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?