Monday, December 28, 2009

Kathy Love: Getting What You Want

Getting What You Want
Series: Stepp Sisters, Book 1

Author: Kathy Love
Original Release: May 1, 2004
List Price: $5.99

Read: December 27-28, 2009
My Rating:

Author Homepage |

SUMMARY (from back cover)

In this delightful, heartwarming novel, Kathy Love introduces the Stepp sisters, three women whose lives are about to take a turn for the wild, the unpredictable, and the absolutely enchanting ... Meet Abby.

Remind me to have my head examined.
What exactly possessed me to come home to Millbrook, Maine, where nothing changes but the weather? Oh, right. A six-month grant to do genetics research at Rand laboratories. What can I say --- I'm a smart girl. And smart girls get what they need and get out again. Smart girls don't dream, they settle. And smart girls do not get completely tongue-tied while holding a basket of fried clams when they bump into the most gorgeous man they haven't seen in fifteen years: Chase Jordan.

Remind me to have my hormones removed.
Chase Jordan. Town bad boy. Rebel with a cause to show up in my dreams unannounced. Oh boy, this is not good. Not smart. It's like high school all over again. But in a good way. A heart-thumping way. An I-have-no-idea-what's-going-to-happen way. A way that's making me feel like maybe settling for what I have isn't so smart ... but really going after what I want is the craziest thing I may ever do ...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Linda Francis Lee: Sinfully Sexy


Sinfully Sexy
Series: Sexy

Author: Linda Francis Lee
Original Release: September 27, 2004
List Price: $7.99

Read: December 21-21, 2009
My Rating:

Author Homepage |

SUMMARY (from back cover)

After a close encounter of the sexy kind, Chloe discovers her wild side
Plain-Jane Chloe Sinclair has never been bad ... until she stumbles - literally - into the arms of a gorgeous stranger. To make matters worse, her world is rocked completely off its axis the morning after when the sensual dreamboat turns out to be the man brought in to save the TV station where she works.

Sterling Prescott is hard-driven, sexy as hell, and determined to take over the struggling KTEX TV. But all bets are off when the shameless wildcat who disappeared on him last night walks back into his life - acting like a squeaky-clean librarian. Life gets truly complicated, however, when Sterling decides to win more than the station - and to show  her that being sexy isn't a sin.

This is the second book that I have read by Linda Francis Lee and I'm very conflicted about what rating to give it - 3.5 stars (worth reading once, recommendable, check it out from the library) or 4 stars (will want to read it again, buy a copy of my own if I read a borrowed one). The other book was Looking for Lacey and it was really not a recommendable book, except for the side romance going on between the heroine's high school daughter and her classmate - that was literally the only thing that made the book worth reading.

Sinfully Sexy is Book 2 in Lee's "Sexy" Trilogy - it's preceded by Kate's story in Suddenly Sexy and followed by Julia and Ben's story in Simply Sexy. The three heroines are all coworkers at KTEX TV and have been friends since childhood.

In Sinfully Sexy, there were a lot of things that were a mess:
  • the story and the plot were not "tight"
  • there were a lot of contrivances created solely for the author's character machinations
  • the whole last-minute-dating-show-that-will-miraculously-save-the-station-and-oh-what-a-surprise-there-are-some-twists-that-make-certain-characters-have-to-be-contestants was ... yeah, not much appreciated by this reader
  • the secondary kind-of-romance between Julia and Ben that sets us up for Book 3 in the trilogy was annoying, felt very forced, and definitely did not make me inclined to read their story
  • Chloe's father was blah and the emotional scene and discussion at the end was far too corny and neatly-timed for me
  • ... and I could go on.
*However*, Chloe was (for the most - if one ignores some random weird spots here and there) a good heroine and Sterling was (also for the most part - if one ignores his too sudden realization of love and quick turnaround) a good hero. There were some great scenes between them that were very amusing, very enjoyable, and *very* chemically-charged and Sterling sometimes does or says things that will have you sighing out loud. The interactions between him and his brother Ben were also nice additions.

When I had first read the summary of this book, I thought that Chloe and Sterling basically have a one-night stand with one another and then are surprised to find out the next day that the stranger they slept with last night is someone they're going to have to work with. Although that's where things are heading, they *do not* sleep with each other at the beginning of the book and when they finally do it is absolutely perfect and at the right time in their relationship and in the book/story.

So basically it comes down to whether or not the good parts of the book outweigh the bad parts enough to warrant a 4-star rating instead of a 3.5-star one ... and after writing this review and being able to sum it all up for myself, I'm afraid to say that I'm going to have to go with 3.5 stars.

The pros of this book make it definitely worth checking out from the library (which is what I did), but I would hold off on buying it - I know some people have really liked this book, so it could be me, but IMO it just doesn't warrant a spot on my keeper and/or reread shelves.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Susan Mallery: Falling for Gracie

Falling for Gracie
Susan Mallery

Original Release: August 31, 2006
List Price: $6.99

Read: November 29-December 2, 2009
My Rating:

Author Homepage | Excerpt |

SUMMARY (from back cover)

~ First comes love, then comes marriage . . . ~
And how can she, when she's face-to-face with Riley at every turn? The onetime bad boy has come back to town seeking respectability --- but the sparks that fly between them are anything but respectable! Gracie's determined to keep her distance, but when someone sets out to ruin both their reputations, the two discover that first love is sometimes better the second time around.

This is my second book by Mallery and I'm glad I gave it a chance, because the first book I read by her - Sizzling - was not very good. You can read my review here.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Jennifer Crusie: Charlie All Night


Charlie All Night
Author: Jennifer Crusie
Original Release: November 30, 1995
List Price: $5.99

Read: December 3-6, 2009
My Rating:

Author Homepage | Book Page | Excerpt |

SUMMARY (from back cover)
Dumped by her boyfriend and demoted from WBBB's prime-time spot, radio producer Allie McGuffey has nowhere to go but up. She plans to make her comeback by turning temporary DJ Charlie Tenniel into a household name. And if he's willing to help her cure her breakup blues with a rebound fling, that's an added bonus.

Charlie just wants to kick back, play good tunes and eat Chinese food. He's not interested in becoming famous. But he
is interested in Allie. And after all, what harm is a little chemistry between friends?

But suddenly their one-night stand has become a four-week addiction. Night after night on the airwaves, his voice seduces her ... and all the other women in town. He's a hit. It looks as if Charlie's solved all Allie's problems ... except one. What is she going to do when he leaves?

Charlie All Night
is not my favorite Jennifer Crusie book and like a few of her other earlier ones feels more like a novella than a full-length novel. Regardless, it is an enjoyable read and very entertaining. The chemistry between Allie and Charlie is great and they have some fantastic dialogue, there are several humorous scenes, and the secondary characters are wonderful - especially Joe, Allie's gay roommate. All in all, the book is definitely worth checking out from the library (which is what I did).

In Charlie All Night, like in Anyone But You (read my review), Crusie features a heroine who is both older than usually found in the genre (Allie is 36) and than the hero (though only by two years here - not the ten that separates the hero and heroine of Anyone But You).

My favorite Crusie books so far are: Bet Me (5 stars - amazing!!), Manhunting (4 stars), and Getting Rid of Bradley (4 stars - read my review). They are all both read- and buy-worthy!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Julie Ortolon: Drive Me Wild


Drive Me Wild
Author: Julie Ortolon
Release: March 7, 2000
List Price: $7.99

Read: November 28-28, 2009
My Rating:

Author Homepage | Book Page |

SUMMARY (from back cover)
~ He was a devastating TV anchorman who thought he'd seen it all ~
With the face that launched a thousand newscasts, drop-dead gorgeous TV anchor Brent Michaels returns to his Texas hometown --- to be the "bachelor" in a Dating Game fundraiser. He can't refuse his old friend Laura Beth Morgan's request. And soon, he can't refuse the shy do-gooder anything. The tomboy he remembered had blossomed into a beautiful woman. An irresistible challenge for the man every woman wants ...

~ Until he rediscovered the girl next door ~
Laura Morgan yearns to break free, just as Brent Michaels did. He'd come a long way from the boy who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, the friend who kissed her once, then ran. But even as he warns her he's incapable of love, he's not running now. For Laura was stirring him like no woman had before, making him consider the "M" word for the first time, leaving him certain of only one thing: Laura Morgan could be his undoing ...

My first book by Ortolon was Lead Me On and I really enjoyed it and gave it 4 stars. Drive Me Wild was entertaining, but I don't think I would reread it because of several issues I had with the story/characters.

My biggest was Laura's realization of love for Brent happened **WAY** too soon. Two days after seeing each other for the first time in ten years she realizes she's in love with him? I don't think so! Once the story moves to Houston and their relationship actually kicks off the book is good and very enjoyable, but I had a hard time getting over my initial skepticism. Also, Laura towards the end of the book and leading up to the climax fight bothered me --- she's a little too pushy and somewhat manipulative (very "somewhat," because that word seems far too strong).

Brent was an absolutely wonderful hero and I liked how three-dimensional and realistic he was. Romance heroes always have some obligatory faults, but in this case Brent's issues didn't seem added on by the author because she can't make the hero absolutely perfect --- they were believable and made him very compelling (*very*, lol ;-).

All in all --- worth the read, but glad I got it from the library since I don't think I'll be coming back to it. ... Though Brent really almost makes it worth it!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Julie Ortolon: Lead Me On

Lead Me On
Series: Pearl Island Trilogy, Book 2
Julie Ortolon

Release: January 20, 2003
List Price: Retail unavailable

Read: November 14-15, 2009
My Rating:

Author Homepage | Book Page |

SUMMARY (from back cover)
~ When a woman who is willing . . . ~
Allison St. Clair has the face of an angel. That's part of the problem. She also sells quaint tea sets in the gift shop at Galveston's Pearl Island Inn. It doesn't exactly scream sexy! Years of having men treat her like a little sister is enough to drive a healthy woman crazy. Especially when a gorgeous hunk checks in and fails to recognize that Allison's more than willing. She's ready . . .

~ Meets a man who isn't listening . . . ~
Frustrated author Scott Lawrence is hoping to get lucky in more ways than one. A little fun in the sun with a beautiful woman may be just the inspiration he needs to cure his writer's block. No fuss. No commitment. But a "good girl" like Allison? No way!

~ Then it's time for action. ~
When Allison makes her move, every bachelor bone in Scott's body tells him to swim for safety. But stronger instincts prevail, and the heat climbs higher than the temperature on the Texas Coast. Now a four-letter word called love could turn a sweet spring diversion into the most unexpected and complicated fling of their lives.

SERIES: The Pearl Island Trilogy
  1. Falling For You - Aurora St. Claire and blue-blooded banker Oliver Chancellor
  2. Lead Me On - Allison St. Claire and bestselling author Scott Lawrence
  3. Don't Tempt Me - Adrian St. Claire and ship owner/captain Jackie Taylor

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Suzanne Enoch: A Matter of Scandal

A Matter of Scandal
Series: With This Ring, Book 3
Suzanne Enoch

First Release: July 31, 2001
List Price: Retail unavailable

Read: October 19-19, 2009
My Rating:

Author Homepage | Book Page | Excerpt |

SUMMARY (from back cover)
~ School for Scandal ~

Miss Emma Grenville, who is no silly debutante, has had her fill of thick-headed noblemen who believe women exist solely to satisfy men. And her arrogant new landlord, the Duke of Wycliffe, is the worst of the lot! The too-attractive cad wants to triple the rent on Emma's finishing school for young ladies to help get his uncle's estate out of debt. Well, Greydon Brakenridge clearly needs educating --- about women. And Emma's just the one to enlighten him!

The sinfully handsome duke has never met a woman he couldn't outwit and seduce. And now that he's tricked Emma into a wager, he has the stubborn headmistress right where he wants her --- and hopefully, soon in his bed. But the confirmed bachelor underestimates the intelligent and surprisingly sensual Miss Greenville. For she may be leading Greydon to a place neither dreamed they'd ever go --- to the altar.

SERIES: With This Ring
  1. Reforming a Rake - Alexandra Beatrice Gallant and Lucien Balfour, Sixth Earl of Kilcairn Abbey
  2. Meet Me at Midnight - Victoria "Vixen" Fontaine and Sinclair Grafton, Lord "Sin" Althorpe
  3. A Matter of Scandal - Emma Grenville and Greydon Brakenridge, Duke of Wycliffe

Monday, November 2, 2009

Eloisa James update

Eloisa James sent out one of her "Newsflash" emails; some of the contents are reposted below or you can read the full thing at her website.

* Reminder to read the reprints of her first two books, Potent Pleasures (what a name! LOL) and Midnight Pleasures.

* She now has a Facebook fan page and is on Twitter, on which she sends out about 2-3 tweets a day right now since she's in Paris.

* First paragraph (don't think that qualifies as either a teaser or an excerpt really ... who ever heard of only putting up one paragraph???) of her next book, A Kiss at Midnight (described as a "fractured fairy tale), is now available online. Release date is unknown; we've only been told sometime in 2010.

* Read her most recent Barnes & Noble column, the subject of which is "heroes who aren't particularly hairy or rakish - but truly decent." ... At first I thought she meant "hairy" as in, well, hairy, but it's basically about those decent heroes that aren't rakish skirt-chasers and completely irresponsible, irreverent, a man's man, etc.

Sidenote: I've never really been a James fan from the few books of hers I read; it was awhile ago, but I remember her characters don't always sit right with me and there are too many secondary/tertiary romances and stories going on with other characters besides for the main ones (or at least that was true for those books of hers I read).

Mary Jo Putney update

You can access the complete version of Mary Jo Putney's latest newsletter online; below is a summary of pertinent/interesting information.

* She gives thanks to readers for buying Loving a Lost Lord, since it made it to the New York Times bestsellers list. My sidenote: I technically helped put her there, since I rushed out to buy the book ... but if the list were based on what people thought of the book, she definitely wouldn't be on it with that one, IMHO. Harsh sounding, I know, but that was one of the worst books I've read all year - maybe even in two years. You can read my review here. Compared to wonderful works of hers like The Rake and The Wild Child, it was almost hard to believe they were all written by the same author!

* Book 2 of the Lost Lords Series, Never Less Than a Lady will be coming out in May 2010 (though Amazon has it listed as being released on April 27, 2010) and two more Lost Lords contracts have been signed with the publisher.

* Two reissued books coming out: The Rake (which as I said, is absolutely great and a must-read) and The Bargain. One Perfect Rose will also be reissued, out in April 2010.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Suzanne Enoch: The Care and Taming of a Rogue


The Care and Taming of a Rogue
Series: The Adventurers Club, Book 1
Suzanne Enoch

First Release: October 27, 2009
List Price: $7.99

Read: October 30-31, 2009
My Rating:

Author Homepage | Excerpt |

Can't believe I'm saying this about an Enoch book ... but it wasn't that great

Suzanne Enoch is a fabulous writer and some of my absolute favorite historical romances have been written by her, namely London's Perfect Scoundrel and Always a Scoundrel, with close second favorites being England's Perfect Hero, By Love Undone, and After the Kiss. Needless to say, I was ecstatic about this book coming out and expected it to join my "all-time favorite" bookshelf - it won't, and frankly, I'm considering whether to post it on PaperBack Swap right away, because I doubt that I will want to reread this.

The Care and Taming of a Rogue (The Adventurers Club, Book 1) wasn't bad in the sense that I didn't actively dislike it, but in almost every aspect it either fell short or just didn't click; it was boring and I was at times somewhat tempted to just put it down and forget about it. The premise was an interesting one and quite original, and I'm always a huge fan of books where the heroine is overlooked, shy, bookish, unusual, whatever. Plus, taking into account it's written by Enoch, it should be a natural five-star book, right? Wrong: The Care and Taming of a Rogue did not live up to my expectations. Both of the main characters were pretty forgettable, their relationship is not compelling and I never really understood how they got together or why they felt (or even THAT they felt) so strongly about one another, and the chemistry just wasn't there (which starkly contrasts with some of Enoch's other books).

Both Bennett (29) and Phillipa (20) felt somewhat flat and one-dimensional. Bennett is supposed to be this "uncivilized explorer" who won't obey any of London society's "rules" and wants to drag his woman back to his cave ... and although we're told this repeatedly and other characters constantly describe him this way, it didn't really ring true. Yes, he was blustery and aggressive, but it ended up just being annoying and not at all endearing, adventurous, bad-boy-attractive, or any other positive thing; he wasn't as unconventional as he was made out to be (an example of where that type of unconventional adventurer-hero was well done and *did* work is Christina Dodd's Rules of Surrender).

Phillipa is a nice heroine, but nothing to write home about. We're told that she's practical and logical ... but I didn't see that emphasized very much (there was no resemblance to someone like Dr. Brennan from the TV show "Bones," who is definitely an extreme of those two adjectives). She's also supposed to be unconventional in her own way - embracing her "bluestocking" tendencies, completely bookish and somewhat anti-social (though friendly) - yet she insists on Bennett courting her according to the rules and keeps placing emphasis on teaching him how to behave in London society (no such teaching really occurs) ... while then going in broad daylight to the house he's staying in and making love for the first time with him in a kitchen larder (umm, can you say unromantic?).

Then there is their relationship, which seemed completely unsubstantiated to me and so was hard to believe. Basically he hears her voice - is attracted to her, sees her face - likes how she looks, remarks on her smelling of lemons - oh how nice, and bam! they're off. We know that Phillipa already has a little thing for Bennett in that she has been an admirer of his travel/adventure books, but why this romantic interest in Phillipa in particular? We're never really shown why he is THE ONE for her and she is THE ONE for him. [Sidenote: Why is it that aside from our heroines (and whatever friends they may have) almost all the other women in these novels are nitwit chits who only giggle, simper, and are catty when it comes to men??? Even Flip's sister, Olivia, kind of falls into this category - at least for the first two adjectives.] Bennett and Phillipa are both nice people, sure, but I just don't see why their relationship takes off so quickly, with no trouble going from hello to kisses to making love to declaring love to talking about marriage (though actually that happens before some of those other ones) ... which brings me to another point ...

There are no obstacles in their romantic relationship!!! Well save one, to be fair, which was in fact a good one: she likes to stay at home and read, he's Mr. Adventure, so how is a real, lasting relationship (i.e. marriage) going to work for them? This was an interesting twist because it was a real consideration that is similar to the problems that nowaday long-distance relationships face. However during the book it isn't really dissected, just mentioned repeatedly and put aside; then in the end, it's resolved very nicely and quickly (TOO nicely and quickly). Other than that though, which wasn't even fully explored, any hurdles placed by themselves or other characters were either completely missing or not very substantial. I *HATE* books that have those big misunderstandings or throw obstacle after obstacle in front of the main characters for no apparent reason, but can't there be a happy balance between those two extremes??

Finally, the whole "Adventurers' Club" was a little ridiculous and when that's first introduced in the beginning of the book my reaction was "What? This seems very contrived ... Maybe it's going to be made into a series?" ... Which I then discovered it is. I don't understand the purpose of the club, don't see it's use or understand how it works or why it exists, etc. - basically it's all a huge contrivance.

I feel very bad about giving such a negative review for a Suzanne Enoch book, but I was so disappointed! She has such talent and has written other novels that literally have me going to sleep with a smile on my face and waking up the next morning wanting to read the book all over again; The Care and Taming of a Rogue in no way compares to those books. There were some funny moments, some sweet ones, Kero (Bennett's pet monkey) was a great addition, but check it out from the library if you're set on reading it, don't buy it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts): Naked in Death


Naked in Death
Series: In Death, Book 1
Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb

First Release: June 30, 1995
List Price: $7.99

Read: October 7-8, 2009
My Rating:

Author Homepage | J.D. Robb Page |

SUMMARY (from inside front page)
Eve Dallas is a New York police lieutenant hunting for a ruthless killer. In more than ten years on the force, she's seen it all - and knows that her survival depends on her instincts. And she's going against every warning telling her not to get involved with Roarke, an Irish billionaire - and a suspect in Eve's murder investigation. But passion and seduction have rules of their own, and it's up to Eve to take a chance in the arms of a man she knows nothing about - except the addictive hunger of needing his touch.

Naked in Death is absolutely fantastic - both a great romance and a wonderful murder mystery. I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of the books in this series and seeing the relationship between Eve and Roarke progress and continue to develop; they are both fantastic characters and complement one another very well. Definitely one of my favorite books by Nora Roberts so far, if not my favorite - it's hard to decide, because she does have some really great ones. Is automatically going on my "to-buy" list!

Naked in Death is followed by Glory in Death, Book 2.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Jennifer Crusie: Getting Rid of Bradley


Getting Rid of Bradley
Author: Jennifer Crusie
Release: November 30, 1994
List Price: $6.99

Read: October 7-8, 2009
My Rating:

Author Homepage | Book Page | Excerpt |

SUMMARY (from inside flaps)
High school physics teacher Lucy Savage is finally getting rid of Bradley - and his hideous green recliner. In fact, her front lawn is littered with her cheating ex-husband's belongings. Because despite standing her up in divorce court, Bradley is out of her life for good. Or so she thinks.

When her sister takes her to lunch to celebrate Lucy's single status, all their talk of a no-good louse named Bradley catches the attention of a cop - who wants to arrest the very same Bradley fro embezzlement. And Officer Zach Warren figures the lovely Lucy can lead him straight to his target.

When someone shoots at Lucy and then blows up her car, Zach insists she needs twenty-four-hour protection. What does he think her three dogs and attack cat are for? Still, he insists on moving right in to Lucy's house.

Now there's danger lurking outside and in her own kitchen, bathroom - and bedroom. Or maybe Zach, who looks like a bad boy with that shaggy dark hair and black leather jacket, is really one of the good guys, and just what Lucy needs.

Getting Rid of Bradley was a wonderful, light, breezy, and humorous book that I would definitely recommend. Reads very quickly and in a way it almost feels like a short story.

The two main characters, Lucy and Zach, are absolutely great and the type that you would have love to have as friends. Lucy is hysterical, I loved her dogs and self-reflections, and the whole blinking gag throughout the book was funny. Zach is extremely intense and energetic and is himself also hysterical; he's perfect for Lucy and they counterbalance one another very well. Their interactions were charming and Zach is so sweet to Lucy and says/thinks/does wonderful things that just made me sigh and wish for my own Detective Zach Warren.

The supporting characters were extremely well done, especially Anthony (Zach's partner) and Tina (Lucy's sister). They both made the story that much better, that much more entertaining, and that much funnier.

Jennifer Crusie has written some great other books, including Bet Me (5 stars - FANTASTIC!; read my review here), Manhunting (3.5 to 4 stars), and Anyone But You (3.5 stars; read this review).

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Rachel Gibson: Tangled Up In You


Tangled Up In You
Series: Writer Friends, Book 3
Rachel Gibson

Release: July 31, 2007
List Price: $7.99

Read: October 5-7, 2009
My Rating:

Author Homepage | Book Page | Excerpt |

SUMMARY (from back cover)
Maddie is determined to uncover the untold story about the town's sordid past - her past. As a child, Maddie lost everything, and now she's back at the scene of the scandal - a local establishment that's always belonged to the Hennessys - determined to uncover the truth, and nothing is going to stand in her way. Especially not a black-haired, blue-eyed Hennessy.

Everyone in Truly knows that the Hennessy men are irresistible, and the current owner, Mick, is no exception. His late father was a skirt-chasing heartbreaker who ended up causing disaster for two families. So far, Mick's managed to keep the ladies in line, but when he claps eyes on Maddie, with her luscious curves and tempting lips, he can't resist getting tangled up with her.

But Maddie is keeping secrets, not the least of which is her true reason for being in town. And when Mick discovers what‘s really going on, there is going to be a whole lot of trouble in Truly.

SERIES: Writer Friends
  1. Sex, Lies, and Online Dating - Lucy Rothschild and Quinn McIntyre, detective
  2. I'm In No Mood for Love - Clare Wingate and Sebastian Vaughan, international journalist
  3. Tangled Up In You - Madeline Jones and Mick Hennessy, ex-military and current bar owner
  4. Not Another Bad Date - Adele Harris and Zach Zemaitis, high school football coach
Gibson's four-book series follows the happy-ever-after of four friends living in Boise, Idaho who are all writers. They each write in different genres: Lucy writes murder mysteries, Clare romance, Maddie true crime, and Adele science fiction.

Tangled Up In You is a decent read; got it from the library and am glad I didn't buy it. Not a waste of time, but not a reread. Gibson has definitely written better (i.e. See Jane Score, Truly Madly Yours, and It Must Be Love)!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Nora Roberts: Finding the Dream


Finding the Dream
Series: Dream Trilogy, Book 3
Nora Roberts

Release: July 31, 1997
List Price: $7.99

Read: September 28-29, 2009
My Rating:

Author Homepage |

SUMMARY (from online)
Nora Roberts presents the final novel in a dramatic trilogy. Margo, Kate, and Laura were brought up like sisters amidst the peerless grandeur of Templeton House. But it was Laura who seemed to have it all - until she lost almost everything and had to begin again ...

Laura Templeton found out the hard way that nothing in life is guaranteed. The daughter of a wealthy hotelier, she had always known comfort, privilege, and security. But by the age of thirty, her storybook marriage had been destroyed by her husband's infidelity. Laura's divorce left her both emotionally and financially devastated - but determined to rebuild her life without the help of the Templeton fortune.

Laura had always defined herself as a wife, a daughter, or a mother. Now, she must finally discover Laura the woman ...

SERIES: The Dream Trilogy
I didn't read Book 1 of the Dream Trilogy, Daring to Dream, because the heroine just didn't really do anything for me - lol, don't mean it like that, just that Margo is beautiful and an ex-fashion model and just not really my type of heroine. She seems very nice and I like her as a supporting character in the two other books, but did not have an interest in reading her book. The second book in the series, Holding the Dream, was just as fantastic as Book 3 and I also gave it 4.5 stars.

Roberts' book summaries are very odd because I feel like they leave out so much - mainly the romance! You know it's there - that's why we read these books - but so many times the hero is hardly mentioned, if at all. This book has the wonderful hero of Michael Fury, Josh's bad-boy friend from childhood (Josh is Laura's brother). He's basically been a nomad/wanderer for most of his life, doing a variety of things - and doing them all well - and he has now recently finally settled on raising / breeding horses.

This book was absolutely *fantastic*!! I love bad-boy heroes and Michael was a great counterpart for Laura; she's so prim and proper, always doing what was right and what she felt she should do, so it was wonderful to have a guy who wanted to focus on her (and her children - the scenes between Michael and her daughters will make you go "awww" out loud), make her live on the wild side and show her passionate side, and really give her the all-consuming love she has always wanted and dreamed (haha, no pun intended) of.

Laura, the heroine of this book, is very similar to Abby O'Hurley, from Roberts' short story The Last Honest Woman, which is the first story in Born O'Hurley and Book 1 of the O'Hurley Collection (I rated that story 4.5-5 stars). Both women had horrible marriages and husbands that were complete ____ who abused them either emotionally or physically and left them in financially dire straits.

Michael, the hero, reminded me of Murphy Muldoon, from Born in Shame (rated 4 stars), in the way that they're both very comfortable with themselves, who they are, and what they want from life. They are also similar in their livelihoods, and connection to natureand the heroine of the books they're in.

The review is by Jill Clardy and is repasted below, but here is the permalink if you want to read it on the website.

Two years after her loveless 10-year marriage to Peter Ridgeway has ended, Laura Templeton is immersed in working two part-time jobs, raising her two daughters, and running the Templeton estate in Monterey. Peter managed to wipe out most of Laura's considerable assets, but she still has the home and a job working in one of the Templeton hotels. Her life is hectic and overscheduled, but basically lonely.

Enter the dark, mysterious, brooding Michael Fury. Raised nearby but on the 'wrong side of the tracks', Michael had been a good friend of Laura's brother, Josh, but had left the area right after high school to live a life of danger and adventure. Michael is back in the area, raising and breeding horses, but his stables and home were destroyed in a mudslide and Josh convinces Laura to let Michael rent her unused stables until he can rebuild.

Having married Peter at 18, Laura has little experience with dating or flirtation, and has compartmentalized and organized her life, leaving no room for dating or passion. When Michael strikes her a spark in her, she is confused and in denial, but he pursues her relentlessly. He is charming, sexy, good with animals and wonderful with her two daughters.

The usual misunderstandings, protective family, meddling friends, and circumstances attempt to thwart their romance, but after all this is a romance novel, so you know the guy gets the girl in the end. I didn't realize that the book was part of a trilogy, but the characters and scene are so captivating that the book stands alone and is a quick, entertaining, satisfying read."

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Jennifer Crusie: Anyone But You


Anyone But You
Author: Jennifer Crusie
Release: July 31, 1996
List Price: $13.22 (hardcover), $6.99 (mass market paperback)

Read: September 29-29, 2009
My Rating:

Author Homepage | Book Page | Excerpt |

SUMMARY (from inside flaps)
~ Part basset, part beagle, all Cupid ... can a matchmaking hound fetch a new love for his owner? ~

For Nina Askew, turning forty means freedom - from the ex-husband whose career always came first, from their stuffy suburban home. Freedom to have her own apartment in the city, freedom to focus on what she wants for a change. And what she wants is something her ex always vetoed - a puppy. A bouncy puppy to cheer her up. Instead she gets ... Fred.

Overweight, smelly and obviously suffering from some kind of doggy depression, Fred is light-years from perky. But for all his faults, he does manage to put Nina face-to-face with Alex Moore, her gorgeous, younger downstairs neighbor.

Alex looks great on paper - a sexy, seemingly sane, surprisingly single E.R. doctor who shares Fred's abiding love for Oreos - but a ten-year difference in age, despite his devastating smile, is too wide a gap for Nina to handle. Ignoring her insistent best friend, some interfering do-gooders and the ubiquitous Fred - not to mention her suddenly raging hormones - Nina thinks anyone but Alex would be better bet for a relationship. But with every silver-haired stiff she dates, the more she suspects it's the young dog-loving doctor she wants to sit and stay!

Crusie wrote Anyone But You in 1995 and it was a great read and highly enjoyable, but it felt more like a short story than a full-length novel. Her book, Bet Me, that I just read recently and absolutely loved, was written about 9 years later and I think she has definitely come a long way between the two.

Anyone But You still has her trademark great characters (both main and secondary - loved Charity and especially Max, Alex's brother), wonderful humorous scenes, and great romance and chemistry. But like I said, it just feels like a short story when compared to Bet Me, there just isn't the same plot development, character development, detail (scenes are mentioned - Alex and Nina have dinner as a couple with each of their families, but whereas similar dinners are described in Bet Me, here they're just referenced), etc. Still a great read though and definitely worth checking out from the library - I'm just not going to be buying my own copy.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Nora Roberts: The MacGregors - Robert & Cybil

The MacGregors - Robert & Cybil:
The Winning Hand / The Perfect Neighbor
Series: The MacGregors, Books 9 and 11
Nora Roberts

Release: December 31, 2006
List Price: $7.99

Read: October 1-2, 2009
My Overall Rating:

Author Homepage | The MacGregors | MacGregor Family Tree |

The Winning Hand
SUMMARY (from back cover)
When Darcy Wallace spends her last three dollars at the hotel casino and wins a jackpot worth almost two million dollars, all casino manager Robert MacGregor Blade wants to do is look out for her. But something about the lovely young woman is getting under Mac's skin and playing havoc with his big brotherly intentions. And to win her over, he'll have to take the biggest gamble of his life.

The Perfect Neighbor
SUMMARY (from back cover)
Brooding loner Preston McQuinn's new apartment, like his life, was just the way he wanted it - dark and empty. But when sunny Cybil Campbell came barging into his well-ordered gloom, he couldn't deny a grudging fascination with his bright, bubbly neighbor. Preston thought he'd closed the door on love for good, so why was he suddenly longing to open up his heart to his incredibly perfect neighbor?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Jennifer Crusie: Bet Me


Bet Me
Author: Jennifer Crusie
Release: July 31, 2004
List Price: $18.45 (hardcover), $4.99 (mass market paperback)

Read: September 27-27, 2009
My Rating:

Author Homepage | Book Page | Excerpt |

SUMMARY (from inside flap)
~ Minerva Dobbs knows how to work the odds. Calvin Morrisey always plays to win. But when fate deals the cards, neither one is prepared. Because when real life meets true love, all bets are off ... ~

Minerva Dobbs knows that happily-ever-after is a fairy tale, especially with a man who asked her to dinner to win a bet, even if he is gorgeous Calvin Morrisey. Cal knows commitment is impossible, especially with a woman as cranky as Min Dobbs, even if she does wear great shoes and keep him on his toes. When they say good-buy at the end of their evening, they cut their losses and agree never to see each other again.

But fate has other plans, and it's not long before Min and Cal meet again. Soon they're dealing with a jealous ex-boyfriend, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, a determined psychologist, chaos theory, a freakishly intelligent cat, Chicken Marsala, and more risky propositions than either of them ever dreamed of. Including the biggest gamble of all - true love.

In the past few months I have read many, many books and let me just say that this one is definitely one of the best that I have read in a long time. It was absolutely charming and engaging, *hysterically* funny, had fantastic primary and secondary characters, an interesting plot, witty dialogue, and on and on and on.

There are almost always things - even in an absolute-5-star-favorite book - that I would want to change if given the option, even if it's very small. Here, the ONLY thing I would want to change would be in the epilogue where it says that Cal and Min don't have kids ... in my mind, they do, the epilogue just hasn't got that far yet time-wise.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Lisa Kleypas: Tempt Me at Twilight


Tempt Me at Twilight
Series: The Hathaways, Book 3
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Release: September 22, 2009
List Price: $7.99

Read: September 22-22, 2009
My Rating:

Author Homepage | Book Page (with excerpt) |

A solid Kleypas read with a wonderful "villain" hero and another charming Hathaway sister

At last!! Another Kleypas novel - now we all just have to survive the wait for the story we've all been waiting for: Leo and "Marks" (or Catherine/Cat, which we learn in this novel is her first name). I completely agree with the reviewer Luckee that this book was definitely satisfying and enjoyable, but there was just a little something missing. Is it worth rushing out to your nearest bookstore and buying though? Yes. Will you be left feeling giddy after you read it? Yes. And are there the classic characters we all love, the chemistry Kleypas excels at writing, and the humorous and witty scenes we adore? Yes. So basically: yes, buy it, steal it, whatever, but read it!

SUMMARY (from back cover)
~ He was everything she'd sworn to avoid. ~
Poppy Hathaway loves her unconventional family, though she longs for normalcy. Then fate leads to a meeting with Harry Rutledge, an enigmatic hotel owner and inventor with wealth, power, and a dangerous hidden life. When their flirtation compromises her own reputation, Poppy shocks everyone by accepting his proposal - only to find that her new husband offers his passion, but not his trust.

~ And she was everything he needed ... ~
Harry was willing to do anything to win Poppy - except to open his heart. All his life, he has held the world at arm's length ... but the sharp, beguiling Poppy demands to be his wife in every way that matters. Still, as desire grows between them, an enemy lurks in the shadows. Now if Harry wants to keep Poppy by his side, he must forge a true union of body and soul, once and for all ...

SERIES: The Hathaways
  1. Mine Till Midnight (2007) - Amelia Hathaway and Cam Rohan
  2. Seduce Me at Sunrise (2008) - Winnifred Hathaway and Kev Merripen
  3. Tempt Me at Twilight (2009) - Poppy Hathaway and Harry Rutledge
The Hathaways Series follows the siblings of the Hathaway family. Their parents have passed away and they are now just left with one another. There's Leo, the oldest and only son, who inherits an unexpected title at the beginning of the series. Amelia is the oldest daughter and is kind of the "mother hen" of the family. Then there is Winnifred (Win), who has been severely ill for several years, followed by Poppy, who is intelligent, kind, somewhat socially awkward, and just longs for a quiet and settled family/home life with a husband and children. Finally, there is Beatrix, who adores animals - is practically obsessed - and is the baby of the family.

MAIN CHARACTERS, Harry Rutledge and Poppy Hathaway

Harry (early 30s) is a wonderful hero - the kind of bad-guy-whom-we-love-to-love hero that Kleypas created for Dreaming of You, The Devil in Winter, and Where Dreams Begin. Harry is ruthless, complex, very emotionally closed-off, and will stop at nothing to get what he wants - which usually comes very easily to him now. However he's also fair, humorous, extremely hardworking and intelligent, intense, passionate, loyal, and can be extremely tender and sensitive.

Here LK has created a "hero" à la Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent (from Devil in Winter), because as Harry himself says in the scene that was being used as the teaser-excerpt: in this story, it's the villain of the fairy-tale who gets the princess, not the prince. Harry definitely does some questionable things, though I would say that Kleypas does a very good job of having her character toe the line, but never quite crossing it - and writing him in such a way that one can't help but understand why Poppy is so attracted and drawn to him, because frankly what woman wouldn't be?! Basically, you know him ... he's the bad/cold guy who just secretly (even unconsciously) wants to love and cuddle / be loved and cuddled but was - surprise, surprise - just waiting (even if he didn't know it) for the right woman to come along. Let's not even pretend that we don't all (or okay, to be fair, *most* all of us) absolutely **LOVE** this type of hero, lol.

Poppy (23) is a great counterbalance to Harry - as he so eloquently puts it in one scene in the book when he compares her to a clock mechanism ;-). She's charming, friendly, outgoing, loving, intelligent, and a wonderful conversationalist (sounds like a mundane attribute, but really isn't in this case) who is interested by almost everything and everyone. All Poppy has ever wanted is a calm and quiet life - something not often found in the Hathaway household - with a partner whom she loves, and though she thinks she has found this in the form of Michael Bayning, Harry maneuvers everything so that ... well, let's just say that path becomes somewhat obstructed for Poppy.

I liked Poppy's freshness and honesty - there is no guile with her and it's easy to see why someone like Harry (or anyone, for that matter) would be drawn to her. One of the things I loved best about Poppy was that she wasn't written as being so perfect that it was almost hard to like her or feel any kinship with her; she has flaws - though admittedly not as many as Harry, lol - and there's one scene in particular where after speaking with Leo about something, she decides that she was in the wrong and is going to apologize. If you want to know what other LK heroines she's most like, I would probably say a combination of Sara Fielding (Dreaming of You) for her honesty and friendliness, Daisy Bowman (Scandal in Spring) for her simplicity and positivity, and Charlotte Howard (Worth Any Price) for how her relationship with the hero is portrayed and in the way that he needs/wants her.

We see lots of the whole Hathaway clan (and are given great teasers about Leo and Marks, see P.S. for more details) and the staff of the Rutledge Hotel are great additions to the book. They really add to the story, as well as giving further depth to Harry and the relationship he develops with Poppy. They also provide some wonderful humor, which is always a great thing for any romance book, and this book definitely has some of the LOL scenes that I always come to treasure in LK's novels - one of the greatest ones is when the hotel top-staff are in the kitchen discussing the intimate side (or lack thereof) of Harry and Poppy's relationship and the chef is making all these vegetable metaphors. :-))) Couldn't stop laughing!

The "there's-something-missing-but-I'm-not-exactly-sure-what" factor is hard to describe because, yes, I'm not exactly sure what it is. The whole relationship feels somewhat rushed to me and takes place over a shorter period of time than I feel is usually used in Kleypas' books (at least in her historicals). Because they know each other for so little time and the period (time-wise) that the book covers is somewhat on the short side, I think that the development of their relationship seems a little rushed or stilted, not containing as much plausible depth as some of Kleypas' other main characters, and problems that dog the story and their marriage seem to conclude almost too quickly right before the end.

Also, although the chemistry between Harry and Poppy is definitely there, it's not AS shimmery/practically-tangible as in some of her other novels. Compared to a lot of other authors out there, it's still absolutely wonderful and excellently written when it is there and you definitely will NOT feel like you were short-changed on the romance part - however compared to the first two Hathaway books (Mine Till Midnight and Seduce Me at Sunrise), it just was not as "charged."

Finally, most authors have to include some mystery/villain twist at the end and LK provides this obligatory plot twist. I myself thought it seemed a bit superfluous and could have been done without, but no more details since then I would have to include spoilers.

It's still a great read, and I definitely do NOT regret rushing out this morning and buying it at the nearest bookstore (my apologies, We're teased at the end that Summer 2010 will see - get this - TWO NEW HISTORICAL ROMANCES by LK. Yes, I know, take a moment to sit down, take a deep breath, and collect yourself (... or was that just my reaction?). They are the remaining two books in the Hathaway series: Married by Morning and Love in the Afternoon.

P.S. FOR ALL THE LEO AND MISS MARKS FANS (i.e. everyone in existence who is aware of them)
The rumor is that Married by Morning is Leo's story (and Marks/Catherine/Cat's, because really, it's just too cruel to even IMAGINE she's not his heroine) and will be the next Hathaway book released - I don't know about the rest of you, but even the thought of the Leo/Cat story has me jumping up and down like a kid in a candy store (but no pressure LK, lol). As other reviews mention, this book is choc-a-bloc FULL of little teasers and further developments in their relationship (plus some new and *very interesting* disclosures about Cat's past - though still not everything, of course). Whenever their book finally DOES come out, it will be an absolute must to reread the previous Hathaway books first so the anticipation can really build ... and then we can just wallow in enjoyment, lol. I can (seriously) barely contain my excitement - good to know I have a whole ~10 months to work on it ::sigh::.

For mini-micro-spoilers about both books (though really mini when it comes to LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON) go to this interview with Lisa Kleypas that was posted the day after this book came out. Thank you to L. ROACH for the post about it; the spoiler for MARRIED BY MORNING is absolutely great and is a definite must-read if you're left wondering about a certain exchange between Leo and Cat at the end of the book.