Sunday, May 30, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

Review: Tempting the Marquess by Sara Lindsey

While Olivia Weston loves matchmaking and romantic novels, she intends to make a suitable match. But first she wants an adventure, and when given the opportunity to visit a reclusive widower living in a haunted castle, Livvy can’t possibly resist.

After his wife’s death, Jason Traherne, Marquess of Sheldon, shut his heart to everyone but his son, and until now he has succeeded in maintaining his distance. But there’s something about Livy – her unique blend of sweetness and sensuality – that tempts him beyond all reason.

Though there’s nothing suitable about the feelings he inspires in her, Livvy can’t help falling for the marquess. But can she persuade him to let go of the past and risk his heart again?

I'm convinced the men in this story have all the best lines and/or thoughts.  

Lord, anyone would think he'd never seen breasts before.

He wanted to taste every spicy, salty, sauce inch of her luscious little body and take her in every possible way he could think of.  And he could think of quite a few ways to take her,  having spent too many sleepless nights contemplating just that. 

Jason wasn't sure if he should run away as fast as possible or strip off his clothes and offer himself to her.  If the blood rushing south at breakneck speed was any indication, his body enthusiastically voted for the second option.  It also indicated that, unless he got himself under control, a body part other than his brain would soon be making the decisions. 

But love and wooing isn't all fun and games and great lines.  Olivia Jane Weston has invited herself along on her aunt's sojourn to Wales because she's fallen a little bit in love with the reclusive Marquess of Sheldon.  Livvy believes he's in mourning for his wife, and she is under the distinct impression she can snap him out of it.  Her plots and plans, while good for helping her sister Isabella snare her husband, James, are not so handy for her own benefit.

I didn't agree with Livvy's flight in the latter third of the novel.  She'd been so passionate, so straight up and down in her admittance that she cared for and desired Jason, that I wanted her to stay and confront the matter rather than escape.  Make a list of pros and cons, for goodness sake.  (Livvy is famous for her lists, and they are quite amusing.)  Alas, she didn't listen to me but not to worry -- Jason and her brother Henry were hot on her heels.

Aside from that blip in judgment, Livvy is a bold yet completely innocent heroine.  She has a tendency to babble, which can sometimes get her into trouble, and her curiosity is insatiable.  Her romantic ideals and daydream sequences match her character 100% though they don't diminish her because ultimately, through Jason, her expectations and ideals are proven incorrect.

I'm looking forward to getting to know Henry in A Rogue for All Seasons (March 2011).

(A very special thank you to Sara Lindsey, in whose contest I won a signed ARC copy of Tempting the Marquess.) 

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Review: On the Edge by Ilona Andrews

Rose Drayton lives on the Edge, between the world of the Broken (where people drive cars, shop at Wal-Mart, and magic is a fairy tale) and the Weird (where blueblood aristocrats rule, changelings roam, and the strength of your magic can change your destiny). Only Edgers like Rose can easily travel from one world to the next, but they never truly belong in either.

Rose thought if she practiced her magic, she could build a better life for herself. But things didn't turn out how she planned, and now she works a minimum wage, off-the-books job in the Broken just to survive. Then Declan Camarine, a blueblood noble straight out of the deepest part of the Weird, comes into her life, determined to have her (and her power).

But when a terrible danger invades the Edge from the Weird, a flood of creatures hungry for magic, Declan and Rose must work together to destroy them—-or they'll devour the Edge and everyone in it...
I saw the cover for Bayou Moon at Lurv a la Mode.  I can't really say what drew my eye, but it did.  I've all but stopped reading urban fantasy and/or paranormal romance (except for a select few authors), so I'm always hesitant when I read the cover copy and discover a book I'd like to read is in either one of those genres.  After discovering Bayou Moon was the second in an inter-connected series -- or that's what I believe anyway, since I cannot find a blurb for Bayou Moon -- well, it had me at "series".

I am so glad I took a chance. 

On the Edge sucked me in from the first line, and lines like these kept me reading:

"I, Declan Riel Martel, ade Dominik, ade Logran, ade Rotibor, Earl of Camarine, Lord of Longshire, Svyator, and Veres, hereby swear to fulfill three tasks given to me within the next two weeks by..." He looked at her.

"Rose Drayton."  He owned more titles than TitleMax. 
"Rose," he said, as if tasting her name in his mouth.  "Let me in."

She simply shook her head.  It was all she could do.

"Shall I strip and try to entice you with my manly body?"
"That's the other thing I don't quite understand about you.   You're an earl.  You have money.  You're not ugly."

"I'm quite handsome, actually," he said.

Handsome was for ordinary mortals.  She rolled her eyes.  "And so modest, too.  Why are you here trying to get me to marry you?"

Despite being mired in fantasy, Rose could have been one of my neighbors where I grew up.  (This small-town feel has brought so many books to my attention, so I'm glad when authors decide to "write small," regardless of how big or developed their world is.)  She was real, a smart-ass, and I wanted to know more about her, wanted to spend more time together.  Her problems are magical, yes, but also fact-based.  Who doesn't understand living paycheck to paycheck and fighting to keep your family (and town) safe? 

I cannot wait to read Bayou Moon in September.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Review: A Certain Wolfish Charm by Lydia Dare

He gets crankier and crankier as the moon gets full…

The rules of Society can be beastly—especially when you’re a werewolf and it’s that irritating time of the month. Simon Westfield, the Duke of Blackmoor, is rich, powerful, and sinfully handsome, and has spent his entire life creating scandal and mayhem. It doesn’t help his wolfish temper at all that Miss Lily Rutledge seems not the least bit afraid of him, and in fact, may be as untamable as he is…

A woman whose charm is stronger than the moon…

When Lily’s beloved nephew’s behavior becomes inexplicably wild, she turns to Simon, the boy’s cousin and guardian, for help. But Simon’s idea of assistance is far different than hers, and Lily finds herself ensconced in his house and engaged to the rogue.

They both may have bitten off more than they can chew when each begins to discover the other’s darkest secrets…

A debut author -- and what a debut!  I liked the quick pacing (yes, it makes for short chapters, but each chapter had a hook, so I wanted to see what would happen next).

Simon is a bit of a beast, but Lily doesn't let that deter her.  He's guardian of her nephew, for God's sake; he can deal with this Regency tween and his hormones!

Simon and Lily both grow more intrigued with one another the longer they are in one another's presence, and Lily knows Simon is keeping something from her. When she discovers exactly what it is, she doesn't run away -- as Simon had feared.  Instead she embraces him and the secret he's been keeping. 

Theirs is a fierce romance, borne from  first an overwhelming dislike and distrust which then spirals into immense passion, love and need.  I hope to see only continued good things from Ms. Dare with her future releases.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Review: His Convenient Virgin Bride by Barbara Dunlop

He never imagined the incredible beauty would be a virgin! Yet just weeks after their roll in the hay, Stephanie Ryder was expecting his baby. Now millionaire Alec Creighton's once orderly world was slipping out of his control. Especially when her older brothers demanded that he propose to their sister. With the ceremony imminent, how would Alec wheel and deal his way out of it…or should he? Knowing the delights his bride offered, would having her in his bed be a pleasure he could afford?

I wish I could say this book was as good as the previous two in the series, but it wasn't.  Or I didn't like it as much.  The mystery surrounding the Ryders and Frank Stanton was solved, with little to no real problems in any family dynamic.  (I would have preferred to keep the hypothesized outcome of the first two books.)  Stephanie's marriage of convenience turns into true love.  Everyone gets everything they ever wanted!  


An aside for a moment:  I read because I enjoy reading, something my mother encouraged me to do from the time I learned to read.  I read all genres -- except horror because I nightmare easily -- so what I really want from a book is a good story.  That's it.  A good story to keep me engaged. 

The conflicts were too quickly resolved and glossed over.  Things just work out so nicely for the Ryders.  No one really gets mad; no one really expresses any kind of irritation.  I realize word count is a factor (a hindrance?) and there are probably certain romantic aspects authors must adhere to but I wanted someone -- particularly Stephanie -- to get bleepin' angry. 

Perhaps I just expect too much from this category line because, more often than not, I'm disappointed once I reach the end.  [In the effort of full disclosure, I've read four Desires and did not finish one. Maybe I'm not reading the right authors.  I'll take a chance.  Leave me some suggestions in the comments!]  Then again, I could just be a glutton for punishment because I've got two more Silhouette Desires on my TBR pile.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Review: In Bed With the Wrangler by Barbara Dunlop

The red-hot blonde was an unexpected bonus of his brother's wedding. But Royce Ryder wasn't bringing Amber Hutton back to his place for the night; he'd gotten roped into taking her to his family's Montana ranch. She'd definitely make the bachelor's forced stay much more pleasant.

What Royce thought would be a torrid tryst was Amber's idea of a quiet vacation. She had no intention of diving into the wrangler's bed—falling for a man like Royce was just asking for trouble. Though with just one touch from the wealthy playboy, she knew trouble had already found her.

Another good choice -- I love it when that happens!  

And I may have to accept that certain category romances are just going to end with a proposal and/or a wedding, regardless of the timeline and how long the hero and heroine have known one another.

In this case, it's a week, and there's already wuv...tru wuv...between Royce and Amber.  This time, however, there's also mystery and intrigue dotting the landscape and skeletons that come to life about the Ryder past.  I hope we all answers are revealed  in His Convenient Virgin Bride, the final book of the series. 

One question still plagues me: it seemed like Amber was running from something other than a fiance she didn't love. Maybe I'm reading more into this than I should, but at least 2 characters implied it.  I kept waiting for a black moment from Amber's past to fall into their laps.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Review: Seduction and the CEO by Barbara Dunlop

Making money comes easily for millionaire Jared Ryder, though the hectic corporate lifestyle has him heading to his Montana ranch whenever possible. There, a new female hired hand has the CEO thinking about mixing a little pleasure with business.
Melissa Warner certainly doesn't have many ranching skills. But her beauty's too captivating to ignore, and Jared's ready to stake his claim. Yet even in his passion-induced haze, he suspects Melissa of hiding something. Heaven help her if he discovers her lie, for there's nothing more dangerous than Ryder retribution.

My previous/first attempt with a Silhouette Desire left a lot to be ... desired.  (Sorry.)  I'm pleased to say that Ms. Dunlop has brought me back into the fold -- tentatively.  Perhaps I'll only read single-author series rather than multi-author series. 

Regardless, Seduction and the CEO was a good representation of all the things I enjoy in a romance novel, apart from the lies.  You see, Melissa's big plan SPOILERS BELOW

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Showing Some Skin...

Foster Fangirl Society

Join the fan club on June 1. You know you want to.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Review: A Touch of Scandal by Jennifer Haymore

Kate knows her duty to her family, yet how can she ignore Garrett's powerful pull on her heart? Or the heady temptation of his stolen-and sizzling-kisses? Scandal has followed the duke since the war. Now the greatest shock of all is on its way-the one that can separate Garrett and Kate forever.
The last thing Garrett, Duke of Calton, expects to find while tracking his sworn enemy is the delectable, mysterious Kate. This beautiful servant girl rouses a longing the battle-scarred ex-soldier had never hoped to feel again. But when she turns out to be the sister of the man he seeks, he's convinced he's been betrayed.

In Ms. Haymore's second book, a sequel of sorts to A Hint of Wicked, she's continued the story of Garrett, Duke of Calton, whom we last saw leaving his wife, Sophie, to his cousin, Tristan, relinquishing the battle for her heart.  Garrett is a scarred man, literally and figuratively, and he has William Fisk to thank for all of those.

As I was reading, I was struck by this quote, just after Garrett's and Kate's first meeting:

"She had done this to him. As they spoke, she brought him to life. How was it possible?"

And that is totally true!  Garrett is a damaged soul, wounded, angry, bent on revenge (well, not so bent that he's consumed by it).  But when the revenge plot is satisfied almost halfway through the novel, I wondered what would happen to continue the pace and to ultimately lead to a happy resolution for all parties involved.

The tone changes, the end game changes -- it has to! -- though that doesn't make the book less interesting.  In fact, it's more complex, more heart-wrenching because the stakes for happiness are so high.  Without divulging spoilers, I'll have to stop here.  Needless to say, Ms. Haymore is one of my favorite historical romance authors, and I would suggest she become one of yours too.

(A very special thank you to Mandi of Smexy Books and Hachette Book Group, who sponsored the contest where I won a copy of A Touch of Scandal.)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Review: Addicted by Charlotte Featherstone

Friends since childhood, Anais Darnby and Lindsay Markham have long harbored a secret passion for one another. When they finally confess their love, their future together seems assured, sealed with their searing embrace.

But when a debauched Lindsay is seduced by a scheming socialite, a devastated Anais seeks refuge in another man's bed while Lindsay retreats to the exotic East. There, he is seduced again—this time by the alluring red smoke and sinister beauty of opium.

Back home, Lindsay's addiction is fed by the vogue for all things Oriental—especially its sensual pleasures—in fashionable London society. In his lucid moments, Lindsay still lusts after Anais, who can neither allow him near nor forget his smoldering touch. Tortured by two obsessions—opium and Anais—Lindsay must ultimately decide which is the one he truly cannot live without.

To say I loved this novel would be an understatement.  It was beautifully written with angst-ridden characters -- and I could not put this book down. 

Please don't let Spice's tag "an erotic novel" deter you.  Yes, there is language of the four-letter variety.  Yes, the characters are in sexual situations more often than expected (I suppose), but it wasn't overwhelming nor was it tasteless or without motivation.  Everything about this novel was lush, intoxicating, amazingly put together, and I, too, became Addicted

I cannot wait to read the follow-up, Sinful, featuring the Earl of Wallingford.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Dares Have It!

Apparently, if your last name is DARE, I'm reading your books.  In May alone, I'm very eager to read these three books, with a very common surname: 

He's lost he most important part of himself...

Lord Benjamin Westfield is a powerful werewolf--until one full moon he doesn't change and his life is shattered.  He rushes off to Scotland in search of the healer who can restore his inner beast, only to find she's not at all what he expected.

She would make him whole, if she could...

Young, beautiful witch Elspeth Campbell will give her all to help anyone who calls upon her healing arts.  Until Lord Benjamin shows up, and she discovers she may need him even more than he needs her...

St. Elizabeth, Georgia, offers charm, Southern hospitality-and, most recently, murder. When hairdresser Grace Terhune and her mother, Violetta, gussy up all the high-society ladies attending the town meeting, they find their snobbiest client dead. The police believe the mother-daughter duo did her in. But before things get snarled beyond repair, Grace sets out to clear their names.

A handsome and reclusive horse breeder, Spencer Dumarque, the fourth Duke of Morland, is a member of the exclusive Stud Club, an organization so select it has only ten members—yet membership is attainable to anyone with luck. And Spencer has plenty of it, along with an obsession with a prize horse, a dark secret, and, now, a reputation as the dashing “Duke of Midnight.” Each evening he selects one lady for a breathtaking midnight waltz. But none of the women catch his interest, and nobody ever bests the duke—until Lady Amelia d’Orsay tries her luck.

In a moment of desperation, the unconventional beauty claims the duke’s dance and unwittingly steals his heart. When Amelia demands that Spencer forgive her scapegrace brother’s debts, she never imagines that her game of wits and words will lead to breathless passion and a steamy proposal. Still, Spencer is a man of mystery, perhaps connected to the shocking murder of the Stud Club’s founder. Will Amelia lose her heart in this reckless wager or win everlasting love?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cover Love

Olivia Grace has secrets that could destroy her. One of the greatest of these is the Earl of Gracechurch, who married and divorced her five years earlier. Abandoned and disgraced, Grace has survived those years at the edge of respectability. Then she stumbles over Jack on the battlefield of Waterloo, and he becomes an even more dangerous secret. For not only is he unconscious, he is clad in an enemy uniform.

But worse, when Jack finally wakes in Olivia's care, he can't remember how he came to be on a battlefield in Belgium. In fact, he can remember nothing of the last five years. He thinks he and Olivia are still blissfully together. To keep him from being hanged for a traitor, Olivia must pretend she and Jack are still married.

To unearth the real traitors, Olivia and Jack must unravel the truth hidden within his faulty memory. To save themselves and the friends who have given them sanctuary, they must stand against their enemies, even as they both keep their secrets.

In the end, can they risk everything to help Jack recover his lost memories, even though the truth may destroy them both?

In 16th century Scotland, young Miss Florie Gilder runs away from her drunken foster father to find her real father and her noble heritage. Along the way, she is accused of theft, becomes a fugitive hiding in a forest, and is accidentally wounded by a handsome local huntsman. The huntsman--a Robin-Hood figure who poaches wild game from the landowner's estate to feed the starving poor--carries the beautiful maiden to a church where she is guaranteed 40 days of sanctuary from the law. During that time, he learns her true story, falls in love with her, and helps her in her quest, at the risk of his own life. Smitten with him, she worries more for his survival. But enemies of the state are seeking to overturn the Catholic royals, while a vicious noblewoman is out to destroy Florie.
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