Wednesday, January 1, 2014

So Long, Farewell...



Happy New Year everyone, I hope 2014 is a great year, I suspect it will be what with the new Outlander book coming out in June and the miniseries coming out shortly thereafter!

It's no surprise that I've cut back on reviews more and more over the past year and I've decided to discontinue writing reviews on this blog.  I'm still reading like a mad woman but just not into reviewing like I once was.  I read 145 books in 2013 and just could not keep up the reviews on that many.  I will continue to leave the blog up and will update what I'm currently reading and looking forward to reading and you can find my short reviews over at Goodreads as Julie L. and Librarything, where I am known as "ktleyed." (see links on this blog as well).

Goodbye and good luck and maybe I'll post some things once the new Outlander book comes out and mini-series!

Tootles!

xoxo

Julie

Saturday, November 30, 2013

November 2013 Reviews

I'm still at it with more books to review... this month seemed to be a preponderance of cruel husbands!


When the Marquess Met His Match by Laura Lee Guhrke

Book Description:
What happens when a carefree, disreputable, stone-broke bachelor is forced to find a wife in a hurry? He hires a matchmaker, of course. What happens when the matchmaker doesn’t want to help him? Well, that’s when the fun begins…

Nicholas Stirling, Marquess of Trubridge, loves his life just as it is: dissolute, scandalous, and deuced good fun. His father, the Duke of Landsdowne is not amused, and when he cuts off Nicholas’ trust fund, the fun-loving marquess is forced to find an alternate source of income—in other words, he has to marry an heiress.

Every new-money American heiress knows Lady Belinda Featherstone is the key to social acceptance. Once a new-money nobody herself, Belinda discovered first-hand how heartbreaking the game of love and matrimony could be after a reprobate British earl married her for her money. Now a respectable widow, Belinda has become England’s most successful matchmaker, guiding young American heiresses through the hazards of the London season and helping them to find husbands worthy of them. To her mind, the Marquess of Trubridge is nothing but a fortune-hunting scoundrel and she has no intention of allowing him to charm his way into any American girl’s heart, including her own.


Cute story of rakish marquess who is in need of a rich wife.  The only thing is he's attracted to London's best matchmaker - who has it out for him - despite the mutual attraction.  After virtually ruining his chances of making a "material" match, she re-considers and tries to help him, only to find she's sabotaging her own matchmaking!  Not up to Guhrke's earlier novels, but it was fun, though I tired of the constant battling between the two before Belinda gives in and admits Nicholas isn't nearly the ne'er do well she thought he was. 

3.5/5


The Luckiest Lady in London by Sherry Thomas

Book Description:
Felix Rivendale, the Marquess of Wrenworth, is The Ideal Gentleman, a man all men want to be and all women want to possess. Felix himself almost believes this golden image. But underneath is a damaged soul soothed only by public adulation.

Louisa Cantwell needs to marry well to support her sisters. She does not, however, want Lord Wrenworth—though he seems inexplicably interested in her. She mistrusts his outward perfection and the praise he garners everywhere he goes. But when he is the only man to propose at the end of the London season, she reluctantly accepts.

Louisa does not understand her husband's mysterious purposes, but she cannot deny the pleasure her body takes in his touch. Nor can she deny the pull this magnetic man exerts upon her.  But does she dare to fall in love with a man so full of dark secrets, anyone of which could devastate her, if she were to get any closer?


I enjoyed this romance as it hearkens back to Thomas' first book, Private Arrangements, which I loved! But, I had issues here with the hero. The way he treats Louisa after their wedding night is too cruel and selfish on his part and I really had a hard time forgiving him for it, despite how he gets his comeuppance later on. He was needlessly unfair to Louisa, who was in the dark as to why he was doing it.   It's not like in PA, where the bride actually did something awful. Still it was a good book (albeit, short) and had plenty of angst and sensuality and I could barely put it down. Loved seeing Lady Tremaine from PA too and this glimpse of her after her trip to Copenhagen. 

4/5



To Have and to Hold by Patricia Gaffney

Book Description:
Suave, cynical, and too handsome for his own good, Sebastian Verlaine never expects to become a magistrate judging the petty crimes of his tenants and neighbors. Nor can the new Viscount D’Aubrey foresee that, when a fallen woman appears before him, he’ll find himself beguiled against all reason to alter her terrible fate....

Rachel Wade has served time in prison for her husband’s violent death, but she soon discovers that freedom has its own price. For no one will offer her a second chance but a jaded viscount who needs a housekeeper. Scorned by the townspeople of Wyckerley as D’Aubrey’s mistress, tempted beyond her will by the devilish lord, Rachel risks all she had to claim a life of her own...and a love that will last for all time.


I really had trouble with this story line and could barely finish the book, but I persisted.  It was hard for me to get into it and Sebastian was so unlikeable at first.  I cringed over the way he treated Rachel.  Not really my cup of tea, much too dark and angsty and the spectre of what happened to Rachel by her husband just creeped me out too much.  Obvious what the real story was, but I kept reading to the end to confirm it.  By then, it seemed anticlimatic.

3/5



The Shadow and the Star by Laura Kinsale

Book Description:
THE SHADOW

Wealthy, powerful and majestically handsome, he is a man of dark secrets--a master of the ancient martial arts of an exotic distant land. Scarred by a childhood of shocking degradation, he has sworn to love chastely... but burns with the fires of unfulfilled passion.

THE STAR

Lovely, innocent and nearly destitute, she is drawn to him by a fevered yearning she could never deny -- following her enigmatic "shadow warrior" into a dangerous world of desire and righteous retribution.


This book really sneaks up on you by starting out kind of slow and then before I knew it I couldn't put it down! Story of near destitute young woman who through a series of strange circumstances winds up working for an enigmatic, handsome young man in London. She comes to know his adopted family and falls in love with him, but he is aloof and has many secrets. Their life becomes entangled together through an arranged marriage. A bit convoluted at the end while in Hawaii and Japanese secrets, etc. Still, I really enjoyed it and now I've finally read this book I've heard so much about over the years.

4/5



The Virtuoso by Grace Burrowes

Book Description:
A GENIUS WITH A TERRIBLE LOSS...

Gifted pianist Valentine Windham, youngest son of the Duke of Moreland, has little interest in his father's obsession to see his sons married, and instead pours passion into his music. But when Val loses his music, he flees to the country, alone and tormented by what has been robbed from him.

A WIDOW WITH A HEARTBREAKING SECRET...

Grieving Ellen Markham has hidden herself away, looking for safety in solitude. Her curious new neighbor offers a kindred lonely soul whose desperation is matched only by his desire, but Ellen's devastating secret could be the one thing that destroys them both.

Together they'll find there's no rescue from the past, but sometimes losing everything can help you find what you need most.


Finally we get Val's story and I really enjoyed it.  Burrowes always has a way in this series of having her leads fall in love with someone who takes care of them in some way.  Usually it's been a housekeeper, but here it's a helpful neighbor who is a widow and the former resident of the estate he has just won in a card game (convenient.)  Val, a musical protege with the piano has found he's losing the ability to use his hands and he must stop playing the piano to avoid losing them altogether.  He and his friend, Darius go to his new, crumbling estate and start fixing it up (though he appears to be doing more damage to his hands this way than playing the piano!)  There he meets Ellen, who has her own crushing secrets that need to remain hidden.  As they begin to fall for one another, we have the usual trope, I can't marry you because I'm not good enough for you, but it was all done very well, and somewhat heart breaking.  Val suspects that something has happened to Ellen in her past and he asks her to tell him, but she won't for fear he'll never want to see her again.  Instead she puts a halt to their affair and sends him away, which I really didn't understand why, for I felt it was unnecessary, but I still really liked it.  Now I'm caught up on the Duke's sons, and now it's onto resume the series (I started with the daughters first) with the rest of the daughters. 

3.5/5


Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh

Book Description:
All of London is abuzz over the imminent arrival of Wulfric Bedwyn, the reclusive, cold-as-ice Duke of Bewcastle, at the most glittering social event of the season. Some whisper of a tragic love affair. Others say he is so aloof and passionless that not even the greatest beauty could capture his attention. But on this dazzling afternoon, one woman did catch the duke’s eye—and she was the only female in the room who wasn’t even trying. Christine Derrick is intrigued by the handsome duke…all the more so when he invites her to become his mistress.

What red-blooded woman wouldn’t enjoy a tumble in the bedsheets with a consummate lover—with no strings and no questions asked. An infuriating lady with very definite views on men, morals, and marriage, Christine confounds Wulfric at every turn. Yet even as the lone wolf of the Bedwyn clan vows to seduce her any way he can, something strange and wonderful is happening. Now for a man who thought he’d never lose his heart, nothing less than love will do.

With her trademark wit, riveting storytelling, and sizzling sexual sparks, Mary Balogh once again brings together two polar opposites: an irresistible, high-and-mighty aristocrat and the impulsive, pleasure-loving woman who shows him what true passion is all about. A man and a woman so wrong for each other, it can result only in the perfect match.


I really did enjoy this final book in the Bedwyn Series and Wulf's story, yet as much as I adore Pride and Prejudice, I was a bit disappointed that Wulfric's storyline was not more original. Yes, yes, this was obviously an homage to Jane Austen, and I loved all the nods to her throughout, but I couldn't help comparing so much of the book to the original story.   It was basically a P&P fanfic except that their encounter by the lake at the ball just seemed shabby to me and his first offer - well, Mr. Darcy would never!  Still, this was a very good romance and a fitting ending to the series and my second favorite - Freyja's being my favorite!

4/5



A Notorious Countess Confesses by Julie Anne Long

Book Description:
She rose to spectacular heights…

From Covent Garden to courtesan to countess, beautiful, fearless, shamelessly ambitious Evie Duggan has riveted London in every role she plays. But the ton never could forgive her scandalous—if shockingly short—marriage, and when her star plummets amid gleefully vicious gossip, the countess escapes to the only legacy left to her: a manor house in Pennyroyal Green.

He never expected to fall so hard…

He has the face of a fallen angel and a smolder the devil would envy, but Vicar Adam Sylvaine walks a precarious line: resisting temptation…and the wild Eversea blood in his veins. Adam’s strength is tested when scandal, aka the countess, moves to Sussex. But when a woman who fiercely guards her heart and a man entrusted with the souls of an entire town surrender to a forbidden desire, will the sweetest sin lead them to Heaven...or make outcasts of them forever?


Not bad, not great. I had looked so forward to reading Adam Sylvaine's story and it was disappointing.  I was surprised at how it was so slow going and even dull sometimes, but it did have some nice touches and the ending was sweet.  Still, I have a thing about fallen women, I'm sorry I'm a snob!  I wish Adam got a better story, this just did not live up to some of the latest books by this author. A miss in the Pennyroyal Green series.

3.5/5



The Care and Feeding of Pirates by Jennifer Ashley

Book Description:
Honoria Ardmore has a secret. Four years ago, the notorious pirate Christopher Raine, arrested and condemned for stealing a ship full of gold bound for Napoleon, makes one last request of Honoria. She grants it, and Christopher is taken out to be hanged. -- Or was he?

Honoria couldn’t have seen him alive again in the rather thick fog outside Covent Garden Theatre, could she? Christopher is long dead and gone, Honoria’s secret with him. Her life has moved on, and now she’s betrothed to a respectable English gentleman.

Christopher has other ideas. His sentence commuted at the last minute, Christopher was press-ganged onto a ship bound for Asia, and he's spent the last four years working to return home and get everything back—his crew, his treasure, and Honoria Ardmore—his wife.

Meet the crew of the Starcross, and revisit the crews of the Argonaut and the Majesty for more pirate fun and adventure!


This was just okay, though best of the trilogy. What started off well, really dragged in the last third of the book and I skimmed it to the end. No pirates for me, I'm just not into them and never really seem to like pirate related storylines.  This is the last one I read - ever!

2.5/5



Dreams of Dark Warrior by Kresley Cole

Book Description:
He Vowed He'd Come For Her...

Murdered before he could wed Regin the Radiant, warlord Aidan the Fierce seeks his beloved through eternity, reborn again and again into new identities, yet with no memory of his past lives.

She Awaits His Return...

When Regin encounters Declan Chase, a brutal Celtic soldier, she recognizes her proud warlord reincarnated. But Declan takes her captive, intending retribution against all immortals—unaware that he belongs to their world.

To Sate A Desire More Powerful Than Death...

Yet every reincarnation comes with a price, for Aidan is doomed to die when he remembers his past. To save herself from Declan’s torments, will Regin rekindle memories of the passion they once shared—even if it means once again losing the only man she could ever love?


This was gooood! Another action packed riveting installment in the IAD Series. Regin finally gets her story - and her man. Or does she? Hot and steamy and I was wondering how will Kresley Cole make it better for Declan and Regin for I was stumped about how they'd avoid the curse. Great as usual. I didn't think I'd like this for Regin has not been one of my favorites, but I was won over to her side, she's a great character.  Now onto the next - on audio!

4/5


Truman by David McCullough (audio)

Book Description:
The life of Harry S. Truman is one of the greatest of American stories, filled with vivid characters -- Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bess Wallace Truman, George Marshall, Joe McCarthy, and Dean Acheson -- and dramatic events. In this riveting biography, acclaimed historian David McCullough not only captures the man -- a more complex, informed, and determined man than ever before imagined -- but also the turbulent times in which he rose, boldly, to meet unprecedented challenges. The last president to serve as a living link between the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries, Truman's story spans the raw world of the Missouri frontier, World War I, the powerful Pendergast machine of Kansas City, the legendary Whistle-Stop Campaign of 1948, and the decisions to drop the atomic bomb, confront Stalin at Potsdam, send troops to Korea, and fire General MacArthur. Drawing on newly discovered archival material and extensive interviews with Truman's own family, friends, and Washington colleagues, McCullough tells the deeply moving story of the seemingly ordinary "man from Missouri" who was perhaps the most courageous president in our history.

I am now an expert on this man. As usual, McCullough brings his subject to life - every single nook and cranny. Fascinating, behind the scenes life and observations of this plain speaking man from Missouri.  Truman was much smarter than anyone realized, under appreciated when he was president and an astute politician.  Very, very interesting biography and glimpse into this time period of the last part of WWII and through the Korean War.

4.5/5


Silent Night by Deanna Raybourn

Book Description:
'Tis the season for an investigation! Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane return for a Christmas caper at Bellmont Abbey—

After a year of marriage—and numerous adventures—Lady Julia and Brisbane hope for a quiet, intimate Christmas together—until they find themselves at her father's ancestral estate, Bellmont Abbey, with her eccentric family and a menagerie of animals.

Nevertheless, Julia looks forward to a lively family gathering—but amongst the celebrations, a mystery stirs. There are missing jewels, new faces at the Abbey, and a prowling ghost that brings back unwelcome memories from a previous holiday—one that turned deadly. Is a new culprit recreating crimes of the past? And will Brisbane let Julia investigate?


To kick off the Christmas season...

I liked this Christmas Novella in the Lady Julia Grey mystery series.   Not much of a mystery in it, but I enjoyed this glimpse of the mad March's at Yuletide with many familiar faces at Bellmont Abbey.  Short and sweet - quick read.

3.5/5


October 2013 Reviews

Happy Holidays to everybody!

I 'm going to have to change my banner soon with the upcoming Outlander miniseries movie in production!  Sam Heughan is perfect as Jamie Fraser!  This clip is quite swoonworthy!

How to say Sassenach

Now, once your heart has returned to normal, onto the reviews:


Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan (audio)

Book Description:
In Dad is Fat, stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan, who’s best known for his legendary riffs on Hot Pockets, bacon, manatees, and McDonald's, expresses all the joys and horrors of life with five young children—everything from cousins ("celebrities for little kids") to toddlers’ communication skills (“they always sound like they have traveled by horseback for hours to deliver important news”), to the eating habits of four year olds (“there is no difference between a four year old eating a taco and throwing a taco on the floor”). Reminiscent of Bill Cosby’s Fatherhood, Dad is Fat is sharply observed, explosively funny, and a cry for help from a man who has realized he and his wife are outnumbered in their own home.

This really was simply hilarious, I didn't want it to end!  I had the pleasure of being in the audience and seeing Jim Gaffigan at the Book Expo this past Spring in New York City.  He talked about how he came about writing the book (with his wife) and read excerpts from it - and he really is a scream.  I'd never really heard of him before then, though my son and husband were fans.  Well, after that, I just had to get the book, though I missed out on getting a free autographed copy since they ran out and I was near the end of the line.  Didn't matter anyway, since I loved it on audiobook.  It's a must for any parent whether they have one or a dozen kids, you will relate.  Even non parents and future parents will relate to it!  On audio it's like listening to a long stand-up routine.  I found reasons to listen to this audiobook every chance I got, I think it took me less than two days to go through it.  Do yourself a favor and read it - a real pleasure!

4.5/5


The Best Man by Kristan Higgins 

Book Description:
Sometimes
The Best Man
Is The One
You Least Expect...


Faith Holland left her hometown after being jilted at the altar. Now a little older and wiser, she’s ready to return to the Blue Heron Winery, her family’s vineyard, to confront the ghosts of her past, and maybe enjoy a glass of red. After all, there’s some great scenery there....

Like Levi Cooper, the local police chief - and best friend of her former fiancé. There’s a lot about Levi that Faith never noticed, and it’s not just those deep green eyes. The only catch is she’s having a hard time forgetting that he helped ruin her wedding all those years ago. If she can find a minute amidst all her family drama to stop and smell the rosé, she just might find a reason to stay at Blue Heron, and finish that walk down the aisle.


This was okay, but not great. My first by this author, it seemed to take forever to really get going between the the two leads and I felt there was a lot of low-brow humor that I didn't really appreciate - nor like.  Just made me uncomfortable.  Much of it I just didn't even think was funny and the heroine was just too cute.  Faith was left at the altar when her fiance came out and admitted he was gay.  Levi, his best man, knew the truth, but didn't do anything about it until right before the wedding.  For that reason, Faith really has it out for him.  Like I said, okay story, Faith reminded me of a cutesy Disney character, but I did like Levi's character.   Frankly, I don't know what he saw in her, no chemistry between them.

3/5


Dragon Warrior by Janet Chapman

Book Description:
Maddy Kimble has no time for a suitor—not with caring for her spunky nursing home patients, her shy nine-year-old daughter, her widowed mother, and her rebellious teenage brother. William Kilkenny’s stunning lack of modern dating protocol doesn’t help. The man is uncouth and outrageous—a towering, drop-dead, breathtakingly hot warrior. Who refuses to give up.

William is secretly a ninth-century Irish nobleman formerly trapped in a dragon’s body. All Maddy knows is that lately, she can hardly resist the urge to lose herself in his powerful arms. But as their uncontrollable passion grows, eerie occurrences in her small coastal Maine town begin to rouse Maddy’s suspicions about her lover. He begs her to trust him, but how can she surrender—body and soul—when she fears the danger he poses to her yearning heart?


It's been a while since I've read anything by this author.  I really enjoyed her earlier series, Pine Creek Highlanders, of which this newer series of hers is an offshoot.  I kind of OD'd on highlanders so I took a break for a while.  Here we have in the 2nd installment in the Moonlight Bay series, William's story.  William, believe it or not, used to be cursed and was turned into a dragon.  The curse was lifted in book 1, and now he's in human form seriously attracted to Maddie who works in a nursing home and is Eve's (from last book) best friend. Strange things to say the least are going on in Midnight Bay. I liked this book and the love scenes were steamy, but Maddie was so annoying in the way she just wanted to have sex and kept shying away from a relationship.  Then all-of-a-sudden she comes around and "loves" William.  Frankly, I don't see how she couldn't have fallen for him from the moment he opened his mouth and she heard his Irish lilt. Still, it had a happy ending, albeit an offbeat book and the last 20 pages could have been wrapped up in 2.

4/5



The Ape Who Guards the Balance by Elizabeth Peters (audio)

Book Description:
The Ape Who Guards the Balance begins in 1907 in England where Amelia is attending a suffragettes' rally outside the home of Mr. Geoffrey Romer of the House of Commons. It seems Romer is one of the few remaining private collectors of Egyptian antiquities, and a series of bizarre events at the protest soon embroil Amelia in grave personal danger. Suspecting that the Master Criminal, Sethos, is behind their problems, the Emerson Peabody's hasten to Egypt to continue their studies in the Valley of Kings where they soon acquire a papyrus of the Book of the Dead.

As with past seasons, however, their archaeological expedition is interrupted. The murdered body of a woman is found in the Nile. Ramses, Radcliffe, and Amelia all have their theories as to the origin of the crime, but their own lives might soon be at stake if the cult of Thoth and their ancient book is, indeed, involved.


I never tire of the family of Elizabeth Peabody and Emerson.  Their shenanigans in Egypt never fail to make me laugh.  As the series progresses, Ramses is grown now into a handsome young man, which leads to some very interesting developments.   Ramses and Nefret are still playing this coy game between each other, it's only a matter of time when they will declare their love for one another.  Surprising developments between Daoud and Lia as well, which I kind of found hard to believe.   As usual, the mystery is secondary to me, I find the interactions of all the characters the best part!  On audiobook this is a real treat and Barbara Rosenblat is as fantastic as ever - she IS Amelia and Emerson.

4/5


Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (audio)

Book Description:
Sookie Stackhouse is a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She's quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn't get out much. Not because she's not pretty. She is. It's just that, well, Sookie has this sort of "disability." She can read minds. And that doesn't make her too dateable. And then along comes Bill. He's tall, dark, handsome--and Sookie can't hear a word he's thinking. He's exactly the type of guy she's been waiting for all her life....

But Bill has a disability of his own: He's a vampire with a bad reputation. He hangs with a seriously creepy crowd, all suspected of--big surprise--murder. And when one of Sookie's coworkers is killed, she fears she's next...


I finally caved and gave in and started this well-known Southern Vampire series that has been made into the TV series True Blood.  I'm glad I did, eventually I'll check out the series on TV.  On audio, it's a real treat, for I love Sookie's way of talking and you get that real Southern flavor.  She can hear other people's thoughts, which can be a real nuisance and then along comes Bill - the vampire.  In Harris' world, vampires are accepted, though not liked very much.  They can buy blood - even get it in bars.  They are treated as if they have a virus, rather than being the living dead.  This is all just good PR, they really are dead, but to be accepted in the world, the virus story has been created.  Bill seems like a nice vampire, but his friends aren't, as Sookie learns as she and Bill become closer and closer, while trying to find out who or what is killing the women in town with unusual sexual proclivities.  It doesn't help that Sookie's brother is a prime suspect.  I look forward to the rest of the series, narrated well by Johanna Parker, though her rendition of Bill is a little on the boring side.

4/5


Heartless by Mary Balogh

Book Description:
Life has taught Lucas Kendrick, Duke of Harndon, that a heart is a decided liability. Betrayed by his brother, rejected by his fiancée, Luke fled to Paris, where he became the most sought-after bachelor in fashionable society.

Ten years later, fate has brought him back home, to the rescue of the very people who had once shunned him. Luke is amused by the advice that a wife will make his takeover of both the title and the family estate smoother, but amusement turns to desire once he sets eyes upon Lady Anna Marlowe.

Unbeknownst to Luke, Anna is also no stranger to pain, but her suffering can't be so easily overcome, not when her tormentor stalks her to the very doors of Bowden Abbey.  Luke and Anna, each made fragile by the past, must learn to trust both each other and their love if they are to have any chance for a future together.


I love Georgian historicals and this one was pretty good, although through much of the storyline you have this awful sense of angst.  It was almost painful to read for you are worried that the heroine and hero cannot be happy because of this awful secret she has (which leaves the reader wondering as well).  Lukas jumps to the wrong conclusions about his bride and he's somewhat cruel to her, which I also found hard to stomach.  Despite the angst, it succeeds in sucking you in to keep reading to see what it's all about and if there is a happy ending.   Still, I enjoyed the book, though I am sick of the storyline in which hero's feel they have no heart and are incapable of ever loving anyone!

4/5
 

The Cowboy Takes a Bride by Lori Wilde

Book Description:
Ex-champion bull rider-turned-cutting-horse cowboy Joe Daniels isn't quite sure how he ended up sleeping in a horse trough wearing nothing but his Stetson and cowboy boots. But now he's wide-awake, and a citified woman is glaring down at him. His goal? Get rid of her ASAP. The obstacle? Fighting the attraction he feels toward the blond-haired filly with the big, vulnerable eyes.

When out-of-work wedding planner Mariah Callahan learns that her estranged father has left her a rundown ranch in Jubilee, she has no choice but to accept it. Her goal? Redeem her career by planning local weddings. The obstacle? One emotionally wounded, hard-living cowboy who stirs her guilt, her heartstrings, and her long-burned cowgirl roots...


Not a bad contemporary Western, set in Texas, about a city girl from Chicago who returns to her estranged father's hometown of Jubilee, TX after his death. Her father was a cutter, as is everyone else in this town.  The first person she meets is a widower cowboy who's still mourning the death of his wife after two years. Both of them have some baggage to get over, with an homage to "Sleepless in Seattle." I liked it and was rooting for the two of them to just get on with their lives and stop worrying so much!  Nice development, but seemed a bit rushed at the end and the title is a misnomer.  One bonus: I learned all about cutting, which I had never even heard of before!

3.5/5


Silver Lining by Maggie Osborne

Book Description:
As scruffy and rootless as the other prospectors searching for gold in the Rockies, Low Down wanted nothing in return for nursing a raggedy bunch through the pox. But when pressed to reveal her heart's wish, she admits she wants a baby. Not a husband, not a forced marriage to the proud man who drew the scratched marble and became honor bound to marry her. To be sure, Max McCord was easy on the eyes, but he loved another woman and dreamed of a different life. Yet they agreed to a temporary marriage that could end only in disaster. But can this strange twist of fate lead to the silver lining that both have been searching for?

A heartwarming, funny tale of an unlikely marriage between Max McCord and Low Down/Louise who meet in the late 1800's panning for gold.  Low Down nursed all the men on the river back to health after a smallpox epidemic.  As a thank you they said they'd grant her greatest wish.  And she says she wants a baby!  This had so much originality!  Their story unfolds as Max is the one that has to marry her.  He takes her back to his family's home but all is not well for his marriage to her sets off a series of ramifications that seem insurmountable, mainly because he has jilted his fiancee and her rich father, who is not happy about it - nor is the fiancee.  Lots of great little tidbits in this story and I'll definitely be reading more by this author.  Memorable.

4/5



Saturday, November 2, 2013

More Reviews for Fall, 2013 - Part II

What a shock, two posts in two days!  An eclectic bunch in this posting, a few non-fiction audiobooks, continuing my fascination with presidential assassinations and a book on the Apollo 11 moon mission.  Unfortunately, a lot of these reads were just so-so for me - 3 1/2 is the common theme here.


Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold by Ellen O'Connell

Book Description:
EYES OF SILVER, EYES OF GOLD is a story of romance and family conflicts set in Colorado in 1885.

Anne Wells has embarrassed her rigidly proper family since she was a child with occasional but grievous lapses from ladylike behavior. They blame those lapses for the disgraceful fact that she is a spinster at 28.

Cord Bennett, the son of his father's second marriage to a Cheyenne woman, is more than an embarrassment to his well-to-do family of ranchers and lawyers - they are ashamed and afraid of their black sheep.

When Anne and Cord are found alone together, her father's fury leads to violence. Cord's family accepts that the fault is his. Can Anne and Cord use the freedom of being condemned for sins they didn't commit to make a life together? Or will their disapproving, interfering families tear them apart?


Pursuing my new love of Westerns, I enjoyed this story about the struggles endured between Cord, a young half Native American man and Anne, the young woman he marries while under duress and trying circumstances in 1880's Colorado.  In dealing with prejudice and the everyday ups and downs of their new marriage, they manage to respect one another and fall in love, all while partnering together, training and breeding his horses. Good story but as much as I liked it there was a lack of real emotion when there should have been more. I felt at arm's-length with the two of them. Still it was very good and I will read more by this author.  One of those books I've heard of and finally got around to reading.

4/5


The Devil in Music by Kate Ross

Book Description:
The Regency dandy and amateur sleuth Julian Kestrel is back in his fourth mystery - and this time he confronts murder far from home in the sensuous, turbulent Italy of the 1820s.

Traveling on the Continent with his ex-pickpocket valet, Kestrel finds himself caught up in the mysterious and murderous world of the opera. Four years ago, the Italian marquis Ludovico Malvezzi was murdered, and Orfeo, the young English tenor he had been training for a career on the glittering operatic stage, disappeared.  As Kestral is irresistibly drawn into the baffling case, he encounters suspects at every turn: a runaway wife and her male soprano lover; a liberal nobleman at odds with Italy's Austrian overlords; a mocking Frenchman with perfect pitch; a beautiful, clever widow who haunts Kestrel's dreams; and the missing Orfeo, the penniless protege who just might be a political agent.  And when the killer strikes again, Kestrel's quest for answers spirals into a crescendo of passion, danger, and music as he risks becoming a ruthless murderer's next victim.

 
I had mixed feelings over this mystery, first off, it was very clever and I did not guess in a million years who Orfeo really was, so it had me there!  But, there were some areas of the book that dragged.  Julian doesn't even enter the scene until Part II, after the entire first part leading up to the murder of the marchese.  I did find myself getting a bit bogged down with all the Italian characters and wondering why this, why that, but by the end it all made sense.  About the end, well, I think about 25 pages could have been edited out .  The entire ending and wrap up just seemed to go on forever!  Once we knew the truth and all secrets revealed, she should have wrapped it up.  Still, I thought it was very good overall, and I'm sorry we lost such a fine author in the late Kate Ross.  This is a wonderful, thoughtful series for fans of historical mysteries.

3.5/5



Naughty in Nice by Rhys Bowen (audio)

Book Description: 
Lady Georgiana Rannoch has once again been called into service by Her Majesty the Queen. This time she's sent to Nice on a secret assignment that's nothing to sneeze at-recover the Queen's stolen snuff box.

As much of an honor as it is to be trusted by Her Majesty, an even greater honor awaits Georgie in Nice-as Coco Chanel herself asks Georgie to model her latest fashion. But when a necklace belonging to the Queen is stolen on the catwalk, Georgie has to find two priceless items-and solve a murder.  How's a girl to find any time to go to the casino?


This time Georgie is at the French Riviera and as usual, wherever Georgie goes, murder and mayhem ensues. I enjoyed this on audio, Georgie hob nobs with Coco Chanel while modeling in a fashion show and loses a priceless necklace belonging to the Queen of England. Then she stumbles upon the dead body of a not very well liked millionaire in his pool! This one had it's moments, but not as humorous and the other books, plus Darcy's not in it much.  For the majority of the time, Georgie is angry and heartbroken over him, yet finds solace in the arms of a debonaire Frenchman. All in all, not my favorite in the series, but still I love Katherine Kellgren's narration which is tops!

3.5/5


To Love and to Cherish by Patricia Gaffney

Book Description:
Anne Verlaine's four year marriage to Geoffrey, Lord D'Aubrey, was a living hell. Her only comfort was her lovely new home--the village of Wyckerley in the heart of Devonshire. And even more irresistible was her attraction to Christian Morrell, "Christy," the vicar of All Saints Church. He looked like an archangel, his strength something palpable, his golden-haired handsomeness a source of light in her dark life.

Anne's husband had once been Christy's closest friend, but war and life had scarred Geoffrey inside and out.  Now he was going to leave her behind in Wyckerley, with the shocking truth of their marriage still hidden as deeply as his dangerous plans.  Anne had no right to want Christy to love her, and no choice but to need him, even though she risked his ruin...and her own.  But he was everything to her.  She would defy this world for him...and the next.


I'm not sure where I stand on this book.  In many ways it was a good, solid story with wonderful characterizations, and I wanted Anne and Christy to get together and live happily ever after.  You are rooting for them.  Of course, just as you think all will be well, the worst happens.  I was uncomfortable with what was going on, for I dreaded what was going to happen - and of course it did.  Fortunately it does end well, but it's a rocky road getting there and there's a lot of emotional hand wringing getting there.  Because of Anne's unhappy marriage, there's a pall over much of the book, Christy being the shining light with his golden mane of hair that is waiting for her - if she can only get to him!  Some of this book reminded me of a Lorraine Heath book, A Rogue in Texas, but I won't reveal why.  First for me by this author.

3.5/5



Animal Magnetism by Jill Shalvis

Book Description:

Co-owner of the town's only kennel, Lilah Young has lived in Sunshine, Idaho, all her life.  Pilot-for-hire Brady Miller is just passing through.  But he soon has Lilah abandoning her instincts and giving in to a primal desire.

It's Brady's nature to resist being tied down, but there's something about Lilah and her menagerie that keeps him coming back for more.


Sexy contemporary romance of Brady Miller, Alpha ex-military he-man who returns to Sunshine, Idaho where he grew up. A loner and not someone that sticks around in relationships, he has trouble coming to terms with the fact that he is falling in love with the irresistible 5'4 kennel owner who he can't keep his hands off of. Both are prepared to keep their affair light and temporary, but is it a realistic scenario after a month? Of course not, and that's the rub. I enjoyed reading about Brady and Lilah's courtship and ultimate HEA, but Lilah's back breaking work load and dedication to her job is a bit too saintly to swallow, but she makes up for it in bed. ;) Quick read and first by this author for me.  Will continue with series.

3.5/5



A Lady Never Surrenders by Sabrina Jeffries

Book Description:
When the youngest Sharpe sister hatches a plan to gain marriage offers, the straight-laced Bow Street Runner Jackson Pinter knows he'll do whatever it takes to ruin her scheme...
Lady Celia Sharpe hopes that if she can garner offers of marriage from several eligible gentlemen and show her grandmother she is capable of gaining a husband, she can convince Gran to rescind the marriage ultimatum for her. And if that plan doesn't work, at least she'll have a husband lined up. But Bow Street Runner Jackson Pinter seems determined to ruin her plans by disapproving of every suitor she asks him to investigate. It's only when she and Jackson work together to solve her parents' murders, plunging them both into danger, that she realizes why--because the only man he wants her to marry is himself!


I just couldn't finish this one, the two lead characters were so annoying, I had no desire to find out what happened to them. I wound up skimming all the way through to the end just to see what happens regarding the parents' murder mystery and who did it, since I did invest a lot of time in the series and wanted to find out at least who killed their parents.  Even that was a bit anti-climatic.  I'm afraid this is good-bye to this author for now.  I just wasn't thrilled by this Hellions of Halstead Hall series at all with the exception of one book, How to Woo A Reluctant Lady.

2.5/5



The Untamed Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley

Book Description:
To redeem her family’s disgraced name, Lady Louisa Scranton has decided to acquire a proper husband. He needs to be a man of fortune and highly respectable in order to restore both her family's lost wealth and reputation. She enters the Marriage Mart with all flags flying, determined to find the right bachelor.

But Louisa’s hopes are dashed when the Bishop of Hargate drops dead at her feet—and she is shockingly accused of murder! Soon, Louisa’s so-called friends begin shunning her, because the company of a suspected killer is never desirable in polite society.

The problem comes to the ears of Detective Inspector Lloyd Fellows, by-blow of the decadent Scottish Mackenzie family and an inspector for Scotland Yard. He has shared two passionate kisses with Lady Louisa–and vows to clear her name. For not only does he know she’s innocent, he recognizes he’s falling for the lovely lady.

Fellows is Louisa's only hope of restoring her family's honor—and it is he alone who intrigues Louisa in a way that may be even more scandalous than murder…


A novella in the Highland Pleasures series, this is the story of Lloyd Fellows, the untamed Mackenzie (although he seems to be to be the tamest of them all! ) who falls for Lady Louisa, the sister of Mac's wife Isabella.  Louisa who is accused of murdering a bishop at a tea party of all places! Can he clear her name and win her hand at the same time? Entertaining but not as good as her full length novels. It's rare to find a good novella, often they are just too short and rushed.  Nice cover though. ;)

3.5/5



The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley

Book Description:
Daniel Mackenzie lives up to the reputation of the scandalous Mackenzie family—he has wealth, looks, and talent, and women love him. When he meets Violet Bastien—one of the most famous spiritual mediums in England—he immediately knows two things: that Miss Bastien is a fraud, and that he’s wildly attracted to her.

Violet knows she can’t really contact the other side, but she’s excellent at reading people. She discerns quickly that Daniel is intelligent and dangerous to her reputation, but she also finds him generous, handsome, and outrageously wicked. But spectres from Violet’s past threaten to destroy her, and she flees England, adopting yet another identity.

Daniel is determined to find the elusive Violet and pursue the passion he feels for her. And though Violet knows that her scandalous past will keep her from proper marriage, her attraction to Daniel is irresistible. It’s not until Daniel is the only one she can turn to that he proves he believes in something more than cold facts. He believes in love.


Daniel Mackenzie was always a likable promising young man and his story was pretty good, albeit it took a little getting used to Violet, a con artist.  I had to get past all of that and realize she really wasn't dishonest... well almost.  It wasn't easy, considering she hits him over the head with a vase and thinking he's dead, leaves him in the street in front of a doctor's house in London before she flees the country.  But, I digress... They have a whirlwind romance - amazingly - considering how she treated him and as usual, everything the Mackenzie's do is with a certain panache.  Daniel is no exception, he has a bit of all of his uncles and father in him - which makes him irresistible and fascinating.  He steals every scene he's in and Violet, I'm afraid, paled in comparison.  Despite that I enjoyed Ashley's latest installment in this Highland Pleasures series.

4/5

The Wolf Next Door by Lydia Dare

Book Description: 
Ever since their failed elopement years ago, Prisca Hawthorne has taunted, insulted, and in every way tried to push him away. If only her heart didn't break every time Lord William Westfield left her...

Lord William throws himself into drinking, gambling, and debauchery and pretends not to care about Prisca at all. But when he returns to find a rival werewolf vying for her hand, he'll stop at nothing to claim the woman who should have been his all along.

Can Prisca forgive the unforgivable, or are the moon-crossed lovers going to be forced into a battle of wills that could be fatal?


This was probably my least favorite of the first three books in this Westfield Wolves series, primarily because it took forever for Will and Prisca to consummate their marriage! All the teasing going on through the whole thing, the constant bickering and then all the delays drove me crazy! I didn't like the way he lied about what happened in the cabin between them either.  Then at the final ending when he claims her it seemed - eep - anticlimactic?  Overall though I still liked it, there is something about this series I enjoy and it's a quick read.

3.5/5


The Taming of the Wolf by Lydia Dare

Book Description:
Dashiel Thorpe, Earl of Brimsworth, has spent his life fighting the wolf within him. But when the full moon rises, Dash is helpless. A chance encounter with Caitrin Macleod on a moonlit night inadvertently binds the two together irrevocably, and Dash's impulsiveness plunges them both into a nightmare.

Caitrin Macleod is no quiet country lass, but a witch with remarkable abilities. But when it comes to Dashiel, she's as helpless to fight his true nature as he is. Her senses overwhelmed, she runs back to the safety and security of her native Scotland.

But Dashiel is determined to follow her—she's the only woman who can free him from a fate worse than death. And Caitrin will ultimately have to decide whether she's running from danger, or true love.


I'm surprised I liked this book as much as I did, for I wasn't overly fond of Caitrin in the last two books. She's still cranky, but not as much here. She and Dash (who we meet in the previous reviewed book) get together after he inadvertently claims her on the full moon by biting her neck. Little does she know the meaning of this  (she is now his mate for life) and only got angry at him for biting her. He is at a disadvantage because he doesn't know she is a witch, yet she knows he's a Lycan.   These crazy kids!  What a mess!  They journey from England to Edinburgh where he enlists the help of her father to get her to agree to marry him.   Most of the story is how he wins her over and he learns how to be a mannerly werewolf - oops, I mean Lycan.  Not bad, but not great either.  I think this series is losing it's oomph.

3.5/5



Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon by Craig Nelson (audio)

Book Description:
A richly detailed and dramatic account of one of the greatest achievements of humankind.  At 9:32 A.M. on July 16, 1969, the Apollo 11 rocket launched in the presence of more than a million spectators who had gathered to witness a truly historic event. It carried Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Mike Collins to the last frontier of human imagination: the moon. 

Rocket Men is the thrilling story of the moon mission, and it restores the mystery and majesty to an event that may have become too familiar for most people to realize what a stunning achievement it represented in planning, technology, and execution.

Through interviews, twenty-three thousand pages of NASA oral histories, and declassified CIA documents on the space race, Craig Nelson re-creates a vivid and detailed account of the Apollo 11 mission. From the quotidian to the scientific to the magical, readers are taken right into the cockpit with Aldrin and Armstrong and behind the scenes at Mission Control.


Rocket Men is the story of a twentieth-century pilgrimage; a voyage into the unknown motivated by politics, faith, science, and wonder that changed the course of history.

I hard a hard time at first with this on audio for it is VERY technical. Basically, it's the story of the space race and NASA leading up to Apollo 11, beginning at the end of WWII through the mission in 1969 and then about the lives of Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins after the mission and what they did with their lives. The last hour of the book could have been pared down to 15 minutes easily and I could have done without the author's political leanings.

I can't help chuckling that the author's name is NELSON - as in Tony Nelson?  Ring a bell, anyone: Get it?  ;) 



A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn

Book Description:
Paris, 1923

The daughter of a scandalous mother, Delilah Drummond is already notorious, even amongst Paris society. But her latest scandal is big enough to make even her oft-married mother blanch. Delilah is exiled to Kenya and her favorite stepfather's savannah manor house until gossip subsides.

Fairlight is the crumbling, sun-bleached skeleton of a faded African dream, a world where dissolute expats are bolstered by gin and jazz records, cigarettes and safaris. As mistress of this wasted estate, Delilah falls into the decadent pleasures of society.

Against the frivolity of her peers, Ryder White stands in sharp contrast. As foreign to Delilah as Africa, Ryder becomes her guide to the complex beauty of this unknown world. Giraffes, buffalo, lions and elephants roam the shores of Lake Wanyama amid swirls of red dust. Here, life is lush and teeming-yet fleeting and often cheap.

Amidst the wonders-and dangers-of Africa, Delilah awakes to a land out of all proportion: extremes of heat, darkness, beauty and joy that cut to her very heart. Only when this sacred place is profaned by bloodshed does Delilah discover what is truly worth fighting for-and what she can no longer live without.


I've really enjoyed Raybourn's Lady Julia series, but found her one paranormal vampire book underwhelming.  Here, I found a nice surprise.  There were parts that I loved about this book, the descriptions of Africa and the wildness of it was great.  But... the actual storyline between Ryder and Delilah was lackluster, virtually no romance or tenderness, falling far short into that department.  They had what seemed to be a "non-courtship" which left me feeling short-changed.  I wanted more.  Still I loved their characters which were vividly drawn as were all the side characters, as well. mI only wish there had been more meat in the love story, but I love the cover!

3.5/5



Goddess of the Rose by P.C. Cast

Book Description:
When modern-day Mikki ends up in the strange Realm of the Rose, Hecate has been waiting for her. So too has her gorgeous guardian beast, who soon has Mikki swooning. But to save the realm, Mikki will have to sacrifice her life-giving blood.

I wasn't as into this storyline as much as some of the previous books in this Goddess series, but it was still pretty good. It gets off to a good start in which Mikki, a young single woman looking for love inadvertently finds herself in this other "world" in which she is a high priestess for the goddess Hecate and must tend these amazing roses. The guardian of the Realm of Roses is a man-beast like the Minotaur only he's kind of sexy and she is attracted to him for she had been dreaming of him before she came to this world.  Sounds bizarre, but it works... kind of.  Still, I was a bit bored with all the roses, roses, roses talk, but overall not bad.

3.5/5


Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly (audio)

Book Description:

A riveting historical narrative of the heart-stopping events surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  The book recounts one of the most dramatic stories in American history—how one gunshot changed the country forever. In the spring of 1865, the bloody saga of America's Civil War finally comes to an end after a series of increasingly harrowing battles. President Abraham Lincoln's generous terms for Robert E. Lee's surrender are devised to fulfill Lincoln's dream of healing a divided nation, with the former Confederates allowed to reintegrate into American society. But one man and his band of murderous accomplices, perhaps reaching into the highest ranks of the U.S. government, are not appeased.

In the midst of the patriotic celebrations in Washington D.C., John Wilkes Booth—charismatic ladies' man and impenitent racist—murders Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre. A furious manhunt ensues and Booth immediately becomes the country's most wanted fugitive. Lafayette C. Baker, a smart but shifty New York detective and former Union spy, unravels the string of clues leading to Booth, while federal forces track his accomplices. The thrilling chase ends in a fiery shootout and a series of court-ordered executions—including that of the first woman ever executed by the U.S. government, Mary Surratt. Featuring some of history's most remarkable figures, vivid detail, and page-turning action, Killing Lincoln is history that reads like a thriller.

Knowing almost nothing about the Lincoln assassination I found much of this book interesting, though having listened to Killing Kennedy, I found I preferred that in comparison to Killing Lincoln. O'Reilly's narration is in his usual style, and whereas it was fine with Killing Kennedy, I found it grating at times here, not sure why, but it did.  Maybe he needed to get the bugs out with this one, and with Killing Kennedy he'd fixed some stylized mistakes and it was smoother and not as rushed and sensationalist sounding.  Still, I found the lead-up to the assassination amazing as well as the final days of the Civil War.

3.5/5

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fall Reviews 2013

Oh dear.  It's been such a long time since I've posted! Eek! I'm reviewing books I read in August and here it is the 1st of November!  To make up for it, I threw a few more recent releases I've read as well!  Right! So... without further ado, let's get to it!


Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding

Book Description:
Bridget Jones is back!

Great comic writers are as rare as hen's teeth. And Helen is one of a very select band who have created a character of whom the very thought makes you smile. Bridget Jones' Diary, charting the life of a 30-something singleton in London in the 1990s was a huge international bestseller, published in 40 countries and selling over 15 million copies worldwide. Its sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, published soon after was also a major international bestseller.

Set in the present, the new novel will explore a different phase in Bridget's life with an entirely new scenario. As Helen Fielding has said: "If people laugh as much reading it as I am while writing it then we'll all be very happy."


I didn't think I would, especially with the demise of one of my absolute favorite literary heroes - but I absolutely loved it!   I laughed I cried I was all over the place while reading this book, but mostly I laughed. Hysterical scenes involving texting and tweeting - all with the same old Bridget we know and love.  She really hasn't changed that much, considering she's aged a bit and is facing all sorts of new (and old) problems.  Alas no Mark Darcy, but Roxster, her 29 year old boy toy was adorable and I was so glad to see Bridget have a happy ending.  She really deserved it.  Great book!  Why am I surprised, the other Bridget's were favorites too!  Fielding has done a masterful job at mixing humor with some very tender and heart wrenching emotions.  She hasn't lost it at all, just as fresh and amusing as ever.  Can I just say - "I want a boy toy tooooo!" (Love the cover!)

5/5



Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt

Book Description: 
Twenty years ago Maximus Batten witnessed the brutal murders of his parents. Now the autocratic Duke of Wakefield, he spends his days ruling Parliament. But by night, disguised as the Ghost of St. Giles, he prowls the grim alleys of St. Giles, ever on the hunt for the murderer. One night he finds a fiery woman who meets him toe-to-toe—and won't back down . . .

Artemis Greaves toils as a lady's companion, but hiding beneath the plain brown serge of her dress is the heart of a huntress. When the Ghost of St. Giles rescues her from footpads, she recognizes a kindred spirit-and is intrigued. She's even more intrigued when she realizes who exactly the notorious Ghost is by day . . . 


Artemis makes a bold move: she demands that Maximus use his influence to free her imprisoned brother-or she will expose him as the Ghost. But blackmailing a powerful duke isn't without risks. Now that she has the tiger by the tail, can she withstand his ire-or the temptation of his embrace?

I loved this Georgian historical, as I do all her books.  Totally was into the whole Batman thing.   It would have been nearly perfect, except for the sticky problem that Maximus, the Duke of Wakefield was so selfish about wanting Artemis - yet still intending to marry Penelope who was so awful!  Points against him, but then again, you've got to have that angst and it would have been too pat otherwise.  A little realism doesn't hurt.  Still, it took him way to long to figure out that he was wrong.  Still, a good story and lived up to all my expectations!


4/5


The Best Laid Plans by Sarah Mayberry

Book Description:
"Boundaries." The key to how corporate lawyer Alexandra Knight manages her busy life. However, lately all her precisely drawn lines are getting blurred. Blame it on her out-of-control biological clock that is ignoring her single status...and on Ethan Stone.Because her sexy, no-strings colleague has posed an outrageous solution to her dilemma--he'll be her baby daddy. This from the guy who avoids all commitment? Okay, so they're attracted to each other. Really, really attracted. But crossing the line from coworker to co-parent with Ethan could ruin Alex for all other men. After all, when you've had the best...

Ordinarily I don't read Harlequins - except for when it comes to Sarah Mayberry.  As usual with her stories, this was an emotional read, but the theme of wanting to have a baby because the clock is ticking and wanting to do the whole artificial insemination theme just kind of bothered me. I really loved the hero, Ethan, in the story he was great and I felt for him, but not wanting to marry even when she tells him her feelings killed me! Alexandra was a tough heroine to like.  Overall the story fell a bit short for me since the answer to both their problems was so obvious, but I still loved it and I was up into middle of the night to finish it.

4/5


Can't Get Enough by Sarah Mayberry

Book Description:
He's everything she despises-a babe magnet with more notches on his belt than a millipede has legs.  And he thinks his coworker is wound so tightly she irons her underwear at night.  Two people couldn't be further apart.

But when Jack Brook and Claire Marsden get stuck in a sweltering elevator one afternoon, it's a different story. By the time they're rescued, Jack and Claire have swapped confidences and oh, they've had the most spectacular sex of their lives!Back in the office they're still butting heads over projects, but now there's a heightened awareness added to the mix. With this kind of tension in the air, how can they resist another round of sexy indulgence? 

Another winner Sarah Mayberry romance. An irresistible premise of what happens when you get stuck in an elevator for a few hours with the office playboy and have sex with him, against all your better judgement.  Come on, everyone has fantasized about this kind of scenario with someone at some point in their lives.  *blushing* George Clooney anyone? Although the heroine is prickly and uptight in the beginning, her personality shines through later in the book. I loved Jack, of course.  Not the best Mayberry I've read, and not as emotional as her others, but it was a fun, quick read.

4/5



Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas

Book Description: 
MEET THE BLUE-EYED DEVIL - His name is Hardy Cates. He's a self-made millionaire who comes from the wrong side of the tracks. He's made enemies in the rough-and-tumble ride to the top of Houston's oil industry. He's got hot blood in his veins. And vengeance on his mind.

MEET THE HEIRESS - She's Haven Travis. Despite her family's money, she refuses to set out on the path they've chosen for her. But when Haven marries a man her family disapproves of, her life is set on a new and dangerous course. Two years later, Haven comes home, determined to guard her heart. And Hardy Cates, a family enemy, is the last person she needs darkening her door or setting her soul on fire.

WATCH THE SPARKS FLY....Filled with Lisa Kleypas's trademark sensuality, filled with characters you love to hate and men you love to love, Blue-Eyed Devil will hold you captive in its storytelling power as the destiny of two people unfolds with every magical word.


Haven Travis escapes from an abusive marriage and into the arms of ne'er do well, self-made rich oil man, Hardy Cates - who her family hates. Good story, a bit melodramatic and reminiscent of an '80's TV miniseries. I would have liked it more if Haven hadn't been such a doormat for much of the book. I still loved Hardy though, classic Kleypas hero *sigh* but her historicals are where she really shines.

4/5


 
Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas

Book Description:
Jack Travis leads the uncomplicated life of a millionaire Texas playboy.  He makes no commitments, he loves many women, he lives for pleasure.  But no one has ever truly touched his heart or soul.  Until one day, a woman appears on his doorstep with fury on her face and a baby in her arms.  It seems Jack is the father and this woman is the baby’s aunt. The real mother has abandoned the child to her more responsible sister.  And now, Jack is being called upon to take responsibility for the first time in his life.  With delicious romantic tension, characters so real they walk onto the page and into your heart, Lisa Kleypas delivers the kind of novel that makes you laugh, love; cry and cheer.

I loved this novel and it was my favorite in the Travis series. I didn't think I would, especially with a baby storyline, but it sucked me in all the way through to the end, bringing tears to my eyes with it's happily ever after ending. I loved Jack Travis! I had a harder time getting into Ella, but she won we over soon enough.  Despite some minor flaws I found it an emotional, touching contemporary that plucked at my heart strings, not to mention the sizzling love scenes between Ella and Jack.  A keeper!

4.5/5



The Soldier by Grace Burrowes

Book Description:
This Regency era battle of wits, wills, and the sexes features a wily duke determined to see the succession of his line secured. The duke can't force his sons to marry, but he can make their lives miserable until they do. Resisting his pressure, each gentleman holds out for true love.
The second book in the series features Devlin St. Just, the duke's oldest, but illegitimate, son. He arrives at his new estate weary in body and spirit only to find the previous owner's bastard daughter and her beautiful cousin are his responsibility and making his life almost unbearably complicated. 

Grace Burrowes has become a favorite of mine and I really enjoyed this next installment in her Duke's Obsession series. This is Devlin St. Just's story. Bastard son to the Duke of Moreland, Devlin became a soldier, but it's left him suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome as he retires to his recently acquired estate in Yorkshire. On top of that he is dealing with the recent revelations that his real mother loved him after all. While in Yorkshire, he meets Emmie Farnum, the pretty local baker and so-called guardian of Winnie, a precocious six year old who winds up living with Devlin as his ward. Burrowes has a way of tugging at your heart strings with everyday goings-on. Devlin falls in love with Emmie and she reciprocates yet she cannot marry him for she fears her secret will ruin everything and she's convinced she must let Devlin go to raise Winnie without her - like I said, complicated. I was a little confused about her obstinacy over this issue, but fear not - all is resolved by the end.

4/5



A Garden Folly by Candice Hern

Book Description:
Two sisters on the edge of poverty have a chance to meet wealthy, titled, unmarried gentlemen when they are unexpectedly invited to a house party at a famous country estate owned by the Duke of Carlisle. Though courted by a wealthy earl, Catherine Forsythe finds herself falling for the handsome estate gardener and faced with the choice of marrying for money and security, or following her heart.

I really enjoyed this quick light G-rated regency. Stephen, the Duke of Carlisle wishes he could be loved for himself and not just as a rich duke. He gets his chance when he meets Catherine Forsythe in his own gardens. Disguising himself as head gardener of his own estate, he is bent on wooing her and have her fall in love with him. She is determined to marry a rich man for she and her sister and aunt are nearly destitute. But, she succumbs to the charms of the green eyed handsome gardener, but her common sense is telling her otherwise. Cute story, but I cringed over some of the remarks Catherine unknowingly makes to the duke.  I will read more by this author, so far I've liked what I've read of hers.

3.5/5


True Love and Other Disasters by Rachel Gibson

Book Description:
Hard knocks and hunger taught Faith Duffy not to believe in love. Still, when she married her very wealthy -- and very old -- husband, she became the perfect wife. And then he went to that big bank in the sky, leaving Faith with lonely nights, a pile of money, and a total mess of a pro hockey team. Heck, Faith doesn't even watch hockey!

But most of America and half of Canada is watching Ty Savage. His lethal sex appeal and deadly right hook make him the favorite of fans. For most of Ty's life, he's dreamed of winning the Stanley Cup. The last thing he needs is a bimbo messing up his plans.

Faith loathes Ty on sight, but she can't stop thinking about him all day ... and night. Then a moment of temptation ends with Faith in Ty's bed, and she begins to see there's more to him than sex appeal. Ty discovers there's far more to Faith than beauty and billions. But a relationship with Faith is impossible, and falling in love --- that would be a disaster.


Not up to par with the previous books in her Chinooks Hockey Team series, but it was still pretty good.  Widow of billionaire Virgil Duffy, a former Playboy Playmate, Faith Duffy, inherits his hockey team and of course, she and the captain, Ty Savage (Sah-vahge) dislike each other at first sight.  But then they fall in lust and can't resist one another.  Not bad, not great, but It Had to Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips is a much better sports romance along these exact same lines.

3.5/5



His Every Kiss by Laura Lee Guhrke

Book Description:
Everyone knows about Dylan Moore—his brilliant talent and his pleasure-seeking ways—but no one knows the torment that lies beneath his reckless veneer. Only one woman gets a glimpse of the forces that drive Dylan's soul, a woman who haunts his dreams and evokes his passions as no other woman ever has before.

Disgraced and destitute, Grace Cheval wants nothing to do with the seductive man who desires her. When Dylan offers her a position as governess to his newfound daughter, she knows his true intentions are dishonorable. Yet she finds this charismatic man hard to resist, and she returns his passionate kisses with a fire that matches his own. Can Dylan dare hope that this proud, spirited beauty will melt the ice around his heart?


I had trouble liking the hero in this one - not to mention the plot line, for that matter.  Yes, our hero, Dylan Moore, had some issues.  But he was much too self centered and by the time he began to change, it seemed it was only out of guilt (hence the series' name) but I didn't find it all that romantic.  Grace, the heroine, seemed to "all of a sudden" want to go to bed with him one night! (I hate it when that happens) Frankly, there just wasn't anything about this book I liked - including the annoying daughter who was a younger clone of her father.  Others by this author are much better.

3/5


No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt by Doris Kearns Goodwin (audio)

Book Description:
No Ordinary Time is a monumental work, a brilliantly conceived chronicle of one of the most vibrant and revolutionary periods in the history of the United States. With an extraordinary collection of details, Goodwin masterfully weaves together a striking number of story lines;  Eleanor and Franklin's marriage and remarkable partnership, Eleanor's life as First Lady, and FDR's White House and its impact on America as well as on a world at war. Goodwin effectively melds these details and stories into an unforgettable and intimate portrait of Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt and of the time during which a new, modern America was born.

A mammoth sized bio of the Roosevelt's leading up to and during WWII, fascinating on audiobook, though it took forever.  I must admit, I quizzed my mother and father-in-law much of the time while listening to this.  Peppering them with questions about what it was like back when they were teenagers during the war and what were their memories of FDR and Eleanor.  I really enjoyed this!  A must for anyone that's interested in this time period and FDR. Not much more to say than that!

5/5

 
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