Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Indiscretion by Judith Ivory

This was an unusual book with unusual characters but turned out to be a very good read. It was divided into two parts, Part One: The English Moor, and Part Two: The Negotiation.

In Part One we meet the H/H who are from completely different worlds. Lydia Bedford-Browne is the pampered, overly-protected daughter of a viscount. Sam Cody is an American from Texas complete with a Stetson and cowboy boots. The book is set in the turn of the 19th century England where Lydia decides to set off alone across the boggy flatlands of Dartmoor by coach in the first real adventure of her life. The only other passenger of the coach is Sam who is drunk and battered, having missed his own wedding when he stopped to rescue a woman from muggers and got a beating from the thieves.

I'm a huge JI fan but for some reason I had a hard time getting into this book. The characters didn't grab me and I just couldn't care about them. Ivory writes very lush descriptions and at first I found myself skimming through the first 2 chapters. But when their inebriated driver loses control of the coach crashing them into the marsh, the book finally captures my attention. There is a very funny scene when Sam climbs out of the window of the wildly careening coach to get the driver's attention only to discover the driver has fallen off!

Sam and Lydia are stranded and lost in the moorlands for several days and their developing relationship along with the sexual tension was marvelous. The dialogue was good and seemed exactly right so that I started to love these characters. OT: On a side note... I really don't get the making love in the heather scenes I read in some books. It's supposed to be soft and downy comfortable, but the heather in the PacNW is prickly and, man, there is no way I'd lie down in it and make love. OUCH! Must be a different species in England. Anyway, it pulled me out of the story every time making love on a bed of heather was mentioned (and they did it a lot!). I suppose I should google 'heather'.

The second part of the book comes after they are rescued and Liddy returns to her world. She must come to terms with what is expected of her by her parents, family, friends and society and what she wants and feels. Sam knows what he wants and pursues her vigorously suffering many rejections by Liddy. Here's where I shed a few tears in sympathy for Sam. But I never blamed Liddy either having been raised in a straight laced Victorian society, and realizing that breaking away from that upbringing was difficult. But she learns and grows and finally understands her own power and goes after what she wants. The last chapter was so good, I may want to read it again.

Several other reviewers liked the first part more than the second part but I found myself liking the second part more. Sam and Liddy are very good characters, the dialogue is excellent, and the sensuality is hot. Not quite a keeper but very good.

My grade: B+

Next up: Review of The Outlaw by Nicole Jordan. I'm having a tough time with the review because there were so many elements that I should have hated about it, but I ended up loving it! Now I'm trying to figure out why :)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Double tagged!

Kristie and Cindy both tagged me while I was on vacation so here goes (a bit late).

1. When did you first start blogging and why? Just had my one year blog-iversay on July 17. Maili, Keishon and Rosario were the first blogs I read and I was thrilled to find fascinating entertaining people talking about books. Up until then I had visited AAR message boards but rarely posted because all those flame wars terrified me. Loved to read them, but no way would I stick my neck out. Anyway, around April of last year Maili posted a 'How To Blog' which I bookmarked and it took me until July to get up the nerve to create one.

2. What don't you talk about? Like most people I avoid religion and politics. I don't mind talking about my personal life because it's actually theraputic. Nice to get the rants out in the open so they don't fester :)

3) Are you and your blogging persona the same person? Yeah, pretty much. Although I come across a bit more serious in my blog than I am in person.

4) How do you use blogging to build friendships? It's been surprising easy to make friends from all over the world because romance readers are so friendly. I started with Maili, Keishon, and Rosario and found more bloggers from their sidebars leaving comments all over the place. Then these bloggers visit me, along with new bloggers and the circle just keeps getting bigger and bigger! I was nervous about posting on blogs at first because I figured everyone already knew everyone and I was crashing the party but it's not like that at all. It's funny how I talk about my online friends with my hubby and in-person friends just like I really KNOW them, which I do. I just have not actually MET them in person. (Bob knows his twin, also names Bob, is alive and living in Canada).

5) How would you describe your writing style? What style? Oh, you mean the bad grammar, run-on sentences, dangling participles (love that phrase), sentence fragments, spelling errors and overuse of the word 'I'? Yeah, that's me.

Monday, July 24, 2006

My God it's HOT

We just got back from a mini-vacation with the RV. I've been away from blogs since last Wednesday and I feel so behind. Kristie and Cindy both tagged me and so I'll try to post tomorrow. I've been hellaciously busy at work too so haven't been able to 'cheat' by blogging during the day.

We took the RV over to the Olympic National Park area and camped in an RV park right on water. But, jeezus, we discovered what the rest of the nation is suffering with the heat! Normally, in the Pacific NW we have natural air conditioning with the onshore flow breezes from the ocean which keeps us pretty cool in the summer (too cool sometimes). We usually don't get the really hot days till August and even then the temps rarely go into the 90's. Last year I don't remember a single day over 90. Well, we have had 4 straight days around the mid-90's. Humidity is not too bad (about 40%) so it's not all horrible. I know all of you are saying "huh, big deal, that's nothing" But the thing is that the majority of homes here don't have air conditioning (and we are one of those) and man we are all suffering. We have a tri-level home and the upstairs bedrooms have skylights with no covering. Shit! it's hot up there, must have been around 100 degrees. So I slept (very poorly) on the downstairs family room couch where it finally cooled down to about 75 degrees by 4:00 am. Really, I wish I had one of those plastic kiddie pools so I could fill it up and lay in it.

We also discovered that the air conditioner in the RV is not working properly because it just wasn't getting cooler than 85 during the heat of the day. So off to the service dept. it's going before I make another trip in it.

Anyway, sorry for the rant, but the heat is making me cranky. I did get a bunch of reading done. Finished three books:

The Gate to Eden by Cathy McDavid
This book was a nice surprise. I have never heard of McDavid but Kristie recommended it and I since I like Am. Historicals I had to try it. I sometimes have problems with heroine thief characters but Maddie's actions were forgivable and understandable. The plot was fast paced, believable and the characters were well drawn with a very good hero. I wouldn't mind trying another by this author.
My grade: B

Extreme Exposure by Pamela Clare
After getting past the first chapter where the heroine gets drunk and acts like an idiot with her gross questions to the hero (no woman I know would say stuff like that), I thoroughly enjoyed this book. With an 'Erin Brockovich' type story which was fascinating and some very hot, steamy love scenes, this book was hard to put down. The plot was intricate but not too complicated. I loved the kick-ass heroine (FAVORITE SCENE: when she tells off her obnoxious boss), an investigative reporter, and the hero, a state senator. She's also a single mom raising her son (who was also excellently drawn). In fact all the characters were well done. Clare has yet to disappoint me.
My grade: B+

To the Edge by Cindy Gerard
There is something about plots with a poor-little-rich-girl whose daddy insists on a bodyguard that is getting on my nerves lately. I think I have read 3 or 4 with this premise this year and I'm tired of them. The H/H were OK but nothing special and I noticed that there was too much mental talk and not enough actual dialogue. The plot was fast paced but not very believable. This is my first book by Gerard, but I really would like to try another one in this series. A few people on the AAR RtR board (Kristie too I think) thought the best one of the series is To the Brink so I have it on hold at the library.
My grade: C+

I'm also working on a review for The Outlaw by Nicole Jordan.

Reading now: The Indiscretion by Judith Ivory. I'm a huge JI fan and I sort of promised Keishon that I would read this (DNF for her I think) and I'm already bogged down and having a hard time getting into it. *sigh* I'll give it 50 pages at least.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

July TBR Challenge

This month's TBR Challenge is to read a romantic suspense. I have had this one in my TBR since March. A relatively short time considering some of them have been there for eons.

Title: Dead Wrong

Author: Janice Kay Johnson

Year published: 2006

Why did you get this book? I've read several Harlequin SR written by JKJ and really enjoyed them. I'm rather picky about the categories I read and she seems to be one of the better Harlequin authors. This one is a Signature Select which are longer in length than a category with 326 pages and some extra bonus stuff in the back.

Do you like the cover? Nothing special, but it does reflect the mood of the plot. It's a RS about a serial killer in Elk Springs, Oregon and takes place in the 'dead' of winter. Get it? Dead? I'm so clever (shut up).

Did you enjoy the book? Yes, very much. JKJ is a very consistent author and this longer length allowed her skills to really shine. Will is a lawyer working in the DA's office. Six years ago his girlfriend was brutally raped and murdered and the suspect arrested and sent to jail. Will left town after that not being able to face the guilt he feels. He has just returned to town when another girl he used to date is found murdered in the exact same way as the previous crime. Will's mother, Meg, is the lieutenant of the police force and picks Trina to work on the case with her. Trina has been in love with Will since the age of 12. Will is two years older and one of the popular crowd in HS and never noticed her.

This was a fantastic mystery/suspense that kept me riveted to my chair, especially the last 20 pages. However, the romance took a back seat to the mystery as often happens in RS but it was still enjoyable. When Will and Trina finally get together in a very sensual love scene, you can really understand how Trina feels in heaven when the man she has loved for years finally notices her and wants her. It was also a bit rushed but I'm not complaining, I loved it. Will is a bit of a self-centered jerk to his mother and father but he completely redeems himself when he apologizes. The villain was not obvious and not easy to figure out till the last quarter of the book. The epilogue was very good too (no babies mentioned :). If you like mysteries with some romance then this is the book for you.

My grade: B

Was the author new to you and would you read something by this author again? No, as I said, I have read several by JKJ. I rec Whose Baby? (a babies switched at birth story) and What She Wants for Christmas. I will definitely read more by her.

Are you keeping it or passing it on? Passing it on. Good but not a keeper.

Anything else? I realized after I started this book that there was a series written leading up to it. It's called Patton's Daughters and features Meg (Will's mother) and her two sister who all make appearances in DW and all of them categories (Harlequin SR). Now I really want to go find them. No need to read them before DW, if you're worried about reading series in order.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Happy blog-iversary to me!

One year ago today I started this blog and was initially afraid I wouldn't have enough interesting stuff to say. Turns out I can ramble on and on saying almost nothing.

It's been fun talking about books and sometimes theraputic to talk about other stuff like my hubby, cat, kids, work, and my boring life. I've met readers from all over the world which is so cool.

Thanks everyone for making this such a great experience.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas

Yum, yum, yum. This was a very good book. Not quite as good as my favorite (need I name it?... ok for those of you living on another planet and are just visiting for the day...) Dreaming of You. DIW is the third book in the Wallflower series and was the best one so far.

This is Evie Jenner's story. She's the shy one who stutters and is an absolute sweetheart. Shy does not mean doormat by any means. Evie approaches Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent, and asks him to marry her so that she can escape the clutches of her greedy, abusive family who are trying to force her into marriage with her repulsive cousin so that they can control her fortune. In return for marrying her, Sebastian, a true rake and fortune hunter, will instead get Evie's money. Her only condition is that she be allowed to care for her dying father. So they set off for Scotland in a long arduous journey and during the trip forge a bond between them. Sebastian is the villain of the previous book, It Happened One Autumn, where he attempted to kidnap the heroine, Lillian, and was stopped by the hero, Lord Westcliff, who beat him up. Oh, yeah, Evie makes one more condition.... no lovemaking after the wedding night.

After the wedding Sebastian realizes he is extremely attracted to Evie and she challenges him to remain celibate for three months before she'll go to bed with him again (love this girl ... she's got spunk). In the meantime they arrive back in London and Evie rushes to her father's bedside. Her father is a gambling club owner (chief rival of Derek from DoY) and Sebastian (who has never done a day's work in his life) takes over management of the club.

This is a wonderful book. I loved Evie, shy and sweet, with an inner strength who takes no crap from the hero. And Sebastian.... *sigh*... wow, he completely redeems himself and then some. He is slowly transformed from a hardened amoral rake as he falls in love with Evie and becomes so protective of her. I see why so many are comparing him to Derek Craven. Most agree that he is ALMOST as wonderful as DC (impossible to beat DC in the hero department). Very sigh-worthy. All the secondary characters are very well drawn and the plot was excellent, especially Cam, the part-gypsy croupier from the gambling club. I wonder if he gets his own book. I hope so. Also the subplot drama was good about a former employee of the club who means to harm Evie. And the love scenes were hot. A KEEPER!

My grade: A-

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Sex, Lies and Online Dating by Rachel Gibson

After reading several dark historicals and paranormals in a row I was in the mood for a lighter contemporary book. SLAOD filled the bill fairly well. Also Gibson always delivers something hot and sexy and I'm always in the mood for that.

My fav Gibsons are Truly, Madly Yours and See Jane Score but SLAOD didn't quite live up to those for me. I enjoyed it but it definitely had it's problems. Although a bit on the fluffy side with a completely implausible plot, the characters were well done and the humor was good. It was a fast easy read and I finished it quickly.

Lucy Rothchild, a murder mystery writer, is working on a new book that features a female serial killer who meets her victims online. In the name of research she decides to do some internet dating with guys with online names like "luvstick" and "bigdaddy182". Quinn McIntyre is a police detective working on a case involving a female serial killer who meets her victims online and kills them using erotic asphyxiation (what a coincidence - just like the plot of Lucy's unpubbed book!) and he creates a persona "hardluvnman" and trolls around picking up women searching for the killer. Quinn and Lucy meet online and agree to a date at the local Starbucks. Both Lucy and Quinn are pretending to be something they're not: she says she's a nurse, he says he's a plumber. But they are instantly attracted to each other.

Quinn is convinced Lucy is lying about being a nurse and she seems to know too much about the crime he is investigating. So she becomes his number one suspect. I had a bit of a problem with the scene where Quinn, still suspecting she's a serial killer, tries to lure her into trying to kill him. He has his house wired for sound and video. There was a lot of kissing, groping, sighing and moaning and he brings her to orgasm, all of it recorded on audio tape. He had maneuvered her into the hallway so not all is on video but still it bothered me that a guy would do all that in the name of catching a killer. Before they get to the bedroom, he is called away by a phone call. The real killer has struck again. Lucy is very hurt when Quinn reveals that he suspected her of being a killer. I had a real problem with the fact that Quinn did not GROVEL nearly enough to satisfy me. When Lucy's life is threatened by the real killer, she goes running back into his arms way to easily. Also Lucy had a TSTL moment near the end but I don't totally blame her.

However, I did enjoy the book over all. The sex scenes were yummy and the action was plentiful but did not take over the romance. Just not Gibson's best IMHO.

My grade: B-

Friday, July 07, 2006

Shadow Touch by Marjorie M. Liu

I really enjoyed this unusual paranormal thriller that was loaded with action, adventure, intrigue and enough romance to satisfy. This book which follows Tiger Eye is the second one in the Dirk & Steele series about a secret private detective agency whose employees all have extraordinary paranormal talents; e.g. Shapeshifters, psychics, empaths, etc.

The setting was unusual and I won't give it away because the reader doesn't figure it out till about halfway through the book (but you can guess from the cover). The characters were fascinating and complex.

Dirk & Steele agent Artur Loginov is an empath who can sense a person's emotions and memories by touching them or an object they have touched. He is a very damaged man with a dark, ugly past as a former member of the Russian mob and is now using his talents to help rather than harm others.

Elena is a psychic healer who can get inside the minds of injured or sick patients to help them use their own mental powers to heal themselves.

Both Elena and Arthur come to the attention of an evil organization called The Consortium that intends to use people with these special skills for their own dastardly purposes. So Elena and Arthur are drugged and kidnapped (separately) and taken to an underground prison to be brainwashed into using their skills for evil.

The story was riveting and I finished it in one sitting. I'm a bit squeamish about blood and torture and I didn't care for some of the torture that was described. I also thought the prison scenes which went on until about the midway point took up too much of the book. During this time the reader doesn't knows were they are being held and I kept wondering 'where the hell are they?' And the identity of their jailers was also kept from the reader. All was revealed very slowly and made for a captivating and sometimes frustrating read. Artur and Elena meet in the hallway of their prison and make a psychic connection. Eventually they escape together with the help of some shapeshifters and that's when the action intensifies. Unfortunately, the suspense and intrigue overwhelm the romance which took a back burner, but it was still enjoyable with some hot sexual tension and steamy love scenes.
My grade: B

The third book in the series is The Red Heart of Jade just released this month. I haven't heard anything about it but Liu has been consistently good so I'm going to find this one.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

A few reviews

Still feeling fuzzy headed with this damn cold. I HATE being sick. But I went to work anyway and am now barracaded in my office. No one has come to visit me so that's a good thing. Just as easy to communicate with email and IM.

I went to Subway to get a sandwich at lunchtime and when I opened my mouth to place my order no sound came out. After much coughing and hacking (I think I may have spit in his face - poor fellow) I managed to croak my order to him. You should have seen the look on his face!

Reminder to self: Never take Nyquil again! That stuff is brutal. I took a half dose night before last and I still feel light headed. Better off with just Tylenol.

Bob was wise enough not to ask "what's for dinner?" last night. Took many years but I finally trained him not to ask that question while I'm lying on the couch looking like death warmed over. He even offered to make me a barbecued turkey burger, but all I wanted was a bowl of oatmeal.

Okay, so someone tell me where KarenS went because I lost her. Thank you. I need my KarenS fix.

Anyway, on to the books before I crash and burn:

Hope's Captive by Kate Lyon
I have never tried Lyon before but I love a good American Historical and this book was wonderful. It will fit right in with my favorite Cheryl St. John books. The heroine, Carolyn Whitley, was kidnapped and brutally tortured by the Kiowa tribe when she was very young. Eventually rescued by the Cheyenne she feels a fierce loyalty to them. Zach McCallister is searching for his son who he believes was taken captive by the Cheyenne in a raid that left the boy's mother dead and he needs Caroline's help to find him and bring him home. This gut wrenching book was almost too painful to read about how she was abused and tortured for years. Carolyn is a tough frontier woman and a fantastic heroine. Zach was a decent honorable man and such a good match for her. The Cheyenne were portrayed very realistically too. Lyon did her homework on this one. My grade: B+

The Music of the Night by Lydia Joyce
I really loved the setting of Venice which was excellently done giving an authentic ambiance to the book. The entire story was focused around the hero's need for vengeance against a man who he was convinced raped his young illegimate daughter. Normally, I'm not too fond of revenge stories but Joyce makes this one work because of the setting and an unusual heroine. I never did warm up to the hero, Sebastian Grimsthorpe, but I loved the heroine. Sarah Connelly carries scars on her face from a case of small pox she suffered as a child. Sebastian mistakenly believes she is the mistress of her employer's son and he publicly seduces and humiliates her. What an a**! Why is it that a hero out for revenge always picks on the completely innocent heroine. Sheesh! She is essentially ruined and is forced to flee her employer's household and confronts him. He realizes his mistake and offers her a position as his mistress and housekeeper of his decaying Venetian villa. He never redeems himself in my eyes, but I loved how intelligent and strong Sarah is as she takes over the refurbishing of the house. Joyce's lush descriptions of Venice was captivating and the sensuality was steamy hot. My grade: B

The Cobra & the Concubine by Bonnie Vanak
Normally I avoid sheik/arab stories like the plague but after Kristie's recommendation, this one caught my interest. I'm glad because it was pretty good. The hero, Khepri, was adopted as a young boy by the Khamsin tribe of warriors when his family are killed in Egypt. Badra was sold as a slave at the age of 11 to a sadistic sheik and suffered years of rape and torture. Reading about this type of abuse was rather difficult and made me cringe but the author's note reminds the reader that this type of thing still goes on all over the world. Khepri is actually Kenneth, heir to an English dukedom (why is it always a duke?). When Badra is captured from the evil sheik, Khepri swears to protect her and he falls in love with her. Badra had many traumatic experiences and it takes her a LOOOONG time to overcome them as one would expect. I loved Khepri, totally yummy. But Badra was too meek for my taste. My favorite part was the camaraderie and teasing about 'male parts' between Khepri and his foster brothers; a nice touch of humor. Badra finally overcovers her fears culminating in some very hot sex scenes! The decriptions of life in the desert were fascinating too. All loose ends were tied up rather tidily including burning down the brothel where Badra was imprisoned. My grade: B-

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Home Sick

I'm home sick today from work and I feel like crap! But here I am snuggled with on the couch with the laptop computer so I thought I would blog since I'm bored out of my tree. I tried reading but I can't concentrate. It started out with a tickle at the back of my throat on Saturday, then worked into a sore throat on Monday. Yesterday was our big 4th of July bash in our front yard with the whole neighborhood which was a lot of fun. But I talked too much and now today I sound like a frog and I can hardly swallow. Couple that with my head congestion and I figure this must be a summer cold.

I can't remember the last time I stayed home sick from work but I couldn't get out of bed this morning. I hate being sick.

I'm about halfway through The Cobra and the Concubine and I'm enjoying it although for some strange reason I thought this was a paranormal which it is NOT.

Other books I recently finished:
Hope's Captive by Kate Lyon
The Music of the Night by Lydia Joyce
The Shadow Touch by Marjorie M. Liu

All of these were good reads. I'll try to write some quick reviews when I'm feeling better. I'm tired now. I need a nap.

Update: Blogger sucks today. Can't get anything to publish.