Monday, October 31, 2011

Review: "Dangerous" by Amanda Quick

DangerousDangerous by Amanda Quick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read somewhere that Amanda Quick's historical romance novels follow an usual "formula": a somewhat tortured hero who needs to learn how to love and laugh + a quirky heroine who marches into his life bringing said love and laughter and never takes no for an answer. Well, I happen to like that "formula" and Dangerous does follow it, so no one will see me complaining here. :)

I loved the charming and sarcastic hero (Sebastian) and the funny and indomitable heroine (Prue). Their quick banter had me laughing from the start, and it didn't take long for Sebastian to realize that he was never going to win an argument with Prue. Not because he wasn't smart or witty enough but because he just wanted to make her happy. Too melodramatic? Perhaps, but it only made me love him more.

Sebastian and Prue's relationship went kind of smoothly from the start and all the way through the end. There wasn't really any big bumps on their road to the HEA - once they got together, there was no doubt on their minds their marriage was going to work - but that doesn't mean that the journey was boring. Quite the contrary. Their common interest in investigating "unusual" things - he helped a Bow Street Runner to solve some cases as a hobby and she was an amateur ghost hunter - kept the story flowing very nicely. The whodunit mystery they ended up investigating together was actually very good. Call me naïve but I didn't guess who the killer was. Not that there were that many suspects, it was the "why" that kept escaping me.

All in all, this was a great read and my favorite book by this author. Okay, I've only read two so far, but who's counting? (LOL)

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Review: "Running with the Devil" by Lorelei James

Running with the DevilRunning with the Devil by Lorelei James

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OMG, this was a seriously hot read! Ms. James sure knows how to write steamy love scenes, and I'll never look at a motorcycle the same way I used to do before I read this book... ;)

I'm not going to give a plot summary here because the book description does the job pretty well. The story had a good setup and the mystery/suspense part was interesting, even though I guessed who the villain was pretty easily - that's what happens when you have very few secondary characters. There were some gripping moments when Drake had to stand aside and let Kenna be mauled by some bad guys, and I really related to her "discomfort" - to put it mildly. I understood his need to keep his cover but Kenna wasn't an undercover agent, so I almost hated him for having forced her into that situation. Anyway, she made him see "the errors of his way" and they had the most sizzling make-up sex on a motorcycle... Oh boy, what a ride! *fans herself*

Drake was one hot DEA agent who had never had problems focusing on the job to be done - until he met Kenna... What I loved about him was, he wasn't a sex machine who lived his life fooling around. Granted, he enjoyed a healthy sex life as much as the next guy, but he wasn't like the popular manwhore in Romancelandia who only decides to redeem himself after he finds "the one". Kenna was sexy and funny at first, but the more I knew her, the more she grated on my nerves. I'd like to say that she was too naïve but, truth be told, she came across as a bit stupid to me. Come on, did she really think an escort service that provided only escort services was for real? Sorry but that was too far-fetched to buy.

Overall, I enjoyed Ms. James' writing and I had a great time reading this book - the sexual tension between Drake and Kenna was great and that's what I want to see when I read a romantica story. This was my 1st book by this author but it won't be my last.

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Review: "The Pagan Stone" by Nora Roberts

The Pagan Stone (Sign of Seven, #3)The Pagan Stone by Nora Roberts

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Call me a wuss, but The Pagan Stone scared the living daylights out of me. NR's description of the Big Evil was so good that my vivid imagination didn't have any problem bringing it to life. I actually had to stop reading this book last night and find something "lighter" to do, because the Big Evil was the last thing I wanted to have on my mind when I turned off all the lights.

From the publisher:

Years ago, after their blood brother ritual, Gage, Fox and Caleb emerged from the woods, each with a piece of bloodstone. Now, it will become their weapon in the final fight against the demon they awakened. Winner take all...

Shared nightmares, visions of blood and fire, and random violence plague the longtime friends
and Quinn, Layla and Cybil, the women bound to them by Fate. None of them can ignore the fact that, this year, the demon has grown stronger — feeding off the terror it creates. But now the three pieces of the bloodstone have been fused back together. If only they could figure out how to use it.

A gambling man like Gage has no trouble betting on his crew to find a way. And though he and Cybil share the gift of seeing the future, that’s all they have in common. Were they to take their flirtation to the next level, it would be on their own terms, not because Fate decreed it. But Gage knows that a woman like Cybil — with her brains and strength and devastating beauty — can only bring him luck. Whether it’s good or bad has yet to be determined — and could mean the difference between absolute destruction or an end to the nightmare for Hawkins Hollow.

So it's Gage and Cybil's turn in The Pagan Stone...

Gage has been my favorite character in the trilogy since the first book. He was the loner in the group, even though his friendship with Cal and Fox was strong and undeniable. He was the one with the tortured past and the harsh demeanor. He was impatient and sometimes rude, but I never felt that he was out of line. My feelings often mirrored his while I was reading the book, and he alone got my eyes misty 3 times. Yup, one could say I felt a very strong connection with him.

I liked Cybil too. Out of the three heroines in the trilogy, she's my favorite, but that isn't saying much because I didn't really like Quinn (Blood Brothers) and Layla (The Hollow). Cybil was good for Gage and, cliché, completed him and made him a better man. The reversal was also true, and that's why their romance worked for me.

As for the war against the Big Evil, it was thrilling and scary, just like it was supposed to be. I was almost bored to tears with all the talking in the previous book and, to be fair, there's also a lot of talking about the demon in this book, but I found it more interesting this time. Probably because everything the "gang" (Cal & Quinn, Fox & Layla, and Gage & Cybil) did seemed to be more urgent and to the point, as I knew the end was coming. There were a couple of things that triggered some eye-rolling on my part, but this is a PNR novel and you have to take a leap of faith sometimes.

Overall, this was a great ending to an uneven trilogy. Blood Brothers was really good and got me hooked on it, but The Hollow was just average and slightly disappointing. I was glad to see The Pagan Stone getting the trilogy back on track and ending it on a high note.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Review: "Partners in Crime" by Anne Stuart

Partners In CrimePartners In Crime by Anne Stuart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the book blurb:

Sandy was up to no good.

As Jane Dexter scrambled to keep a secret formula from falling into the wrong hands, her hired accomplice proved useless as a jack-of-all-illegal-trades. Convinced that a gloriously sensual woman lurked beneath Jane's ho-hum outfits and non-nonsense manner, Sandy Caldicott lost all interest in illegal activities as he singlemindedly campaigned to reform Jane.

While Jane was breaking and entering with Sandy in Princeton, New Jersey, the awful truth penetrated her muddled brain. The way things were going, she was bound to end up in the arms of the law - or in the arms of a lawless, dashing, dangerously deluded criminal.


Alexander "Sandy" Caldicott was a rich and successful lawyer who was feeling a bit bored with his current life. Not even the prospect of a nice vacation in the tropics was exciting him. When mousy and plain Jane Dexter approached him with her "unusual" proposal, it was like a godsend gift. Goodbye, boredom! The thing is, due to a misprint by the newspaper, Jane believed he was Jimmy the Stoolie, an arsonist Sandy had just gotten acquitted of more-than-deserved charges. You see, she was in dire need of an arsonist because she wanted him to help her commit arson! The right thing for Sandy to do was set her straight and advise her against her criminal plan, but it had been a long time since he had so much fun so he kept the charade going. Before he knew it, he was falling in love with Jane and couldn't not help her.

I really liked Sandy and Jane. They were smart, entertaining and had great lines. He kept the deception about his true identify a little longer than I liked, but it was funny to see him try and cover his slips of the tongue - after all, he wasn't an accomplished liar... Oh wait, he was a lawyer! (LOL)

The plot twist at the end came as no surprise to me, and I still don't understand how Jane didn't see it coming. Maybe I've read too many books and I'm jaded. The villain's final act was also a bit of a disappointment. After everything that he'd done, I was braced for a big showdown, but all I got was a dull resolution.

All things considered, this was a very fun and enjoyable read marred by a somewhat unsatisfying ending.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Review: "The Hollow" by Nora Roberts

The Hollow (Sign of Seven, #2)The Hollow by Nora Roberts

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As the second book in the Sign of Seven trilogy, The Hollow continues the battle against the Big Evil that started in Blood Brothers. It helps to read the 1st book before jumping into this one, but you don't really have to because NR does a good job recapping the previous events - and she does it without making it sound like info dumping.

I'm not going to write a plot summary here because, quite frankly, the basic storyline of this book is similar to Blood Brothers's and I've already written a full review on that one. All the "gang" (Cal, Fox, Gage, Quinn, Layla and Cybil) is still trying to find the key to defeat the evil demon that plays havoc in the otherwise peaceful town of Hawkins Hollow every seven years. The only difference is, we have another main H/h working on their HEA this time: charming small town lawyer Fox O'Dell and annoying (former) big city boutique manager Layla Darnell.

Unfortunately, the romance between Fox and Layla didn't spark my interest. I didn't feel a strong emotional connection between them, which was strange considering the "psychic gift" they shared, and the sexual tension was close to nonexistent. There was no build-up to it: they acknowledge the attraction between them, he says he wants to sleep with her, she replies saying that they need to focus on vanquishing the Big Evil so he shouldn't pressure her, he agrees, yada yada yada, then she changes her mind out of the blue and decides to sleep with him after all. It was all so... unromantic.

I liked Fox well enough, but Layla grated on my nerves big time. I know I complained about Quinn, the heroine in Blood Brothers, being too assertive and I feel like I should be eating crow now. Layla was Quinn's complete opposite, and her I-don't-know-what-to-do-with-my-life attitude bugged me to the point that I wished she had been more like Quinn. NR just went from one extreme to the other when "drawing" them, and neither was very likeable.

As for the suspense/PNR part of the story, it was good but not too thrilling. At times, all they did was sit and talk, talk, talk... until my eyes started to glaze and I had to take a break. Thankfully, the sporadic demon's attacks were entertaining and scary, and kept me from being bored to tears. Overall, the "gang" made some progress in their battle against the Big Evil, but there was no resolution in sight yet - which was expected, considering there's still one more book to go in this trilogy.

All in all, this was just an OK read. It was kind of disappointing because I expected more from it, but it wasn't bad. I feel the next and last book, The Pagan Stone, will be better - not only because Gage and Cybil are more interesting than Fox and Layla, but also because I'll finally find out how the Big Evil will be defeated. Or will he?

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Review: "Wishing for Grace" by Inez Kelley

Wishing for GraceWishing for Grace by Inez Kelley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Twenty-six amazing pages filled with emotion. I'm amazed at the impact Ms. Kelley was able to deliver in such a short story. I even cried! Not only once, but twice! Have I mentioned that this story has only twenty-six pages? Fan-tas-tic!

Note: This story is a follow-up to Turn It Up and I highly recommend that you read that book before diving into this little emotional rollercoaster. You won't regret it.

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Review: "Turn It Up" by Inez Kelley

Turn It UpTurn It Up by Inez Kelley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I decided to read this book for two reasons: (1) I liked the premise - how often do you see a romance book where the hero withholds sex to convince the heroine about his good intentions towards her? - and (2) I loved, loved, loved Sweet as Sin, my introduction to Ms. Kelley's work.

So, did it live up to my expectations? I'm glad to say it did, even though it didn't reach the 5-star rating. :)

Dr. Sebastian "Bastian" Talbot and radio host Charlie (that's her name, not a nickname) Pierce have been best friends for years, always there for each other through thick and thin. Somewhere down the road, she roped him into guest speaking on her late night radio talk show and their flirty banter was such a hit with listeners, she invited him to co-host a radio talk show with her. Now he can be found either working gruelling shifts at the ER day and night, at the mercy of whoever defines the department work schedule, or co-hosting Let’s Talk about Sex with Dr. Hot and the Honeypot with Charlie, three nights a week.

Dr. Hot and the Honeypot:

Photobucket Photobucket

Bastian's friendship is Charlie's anchor, the one thing she values the most in her life. He feels the same about her, but can't help wanting more than just being her best friend. His feelings for her have changed over the years and now he wants to marry her and make love with her - in that order! Unfortunately for him, she doesn't believe in love, HEA is just a myth to her and, worse, she gets angry at him for threatening their friendship with his "love and marriage" talk. She thinks that it's only lust and he just wants to have sex with her, like every guy she's met since her boobs made an appearance in her early teens.

Decided to prove to her that he's serious about his marriage proposal and having sex with her, while it's definitely part of the package, isn't what's moving him, Bastian comes up with the ultimate plan: he won't have sex with her (or anyone else, for that matter) until she accepts to marry him! On her part, Charlie bets she can make him change his mind, therefore proving that sex is really what's driven him to confess his love for her. And so the battle of wills begins... Who will cave first and lose the bet? Well, I've found out, but I can't tell you. ;)

What I can tell is, I wanted Bastian. To win the battle, that is. *lusty grin* He wasn't the kind of hero I'm used to find in Romancelandia and that was refreshing. He was very open about his feelings and had no qualms about putting his heart on the line - over and over again, no matter how many times Charlie tried to step on it. That didn't mean he was a pushover, of couse. He was just determined to win her heart in return, something he was sure he was going to get as soon as she stopped running from her own feelings.

Charlie was more difficult to like. What woman in the world wouldn't want to be loved by Bastian? Okay, I'm kidding. That isn't the reason I didn't quite connect with Charlie. My main "problem" with her was, her conflicting emotions drove me a little nuts. She loved him. She didn't love him. She wanted him. She didn't want him. She truly loved him. Or maybe not. Ack! As much as I understood her awareness of getting emotionally involved with Bastian, she took a bit too long to overcome it - and when she did, it seemed rushed. I know, I'm not making much sense here, but that's how I felt. I mean, she'd had all those relationship hang-ups because of her mother's behavior since she was only a child, so I didn't believe that a "simple" conversation with her mother was all it took to get her over them. That was too close to a Big Misunderstanding for comfort.

Besides that, I still don't know what to think of Charlie's morals... I mean, she wasn't loose or slutty, but she did something in the early stage of her friendship with Bastian that is a big no-no in my book. Bastian was married at the time but his marriage was about to crash and burn, so he was an emotional wreck. In order to give him some solace, Charlie offered herself to him. Sexually, with no strings attached. Heck no, woman! The man was married. Married! Ugh, I did not like that and I'm afraid it tainted my perception of her throughout the book.

Regardless, I liked Bastian and Charlie together. Sure, I still think he deserved better, but she was the one he loved and she was nice and fun when she wasn't struggling with herself. They had great chemistry, their banter as Dr. Hot and the the Honeypot was funny and endearing at the same time, and the sexual buildup was hawt!

If you like friends-to-lovers stories, you'll most certainly enjoy this book. If it wasn't for Charlie, this would have been a 5-star read to me.

Note 1: I received this eARC from Carina Press via NetGalley. That had no influence on my review/rating.

Note 2: Pictures were taken from Inez Kelley's website, where you can find some very interesting free stuff, like Bastian's brother Caz's short story.

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Review: "Hired for her Pleasure"

Hired for Her PleasureHired for Her Pleasure by Bonnie Dee

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An escort?! As the hero in a romance book? Gasp! Oh Lord, what a jolt in my prudish - yeah, right! ;) - heart...

Monica Brennerman is a twenty-seven-year-old writer who suffers from severe agoraphobia. So severe that she can't even make herself go outdoors in her own backyard. She isn't happy about her situation, but she can't shake herself out of it, no matter how much her mother and sister try to help her. One night, feeling kind of lustful and lonely, she logs on the internet and orders herself an escort - because, you know, there are some things that even the best vibrator can't do. ;)

Twenty-three-year-old Ryan Hayes is a starving college student who desperately needs money to keep his Alzheimer's suffering grandmother in a decent nursing home. He doesn't mind living in a cockroach-infested appartment, but his grandmother deserves the best for all she's done for him since childhood. So what's a boy to do under such circumstance? Become a high-end prostitute, of course!

Ryan's first client turns out to be Monica and they hit it off - on and off the bed - right away. The problem is, neither can forget that they aren't "normal" people having a date, so when the night is over, he leaves without knowing if he'll ever see her again. Oh, she does want to see him again, but she can't afford another date appointment with him... unless she doesn't have to eat everyday and manages to save some extra money. Desperate times call for desperate measures!

As Ryan and Monica meet again and again, their feelings get in the way of their "business transaction" and insecurity enters the picture. Can they get past their personal problems and find a way to be together for good? Grandma still needs care, so it isn't like Ryan can quit his job in a blink of an eye. Is Monica willing to share him with his clients? Hmmm...

I've got to say that when I started reading this book, I thought Ryan would be a "fake" escort whose first client turns out to be the love of his life and he would never have to service any other client. Well, I was wrong and Ms. Dee didn't shy away from describing Ryan's appointments. Let me tell you, he deserved being well paid for some of the stuff his kinky clients asked him to do. Strangely enough, that part of Ryan's life didn't turn me off as I'd expected - probably because Ms. Dee wouldn't stop stating how much he disliked what he did. That was fine at first, but it became too much halfway through the story because it felt like Ms. Dee was trying too hard to make me "forgive" him for being a prostitute. He didn't need to be "forgiven", he needed to get out of it if that bothered him that much.

Monica's agoraphobia was a nice and believable plot device to make me sympathize with her hiring an escort to fulfill her sexual needs. As someone who never left her house, how else was she supposed to find a sex partner, right? ;) Thankfully, that was the only time her disorder played a major role in Ryan and Monica's relationship. He didn't become her ultimate savior, the man who helped her work through her problems and taught her how to find her place in the outside world again. Nope. She managed to work on that without him, with the meddling but loving help of her mother and sister, and I was glad it was done that way. After all, she might be in love with Ryan, but he wasn't the answer to all her problems.

As this is an erotica/romantica novel, let's talk about the sex scenes, shall we? They were hot, diverse and, yes, kinky. There was masturbation, missionary/conventional sex, "backdoor" loving, some D/s play, a rape fantasy scene, ménage... and that's when things got a little too crazy for me. **SPOILER** Even though Monica was the one who wanted to have a ménage session with Ryan and another man, she didn't feel quite at ease when reality hit and Travis, "the other man" Ryan chose for her, started to make his moves on her. Maybe she'd have felt more comfortable if Ryan had arrived with Travis, but he was late and she was left to her own devices. Sensing how jittery she is, Travis offers her some Ecstasy "to loosen her up and enhance her experience that evening" and, instead of "Just Saying No", she takes the small tablet and swallows it with a sip of margarita. Way to go, Monica! That will definitely make you enjoy the ménage better! When Ryan finally arrives, she's higher than a kite and eager to get things started. Intrigued by her behavior, he asks Travis what he's given her. Does Ryan beat the crap out of his co-worker when he learns that Monica has been drugged? No! He chastises Travis very lightly, asks Monica if she's okay and then joins them in all his randy glory, determined to fulfill her ultimate fantasy. Gah! Call me a narrow-minded prude, but I hated how both Monica and Ryan didn't think much of taking drugs like that. At one point, I wasn't sure anymore if Monica knew what she was doing! **END SPOILER**

All things considered, this was still a good read. I like Ms. Dee's writing, the premise of the book and its development were nicely done, the characters (including the secondary ones) were likable and the sex scenes where sizzling hot - minus the one I mentioned in the spoiler above, that is. Do I recommend this bok? Well, if you don't mind being constantly reminded how "saintly" Ryan is and you have no issues regarding what happens between three two and a half consenting adults, I say it's worth giving it a try.

Note: Even though I've mentioned Ryan's and Monica's age in my review, I'm not sure how old they really are because somewhere near the end of the book, Ryan himself says he's six years younger than her. As far I as know, twenty-seven minus twenty-three equals four. I'm not a math genius, but I'm positive about that, LOL.

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Review: "Blood Brothers" by Nora Roberts

Blood Brothers (Sign of Seven, #1)Blood Brothers by Nora Roberts

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm a Noraholic but I was a bit disappointed with the last NR books I read, the Key trilogy, so I didn't know what to expect from this book. As I've learned the hard way, high expectations can be deadly, so my wariness towards this new trilogy ended up working in its favor as I really enjoyed this first book in the series and I'm definitely going to read the next ones.

Caleb Hawkins, Fox O'Dell and Gage Turner shared the same birthday (July 7th, 1977) and had been best friends their whole lives. On their tenth birthday, they decided to celebrate the date at the Pagan Stone, a somewhat "mystical" place deep in the woods of Hawkins Hollow where an ancient battle of good vs evil had taken place more than three hundred years before. In a typical behavior of ten-year-old boys - well, typical for the PNR world -, they soon came up with the idea of becoming "blood brothers" at midnight, right on time with the moment the seventh day of the sevnth month was born. As we all know, seven is a cabalistic number so it's a sure bet no good deed came from that... When Cal, Fox and Gage joined their cut wrists and mixed their blood, the demon who had been trapped in the aforementioned battle was released and the three boys' lives were changed forever. From that moment on, all hell broke loose in the town of Hawkins Hollow around July 7th every 7 years. Animals attacked their beloved owners, people went crazy, killed each other then themselves, it was mayhem all over town. Now, almost twenty-one years after their blood pact, Cal, Fox and Gage were still trying, with no success so far, to find a way to vanquish the demon they had inadvertently released. Unfortunately, the demon's evil power had grown stronger over the years and, this time around, they had to put a definitive end to this war - or die trying.

Blood Brothers was Cal's book, but Fox and Gage played very strong secondary characters in the story. I loved seeing them interact with each other, and I think NR is a master at writing male-male friendship. I admit I enjoyed reading their scenes together better than I liked seeing Cal with Quinn, and there was my "problem" with this book. Quinn - I hated the name, I had to keep reminding myself it was the heroine's and not some guy's name - was okay but a bit too assertive. I've seen her type before and it's fair to say she was a typical NR heroine, which I usually have no problem with, but something was missing in her character and I didn't connect with her. As a result, the romance part of this book wasn't as exciting as I wanted it to be. Cal and Quinn made a nice couple, but their journey to their HEA was lukewarm and kind of boring. A little bit of angst and conflict in their relationship would have been more than welcome, IMHO.

What saved this book for me was the PNR/suspense part. It was very well done, and I got goosebumps every time the demon made an appearance. Maybe I'm easily scared, but I made sure my bedroom window was tightly shut and the curtains were firmly closed when I went to sleep after finishing this book, LOL. After all the build-up, the ending wasn't as frightening as I was expecting but that was fine considering this was only the 1st book in the series and the "final battle" had yet to happen.

All in all, this was a very good start to the Sign of Seven trilogy and I can't wait to read Fox's and Gage's books. I sense The Pagan Stone, Gage's book, is going to be the best in the series, since he's the most complex and tortured of the three heroes. We shall see...

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Review: "Ransom" by Julie Garwood

Ransom (Highlands' Lairds, #2)Ransom by Julie Garwood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was only my 2nd book by Julie Garwood, following The Secret, and I think I found a new (to me) author to glom. I just loved these books!

Brodick Buchanan was a secondary character in The Secret that had "hero" tattooed on his forehead, so I was more than happy when I found out that Ransom was "his" book. He was the typical alpha hero and we all know what happens when this kind fall in love. They fall hard and forever, but not always have the grace of acknowledging the fall, LOL. Brodick was just like that, and it was funny to see him trying to deal with it. When he told Gillian that she loved him, I giggled like a schoolgirl. And when he tricked her into marrying him, I laughed like a lunatic. That was one short-lived Big Misunderstanding I had no problem with. "On a horse? I was married on a horse?" Too funny! I doubt Brodick would get away with his antics in real life but he just turned out to be one of my favorite heroes in Romancelandia.

Gillian was perfect match for Brodick. She didn't need to be coddled, which was refreshing when it comes to heroines in Romancelandia. Not that she was harsh or anything like that, she was just strong and independent. And yet, once she fell in love with Brodick, she wasn't afraid to admit she needed him to make her happier and she enjoyed talking and sharing her feelings with him. If I have a minor quibble about her, it's her behavior near the end of the story, when she almost drove her uncle crazy with her crying over Brodick: it was a bit out of character but, all things considered, it didn't bother me much. It did make me smile imagining her uncle's "suffering". :)

As for the plot, I was a little confused in the beginning: there were so many players and so much going on that I felt kind of dizzy. Why hadn't Gillian been killed by the villainous Baron Alford? Was Gillian's sister truly alive? How did Gillian and Alec meet considering how prisoners are supposed to be kept isolated? So many questions... Thankfully, everything started making sense soon enough and there was no stopping after that. Great story!

There was a secondary love story involving Ramsey Sinclair, a friend of Brodick's who also appeared in The Secret, and Bridgid, a member of the Sinclair clan. It was nice, funny but underdeveloped. Ramsey and Bridgid were very interesting characters, their (few) interactions were funny and entertaining, and I think they deserved a book fully dedicated to telling their story. I didn't get to see the build-up of their relationship, especially on Ramsey's side, so it was kind of disappointing to see their HEA crammed into Brodick and Gillian's.

This was a long book (546 pages) but, frankly, it didn't feel like it. It was filled with romance (duh!), humor, action, intrigue, suspense, some angst, and wonderful characters that I couldn't help but love. A true keeper!

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Review: "More Than a Mistress" by Mary Balogh

More Than a Mistress (Dudley, #1)More Than a Mistress by Mary Balogh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm going to start repeating myself, but I just love Ms. Balogh's writing! No other modern author is as apt at "transporting" me to Regency London as her. All it takes is the first paragraph, and the setting is crystal clear in my mind and I find myself in another time and space. More Than a Mistress was no exception: I was captivated from the start, and Jocelyn and Jane were another great couple to be added to my all-time favorite H/h in Romancelandia.

Let me admit that I thought I would have some difficulty adjusting to the hero's name, Jocelyn, since it isn't a name I'm used to associating with a man. And I remembered complaining about the heroine's name in another book I had read recently, so I knew I was shallow enough to care about that, LOL. Well, Ms. Balogh could have named Jocelyn anything she wanted and I would still not be bothered! Yes, I was that entranced by him and Ms. Balogh even managed to make the first time Jane said his name a special and touching moment. *sighs*

This was neither a love-at-first-sight or lust-at-first-sight tale. There wasn't even a spark of physical attraction between Jocelyn and Jane when they first met. This was a story about two people getting to know each other, opening up emotionally and falling steadily in love. And the build up was fully packed with emotion and sensual awareness: their first kiss, their first waltz... I could see them falling in love before my eyes, and I couldn't have been happier. They were just perfectly matched!

Now, I have to make a special remark about the ending... There's an unpublished epilogue on Ms. Balogh's website that should have never been cut during editing, IMHO. Okay, the epilogue wasn't really necessary to give closure to the story - everything was pretty much wrapped up by the end of the book the way it was published - but that "extra moment" with Jocelyn and Jane gave the certainty that he had truly conquered his past "demons" and was finally at peace. Not to mention that it was more than nice to see them frolicking in the grass... ;)

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Review: "The Wild Child" by Mary Jo Putney

The Wild Child (The Bride Trilogy, #1)The Wild Child by Mary Jo Putney

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked this book up randomly at the bookstore and, before I knew it, I had read the first six chapters and was on my way to skimming the rest of the story. Before the store clerk approached me and demanded me to buy the darn book already, I decided to save him the trouble and went straight to the cashier - with the book in hand, of course! :)

Considering the fact that I couldn't stop reading the book at the store, I was more than certain that I would love it. What can I say? It's good to be right! (LOL) As I write this, this gem is sitting neatly on my keepers shelf.

I really enjoyed MJP's writing. I'm not a big fan of overly descriptive scenes and, considering how Meriel, the heroine, was basically mute for more than half of the story, I was wondering how MJP would pull this off. Not to mention her relationship with Dominic, the hero. If she didn't speak, how could they communicate? And if they didn't communicate, how could they fall in love with each other in a believable way? Well, MJP made it all work! Her descriptions of Meriel's flower arrangements and her garden were so vivid, I could almost see them. No wonder Dominic was fascinated by her, and the more time he spent with her, the more he got to know her and see behind her facade. From there to falling in love with her, it was only a matter of time.

Meriel was not a typical heroine. Although stunningly beautiful - in the eyes of Dominic, anyway -, she started out as a rather selfish person. I understood why she chose to retreat into her own world - aside from the whole murdering of her parents and her being kidnapped at the young age of five, there was one particular event that had me cringing in horror even though she herself didn't seem to pay much importance to it - and I never blamed her for it, but it prevented her from maturing. She was just too comfortable living as she pleased and having every one of her whims fulfilled - after all, she was "mad". In a way, the way she seduced Dominic was the ultimate example of her selfishness because she wasn't thinking about anything else but her own wishes. Was it wrong of her? Was she despicable? No, because there wasn't any malice in her mind. She just didn't understand the so-called "society´s rules of proper behavior". It took Dominic's love to make her finally grow up and take responsability for her own life. But her journey back to a "normal" life wasn't an easy one - as it shouldn't have been - and I had a very fretful moment when she was sent to the asylum. Thankfully, she had Dominic...

And what a wonderful hero Dominic was! Decent, sensitive and caring, he started courting Meriel out of deceit, pretending to be his twin brother Kyle. But he wasn't comfortable with it and never intended to hurt any part involved. Unfortunately, that was bound to happen once he fell in love with Meriel and he had to choose between saving her life or betraying his estranged brother. There wasn't any doubt about what he would choose to do, but it wasn't an easy decision and I could really feel how much he regretted having to hurt Kyle. I have to say, MJP's depiction of Dominic and Kyle's relationship was as powerful as Dominic and Meriel's, and I really rooted for the two brothers' reconciliation. As this is a romance novel, Dominic and Meriel's HEA was a given, but I wasn't sure how, and if, Dominic and Kyle would ever make amends.

The Wild Child was basically focused on Dominic and Meriel, their growing relationship and her slow but steady "recovery", but there was room for a bunch of interesting secondary characters: the already mentioned Kyle, Meriel's uncles and aunts, her Indian servant Kamal, her childhood friend Jena, Dominic's sister Lucia... All of them were three-dimensional people and had stories of their own but, all the while, didn't detract from the main storyline. They actually added to it, since they were all connected.

The "unexpected" villain in the end wasn't much a surprise for me. Suspicious that I am, I saw it coming a mile away, but this wasn't a romantic suspense so there was nothing wrong with that. In fact, it was a nice way to set everything "right". I also loved the epilogue, because I got to see that Meriel would never be a "normal" woman and, especially, that Dominic had learned that being "mad" once in a while had its advantages... ;)

This was my first book by MJP but I can safely say it won't be my last!

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Review: "Bodyguard" by Beverly Havlir

BodyguardBodyguard by Beverly Havlir

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. There's nothing new in terms of plotline: hero is a cop who is assigned to protect heroine 24/7, their closed proximity ends up heating up the sheets, bad guy tricks them and almost kills her, hero saves heroine's life, and they live HEA. I happen to like this kind of story, so this book was almost like a comfort read for me... I said "almost" because no one could be really comfortable with the sizzling, steamy sex scenes. I was hot and bothered! ;)

A few more pages would have improved the story. Nick and Paige needed more time together to make me believe they were truly in love - and not only in lust - with each other by the end of the book. And there was something missing in the way they settled things before the HEA. I don't know, it was kind of tepid. Anyway, they felt right together and I didn't doubt they were going to have a lot of fun with each other.

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Review: "His Bare Obsession" by Lacey Thorn

His Bare Obsession (Bare Love, #1)His Bare Obsession by Lacey Thorn

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Here's a quick quizz to help you decide if this book is for you:

1. The night you gave your virginity away, were you able to go for another four rounds with your well-endowned boyfriend without bleeding to death?

2. The morning after, did you two have an epiphany, realize you were in love and start planning the future together?

3. Did you think about your future brother-in-law's sex life when you were introduced to him, just because there was "something dark" in his eyes?

4. That same night, while you and your beloved husband-to be were cuddling in bed, did he reveal all his brother's sexual kinks to you, neverminding that you had just met the guy?

5. If a killer was after you, would you make plans to set yourself as bait without telling your police detective husband-to-be?

If you answered "yes" to all the questions above, you're Moira - the heroine of this book - and you creeped the heck out of me. *shudders*

And if that wasn't enough, this book had some of the strangest dialogues I've ever read. Who talks like that? No one!

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Review: "Pursuit" by Elizabeth Jennings

PursuitPursuit by Elizabeth Jennings

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm a fan of Lisa Marie Rice's work, so I'm glad to say that I also enjoyed my first read of her writing as Elizabeth Jennings.

Matt was the typical LMR hero: all it took was one look - at a distance, no less! - and he fell for Charlotte. From that moment on, he decided she was "the one" and, as soon as he was good and ready, moved in with her and went into full protective mode. Put it like that, one could think Matt was nothing more than a dominant and pushy alpha, but that would be wrong. He was actually sweet and romantic in his silent "courtship" of Charlotte, leaving those small gifts at her doorstep while giving both of them time to heal themselves before finally meeting. Awww...

Charlotte was a bit stronger than the typical LMR heroine, who's usually defenseless and totally dependent on the hero for her protection. Matt's help was most welcome, of course, but Charlotte actually had done a decent job escaping her hometown and taking care of herself before she met him. Did she manage to fool the assassin hired to track her down? No, but she gave him a good run for his money. Not to mention the final showdown... :)

There were a lot of scenes from the villains' POV, and I found myself skimming through some of them. Okay, I got the point, it was important to show what the villains were doing in their pursuit of Charlotte and how close they were to find her, but I didn't need a step-by-step account of their actions. I made the same "complaint" when I read book:Woman on the Run|922119] and I heard one of her Dangerous books, that I haven't read yet, has the same "problem", so I'm beginning to think LMR likes this writing style. I only wish she toned it down.

Note: Matt had a friend, Tom Reich, that I wouldn't mind seeing again. As of now, LMR hasn't written "his" book and, as far as I know, doesn't have immediate plans to do so, but one can only hope... ;)[

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Review: "Claiming the Highlander" by Kinley MacGregor

Claiming the Highlander (Brotherhood/MacAllister, #2)Claiming the Highlander by Kinley MacGregor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kinley MacGregor's books are known to be funny and fast-paced, and I think this book is a good example of that. I was in the mood for something light, so I really enjoyed this read.

Braden and Maggie were very likable, and I especially enjoyed seeing the small glimpses of their childhood friendship. Close in age, they had known each other since forever and it was charming to see them remember the several encounters they'd had over the years. They didn't know it - well, Braden didn't know it - but they belonged together since he first "saved her life", when she was only a fiery seven-year-old girl and he was a ten-year-old lad.

The story took place mostly "on the road", following Maggie, Braden and his brother Sin on the way to try and negotiate peace with the MacDouglas's, a feuding clan of the MacAllister's. Obviously, Braden found himself falling in love with Maggie during their journey, finally catching up with her, who had always loved him. I kept wondering if Sin felt like a "third wheel" there, but I guess he was just cool and sarcastic enough not to care.

As for the feud between the MacAllisters and the MacDouglases, I thought it was too easily solved. Call me bloodthirsty, but I wanted to see striking swords and battered bodies - something grand like what happened in the end of Master of Desire, the 1st book in the series. Oh well, it was nice enough to see Braden say he would die for Maggie, though. :)

In the end, I closed the book with a smile on my face and the assurance that I can always count on Ms. MacGregor to deliver a quick and amusing read.

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