Monday, February 28, 2011

Eagerly Anticipating


Friday, February 25, 2011

Review: Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts

As the public face of Vows wedding planning company, Parker Brown has an uncanny knack for fulfilling every bride's vision. She just can't see where her own life is headed. Mechanic Malcomb Kavanaugh loves figuring out how things work, and Parker is no exception. Both know that moving from minor flirtation to major hook-up is a serious step. Parker's business risks have always paid off, but now she'll have to take the chance of a lifetime with her heart...

Finally -- Parker and Mal! 

Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed because this novel seemed to encompass all the couples rather than strictly focus on Parker and Mal.  Certainly, they've been dancing around one another since Savor the Moment; I guess I just wanted Happy Ever After to be solely their story, rather than watch the Vows team planning their own respective weddings, in addition to the other weddings already on the schedule.
One moment I truly enjoyed:

“Why don’t you ask me in, Parker?”

She intended to say no, had intended to say no since she’d dressed for the evening.  Too soon, too much, too risky.

She opened the door, held out her hand. “Come in, Malcolm.”

He took her hand, shoved the door closed behind him.  His gaze stayed on hers, compelling, the only contact but palm to palm.

“Ask me upstairs. Ask me into your bed.”

She felt her heart beat, rapid kicks at the base of her throat. Be sensible, she ordered herself. Be careful.
Instead she moved into him this time, took for herself this time by laying her lips on his.

“Come upstairs, Malcolm. I want you in my bed.”

*fans self*

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Review: You Dropped a Blonde on Me by Dakota Cassidy

A delightful new romantic comedy from an author who "never disappoints."* (New York Times bestselling author MaryJanice Davidson)

She was the perfect party-planning, haute-to-the max trophy wife. Now Maxine Cambridge is broke, unemployable and living with her mother and teenage son in a retirement village, with her self-esteem kicked to the curb.

Until her geeky former classmate Campbell Barker returns, all grown-up- and off-the-scale smokin' hot. Campbell refuses to believe Max isn't that smart, funny girl he's crushed on since high school. The more Max tries to show him he's wrong, the more she rediscovers her long-retired mojo. Now, she's ready to throw down some payback on her ex-life and fight for what she deserves...

I love Ms. Cassidy's voice.  Her first three Accidentals [The Accidental Werewolf, Accidentally Dead, and The Accidental Human] brought a lot of humor to the paranormal genre, something I'd not seen or read previously. 

So when I heard she would be writing a contemporary romance, a semi-autobiographical one, no less, I had to have a copy.  And she didn't disappoint.

It's the little things Maxine "Max" Cambridge cherishes: finding employment, making money, spending said hard-earned money at Wal-mart.  To watch her pick up the pieces of her divorced life and push forward while living in a retirement community with her mother, well, there's something to be said about that kind of gumption.  I cannot wait to see what advice Max plans to bestow on other ex-trophy wives.

(A very special thank you to Berkley who provided me with an ARC of You Dropped a Blonde on Me.)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Review: The Making of a Duchess by Shana Galen

A very dangerous attraction...

Julien Harcort, duc de Valere, is more than willing to marry the lovely lady his mother has chosen.  Little does he know she's been sent to prove him a spy and a traitor...

And an even more dangerous secret...

Sarah Smith's mission is to find out whether the duc's trips to the Continent are as innocent as he claims, but the way he looks at her are far from innocent.

Their risky game of cat and mouse propels them from the ballrooms of London to the prisons of Paris and into a fragile love that my not survive their deceptions...

The plot for this book was pretty straightforward: the hero and heroine are going to fall in love.  What Sarah and Julien do not have, however, is an instant chemistry, at least not one that I readily believed and wanted to see come to fruition.  But as the narrative progressed, their coupling slowly wormed its way into my mind.  Adding the is-he-or-isn't-he-a-traitor? only helped to further the cause, since Sarah wrestled with this same question over and over.  She comes to believe he is not and goes so far as to accompany Julien on what he hopes will be his final trip to Paris.  The real traitor -- and Sarah's true identity -- were points I didn't see coming, though I suppose I should have expected both.  I'm looking forward to reading the final two books in this series.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Review: Notorious Pleasures by Elizabeth Hoyt

 Their lives were perfect . . .

Lady Hero Batten, the beautiful sister of the Duke of Wakefield, has everything a woman could want, including the perfect fiancé. True, the Marquis of Mandeville is a trifle dull and has no sense of humor, but that doesn't bother Hero. Until she meets his notorious brother . . .

Until they met each other.

Griffin Remmington, Lord Reading, is far from perfect - and he likes it that way. How he spends his days is a mystery, but all of London knows he engages in the worst sorts of drunken revelry at night. Hero takes an instant dislike to him, and Griffin thinks that Hero, with her charities and faultless manners, is much too impeccable for society, let alone his brother. Yet their near-constant battle of wits soon sparks desire - desire that causes their carefully constructed worlds to come tumbling down. As Hero's wedding nears, and Griffin's enemies lay plans to end their dreams forever, can two imperfect people find perfect true love?

Ms. Hoyt is on my automatic buy list, and Notorious Pleasures may just be my favorite of her books thus far.  Of course there's sexual tension: 

"Damn you."

Her vision was blurred, so she didn't see his movement, but she was suddenly across the carriage, half sprawled on his lap.

"I dare," he muttered, "because I'm selfish and black-hearted and vain.  I dare because you are what you are and I am what I am.  I dare because I cannot otherwise.  I've lived too long without bread or wine, crawling desperate in a lonely, barren desert, and you, my darling Lady Perfect, are manna sent directly from heaven above."

His lips were on hers, urgent and hot. Oh, Lord, she had not known how much she missed his kisses!  His mouth tasted of need too long suppressed, but where he might've been rough with her, he was instead gentle.
Very gentle.

His big hands were on her breasts, and he pinched both her nipples at once.  She bit her lip at the pleasure-pain, a tear slipping down one cheek.  This was real.  This was something outside of everyday bland interactions and rote conversation.  His mouth was on hers, open and wild, and  his hips were thrusting, moving his cock in her hand in an animal rhythm.  He squeezed her poor engorged nipples again, pulling at them at the same time.  And she felt.

She felt alive.

And a little bit of humor: 

He shook his head. "This isn't a whim."

"Then why didn't you ask me before you bedded me?"

He stared at her, tempted to answer that he'd been thinking with the smaller of his two heads before he'd bedded her, thank you very much.

But at the heart of the matter is the fact that Ms. Hoyt's writing is impossible (for me) to put down.  That's one of the main problems:  I read her books too damn fast.  Each page adds more sexual tension, more intrigue, more drama, more romance, and the hero and heroine become people I feel I know -- even better, I want to know them.  I'm a spectator to their little moments and I want more of them. 

And I cannot express how giddy I am at the thought of Silence's book [Scandalous Desires, November 2011].

Monday, February 14, 2011

Cover Love


Serena Donovan left London six years ago, her heart broken and her reputation ruined by devilishly handsome Jonathan Dane. Now, with her family's future in peril, she reluctantly agrees to return to England and assume her late twin's identity. The price? Marry a man she doesn't love and spend the rest of her days living a lie.

Jonathan Dane, Earl of Stratford, has become an incorrigible rake, drinking, gambling-and trying to forget Serena Donovan. Yet the moment he's introduced to the prim and proper "Meg", he recognizes the sensual young woman who captured his heart. Haunted by his past mistakes, he refuses to lose Serena again. But convincing her to trust him is no easy task. Claiming his lost love means exposing the truth and destroying the life Serena has sacrificed everything to rebuild. With the future of all the Donovans at stake, and their undying passion capable of triggering yet another scandal, how much will Jonathan and Serena risk for a chance at true love?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Tell Me a Story...

Ms. Lila Dare leapt onto my TBR list last spring (May was the month for writers named "Dare").  I'm not certain where I saw the cover for Tressed to Kill, but once I read the back cover blurb and saw "Southern" and "beauty shop," I knew this book was for me.  Having read the second in the series, Polished Off, I'm so glad I took the chance!  

I'm extremely excited to have her visit and tell a little bit about...

The Books at Lila’s House

Somehow it seemed appropriate, when writing for a blog called “My House of Books” to take stock of the books lying around my house and share my findings with you.  In the interest of full disclosure, I will point out that my husband and daughters are all voracious readers with tastes that differ greatly from mine, so be prepared for a wide range of titles!

Bookshelves line every wall in our basement and that’s where we corral most of our probably 2,000+ books.  (If that number shocks you, talk to my hubby who is incapable of demoting a book to giveaway or donation once it has been blessed with a slot on our shelves.)  I confess to occasionally sneaking down to the basement with a box when my hubby’s away and extracting such up-to-date titles as Cobol for Dummies and foisting them on Goodwill.  Tom’s tastes run mostly to non-fiction, including political biographies, everything ever written about the Civil War, U.S. history, world wars and sources of conflict, and enough chess books to start his own chess book lending library.  When I look at his books, I feel inadequately educated.  He’s currently reading the Robin Olds biography, Fighter Pilot.

Several shelves in the basement and most horizontal surfaces in the main living areas are covered with my daughters’ books which they seem constitutionally incapable of putting away.  Of course, this strange malady also affects their clothes, their homework, their art supplies and shoes, so I guess I’m not surprised.  Daughter #1 (thirteen years old) loves fantasy and horses, so she owns all the Harry Potter books, the Warrior series (cat clans, for those of you who don’t know), the Hunger Games books, the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books, the Inheritance Cycle (dragons) . . . you get the picture.  She knows when the next installment of all her favorite series is coming out and rushes to the local bookshop on the day, gift card in hand.  (Somehow, she always has a bookstore gift card to spend.)  She is currently reading Horses for Dummies.  Really.  Oh, and To Kill a Mockingbird, under duress for school.  Since it has no dragon, talking cats, or magic of any kind and takes place in a boring-as-dirt town with bland characters and no justice, she doesn’t much like it.  (She wrote that last sentence.)

Daughter #2 (eleven years old) reads some of the above, plus Dave Barry’s and Carl Hiassen’s middle grade books, the Peter and the Starcatcher series, Brian Jacques’ Redwall series, and anything featuring a smart/sarcastic/rebellious middle schooler.   Hm . . . perhaps that’s because she is a smart, sarcastic, mildly rebellious middle schooler? 

I have books lining my office, many of which are writing craft books.  I also have a fair sprinkling of classics, left over from my days as a literature grad student (I haven’t read them in years but they make me look intelligent—in a pretentiously literary way) when people scan the shelves.  I have stacks of traditional mysteries, signed books by friends, essay collections (Anna Quindlen, David Sedaris, Nora Ephron, and others), and every Regency romance Georgette Heyer ever wrote.  My mom introduced me to Heyer in my teens and I’ve read them over and over since then; they’re my comfort reads.  

When I visit a friend’s house, almost the first thing I do is scan the bookshelves for titles.  What would I find on your shelves?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Review: Polished Off by Lila Dare

St. Elizabeth, Georgia, offers charm, Southern hospitality - and an occasional dollop of mayhem.  Now, hairdresser Grace Terhune has to save a beauty pageant that's fallen viceim to the ugliness of murder...

Little Miss Murderous

It's business as usual at Violetta's salon, until Audrey Faye sashays in looking for stylists for the Miss Magnolia Blossom pageant.  Grace jumps at the opportuinty, but on her first day she finds a theater full of anti-pageant protestors, angry mothers, frantic contestants, and an aloof Audrey.  Even Violetta's manicurist, Stella, is acting strangely. 

Then, during the talent portion, protestors storm the stage - and Audrey Faye is found dead, murdered with a nail file.  It turns out Audrey was having an affair with Stella's husband, which makes Stella a prime suspect.  Now, Grace and Violetta's beauticians must find the real murdered before Stella is polished off permanently...

Grace Terhune has stepped in it again, and by "it," I mean murder.  Or perhaps she just has an aura that attracts dead bodies.  I don't exactly know, but whatever it is, it makes Polished Off a quick and entertaining read. 

Ms. Dare has the ability to add a little bit of everything to this mystery: twists and turns, romance, suspense, as well as the commonality of Grace and the citizens of St. Elizabeth, Georgia.  This could be your town, your neighbors.  Then again, if the bodies began piling up in my town, I'd be inclined to move.  Grace, however, never thinks in those terms.  She wants to help Stella -- as she wanted to clear her mother's name in Tressed to Kill -- so she immediately goes to work.  And let me say that dead bodies do not impact Grace's ability to do good hair or be an amateur sleuth. 

Polished Off picks up immediately where Tressed to Kill ends, and Ms. Dare delivers another jam-packed ride.  I cannot wait to see what will happen to Grace next.

(A very special thank you to Berkley Prime Crime who provided me with an ARC of Polished Off.)
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