Saturday, February 28, 2009

Review - The Bride

The Bride is February's book for Nath's Re-read Challenge. I had a poll posted on my sidebar and this one was the most popular, although it was a close race. The Bride was one of the first romance books I ever read and I just fell in love with it. I originally gave it a B+ rating. I went on to glom many of Julie Garwood's other books. After reading The Bride for a second time, I find that it just doesn't hold the same magic for me that it once did. I believe my tastes have evolved and what once worked for me doesn't now. I will try to explain in my review below.

Title: The Bride
Author: Julie Garwood
Publication Date: 2002
Genre: Medieval
Rating: C+
Sensuality: Hot

Alec Kincade is a very important Scottish laird. He has been ordered by his king to choose one of Baron Jamison's very English daughters. Alec immediately comes to the conclusion that Jamie, the Baron's youngest daughter is the prize out of all the sisters. He chooses her and sets back for Scotland right away. Jamie has a feisty spirit and is well matched with Alec. He has never had a woman look him in the eye, let alone stand up to him as Jamie does.

When I first read The Bride a few years ago, I was completely engrossed in Alec and Jamie's story. I very quickly read through the book almost non-stop, without any breaks. While with the second time it easily held my attention, I didn't read it with the same enthusiasm. I started noticing little things, negative things. I came to realize that Jamie and Alec are far too perfect and seem almost fairy-tale like. Jamie can do no wrong and everybody is easily captivated and won over by her. Alec is the epitome of patience and understanding. It bordered on syrupy, and overly sweet.

I realize that this can be appealing, especially as an escape from reality. Once upon a time, it did appeal to me. Now, however, I want a little bit more realistic characters in my story. I think I would categorize this book under a guilty pleasure read. A guilty pleasure read for me is defined as a book that creates an escape from reality. It's not a book that is a great literary masterpiece. It is just easy, mindless entertainment.

Other parts of the book I found humorous then and I still did this second time around. Jamie has a way of doing things a little differently than others. This leads to Alec's exasperation, but the reader will get a kick out of it. There is a villain in this story. It's laughably ridiculous. It's supposed to add tension, but the villain is cartoonish at best. The villain's part is small, so the annoyance is relatively minor.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Review - Three To Get Deadly

Title: Three To Get Deadly
Author: Janet Evanovich
Publishing Date: 1997
Genre: Mystery
Rating: B
Sensuality: Kisses

Three to Get Deadly is the third book in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum Bounty Hunter series. Stephanie is to bring in Uncle Mo, who skipped out on his court hearing after he was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon. In New Jersey, there is an unwritten law that some rules are meant to be broken. Most citizens think that carrying a concealed weapon is a stupid law and are outraged about the fact that their "Saintly" Uncle Mo was even arrested. Mo has been around since the late 1950s when he opened up his ice cream/candy shop. When Stephanie goes to apprehend Mo she discovers that he is missing. Things aren't adding up and she is on the case.

Three to Get Deadly is basically more of the same from books one and two of the series. The same quirky characters are present and Stephanie still has a nose for trouble. Lulu, the former prostitute from book one is now a bounty hunter in training and tags along with Stephanie for this case. Lula adds a lot of silliness to the story but it's a little over the top for me.

So far, it's the third book in the series and things are progressing very slowly between Stephanie and Joe. I am waiting for their relationship to move forward. The mystery is more main course of the book and the romance just a side dish. I, however wish it was the other way around. I am hanging in there though, because I enjoy the storytelling. It is very entertaining and fun.

One quibble though, how is it humanly possible for Stephanie, who only weighs 125 pounds, to eat the amount of food she does and weigh that little? In one scene, she orders a double cheeseburger, fries and and a chocolate milkshake, only to eat a couple of cream filled donuts a couple of hours later. At this rate Stephanie should be weighing in at 230 pounds. What kind of world is she living in and why can't I exist in it too!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Review - Sunset Bay

Title: Sunset Bay
Author: Susan Mallery
Publishing Date: March 2009
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Hot

Megan Greene's life is going just the way she wants it. She has a successful accounting job at a prominent firm, and she is getting married in two weeks to a handsome cardiologist. Her mother is a self-centered hypochondriac, but that's okay because she has her father to make up for it. They have always had a very close relationship. Just as Megan thinks how perfect her life is, she gets an unexpected visit from a lawyer and receives the shock of her life. Right before her very eyes, all she holds dear is falling apart.

Megan had a short affair with bad boy Travis Hunter. He was her first love at eighteen. Things didn't work out for them. They were young and in love, but Megan was too young to see things through and it ended badly. Now ten years later, she is reevaluating everything she knows. Megan takes a good hard look at her life, maybe things could have been different.

Sunset Bay was a very griping emotional read. From the first few sentences I was entranced with Megan's story. Her mother is a total bitch. I'm talking Wicked Witch of the East here. The stuff fairy tales are made of. Her Mom is constantly beating her down emotionally. But Megan is a survivor. She has her father to lean on and get support from. I really connected to Megan early on in the story.

Sunset Bay is all about Megan working out her relationships with her fiance, Adam and her lost love Travis. It is about Megan dealing with her relationship with her father, mother and sister. It is a life affirming story of one woman's struggle to deal with what life has dished out for her and none of it is easy. Megan is a fighter and this is her journey. There is a reality to this story in the relationships Megan has with everyone. Her problems are those that anyone could have and probably has had to deal with.

There is an underlying theme about unconditional love throughout the book that really got me thinking. It was cleverly done by using Megan's relationship with her sister and parents and also Travis's relationship with his Mother and Father. It was interesting to see how Megan's and Travis's relationships with their parents strained their ability to work through their own problems. Megan and Travis stumbled around a bit before finally figuring out how to make it work.

I couldn't read this book fast enough. My one complaint would be at what asswipes Megan's parents are. They really made me angry at how selfish they acted. I guess that is a testament to how well Ms. Mallery wrote them, because my emotions were definitely engaged in the Megan's plight. There is a small secondary romance involving Megan's sister Leanne. I enjoyed this brief portion of the story, as well. I would definitely recommend this story to fans of contemporary romance or women's fiction.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

March Releases!

I am looking forward to several books this month. This first one Vampire's Claim is the third book in Joey Hill's Vampire Queen series. I reviewed the first two books and really enjoyed them. This book centers around Lady Daniella, who is another vampire whom readers were introduced to in The Mark of the Vampire Queen.

I was asked if I would like to receive an ARC of Sunset Bay and after reading the synopsis it sounded like something I would enjoy reading, so I quickly agreed. I have read several of Susan Mallery's books in the past. Some of which I loved and some were just, meh. I have a review of this one coming up shortly. Let's just say, I was pleasantly surprised.

I have been reading Christina Dodd ever since I first started reading romance. She is just one of those authors who I connected with instantly. Her writing style is very easy and her characters just pull me in. However, her last two books I was less than thrilled with. I don't know if it has anything to do with the fact they were paranormals instead of her usual contemporaries. I do know that I am going to give her another shot and read her latest which is the final book in not one, but two of her series, Lost Texas Hearts and Fortune Hunters Brothers.

Dark Victory is book four in Brenda Joyce's Masters of Time series. It is actually part of the Rose trilogy within the series. I just realized I haven't done a Series Sunday post on this favorite series of mine. I'll have to remedy that soon. These are warriors who can travel through time. Some of the books are set in present day and some are set in medieval times. I am a sucker for time-travel books. I just love the juxtaposition between a modern woman and and old fashioned, alpha man. Yum!

Desire Unchained is the second book in Larrisa Ione's new medical/demon paranormal series. While the first book Desire Unbound wasn't without it's problems, I thought it was an interesting premise for a series and I could see lots of potential. I am definitely up for giving this new author another try. What's nice too, is the third book Passion Unleased will be released in April. I just love back to back releases.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Review - Living with the Dead

Title: Living with the Dead
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publishing Date: November 2008
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Kisses

Living with the Dead is book nine in Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series. It follows closely on the heels of the previous book Personal Demon. There are several narrators in this story in the third person point of view: Hope, Robyn, Finn and Adele. Hope Adams is an Expisco half-demon who senses chaos and negative thoughts. Robyn, one of her good friends from high school was recently widowed. She moved to L.A. to make a clean start with her life. Robyn is working as a PR rep for a young socialite, Portia Kane, until Portia ends up dead and Robyn is the prime suspect. John Findlay, better known as Finn, is working the case. Finn has a little help that most people don't know about. He can communicate with the dead and one special ghost is helping him with this case.

Living with the Dead is another strong addition to this already immensely popular series. The storyline jogged along at a very brisk pace. I think the whole story only takes place over a couple of days. The world building and plot was nice and tight, with an excellent execution. I think some readers might be critical of the varying points of view, but in my opinion, it helped to enhance the urgency and suspense of the volatile plot. What would happen is the reader would be following along with one character and right at the moment of high tension, the chapter would end leaving a huge cliff hanger. The next chapter would begin from someone else's point of view and eventually circle around back to the same cliff hanger of the previous chapter. This technique enhanced the suspense and just made me want to read as quickly as possible.

The romance was definitely not the focus of this story. There was some romance threaded throughout, but it wasn't as strong as previous books in the series. Hope and Karl's relationship is already established, but they still have to work out some issues. Hope is struggling with relying too heavily on Karl and it scares the living daylights out of her. Robyn is a new character and human to boot, which means she is unaware of all the supernatural beings in her world. There is a small thread of romance with Robyn that I can't really disclose without giving too much away. Let's just say that by the end of the book, Robyn is starting to pick up the pieces of her life again after her husband's death. Some issues were left open at the end of the book with a lot of room for new story threads for future books. This series is staying strong and fans have a lot to look forward to in future years.

Here is what others had to say:

Love Romances and More Reviews
Urban Fantasy
Renee's Book Addiction

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Series Sunday - Rothwell Series

Madeline Hunter is one of my favorite authors. Her books are very easy to read and yet there is a depth to them that keeps me thinking long after I have read the story. Her most recent series of books revolves around a group of brothers, the Rothwells. Set in regency England, each brother receives his own story. It also coincides with the Longworth family who are introduced through Alexia in Rules of Seduction.

The Rothwells are a prominant family with Christian, the eldest brother being the Marquess of Easterbrook, followed by Hayden and Elliot. Each brother finds love in the most unlikely of places and Ms. Hunter weaves a masterful, solid tale. If I understand correctly from Madeline's website, Sins of Lord Easterbrook completes this series.

I believe these books can be read in any order. Each stands on its own. However, here is the series reading order:

1. Rules of Seduction (Hayden and Alexia)
2. Lessons of Desire (Elliot and Phaedra)
3. Secrets of Surrender (Roselyn and Kyle)
4. Sins of Lord Easterbrook (Christian and Leona)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Review - Wicked Game

Title: Wicked Game
Author: Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush
Publishing Date: February 2009
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Rating: C+
Sensuality: Warm

Twenty years ago at a private high school in Oregon, a young teenage girl went missing. Her friends all just thought she ran away, but the cop investigating the case always believed there was foul play involved. Now, present day, the school is going to be torn down and human bones are uncovered. Are those bones Jessie's? Becca Sutcliff was a part of the group of friends who hung around Jessie. Now, slowly one by one they are dying in horrible accidents.

I just love the premise of this book. A bunch of kids in high school all brought together by tragic, mysterious circumstances. There is even a unrequited childhood love story to go along with it. The suspense portion of the story was much more prominent than the romance portion of the story. I think it's a little misleading to label this a romantic suspense. I think it would be better classified as a thriller. Indeed, the mood of the story was very dark and suggestive. The atmosphere the author created was spooky, to say the least.

The mystery/suspense part of the book was excellently done. I loved the attention to detail and I could clearly picture certain scenes in my mind. Where the book was lacking for me, was Becca and Hudson's relationship. There wasn't any real emotional development to it. Don't get me wrong. I liked both Becca and Hudson's personalities, but I didn't feel connected or invested in them as a couple. That could be because of their relationship developing off page. I think fans of suspense or mysteries will enjoy this book. Die hard romance fans might be disappointed though.

Here is what others had to say:

Popin's Lair
Enchanted by Books

Thursday, February 19, 2009

February's Reread Challenge

And the winner is....

Thanks to all of you who participated in my poll. It was a very close race with The Bride coming in first place a total of 8 votes (only two more than the runner up). Next was The Duke with 6 votes and The Viscount Who Loved Me with 5 votes. Poor Jenny Jones only received 2 votes. I guess folks aren't into westerns.

I haven't read a good medieval in a while, so I am glad that The Bride won the poll. I hope it still holds the same magic it once did for me. It was the first Julie Garwood book I read. After I read it, I glommed a bunch of her books and discovered that after a while all her historicals seemed very formulaic. You could practically just interchange the character names and the title and get the same book. Now that my tastes have gotten more sophisticated, I wonder if it will still hold the same appeal that it once did. We'll see!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Review - Contact

Title: Contact
Author: Susan Grant
Publishing Date: 2002
Genre: Futuristic
Rating: B
Sensuality: Hot

Jordan Cady is a pilot for United Airlines. While making a quick flight to Hawaii her plane is swallowed up by an unknown alien aircraft. The lead pilot has a heart-attack from the stress and dies, leaving Jordan in charge of almost 300 people that make up the crew and passengers of Flight 58. Kao Vantaar-Moray has been assigned to debrief the survivors from Earth. The alliance patrol ship rescued Flight 58 right before Earth was hit by a comet. It is his job to help the last remaining survivors of Earth assimilate to their new life.

I usually don't read a lot of books in the science fiction category. I don't know why that is, because when I do, I really seem to enjoy myself. Contact was a very enjoyable read. Jordan finds herself in the role of not only Captain, but the leader of the survivors. She steps up the challenge of providing strength that others can rely on to get through this very tough time. Even though she wants to curl up into a ball and mourn the loss of her daughter and her life, she straightens her spine and gets to work.

While working out the details on their new life with Kao, she develops a friendship with him and discovers that Kao is not the cold-hearted, unfeeling man she first assumed him to be. She discovers that she has much in common with him and he helps her battle her grief over her daughter. I really liked that the author showed Kao's growth through out the story. Kao has been through a lot and it was good to see him work though all his problems and fight for what he most desired.

There is a secondary political plot that is also important to the development of the story. It was relatively easy to follow along with and didn't detract from the romance in any way. If anything I wish that more of the story could have been on the survivors assimilating in the new world. The majority of the story took place on the Alliance patrol ship. It would have been nice to see more of the other planets. But keeping things simple worked in the favor of making it more realistic and believable.

This review was part of Avid Book Reader's 2009 TBR Challenge. February's theme was a Desert Isle Keeper (DIK) romance from AAR. You can view a list of other participants here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Review - In Too Deep

Title: In Too Deep
Author: Portia Da Casta
Publishing Date: November 2009
Genre: Contemporary (Erotic)
Rating: B
Sensuality: Burning

Gwendolyn Price is a librarian in England. She lives a pretty normal, uneventful life, that is until she receives an erotic letter from an anonymous fan. She knows she should be freaked out by this pervert, but the truth is she's turned on. He seems completely harmless. They enter into a little exchange through letters and chat over the internet. Meanwhile, back in Gwendolyn's real life, professor Daniel Brewster, aka Professor Hottie McHotstuff, is doing his research at the library. Gwendolyn suspects he might be her secret admirer and sets about to find out.

This is my first Portia da Casta novel. I don't know if all her books are written this way, but I really struggled with the first few chapters. At first, I couldn't figure out what it was that was bothering me. Then it dawned on me that the book is written in present tense. It totally threw me for a loop. I eventually got over it and started enjoying the book.

In Too Deep is a very sensual read, but it's also funny and sweet too. Gwen and Daniel come across as real people, sometimes a little kinky, but for the most part just normal. Both have some insecurities, but nothing that is annoyingly reiterated again and again. I enjoyed the little twist revealed with Daniel towards the end of the story. It grounded the book so it didn't entirely feel like just a fantasy. And the ending was super sweet - just the way I like them.

Here is what others had to say:

Wendy the Super Librarian

Monday, February 16, 2009

Best of 2008 (IMHO)

After carefully deliberating, hemming and hawing, I have come up with what I consider the best reads of 2008. It seems I was not able to narrow it down to only one book per category. I just couldn't do it. 2008 was a really good year for publishing. I read some super awesome books and I want to make sure they all get the credit they deserve. I have broken down the best by a few categories, namely genre, to help organize these ratings.

Best Historical Romance
The Spymaster's Lady - Joanna Bourne
My Lord and Spymaster - Joanna Bourne
Seduce Me at Sunrise - Lisa Kleypas
Honorable Mention
Secrets of Surrender - Madeline Hunter
The Price of Desire - Jo Goodman

Best Paranormal Romance
Dark Desires After Dusk - Kresley Cole
Demon Night - Meljean Brook
The Last Twilight - Marjorie M. Liu
Honorable Mention
Fallen - Claire Delacroix
Nightkeepers - Jessica Andersen

Best Contemporary Romance
Blue-Eyed Devil - Lisa Kleypas
SEALed with a Kiss - Mary Margret Daughtridge
Honorable Mention
Romeo, Romeo - Robin Kaye
Tall Tales and Wedding Veils - Jane Graves

Best Romantic Suspense
Into the Fire - Suzanne Brockmann
Unlawful Contact - Pamela Clare
Honorable Mention
Nameless - Debra Webb

Best Erotic Romance
Tempted - Megan Hart
The Mark of the Vampire Queen - Joey W. Hill

Best Urban Fantasy
Personal Demon - Kelley Armstrong
FaeFever - Karen Marie Moning
Honorable Mention
Iron Kissed - Patricia Briggs

Best Debut Author
Joanna Bourne

And there you have it. What I thought was the best, most entertaining reads for 2008. I also just want to mention that AAR's annual reader poll closes tomorrow. This is your last chance to vote for your favorite reads from last year. The poll is open to anyone who wants to participate. I voted and you should too!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Review - Dream a Little Dream

Title: Dream a Little Dream
Author: Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Publishing Date: 1998
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: B
Sensuality: Hot

While Dream a Little Dream is not officially part of the Chicago Stars series, it is connected to Nobody's Baby But Mine. Gabe Bonner lost his wife and 5 year old son tragically in a car accident. Since then he has been lost, hopelessly mired down in his overwhelming grief. His brothers brought him back from Mexico to their hometown of Salvation, North Carolina, home of the once famous TV evangelist, Snopes. Rachel Stone, better known as the Widow Snopes, is desperate. She comes back to Salvation hoping to find the money her ex-husband stole from the citizens in the hopes of supporting her child. She currently has nine dollars in her pocket and is living in her broken down car on Gabe Bonner's property.

I love SEP's writing. It grabs me and doesn't let go. Whether I want to be or not, I am completely at her mercy. Whatever direction she wants to head in, I'm sitting in the passenger seat, lips sealed, seat-belt on, ready to go. With that in mind, I wasn't loving the premise of this book. It just sounded too depressing and too emotional. While to some extent this was true, I still really enjoyed Gabe and Rachel's story.

I think a lot of readers might be put off by the heavy subject matter of this story. It deals with grief and loss and desperation in a very honest manner. Nothing is sugar coated and some parts were just heart wrenching to read. Did I like this story? Yep, I sure as heck did. Rachel is one hell of a woman. What she has to deal with and overcome is nothing short of amazing. However, at times I found myself wondering if it wasn't all just a tad too dramatic and excessive; all the bad things that kept happening to her. Oh and Gabe - poor Gabe. He was just so damaged. As a hero, he was so flawed and messed up. But even so, I just couldn't help but like him and hope that he could find a little piece of happiness.

Talk about drama. I think SEP is the queen. When things hit rock bottom, damn they really hit subzero levels. Would I ever read this book again? Probably not. I was definitely entertained while reading it, but maybe it was too grueling for it to become a favorite.

Here is what others had to say:

Stacy's Place on Earth

Friday, February 13, 2009

January Summary

Here we are now almost halfway through February and I can't believe I forgot to post my reads for January. Duh! I almost didn't make my reading goal of 12 books for January so I had to squeeze in a couple of really short reads. I read two Harlequin Mini's and that bumped me right up to a total of 14 reads. I was able to read both books for the two challenges I entered.

It was a mixed bag this month, but for the most part I read some good books. The standout for me was Kelley Armstrong's Personal Demon. It was a very strong addition to her Women of the Underworld series.

1. Mail Order Bride, McKade (Western) Rating: B
2. Personal Demon, Armstrong (Urban Fantasy) Rating: A-
3. Lord of the Fading Lands, Wilson (Fantasy) Rating: B+
4. The Courage to Love, Kane (Historical/Erotic) Rating: D
5. Flat-Out Sexy, McCarthy (Contemporary) Rating: B+
6. Angels Wings, Stuart (Historical) Rating: B-
7. Two for the Dough, Evanovich (Mystery) Rating: B+
8. The Vampire Queen's Servant, Hill (Paranormal/Erotic) Rating: B+
9. Bad Blood, Banks (Urban Fantasy) Rating: B
10. To Die For, Howard (Contemporary) Rating: A-
11. Deadly Night, Graham (Paranormal) Rating: C-
12. The Mistress's Secret, James (Contemporary) Rating: D
13. The Spy Who Loved Her, Farrarella (Contemporary) Rating: B-
14. Kiss of a Demon King, Cole (Paranormal) Rating: B+

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dreamfever News!

Yes, that's right folks. I have news about Dreamfever, the fourth installment in Karen Marie Moning's Fever series. It now has a release date of August 25th of this year! So mark you calendars. You can even pre-order it at Amazon if you so choose. I love this series and I am dying of anticipation for my next fix.

Ms. Moning was even kind enough to leave us with a brief taste of what's to come in Dreamfever. Thank you Karen. Rabid fan girls everywhere are squeeeeing!

I was mad as hell.
I had so many grievances, I didn't even know where to
begin listing them.
I was pissed-off walking. Or rather pissed-off sitting,
tangled in crimson silk sheets that smelled like somebody'd been having a
That would be me.
And that made me even madder.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Review - The Mark of the Vampire Queen

Title: The Mark of the Vampire Queen
Author: Joey W. Hill
Publishing Date: 2008
Genre: Paranormal (Erotic)
Rating: B
Sensuality: Burning

The Mark of the Vampire Queen picks up right where The Vampire Queen's Servant left off. Lyssa is sick with an unknown disease that currently has no cure. Jacob her human servant is bound to her, which means when she dies he will too. Lyssa controls the Vampire territory of the Southeastern United States and is one of the most influential members of the Vampire Council. Before she succumbs to this illness, she needs to make sure her Vampires will have sanctuary when she dies. At the next council meeting she plans to bring this issue forth to the council. There are several obstacles that make this next to impossible to accomplish, Carnal a sadistic vampire out to demolish the Council, Jacob's vampire-hunter brother Gabriel, and Lyssa's illness.

This book really pushes the envelope, so to speak. Some of the things in this book made me uncomfortable. I think that was the author's intent, though. One of the aspects to Lyssa and Jacob's relationship is that they would both push the boundaries on what they were comfortable with. Lyssa would push Jacob to do things sexually that he normally would never think to do, nor imagine that they would arouse him as they do. In turn, Jacob would make Lyssa realize how much more her heart and soul was involved when having sex with Jacob. She was much more deeply involved with him than she has ever been with anyone else. So this was a very interesting dynamic to read.

I felt the pacing of the first half of the book was a little slow. Halfway through when Jacob and Lyssa attend the council meeting things really begin to pick up. When it came time for the climax of the story, I was hanging onto the edge of my seat. It was very intense, as there was a lot to take in and alot for the characters to deal with. I was surprised at the range of emotions I went through and came to realize that I had connected to Jacob and Lyssa. I definitely want to continue with more of this series. I think Joey W. Hill is one of the better erotic romance authors I have read.

Here is what others had to say:

The Good, The Bad, The Unread
Dionne Galace
Bitten by Books
Whipped Cream

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Re-Read Poll for Historical

When I was picking out books for Nath's Re-Read Challenge, I had a hard time deciding on some of the books. So, I need your help. I have posted a poll in my side bar on four books, each are historical. You can choose which ever book you would like to see me read and then review. You only get to choose one, LOL! I know, I know, it's so hard to decide, isn't it?

I will leave the poll open for one week. Then I will get busy reading it and post the review the last day of this month. Thanks so much for your input. I really appreciate it!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Review - Virgin River

Title: Virgin River
Author: Robyn Carr
Publishing Date: 2007
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: A
Sensuality: Hot

Virgin River is book one in Robyn Carr's Virgin River series. Melinda Monroe needs a drastic change in her life. When she sees and add for a Nurse Midwife in the tiny mountain town of Virgin River, she jumps at the chance. Melinda's husband died less than a year ago. They both worked in the ER for a large hospital in Los Angeles. She has been a city girl all her life. After she gets one look at the cabin she is supposed to live in, Mel wants nothing more than to high-tail it the heck out of there. Only the next morning someone leaves a newborn on Doc's front porch. She vows to stay until someone can take the baby. After she stays on a few weeks the town starts to grow on her and she gradually builds up a friendship with the local bar owner Jack. He was once a marine and has his own demons to battle.

Virgin River is the heart wrenching story of one woman's struggle to move past the death of her husband and begin to live her life again. Mel is attracted to Jack and enjoys his friendship, but she has so much baggage that she doesn't think she can be what Jack wants in a woman. She feels guilty for having these feelings for Jack when she still loves Mark, her husband. Melinda is one strong woman though and deals with these issues head on. Never did I feel sorry for her. I just wanted her to be happy. Fortunately, Jack is so patient and understanding. He never pushes her and allows himself to be there for her when she needs it. Jack is a wonderful man and he is just what Mel needs to heal.

Virgin River is so much more than just Melinda's story. The town itself plays a huge role in the book. It almost feels like a character itself. The images Carr paints of the town were all very vivid. I had no problem at all picturing the redwoods and winding roads. There are many interesting characters that live in this town that only serve to enhance the story. Mel's patients, Doc Mullins, Ricky and Preacher, even the bad guy Calvin, all create a wonderful backdrop for Melinda and Jack's romance. I felt very invested in these characters and I hope to see them again.

Here is what others had to say:

Books, Books and More Books
Leslie's Psyche

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Series Sunday - The Bridgertons

Ahhhh, The Bridgertons. It's like revisiting with old friends who I haven't had the pleasure of seeing in a while. When I first started reading romance one of the first books I ever read was Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn. Little did I know that this was the third book in an eight book series about the fun loving Bridgerton family. Since, I am considering The Viscount Who Loved Me for Nath's re-read challenge, I thought I would do a post about this wonderful series.

This series is set in England during the regency era. It is about a family of eight children all now grown each finding a love of their own. They are a very close knit family and while I would not call them dysfunctional, they are far from perfect. Julia Quinn has managed to balance the right amount of humor with angst and it is a winning combination, indeed. I personally don't feel like the books need to be read in order for full enjoyment. I didn't read them in order (gasp), and I got along just fine and loved them all. For those that are interested:

Here is the series publication order:
1. The Duke and I (Daphne and Simon)
2. The Viscount Who Loved Me (Anthony and Kate)
3. An Offer from a Gentleman (Benedict and Sophie)
4. Romancing Mr. Bridgerton (Colin and Penelope)
5. To Sir Phillip, With Love (Eloise and Phillip
6. When He Was Wicked (Francesca and Michael)
7. It's In His Kiss (Hyacinth and Gareth)
8. On the Way to the Wedding (Gregory and Lucinda)

Julia Quinn has a lovely website just brimming over with information about this series including a family tree and 2nd epilogues for many of these books. If you are interested definitely check it out.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Review - Kiss of a Demon King

Title: Kiss of a Demon King
Author: Kresley Cole
Publishing Date: January 2009
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Hot

This is the 6th full length book in Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series. Rydstrom is a demon who lost his kingdom centuries ago. One to never shirk his duty or shy away from a difficult challenge, Rydstrom has vowed to do what it takes to gain back the throne to his kingdom. Omort the Deathless, a very powerful sorcerer is standing between him and what is rightfully his. As his brother Cade journeys to retrieve the only sword that can kill Omort, Rydstrom finds himself held captive by the beautiful Sabine, the Queen of Illusions.

There were many things about Kiss of a Demon King that are similar to the other books in this series, and yet it is still different enough that it doesn't feel like the same book with only different names for the characters. It was fast paced with plenty of sarcastic humor and larger than life characters. Although at times, I found it difficult to connect to Sabine. She is selfish and other than her sister she is only concerned with her needs and wants.

Rydstrom was really great though, a major hero in every way. I really liked him. He was sort of stodgy for one of Cole's heroes, but he more than gives as good as he gets after he escapes from Sabine. It was really fun to watch him turn the tables on Sabine and pull the wool over her eyes. She was too sure of herself and underestimated him. This book was super sensual. Much of the plot was focused on sex. Cole did a really fantastic job of creating much sexual tension between the characters.

One thing I noticed was that there really was no definitive set up for the next book. I believe there might be something in the future dealing with Sabine's sister and the Vrekeners or, possibly something with the Horde vampire, Lothaire. It's hard to say, though. I know lots of fans want more of Nix. I do too. So, what is next, I wonder?

Here is what others had to say:
The Good, The Bad, The Unread
Danielle's Book Thoughts
Book Binge
My Thoughts on Nothing Much at All
Tracy's Place
Good and Bad Books
Rip My Bodice
The Book Smugglers
Dear Author

If I missed your review, just add your link in the comments section. It wasn't intentional, I promise.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Poll Results on Book Buying Habits

A big thank you to those of you who participated in my book buying poll that I had posted last week on my sidebar. The results are in and I think they are quite interesting. I have even made a pie chart to visually stimulate you.

As was expected, most you choose to get your hands on the books you want as quickly as possible. The next most popular choice was that many of you don't pay attention to release dates and shop when the mood strikes. (Possibly, after reading a spectacular review.) What did surprise me though was that only 5% or (1 out of 18 people) borrow or buy books used. I thought that number seemed surprisingly low.

I utilize my library very heavily. They know me by name, seeing how I am usually there at least once a week, sometimes twice. Especially, in this day as unemployment soars and the economy worsens, I would think more people would take advantage of this service. But on a happy note, publishers would love nothing more than to hear that readers are still willing to spend their hard earned money on books.

As far as paying attention to release dates and making sure to buy on or after, just under a quarter of you try to hold off. I noticed that Kresley Cole's latest release Kiss of a Demon King did make #1 on the New York Times best seller list this week. Regardless of whether or not people bought the book early, she still made it to the top. As a romance reader and fan of the series, I was very happy to see that. Congratulations to Ms. Cole and her continued success!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Review - The Spy Who Loved Her and The Mistress's Secret

Many of you who follow my blog know I received the iPod Touch for Christmas. Lucky for me, Harlequin was running a promotion for iPhone or iPod Touch owners that they could download four of their Harlequin Mini books for free. Free books, you say? That's right, free. So of course I jumped at the opportunity to add them to my ever growing collection, because really, can you ever have too many books? Is there such a thing? Anyway, I ended up reading two of those books and here are my thoughts on them. These books were very short - novella size, I suppose. Since the books were so short, so will the reviews.

Title: The Mistress's Secret
Author: Julia James
Publishing Date: 2004 (this is what it has for the copyright date, but I thought mini's were new to the Harlequin line)
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: D
Sensuality: Warm

Alanna Richards used to be the mistress to one very wealthy Leon Andreakos. Can you guess his nationality? I don't know why this one wasn't titled The Greek Tycoon's Mistress's Secret. Too Long? Title was already taken? Anyway, back to the story. Something happened in their past that lead her to flee from him and is now living in borderline poverty. Four years she has managed to avoid him when she accidentally runs into him in a department store. Leon hasn't ever been able to get her out of his mind and after he see her he wants her immediately.

The good news: this story was really short. I read it on my lunch break at work. The bad news: the majority of the story was a retelling of what happened in Alanna and Leon's past. It was all very cliched, with a secret baby plot and a big misunderstanding. All of this was just too much for such a short story. Leon's reason for wanting to marry Alanna was very flimsy. Like I said, good thing it was short.

Title: The Spy Who Loved Her
Author: Marie Farrarella
Publishing Date: 2000
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: B-
Sensuality: Kisses

Marla O'Connor an English teacher is at a teacher's convention in San Francisco. After a day of seminars she is eagerly looking forward to a hot shower and curling up with a good book. But surprise, surprise, when she unlocks the door to her hotel room she discovers a stunning specimen of a man, naked in her shower. For the sake of her own safety, Erik must keep her with him until he can secure his package (not that package - get your mind out of the gutter). That's twelve hours they will have to allude the bad guys.

I liked this mini much better than the previous one. I was able to read it in the same day and I found the differences to be quite drastic. Where as with the previous one I was told the story, this one was all action right from the get go. There was lots of interaction and witty banter between Erik and Marla. I was much more engaged in these characters. I still needed some suspension of disbelief because the story was very short, but nothing was super over the top. I could roll with it. My main complaint would be that when Erik and Marla finally get busy between the sheets, the story fades out and it picks up morning after. I know I sound like a pervert, but hey, I wanted to be apart of it too. What? Three's a crowd? Sheesh.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Exciting February Releases

I'm super exited about the next installment of Patricia Brigg's Mercy Thompson Series. Only bad thing for me is that it is bound in hardback form. You know, more costly. Of course, the hardback does keep nicely - none of those pesky creases that plaque the paperback. For those of you who are new to the series, check out my post here for a brief series synopsis and the reading order.

Releases: February 3, 2009

I am a big fan of Connie Brockway's work. I discovered her through AAR top 100 romance lists. Several of her books have made the list, among them are All Through the Night and My Dearest Enemy. Here's to hoping for another masterpiece.

Releases: February 3, 2009

I love Jennifer Crusie and will pretty much read anything she publishes. The fact that Anne Stuart and Lani Diane Rich are a part of the book is just icing on the cake. From what I can understand, it's the story of three friends who all find love after they discover they each have a different superpower. It is just one story, but there are three protagonists. If anyone knows for certain, feel free to correct me. It sounds really cute and fun.

Releases: February 3, 2009

Monday, February 2, 2009

Review - Deadly Night

Title: Deadly Night
Author: Heather Graham
Publishing Date: 2008
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: C-
Sensuality: Warm

Aidan Flynn and his two brother have inherited a southern plantation from an aunt they didn't even know existed. There have been rumors that the house is haunted by a lady in white. When Aidan visits the house he discovers a human thigh bone. Aidan is a private investigator and wants to know where the bone came from. Kendall Montgomery stayed with Aidan's aunt the last few weeks of her life. She claimed to see ghosts at the end and that there was something evil on the grounds. Kendall at first was skeptical, but now she is having strange experiences herself, that she can't explain. She and Aidan work together to unravel the mysterious circumstances.

Deadly Night is the first book in the Flynn brother trilogy. After reading the summary for it, I knew this book was right up my alley. It is set in New Orleans with a haunted plantation, combined with a Civil War romance. Unfortunately, this book did not live up to my expectations. It was sorely lacking in many aspects.

The most disappointing part of the book was that it was just plain boring. Kendall and Aidan were okay characters but I never really connected to them. At first, Aidan comes across as very cold and distant. He and Kendall don't like each other at all. Eventually, things change and they become intimate, but I wasn't really buying it. Everything was so lackluster. Where's the passion?

The mystery portion of the book was better developed than the romance. Most of the book was focused on the details of Aidan's investigation. I found it to be a touch boring at times. I did like many of the secondary characters and how at one moment the clues would point to one person and then in the next chapter someone else was under suspicion. This book might do better as marketed as straight mystery instead of paranormal romance.

Here is what others had to say:
Not Enough Books
Jenn's Bookshelf
A Bookaholic's Review
Darque Reviews

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Series Sunday - Stephanie Plum

This series isn't exactly straight romance, but I have enjoyed it none the less and there is some romance to it. At my library they shelve it in the mystery section. Stephanie, the heroine of the books, is a bounty hunter. Each book has self contained mystery to it, but Stephanie's social life progresses over the course of the series. I think each book could be read on their own, but the whole reading experience would be enhanced if the books were read in order.

This series is very popular in mainstream and has made the New York Times best seller list several times. It is told in the first person and Stephanie has a very fun outlook on life and is outrageously funny. So far I have only read the first two books in this extensive series, but I have enjoyed both very much. I have heard complaints from some readers about the unresolved love triangle between Stephanie and her two men, Ranger and Joe. I will have to see for myself what all the fuss is about. I might update this later as I make progress in the series. Until then, I'll have to reserve judgement and just enjoy the ride.

*UPDATE* I have made it to the ninth book so far and I am very much enjoying this series. I even have my mom reading it! So far my two favorite books would be Four to Score because of Sally Sweet the cross-dressing transvestite and To the Nines when Lula and Stephanie travel to Las Vegas.

Series Reading Order:
1. One for the Money
2. Two for the Dough
3. Three To Get Deadly
4. Four To Score
5. High Five
6. Hot Six
7. Seven Up
8. Hard Eight
9. Visions of Sugar Plums
10. To the Nines
11. Ten Big Ones
12. Eleven on Top
13. Twelve Sharp
14. Plum Lovin'
15. Lean Mean Thirteen
16. Plum Lucky
17. Fearless Fourteen
18. Plum Spooky
19. Finger Lickin' Fifteen (releases July 09)