Sunday, December 18, 2011

Review: "Glass Houses" by Anne Stuart

Glass Houses (American Romance, 311)Glass Houses by Anne Stuart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What can I say? This was another winner by Anne Stuart, who's quickly become my all-time favorite HQ author. Okay, I know she doesn't write for HQ anymore, but I've only discovered her recently so her "oldies" are all "newbies" to me. This was "only" my tenth book by her, and I couldn't be happier knowing there's still a lot of books to read considering how huge her backlist is.

Glass Houses is one of those stories about a couple who love to hate - or hate to love - each other. This kind of plot is fairly common in Romancelandia, but trust Ms. Stuart to deliver something that's entertaining, sometimes funny, sometimes intriguing, and always romantic.

Billionaire Michael Dubrovnik wants to buy the Glass House, an old glass building owned by Laura de Kelsey Winston, so he can tear it down and build his own Dubrovnik Plaza, a new, gigantic, modern building that will put the Trump Plaza to shame. He's already bought all the old properties surrounding the Glass House, so the only thing preventing him from starting the construction of his multi-million dollar dream building is Laura. The stubborn woman isn't willing to sell the Glass House and has refused every single buying offer he's made. Michael hasn't become a billionaire by taking no for an answer, so when his lawyer tells him his latest and more than generous offer was rebuffed - again! -, he knows it's time he changed tactics. If the woman wants war, he's more than happy to oblige.

Laura loves her Glass House, which was built by her grandfather, and the last thing she wants is to see it on the ground. She knows the old building needs some heavy maintenance and she doesn't have the money to do all of it, but she's not about to sell it to Michael and let him destroy her grandfather's work. The ruthless man needs to know that he can't always have everything he wants, and she's just the woman to enlighten him. And so it begins, the battle between Michael and Laura that ends up shaking more than the Glass House building foundation. ;)

I really loved Michael and Laura's interactions. They were both stubborn but smart, and it was funny to try and guess what they were willing to do to win their private "war". I thought he went a little too far near the end and I was afraid she wouldn't be able to forgive him, but he made up for it in a very big and sweet way.

There was a secondary love story involving Laura's assistant and one of her clients but, quite frankly, I didn't care much for it. It was nice, but I wanted to read more about Michael and Laura, their witty banter, smoldering kisses and scorching love scenes.

There was also a somewhat weak mystery involving blackmail attempts against almost all the characters in the story. Again, I didn't think it added much to the story because it was pretty obvious who the blackmailer was. The only good thing that came out of this blackmailing business was a very hot scene between Michael and Laura while they were waiting to catch the blackmailer "with his/her hands in the cookie jar", so to speak. ;)

All things considered, this was a very entertaining and worth-reading book by Ms. Stuart.

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Review: "Secret Santa" by Janelle Denison, Isabel Sharpe, Jennifer LaBrecque

Secret Santa (Anthology) (Harlequin Blaze, #292)Secret Santa (Anthology) by Janelle Denison

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This anthology contains 3 loosely related short stories: all the H/h work for Connoisseur, a food and travel magazine, and the stories take place during the week before Christmas and kick off with the Secret Santa played in the office. There's no need to read the stories in any particular order - or even read all of them, for that matter.

He'd Better Watch Out by Janelle Denison (4 stars)

Nice H/h with good chemistry and interesting plot with a touch of humor. There wasn't a definite HEA but that was good considering the whole story lasted only a week. It would have been completely unbelievable to have the H/h making wedding plans in such short time. On a side note: I don't know how the hero managed to keep his job after being caught in flagrante delicto with a co-worker in the boardroom; maybe the heroine's father (his boss) was more liberal than the average employer.

The Nights Before Christmas by Isabel Sharpe (2 stars)

The hero was bland, the heroine was a stammering idiot, the secondary characters (her two friends) were annoying, the plot was unbelievable and I didn't like the author's writing - she took forever to give the readers an insight into the hero's mind, which wasn't a smart move considering how short the story was.

Mistletoe Madness by Jennifer Labrecque (5 stars)

Charming, sweet and funny H/h and well-developed plot that kept a smile on my face the whole time while I was reading this story. The HEA was completely believable considering how the H/h had known each other and had been skirting around a love/hate relationship (aka foreplay) for some years.

I'm giving this book an overal 4-star rating for the first and the last story only, as I've already erased the second one from my mind.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Review: "Christmas to Remember" by Annie Windsor

Christmas to RememberChristmas to Remember by Annie Windsor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Are you ready for Christmas yet? If you're not, this quickie might get you in the spirit to celebrate the Holidays.

Being an EC quickie, this was a hot read - of course - but the love scene (yes, singular) didn't take over the sweet, feel-good, Christmas-y theme of the story. I saw the ending coming miles away, but that didn't prevent me from enjoying this read and I finished it with a smile on my face.

Adorable hero + lovely heroine + the magic of Christmas = fun read.

Note: The book description is a bit misleading. The mention of sex toys made me think this quickie would be full of kinky love scenes, but the one love scene featured in the story was almost vanilla. It was hot, but pretty standard for an erotica/romantica read. There was no "backdoor loving", no spanking and no "crazy" sexcapades. Oh, and no sex toys were put to use in the making of this book.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Review: "Kidnapped for Christmas" by Evangeline Anderson

Kidnapped for ChristmasKidnapped for Christmas by Evangeline Anderson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Okay, I'll say it: there was nothing remotely believable in this story, but I liked it. A lot. Yes, I did!

Kyle was yummy, Jillian was very likable and the BDSM play was sexy and as light as a feather... Well, maybe not that light, but there was no humiliation, no torture, no unbearable pain and no heavy spanking with whips, riding crops or paddles. *shudders* Plus, Kyle was a responsible Dom, always attentive to Jillian's reactions to what he did. Jillian never felt unsafe in his hands, and that's what allowed me to relax and enjoy the "show". ;)

The only thing that bothered me was the Big Misunderstanding near the end of the story. Big Misunderstandings are usually designed to create conflict between the H/h and pave the way for the Great Epiphany that makes the H/h realize they are in love. That plot device was completely unnecessary in this story, IMHO. When the Big Mis was thrown into the story, Kyle and Jillian were already ready to take things further and start a relationship, so the conflict only served to annoy me. Ms. Anderson should have used those pages to give us more smut, LOL.

Overall, this was a very fun and hot read. I wouldn't mind being 'napped by Kyle. *lusty grin*

And just so you know:


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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Review: "Christmas Hookup" by Lex Valentine

Christmas HookupChristmas Hookup by Lex Valentine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4 1/2 stars

Awww, this was such a cute story! I loved it - and that's all I can say because it's a quickie and I don't want to give away any spoilers. (Yes, Ms. Valentine has managed to include a nice plot twist in this very short story. I must have a look at her backlist. If she's good enough to pull something this good within the word limit of a quickie, imagine what she can do without that constraint.)

Here's Riley (he's a model and this pic has everything to do with the story):


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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Review: "Kiss and Tell" by Cherry Adair

Kiss and Tell (T-FLAC, #2)Kiss and Tell by Cherry Adair

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Now I know why I left this book collecting dust on my TBR pile for more than 5 years! Overall, it wasn't a bad book but the first half did drag a bit. I only persevered because many readers whose opinion I trust said it was worth it. Am I glad I did? Well, let's just say I don't regret reading the book...

Jake was the typical alpha hero who had been "burned by love" and betrayed by friends, so he had serious trusting issues. Hiding in his mountain lair while trying to understand who betrayed him, the last thing he needed to further complicate his life was a somewhat clueless blonde named Marnie. In less than twenty-four hours, they were both running for their lives, trying to escape the assassins sent to kill him. I bet sweet and sheltered Marnie didn't see that coming when she decided to spend the weekend at her grandmother's cabin in the mountain.

Now, here comes my first "problem" with the story... One could say that Jake had "trust no one" tattooed on his forehead, but he not only took Marnie to his ultra secret lair but also revealed what he did for a living and told her all his past history. Okay, he was in lust with her but he wasn't in love with her and, most importantly, he didn't trust her yet. I didn't expected him to leave her alone to deal with the assassins on their trail, of course, but his revealing the location of his lair and everything else early on was out of character.

My second "problem" was Marnie... Maybe she was supposed to provide some comic(?) relief with her never-ending blabbering but I just wanted her to shut up. As the story progressed and she managed to save Jake's life a couple of times, she grew on me a little but she was still far from becoming one of my favorite heroines.

The villain's identity came as no surprise to me, and he was somewhat pathetic. Seeing how Jake manipulated his emotions easily in their final showdown, it was hard to believe he had managed to elude so many highly trained agents for so long. And why, oh why, do villains always have to waste time bragging and tauting the hero? Don't they know the cavalry will come and end their evil doings right before they're ready to kill the H/h? Sucker! :)

But then came the last chapter... and I melted into a puddle of goo. Awww, Jake was so sweet and adorable! I closed the book with a sigh and almost forgot my previous complaints. I said, almost...

All things considered, this was just an okay read. I wasn't able to suspend my disbelief to buy that many plot holes, but the actions scenes were good and kept me on the verge of my seat. If only I had been able to check my brain at the door when I started reading this book... ;)

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Review: "Winter Edge" by Anne Stuart

Winter's EdgeWinter's Edge by Anne Stuart

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I've read - and loved - several books by Anne Stuart lately, so I was more than excited to read this one even though amnesia stories aren't that attractive to me. But, hey, Lisa Kleypas made it work in Someone to Watch Over Me so I trusted Ms. Stuart to pull it off too.

Oh boy, I'm afraid to say she didn't - not for me, anyway.

Ms. Stuart can write, there's no question about it, and that's what kept me turning the pages, but there were too many holes in the plot to prevent me from fully enjoying this book.

First off, the amnesia plot device itself... I could have bought it without much of a problem, but the complete change that it brought on Molly's behavior was unbelievable! At one point, Patrick himself said, "amnesia is only supposed to cause memory loss, not total personality change." One could argue that Molly had been acting out of character during the ten months before her accident but, really, a ten-month temper tantrum doesn't qualify as an out-of-character behavior. If you could keep this trait that long, it wasn't acting, it was who you were. And that shouldn't have changed only because you lost your memory, IMHO.

Then, the hero and the heroine... I just didn't get either Molly or Patrick. Both of them were imature and I couldn't believe how they failed to communicate with each other - during ten whole months, no less! And, sin of all sins, it all started with a lie told by his jealous lover. Young, naive and gullible Molly bought it all and, from that moment on, a Big Misunderstanding was established and all lines of communication between Patrick and her were severed. Why they stayed married for so long when they couldn't even stand to stay in the same room, I'll never understand. I truly believed they hated each other and, quite frankly, I couldn't buy their HEA because they didn't spend enough time together patching things up after her accident.

As it was, Patrick turned out to be one of my least favorite heroes ever. He was cruel, cold, distant, refused to listen to Molly and never did anything to help her. Okay, she'd hurt him badly before the accident, but he was no innocent either. He cheated on her and had no qualms parading around the house with his lover by his side! He might have thought he was just getting even with Molly, for he believed she was cheating on him too, but that doesn't fly with me. My heroes don't do that! And what about when he finally realized Molly had lied about all the lovers? Why didn't he try to find out why? Since it all started on their wedding day, why didn't he try to find out what happened that day that made her act like that? I could only guess he didn't love her enough to care.

As for the mystery, I guessed from the beginning who the master villain was and couldn't understand why Molly didn't see it. He was so stereotypical and obvious that Ms. Stuart would have had to pull a hat trick if she decided to convince me it was someone else. The other "villains" came as a surprise but, at that point, I really didn't care anymore. I just wanted the story to end.

I was very disappointed with this book, but I still hold Ms. Stuart as one of my favorite authors. With a backlist as huge as hers, it was a given I wouldn't end up loving all her books, so I'm not concerned. I know there's still a lot of goodies in store. :)

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