Wednesday, April 16, 2008

TBR Day: Lots of old categories

I made a concerted effort this month to pare down my TBR. While standing in front of the shelves that contain my TBR, I noticed that there were way too many old categories that I had picked up over the years and just never got around to reading so I decided to start with those. My intent was to read at least 2 chapters of each book and if it didn't keep my interest, toss it away into the "post on PBS" pile. If I liked it (or it wasn't too horrible), then I figured I could finish it in no more than 2 days. Great plan, huh? Anyway, I read 11 categories and not one DNF in the bunch.

So here are mini-reviews of the best of them:

Call Me by Alison Kent (1996)
This book was a real surprise. It's a short (only 216 pages) Harlequin Temptation that had been languishing in my TBR for over 4 years. It was funny, had great sexual tension and the plot was tight and characters are well written. I loved the hero (a Texas rancher - yeah, I'm into cowboys lately) and his teenager brother is a hoot too. The heroine is quite uptight at first and is still hurting from the divorce from her cheating husband. But she warms up rather quickly and things got cooking. The sexy banter and spicy love scenes were worth the price of the book alone.
My grade: A

A Wedding to Remember
by Emma Darcy (1994)
This was a troubled marriage story which is one of my guilty pleasures if done right. The H/H are divorced and the heroine, Joanna, is considering remarrying but she is unsure. She decides to visit her ex, Rory, at his office to see if it's well and truly over and get on with her life. Rory is stunned to see her and after talking her into a goodbye kiss, is blown away and impulsively he scoops her up in his arms and 'kidnaps' her for a weekend of pleasure. OK, I know, not realistic. at. all. But I went with it and I'm glad I did. They have some misunderstandings to work out and Joanna learns to believe in Rory rather than vindictive gossip (although I was a bit irritated with her for not believing in him in the first place).
My grade: B+

The Return of Eden McCall by Judith Duncan (1995)
JD is one of my favorite category writers and I have several of her books in my keepers. This book is #3 in the series (Wide Open Spaces) and all of them have been wonderful. TRoEM is no exception. Eden returns to her hometown to take care of her dad who has had a heart attack. She runs into her former boyfriend (and lover), Brodie, who is angry and hurt that she left town. I love how the POV switches to Brodie in several chapters and we really get inside his head. This is a highly emotional and well written book and Brodie is a wonderful hero. Duncan is a talented author who should be writing full length romances but unfortunately she hasn't published anything since 2002. What a shame she dropped out of sight.
My grade: B+

Cattleman's Promise by Marilyn Pappano (1999)
This is book #1 in the Heartbreak Canyon series. I read book #3 a few years ago and liked it so much that I bought the rest of the series, but I'm just finally getting around to reading them. Olivia's husband has just died saving her the trouble of divorcing the rotten scoundrel. She now has the care of her twin 5-year-old daughters and not a penny to her name since the ex gambled it all away. Except she finds the deed to a ranch in Heartbreak, Oklahoma. When she travels to Heartbreak on her last dime she finds out her husband had been swindled since Guthrie owns the ranch. Guthrie is a good, decent, and kind man so he offers to let her stay in a cabin on his property. In exchange she will cook and clean his house. I loved Guthrie. I loved Olivia. And I loved the twins, Elly and Emma. Wonderful plot and characters are so real. I hate cutesy or bratty kids, but Emma (good twin) and Elly ('bad' twin) were absolutely perfect. I found myself laughing at their antics and fell in love with them.
My grade: B+

Reading now: Horseman's Bride by Marilyn Pappano (1999)
This book follows Cattleman's Promise. Very dark, slightly depressing book that I almost gave up on. Features a tortured hero (Easy) with horrendous physical disabilities caused by a serious car accident. Top that with his feelings of loneliness and tremendous guilt caused when he ran off 12 years ago with his best friend's (Guthrie from Cattleman's Promise) fiance (Shay) a few days before their wedding. To make matters worse he abandoned Shay 6 years ago because of his feelings of guilt and worthlessness over his treatment of Guthrie, expecting she would go back to him. Shay went back to Heartbreak, Oklahoma where all three of them grew up together but she never got over Easy. Now Easy is back in Heartbreak, angry and depressed and a tad full of self pity. But Shay won't let him give into it and with Shay's help comes out of it little by little. I'm a few pages from the end and can hardly put it down (late for work this morning trying to squeeze in a few more pages). Update: Just finished it and it had a great last chapter and epilogue.
My grade: B


Rosie said...

I don't know what's up with category romance lately. I've read more category romance books in the last couple of months than the last few years combined. Is it cyclical and our interest is just peaking again or just what? At any rate I've had some good luck with them too.

Judith Duncan. I have several of hers as keepers too. I wonder whatever happened to her?

Li said...

Am impressed with your effort! I have a soft spot for both Emma Darcy and the marriage-in-trouble plotline so that one sounds good.

Jan said...

Good reviews & congratulations for clearing so many TBRs! I haven't read any series romance lately so thanks for reminding me of authors I've enjoyed and giving me some books to start with.

ReneeW said...

Rosie: You are so right. I go through streaks where I just want a fast read and a HEA that's resolved in 250 pages. JD is an amazing author that's greatly missed by many people. But there are still a few in her backlist I can track down and read.

Li: I've never tried ED before but someone mentioned this at AAR so I had to try it since I love marriage in trouble plots too, and was pleasantly surprised. But her backlist includes some strange titles about billionaires & mistresses.

Jan: Thanks! If you'd like to try a category any of these would work for most people.

CindyS said...

Wow, great job! I have categories in my TBR pile and I'm so going to use your plan. Two chapters. After that, it's gold or over. I like it!

What's interesting is that these ones are from the mid to late 90s. I often wonder if the recent ones are as good. I guess I'll soon find out.


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