Sunday, November 30, 2008

Series Sunday - The Chicago Stars

Susan Elizabeth Phillips is a new to me author. Gasp! I know. How is it I am just now getting around to reading her books? Shame on me, but I am correcting that problem this month. I just finished It Had to Be You, the first book that starts the series off with a bang. The series revolves around the fictional football team, The Chicago Stars. The books are set in present day Chicago and are straight contemporaries.

Do these books have to be read in order? I am not really sure. The impression that I got was that the books stand alone but characters from previous books make appearances in future books. Ms. Phillip states that Natural Born Charmer will be the last book in The Chicago Stars series. She does plan to have surprise appearances of familiar characters in future books. It is just that those books will not revolve around football.

Series Reading Order:
1. It Had to Be You (Phoebe Sommerville and Dan Calebow)
2. Heaven, Texas (Bobby Tom Denton and Gracie Snow)
3. Nobody's Baby But Mine (Cal Bonner and Dr. Jane Darlington)
4. Dream a Little Dream* (Gabe Bonner and Rachel Stone)
5. This Heart of Mine (Molly Sommerville and Kevin Tucker)
6. Match Me if you Can (Annabelle Granger and Heath Champion)
7. Natural Born Charmer (Dean Robillard and Blue Bailey)

* Dream a Little Dream is not officially part of the Chicago Stars series, but continues the Bonner family story that began in the book Nobody's Baby But Mine. It also contains Ethan's story.

*Fun Fact*
Bobby Tom Denton from Heaven, Texas makes an appearance in Lady Be Good.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Review - It Had to be You

Title: It Had to Be You
Author: Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Publishing Date: 1994
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: B
Sensuality: Hot

Phoebe Somerville’s father has recently passed away. He was a man’s man and all her life she has always felt like she was a big disappointment to him by never living up to his expectations. She left home at eighteen and hasn’t been back until now, to attend her father’s funeral. Phoebe is in for a big surprise though, because her father’s will now names her the temporary owner of his beloved football team, The Chicago Stars. Sparks fly between Phoebe and Dan Calebo, the coach of the football team. Dan can’t believe his bad luck that, this ditzy woman is now the new owner!

It Had to Be You is a fun, fast paced book. I had no trouble turning the pages of this one. There is a lot to like about it. Phoebe is a wonderful heroine. She is just the right combination of strength and vulnerability. She is very intelligent and resourceful. Phoebe is thrown into managing a football team, something that she knows next to nothing about and yet she comes out on top time and again. Some of the ideas she came up with to outmaneuver Dan or her other opponents were outrageous and laughable, but they worked.

Dan wasn’t my favorite hero to date. He is a bear of a man, used to bowling right over people and getting his way. The only emotion he is comfortable expressing is anger. He has temper and a mean streak that was too volatile for my taste. Sometimes he would just say the meanest things to Phoebe. I could have accepted it better with the addition of lots of groveling. One thing I can definitely say about Phillip’s writing is that the characters are vivid. They practically leap off the pages. I will definitely be reading more by Ms. Phillips in the near future.

Here is what others had to say:

What Women Read
Dear Author
Readers of Romance Challenges
Julia's Books Corner
Sanctuary's Finest

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Review - Chance the Winds of Fortune

Title: Chance the Winds of Fortune
Author: Laurie McBain
Publishing Date: 1980
Genre: Historical
Rating: D
Sensuality: Warm

Dante Leighton is the Captain of a cargo ship that sails from the Caribbean to the Carolinas. He won a map to a sunken Spanish ship in a card game. He is used to seeing treasure maps, but this time it appears to be the real thing. He crosses paths with Lady Rhea Claire Dominick when he finds her asleep in his cabin on his ship. She had been kidnapped from her family and shipped from London to the colonies to be sold as an indentured servant. Dante can’t just let her go because she has seen the map and he believes her to be a spy, not the daughter of a Duke as she claims.

Let me be frank. If I had not chosen this book as one for my fall book challenge, I never would have finished it. The biggest problem I had with the book is that Dante and Rhea don’t meet until page 281. Yes, that’s right page 281!!!! What kind of nonsense is this? The first part of the book is devoted to recapping everything that happened between Rhea’s parents. Apparently, they had a book. Sure enough, I look up the information and yes their book was Moonstruck Madness.

Okay, so for 27 pages we have Dante and Rhea interacting and it’s good. The book has finally grabbed my attention. Then what does the author go and do? Yep, you guessed it. She jumps back to Rhea’s family for another 60 pages. So out of a total of 500 pages, 340 of them are spent on other plot points not devoted to Rhea and Dante’s relationship. That is more than half of the book. How is this book even considered a romance? I know it is, just look at the cover.

Since Dante and Rhea were given so little time to develop their relationship I didn’t buy into their love for each other. It felt extremely rushed considering this book is 500 pages. Rhea was super sweet. Think Snow White with the dwarves. She is like that with Dante’s crew. She could do no wrong in anyone’s eyes. Dante is very hard to pin down. I don’t feel like I got to know him at all. The good news about this book is that for a bodice ripper, no bodices were harmed. Rhea is never raped by anyone, nor does Dante ever “forcibly seduce” her.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Review - Demon Bound

Title: Demon Bound
Author: Meljean Brook
Publishing Date: November 2008
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Hot

Demon Bound is the fourth full length book in Meljean Brook’s Guardian series. Alice Grey has been a Guardian for over a century. When she was a human, she made a bargain with the demon Teqon. She agreed that she would give him the heart of the lead Guardian Michael. This bargain has been haunting her all this time and now Teqon is asking that she fulfill her debt. Jake Hawkins, a novice Guardian has trouble controlling his gift of teleportation. He teams up with Alice to help her find a loop-hole in her bargain with Teqon.

The summary above is an overly simplified version of the plot of Demon Bound. Anyone who has read Meljean Brook knows that her series is anything but simple. The world she has created is very complicated with lots of history and mythology. Many times while reading this book I had to go back and reread passages and try to make sense of what I was being told. I am beginning now to understand Ms. Brook’s writing. It seems she purposely leaves holes in her passages only to fill them in a few pages later. Once I accepted that style of writing I was able to enjoy the book a lot more.

The strength of Ms. Brooks writing lies in the development of her characters. Alice and Jake are so completely fleshed out. Not only are they very complex. They change and evolve as the events in the book impact them. At first Jake and Alice are at complete odds and I wonder how on earth are these two supposed to fall in love. Over the course of the story the reader slowly gets to see them come together and make each other want to be a better person for the other. Oh, I just loved it. What makes it even better is at first, I didn’t really even like Alice or see her appeal. But just as Jake has the same reaction and slowly he comes to love her, so does the reader.

Here is what others had to say:

The Book Smugglers
Romance Novel TV
The Good, The Bad, The Unread
Ciara Stewart
Racy Romance Reviews
Aimless Ramblings about Books and Living Life
Alpha Heroes
Lovin' Me Some Romance

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Series Sunday - A Southern Vampire Mystery

With the the last episode of season one of the HBO's TV show True Blood airing last night, based on the Sookie novels written by Charlaine Harris, I thought I would do a post on the popular series.

Ms. Harris has created an alternate reality to the human world where vampires are coming out into the public. Vampires want to integrate into society and have civil rights just like normal humans do. Unfortunately, like will all new things, people are unsure and hesitant. Vampires are facing much discrimination against their kind. Sookie Stackhouse narrates the books in first person. She is a sweet, southern girl who has always felt like an outsider because she can hear peoples thoughts. When she meets Bill, a vampire, she is absolutely amazed that his thoughts are blocked to her.

I have only read the first book in this series, Dead Until Dark. I thought it was pretty good. It took me a few chapters to warm up to Sookie, but once I got a good feel on the rhythm of the book, the story really took off for me. Do you need to read the books in order? Ms. Harris states that it is more fun to read them in order. Each book is designed to stand on its own, but the backstory has gotten extensive.

Series reading order:
1. Dead Until Dark
2. Living Dead in Dallas
3. Club Dead
4. Dead to the World
5. Fairy Dust (story in anthology Powers of Detection)
6. One-Word Answer (story in anthology Bite)
7. Dead as a Doornail
8. Definitely Dead
9. All Together Dead
10. Dracula Night (story in anthology Many Bloody Returns)
11. From Dead to Worse
12. Gift Wrap (story in anthology Wolfsbane and Mistletoe)
13. Dead and Gone
14. Dead in the Family

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Review - Seduce me at Sunrise

Title: Seduce me at Sunrise
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Publishing Date: October 2008
Genre: Historical
Rating: A-
Sensuality: Hot

Seduce me at Sunrise is the second book in the Hathaway series. Win and Merripen, aka Kev, have been the closest of friends from the first moment they met. Kev, a gypsy boy left for dead, was taken in by the Hathaway family twelve years ago. From the first moment he laid eyes on Win he never wanted to leave her side. Four years after Kev came to stay with the Hathaway’s, Win caught scarlet fever and nearly died. Since then she has been living life as an invalid. She is unable to climb stairs or be outside for long before she starts struggling to breathe. After deciding that she isn’t living the life she has dreamed of living, she goes away to an unconventional clinic in France to get better. After two years of treatment she comes back to her family as hearty and healthy before she succumbed to the fever.

Let me just state for the record that I love, love, love childhood love stories. Ever since I read Mine till Midnight, I have been impatiently waiting for Kev and Win’s book. Kev is such a super, yummy hero. I absolutely delighted to read about him. He is as over protective as they come. He is untamed and wild, like a feral beast. I just loved it! He is tortured by the fact that he thinks he isn’t good enough for Win. He ends up hurting Win time and again as he battles his feeling for her. I wanted to slap him around a little for that. Oh, the angst! Oh, the drama! But wait for it – when he finally does give in to his feelings for Win, my God! He steamed up the pages. He is the most devoted, ideal (super, yummy) lover. Pfew!

Ms. Kleypas tugged at my heartstrings with this book. I went through the gambit of emotions, from laughter to anger, to sadness and hopefulness. Leo, Win’s brother was quite entertaining. The only weak spot I thought the book had was Win’s doctor Julian. I didn’t understand his motivation and it was never addressed in the book. Other than that, Seduce me at Sunrise is wonderful and one for the keeper shelf.

Here is what others had to say:

The Good, The Bad, The Unread
Romance Reader
Breezing Through
Racy Romance Reviews
All About Me
My Thoughts on Nothing Much at All
The Book Smugglers
Stacy's Place on Earth
Dev's Good Reads
Nobody Asked Me
Dear Author
Romance Novel TV
Leslie's Psyche
What Kate's Reading

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Need Input

Okay, I just want to inform fellow readers that I have updated my sidebar to include links to my Series Sunday posts. For those of you who are interested, it will hopefully be an easy way to keep track of all the series and the reading order for their books.

Next up, I am wondering if it would be okay if I took down my Faefever countdown. I get quite a few visitors that drop by because of my Faefever links. I am wondering if it would be okay if I took it down now since the book has been out for a few months.

I am not very HTML savvy. I am pretty limited in what I can do with my blog. But I would like to learn how to write something and then cross it out. I want to be able to show viewers when I have completed a book for my book challenge by crossing through the title. Can any one help me with this or direct me to a website that can teach me?

If there is a particular feature that you really like or wish I had on my side bar, please feel free to comment about it. I am open to suggestions for improvement!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Title: Fallen
Author: Claire Delacroix
Publishing Date: October 2008
Genre: Futuristic
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Warm

Fallen is the first book in a new trilogy by Claire Delacroix. It is set in a post apocalyptic America in 2099, several years after many cities were bombed with nuclear weapons. A large portion of the world’s population was killed because of these bombs. Another side effect of these bombs was nuclear radiation. The majority of the population was exposed to this radiation causing birth defects in unborn children. People who have side effects due to the radiation are known as shades. They are not considered human and do not have civil rights. They are used for research and slavery. Lilia Desjardins is a shade hunter. She finds shades and brings them to the circus where she works. The circus is the one place where the shades can live a relatively normal life.

Lilia’s estranged husband is killed in a mysterious accident. She suspects that his death was not an accident, but murder. She is convinced that she must uncover the killer and bring the truth about her husband’s murder to light. Lilia has a penchant for finding trouble. When she discovers a body of a shade who had connections to her husband, she reports it to the authorities. She meets Officer Adam Montgomery and together they search for her husband’s killer. Unbeknownst to Lilia, Adam is an Angel who has volunteered to help save humanity. Besides the fact that he is attracted to Lilia, he also believes that she will help him complete his earthly mission.

I just have to say, I really enjoyed this book. There is a lot of emphasis on the futuristic world and how corrupt it has become. The details are very tight and well defined. The book has a very dark vibe to it, and yet there is a tiny ray of light and hope at the center of everything. The characters Adam and Lilia are wonderfully drawn. Lilia is a bleeding heart. She might act tough and gruff, but underneath that steely façade she’s as soft as a marshmallow. Adam is otherworldly and is beginning to understand the appeal of being human. He becomes attached to earth and Lilia and this comes as a complete surprise to him.

Fallen ends more or less with a ‘happy for now’. There are conflicts that still need to be resolved with the big picture. The mystery surrounding Lilia’s husband’s death does get wrapped up. The next book in the trilogy will be Guardian. It won’t be out until October 2009 and features new characters Delilia and Rafe. Ms. Delacroix does state that Lilia and Adam will make an appearance in Guardian.

Here is what others had to say:

Scooper Speaks

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Series Sunday - The Wallflowers

Since I had a few people show an interest in A Wallflower Christmas, I thought I would do a follow up post on the Wallflower Series by Lisa Kleypas. This has to be one of my favorite historical series to date. I love Lisa Kleypas. Her writing is just absolutely delicious. Her characters are so very lovable and appealing. There is just enough angst to keep the reader guessing, but not enough for them to want to bang their head against a wall. Her books are very well balanced and I can't get enough.

The Wallflower series consists of four books, with a bonus Christmas story. I don't know if Lisa plans to continue the series in the future. As far as I know, it will just be these books. The wallflowers are a group of women who seemed to find themselves sitting on the sidelines while other more popular women had their dance cards filled. The girls noticed that it was the same people always remaining in shadow. Annabelle, Evie, Lillian and Daisy all formed a tight-knit group who became the best of friends. They were determined that each in the group would make a love match.

It is my personal opinion that each book should be read in order. Each woman has her own book, but all the women appear in every book. Some of the stories are interconnected. They could be read as stand alone, but I think the reader will get more out of the series if it is read in order. My personal favorite would be Annabelle's story, closely followed by Lillian's. All the books are very well written and this is a very strong series.

1. Secrets of a Summer Night (Annabelle and Simon)
2. It Happened One Autumn (Lillian and Marcus)
3. Devil in Winter (Evie and Sebastian)
4. Scandal in Spring (Daisy and Matthew)
5. A Wallflower Christmas (Hannah and Rafe)

*Fun Factoid*
For those of you who are fans of Marcus, Lord Westcliff from It Happened One Autumn, he actually made an appearance before the wallflower series originated. He was Charlotte's employer in Worth Any Price and he was also Aline's older brother in Again the Magic.

Cam Rohan, the hero from Mine Till Midnight first appeared in Evie and Sebastian's story Devil in Winter.

I am just going to go ahead and say it. For those of you who haven't read Lisa Kleypas, you might as well brace yourself and set aside some time. She has an extensive backlist and all of the books are wonderful. You might as well just start with her first book and keep on going until you have read them all. She was my most glommed author last year and I believe I read a total of 17 books by her.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Review - A Wallflower Christmas

Title: A Wallflower Christmas
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Publishing Date: October 2008
Genre: Historical
Rating: C
Sensuality: Warm

Rafe Bowman is the son of a very wealthy American man, who as aspirations of seeing his son wed to a woman of the British Aristocracy. He stipulates that in order for Rafe to inherit, he needs to marry Natalie Blandford. At first Rafe doesn’t really care who he marries, so he might as well please his father. But while visiting his sister in England, he meets Natalie’s companion Hannah and finds himself unexpectedly attracted to her. Now he is torn between choosing between true love or his inheritance.

For me this book is too short weighing in at only 200 pages. It is also a hardback, therefore doubling the price of the book. As far as Rafe and Hannah’s romance is concerned, it was just okay. There wasn’t anything spectacular about it. It wasn’t bad per say, just ordinary. I liked Hannah a lot. She was a great character, and I wouldn’t have minded getting to know her better. Rafe, on the other hand came across a little heavy handed with Hannah. He seemed a little too pushy in the short span of time that he knew Hannah.

Rafe is the brother of Lillian and Daisy Bowman who readers met in It Happened One Autumn and Scandal in Spring. Fans of the Wallflower series will have fun revisiting with the characters from that series. Lillian, Daisy, Evie and Annabelle, along with their respective husbands all make an appearance in this book. That aspect of the book was the best part.

Here is what others had to say:

A Blog of Books
Lurv A La Mode
Dev's Good Reads
Babbling about Books, and More
The Book Smugglers
The Good, The Bad, The Unread
Dear Author

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider’s Guide

Title: The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider’s Guide
Author: J. R. Ward
Publishing Date: October 2008
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: N/A
Sensuality: N/A

This really isn’t going to be a book review, but more of an informative collection of my thoughts. For those of you who are fans of Ward’s Black Dagger Series, hopefully this post will help you determine whether or not it would be worth your while to purchase it.

First up, the Guide is actually pretty hefty, weighing in with a whopping total of 474 pages. The book is trade paperback size and actually has a small font. I’m going to guess it’s a 10 font. So, as you can surmise, there is quite a bit of reading material for fan perusal.

I will list in order the Guide’s table of contents and comment briefly about each section.

Novella, Father Mine: This short story features Zsadist’s struggle with becoming a father and accepting that he is good enough for Nalla and Bella. I thought it was fine. Zsadist isn’t my favorite brother, but he doesn’t get on my nerves either. Fans of Zsadist, I am sure will enjoy Father Mine, while those of you who are sick of Zsadist should probably just stay away.

The Brotherhood Dossiers: There is a dossier for each of the six books currently published. It starts out with a fact sheet about the brother featured in the book. Then there is a questionnaire that the brother filled out. Ward also interviews the brother. Then she talks about the writing process for the book and her favorite or not so favorite parts. This was actually quite enlightening. She lets the reader get a feel for how she developed the stories and what her writing process is like.

For those of you who are thinking of writing your own book, this section is a must for you. I think you will find it very interesting. Also, for fans who were disappointed with the direction certain books went or didn’t go, she addresses these issues as well. I found some of her rational and answers to these fan complaints to be less than stellar and a little on the weak side. But still, it was interesting to read about.

Tips for writers and the original proposal: I can’t really comment on this section because I didn’t read the writer tips. I just skipped right on by it since I don’t plan on being a writer. I did read the proposal. Ward puts in the guide exactly what she sent out to publishers. So again, it is very interesting to see the beginning product and what it eventually evolved into.

Deleted Scenes: There are five of them. They were all good. The deleted scene from Lover Enshrined, with Phury and Cormia, I think I liked better than what was in the book. Go figure.

Kicks and Giggles: This section is where Ward takes her favorite lines from each of the six books. They are fun to read through and make me want to read these books over again.

Brothers on the Board: She has recreated the message board posts that occurred when the brothers posted in the past. She also has the posts that pertain to Lassiter. I am not a member of Ward’s message board, so reading through all of these was new to me. I also want to mention the character Lassiter. Some people have criticized Ward for Lassiter’s appearance on the message boards and then his surprise appearance in Lover Enshrined. Lassiter was a surprise to those readers who aren’t a member of Ward’s message boards (me included).

In the book, Lassiter’s appearance raised more questions than answers. At least this was the case with me. After reading Lover Enshrined I was confused as to his identity and his relationship with the brothers. After reading the message board posts involving Lassiter, I am still confused as to his identity and his relationship with the brothers. But now I think this is exactly what J. R. Ward wants. It seems to me his background is supposed to be a mystery and one that will hopefully be revealed in upcoming books.

Slices of Life: These are brief scenes that Ward posted on the message board. One is movie night. Another one (and personally my favorite thing out of the guide) is a scene with Wrath. He has been feeling weighed down by his kingly responsibilities and feels he is losing the warrior in him. Whoa buddy! That was a steamy excerpt! There are a few more, but I’m not going to go into detail about them.

Question and answer with J. R. Ward: Here Ward answers questions that readers have asked her over the years. At this point in the guide though, I found it somewhat redundant. It’s also relatively brief.

Then there is a brotherhood timeline, a table of abbreviations and a listing of the Old Language alphabet.

The Brothers Interview J. R. Ward: It is exactly what the title says it is. At this point in the guide, I have come to the conclusion that Ward eat, sleeps and drinks the brotherhood. Quite frankly, I don’t know whether I should be disturbed or fascinated. The way she describes these figments of her imagination and brings them to life takes an immense amount of talent. In my mind, she has created a captivating series. I have really enjoyed these books (with the exception of Vishous’s book, but I am not going to get into that right now).

In Memoriam: This is a brief scene into the life of Tohr and Wellsie that takes place between Lover Eternal and Lover Awakened.

Last but not least the guide ends with an excerpt from Lover Avenged.

Well, that about sums up the guide. Now, I have the distinct urge to go and reread this series beginning with the book that started it all, Dark Lover. **

Monday, November 10, 2008

Review - Pleasure Unbound

Title: Pleasure Unbound
Author: Larissa Ione
Publishing Date: July 2008
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: B-
Sensuality: Burning

Pleasure Unbound is sort of like “ER” meets “Buffy the Demon Slayer”. In this book there is a whole different dimension that most humans are unaware of, that houses a wide range of demons and other mythical creatures. Some of these demons are able to leave this dimension and live among humans. Only The Aegis, a group of human warriors trained to kill demons, are aware of their existence. Tayla Mancuso is one such guardian. She is out fighting demons with her partner Janet and is severely injured in a fight with a demon. She is found and taken to a demon hospital where she meets Eidolon, the doctor and founder of the hospital.

Eidolon and Tayla are the most unlikely couple imaginable. Tayla has been taught that all demons are evil and it is her duty to wipe out as many as she possibly can, to ensure the safety of the rest of the world. Eidolon’s brother was killed by The Aegis and has nursed his hatred of them over time. To say that these two have major obstacles to overcome is quite an understatement.

This book’s strength lies in the intricate and original world building. I personally haven’t ever come across a paranormal that deals with demons and the medical field. It is an interesting combination. There is a lot going on plot wise besides just the romance between Tayla and Eidolon. Someone is torturing demons and harvesting body parts from them to sell on the black market. Eidolon thinks the Aegis is involved and Tayla is determined to prove him wrong. Tayla herself has been ill and uncovering her mysterious illness adds tension to the story. Eidolon has two brothers Wraith and Shade that have issues as well. Plus, there are a few others that you will just have to read the book to find out about!

As far as the romance goes it was just okay for me. Eidolon was good. I liked him, but Tayla’s personality was a bit too prickly for my taste. Of course, she had good reason, so I could let a lot of it slide. These two had so much to overcome it wasn’t until the last 100 or so pages that they finally got past their differences and started working together. Once they did, I enjoyed them a lot more.

One thing that I found slightly disturbing and a little jarring is the fact that these creatures are demons. They are not human and therefore do not always act human, nor are they expected too. Some species of demons have more humanistic tendencies than others. A few of the creatures are down right horrifying. The book is quite graphic and that may put a few readers off.

The main plot isn’t completely solved at the end of this book and it is obvious that this is the start of a series. It didn’t feel contrived though. It felt natural to have it end where it did. I am sure Eidolon’s brothers with eventually be getting their own stories. I will be one of many to check out the next installment.

Here is what others had to say:

LesleyW's Book Nook
Dear Author
Darque Reviews
Book Binge
The Book Smugglers
What Women Read

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Series Sunday - Dirk & Steele

This Sunday, I am going to focus on Marjorie M. Liu's Dirk and Steele series. Ms. Liu has created a very interesting series that revolves around a team of agents all with superpowers. Think x-men if you will. Good vs. Evil. These agents all possess a special power. Some can shift-change, others can manipulate electric impulses. Some can read an objects history, others can communicate with animals. Each agent is unique in their ability that they bring to the team.

This series has been extremely well written, in that she takes impossible situations and seemingly makes them sympathetic. The characters themselves might possess super powers, but they are human just the same. I find them very personable and I can relate to them. I have enjoyed all her stories, with Shadow Touch being my personal favorite. Here is the series order and I personally recommend reading them in order. Throughout the series there are connecting story arcs that run through several books. (Although, I did start with the second book first. It thoroughly hooked me!) Each book stands alone in that it has a self contained romance.

1. Tiger Eye (Dela and Hari)
2. Shadow Touch (Elena and Artur)
3. The Red Heart of Jade (Dean and Mirabelle)
4. A Dream of Stone and Shadows (story in Anthology: Dark Dreamers) (Charlie and Aggie)
5. Eye of Heaven (Blue and Iris)
6. Soul Song (M'Cal and Kitala)
7. Where the Heart Lives (story in Anthology: My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon
8. The Last Twilight (Amiri and Rikki)
9. The Wild Road (Lannes and Jane Doe)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Review - The Lost Duke of Wyndham

Title: The Lost Duke of Wyndham
Author: Julia Quinn
Publishing Date: 2008
Genre: Historical
Rating: B
Sensuality: Warm

Grace Eversleigh’s parents died of fever five years ago leaving her orphaned at seventeen. The dowager Duchess of Wyndham took pity on Grace and employed her as her companion. The two of them are coming home from a party when their carriage is pulled over by highwaymen. The highwayman in question is very suave and debonair. The Duchess thinks she recognizes him as a relation to the house of Wyndham as he is the spitting image of her dead son John.

Ms. Quinn certainly writes an entertaining historical. Jack Audley is quite the character, with his witty charm and sharp intelligence. He steals the show in this book, leaving Grace to fade somewhat into the background. While the book begins from Grace’s point of view in third person, the majority of the rest of the book is told from Jack’s perspective. Also, with the plot centering on the question of Jack’s lineage, the focus tended to remain on Jack, forcing the story to be more hero-centric. I didn’t really mind this, since Jack was a vibrant character. The only problem I did have with it was when Jack would wax poetic about the love he felt for Grace. The prose came across slightly flowery and didn’t match Jack’s masculine persona. It would have been more appropriate coming from Grace.

The plot was great. The question of Jack’s identity and how everything was going to be resolved satisfactorily added quite a bit of tension to the book. I kept wondering to myself, “How in the heck is Quinn going to fix this mess?” Not to worry she does deliver on that aspect. I did think that after a big secret is revealed the ending was too abrupt. I wanted a little more closure on how things were going to work out for the individuals involved.

One thing that may have influenced how I read the book was the fact that I know there is another book, Mr. Cavendish I Presume that tells the same story from Thomas’s point of view. (Thomas was the legitimate Duke that Jack was usurping.) I noticed, as I was reading The Lost Duke of Wyndham, that there were scenes that sort of left holes in the book and I imagine they will be a part of Mr. Cavendish I Presume.

Here is what others had to say:

Breezing Through
The Book Smugglers
Racy Romance Reviews
Dear Author
Reading is Sexy
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books
What Kate's Reading

Thursday, November 6, 2008

November Classic Challenge - As You Desire

As You Desire by Connie Brockway has made AAR's reader choice Top 100 Romance Poll in 2000, 2004 and 2007. In 2004, it was ranked among the top 10. So knowing me, I have to see for myself what all the fuss is about. Here is the blurb from the back of the book:


He galloped across the midnight-shrouded landscape, racing toward her on his steed of pure white. Her destiny... In her wildest fantasies Desdemona Carlisle could not have conjured a more dashing savior, and this was real! But an unlikelier hero was hard to find. Harry Braxton was a born opportunist who had already broken her heart once, years before. How could she ever trust him again? Harry was a notorious rake who came with a warning: lover, beware...


With her bronze-gold hair and quicksilver grace, the sloe-eyed beauty was everyman's desire, totally oblivious of her devastating effect on men. It was all Harry could do to be Desdemona's friend -- and bury the corrosive secret that kept him from claiming the woman he loved. But when his aristocratic English cousin laid siege to Desdemona's heart, it was the ultimate challenge in a most dangerous game that Harry intended to win...

This summary sounds pretty cheesy. This book was published in 1997, way past the day of bodice rippers. What's with these names, Harry and Desdemonda? Seriously? Also, the summary doesn't really tell the reader anything. Not off to a good start, in my humble opinion. We'll just have to see. Hmmm...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Review - Romeo, Romeo

Title: Romeo, Romeo
Author: Robin Kaye
Publishing Date: November 2008
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Hot

Rosalie Ronaldi finds herself with a flat tire on the side of the interstate, when she leaves her parent’s house after having joined her family for their traditional Sunday dinner. Nick Romeo, who owns several car dealerships, is working late Sunday evening on one of his beloved cars. On his way home, he notices an attractive woman on the side of the road kicking her car’s flat tire. Being the nice guy that he is, he stops to give her a hand. Nick is used to women falling at his feet and hasn’t had to actively pursue a woman for her attentions. Until Rosalie, that is. He finds himself intrigued and attracted.

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with Romeo, Romeo. I think the back blurb is a little misleading to the plot of the book. It focuses a little too much on how Nick loves to cook and clean and how Rosalie doesn’t. While this is true to a certain extent, it is in no way the driving factor of the book. Nick keeps his true identity from Rosalie, throughout most of the book. The fact that he has a lot of money, and has women jumping at the chance to reel him in – as if he was a fish - and a prize one at that, he feels it’s necessary to keep his identity from Rosalie. Because Rosalie thinks he is just an auto mechanic and seems to like him for himself, he continues to lie to her. Things get complicated as they always do, and it is not long before Nick is in way too deep and is clueless on how to correct her false assumptions.

There is lots of snarky humor and fast paced witticisms in this book. Some people might find Rosalie’s sarcasm a turn off, but I didn’t. Sometimes it was a little too much, but overall I thought it gave a ring of truth to Rosalie’s personality. I am a real sucker for good conversation. Romeo, Romeo had it in spades. Here is an example of the quick writing, with an exchange between Nick and Rosalie:

She gave him a squeeze and a slow, thorough kiss before sliding off his lap. “I’m going to take a hot shower. I’m still cold to the bone and I want to wash off the icky feeling of Johnny’s sweaty hand. God, he’s such a pig. I might have to burn this skirt.”

“You sure you don’t want me to pay him a visit? I’ll teach him to keep his hands to himself.”

She patted his cheek. “That’s a sweet offer. Cro-Magnon, but sweet.”

Nick wrapped his arm around her waist as she slid back on his lap. He held her hips as he moved beneath her and whispered in her ear. “I know how much you like it when I play ‘caveman’.”

He nipped her earlobe, and she groaned. “Oh, yeah. Let me get a shower; you get your club. I’ll meet you in the cave in a half hour.”

“Take your time. I have to hunt for food first.”

“It’s a date.”

Also, I love the picture Ms. Kaye paints of life in New York City. I haven’t ever been there myself, but I could imagine a day in the life of Rosalie and Nick in the City with trips on the Subway and dinner at small intimate restaurants in Little Italy. There were a slew of secondary characters that I felt only added to the charm of the story. Even Rosalie’s dog made an impact. All in all, this was a charming, light read.

Here is what others had to say:

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

October Book Summary

October was a very nice month with a total of 15 books read. I definitely think I will reach my reading goals for the year. There were a couple of duds this month, but for the most part I read a lot of good books. I think the biggest surprise for me was Annie's Song. I just love discovering new (at least to me) authors and I love knowing that there will never be a shortage of authors to glom.

1. The Darcys and the Bingleys, Altman (Historical) Rating: B-
2. Alpha and Omega, Briggs (Urban Fantasy) Rating: B- (Story in anthology, On the Prowl)
3. Tempted, Hart (Contemporary/Erotic) Rating: B+
4. Cry Wolf, Briggs (Urban Fantasy) Rating: B
5. The Price of Desire, Goodman (Historical) Rating: B+
6. Smart and Sexy, Shalvis (Contemporary) Rating: D
7. No Humans Involved, Armstrong (Paranormal) Rating: B+
8. Annie's Song, Andersen (Historical) Rating: A
9. Laughter of Dead Kings, Peters (Mystery) Rating: B-
10. Dangerous Secrets, Rice (Romantic Suspense) Rating: C+
11. The Rest Falls Away, Gleason (Paranormal/Historical) Rating: B-
12. What Happens in Vegas, Copeland, Bast, Dane, Tunstall (Contemporary/Erotic) Rating: B
13. Romeo Romeo, Kaye (Contemporary) Rating: B+
14. The Lost Duke of Wyndham, Quinn (Historical) Rating: B
15. Pleasure Unbound, Ione (Paranormal) Rating: B-

Monday, November 3, 2008

Review - What Happens in Vegas

Title: What Happens in Vegas
Publishing Date: 2008
Genre: Contemporary (Erotic)
Sensuality: Burning

What Happens in Vegas is an anthology that is composed of four novellas set in Las Vegas.

Title: Hot For You
Author: Jodi Lynn Copeland
Rating: D

Carinna is a cocktail waitress at the Casino, The Liege. She has had feelings for her good friend Jack for as long as she can remember. Four months ago she and Jack had a night of passion. From that night forward their friendship has become stilted and weird. Carinna wants to for things to go back to the way they were before they had sex. Jack has other plans and wants to move forward.

Hot for You was my least favorite story of the anthology. Carinna and Jack both alternate narrating the story. Much of their narration is spent lusting after each other. I didn’t like Carinna or Jack, so that made it difficult for me to like their story. Both of these characters came across as very slutty. Carinna has commitment issues and likes her sex dirty. So she has been around the block a time or two. Some of the sex scenes in the book made me uncomfortable. One thing that really grossed me out was that both of these characters have been very promiscuous in their past, but neither one once had protected sex during this book.

Title: Stripped
Author: Lauren Dane
Rating: B+

Dahlia is a burlesque dancer at an upscale club. The owner’s brother Nash Emery sees Dahlia’s performance and makes a pass at her. She puts him in his place with a seething cut down to let him know that she might be a dancer, but she is not a prostitute. Seeing there is a lot more to Dahlia than her bodacious body, he is intrigued by her. He devotes himself to getting into her good graces and wooing her.

Stripped was probably the mildest story sexually of the bunch. Even though Dahlia is attracted to Nash she takes her time getting to know him. She isn’t the type of girl to jump into bed with just anyone. She is afraid of getting hurt by Nash, who is known as a playboy. Nash is tired of the string of women who don’t really know anything about him. He is lonely and wants somebody to know the “real” him. I liked both of these characters. Dahlia had a chip on her shoulder about Nash’s rich background. That is the main conflict between them and one that they work out in this story. I like how Nash handled Dahlia’s insecurities.

Title: Red Handed
Author: Kit Tunstall
Rating: B-

Amy is caught cheating at roulette in Roan Cavello’s casino. He has his security men escort her to his interrogation room. Eventually they strike a deal where Amy will pay off her debt to Roan by being his submissive mistress for six weeks.

Red Handed started off badly, but then improved as the story went on. In the beginning it was a little creepy how Roan was attracted to Amy and vice versa. A large suspension of disbelief was needed. I found it hard to believe that Amy would find Roan attractive in her situation. Once I got past that, the story started to engross me and these two people seemed to fit well together. I liked seeing Roan who keeps very tight control of himself lose it when he finds Amy threatened by a client of his.

Title: The Deal
Author: Anya Bast
Rating: B

Cassidy was stood up at the altar by her fiancé Damian a year ago. Since then, she has been good friends with James Carter and finding herself attracted to him more than just as friends. She is afraid of ruining her friendship with him by taking it to the next level. Jack has no such qualms and proposes a “friends with benefits” deal. For the next five nights they play a round of blackjack and whoever wins gets to choose the sexual encounter.

The Deal was a fun story. Jack and Cassidy are normal, likable people. Cassidy has her hang-ups though. She is really worried about getting hurt again so she doesn’t want to get close to anyone. Jack is having none of it though and does his best to win her over. The sex was pretty creative and yet the author conveyed that it wasn’t just the sex, but a connection between the two characters. Eventually, Cassidy has to confront her past in order to move on and she does.

Here is what others had to say:

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Series Sunday - The Black Dagger Brotherhood

For those of you who have been living under a rock for the last few years and haven't heard of this series I will briefly introduce you to it. The Black Dagger Brotherhood is a race of vampire warriors. They live in the United States in upstate New York. The vampire race lives among humans without their knowledge and are on the verge of extinction. These warriors are Bad Ass and are off the charts ALPHA! They are fighting a war against a group of baddies, known as lessors.

I have to admit I really like this series and can't seem to get enough. I wouldn't exactly call myself a fan girl. I am not a member of J.R. Ward's message boards, nor to I subscribe to the Black Dagger Brotherhood Yahoo Group, but I do find this series addicting. Ward has created characters so vivid and memorable that they stay with you long after the written word has past. Here are the books in publishing order:

1. Dark Lover (Wrath)
2. Lover Eternal (Rhage)
3. Lover Awakened (Zsadist)
4. Lover Revealed (Butch)
5. Lover Unbound (Vishous)
6. Lover Enshrined (Phury)
7. The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider's Guide Featuring a novella, Father Mine with Zsadist and Bella
8. Lover Avenged (Rehvenge)
9. Lover Mine (John Matthew)

I am currently reading The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider's Guide. Whoa buddy! It sure is interesting reading. I will be posting my thoughts on it as soon as I finish it.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Review - The Rest Falls Away

Title: The Rest Falls Away
Author: Colleen Gleason
Publishing Date: 2007
Genre: Paranormal (Historical)
Rating: B-
Sensuality: Warm

Victoria Gardella’s family has a unique legacy. Her family has been fighting vampires for centuries. Recently she has been having strange dreams. These dreams are a trigger for Victoria’s heritage. She seeks out her Aunt for answers. She finds that she has been chosen and such begins her training as a vampire slayer.

There are two men Victoria is drawn to; Phillip of Rockley, a Marquess whom she met when she was just a young girl and Sebastian Vioget who remains a mystery but stirs unfamiliar feelings within her. Three, if you count Maximilian Pesaro, master vampire executioner. Victoria accepts her calling as a vampire slayer, but seeks a balance of normalcy in her life. She is willing to go out patrolling for vampires at night, but she also wants to attend balls and be a part of normal society. This is one of the main conflicts driving Victoria in this book.

The world building and vampire mythology was very well developed. The vampire lore involved religion in a believable way, adding a unique twist to vampires. I like Victoria, from what I know of her so far. She is a practical girl and yet she is also hopeful. I feel like we have just scratched the surface of her personality.

The pacing of the book seemed unbalanced to me. At certain times, especially in the beginning, it took a while to for the story to grab a hold of my interest. Scenes with Victoria’s mother and her friends were especially annoying. Yet there were certain passages that I seemed to speed through. These were the passages with Victoria and Phillip and the climatic ending.

Another thing that bothered me was the abrupt changes between passages. One scene would end and then the next would start up days or weeks later. Lots of time would pass between scenes. It seemed to me the author was only highlighting those scenes she thought were most important.

I think this series shows a lot of promise and I am intrigued to see where the author is headed with the next book.

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