authors. The Laurens story was a good one about Reggie - a secondary character from "On A Wild Night". I ended up reading the other two stories and found I enjoyed them as well. My fav was the story by Elizabeth Boyle - it was about a matchmaker, a young woman on the run, and a great scarred hero. The whole story was fun and it had a fairy tale feel. The story by Dodd was about a young miss ducking suitors and a dashing spy. This was fun too, but....at times the heroine was a little more dopey than I would have liked.

Ravished by Amanda Quick

I loved this book. Such a good "scarred hero" story. The hero is cool - even though he's scarred and gotten a bad rap by people he trusted, I like that he isn't cruel to the heroine as some "scarred hero" types can be. I really like the plucky heroine. She's kind, intelligent, and so unintentionally funny. She's interested in fossils more than catching smugglers - although the one thing leads to the other. Her rationale frequently amuses & baffles the hero. Great chemistry.

The Night Before The Wedding by Debra Mullins

This could have been such a good story. The set up had such cool elements - beautiful red-headed woman, dashing highlander, a curse, visions of love. Unfortunately there are one too many things that sabotage the story - The hero & heroine are at each other's throats throughout most of the story, 300 pages in the hero still appears to be in love with his former love, the heroine is abducted and carried off to Scotland and endures the glares and barbs of the townspeople who blame her hesitating to marry the hero(a perfect stranger) - if she doesn't marry the hero, the curse will not be broken and poverty, famine, & death will prevail upon the community. Yep, this story was def not a fav.

Married By Morning by Lisa Kleypas

You know how sometimes you look forward to a book by one of your fav authors because it's about characters that have been in most of the previous books in a series, and you're dying to see what the author finally does with them? And you know how sometimes it's such a letdown because after all the buildup, the characters act in a stupid way, or the story is stupid? Well that did not happen with this book. That is why I LOVE Lisa Kleypas. The quality control she has with her books is just phenomenal.

Leo Ramsay & Catherine Marks have been in a bunch of books in her Hathaway series. By now you feel like you know the characters so well that you have certain expectations about how their story will go. She did not disappoint. Not only is the story/romance great, but the characters are developed even further and you have a greater understanding of them.

Leo & Catherine have been verbally fencing for a few books now. In this book you see what's behind that. I thought the romance was very satisfying and the story involving Mark's mysterious past was good too.

Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn

I liked this book. It has Quinn's trademark humor. I liked what was there - humor, chemistry, romance, good characters. Only.....I don't know how to put it - I wanted more. It's like I got a mini-cupcake, which was really delicious, but I really needed a big slice of cake to be truly satisfied.

On a Wild Night by Stephanie Laurens

I like the female Cynster twins - Amanda & Amelia. The romance/chemistry between Amanda and Martin was awesome and the mystery was interesting. I will say this - I understand that sometimes sending the criminal to jail isn't always the best option. I'm not usually into black and white solutions. But sometimes when you have a clear cut sociopath they really need to be locked up somewhere. This was a little different from her other books because the 1st half of the book had the heroine pursuing the hero and then the 2nd half had the hero doing the pursuing. Great characters, great romance, great mystery. Left me anxious to read Amelia & Luc's book. I love Lady Osbaldestone. I thought it was great that she was able to give the baddie a whack at the end. She reminds me of Lady Danbury in the books by Julia Quinn.

The Lady Chosen by Stephanie Laurens

This is part of the Bastion Club series by this author. This historical romance series involves aristocratic men who are all ex-soldiers. I love her detective-type hero. Very reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes - if Sherlock Holmes was interested in sex too. I liked reading about the network of ex-soldiers and how they put their skills to work in a different setting. Again, great characters & great romance. I'm just so happy to find an author that gives me both my romance fix and my mystery fix. Tristan was yummy. I loved the dithering yet crafty little old ladies, the shadowy figures, and complicated villain's plans.

Never Call It Loving by Gail Link

I finished "Never Call It Loving" the same day I got it from the library. It was good. The hero was a spy who was betrayed by a woman and got massive scars and a missing eye. It's a historical, arranged marriage, Scottish hero. The secondary couple was great to read about, and the pay-off at the end of the story was worth the read. You do sympathize for the hero because of went he's gone through, but he was totally the "I know what's best, I'll push her away for her own good" kind of guy. At one point the heroine is talking to her cousin and she says "May God spare me from people who would make decisions for others." I love that she said that, because that's how I always feel when romances have characters who do that.

At the Bride Hunt Ball by Olivia Parker

This was the 1st book in this series and the 1st book by this author that I've read and I LOVED it. It was just so light, fun, and sexy. In a little way it reminds me of Cinderella, if Cinderella would have told the prince, "Nope, you can look elsewhere. Not interested." Of course she does end up falling for him because the Duke, Gabriel Devine is....divine. :) There's a good side story with the heroine's friend Charlotte - her book is the next one and I am dying to get a copy. The stepmother of the heroine is kind of like Mrs. Bennet from "Pride & Prejudice" but even more ambitious and more nasty.

The Perfect Lover by Stephanie Laurens

"The Perfect Lover" - which was perfect. :) I really like the way Laurens combines romance & mystery without overdoing one and neglecting the other - so you don't feel cheated on either. I love mysteries & I love romance. In this book it's a classic drawing room murder - the jerk(in this case it's a woman) who is awful to everyone is murdered at a house party on a great estate. Everybody has a motive. The suspects are great, and the main characters are interesting. I also like the detective who is called down to investigate - he's not adversarial toward any character, he listens, and he's smart. The hero & heroine have known each other all their lives and sparks develop at this little gathering. I like this relationship because they have great chemistry, and in spite of their clash of wills at times, they are not mean toward each other and don't try to push each other away with cruel or cold words. After reading this story I found myself wishing Henry could get a happy ending perhaps in another book.