Friday, September 29, 2006

September TBR Challenge

Title: The Admiral's Bride (SIM #962, TDD book #7)

Author: Suzanne Brockmann

Year published: 1999

Why did you get this book?
I collected the entire Tall, Dark and Dangerous series about 4 years ago after reading a couple of her books and enjoying them. I have been slooooowly making my way through them and have only 2 left in this series to read.

Do you like the cover?
Not really. Flowers, lace and a wedding ring don't do anything for me.

Did you enjoy the book?
It was pretty good. I gave it a B-. I don't particularly like older man/younger woman stories especially if the age difference is more than 18+ years. My first thought is that the hero is old enough to be the heroine's father and that's just icky. In TAB the age difference is 20+ years and was probably the worst aspect of the book for me. But Admiral Jake Robinson was a terrific hero. The first chapter was a flashback to one of his many heroic deeds from the Vietnam War and was a grippingly realistic account and a great way for the reader to get to know and love the hero. Now 52, Jake is a widower whose wife died from cancer three year before. He leads a SEAL team in covert operations and is a fully fit hunk (think Harrison Ford). Zoe Lange is a scientist who specializes in biological weapons and also works in covert operations. Jake's repeated angst because of his concern over the age difference was rather tiring. There was a fake wedding between Jake and Zoe that was arranged in order to get her into the compound (and so they can have hot sex of course) where he is working undercover. It was a rather trite plot device that you find frequently in series romance (and which I secretly love). The suspense was pretty good with most of the action taking place at the end. All in all a readable book. I think I would have liked it better if the age gap had been much smaller.

Was the author new to you and would you read something by this author again? No, not new to me. I plan to read my last two in this series (Identity: Unknown & Get Lucky) plus three other old Loveswepts I found at a thrift store. But I have lost interest in the Team Sixteen books and the endless parade of characters spanning many books. I just don't care anymore.

Are you keeping it or passing it on?
I'll hang onto it until I finish the last in the series. Then maybe I'll sell the whole set on eBay. All of them are the orginal editions (not the reprint) so maybe it's worth something to collectors. Or maybe I'll just keep it. There were a couple in the series that were keepers and I hate to break up a set.

Anything else?
I just realized that I forgot to sign up for this month's TBR Challenge at AngieW's blog. Better go do that.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

My brain has left the building

I'm such an idiot. I belong to this committee at my church that meets every three months. Our meetings are the dullest snoozefest on the planet and I HATE going to them. I really should quit but I promised to serve for a 3 year term and I have 2 years to go.

Anyway, the chairman of the committee always calls to remind me three days before the next meeting PLUS he sends email reminders. Well today I went to aerobics class after work and on the way home I stopped to pick up a prescription for Bob. When I walked in the door it hit me that I was supposed to have been at this dreaded meeting at 7:00, it was now 7:45. Damn it! No one else on the committee ever misses a meeting and I think I have done this a couple times now. I'm a flake.

I did have some good news. After reading Nicole Jordan's Heart Breaker and The Outlaw recently, I immediately put The Savage and Wildstar (both HTF) on my wishlist at PaperBackSwap. I just got a notice from them that The Savage is being mailed to me. Yay! Great bodice ripper cover too :)

I also found a copy of Lover Awakened finally. But I'm saving it for later. Just about everyone has already read it and loved it so I know I will too. It's nice to know I have a really good book just sitting there whenever I hit a reading slump.

Reading now: Irresistible by Susan Mallery and enjoying it. H/H from Delicious make a brief appearance. The book has a cupcake on the cover and it's killing me (I've been dieting on Weight Watchers since Monday - need to lose 10 pounds - 20 would be better but not realistic). I'm hungry.... I need a snack.

Update: Blogger sucks lately. Having a hard time publishing for the last couple days. 0% just keeps going round and round. Trying again.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Cover of Night by Linda Howard

I'm a huge Linda Howard fan and have read everything she has written. Some I have loved (Duncan's Bride, Dream Man, Mackenzie's Mountain, etc.) and a couple I have hated (An Independent Wife (F), Sarah's Child (D)) and the rest have been good reads of some degree or another. So of course, I had to read this latest offering (from the library since the HB version is $25.95 - ouch).


Trail Stop, Idaho, is a tiny isolated town connected to the outside world by a single road. Cate Nightingale is a widow with four-year-old twin boys and still mourns the loss of her husband who died three years earlier. After his death she moved to Trail Stop and bought the local bed-and-breakfast. Calvin Harris is the town handyman who helps Cate with the many problems that seem to plague the old house. Plumbing, carpentry, whatever, he can fix it. Cate thinks "Mr. Harris" is an extremely shy man who never opens his mouth. But Cal is not what he seems. He is a former marine who came to town to visit his former commanding officer. When Cate moved into town, Cal found himself very attracted to her so decided to stay and make his home there. Cate thinks that Cal is just a rather uninteresting man who gets extremely tongue tied around her and blushes uncontrollably whenever she speaks to him. The whole town is aware of Cal's attraction to her for the last three years and tries to throw them together, but Cate is oblivious.

One morning Cate discovers that Jeffrey Layton, one of the B&B guests, has disappeared out the window of his room leaving his personal possessions behind. A few days later Cate and her friend Neenah are held at gunpoint by two men who had checked in as guests. These men demand Cate give them the possessions that Layton left behind. Cal gets the jump on the two villains and ends up kicking their asses and they slink out of town.

But the trouble is just beginning. These thugs come up with plan to hold the entire town hostage until they get Layton's possessions which they believe contains one of those little flash drives (about the size of a pack of gum) with some mob secret files. They blow up the bridge leading to town, cut off their electricity, and start shooting townspeople at random. This part of the plot was rather farfetched and not realistic at all.

Amazon's review uses phrases like "breathless action", "gripping suspense", and "intense romance". Uh, no. Not quite, people. Slight exaggeration here, but it was a good book, just not her best. The first third of the book contained a lot of character setup with antics of her 4 yo twins who were not overly cutesy but acted like real boys. Cate's mother takes them away for a visit to her home so they were out of the way when the action begins. Cal was an unusual hero for Howard. He appeared to be a beta with all his blushes and stammering, but when the gunmen appear his marine training becomes evident and he starts acting more like an alpha male. The suspense was good and interesting and kept me turning the pages. The romance was a bit on the light side but still very good although it developed so quickly over the course of a couple of days. And I enjoyed the secondary romance. Many Linda Howard fans may find CoN rather dull but LH's dull is better than many author's best. She knows how to tell a story well and keeps you turning the pages.

My grade: B-

Friday, September 22, 2006

Two wallbangers (maybe)

Today is our wedding anniversary. Just thinking about how many years we have been married makes me feel ancient. Don't know where Bob is taking me to dinner. I told him to surprise me.

I'm not having much luck finishing a book lately. Two books have hit the wall (figuratively speaking because they were library books). Are my expectations too high after reading two keepers?

Problem book #1

Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot

This one was written in first person and usually that's not a problem for me but for some reason the heroine's inner voice just grated on me. Reminded me of the time my fifteen year old daughter had a slumber party with 10 of her closest friends. Aaaaaccccccckkkkkkkk. Lizzie Nichols's biggest problem is her mouth. She babbles, which has gotten her into trouble many times (foot-in-mouth disease). Lizzie is a recent college graduate who flies off to London to spend the summer with her British boyfriend. She hardly knows him (having only spent 24 hours with him) so when she arrives at the airport she doesn't recognize him. I'm still in chapter one and I am ready to strangle her. Maybe the problem is that the heroine is too young. Or maybe ChickLit is just not my thing. Whatever. AAR gave this book an A- so I had high hopes.

Has anyone else read this?

Problem book #2

Whispers of the Night by Lydia Joyce

I love LJ's voice and have enjoyed all her previous books. In this one the heroine, Alcyone Carter, has agreed to marry a nobleman in Hungary sight unseen. Her father is an extremely wealthy industrialist who wants his daughter to marry a titled peer. Since he is unable to find an English title, he settles on a foreign one, Baron Benedak. Alcy travels across Europe on horseback for days to her fiance's remote castle. No sooner does she set foot in the castle, then she is rushed to the chapel where the wedding ceremony is performed in a language she doesn't understand. We are told that Alcy is very strong willed and highly intelligent but I'm just shaking my head here. What woman (other than a doormat) would allow being rushed into a wedding ceremony in travel stained clothes smelling of horse? OK, it gets worse.

At their wedding dinner Alcy finally figures out that the "Baron" does not look like the miniature picture that was sent to her. The "hero" is actually Dumitru Constaninescu, a Rumanian count, a rival neighbor of the Baron. He has tricked Alcy and stolen (or kidnapped) her away from the Baron to wed her because he needs her huge dowry to restore his crumbling estate. At this point Dumitru's goal is to consummate the marriage, otherwise it can be annulled. Alcy feels betrayed and hurt, and tells him that if he forces her she will kill him, if it takes a month or twenty years. Dumitru is left in no doubt that she means it. More argument ensues. Eventually she says "You arrogant ass", then grabs him and kisses him! Then they have wild hot sex. Does that make sense to you? OK, it gets worse(r).

Dumitru later figures out that part of her dowry from the marriage is tied up in her bridal portion which is hers alone. If he wants to use it he must ask for permission and that doesn't sit right with the M.C.Pig in him. Alcy overhears him plotting with his steward to steal the money thereby making her completely dependent upon him. The bastard. This is about where I wanted to strangle him.

Joyce's last book, The Music of the Night, also had an jerk of a hero, but he redeemed himself somewhat (although some of you disagreed). But I don't know if I can continue reading this crap. Kidnapping, lying, and now stealing from the heroine are not attractive personality traits. I love an anti-hero as much as the next person, but I have serious doubts that he can be redeemed enough for me. I'm on page 137 and I'm putting this one aside for now. Anyone else read this? Does he redeem himself?

So I have two DNF books which I will probably take back to the library. Or I might try again later.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Updating my blog

I'm starting to think I need a new blog template. A person can only stand a pink background for so long. I'd really like one with three columns so must start looking around for a new one.

Finally getting around to updating my sidebar. I updated the link for KarenS and added some new-to-me reader blogs (I hope I have the links right). Most of them have been around for awhile and I've just discovered them. It's starting to get hard to keep up with all these blogs so I have been trying to update my Kinja account too and hopefully things will get easier.

Nath
Devonna
Mailyn
Dylan
Kimber
Fiona
Valeen
Dancechica
Alie
Rosie
C2
Jennie

I wish Maili would show up again. I hope she's just taking a break and has not abandoned her blog completely.

In other news... I'm the Test Lead this week at work and have managed not to set the building on fire or get myself in trouble YET. But I have had a stomach ache all week so I think the stress is getting to me. I really want a long vacation but we'll probably wait till Christmas. Bob wants to go to North Dakota to visit his folks but I'm balking at the idea. Spending four days driving in the car (two days each way) and then being cooped up in their little house while the snow blows with below zero temperatures is NOT my idea of a vacation.

Reading today: Cover of Night by Linda Howard. This is a book on tape and I'm about at the halfway point. I'm enjoying it so far. Plot seems a bit farfetched though.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Two keepers

Don't ya just love it when you read two keepers back to back? One, a new release, and the other a timeless classic. I then followed these up with another enjoyable read, Marriage By Design which I reviewed in my previous blog entry. All in all a great reading weekend.


Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh

Just got back from CindyS and KristieJ blogs and they both finished reading Slave to Sensation this weekend and loved it too. How weird is that! I swear I have some kind of ESP connection with these two. I figure that leaves me off the hook for a review, right? OK, maybe just a few of my thoughts.

This book is causing quite a stir in blogland and deservedly so. Wonderful book! I loved the world building and I can't wait to go back there with the next one. StS is set in an alternate reality Earth with three species: Psy, changeling and human. The Psy are an interesting species of psychics who are all connected through the PsyNet which is sort of like an internet for their minds. Due to serious problems with insanity and serial killings, the Psy have instituted a program of surpressing all emotion from birth. Sascha Duncan is Psy and knows she has been different all of her life because she has emotions and is desperately trying to keep it a secret. She fears 'rehabilitation' if her ability to feel emotion is discovered which would wipe out her mind. But lately she is having a harder time keeping her emotions under control. Lucas Hunter is a changeling who is a member of the DarkRiver pack of panthers. Changelings feel emotions and are proud of it.

The sexual tension between Sascha and Lucas was incredible and the dream scenes set the pages on fire. The characters were all well drawn and the plot fast paced. My only quibble is that I was a bit confused near the end when Sascha 'surfs' the PsyNet searching for clues to help find a serial killer since it was hard to tell what was going on. Other than that I thought the book was nearly perfect and I can't stand the thought of having to wait for the next book. I'll need to keep this one around so I can re-read it before the next one comes out.

My grade: A-



Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer

Thanks to Kristie, CindyS, and several others, for recommending this book to me. For some reason I thought this was a western but it actually takes place in Georgia in 1941, just before Pearl Harbor. MG was an emotional book about two very damaged people and the healing power of love. Both of them were unloved growing up and their story was heart wrenching and uplifting. Eleanor Dinsmore is a pregnant widow with two small boys living on a rundown farm. Will Parker is an ex-convict just fired from his job when he answers Ellie's advertisement for a husband in the local newspaper. The way these two grow to love each other over time was wonderful.

The secondary characters were three dimensional and vividly real. I especially loved Miss Beasley, the town librarian, who was crusty on the outside but had a heart of gold. My only quibble on this book was that I found it hard to believe that they could sleep together in the same bed for all those months and not have sex. But Will is such a beta hero that thinking about it further made me realize that this would be realistic for his character. And when they finally consummate their relationship it was rather subtle but nice just the same. I wanted some hot steamy sex! *sigh* Spencer just doesn't write that way. But I'm keeping this book to share with a few of my friends and my sister. They gotta love it.

My grade: A-

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Back home

Just got home from our 4 day mini-vacation to Winthrop, Washington. We camped with our RV at Pearrygin State Park where the deer have taken over the park. They came strolling through the campground at all hours of the day and had no fear of humans. They were mostly mama deer and their babies but we did see one buck. At any given time all you had to do was look out the window and spot a deer. I attempted to take a pictures to show you but the battery on my camera went dead. Figures!

Winthrop is the cutest little western town complete with wooden sidewalks and touristy shops and lots of restaurants. It seemed like all we did was eat, eat, eat. There is a fabulous little bakery/candy store with homemade cinnamon rolls and caramel apples. We ate dinner at Jack's Saloon (the oldest saloon in Washington - so they say) which had wonderful food.

Bob golfed twice and I finished three books (YAY!), all three were enjoyable with two of them keepers.

Marriage By Design by Lynn Michaels
Very cute, funny book with a large cast of characters. I'm usually a tough sell when it comes to humor in romance but this one worked for me. No silliness or slapstick (which I normally dislike), just lots of snappy, witty dialogue. In fact, some of it went over my head at first causing me to stop in puzzlement, re-read a passage, and chuckle a bit at the clever writing.

The plot takes place in Kansas City, MO, and gives the reader a glimpse into the world of high fashion bridal design. Mia Savard is a top designer in her father's bridal design company. But she is tired of designing bridal gowns and is trying to convince her father to move her to the trousseau department where she can design a variety of garments. Unfortunately, there is a traitor in their midst. Mia's newest bridal gown design for the govenor's daughter is stolen and appears in an ad for their competitor. Mia's father, Lucien, hires Joseph Kerr, a private investigator, to find out the identity of the traitor. Mia and Joe are immediately attracted to each other and love soon follows.

I liked Mia who was rather sassy but very intelligent. Joe was harder to figure out but I think the problem was that there was not enough story from his POV. The underlying mystery of who stole the design was pretty good. One of the villains was obvious but his accomplice took a bit longer to figure out. My biggest complaint is that there were too many confusing characters to keep track of but I still found this a light, humorous, enjoyable read.

My grade: B

I'm running out of steam. More to follow on those two keepers.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

New (to me) UBS

I managed to make it to a UBS yesterday and found two books that were recommended to me by Cindy (and several others) when I posted my reads from AAR's 100 favorite romances list. This UBS was a new one for me and was a great find. It is about 20-25 minutes away, and is quite large with a nice friendly guy behind the counter. But like a big dummy I forgot my list. Damn. I'll have to get back over there with my list in hand soon.

But I remembered these two:

Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer

For My Lady's Heart by Laura Kinsale

Who knows when I'll get around to reading them.

Bob and I are taking a short vacation, leaving Thursday and coming back on Sunday. When I get back I have to fill in for my boss. Yikes! We shipped our product today *happy dance* so it shouldn't be too tough (I hope). I can't believe they are actually putting me in charge for a week. Whose dumb idea was that?

Reading now: Scandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas. Pretty good so far, but I don't think I'll love it as much as Devil in Winter. Last night I finished a wonderful old Loveswept category by Glenna McReynolds. Turned out to be a keeper. It qualifies for AngieW's TBR Challenge for September so I'll write up a review for it. I never got around to last month's TBR Challenge because I couldn't get up the energy to read a non-romance. Too busy with work anyway (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it).

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Just For Kicks by Susan Andersen

Just For Kicks is the followup to Skintight (which I haven't read yet) and was a light and fluffy read.

Carly Jacobsen is a Las Vegas showgirl who rescues stray animals. Wolfgang Jones is the number two in command in the Security Department of the casino where they both work and just happens to be Carly's next door neighbor. As the story begins Carly has sprained her ankle when a little old lady toting a big-ass purse slams into her knocking her off her high heels. Wolf comes to the rescue and offers to give her a ride home. Carly and Wolf can't stand each other. Carly thinks Wolf is an uptight, driven, animal-hater (the worst sin in her opinion). Wolf thinks Carly is flighty, irritating and irresponsible.

Wolf has had a tough upbringing as a child. Because of his father's job, Wolf and his family had to move many, many times in embassies all over the world. He was never able to make close friendships and has issues of acceptance. As an adult Wolf still has almost no friends. But he has a plan... he's going to become head of his own security department, find a nice woman to marry and settle into the perfect life. Even though he thinks Carly is very hot, she is not his type at all. Wolf comes across as very regimented and cold and I found him unlikeable at first. When Wolf's teenage nephew, Niklaus, comes to live with him he is determined to make a good home for him, but Wolf has a very difficult time talking to people about how he feels and causes some misunderstandings with Nik and Carly. I liked Nik and how he schemed to bring Carly and Wolf together. Slowly Wolf loosens up and comes to realize how totally wrong he is about Carly. I enjoyed how her pets seem to adopt him as few humans had. Kind of symbolic and very sweet.

Carly comes across at first as a bit of a ditz. She also had a tough upbringing and has no plans to marry. Carly has a heart of gold and I really liked her. She fosters stray animals from shelters and then trains them to be good pets for others. She volunteers at the local children's hospital and brings her pets to share with the children who are cancer patients and even gives them up for adoption when she feels it's right. One quibble... she liked to call people 'Toots'. Funny the first couple times, after that a bit of an overkill.

This is a character driven story with some fairly good secondary characters. Near the end there is a stalker storyline that seemed sort of tacked on but it wasn't distracting and didn't ruin the fluffiness of the book. JFK had lots of hot steamy sex and was a fun, quick read.

My grade: B

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Manhunting by Jennifer Crusie

Manhunting is Crusie's first book and her incredible talent is obvious from the first page.

Kate Svenson is your typical uptight career woman on the fast track but she has one problem. She's lonely. So Kate and her best friend devise a plan. Armed with a detailed list of qualifications for the perfect husband, she sets off for a Kentucky golf resort that is prime hunting ground for eligible bachelors.

Jake Templeton is part owner of the resort and the most laid back hero I've ever come across. A former tax lawyer who has left the rat race behind, Jake is now the resort's handyman. He and Kate meet and immediately decided the other is not what they are looking for. Jake thinks Kate is too driven and too much like his ex-wife. Kate thinks Jake lacks ambition and does not meet any of the requirements on her list.

Of course, Kate's plans to find Mr. Perfect go wrong time after time with one dating disaster after another with scenes that were absolutely hilarious. Her dates end up either falling in the pool, hit over the head or in the emergency room. And none of it was her fault :) I'm not a real fan of slapstick humor in romance because I think it's too visual and most authors lack the writing talent to pull it off. But this book is the exception. Crusie succeeds superbly and I found myself literally laughing out loud (and scaring the crap out of my cat, thank goodness Bob wasn't home). The only other author who can make me laugh like that is Evanovich with her Stephanie Plum books.

This was a completely character driven book with a charming and engaging H/H. My favorite scenes were those that take place out on the lake. Kate invites herself along with Jake when he goes fishing in a leaky old boat. Jake fishes without bait because he is too lazy to actually want to catch anything and uses that time to nap. The sassy dialogue during these scenes practically sparkles off the page. All that banter made delightful sexual tension culminating in some yummy sex scenes. It was a wonderful moment when these two seeming opposites realize they are perfect for each other.

Manhunting is a deliciously delightful book. Although Crusie's inexperience shows with a bit of head hopping, I enjoyed it from the first page to the last. It's very short so I think I finished it in a couple hours. When I found myself re-reading favorite passages, I realized I had a keeper on my hands. It ranks right up there with Anyone But You and Welcome To Temptation.

My grade: A-

Monday, September 04, 2006

Happy Labor Day

Don't ya just love three day weekends?

Went book shopping at Borders on Saturday looking for the latest new books for September. They haven't had a very good track record of stocking new romances and things were no different this time (but I was hoping). I was particularly looking for Lover Awakened but came up with nada. I'm so jealous of all of you (Cindy, Tara, Sybil.... etc.)

I also looked for Slave to Sensation in the new books section and still no luck. Went over to the romance stacks and there it was! One lonely copy in the entire store. I grabbed it up fast and headed for the checkstand. I know, don't say it, I got out the door with only one book. Hard to believe, but true. But I was a bit pissed at them for not having LA.

I could try the Barnes and Noble but they aren't that romance friendly over there with a bunch of snooty sales clerks. Most of the indy bookstores have gone belly up around here but I remember there was one over at Factoria Square Mall. So I'm heading over there soon.

I'm on a mission!

I have to find it soon because we have our neighborhood Labor Day potluck at 3:30 and I have to be back to cut up fruit.