Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Review - The Secret Pearl

Title: The Secret Pearl
Author: Mary Balogh
Publishing Date: 1991
Genre: Historical
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Warm

The Secret Pearl begins with Fleur, a gentle woman in dire straights who hasn't eaten in two days because she can't find decent work, selling her body outside a theater. Adam, a nobleman, sees her in the shadows and is intrigued enough to proposition her. They go to an inn and he has sex with her. After he realizes that she was a virgin he feels very guilty. After they part ways he can't seem to stop thinking about her. He sends his secretary to find her and employ her as his daughter's governess.

Now, normally this type of book would set all my alarm bells ringing. The hero is already married. How on earth are the hero and heroine supposed to get their "happily ever after"? Not only is the hero married, but the heroine is terrified of the hero. It seems very unlikely that there will be a successful love match between these two characters. But luckily, the author was very talented in engaging me with a well written story and characters that I could really sink my teeth into.

Adam and Fleur are both good people put in an impossible situation that forces them to make difficult decisions. Adam was a well balanced man in that he was noble by sacrificing his own happiness, but never came across as stiff or priggish. Fleur was a little harder to like. She was sweet natured, but she was to quick to make assumptions about people and this was the main cause of a lot of her problems. In all actuality, the whole situation that Fleur comes to find herself in could have been avoided if she would have just stopped and thought for a minute. She continues to make these assumptions throughout the book and this might drive some readers crazy. I personally like lots of drama, so it didn't bother me as much as it might others.

There was a good cast of secondary characters that provided plenty of situations to allow the reader more insight into Adam and Fleur. The story slowly unfolds overtime and their relationship builds believably. I liked how the author was able to engage my feelings for these characters and I felt sympathy for them and their plight. Everything works out in the end and true to romance genre, they do get their "happily ever after".

Here is what others had to say:

Reading Adventures

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Under the Tree

My husband surprised me this Christmas with an iPod Touch under the tree Christmas morning. I must have been a very good girl this year to deserve such an exciting present. I have been having so much fun learning about all the cool applications I can download to it.

For those of you who are not familiar with the iPod Touch, it is just like the iPhone, only it's not a phone. It does everything else imaginable, like Internet access and GPS only you don't have to pay AT&T a monthly fee. You just need to have access to wireless (which we now have). I am really excited about my iPod, because I can read books from it, check my feeds from google reader and even post to my blog, all from my iPod. Oh, and I can email too, along with hundreds of other cool applications. They even have a facebook one. So as you can guess, I have been having a lot of fun over the holidays.

I downloaded Stanza, which is an eReader application that stores ebooks. It works in conjunction with the fictionwise website. I haven't used it yet, but I did download a couple of mini harlequin ebooks that were free. I was also able to get the ebooks I already owned onto my iPod with a couple of downloads. This took a little bit more work because I had to download a special stanza program to my desktop computer. This program converts your .pdf and .html files to stanza files. Once you do that then you can add your ebooks to your iPod. It was all fairly easy because of their step-by-step instructions. Jane, from Dear Author, blogs about her iPhone quite a bit which uses the same application. As I learn more about it I will follow up with more posts. In the mean time, I am off to discover more!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Review - Mine to Possess

Title: Mine to Possess
Author: Nalini Singh
Publishing Date: February 2008
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: C
Sensuality: Hot

Mine to Possess is the fourth book in Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series. Clay Bennett who is a sentinel for the DarkRiver leopard pack has been haunted by the death of his childhood sweetheart, Talin. While he was in juvenile detention for killing Talin’s abuser, he is informed that she died in an auto accident. Now he is a grown man and he still occasionally smells her scent on the breeze and wonders if he is being haunted by her ghost. Talin is not dead, and has kept this knowledge from Clay. Now, she needs his help and hopes that he will be able to forgive her and help her find her foster son who she believes has been taken by the Psy.

The Psy-Changeling series is evolving to incorporate the human part of the world into the series. Readers were exposed to the Psy and the Changeling way of life in the first three books and now with Mine to Possess, they get to add humans to the mix. The reader is also introduced to other Changeling groups such as rats and snakes. Ms. Singh is expanding her world and creating changes that are important to future books. I felt with Mine to Possess there was a shift in the direction of the series. Fans of the series should be happy with the new direction the author is going with.

There are many great elements to this story such as great world building and a tough alpha hero. Clay is extremely protective and possessive of Talin. As much as I love these elements and I am definitely a sucker for childhood loves, Talin and Clay just could not hold my attention. I think the main reason for me was that much of the story was told instead of acted out. Also, there was a lot of repetitiveness in the characters thoughts. These things took away from the action for me and therefore caused the story’s pacing to drag. This was just an average read for me.

Here is what others had to say:

LesleyW's Book Nook
Karen Knows Best (AztecLady)
Renee Reads Romance
Ramblings on Romance etc.
Rosario's Reading Journal
Scooper Speaks
Lurv A La Mode
The Happily Ever After
Breezing Through

Friday, December 26, 2008

Review - One for the Money

Title: One for the Money
Author: Janet Evanovich
Publishing Date: 1994
Genre: Mystery
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Kisses

One for the Money is the first book in Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. Stephanie is a 30 year old divorcee who has lost her job as a lingerie buyer for the department store, E.E. Martin. She has been out of work for six months and is down to her last penny. Her car has just been repossessed and she needs a job fast. Her cousin Vinnie owns a bail bonding company and Stephanie takes the Morelli case. If she can land Joe Morelli she will get $10,000. There are a few complications, though. For one thing Joe is a vice-cop wanted for murder. The other is that Joe and Stephanie have quite a history together and none of it favorable. So Stephanie is off on an adventure of a lifetime and hopes that she has what it takes to be a successful bounty hunter. Her livelihood depends on it.

One for the Money is a fast, action packed read. There is lots of humor, plenty of suspense and a hint of romance. Stephanie narrates the book in first person and she is a riot. She is a Jersey girl and it comes across the pages loud and clear. She has big frizzy hair and wears spandex. I got the biggest kick out her. She has so many one-liners and zingers, plus her descriptions of people and things are right on target. I laughed out loud repeatedly while reading this book.

One thing I laughed about is Stephanie’s clothing choices. Now, I don’t know if this was intentional or not by Ms. Evanovich, but Stephanie has terrible outdated taste in clothing. She wears a lot of spandex, Reeboks with big socks and over sized tee shirts that hang off one shoulder. Now, is it just me or does this scream Flashdance? This book was published in 1994, so I wasn’t sure what the reason was for the outdated clothing. Anyway, I just had to mention it.

The mystery was good. I will say this aspect of the book was more gruesome than I was expecting. Stephanie really gets into some trouble and gets hurt more than once. Someone even dies and it surprised me. I wasn’t expecting such heavy material for such a light book. All in all, I really enjoyed the book and read it in one day. I will definitely be sticking with this series.

Here is what others had to say:

Book and Cranny
Melange's Book Reviews
Bibliophile's Passion
Reading Reflections
Blog Critics
My Years of Reading Seriously

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Review - Courting Miss Hattie

Title: Courting Miss Hattie
Author: Pamela Morsi
Publishing Date: 1991
Genre: Western
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Hot

At a young age Miss Hattie Colfax had to run her family farm by herself with the help of her plowboy Reed Tyler. She was determined to be successful and sure enough she has one of the most prosperous farms in town. Although, since she had a farm to worry about, her youth passed her by. Now, at twenty-nine for the first time a man wants to court her. Hattie believed that her dreams of having a family of her own where just that, dreams. But when Ancil Drayton’s wife dies and he desperately needs someone to help care for them, he turns to Hattie. Reed Tyler who has known Hattie since he was a child and starts to look at Hattie in a new light now that Ancil is showing some interest.

Courting Miss Hattie was a wonderful, peach of a story. This story is more character driven, than action driven. The characters are rich and vivid as is the backdrop of Arkansas. Hattie knows she is not the prettiest woman around, but she is smart and hard working. She takes a lot of pride in her farm. Hattie who hasn’t ever had someone show a romantic interest in her doesn’t exactly know how to handle this new attention Ancil is giving her. He opens up a whole new perspective for her and she realizes that her feelings for Reed are more than just friendship. Even though Reed is engaged to pretty Bessie Jane, he can’t seem to stop thinking about Hattie either.

As the story unfolds slowly Hattie and Reed unearth their feelings for each other. The scenes are so sweet and tender. Not to worry, it never feels syrupy. My favorite part of the book is when Reed sees Hattie crying on her front porch. He wants to know what has her so upset and she tells him she doesn’t know how to kiss. He then proceeds to give her a lesson in kissing. It is a most memorable scene because of their innocence and it is both funny and touching. Both are surprised at the depths of their feelings this kissing lesson evokes and it becomes a turning point in their relationship. If you like westerns or frontier romances, it doesn't get better than this folks.

Here is what others had to say:

I love fiction

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Review - Nobody’s Baby but Mine

Title: Nobody’s Baby but Mine
Author: Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Publishing Date: 1997
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Hot

Dr. Jane Darlington desperately wants a baby. She is thirty-four years old and has spent most of her life alone. Jane, with an advanced IQ, obtained a Ph.D in physics at a record young age of twenty. Jane wants the father of her baby to be dumb. This is to counteract her own intelligence so her child is normal. When she see’s the Chicago Star’s quarterback on TV being interviewed, she thinks he would be the perfect candidate. With a crazy scheme from her next door neighbor, Jane sets out to make her dream a reality.

The major complication in this book is that Jane deceives Cal, right at the beginning of the story. Even though, what Jane does is unethical and I had problems with her dishonesty, I still could see where she was coming from, as well as Cal’s point of view. It was easy to like both characters because Ms. Phillips’s writing is so very engaging. The reader is completely invested in these characters.

There were numerous funny scenes interspersed throughout the book along with heart-wrenching ones as well. The creative interaction between the characters was outrageous and extremely entertaining. I liked how Jane and Cal challenged each other. There is one scene in particular where Jane surprises Cal by sabotaging his favorite breakfast cereal, Lucky Charms. What a riot! The “first date” scene at the drive-in movie theater, as well as many others, are very memorable and will stay with readers long after they have finished the book. There is a side story involving Cal’s parents that only added to the emotional impact of the story. I can see why SEP has made such a big name for herself.

Here is what others had to say:

The Forgetful Faerie
Leslie's Psyche
Just Your Average Carpool Queen
A Book Lover

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fall Challenge Status

Remember back in October when I posted about the Fall Reading Challenge. Well, how are you guys coming along with your books? With the holiday's fast approaching, time is really at a premium. Will you be able to finish in time with only 12 more days left. I have to be honest, at the start of December I was afraid I wouldn't meet my challenge. Now though, I only have two more books to read and I will be finished.

If you were a part of this challenge and you have a blog, email me and I will add your link at the bottom of this post. If you just participated and you don't have a blog, email me anyway and I will add you as a participant.

1. Read a book listed on RT’s All-Time Favorites List.
Courting Miss Hattie - Pamela Morsi

2. Read a New (to you) Author.
Pleasure Unbound – Larissa Ione

3. For Autumn, choose an author whose first or last name begins with “A”.
Twilight – Kelley Armstrong

4. Read a book with a one-word title.
Tempted – Megan Hart

5. For Halloween, read a book with a scary theme. (ex. Ghost, Vampire, Witch, etc.)
No Humans Involved – Kelley Armstrong

6. Read a book that is part of a series.
Into the Fire – Suzanne Brockmann

7. For November, choose a book that has an “N” word in the title.
Nightkeepers – Jessica Andersen

8. Read a category romance (ex. Harlequin, Loveswept, etc.)
Heat Lightning – Anne Stuart

9. Read a Christmas/Holiday themed book.
The Wallflower Christmas – Lisa Kleypas

10. Read a book published before the year 2000.
Chance the Winds of Fortune – Laurie McBain

11. Read a book that contains an aristocratic title. (ex. Duke, Lord, Baron, Viscount, etc.)
The Lost Duke of Wyndham – Julia Quinn

12. Read a book with a number in the title. (ex. Fearless Fourteen, Three Little Sins)
One for the Money – Janet Evanovich

13. Choose a book where the heroine is an heiress.
Bedding the Heiress – Cathy Maxwell

14. Choose a book where the hero is a cop or lawman.
Sometimes a Lady – Linda Randall Wisdom

15. Read a book with “baby” in the title.
Nobody’s Baby but Mine – Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Nath of Books, Books and more Books
Nikki of Romance Book Crazy
Leslie of Leslie's Psyche

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Review - Into the Fire

Title: Into the Fire
Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Publishing Date: 2008
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Rating: A
Sensuality: Warm

Into the Fire is the thirteenth book in Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooter series. The main characters are Hannah and Vihn Murphy. Vihn is accused of killing Tim Ebersol who was the neo-Nazi leader of the cult, Freedom Network. Murphy’s wife Angelina had died by Ebersol’s hand in the book Hot Target. She was brutally gunned down to set an example and it affected Murphy and the rest of the Troubleshooter’s team, as to be expected. Murphy has always been friends with Hannah since they were teenagers. He has had feelings for her even before he met Angelina. After being accused of Ebersol’s murder, he is determined to keep Hannah safe.

Ms. Brockmann is a consummate story teller and Into the Fire is no exception. She has left nothing out in this story. She has grabbed the readers’ attention and not let go. I love the depth at which she delves into each and every character. She also has the art of conversation down to absolute perfection. There is a lot going on in this book; Vihn and Hannah’s relationship, Izzy and Eden’s, Decker, Dave and Sophia’s and Nash and Tess’s. The stress level is very high for everyone and emotions are extremely volatile. Many of these relationships are at a breaking point.

Izzy is an absolutely wonderful character and I cannot get enough of him. He is uncouth and says what is on his mind, but beneath that lackadaisical demeanor is a man with a heart of gold. What amazes me is that he is a knight in shining armor, but none of his friends realize this. He keeps his heart of gold hidden beneath his sarcastic demeanor and doesn’t care what his friends think of him. As a matter of fact, he is happy to let them think the worst, while he does his best to act in a manner that is so by the book and following a strict code of honor. I absolutely loved his relationship with Eden and felt that it overshadowed Vihn and Hannah’s story. Vihn and Hannah just had so much baggage it was easier for me, and more enjoyable for me, to take a time out with Izzy and Eden.

Here is what others had to say:

Thrifty Reader
Shae Reads
I Just Finished Reading
The Good, The Bad, The Unread
Nobody Asked Me

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Review - Bedding the Heiress

Title: Bedding the Heiress
Author: Cathy Maxwell
Publishing Date: April 2007
Genre: Historical
Rating: B-
Sensuality: Warm

Bedding the Heiress is the fourth book in the Cameron Sisters series by Cathy Maxwell. Francesca Dunroy is the daughter of a wealthy business man. With the recent remarriage of her father to a woman younger than herself, Francesca finds herself in the arms of a notorious rake. At her coming out ball, she arranges for a clandestine meeting in her father’s study, but mistakenly kisses the wrong man, the Duke of Colster. Justin can’t forget the kiss and seeks to find Francesca and get more than just a kiss from her.

Bedding the Heiress is a quick, breezy, entertaining read. The story is relatively light, with plenty of action to keep the plot moving forward quickly. Francesca is a head-strong, prideful girl, a little on the spoiled side, but the author never takes it too far into bratty territory. Justin is a brooding Scotsman, but again the angst is never overdone.

The major quibble I had with the book is the fact that Justin and Francesca fall in love over the course of two days. These two days make up over two thirds of the book. For as many major conflicts in the book as there were, everything was wrapped up too hastily for my taste. From Francesca’s strained relationship with her parents, Justin’s return to England and his duties as a Duke, to the whole mystery surrounding The Sword of MacKenna, the resolutions were too superficial. But if you want a light read with just entertainment in mind, without a lot of angst, then I would recommend it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Review - Heaven, Texas

Title: Heaven, Texas
Author: Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Publishing Date: 1995
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: A
Sensuality: Hot

Heaven, Texas is book two in Ms. Phillip’s Chicago Stars series. It is a modern fairy tale type story. Gracie Snow, as she puts it, is a “homely” woman who grew up in a nursing home. As a kid growing up she always felt like the butt of others’ jokes. She has recently been given a chance to prove herself with a movie company and was given the difficult task of getting Bobby Tom Denton down to Texas to film a movie. Bobby Tom is a former pro football player who had to retire because of a knee injury. At 33 years old he feels lost because football has always been his life. What is he to do now? This movie he is supposed to star in doesn’t seem to appeal to him as much as he had hoped.

Oh my goodness, I just loved this story. I loved everything about it, from Bobby Tom and Gracie to all the town people of Telarosa and their annoying behaviors. I loved the silly antics that were constantly happening between Bobby Tom and Gracie. The opening scene is a classic when Gracie is mistaken for a stripper when she first meets Bobby Tom. I just loved the cleverness of the characters. Bobby Tom had finally met his match in Gracie.

There were so many wonderful moments in this story. It was sweet and poignant and at certain times I thought Bobby Tom would rip my heart out because it took him so damn long to realize that he loved Gracie and then when he does, Gracie mistakenly rips his heart out by standing up to him. Oh god. It was just so moving to watch Bobby Tom’s cool façade falter in front of the whole town of Telarosa. I just didn’t want this book to end. Ms. Phillips is a consummate entertainer. I laughed. I cried. I couldn’t have asked for more.

Here is what others had to say:

Book Binge
Revisiting the Moon's Library
A Book Lover

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Series Sunday - Mercy Thompson

Patrica Brigg's has a wonderful urban fantasy series narrated by Mercy Thompson who is a coyote shapeshifter and a VW mechanic. In her world, mythical creatures such a elves, trolls, witches, vampires and werewolves exist. The more non-threatening of these species like fairies, trolls and gremlins have been outed to the human world. They are establishing liberal rights so they can exist along side humans. Mercy has an in to this reality because she was raised in a werewolf pack. Mercy finds herself acting a go-between for both worlds, helping to solve mysteries as needed.

Mercy Thompson is great character. She is down-to-earth and readers can relate very easily to her. She knows her limitations and is not afraid to ask for help if she needs it. There will be none of that Too Stupid Too Live (TSTL) crap for her. At the beginning of this series she has two men vying for her attention, Adam the local packs Alpha and Samuel from her past, three if you count the vampire Stefan. For those of you who are not fans of long drawn out triangles, never fear. That is not the case with this series. In Iron Kissed she makes her choice regarding the hero. Because each book builds off of the previous one, I recommend reading this series in order.

Series reading order:

1. Moon Called
2. Blood Bound
3. Iron Kissed
4. Bone Crossed
5. Silver Borne
6. River Marked (releases Feb 2011)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Review - Ultimate Weapon

Title: Ultimate Weapon
Author: Shannon McKenna
Publishing Date: November 2008
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Rating: A-
Sensuality: Hot

Ultimate Weapon is book six in the McCloud brother series. Finally, readers get to witness Tamara Steele’s story. She mysteriously appeared in Standing in the Shadows as Novak’s mistress. In the end she ultimately helps Erin escape by killing Novak. Well Daddy Novak over the years has been nursing a grudge the size of Texas. It comes to his attention that Tamara is alive and he seeks to abduct her and torture her. Val Janos who once worked for Novak has been sent to bring Tamara to Daddy Novak. Val who wants absolutely nothing to do with Novak is in a rock and a hard place because Novak is holding his dear friend and mentor Imre captive. If Val doesn’t do as Novak demands, then Imre will be slowly tortured to death. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

When McKenna writes a bad guy, she really writes a bad, evil, totally f---ed up psychopath. She leaves nothing to the imagination. Novak is completely sick and twisted leaving the reader cringing with fear and desperation for Tamara and Val. Ultimate Weapon has lots of very graphic action. For more sensitive readers, it might be much for them to read.

I found this book to be quite different from the other books in the series. For one thing there wasn’t as much sex and it wasn’t as graphic as past books. McKenna has toned down the use of crude sex words in her love scenes. Also Janos is a European man, with English not being his first language. McKenna did a fabulous job of making this very believable right down to the way he talked and handled Tamara. He was more sophisticated than her past heroes. I was really worried with Tamara being such a ball buster of a woman that no man could stand up to her. I needn’t have worried. Janos was an even match for her without completely overpowering her. Tamara stayed true to the character readers have come to know and love. For me, this story really worked and I am glad that McKenna has taken a different approach to her writing.

Here is what others had to say:

Rip My Bodice

Monday, December 8, 2008

Review - Sometimes a Lady

Title: Sometimes a Lady
Author: Linda Randall Wisdom
Publishing Date: 1992
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: B-
Sensuality: Warm

Elise Carpenter is a widow with three daughters. She and her husband were in their veterinary clinic late one evening when a group of men attacked them looking for drugs. Her husband died that night and Elise suffered a brutal beating. Now, several years later she finds herself in a bank at the same time the man who killed her husband is robbing it. He manages to evade the police and threatens Elise’s life. Detective Dean Cornell is assigned to protect Elise until they can catch the killer.

Elise’s character has a lot of baggage. She blames the cops for her husband’s killer being on the loose in the first place, and with good reason. They screwed up big time. But she allows her hate for cops in general to be unnecessarily rude and nasty to Detective Cornell most of the time. I thought her treatment of Dean was unjust and she was overall too prickly for me to really like her.

Dean, on the other hand, was quite the charmer. He let Elise’s insults roll over him like water off a duck's back. He never took her anger personally and that made this book much more tolerable. I loved how he interacted with Elise’s daughters. There is one part when he is dealing with the six year old that was just hysterical. I laughed out loud at that part and even days later would still chuckle over it.

It took a while for Dean and Elise to establish their relationship and I found that it progressed at a reasonable pace. So many books today have the hero and heroine jumping into bed right after they meet or having sex while a killer is lurking in the shadows. That wasn’t the case here. Aside from me having difficulty with Elise, Sometimes a Lady was an appealing story.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Series Sunday - Immortals After Dark

The Immortals After Dark series is currently one of my favorite paranormal series out there. It encompasses a wide variety of interesting creatures from werewolves and vampires to trolls, goblins, valkyrie and demons. These creatures all live among humans without their knowledge. An Accession that happens every five hundred years is coming. It is a huge war were certain factions will become enemies and others will become allies.

Ms. Cole has created a very entertaining series that serves up plenty of humor with a side order of angst. Her heroines are more than a match for her heroes and there hasn't been a book I haven't liked so far. According to Ms. Cole, the books do not have to be read in order. They are all stand-alone books. For those of you who are sticklers (and you know who you are), here is the series reading order:

1. The Warlord Wants Forever (Story in anthology Playing Easy to Get) (Nikolai and Myst)
2. A Hunger Like no Other (Lachlain and Emmaline)
3. No Rest for the Wicked (Sebastian and Kaderine)
4. Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night (Bowen and Mari)
5. Dark Needs at Night's Edge (Conrad and Neomi)
6. Dark Desires After Dusk (Cade and Holly)
7. Kiss of a Demon King (Rydstrom and Sabine) releases Feb 2009
8. Anthology Not That Innocent (Murdoch and Daniela) releases May 2009

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Review - Twilight and Stalked

Title: Twilight (A story in the anthology Many Bloody Returns)
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publishing Date: 2007
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Kisses

Twilight is narrated by the vampire Cassandra. Even though, as a vampire Cassandra is considered immortal, she does have an expiration date. She has sensed for a while now that her time is coming to an end. She has little desire to continue as she has been. Once a year vampires are required to make a kill. She has come upon the anniversary of her kill and needs to make it if she is to continue living.

Twilight addresses Cassandra’s struggle and reluctance to take her annual kill. Her good friend Aaron senses Cassandra’s stress and is concerned. I loved getting a glimpse into Cassandra in this short story. In the past books Cassandra has come across as very cold and uncaring. That is not the case in this story. I loved getting to see her interact with Aaron as he is very much so her opposite in personality. Where Cassandra is serious Aaron is playful.

Title: Stalked (A story in the anthology My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon)
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publishing Date: 2007
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: B
Sensuality: Kisses

The short story Stalked takes place two years after Elena gave birth to the twins. It is told in the first person point of view by Clay. They are on their honeymoon and I am not sure what city they are in. As they are honeymooning Clay smells that a mutt has been following them. Clay is the muscle in the pack, but ever since he damaged his right arm, his dominant arm, he has been worried about other mutts coming to challenge him. That is exactly what happens in Stalked. Some mutt has decided he wants to see if the rumors are true and Clay has to prove that he is still a wolf not to be taken lightly.

This story is only 30 pages long. It just amazes me how Kelley Armstrong can write such a short story and it be a quick enjoyable read. There wasn’t really anything ground breaking as far as originality with this story but it was nice to have more insight into Clay. This was the first story in this series narrated by him.

Friday, December 5, 2008

December Classic Challenge - The Secret Pearl

The Secret Pearl is one of the books that I kept hearing things about time and again in the message boards at Romantic Times and All About Romance. I found the discussions about it to stand out because some people really liked it and others hated it. Wondering which camp I would fall in, I had to see for myself what all the fuss was about, as usual.

I have read some of Mary Balogh's work which included a few books from her Bedwyn series and a couple from her Mistress series, all of which I enjoyed. The Secret Pearl has made All About Romances top 100 Romances List twice as well as being a Romantic Time's Reviewers Choice in 1991. Let's see if it lives up to expectations, shall we?

From the Cover:

Fleur. That was her middle name. The name she told the
man to whom she sold herself out of desperate want. But her full name was
Isabella Fleur Bradshaw, gently born and brutally expelled from her sheltered
life. His name was Adam Kent, Duke of Ridgeway, the wealthiest lord in England,
but scarred in war, bitterly betrayed in marriage.

She feared his
overpowering physical passion. He fought to keep from loving her. They each had
so much to teach each other and so much to learn... 'n a drama of desire played
out on a vast estate - where a man and a woman come closer and closer to their
moment of heart-pounding truth…

Thursday, December 4, 2008

As You Desire

Title: As You Desire
Author: Connie Brockway
Publishing Date: 1997
Genre: Historical
Rating: A
Sensuality: Warm

Desdemona Carlisle lives in Egypt with her Grandfather. She manages to get herself kidnapped by a young boy who belongs to a tribe of men. Her long time friend Harry Braxton comes to her rescue and brings her safely back home. Desdemona and Harry have had feelings for one another for years now that they have kept hidden from each other. When Harry’s cousin, Blake Ravenscroft comes to Egypt, he sets in motion a series of events which force Harry and Desdemona to face their true feelings for each other.

As You Desire is a wonderful book. It has everything I have come to love in a romance, plenty of adventure, a passionate and noble hero, and a good mixture of laughs and tension. Desdemona seems to find herself in little scrapes here and there and Harry is always looking out for her. Her grandfather who really should be the one to protect Dizzy (as Harry likes to call her) is like the absentminded professor. He is too busy cataloging his ancient relics to be bothered by Dizzy’s misadventures. Therefore Dizzy gets away with a lot of behaviors in Egypt that she wouldn’t normally if she lived in England.

A strength and point in favor to this book is that many of the characters were multifaceted. Just when you expect them to act a certain way, they surprise you and show you that there is more to them than just what is shown on the surface. Also, there are some beautifully written passages in this book that read more like poetry than a normal work of fiction. There is a scene where Harry waxes poetic about Desdemona’s attributes and it truly is a work of art. I also thought the addition of Dizzy’s thoughts as passages out of a gothic novel was a cute touch. This was a very well written and very enjoyable book.

Here is what others had to say:

The Way I See It
Jennie's B(ook)log

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

November Book Summary

I have good news and bad news regarding my reading goals this month. The bad news is I dropped the ball and came up one book short of my monthly goal of 12. The good news is I have already reached my yearly goal of 144 books. Although, I can't get too excited yet because I still havn't completed my Fall Reading Challenge and I only have 30 days left to do it. (More on that later.) So what about you? Have you met your reading expectations this year? Any challenges that fell by the wayside?

1. The Black Dagger Brotherhood, Ward (Paranormal) Rating: N/A
2. The Wallflower Christmas, Kleypas (Historical) Rating: C
3. Fallen, Delacroix (Futuristic) Rating: B+
4. Seduce me at Sunrise, Kleypas (Historical) Rating: A-
5. Twilight, Armstrong (Paranormal) Rating: B+ (story in anthology Many Bloody Returns)
6. Demon Bound, Brook (Paranormal) Rating: B+
7. Chance the Winds of Fortune, McBain (Historical) Rating: D
8. It Had to be You, Phillips (Contemporary) Rating: B
9. Pleasures of the Night, Day (Paranormal/Erotic) Rating: D
10. As You Desire, Brockway (Historical) Rating: A
11. Stalked, Armstrong (Paranormal) Rating: B (story in anthology My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Review - Pleasures of the Night

Title: Pleasures of the Night
Author: Sylvia Day
Publishing Date: 2007
Genre: Paranormal (Erotic)
Rating: D
Sensuality: Burning

Aidan Cross is guardian of the realm of Twilight, a place that exists only between the real world and the dream world. It is Aidan’s mission to guard humans from Nightmares when they are dreaming, by having mind blowing sex with them. Also, his other duty as an elite warrior and the reason for his existence is the find and kill The Key. Unfortunately for Aidan, Lyssa is The Key and he falls in love with her.

I don’t know why I decided to read this book. As I was summarizing the plot, I realized just how ludicrous the whole book seems. It could have been fun, albeit a little campy, but for me it didn’t measure up. (Although there were quite a few references to how Aidan’s package did).

I think the main problem for me was that the characters just felt bland. There wasn’t really anything to hold my interest and I felt disconnected from them. I didn’t feel any urgency with the problems Lyssa and Aidan faced. As a matter of fact the issues revolving around Lyssa and Aidan are never fully resolved. It seems to me they just got brushed under the rug. I think there was potential with the prophecy and the world building, but it wasn’t fully developed. There is another book in this series, so it’s possible more things will be disclosed in that book. I am not certain I am interested enough to continue on though.

Here is what others had to say:

Thrifty Reader

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Series Sunday - The Chicago Stars

Susan Elizabeth Phillips is a new to me author. Gasp! I know. How is it I am just now getting around to reading her books? Shame on me, but I am correcting that problem this month. I just finished It Had to Be You, the first book that starts the series off with a bang. The series revolves around the fictional football team, The Chicago Stars. The books are set in present day Chicago and are straight contemporaries.

Do these books have to be read in order? I am not really sure. The impression that I got was that the books stand alone but characters from previous books make appearances in future books. Ms. Phillip states that Natural Born Charmer will be the last book in The Chicago Stars series. She does plan to have surprise appearances of familiar characters in future books. It is just that those books will not revolve around football.

Series Reading Order:
1. It Had to Be You (Phoebe Sommerville and Dan Calebow)
2. Heaven, Texas (Bobby Tom Denton and Gracie Snow)
3. Nobody's Baby But Mine (Cal Bonner and Dr. Jane Darlington)
4. Dream a Little Dream* (Gabe Bonner and Rachel Stone)
5. This Heart of Mine (Molly Sommerville and Kevin Tucker)
6. Match Me if you Can (Annabelle Granger and Heath Champion)
7. Natural Born Charmer (Dean Robillard and Blue Bailey)

* Dream a Little Dream is not officially part of the Chicago Stars series, but continues the Bonner family story that began in the book Nobody's Baby But Mine. It also contains Ethan's story.

*Fun Fact*
Bobby Tom Denton from Heaven, Texas makes an appearance in Lady Be Good.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Review - It Had to be You

Title: It Had to Be You
Author: Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Publishing Date: 1994
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: B
Sensuality: Hot

Phoebe Somerville’s father has recently passed away. He was a man’s man and all her life she has always felt like she was a big disappointment to him by never living up to his expectations. She left home at eighteen and hasn’t been back until now, to attend her father’s funeral. Phoebe is in for a big surprise though, because her father’s will now names her the temporary owner of his beloved football team, The Chicago Stars. Sparks fly between Phoebe and Dan Calebo, the coach of the football team. Dan can’t believe his bad luck that, this ditzy woman is now the new owner!

It Had to Be You is a fun, fast paced book. I had no trouble turning the pages of this one. There is a lot to like about it. Phoebe is a wonderful heroine. She is just the right combination of strength and vulnerability. She is very intelligent and resourceful. Phoebe is thrown into managing a football team, something that she knows next to nothing about and yet she comes out on top time and again. Some of the ideas she came up with to outmaneuver Dan or her other opponents were outrageous and laughable, but they worked.

Dan wasn’t my favorite hero to date. He is a bear of a man, used to bowling right over people and getting his way. The only emotion he is comfortable expressing is anger. He has temper and a mean streak that was too volatile for my taste. Sometimes he would just say the meanest things to Phoebe. I could have accepted it better with the addition of lots of groveling. One thing I can definitely say about Phillip’s writing is that the characters are vivid. They practically leap off the pages. I will definitely be reading more by Ms. Phillips in the near future.

Here is what others had to say:

What Women Read
Dear Author
Readers of Romance Challenges
Julia's Books Corner
Sanctuary's Finest

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Review - Chance the Winds of Fortune

Title: Chance the Winds of Fortune
Author: Laurie McBain
Publishing Date: 1980
Genre: Historical
Rating: D
Sensuality: Warm

Dante Leighton is the Captain of a cargo ship that sails from the Caribbean to the Carolinas. He won a map to a sunken Spanish ship in a card game. He is used to seeing treasure maps, but this time it appears to be the real thing. He crosses paths with Lady Rhea Claire Dominick when he finds her asleep in his cabin on his ship. She had been kidnapped from her family and shipped from London to the colonies to be sold as an indentured servant. Dante can’t just let her go because she has seen the map and he believes her to be a spy, not the daughter of a Duke as she claims.

Let me be frank. If I had not chosen this book as one for my fall book challenge, I never would have finished it. The biggest problem I had with the book is that Dante and Rhea don’t meet until page 281. Yes, that’s right page 281!!!! What kind of nonsense is this? The first part of the book is devoted to recapping everything that happened between Rhea’s parents. Apparently, they had a book. Sure enough, I look up the information and yes their book was Moonstruck Madness.

Okay, so for 27 pages we have Dante and Rhea interacting and it’s good. The book has finally grabbed my attention. Then what does the author go and do? Yep, you guessed it. She jumps back to Rhea’s family for another 60 pages. So out of a total of 500 pages, 340 of them are spent on other plot points not devoted to Rhea and Dante’s relationship. That is more than half of the book. How is this book even considered a romance? I know it is, just look at the cover.

Since Dante and Rhea were given so little time to develop their relationship I didn’t buy into their love for each other. It felt extremely rushed considering this book is 500 pages. Rhea was super sweet. Think Snow White with the dwarves. She is like that with Dante’s crew. She could do no wrong in anyone’s eyes. Dante is very hard to pin down. I don’t feel like I got to know him at all. The good news about this book is that for a bodice ripper, no bodices were harmed. Rhea is never raped by anyone, nor does Dante ever “forcibly seduce” her.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Review - Demon Bound

Title: Demon Bound
Author: Meljean Brook
Publishing Date: November 2008
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Hot

Demon Bound is the fourth full length book in Meljean Brook’s Guardian series. Alice Grey has been a Guardian for over a century. When she was a human, she made a bargain with the demon Teqon. She agreed that she would give him the heart of the lead Guardian Michael. This bargain has been haunting her all this time and now Teqon is asking that she fulfill her debt. Jake Hawkins, a novice Guardian has trouble controlling his gift of teleportation. He teams up with Alice to help her find a loop-hole in her bargain with Teqon.

The summary above is an overly simplified version of the plot of Demon Bound. Anyone who has read Meljean Brook knows that her series is anything but simple. The world she has created is very complicated with lots of history and mythology. Many times while reading this book I had to go back and reread passages and try to make sense of what I was being told. I am beginning now to understand Ms. Brook’s writing. It seems she purposely leaves holes in her passages only to fill them in a few pages later. Once I accepted that style of writing I was able to enjoy the book a lot more.

The strength of Ms. Brooks writing lies in the development of her characters. Alice and Jake are so completely fleshed out. Not only are they very complex. They change and evolve as the events in the book impact them. At first Jake and Alice are at complete odds and I wonder how on earth are these two supposed to fall in love. Over the course of the story the reader slowly gets to see them come together and make each other want to be a better person for the other. Oh, I just loved it. What makes it even better is at first, I didn’t really even like Alice or see her appeal. But just as Jake has the same reaction and slowly he comes to love her, so does the reader.

Here is what others had to say:

The Book Smugglers
Romance Novel TV
The Good, The Bad, The Unread
Ciara Stewart
Racy Romance Reviews
Aimless Ramblings about Books and Living Life
Alpha Heroes
Lovin' Me Some Romance

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Series Sunday - A Southern Vampire Mystery

With the the last episode of season one of the HBO's TV show True Blood airing last night, based on the Sookie novels written by Charlaine Harris, I thought I would do a post on the popular series.

Ms. Harris has created an alternate reality to the human world where vampires are coming out into the public. Vampires want to integrate into society and have civil rights just like normal humans do. Unfortunately, like will all new things, people are unsure and hesitant. Vampires are facing much discrimination against their kind. Sookie Stackhouse narrates the books in first person. She is a sweet, southern girl who has always felt like an outsider because she can hear peoples thoughts. When she meets Bill, a vampire, she is absolutely amazed that his thoughts are blocked to her.

I have only read the first book in this series, Dead Until Dark. I thought it was pretty good. It took me a few chapters to warm up to Sookie, but once I got a good feel on the rhythm of the book, the story really took off for me. Do you need to read the books in order? Ms. Harris states that it is more fun to read them in order. Each book is designed to stand on its own, but the backstory has gotten extensive.

Series reading order:
1. Dead Until Dark
2. Living Dead in Dallas
3. Club Dead
4. Dead to the World
5. Fairy Dust (story in anthology Powers of Detection)
6. One-Word Answer (story in anthology Bite)
7. Dead as a Doornail
8. Definitely Dead
9. All Together Dead
10. Dracula Night (story in anthology Many Bloody Returns)
11. From Dead to Worse
12. Gift Wrap (story in anthology Wolfsbane and Mistletoe)
13. Dead and Gone
14. Dead in the Family

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Review - Seduce me at Sunrise

Title: Seduce me at Sunrise
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Publishing Date: October 2008
Genre: Historical
Rating: A-
Sensuality: Hot

Seduce me at Sunrise is the second book in the Hathaway series. Win and Merripen, aka Kev, have been the closest of friends from the first moment they met. Kev, a gypsy boy left for dead, was taken in by the Hathaway family twelve years ago. From the first moment he laid eyes on Win he never wanted to leave her side. Four years after Kev came to stay with the Hathaway’s, Win caught scarlet fever and nearly died. Since then she has been living life as an invalid. She is unable to climb stairs or be outside for long before she starts struggling to breathe. After deciding that she isn’t living the life she has dreamed of living, she goes away to an unconventional clinic in France to get better. After two years of treatment she comes back to her family as hearty and healthy before she succumbed to the fever.

Let me just state for the record that I love, love, love childhood love stories. Ever since I read Mine till Midnight, I have been impatiently waiting for Kev and Win’s book. Kev is such a super, yummy hero. I absolutely delighted to read about him. He is as over protective as they come. He is untamed and wild, like a feral beast. I just loved it! He is tortured by the fact that he thinks he isn’t good enough for Win. He ends up hurting Win time and again as he battles his feeling for her. I wanted to slap him around a little for that. Oh, the angst! Oh, the drama! But wait for it – when he finally does give in to his feelings for Win, my God! He steamed up the pages. He is the most devoted, ideal (super, yummy) lover. Pfew!

Ms. Kleypas tugged at my heartstrings with this book. I went through the gambit of emotions, from laughter to anger, to sadness and hopefulness. Leo, Win’s brother was quite entertaining. The only weak spot I thought the book had was Win’s doctor Julian. I didn’t understand his motivation and it was never addressed in the book. Other than that, Seduce me at Sunrise is wonderful and one for the keeper shelf.

Here is what others had to say:

The Good, The Bad, The Unread
Romance Reader
Breezing Through
Racy Romance Reviews
All About Me
My Thoughts on Nothing Much at All
The Book Smugglers
Stacy's Place on Earth
Dev's Good Reads
Nobody Asked Me
Dear Author
Romance Novel TV
Leslie's Psyche
What Kate's Reading

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Need Input

Okay, I just want to inform fellow readers that I have updated my sidebar to include links to my Series Sunday posts. For those of you who are interested, it will hopefully be an easy way to keep track of all the series and the reading order for their books.

Next up, I am wondering if it would be okay if I took down my Faefever countdown. I get quite a few visitors that drop by because of my Faefever links. I am wondering if it would be okay if I took it down now since the book has been out for a few months.

I am not very HTML savvy. I am pretty limited in what I can do with my blog. But I would like to learn how to write something and then cross it out. I want to be able to show viewers when I have completed a book for my book challenge by crossing through the title. Can any one help me with this or direct me to a website that can teach me?

If there is a particular feature that you really like or wish I had on my side bar, please feel free to comment about it. I am open to suggestions for improvement!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Title: Fallen
Author: Claire Delacroix
Publishing Date: October 2008
Genre: Futuristic
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Warm

Fallen is the first book in a new trilogy by Claire Delacroix. It is set in a post apocalyptic America in 2099, several years after many cities were bombed with nuclear weapons. A large portion of the world’s population was killed because of these bombs. Another side effect of these bombs was nuclear radiation. The majority of the population was exposed to this radiation causing birth defects in unborn children. People who have side effects due to the radiation are known as shades. They are not considered human and do not have civil rights. They are used for research and slavery. Lilia Desjardins is a shade hunter. She finds shades and brings them to the circus where she works. The circus is the one place where the shades can live a relatively normal life.

Lilia’s estranged husband is killed in a mysterious accident. She suspects that his death was not an accident, but murder. She is convinced that she must uncover the killer and bring the truth about her husband’s murder to light. Lilia has a penchant for finding trouble. When she discovers a body of a shade who had connections to her husband, she reports it to the authorities. She meets Officer Adam Montgomery and together they search for her husband’s killer. Unbeknownst to Lilia, Adam is an Angel who has volunteered to help save humanity. Besides the fact that he is attracted to Lilia, he also believes that she will help him complete his earthly mission.

I just have to say, I really enjoyed this book. There is a lot of emphasis on the futuristic world and how corrupt it has become. The details are very tight and well defined. The book has a very dark vibe to it, and yet there is a tiny ray of light and hope at the center of everything. The characters Adam and Lilia are wonderfully drawn. Lilia is a bleeding heart. She might act tough and gruff, but underneath that steely façade she’s as soft as a marshmallow. Adam is otherworldly and is beginning to understand the appeal of being human. He becomes attached to earth and Lilia and this comes as a complete surprise to him.

Fallen ends more or less with a ‘happy for now’. There are conflicts that still need to be resolved with the big picture. The mystery surrounding Lilia’s husband’s death does get wrapped up. The next book in the trilogy will be Guardian. It won’t be out until October 2009 and features new characters Delilia and Rafe. Ms. Delacroix does state that Lilia and Adam will make an appearance in Guardian.

Here is what others had to say:

Scooper Speaks

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Series Sunday - The Wallflowers

Since I had a few people show an interest in A Wallflower Christmas, I thought I would do a follow up post on the Wallflower Series by Lisa Kleypas. This has to be one of my favorite historical series to date. I love Lisa Kleypas. Her writing is just absolutely delicious. Her characters are so very lovable and appealing. There is just enough angst to keep the reader guessing, but not enough for them to want to bang their head against a wall. Her books are very well balanced and I can't get enough.

The Wallflower series consists of four books, with a bonus Christmas story. I don't know if Lisa plans to continue the series in the future. As far as I know, it will just be these books. The wallflowers are a group of women who seemed to find themselves sitting on the sidelines while other more popular women had their dance cards filled. The girls noticed that it was the same people always remaining in shadow. Annabelle, Evie, Lillian and Daisy all formed a tight-knit group who became the best of friends. They were determined that each in the group would make a love match.

It is my personal opinion that each book should be read in order. Each woman has her own book, but all the women appear in every book. Some of the stories are interconnected. They could be read as stand alone, but I think the reader will get more out of the series if it is read in order. My personal favorite would be Annabelle's story, closely followed by Lillian's. All the books are very well written and this is a very strong series.

1. Secrets of a Summer Night (Annabelle and Simon)
2. It Happened One Autumn (Lillian and Marcus)
3. Devil in Winter (Evie and Sebastian)
4. Scandal in Spring (Daisy and Matthew)
5. A Wallflower Christmas (Hannah and Rafe)

*Fun Factoid*
For those of you who are fans of Marcus, Lord Westcliff from It Happened One Autumn, he actually made an appearance before the wallflower series originated. He was Charlotte's employer in Worth Any Price and he was also Aline's older brother in Again the Magic.

Cam Rohan, the hero from Mine Till Midnight first appeared in Evie and Sebastian's story Devil in Winter.

I am just going to go ahead and say it. For those of you who haven't read Lisa Kleypas, you might as well brace yourself and set aside some time. She has an extensive backlist and all of the books are wonderful. You might as well just start with her first book and keep on going until you have read them all. She was my most glommed author last year and I believe I read a total of 17 books by her.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Review - A Wallflower Christmas

Title: A Wallflower Christmas
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Publishing Date: October 2008
Genre: Historical
Rating: C
Sensuality: Warm

Rafe Bowman is the son of a very wealthy American man, who as aspirations of seeing his son wed to a woman of the British Aristocracy. He stipulates that in order for Rafe to inherit, he needs to marry Natalie Blandford. At first Rafe doesn’t really care who he marries, so he might as well please his father. But while visiting his sister in England, he meets Natalie’s companion Hannah and finds himself unexpectedly attracted to her. Now he is torn between choosing between true love or his inheritance.

For me this book is too short weighing in at only 200 pages. It is also a hardback, therefore doubling the price of the book. As far as Rafe and Hannah’s romance is concerned, it was just okay. There wasn’t anything spectacular about it. It wasn’t bad per say, just ordinary. I liked Hannah a lot. She was a great character, and I wouldn’t have minded getting to know her better. Rafe, on the other hand came across a little heavy handed with Hannah. He seemed a little too pushy in the short span of time that he knew Hannah.

Rafe is the brother of Lillian and Daisy Bowman who readers met in It Happened One Autumn and Scandal in Spring. Fans of the Wallflower series will have fun revisiting with the characters from that series. Lillian, Daisy, Evie and Annabelle, along with their respective husbands all make an appearance in this book. That aspect of the book was the best part.

Here is what others had to say:

A Blog of Books
Lurv A La Mode
Dev's Good Reads
Babbling about Books, and More
The Book Smugglers
The Good, The Bad, The Unread
Dear Author

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider’s Guide

Title: The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider’s Guide
Author: J. R. Ward
Publishing Date: October 2008
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: N/A
Sensuality: N/A

This really isn’t going to be a book review, but more of an informative collection of my thoughts. For those of you who are fans of Ward’s Black Dagger Series, hopefully this post will help you determine whether or not it would be worth your while to purchase it.

First up, the Guide is actually pretty hefty, weighing in with a whopping total of 474 pages. The book is trade paperback size and actually has a small font. I’m going to guess it’s a 10 font. So, as you can surmise, there is quite a bit of reading material for fan perusal.

I will list in order the Guide’s table of contents and comment briefly about each section.

Novella, Father Mine: This short story features Zsadist’s struggle with becoming a father and accepting that he is good enough for Nalla and Bella. I thought it was fine. Zsadist isn’t my favorite brother, but he doesn’t get on my nerves either. Fans of Zsadist, I am sure will enjoy Father Mine, while those of you who are sick of Zsadist should probably just stay away.

The Brotherhood Dossiers: There is a dossier for each of the six books currently published. It starts out with a fact sheet about the brother featured in the book. Then there is a questionnaire that the brother filled out. Ward also interviews the brother. Then she talks about the writing process for the book and her favorite or not so favorite parts. This was actually quite enlightening. She lets the reader get a feel for how she developed the stories and what her writing process is like.

For those of you who are thinking of writing your own book, this section is a must for you. I think you will find it very interesting. Also, for fans who were disappointed with the direction certain books went or didn’t go, she addresses these issues as well. I found some of her rational and answers to these fan complaints to be less than stellar and a little on the weak side. But still, it was interesting to read about.

Tips for writers and the original proposal: I can’t really comment on this section because I didn’t read the writer tips. I just skipped right on by it since I don’t plan on being a writer. I did read the proposal. Ward puts in the guide exactly what she sent out to publishers. So again, it is very interesting to see the beginning product and what it eventually evolved into.

Deleted Scenes: There are five of them. They were all good. The deleted scene from Lover Enshrined, with Phury and Cormia, I think I liked better than what was in the book. Go figure.

Kicks and Giggles: This section is where Ward takes her favorite lines from each of the six books. They are fun to read through and make me want to read these books over again.

Brothers on the Board: She has recreated the message board posts that occurred when the brothers posted in the past. She also has the posts that pertain to Lassiter. I am not a member of Ward’s message board, so reading through all of these was new to me. I also want to mention the character Lassiter. Some people have criticized Ward for Lassiter’s appearance on the message boards and then his surprise appearance in Lover Enshrined. Lassiter was a surprise to those readers who aren’t a member of Ward’s message boards (me included).

In the book, Lassiter’s appearance raised more questions than answers. At least this was the case with me. After reading Lover Enshrined I was confused as to his identity and his relationship with the brothers. After reading the message board posts involving Lassiter, I am still confused as to his identity and his relationship with the brothers. But now I think this is exactly what J. R. Ward wants. It seems to me his background is supposed to be a mystery and one that will hopefully be revealed in upcoming books.

Slices of Life: These are brief scenes that Ward posted on the message board. One is movie night. Another one (and personally my favorite thing out of the guide) is a scene with Wrath. He has been feeling weighed down by his kingly responsibilities and feels he is losing the warrior in him. Whoa buddy! That was a steamy excerpt! There are a few more, but I’m not going to go into detail about them.

Question and answer with J. R. Ward: Here Ward answers questions that readers have asked her over the years. At this point in the guide though, I found it somewhat redundant. It’s also relatively brief.

Then there is a brotherhood timeline, a table of abbreviations and a listing of the Old Language alphabet.

The Brothers Interview J. R. Ward: It is exactly what the title says it is. At this point in the guide, I have come to the conclusion that Ward eat, sleeps and drinks the brotherhood. Quite frankly, I don’t know whether I should be disturbed or fascinated. The way she describes these figments of her imagination and brings them to life takes an immense amount of talent. In my mind, she has created a captivating series. I have really enjoyed these books (with the exception of Vishous’s book, but I am not going to get into that right now).

In Memoriam: This is a brief scene into the life of Tohr and Wellsie that takes place between Lover Eternal and Lover Awakened.

Last but not least the guide ends with an excerpt from Lover Avenged.

Well, that about sums up the guide. Now, I have the distinct urge to go and reread this series beginning with the book that started it all, Dark Lover. **

Monday, November 10, 2008

Review - Pleasure Unbound

Title: Pleasure Unbound
Author: Larissa Ione
Publishing Date: July 2008
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: B-
Sensuality: Burning

Pleasure Unbound is sort of like “ER” meets “Buffy the Demon Slayer”. In this book there is a whole different dimension that most humans are unaware of, that houses a wide range of demons and other mythical creatures. Some of these demons are able to leave this dimension and live among humans. Only The Aegis, a group of human warriors trained to kill demons, are aware of their existence. Tayla Mancuso is one such guardian. She is out fighting demons with her partner Janet and is severely injured in a fight with a demon. She is found and taken to a demon hospital where she meets Eidolon, the doctor and founder of the hospital.

Eidolon and Tayla are the most unlikely couple imaginable. Tayla has been taught that all demons are evil and it is her duty to wipe out as many as she possibly can, to ensure the safety of the rest of the world. Eidolon’s brother was killed by The Aegis and has nursed his hatred of them over time. To say that these two have major obstacles to overcome is quite an understatement.

This book’s strength lies in the intricate and original world building. I personally haven’t ever come across a paranormal that deals with demons and the medical field. It is an interesting combination. There is a lot going on plot wise besides just the romance between Tayla and Eidolon. Someone is torturing demons and harvesting body parts from them to sell on the black market. Eidolon thinks the Aegis is involved and Tayla is determined to prove him wrong. Tayla herself has been ill and uncovering her mysterious illness adds tension to the story. Eidolon has two brothers Wraith and Shade that have issues as well. Plus, there are a few others that you will just have to read the book to find out about!

As far as the romance goes it was just okay for me. Eidolon was good. I liked him, but Tayla’s personality was a bit too prickly for my taste. Of course, she had good reason, so I could let a lot of it slide. These two had so much to overcome it wasn’t until the last 100 or so pages that they finally got past their differences and started working together. Once they did, I enjoyed them a lot more.

One thing that I found slightly disturbing and a little jarring is the fact that these creatures are demons. They are not human and therefore do not always act human, nor are they expected too. Some species of demons have more humanistic tendencies than others. A few of the creatures are down right horrifying. The book is quite graphic and that may put a few readers off.

The main plot isn’t completely solved at the end of this book and it is obvious that this is the start of a series. It didn’t feel contrived though. It felt natural to have it end where it did. I am sure Eidolon’s brothers with eventually be getting their own stories. I will be one of many to check out the next installment.

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Series Sunday - Dirk & Steele

This Sunday, I am going to focus on Marjorie M. Liu's Dirk and Steele series. Ms. Liu has created a very interesting series that revolves around a team of agents all with superpowers. Think x-men if you will. Good vs. Evil. These agents all possess a special power. Some can shift-change, others can manipulate electric impulses. Some can read an objects history, others can communicate with animals. Each agent is unique in their ability that they bring to the team.

This series has been extremely well written, in that she takes impossible situations and seemingly makes them sympathetic. The characters themselves might possess super powers, but they are human just the same. I find them very personable and I can relate to them. I have enjoyed all her stories, with Shadow Touch being my personal favorite. Here is the series order and I personally recommend reading them in order. Throughout the series there are connecting story arcs that run through several books. (Although, I did start with the second book first. It thoroughly hooked me!) Each book stands alone in that it has a self contained romance.

1. Tiger Eye (Dela and Hari)
2. Shadow Touch (Elena and Artur)
3. The Red Heart of Jade (Dean and Mirabelle)
4. A Dream of Stone and Shadows (story in Anthology: Dark Dreamers) (Charlie and Aggie)
5. Eye of Heaven (Blue and Iris)
6. Soul Song (M'Cal and Kitala)
7. Where the Heart Lives (story in Anthology: My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon
8. The Last Twilight (Amiri and Rikki)
9. The Wild Road (Lannes and Jane Doe)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Review - The Lost Duke of Wyndham

Title: The Lost Duke of Wyndham
Author: Julia Quinn
Publishing Date: 2008
Genre: Historical
Rating: B
Sensuality: Warm

Grace Eversleigh’s parents died of fever five years ago leaving her orphaned at seventeen. The dowager Duchess of Wyndham took pity on Grace and employed her as her companion. The two of them are coming home from a party when their carriage is pulled over by highwaymen. The highwayman in question is very suave and debonair. The Duchess thinks she recognizes him as a relation to the house of Wyndham as he is the spitting image of her dead son John.

Ms. Quinn certainly writes an entertaining historical. Jack Audley is quite the character, with his witty charm and sharp intelligence. He steals the show in this book, leaving Grace to fade somewhat into the background. While the book begins from Grace’s point of view in third person, the majority of the rest of the book is told from Jack’s perspective. Also, with the plot centering on the question of Jack’s lineage, the focus tended to remain on Jack, forcing the story to be more hero-centric. I didn’t really mind this, since Jack was a vibrant character. The only problem I did have with it was when Jack would wax poetic about the love he felt for Grace. The prose came across slightly flowery and didn’t match Jack’s masculine persona. It would have been more appropriate coming from Grace.

The plot was great. The question of Jack’s identity and how everything was going to be resolved satisfactorily added quite a bit of tension to the book. I kept wondering to myself, “How in the heck is Quinn going to fix this mess?” Not to worry she does deliver on that aspect. I did think that after a big secret is revealed the ending was too abrupt. I wanted a little more closure on how things were going to work out for the individuals involved.

One thing that may have influenced how I read the book was the fact that I know there is another book, Mr. Cavendish I Presume that tells the same story from Thomas’s point of view. (Thomas was the legitimate Duke that Jack was usurping.) I noticed, as I was reading The Lost Duke of Wyndham, that there were scenes that sort of left holes in the book and I imagine they will be a part of Mr. Cavendish I Presume.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

November Classic Challenge - As You Desire

As You Desire by Connie Brockway has made AAR's reader choice Top 100 Romance Poll in 2000, 2004 and 2007. In 2004, it was ranked among the top 10. So knowing me, I have to see for myself what all the fuss is about. Here is the blurb from the back of the book:


He galloped across the midnight-shrouded landscape, racing toward her on his steed of pure white. Her destiny... In her wildest fantasies Desdemona Carlisle could not have conjured a more dashing savior, and this was real! But an unlikelier hero was hard to find. Harry Braxton was a born opportunist who had already broken her heart once, years before. How could she ever trust him again? Harry was a notorious rake who came with a warning: lover, beware...


With her bronze-gold hair and quicksilver grace, the sloe-eyed beauty was everyman's desire, totally oblivious of her devastating effect on men. It was all Harry could do to be Desdemona's friend -- and bury the corrosive secret that kept him from claiming the woman he loved. But when his aristocratic English cousin laid siege to Desdemona's heart, it was the ultimate challenge in a most dangerous game that Harry intended to win...

This summary sounds pretty cheesy. This book was published in 1997, way past the day of bodice rippers. What's with these names, Harry and Desdemonda? Seriously? Also, the summary doesn't really tell the reader anything. Not off to a good start, in my humble opinion. We'll just have to see. Hmmm...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Review - Romeo, Romeo

Title: Romeo, Romeo
Author: Robin Kaye
Publishing Date: November 2008
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Hot

Rosalie Ronaldi finds herself with a flat tire on the side of the interstate, when she leaves her parent’s house after having joined her family for their traditional Sunday dinner. Nick Romeo, who owns several car dealerships, is working late Sunday evening on one of his beloved cars. On his way home, he notices an attractive woman on the side of the road kicking her car’s flat tire. Being the nice guy that he is, he stops to give her a hand. Nick is used to women falling at his feet and hasn’t had to actively pursue a woman for her attentions. Until Rosalie, that is. He finds himself intrigued and attracted.

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with Romeo, Romeo. I think the back blurb is a little misleading to the plot of the book. It focuses a little too much on how Nick loves to cook and clean and how Rosalie doesn’t. While this is true to a certain extent, it is in no way the driving factor of the book. Nick keeps his true identity from Rosalie, throughout most of the book. The fact that he has a lot of money, and has women jumping at the chance to reel him in – as if he was a fish - and a prize one at that, he feels it’s necessary to keep his identity from Rosalie. Because Rosalie thinks he is just an auto mechanic and seems to like him for himself, he continues to lie to her. Things get complicated as they always do, and it is not long before Nick is in way too deep and is clueless on how to correct her false assumptions.

There is lots of snarky humor and fast paced witticisms in this book. Some people might find Rosalie’s sarcasm a turn off, but I didn’t. Sometimes it was a little too much, but overall I thought it gave a ring of truth to Rosalie’s personality. I am a real sucker for good conversation. Romeo, Romeo had it in spades. Here is an example of the quick writing, with an exchange between Nick and Rosalie:

She gave him a squeeze and a slow, thorough kiss before sliding off his lap. “I’m going to take a hot shower. I’m still cold to the bone and I want to wash off the icky feeling of Johnny’s sweaty hand. God, he’s such a pig. I might have to burn this skirt.”

“You sure you don’t want me to pay him a visit? I’ll teach him to keep his hands to himself.”

She patted his cheek. “That’s a sweet offer. Cro-Magnon, but sweet.”

Nick wrapped his arm around her waist as she slid back on his lap. He held her hips as he moved beneath her and whispered in her ear. “I know how much you like it when I play ‘caveman’.”

He nipped her earlobe, and she groaned. “Oh, yeah. Let me get a shower; you get your club. I’ll meet you in the cave in a half hour.”

“Take your time. I have to hunt for food first.”

“It’s a date.”

Also, I love the picture Ms. Kaye paints of life in New York City. I haven’t ever been there myself, but I could imagine a day in the life of Rosalie and Nick in the City with trips on the Subway and dinner at small intimate restaurants in Little Italy. There were a slew of secondary characters that I felt only added to the charm of the story. Even Rosalie’s dog made an impact. All in all, this was a charming, light read.

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