Friday, September 30, 2005
I was very disappointed with this book. I have read one other by Brand (Blade's Lady) and really enjoyed it. Roma is a runway model and someone is trying to kill her. Ben is a former special forces agent who has his own private security business. Roma's brother (Ben's best friend) hires Ben to provide around the clock protection for her until they can find out who is trying to kill her. ::yawn:: Yeah, so what. This was so dull I had a hard time staying awake. Plus there was no spark between H/H and I never cared about either one. My Grade: C-
The Trouble With Joe by Emilie Richards
The cover I show here is for the re-issue published by Mira. I read the original Sihouette (SSE 873) release I came across at the Goodwill store, but I couldn't find a picture of that cover. I'm so glad it was republished because it will give readers a chance to read this wonderful tearjerker about male infertility.
The story begins with Joe and Samantha Giovanelli already married. Joe is a high school principal and Sam is a first grade teacher and they both love children. They have been married for several years and they love each other deeply, but something is wrong. They want children but Sam cannot get pregnant. After much frustration, Sam goes in for tests, but there is nothing wrong with her. Then Joe reluctantly goes in for tests and finds that he has a low sperm count and there is nothing anyone can do. Joe is devastated. He comes from a large Italian family where his brothers and sisters all have children. He becomes withdrawn and refuses to consider adoption. He won't talk to Sam and their relationship suffers. Into this situation comes Corey Haskins, a little girl who had been in Sam's first grade class. Corey's abusive and neglectful mother has been killed in a car accident and Sam takes her in because she has no place else to stay. Joe is not happy about it. Corey is no cute little angel, but a very complex, troubled child. Joe must deal with his own self image and what makes a real man. Sam is a wonderful character as well, never blaming Joe, and always saying "we are infertile" when referring to their problem. She is so strong and fights for their marriage.
This book deals with the question of what truly makes a family. The growth of the characters is very real with no melodrama or sickly sweet sappiness. I cried through the whole book but I'm so glad I did :) My Grade: A-
Crazy For You by Jennifer Crusie
This book was a light (with a tinge of darkness), funny, sexy read and I really enjoyed it. It all starts with a dog! Quinn falls in love with a mongrel dog she names Katie. This small dog ends up being the catalyst that changes Quinn's life and the people around her. Her boyfriend, "perfect" Bill, hates the dog and takes Katie to the pound behind Quinn's back. This event spurs Quinn to break up with Bill, move out and buy her own house. Bill, who seemed so perfectly nice, takes a downward spiral. But it's believable. Bill is a control freak who acts normal as long as he gets his own way, but when he is thwarted, he displays progressively worse, obsessive and possesive stalker behavior. Quinn's love interest is Nick, her ex-brother-in-law and best friend, who is commitment-phobic. They are very attracted to each other and the sexual tension is high. Crusie's specialty of crisp, snappy dialogue and quirky characters in a small town atmosphere are all present here. My Grade: B+
Cool Shade by Teresa Weir
This book deals with the story of two dysfunctional people. Maddie is flat broke and a radio DJ. She can't hold down a steady job because she seems to purposely self-destruct. Eddie was a former manager of a rock star that was killed by a crazed fan and he can't get over it. He is agoraphobic and has panic attacks. He lives in a run down shack of a house with a yard overgrown with weeds in a backwater small town in Nebraska. Eddie is a recluse, a drunk, and the only people he has contact with are a brain-damaged young man and prostitutes. When Maddie meets Eddie, she pretends she's a prostitute and surrenders her virginity to him. Wow, how do you make a h/h and HEA out of this mess? Obviously, this is not your typical romance but it is a testament to Weir's writing skill that she can make this work so well. And it's very short, only about 250 pages. This was a moving book with very well drawn, complex characters and I loved it. My Grade: A-
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
This book was very, very dark and I liked it so much better than the first one in the series (Crimson City). Michael is very tortured and a rogue vampire (a human turned into a vampire about 300 years before) who has committed unspeakable acts and is feared and hated by the born and bred vampires. Keeli Maddox is a werewolf whose grandmother is the Grand Dame Alpha and leader of the werewolves. Keeli knows she is a future leader of her people and is trying to improve their plight. Vampires and werewolves live in completely different worlds; vampires live and fly far above the ground, and werewolves inhabit the underground tunnels and sewers. Vampires are wealthy and werewolves are barely surviving. There is such a huge gap between their two peoples that I just could not see any chance of a HEA for these two until the very end. The plot was fast paced and gripping. Michael and Keeli team up to try to discover who is behind a rash of murders whose victims carry the scent of both vampire and werewolf. The characters were well drawn and the atmosphere was dark and intense. I'm beginning to really like vampire romance but I'm a wimp about some things:) But one scene in the nightclub made me gag. (spoiler: Humans on tap? Yuk!) I loved how Michael falls in love with Keeli at first sight. She is much more wary of him and takes a lot of convincing so there was lots of sexual tension. The love scenes are hot when they finally get together. My Grade: B+
The Doctor's Wife by Cheryl St. John
Somehow every St. John book I have ever read makes me cry and this one was no exception. This book is an American historical set in Kansas in 1885. Ellie Parrish is very damaged from events in her past (spoiler: She was sold by her prostitute mother and raped at the age of 14 which leaves her pregnant. After delivering the baby herself, she leaves her on the doorstep of a couple who recently lost their child. ) and I really liked her. She is desperately trying to earn enough money to provide a stable home for her and her brothers and is barely scraping by. She is brought to the town doctor's office after falling and breaking her arm. The good Dr. Caleb Chaney is a recent widower with a small baby. He takes in Ellie to care for his infant son after realizing she is destitute with no place to stay since she can't work with her injured arm. Eventually they marry but Ellie holds back the secrets of her past and cannot consummate their marriage, but Caleb is a true beta hero and is almost unbelievably patient with her. Usually I dislike secrets and feelings of worthlessness by the heroine, but St. John makes her story believable without being overly melodramatic. St. John's prose is spare but she knows how to tell a good story. Being the slut I am, I really would have liked more and hotter sex scenes (the one scene was only subtle). But overall I gave the book extra credit for making me cry (I love that :) My Grade: B
Unmasked by C. J. Barry
This was my first book by this author and it was pretty good. A futuristic that takes place in space, Torrie Masters is captain of her own spaceship on her maiden voyage when she is set upon by pirates. Qaade Deter is captain of the pirate ship looking for drugs that heal the minds of brainwashed slaves who he has rescued from captivity. Torrie is a kickass heroine and I really liked her. I have this obsessive-compulsive problem about reading series books in order. It just makes me feel twitchy if I don't follow the plan. So when discovering about halfway through that this book must be part of a series, I wanted to cut and run. But I was too engrossed to take this thought seriously and I'm glad I finished. It stands alone just fine. It was very fast paced with some hot sex scenes. One quibble though... Torrie could kick some serious ass quite well but was afraid to stand up to her brothers who would like nothing better than to put her in a desk job. This just didn't sit well with my view of her. She could stand up to pirates but not her brothers? That part didn't work for me. My Grade: B-
Beast by Judith Ivory
This book is loosely based on the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale and Ivory's writing is just incredible. Charles d'Harcourt's eye was injured and scarred at birth so he is blind in one eye. He suffered another injury to his knee when he was younger and it sometimes swells up and cripples him for days. Louise Vandermeer is a stunning beauty from a wealthy family. H/h meet on an ocean liner in the Atlantic around 1889. I loved the opening scene where Charles is thrown out of his cabin when rough seas toss the ship about. He is naked and in the middle of an argument with his mistress and she won't let him back in the room :) I liked the hero but I could never quite warm up to the heroine. She seemed to have the "don't hate because I'm beautiful" attitude at first, although I liked her better toward the end. Ivory writes with absolute sensuality. The reader feels as though they are right there inside every scene because she describes all five senses so completely; you taste, touch, see, hear and smell everything in each scene in luscious detail. Louise never actually sees Charles on the ship. They conduct a hot, steamy affair completely in the dark. When they eventually meet on land in the light she is turned off by his deformities, but they marry as planned by her family. There is a famous scene when he kisses her hand that sent shivers up my spine. How Louise comes to love him and figures out that Charles was her lover from the ship is amazing and beautiful. My Grade: A-
More book reports later...
Monday, September 26, 2005
I read 11 books during my 9 days of vacation. You'd think I had my nose in a book the entire time. But, no, I saw the sights (Oregon coast, redwoods, Crater Lake, Oregon Caves, etc.), walked some trails along the water and in the mountains, visited a winery, saw a full size replica of Stonehenge (bizarre!) and did NOT eat myself into oblivion (like usual). Here's my list (quite a variety):
- A Taste of Crimson by Marjorie M. Liu
- The Doctor's Wife by Cheryl St. John
- Unmasked by C. J. Barry
- Beast by Judith Ivory
- Marrying McCabe by Fiona Brand
- Crazy for You by Jennifer Crusie
- The Trouble with Joe by Emilie Richards
- Libby's London Merchant by Carla Kelly
- Miss Chartley's Guided Tour by Carla Kelly
- Dance by Judy Cuevas
Will follow up with a brief opinion and grade on each later. Unless I get up the energy to write something longer :)
Update: Rosario pointed out that my counting skills are lacking. I missed one on this list:
- Cool Shade by Teresa Weir
Sunday, September 25, 2005
And I read lots of books. I don't think I'm up to writing reviews on all these but I may be able to stir up some energy later. At the very least I hope to post a list with a summary and a grade.
Crap. I have a whole boatload of blogs to catch up with too. I missed all you reader bloggers!
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Knox Davis is the chief county investigator for Pekesville, a small town in Kentucky. He is stumped by a series of strange events. The time capsule that had been buried in front of the courthouse twenty years before is dug up and stolen, and a local attorney is found dead with a spear protruding from his back. Howard is known for her uber-alpha males but Knox is a true beta hero and I really liked him. I may be wrong but I can't recall a single beta hero in all of Howard's works.
Nikita Stover is an FBI agent who turns up at the murder crime scene. But she is no ordinary FBI agent. Nikita comes from the year 2207. Knox is very attracted to her but she tries to maintain a professional distance. She is very self-controlled, reserved and yet vulnerable. Because of her background, Nikita has spent her whole life trying not to call attention to herself. She came across at first as very cold but when her backstory was revealed, her personal characteristics were believable.
The suspense was well-plotted and compelling but the romance was a little on the light side. There was a fair amount of sexual tension but (frustratingly) the actual deed didn't take place until the last 100 pages or so but was satisfyingly hot. I also enjoyed the level of humor in this story. Modern day language was constantly tripping Nikita up and gave Knox lots of chuckles. I have to admit that the image of the pope in a space suit had me laughing out loud. Knox and Nikita were both easy-going likeable characters and there was not a lot of spark between them. But there were underlying layers to their relationship that I enjoyed.
Time travel is a bit tricky but Howard seems to have put a great deal of thought into this story and it was fascinating and plausible. Also, the epilogue was very inventive and I loved it. Many Howard fans may not like this book because she steps outside her usual fare but I enjoyed it.
My Grade: B+
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Bob is part owner of a small business and it's difficult for him to get away. His business is having its best year ever and they are really busy. He almost postponed our vacation but I gave him crap!! They can survive for one week without him.
Anyway, we bought a recreational vehicle (a fifth wheel) two years ago and have hardly used it. So we are busily planning a road trip with the RV from our home near Seattle to northern California. We will head south through Portland and cut over to the beautiful Oregon coast, then head south till we hit the Redwood National Forest and stay there a few days. On the way home, we will stop at Crater Lake, and Bend Oregon, and the rest we will play by ear. I'm cringing at the price of gas but I figure it will be cheaper than flying to Hawaii which was my first choice.
I am one of those lucky people that can read in the car. And since Bob doesn't trust me (and I don't trust myself) to drive with the RV in tow, I have hours of reading ahead of me between gazing at the beautiful scenery out the window. ::sigh:: Heaven!
So one of the major decisions I need to make is what books to bring along, naturally! Looking through the TBR mountain, I realized I have some historical romance classics in there that I may or may not bring along.
- Dance by Judith Cuevas
- Flowers From the Storm by Laura Kinsale
- The Shadow & the Star by Laura Kinsale
- Shattered Rainbows by Mary Jo Putney
- A Rose at Midnight by Anne Stuart
- Beast by Judith Ivory
And many others. Maybe I'm weird but I'm almost afraid to read any of these because I have heard so much praise that I'm afraid they will disappoint me. I know, makes no sense.
I decided to bring about 20 books along mostly all from my TBR and will try to pick some that have been in there the longest. I know I can't read that many in a week, but I have the space in the RV and I want to have some extras in case I get a real stinker and can't finish it. I'll be lucky to read 10 (about 1 book per day). Once I decide which books to bring, then I throw some food and clothes in and off we go! I have my priorities straight, don't you think? :)
Monday, September 12, 2005
Bastien Toussaint is an operative for the Committee, a covert anti-terrorist organization. He kills people and doesn't seem too concerned whether they're the good guys or the bad guys. The bad guys he has killed are members of an international arms cartels. And he has killed the innocent when it's expedient for the Committee to hide their activities from witnesses. He has also killed fellow Committee agents when assigned to do so as necessary to protect their organization. Kind of sounds like the CIA run amok.
Chloe Underwood is an American living in Paris working as a translator for children's books wishing for a little passion and excitement in her life. Unfortunately, she gets her wish when she gets pressured into taking a translating assignment at a country chateau for a group of
international importers. Fairly quickly, she realizes this group is not what she first thought. They are a dangerous bunch of illegal arms dealers squabbling over who gets to be in charge after their leader is assassinated. Bastien has infiltrated the group and is there posing as a womanizing businessman and eventually learns that Chloe is out of her league. When Chloe discovers the group members' identities one of them wants to kill her and Bastien barely manages to drag her away to safety.
The rest of the book is very fast paced and I finished it in a day. The emotional bond that develops between them is very satisfying and there are a couple of very sensual love scenes that were believable. Even though I knew it must have a HEA I was kept on the edge of my seat throughout the book wondering if Bastien was actually going to kill her or not since this idea seemed to always be present in his internal dialogue. It was absolutely gripping and I loved it. Be warned though it has a very abrupt ending. This was discussed on the Review MB at AAR and Ms. Stuart wrote this epilogue for those of us who need a bit more and I copied it here (spoiler):
Well, for the first few months they'd both sort of lay low, make love, and bond in a very tender way to go with the intensely violent, sexual bond they already formed. Her family would come back to see the guest house in ashes but no other sign of trouble -- Madame Lambert would have seen that everything else is cleaned up -- and Bastien is now in place. They met him before, knew he'd saved her life, knew she'd been only half alive since she left him, so they'd welcome him into their lives (though they'd be wary since he's clearly a dangerous man with a dark past -- but they'd know he loves her and that counts for a lot. Her brothers would be particularly protective). Bastien and Chloe might even go away for a time, to a remote Caribbean Island where they could be safe and quiet and just be with each other. She'd get pregnant in about a year, he'd become a carpenter (he'd need to do something physical and rewarding, and he has tons of money in a swiss bank account so a career is unimportant). He'd probably build them a house on the 320 or so acres her parents have -- far enough away for privacy, close enough for family. Chloe would probably do free-lance translating for a New York publisher while she raises the babies, and no one will ever know that Bastien survived. He'll have hellacious nightmares as he starts to come out of his cold killer persona, but she'll be there for him, because, in fact, she is stronger than he is, at least emotionally. And they WILL live HEA.
(end spoiler) Very satisfying, I think.
My Grade: A
My first response was total panic. I love that store. OK, so I only go in every couple months but it's so comforting to know it's there and their selection is incredible. It's divided into two large equal-sized rooms, one is totally romance, the other room is everything else. There is not a single UBS in the Seattle area that has their romance selection that I know of.
The lady that owns it is getting older and I was afraid she would just close it down. But, no, she wants to keep going so she and her staff are frantically trying to find a new location at a reasonable rent. In the meantime, they are packing up and putting everything in storage. They have to be out by the end of the month. ::cries::
Thursday, September 08, 2005
"I felt helpless, and I wanted to do something," she explained at the beginning of her Tuesday program.
And when Oprah wants to do something, it gets done
Here's the link.
Click on this link below to go to the list of items and the link to the eBay auctions. Then BID on something. There are lots of great books to bid on. Over a hundred authors donated so auctions will be staggered. The first round of auctions starts today.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
David Levinson is a psychiatrist for celebrities. Susan Carrington is an heiress with lots of insecurities and was an unsympathetic character at first. She seemed like the typical poor little rich girl. But after her backstory was revealed in the last quarter of the book, I found her insecurities about relationships believable. They first meet in a store while David is trying to pick out a scarf to buy for his sister. No names are exchanged. They decide to meet in a fancy hotel once a week where they act out sexual fantasies, but it never involves penetration :) Of course, as I would expect from a Harlequin, that doesn't happen until after they realize they are in love almost at the end of the book. But I enjoyed it nonetheless. A fast read, good sexual tension throughout and characters I liked.
My Grade: B-
Mike Muldoon & Joan DaCosta
Sam & Mary Lou Starrett
Vince & Charlie DaCosta (Joan's grandparents)
Mike and Joan's story was a younger man/older woman story which I usually love. I loved Mike, but Joan went through too much angst over whether she should get involved with a younger man. Couple that with her smart mouth and I wanted to slap her upside the head! The story of Vince and Charlie was told through flashbacks and present day accounts and I enjoyed it.
The worst part of this book was Sam. He was a complete SOB and if Brockmann had killed him off I would have applauded! He was a lousy husband and a lousy father, complete anti-hero material. I know he is supposed to be a hero in the next book in the series but I'm going to have to cool down a bit before I read it. I know I have read that many readers didn't like Mary Lou, but I liked her. She was a flawed human being but she was a good mother and was trying to create a good home, so I give her points for that.
For those looking for romantic suspense, there is a short tacked-on, insignificant story at the end where terrorists are trying to assassinate the president. My thought was "why bother?" ITN is a contemporary romance with a little dab of suspense. I recommend giving it a pass.
My Grade: C-
Next book is Gone Too Far.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Dain Reston is human and a leader for B-Ops (Battlefield Operations) in charge of keeping the peace between all the conflicting species. Fleur Dumont is vampire and heir apparent to the Dumont family bred to lead the vampire people but after a youthful mistake when she turned a human to a rogue they no longer trust her. Her two half-brothers take over leadership. But when her half-brothers are killed the vampires have no choice but to make her their leader even though they still don't trust her. Dain and Fleur are forced to work together after a rash of vampire killings to try to discover who and what group is behind the murders.
Worldbuilding in paranormals can sometimes be confusing for me since I read so few of them. Crimson City had many different species and sub-species to keep straight: Vampires, humans, werewolves, rogues that are vampires that have been made from humans, and mechs that are humans with mechanical limbs. Vampire (fangs) control the sky, humans control the surface, and werewolves (dogs) control the underground. Most of the time I was able to follow all the rules but not always.
But aside from that this book seemed to have several problems, the greatest being the uneven pacing. Some scenes were gripping, dark and intense but others were ho-hum and still others were just confusing. It's always a bad sign to me when I have to flip back several pages repeatedly to figure out characters, dialogue, and worldbuilding details that I must have missed. I don't know anything about the publishing world but it seems to me that this book could have used a good editing job.
I did like Dain and to some extent, Fleur, even though I thought she was a bit weak. But I never really bought their love story. It seemed a little forced. The most intriguing characters were actually Cyd, Dain's partner, and Hayden, the rogue vampire that Fleur had 'made' in a rash moment. I am hoping that these characters appear again in the series. I have heard that the next book in the series A Tase of Crimson is better so it's on my TBB.
My Grade: C
For those who like covers, here are some of the covers for the rest of the series:
A Taste of Crimson by Marjorie M. Liu (released Aug. 2005)
Through a Crimson Veil by Patti O'Shea (October 2005)
A Darker Crimson by Carolyn Jewel (November 2005)
Seduced by Crimson by Jade Lee (March 2006)
(No cover available) Crimson Rogue by Liz Maverick (April 2006)
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Passion Elizabeth Dare Redington is a widow whose loveless marriage left her highly insecure and believing she was barren. Mark Hawkmore, Earl of Langley, is a well known architect who lives his life for himself and is completely uncaring how others think of him. They meet at Prince Albert's Crystal Palace exhibit and instantly recognize a powerful sexual attraction. They engage in erotic sex behind a large screen in the furniture exhibit with crowds of people milling around them. Whew, a stranger sex fantasy at it's best!
This book is not your typical romance fare where sex is just gratuitous filler to be skimmed in order to get to the 'real' plot or filled with flowery purple prose. The sex in Passion is raw, explicit and shocking, and I loved it. The most outstanding aspect I noticed was that these highly erotic sex scenes were such an integral part of the plot. In order to fully understand the developing relationship between Mark and Passion, you had to read the sex scenes, not skim them. The typical formula for a romance first introduces the h/h, they meet, get to know each other, get to like each other, and fall in love. THEN they usually have sex sometime after that but it's not necessarily an important part of the story (but I always read it of course, OK, I like the sex part). And there's nothing wrong with this formula. It works so well in many of my favorite books. But Passion is surprising to me because it doesn't follow that formula and it still works beautifully. The language was rather crude and blunt as well for a book set in the Victorian era and I learned several new words (quim, cods, spunk?). Reading is SO educational don't you think :)
Several of these sizzling and extremely explicit sex scenes comprise the first half of the book. The h/h don't even know each other's names but the reader can tell that they are falling in love. I loved Passion's character and was glad to see how Mark's character grows. The last half of the book is equally as engaging and develops the story of how Mark is blackmailed into becoming engaged to Passion's cousin, Charlotte. When Passion discovers her lover, Mark, is Charlotte's fiancé, her reaction was so well written that I shed a few tears. The two evil bitch mothers depicted in this story were a bit over the top, however. Especially Mark's mother, Lucinda, who was a grotesque caricature of all evil bitch mothers. (spoiler: I just can't imagine a mother discussing the size of her son's 'member' with him. How perverted is that? Blech!! :end spoiler).
I highly recommend this book to those of you who like steamy, hot, explicit, erotic, sensual books with an excellent story.
My Grade: A-
Passion's two sisters, Patience and Primrose, both get their own books, and I will be looking out for them. I read somewhere that Charlotte gets her own HEA in one of these books as well and I was glad since I liked her so well too.
This morning the pictures and stories are getting better for those poor people stuck at the dome and the convention center. I will never forget the pictures of the sick, the elderly, the babies and their mothers trying to survive and not always succeeding. As one newscaster said " it's like scenes out of Somalia." But baby, it is us. A real embarrassment to our country and hopefully a wakeup call to the rich and to congress and the president whose duty it is to take care of those least able to take care of themselves. I read recently of how the gap between the rich and poor in this country is getting wider. I won't be surprised to hear those who failed in their duty to start pointing their finger at the poor, but that's the cynic in me.
On CNN they reported about a man who was able to evacuate all of his family before the storm, except his 20-year old daughter who insisted on staying to ride out the storm. He got a call from her on a cell phone from the dome on Wednesday. She was crying and horribly distressed and then the call cut off. She never called back and this poor man has been meeting every bus full of evacuees from New Orleans looking for her. OK, I just lost it right then. I have a 22-year old daughter and just imagining her in this situation almost did me in. I don't know if they'll even report if he ever finds her but I will hope and pray for them.
I was out to dinner last night with husband, Bob, and I burst into tears in the restaurant trying to express my feelings of horror and helplessness. All I can do is send money and pray. There are a bunch of blogs out there who much more articulately describe exactly how I feel and that is some comfort. But the people caught in this catastrophe have no comfort and it's up to us to take care of them.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
8/3/05 - Out of Control - Brockmann - (A)
8/4/05 - Harvard’s Education - Brockmann - (A)
8/9/05 - The Givenchy Code - Kenner - (B+ )
8/13/05 - Lady Anne’s Deception - Chesney - (D)
8/14/05 - Till Next We Meet - Ranney - (C+ )
8/16/05 - Ten Big Ones - Evanovich - (B )
8/18/05 - Ride the Fire - Clare - (A- )
8/21/05 - Confessions of a Lingerie Addict - Ashley - (C- )
8/26/05 - Carved in Stone - Taylor - (B+ )
8/31/05 - Passion - Valdez - (A-)
PS. I'm not sure about these colors (pink? and the gifs for the corners are wrong, wrong, wrong). Please ignore :) Still working on it.