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!)


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!


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!



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