Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Monday, July 30, 2012

Review: The Cowboy and the Princess by Lori Wilde

Brady Talmadge was a cowboy with five unbreakable rules: 
1) Never pick up a pretty hitchhiker
2) Avoid damsels in distress
3) Never order chili at a truck stop
4) Always trust your gut
5) Never tell a lie . . .

This is what happened when he broke all his rules . . . and got into a whole lot of trouble

On the run from an arranged marriage, Princess Annabella of Monesta dons the guise of a hitchhiking cowgirl. But when she finds herself drenched, alone, and hungry, she has no choice but to trust the tall Texas horse whisperer who offers her a ride. He's like no one she's ever known--a strong sexy man who says just what he thinks. And when one wild kiss leaves her breathless, she quickly realizes she'll give up everything to spend a lifetime of night times in his arms. But how can there be happily-ever-after with palace guards hot on her trail?

We return to Jubilee, Texas, albeit in a roundabout way in The Cowboy and the Princess.   Brady Talmadge is a ne'er do well who was picked up by Dutch Callihan and taught the fine art of horse whispering.  He had previously drifted until setting down roots with Dutch in Jubilee.  When Dutch passed away (as seen in book one of this series, The Cowboy Takes a Bride), Brady hits the road, peddling his wares and avoiding most human interaction.  But he breaks three of his five unbreakable rules in one night with "Annie Costa." 

Watching Brady and Annie tap dance around each other in the small cab of Brady's truck was a real treat.  Theirs is a slow romance, mainly because both are carrying baggage dealing with their respective pasts.  The ending seemed a bit disconnected and rushed, though The Cowboy and the Princess is a very good addition to the world of Jubilee.   

(A very special thank you to Avon Books, Harper Collins and Edelweiss for providing me with an ARC of The Cowboy and the Princess.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Review: Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt

A Masked Man . . .

Winter Makepeace lives a double life. By day he's the stoic headmaster of a home for foundling children. But the night brings out a darker side of Winter. As the moon rises, so does the Ghost of St. Giles—protector, judge, fugitive. When the Ghost, beaten and wounded, is rescued by a beautiful aristocrat, Winter has no idea that his two worlds are about to collide.

A Dangerous Woman . . .

Lady Isabel Beckinhall enjoys nothing more than a challenge. Yet when she's asked to tutor the Home's dour manager in the ways of society— flirtation, double-entendres, and scandalous liaisons—Isabel can't help wondering why his eyes seem so familiar—and his lips so tempting.

A Passion Neither Could Deny

During the day Isabel and Winter engage in a battle of wills. At night their passions are revealed . . . But when little girls start disappearing from St. Giles, Winter must avenge them. For that he might have to sacrifice everything—the Home, Isabel . . . and his life.

Perhaps coming off the high that was Scandalous Desires set me up for an unreachable goal concerning Thief of Shadows.  That's not to say I wasn't jonesing for Winter's book; of course I wanted to learn more about the quiet Winter Makepeace and the side of his nature he keeps hidden as the Ghost of St. Giles.  (It's very ironic that Winter's surname -- Makepeace -- seems so at odds with who the Ghost of St. Giles is and the mischief he clings to. Though I don't suppose Winter sets out to make mischief in St. Giles; he wants to restore his community, keep he, his family, and his charges safe from harm.  There's certainly no shame in that.)

I just felt a little let down by Thief of Shadows.  It's still a good book, and I'm very excited to read the next book in the series (Lord of Darkness, February 2013) because I do love the world Ms. Hoyt has created, especially given what Winter reveals to Isabel at the end of the book.  But Thief of Shadows ultimately didn't live up to my expectations.    

(A very special thank you to Hachette Book Group, Forever Romance, and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Thief of Shadows.)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Review: Midnight Rescue by Elle Kennedy

Dangerous. Ruthless. Savage. And she's the good guy.

Abby Sinclair had a desperate childhood until she was rescued and adopted by a retired army ranger who molded her into a master of self-defense. Now, she's a cunning and fearless assassin thrust into assignment after dangerous assignment, using everything she has-nerve, resilience, strength, sex-to come out on top. Her only rule: trust no one.

Abby's latest assignment is in Colombia: go undercover and snuff out a dangerous arms dealer active in the underground sex trade. But when Abby purposely blows her cover in a last-ditch attempt to free the helpless victims, deadly mercenary Kane Woodland is recruited as back-up. His mission: get Abby out of that hell hole.

The last thing Kane expects is to feel a primal attraction for Abby. But when she convinces him to join her on her perilous mission, their newfound passion could put the lives of their whole team at risk.

What I really liked about this story was the opening:  rather than the hero being tortured, we see the heroine taking a beating and hypothesizing about what might happen to her.  An interesting spin on the romantic suspense subgenre from my point of view, as I've never read where the heroine takes the lead/initiative.  Abby is out of the mold, so to speak, but I did find myself wondering if she'd had too much military/special ops training and not enough therapy.  

I want to find out more about the secondary characters we met in Midnight Rescue, specifically Trevor and Isabel, so I plan to continue this series. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Review: At Last by Jill Shalvis

Amy Michaels loves her new life in Lucky Harbor. A waitress in the local diner, she's looking forward to her first weekend hike through the mountains. But when a wrong turn takes her off the trail, she finds herself up close and personal with forest ranger Matt Bowers. And even though she's tempted to kiss that sexy smile right off his face, she won't make the mistake of getting involved with the town heartthrob.

A former cop whose life went south, Matt doesn't let anyone get too close. But something about the feisty beauty caught his eye the moment he first saw her in the diner. After a hot night under a starry sky, Matt can't deny their attraction-or the fact that for the first time in a long time, he feels the stirrings of something more. Now it's up to Matt to help Amy see that, no matter what is in their past, together they can build a future in Lucky Harbor.

At Last is the second book featuring the Chocoholics we were introduced to in Lucky in Love, this book featuring Amy Michaels.  Amy is a difficult character to get to know, particularly because while she's smart-mouthed about a lot of things, she's closemouthed about her past prior to her arrival in Lucky Harbor.  In a way that's refreshing; as Matt aka "Ranger Hot Buns" gets to know Amy, we the reader learn more about her as well. 

I thought Ms. Shalvis did a great job building Amy and Matt's romance, but what I really loved was the bromance between Ty (whom we met in Lucky in Love), Matt, and Josh (whom we will meet in Forever and a Day). 

(A very special thank you to Hachette Book Group, Forever Romance, and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of At Last.)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Review: It Begins with a Kiss by Eileen Dreyer

Fiona Ferguson wants nothing more than to flee Miss Lavinia Chase's Finishing School. Rather than the safe haven the girls' families presume it to be, the school is intent on making its charges conform to the rules-by any means necessary. For Fiona, the only thing worse than staying at the dreaded "Last Chance Academy" would be abandoning the friends she's made there. But when she receives word from home that her sister is in trouble, Fiona plots her escape . . .

A devoted spy in service to the Crown, Alex Knight takes his duties very seriously. His latest assignment--to ensure that the incorrigible Fiona remain safely at school--turns out to be far more of a challenge than he expected. After matching wits with the fiery Scottish beauty, he learns that the greatest danger of all . . . begins with a kiss. 

 A very short story that ends with a cliffhanger, It Begins with a Kiss, is the midpoint between the ending of the first trilogy featuring Drake's Rakes and the beginning of the second (Once a Rogue will release in 2013). 

For all the issues with It Begins with a Kiss -- a short story, cliffhanger -- I thought it was a great taste of what's to come, specifically for Alex Knight, Fiona Ferguson, her sister, Mairead, and Alex's sister, Pippin.  This e-novella has everything I've come to expect from this series: fast-paced action and romance.  It's a little book, but it packs a punch and definitely whets my appetite for more Drake's Rakes. 

(A very special thank you to Hachette Book Group, Forever Romance and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of It Begins with a Kiss.)
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