Thursday, August 28, 2014

Review: Out of the Shadows (Shadows, #3)


Out of the Shadows (Shadows, #3)
Out of the Shadows (Shadows, #3) by Kay Hooper

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



My Favorite of the Series

OUT OF THE SHADOWS is the best of Hooper's Bishop Special Crimes series. It is the story of the namesake of the series and the woman for whom he has been searching. This paranormal suspense fiction is beautifully constructed story about a maniac killer and two people who have pain and mistrust between them.

THE STORY: Special Agent Noah Bishop has been searching for the woman he loves for more than eight years. Before she disappeared, Bishop made a terrible mistake that resulted in the death of most of his love's family. Now that he has found her again, he is determined to break through her walls and create a future with her.

Miranda Knight loved Bishop eight years ago until his actions destroyed her family and her trust. Her precognitive vision of the serial killer in the town's midst makes her contact Bishop. As sheriff in the town, Miranda has to find out who is killing the town's teenagers. She knows that it is time to reveal herself to Bishop even if she intends on keeping her emotional distance.

OPINION: I absolutely love this book. Bishop and Miranda are special characters with a painful past that they have to deal with. What I especially like is how much of the resolution is the two talking out the pain of the past and acknowledging mistakes. Their relationship is immediately intense and special. The supporting characters are well delineated and at appropriate times funny. The mystery of who is committing the murders is intriguing and suspenseful.

For me, the highlight of this book is the relationship and the tense, sexy, angst filled scenes between Bishop and Miranda are ones that I can read again and again.

WORTH MENTIONING: I loved how this book takes seriously the psychic abilities of both Bishop and Miranda and is internally consistent about the rules that govern their abilities.

FINAL DECISION: If you are going to read just one book in this series, read this one. It is by far the most balanced and compelling. The relationship between Bishop and Miranda is the center of the series and often I read the subsequent books only to hope for a glimpse of their continuing relationship.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This is the third book in the Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series and the final book in the opening trilogy. This book can be read completely independent of any other book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars!



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Review: The Hot Zone


The Hot Zone
The Hot Zone by Jayne Castle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Funny and Suspense Filled Halloween on Rainshadow

In THE HOT ZONE it is Halloween on Rainshadow Island. The latest installment of Castle's paranormal futuristic Rainshadow series is about the creatures that go bump in the night. At times funny and suspenseful, this is the story of a woman who fears having been the victim of an experiment and a man who has come to see if she is a danger.

THE STORY: Sedona Snow is a gatekeeper which means that she has a talent which allows her to open gates in the underground on Harmony. While on an expedition, she is kidnapped and subjected to experiments whereby she obtains an additional talent which allows her to produce and control fire. She knows that double talents are notorious for being unstable and descending into madness. She fears for herself and ends up on the island of misfits (Rainshadow) managing an inn.

Cyrus Jones (yes, one of those Jones from Krentz's Arcane series and also in the Harmony series book MIDNIGHT CRYSTAL) is the first boss of the newly organized Rainshadow Ghost Hunters Guild. Cyrus is known as Dead Zone Jones and some people believe he has that name because he has no talent. Cyrus actually possesses a dangerous talent that people instinctively fear. Ostensibly, Cyrus in on Rainshadow to help with the dangerous preserve areas located in the previous books in the series. He is also on Rainshadow looking for Sedona who the Jones are concerned may be a dangerous multi-talent. He doesn't expect to find a sexy woman to whom he is instantly attracted.

As Halloween comes to Rainshadow, there are dangerous alien creatures, creepy new landscapes and funny costumes (especially for dust bunnies). There is also dangers that bring a man and a woman who don't think that they can ever find love together.

OPINION: This is one of my favorite Rainshadow books. Sedona is very complex and spunky. She is incredibly strong and I love how Cyrus supports her and trusts in her competence and abilities. This allows Sedona to believe in herself as well. I am also a great fan of Jayne Ann Krentz's Arcane series and am happy that she has once again decided to continue the storyline from that series. I love the Jones family and am happy to read more about the Arcane's struggle with the infamous formula created by their ancestor.

I love the romantic suspense that Krentz/Castle/Quick creates in her different time periods and I especially like it when, as here, she focuses on the romance and the suspense only support and gives structure to the romance. I've complained before when her books tip too far towards suspense. Here, she has a great balance where the characters...not the plot...is the focus.

WORTH MENTIONING: Dust bunny Lyle is a cutie and a great addition to the dust bunny family. It was also nice seeing the dust bunnies of the previous books. I was also happy to have a short cameo by Marlowe and Adam from MIDNIGHT CRYSTAL.

FINAL DEICISION: I recommend this book especially to fans of Castle's Harmony and Rainshadow series. The quirky, funny, suspenseful tone is well done and it is an easy read where the characters are engaging and likeable.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE HOT ZONE is the third Rainshadow book and the eleventh Harmony series book. It is also connected with the Arcane series as well. This book might be hard for a new reader to adopt. I would recommend reading at least the first Rainshadow book before this one.

STAR RATING: I give this book a 4.5. I really love the characters and the story is engaging. I will definitely re-read.



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Review: Hiding in the Shadows


Hiding in the Shadows
Hiding in the Shadows by Kay Hooper

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



Mediocre Entry in the Bishop Series

HIDING IN THE SHADOWS is the story of a man and the two women that he ends up loving...but there is an eerie connection between the women. This book is a paranormal romantic suspense, but the emphasis is more on the suspense than the romance.

THE STORY: Faith Parker awakes from a coma without any memory of who she is. What she finds out is that her only friend, Dinah Leighton, has disappeared. Faith fears that Dinah is in danger because of her actions as Faith begins to remember her actions and Dinah's as well. There is a deep connection between the two women.

Kane MacGregor is desperately hoping that Dinah is still alive. He ends up joining up with Faith in hopes that she will help lead him to Dinah. He begins to feel guilty as he has feeling developing for Faith.

OPINION: I thought this book was weak compared to the others in the series. The big twist in the story is evident very early on. Because of this, I felt that the story dragged on too long. I wasn't interested in the mystery and I wasn't in suspense because there wasn't much going on in the story. This book is very different in tone from the others in the series and is less successful in my opinion.

WORTH MENTIONING: The best part of the story is the appearance of Special Agent Noah Bishop. Bishop is a compelling character and the hints as to his story OUT OF THE SHADOWS are what make this book interesting to me.

FINAL DECISION: I think this book is good enough to read if one is invested in the series. I would recommend that someone interested in the series begin with one of the other books, however, because this book is so different in tone and character development.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This is book two in the Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series. The books in the series are only loosely connected and can be read individually.

STAR RATING: I give this book a 3 star rating. I might read the Bishop portions again, but for me there isn't much to interest me to spend time with these characters again.



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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Review: Once More, My Darling Rogue


Once More, My Darling Rogue
Once More, My Darling Rogue by Lorraine Heath

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Two People Haunted By Their Pasts

ONCE MORE, MY DARLING ROGUE is a book where I began by questioning whether I would be able to have any empathy for the main characters. From the blurb on the back of the book I could not imagine that these two people would be ones that I would like and understand. But the end, I loved their story (even though I think that Drake got off easy for his behavior) and I sighed with happiness at the conclusion of their story.

THE STORY: Drake Darling is the boy taken in and fostered by Frannie and Sterling in SURRENDER TO THE DEVIL. Drake has a dark, dark past because his father murdered his mother and Drake believes himself unworthy of a happy ending with love because of his biology. He is seriously annoyed by his sister Grace's friend Ophelia who grew finds haughty and socially a snob.

Lady Ophelia Lyttleton is very conscious of propriety and station. Drake ranks low on her scale as he is merely a commoner despite his foster family and connections. She is deliberately antagonistic towards Drake treating him like a servant and giving him the cut direct when she can.

On the night of Grace's marriage, Drake ends up finding Ophelia almost drowned from the Thames. When she awakes with amnesia, Drakes decides to get some petty revenge by telling Ophelia that she is his housekeeper. As Drake gets to know "Phee", he finds a woman who had strength and determination and humor and concern for others. He's falling in love with Phee and is deeply conflicted because he doesn't know how he can reconcile Phee and Ophelia.

OPINION: Heath has an amazing ability to pull out incredibly strong emotions in her stories. I began the book disliking Ophelia for her snobbery and Drake for his lying to Ophelia while she was incredibly vulnerable. Heath delves deep into the feelings, thoughts and psyches of the main characters and their painful pasts explain so much I'd their actions. At the same time, Heath does not allow explanations to become excuses. While a reader comes to understand the reasons for Ophelia's actions towards Drake, Ophelia acknowledges that her pain does not justify her bad actions. I enjoy very much Heath's deeply emotional books and this one satisfied me.

WORTH MENTIONING: I am so hoping that the Duke of Avendale gets his own book. He really needs the love of a good woman to redeem him. The presence of the characters from connected books was also well done and I appreciated the familiar faces.

FINAL DECISION: This book is one of the ones that is worthwhile to force yourself through the beginning chapters if you don't connect with the characters immediately. They are both wearing masks of a sort and even the reader has to take the time to break through their walls. I recommend reading it all the way through.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ONCE MORE, MY DARLING ROGUE is the second book in the Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James series about the children of her Scoundrels of St. James series. Drake appears as a child in SURRENDER TO THE DEVIL. This book can be read alone although there is great beauty in understanding Drake's past and his relationship with his sister.

STAR RATING: I'd rate this one a 4.5. I thought the first book in this series was almost perfect and this one was not as powerful emotionally, but I loved it anyway.





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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review: The Hot Zone


The Hot Zone
The Hot Zone by Jayne Castle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Funny and Suspense Filled Halloween on Rainshadow

In THE HOT ZONE it is Halloween on Rainshadow Island. The latest installment of Castle's paranormal futuristic Rainshadow series is about the creatures that go bump in the night. At times funny and suspenseful, this is the story of a woman who fears having been the victim of an experiment and a man who has come to see if she is a danger.

THE STORY: Sedona Snow is a gatekeeper which means that she has a talent which allows her to open gates in the underground on Harmony. While on an expedition, she is kidnapped and subjected to experiments whereby she obtains an additional talent which allows her to produce and control fire. She knows that double talents are notorious for being unstable and descending into madness. She fears for herself and ends up on the island of misfits (Rainshadow) managing an inn.

Cyrus Jones (yes, one of those Jones from Krentz's Arcane series and also in the Harmony series book MIDNIGHT CRYSTAL) is the first boss of the newly organized Rainshadow Ghost Hunters Guild. Cyrus is known as Dead Zone Jones and some people believe he has that name because he has no talent. Cyrus actually possesses a dangerous talent that people instinctively fear. Ostensibly, Cyrus in on Rainshadow to help with the dangerous preserve areas located in the previous books in the series. He is also on Rainshadow looking for Sedona who the Jones are concerned may be a dangerous multi-talent. He doesn't expect to find a sexy woman to whom he is instantly attracted.

As Halloween comes to Rainshadow, there are dangerous alien creatures, creepy new landscapes and funny costumes (especially for dust bunnies). There is also dangers that bring a man and a woman who don't think that they can ever find love together.

OPINION: This is one of my favorite Rainshadow books. Sedona is very complex and spunky. She is incredibly strong and I love how Cyrus supports her and trusts in her competence and abilities. This allows Sedona to believe in herself as well. I am also a great fan of Jayne Ann Krentz's Arcane series and am happy that she has once again decided to continue the storyline from that series. I love the Jones family and am happy to read more about the Arcane's struggle with the infamous formula created by their ancestor.

I love the romantic suspense that Krentz/Castle/Quick creates in her different time periods and I especially like it when, as here, she focuses on the romance and the suspense only support and gives structure to the romance. I've complained before when her books tip too far towards suspense. Here, she has a great balance where the characters...not the plot...is the focus.

WORTH MENTIONING: Dust bunny Lyle is a cutie and a great addition to the dust bunny family. It was also nice seeing the dust bunnies of the previous books. I was also happy to have a short cameo by Marlowe and Adam from MIDNIGHT CRYSTAL.

FINAL DEICISION: I recommend this book especially to fans of Castle's Harmony and Rainshadow series. The quirky, funny, suspenseful tone is well done and it is an easy read where the characters are engaging and likeable.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE HOT ZONE is the third Rainshadow book and the eleventh Harmony series book. It is also connected with the Arcane series as well. This book might be hard for a new reader to adopt. I would recommend reading at least the first Rainshadow book before this one.

STAR RATING: I give this book a 4.5. I really love the characters and the story is engaging. I will definitely re-read.



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Monday, August 25, 2014

Review: Heroes Are My Weakness: A Novel


Heroes Are My Weakness: A Novel
Heroes Are My Weakness: A Novel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Brooding Hero and Quirky Heroine...Loved It!

Susan Elizabeth Phillips is a pillar of the romance genre. Her quirky, funny characters that often begin in a hate-hate relationship with one are unique. What I like best about Phillips books is the way that she brings two people together who have no business being in a relationship and then reveals how these two people are in fact perfect for one another. HEROES ARE MY WEAKNESS is my favorite book of Phillips’ since her Chicago Stars series with a quirky heroine, a brooding dangerous hero, gothic suspense tone, and puppets.

THE STORY: Annie, a thirty-three year old ventriloquist returns to Peregrine Island in Maine, the scene of the most frightening moment in her teens. She was tormented, attracted to, and almost killed by Theo Harp. Annie has returned to the island down on her luck after the death of her mother in order to find her promised inheritance. Annie has run out of options. She intends to spend two months on the island and decide what she is going to do for the rest of her life. When she arrives on the island she is “physically weak, emotionally empty, and more than a little terrified.” While Annie expects to have to confront the memories of her past, she doesn’t expect to confront the demon himself – Theo Harp.

Theo Harp is a dark, broody, mysterious and maybe deadly man. He is the author of a slasher/frightening novel (think Stephen King). He was the tormentor and almost lover of Annie when she was fifteen and she almost died as a result. Both his twin sister and his wife have died under mysterious circumstances. Annie believes Theo to be psychotic. Theo keeps his secrets and just wants to be left alone. He both attracts and repels but Annie sees him primarily through her experiences with him as a teenager. He is attracted to Annie because of her inherent decency.

Although Annie fears Theo she is also intensely attracted to him. She fears that her history of falling in love with bad men that started when she knew Theo as a teenager is repeating itself. Annie is also the victim of threats and vandalism and she fears that Theo is trying to harm her or drive her from the island. Is Theo going to hurt her again?

OPINION: I absolutely loved the gothic, creepy feel of this book in the beginning. I almost wondered if I had picked up an Anne Stuart book instead since she is the queen of creepy, dangerous villain/heroes. The book has a definite suspense feel throughout. Phillips does a great job of keeping the secrets about Theo. I was intrigued by the love/fear relationship between Annie and Theo. Once again, Phillips has created a couple who I could not imagine will be able to work through their problems to have a happy ending.
I appreciated that in this book, Phillips focuses on the relationship between the hero and heroine and does not have a secondary romance as she does in most of her books. The extra pages in the book that are dedicated to Annie and Theo give their relationship more complexity and allows the spooky, weird feeling of the book to progress naturally. It also gives her extra time to explore the character of Theo Harp.

I don’t want to give spoilers about the story, but I absolutely love Theo Harp. Annie refers to him as Rochester and Heathcliff and he definitely begins in that mold. I enjoyed how Phillips shifts those historical characters into a thoroughly modern man with modern problems. I thought Theo was one of the most interesting male characters that Phillips has created because he has some serious depth and the reader is allowed time to get to know him. He is complex and not a sweet guy. He does some things in this book that will make readers actively dislike him. I think it is worth going on the journey with Annie to get to know this guy.

WORTH MENTIONING: Annie’s puppets are an integral part of the story. She uses them as ways to express her inner thoughts and the thoughts of others. This book has less humor than many of Phillips other books, but the humorous positioning of the puppets gives this books some needed levity and in fact is the ice breaker between Theo and Annie. This use of the puppets reminds me somewhat of the book characters in THIS HEART OF MINE. I though the device worked even better here in that it was less intrusive on the main story.

FINAL DECISION: I recommend this book. It is clever in its plotting and I immediately went back to review passages to find clues to the ultimate conclusion of the mystery. I thought that Annie and Theo were well matched and the story between them was tense and sexy. I especially loved the character of Theo because of the gothic portrayal of him in the beginning of the book and who Annie knows him to be by the end of the book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This book is a standalone!

STAR RATING: I give this book a 5 star rating which means that it is a definite re-read for me.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book from William Morrow in order to provide an honest review of the book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.




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Review: Stealing Shadows (Shadows, #1)


Stealing Shadows (Shadows, #1)
Stealing Shadows (Shadows, #1) by Kay Hooper

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Great Paranormal Suspense Fiction

STEALING SHADOWS is the first of Hooper's Bishop series. The series tells the story of people with paranormal talents. The early books in the series are focused not only on the suspense but also on romance between the characters. The early books are my favorites including this one.

THE STORY: Cassie Neill is a psychic who sees the minds of killers. She has helped police with murders until a mistake she made resulted in the death of a little girl and Cassie fled L.A. to come to North Carolina to try and find some peace. Unfortunately, another serial killer is on the prowl and Cassie is once again dreaming of the killer's actions.

When the local police dismisses her visions, Cassie goes to Ben Ryan, the local prosecutor who even though he doesn't believe in psychic abilities, agrees to consider her story. Cassie and Ben end up in the middle of a serious case where Cassie is in danger and Ben is trying to protect her and solve the crime.

OPINION: This is one of my favorite of the series. Cassie at first seems fragile, but she is actually extremely strong. She is haunted by her visions, but she keeps helping because he is compelled to use her talent if she can. The relationship she builds with Ben is very prominent in this book. I like all the details of how the two of them have to break down the barriers between them in order for the happy ending to occur. The suspense story about the killer is well executed and kept me guessing until the end.

WORTH MENTIONING: Special Agent Noah Bishop makes his first appearance about one-third of the way through this book. Bishop is my favorite character in the series and I like how Hooper slowly introduces him in preparation for his story in OUT OF THE SHADOWS.

FINAL DECISION: I recommend this book especially for those who like paranormal romantic suspense. Later books in the series lean more on the paranormal suspense, but this book is definitely a romance.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This is the first book in the Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series. The books are only loosely connected and do not need to be read in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book a 5 star rating. I've read it several times over the years and will be reading it again.



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Review: Prince of Magic


Prince of Magic
Prince of Magic by Anne Stuart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Hero Is More Heroic Than Most Stuart Heroes

Anne Stuart is the queen of heroes that make a reader question whether he is the hero or villain of the piece. Prince of Magic is a historical where the hero is somewhat dark but so obviously cares about his sister and friend that a reader quickly knows that he can be relied upon.

THE STORY: Elizabeth Penshurst has been sent from her family because she was caught dancing in the woods in her shift. Elizabeth is attracted to the woods and its creatures. She intends on mending her ways and return to her family from her banishment a more dutiful daughter. Then she meets Gabriel Durham.

Gabriel is an ex-monk who studies the druid religion. He lives in solitude at a ruined estate. He learns that there are claimed practitioners of the Druid practices that threaten the women in Yorkshire, including Elizabeth. He wants to stay away from Elizabeth to protect himself, but he also wants to protect her.

There are many secrets in Yorkshire including ghostly apparitions. Who is the villain and will Elizabeth be the desired virgin sacrifice?

OPINION: I enjoyed the story between Gabriel and Elizabeth. I thought they were a good match and there was also a secondary romance that was sweet as well. I tend to like Stuart's darker heroes better and Gabriel is more traditional than most of her heroes. I didn't feel that the danger tension was as good as Stuart has done in her Ice Series or her Rohan series.

WORTH MENTIONING: I enjoyed that the ghosts helped this couple get together. It was a lighter moment in the book.

FINAL DECISION: I'd recommend this book for those who are not sure that they want to venture into Stuart's darker heroes. The book has a word edge that is usually present in Stuart's books without the intense darkness.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This book is a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book a 3.5 because it was a book I enjoyed reading but probably would re-read again.

NOTE: I received and ARC of this book through Netgalley in order to provide an honest review of the book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.



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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Review: The Great Escape


The Great Escape
The Great Escape by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Companion Book to CALL ME IRRESISTIBLE

THE GREAT ESCAPE is the seventh book in the Wynette, Texas series. In the previous book, Lucy Jorik fled from her wedding leaving her groom and bridesmaid to end up together. THE GREAT ESCAPE tells what happens to Lucy. Lucy (who is first introduced as the daughter in FIRST LADY) ends up on the back of a motorcycle with a man named Panda. She travels with him and ends up in bed with him. When the two part, Lucy is not yet willing to let go and she ends up at his home on a Great Lakes island. There Lucy learns who she is. Lucy and Panda are both people who have pasts that still haunt them. On the island, the two begin anew.

This book is a little too long for me. There was just a little too much about other characters when I would have preferred to have more detail about Panda and Lucy. I think if there had been just one secondary couple instead of two, the book could have been tighter and my mind wouldn't have wandered so far from the main couple as much.

Despite that, I liked the interaction between Lucy and Panda. Lucy is trying to figure out who she is after suppressing herself during the years her mother was in the White House. As Lucy acknowledges in the book, this story is about a thirty something experiencing what usually people do as teens and young adults. Panda is a man who doesn't let people close because of his past. I especially liked how Panda and Lucy have similar pasts that still haunt them in different ways.



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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Review: Call Me Irresistible


Call Me Irresistible
Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Funny Story with Old Friends

CALL ME IRRESISTIBLE is the sixth book in the Wynette, Texas series. It is the story of Ted Beaudine (son of the couple from FANCY PANTS) and Meg Koranda (daughter of hte couple from GLITTER BABY). The two meet at Ted's wedding rehearsal dinner to Meg's best friend Lucy Jorik (the daughter from FIRST LADY). Lucy is having doubts about her marriage and ultimately runs away from the church. Meg is blamed by everyone in town including Ted.

Ted Beaudine is too perfect. He is the town golden boy and from Meg's perspective he is the wrong person for Lucy because he is unemotional and never does anything wrong. In the course of the book, Meg learns that Ted has a lot to live up to in Wynette. People depend upon him for everything. He relies on his intellect and doesn't want to engage with messy emotions. He has feelings but he doesn't want to surrender to them. He is the complete opposite of Meg, who is messy and emotional and incredibly imperfect.

Ted and Meg have things in common as well. They are both compassionate people. They both are concerned about the environment and are intelligent. In fact, they end up being perfect for one another.

This book is really funny. The townspeople hate Meg and their attempts to punish her are really funny. I also really loved the interaction between Ted and Meg. The two of them have no intention of falling in love with one another. They are disagreeable and they fight all the time. It is especially funny because Ted is not the type to fight the way Meg is so she spends much of her time trying to rattle him. These two end up having a very sexy story. I laughed at Meg's continual criticism of their sexual encounters because Ted is too perfect.

For fans of Phllips, seeing so many characters from previous books is very satisfying. I liked seeing what happened to them after their books ended.

This book is closely related to THE GREAT ESCAPE that follows it and tells what happened to Lucy after she fled from the church. The epilogue of that book gives readers an update on Ted and Meg after the end of this book.



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Monday, August 18, 2014

Review: What I Did for Love


What I Did for Love
What I Did for Love by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Couldn't Imagine How These Two Would Work Things Out

WHAT I DID FOR LOVE is the fifth book in the Wynett, Texas series. This book is only loosely connected to the others and can be read on its own without missing anything. Georgie York and Bramwell Shepard were teenage stars together on a TV series. Georgie had a crush on Bram that he ruthlessly demolished. She has hated him ever since. While Georgie was the good girl, her marriage to the perfect guy failed when he left her for another woman. Now Georgie has to deal with the press and tabloids. When Georgie and Bram meet up again, the antagonism continues. One night the two are in Las Vegas together and wake up naked and married. Georgie, tired of the press, convinces Bram to stay married to help them both. Bram's self destructive actions destroyed his career and he is trying to recover. Being married to Georgie allows him to have the opportunity to resurrect his career.

Georgie and Bram are a very interesting couple. This book is very much focused on the characters relationship. The two fight constantly. It takes Georgie quite a while to take control of her life with other people, but she is strong with Bram. These two people know too much about one another but truly don't know one another until the book starts. By the end of the book, the two are able to merge their entire history into something they can live with.

The book is clever and sexy. The scene where Bram and Georgie avoid the paparazzi by going into a high end adult store and end up modeling underwear is super hot.

My only complaint about this book is that Bram has a lot of baggage that I didn't feel got enough resolution. I felt that after all the grief he gave Georgie that she forgave him way too quickly.

Despite that, the pages of this book turned quickly. One thing I really like about Phillips books is that I tend not to like characters in the beginning that I end up really liking in the end. This book was that way. I really felt that I had traveled on a journey with these characters and was satisfied with their happy ending.



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Review: Talk Sweetly to Me


Talk Sweetly to Me
Talk Sweetly to Me by Courtney Milan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Truly Sweet End to Brothers Sinister Series

TALK SWEETLY TO ME is billed as a coda to the fabulous Brothers Sinister series. The novella tells the story of Stephen Shaughnessy, who was introduced in THE SUFFRAGETTE SCANDAL. Stephen writes a column for a women’s newspaper. (As an aside, the column is hysterical and THE SUFFRAGETTE SCANDAL is worth reading just to catch up on them.)

In this novella, Shephen meets Rose Sweetly. Rose is a mathematician who helps with calculations regarding astronomical issues. Stephen and Rose live close to one another and Stephen loves to hear Rose talk about mathematics. Rose is intrigued with Stephen, but she is wary of him because he has a reputation as a rake and also because she is of African descent, she fears that he might believe she has loose morals.

This novella is short, but I loved the interaction between Rose and Stephen. Rose is brilliant and Stephen is clearly entranced with her. The story between the two is sweet and caring. The story reminds me somewhat of THE COUNTESS CONSPIRACY, but with much less angst and pain.

The edge in this story comes from the racism and sexism of the society at large. What brings the characters together is that they both represent outsiders in society. Rose is black and is a brilliant female in a predominately male field. Stephen writes for a feminist newspaper and is an Irish Catholic. At one point, Rose points out that any children they would have would be black Irish Catholics and all of their lives would be immensely difficult.

Milan writes original stories. It is difficult that seduction and romance can be expressed through mathematics, but that is exactly what happens here.

This novella doesn’t have the complexity of a full-length novella, but I found it a beautiful addition to THE SUFFRAGETTE SCANDAL. There are no appearances by other characters of the series so fans may be disappointed, but new readers can pick this one up without missing much (although it is best read after THE SUFFRAGETTE SCANDAL because a reader will get to know Stephen better).




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Review: First Lady


First Lady
First Lady by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Won Me Over By The End

Won Me Over By The End

FIRST LADY is the fourth book in the Wynette, Texas series. This is a very loose series where the early books are connected in the end with some reappearances of the children of the early heroes and heroines.

FIRST LADY is the story of Cornelia "Nealy" Litchfield Case, the widowed First Lady of the United States. Nealy has had enough of her very public life and runs away. She meets up with Mat Jorik, a journalist who is dealing with a crisis of his own. Mat's ex-wife had died and he has inherited two girls for whom he is listed as father on the birth certificate -- even though he is not. Mat only wants to get rid of the girls and he decides to take them to their grandmother in Iowa. During the road trip, he runs into Nealy, who is disguised as a pregnant woman. The two join up and the four of them end up forming a strange family during their travels.

I read the description of this story and really wasn't sure that I would manage to get through the book. The book sounded too unrealistic and I couldn't imagine liking the book. I was determined to get through the series, however, and so I started this book. I ended up really liking this book. The story is crazy and unbelieveable and yet the characters are bold and sweet and the story of how this perfectly imperfect family is formed is engaging and incredibly real.

This book has a great story to tell about families and how they can be bulit out of love and not biology. I appreciated that message and I enjoyed the journey of the family. The romance between Nealy and Mat is complicated, in a nice way, by the presence of the children and I appreciated that realism as well.



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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Review: Glitter Baby


Glitter Baby
Glitter Baby by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Saved By The Core Romance

Saved By The Core Romance

GLITTER BABY is a sprawling romance that begins with the parents of the heroine and covers thirty years. I just was not happy that the hero doesn't appear until page 108 and then the hero and heroine spend six years apart. The core of this story is about Fleur Savagar. It deals with her relationship with her parents, her brother and her career. It is the story about how she creates herself. I loved the story of her and Jake Koranda. I just wish there were pages devoted to them.

Fleur is the daughter of a shallow woman who is celebrity obsessed. She is the ultimate stage mom who manipulates her daughter because of her own dreams. She starts Fleur as a model in her teens and then gets her a part in Jake's movie. Jake is a war veteran who has deep scars from his experience. He is a complex star who acts in action westerns and writes compelling emotional plays. When Fleur is cast in his first movie as a writer over his objections, he expects a spoiled vain girl. Instead hee finds her sweet and innocent and he begins to admire her dedication to her work. After a brief affair, Fleur rings when she finds out that she was manipulated into the affair.

Six years later, Fleur builds a life for herself as a talent agent. She encounters Jake again. The two have to discover if there is something between them in the face of danger.

I am ambivalent about this book. I loved the romance between Fleur and Jake and I even understood that the other information about Fleur's parents and brother and friends give depth to Fleur, but I would honestly skip entire chapters when I reread this.

I'd give this book 3.5 stars. I'd give the romance a 4.25.



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Friday, August 15, 2014

Review: Lady Be Good


Lady Be Good
Lady Be Good by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Funny, Sweet and Fuill of Heart

LADY BE GOOD is the second book in the Wynette, Texas series. It is the story of Lady Emma Wells-Finch who has come from England to Texas to do research and also to ruin her very proper reputation in order to avoid a marriage that she doesn't want. She meets Kenny Traveler, playboy, hothead and pro golfer. Kenny has been suspended from the pro golf tour and hopes to restore his status by doing the favor of chauffeuring Emma around. The two are striking sparks off of one another immediately.

The love story here is sweet and funny. While there are some serious issues, this is one of the SEP books that is more lighthearted than serious. The humor takes precedence here. Emma is so determined to make herself disreputable. She wants a tattoo; she's drinking too much, flirting with men, buying tabloid magazines and condoms. At the same time, she is driving Kenny crazy because she is bossy and stubborn. I like the story because she has Kenny all twisted and he can't figure out why.

As one might expect with a SEP romance, there is also a secondary romance dealing with Kenny's sister. Kenny has a messed up family and part of the resolution of the book is putting this family to rights again.

For fans of the first book in the series, FANCY PANTS, there are appearances by Francesca and Dallie and their son Ted.



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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Review: Fancy Pants


Fancy Pants
Fancy Pants by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Engaging and Complex but Just Too Long for Me

FANCY PANTS is the first book in the Wynette, Texas series. It is the story of Francesca Day who is spoiled and self-absorbed when she comes to the United States to star in what she thinks is going to be an important film but turns out to be a B movie. In the process of running away, she meets Dallie Beaudine, a professional golfer who is surly and has dark demons. The two fight and argue and spar and end up lovers. It is not until ten years later, however, that the two end up resolving their romance.

This is an epic story that covers over thirty years of history from Franscesca's parents and childhood to Dallie's first marriage. There are several characters that get a detailed history here. Phillips has complex stories as a standard, but this book was just too long for me. I kept feeling that there were sections that could have been excised so that the focus was clearer.

I very much enjoyed the story of Francesca and Dallie and I ended up liking the characters even though they were rather unlikeable in the beginning. The book beautifully details the changes that Francesca especially goes through. Being an early book of Phillips, however, it does not fully reflect the finely crafted stories that she has told since.

A particular like for me is the character of Dallie. I appreciated Phillips willingness to give her hero a weakness where he is so afraid of failure that he would rather not try. I think there is much truth in this character that makes his compelling and his ultimate victory so rewarding.

If I read this again, I would probably skip portions of the book but I like the main storyline.



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Review: Deception Cove


Deception Cove
Deception Cove by Jayne Castle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



The Mystery of Rainshadow Continues

The Mystery of Rainshadow Continues

DECEPTION COVE is the second in the Rainshadow series and the eleventh book in the Harmony series. Rainshadow is a strange island on the earth colony of Harmony. Even though this book is a futuristic book, it really is a paranormal romantic suspense with an overlayer of a earth colony that allows Castle to change the rules that would apply to your normal earth bound book. The book is not science fiction in the classic sense. I think of the book as romantic suspense in another venue.

Alice North has a talent that allows her to appear to disappear. She has been hunted for a year by her dead husband's mother who blames Alice for his death. She has resorted to appearing in a magic show with her dust bunny companion Houdini. On the night that her magic show closes, she encounters Drake Sebastian who, because of his ex-girlfriend, is now day-blind and has to wear dark glasses to allow himself any vision at all.
The story begins with great suspicion between the main players. Because of the mysterious happenings on Rainshadow, the two join forces to discover what is happening on the island. The two almost immediately end up in a marriage of convenience (which is a type of legalized affair on Harmony) and spend their wedding night on Rainshadow trying to stay alive.

I liked Alice and Drake. They have a nice chemistry although there are more pages devoted to the mystery suspense angle of the story than the romance. I felt that this time the couple did get more attention than in the previous books about Rainshadow. Although the characters both have trust issues because of their previous relationships, there isn't much angst going on in this story.

I enjoyed the plot of this story because the twists were interesting and just when I thought the story was over there was an additional obstacle that has to be overcome before the ending. Once again, much of the humor of the story is provided by the dust bunnies. Houdini is really cute.

I'd rate this one a 4.25.



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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Review: The Lost Night


The Lost Night
The Lost Night by Jayne Castle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



I'd Rate This One a 4.25

I'd Rate This One a 4.25

THE LOST NIGHT is the first book in the Rainshadow series (although CANYONS OF NIGHT introduces the island and operates as prequel to the series). Rainshadow Island is on the planet of Harmony (this book is also the ninth book about that earth colony) and has an intense paranormal energy about it.

Harry Sebastian has a frightening paranormal talent that caused his wife to leave him after only three weeks of marriage. He comes to Rainshadow Island because something is going wrong on the island. There is an area known as the Preserve where strange things are happening. Harry is the descendant of a pirate and one of the first explorers of the island. His family is responsible for the Preserve and so he has come to see what is going on.

Rachel Blake has come to Rainshadow because she was being stalked by a psychic vampire. Although she feels a bit of misfit in the outside world, she has found a place operating the bookstore and cafe on the island. She had an incident where she was in the Preserve and lost 12 hours of her life. That has made her afraid of herself in some ways. When Harry arrives on the island, she is his prime suspect and being an aura talent she is strong armed by Harry into helping with his investigation.

This book is a futuristic paranormal romantic suspense. There is a nice balance between the suspense aspects of the story dealing with the mystery in the Preserve and the man stalking Rachel and the romance between Rachel and Harry.

Rachel and Harry are an interesting match. They have a great adventure together and it brings out their personal insecurities. I like stories when the characters have weaknesses that are softened by their relationship. I really liked Harry because he is a strong man with personal demons because of his talent. Rachel is strong despite her fear that she is not. Their romance is intense and happens quickly.

There is nice humor in the book added by the dust bunny Darwina. As with all dust bunnies, she plays an important role in the story as a companion to Rachel.

Good addition to the series.



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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Review: Canyons of Night (Arcane Society,#12)(Harmony, #8)


Canyons of Night (Arcane Society,#12)(Harmony, #8)
Canyons of Night (Arcane Society,#12)(Harmony, #8) by Jayne Castle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Intriguing Introduction to Rainshadow

CANYONS OF NIGHT is the prequel to the Rainshadow series. It is also the final book in the Looking Glass Trilogy, the twelfth book in the Arcane Society series, and the eighth book in the Harmony series. Wow! There is a lot of pressure for this book. This book nicely complements all those series, but a new reader might be puzzled by the worlds that intersect here without any previous knowledge of Arcane or Harmony. Fans of those series, however, will be pleased with the references from previous books and the new variation added with the inclusion of the island of Rainshadow.

Rainshadow is an island on Harmony where quirkly people live and work. CANYONS OF NIGHT introduces readers to Charlotte Enright and Slade Attridge who met as teenagers on the island. Slade ends up saving Charlotte from three toughs before leaving the island. Fifteen years later, both have returned and the attraction between the two is immediate.

Soon they are investigating a paranormal murder that happens in Charlotte's shop and other odd happenings on the island. Slade is afraid for his future because of an accident that happened to him that threatens his paranormal senses. Charlotte has someone stalking her.

For me, the best part of this book is the introduction of the couple as teens. The connection between them is obvious and has to sustain the relationship as adults because the focus of the book is more on the suspense aspect of the story than the relationship part of the book. There is a lot about their developing relationship, but there is little investigation of their emotional connection to one another. That is assumed from the beginning and left me wanting just a little more.



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Monday, August 11, 2014

Review: Ain't She Sweet


Ain't She Sweet
Ain't She Sweet by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Book of Redemption, Forgiveness and Love

AIN’T SHE SWEET is a dangerous book. I started reading it at 11pm intending on only reading a chapter or two…next thing I knew it was 4:30am and I wanted to read it again. The story was complex and deeply satisfying with characters that were original and fascinating.

It is the story of dealing with pain and loss, complex motivations, revenge and forgiveness and how we all change. It is also the story of how the past changes depending on your perspective. Amazingly, it is also an incredibly funny book with witty dialog and one of the most amusing dogs.

Colin Byrne’s world was destroyed when he was in his early twenties. He had come to the US to write a novel and so he got the job as a teacher at a high school in the small town of Parrish, Mississippi. While he wasn’t the best teacher, he felt acceptance in the town for the first time in his life. Unfortunately, his life was destroyed by the queen bee of the high school who lied and accused him of sexually accosting her.

Ten years later, Colin returned to Parrish and now he has found a place in the community. He is a writer and is writing a series of non-fiction books about the history of the town. Everything is going well until the queen bee returns.

Sugar Beth Carey seemed to have the perfect life growing up in Parrish. She was the richest, most popular girl in town. She had the best looking guy. All that has changed in fifteen years. She has returned to town having been married three times. She is broke and is desperate to find a painting that is her only inheritance. The people in town who loved her now despise her but she is too proud and guilty to let them defeat her. Worst of all, her childhood home has been sold to Colin Byrne.

Colin begins the book wanting revenge. He hopes to humiliate Sugar Beth. As he gets to know her, however, he begins to begrudgingly respect her. There is no easy resolution to the pain that Sugar Beth caused others especially Colin. Colin’s character is the real center of this story. While Sugar Beth has changed through the years, it is Colin who has to accept and acknowledge her change. Sugar Beth cannot get on with her life without the forgiveness that Colin gives. The scene where Colin works his revenge upon Sugar Beth is the true turning point in the book. The subtle transformation of his thoughts in that scene make it a powerful moment in the book.

The complexity of this book is centered upon the characters. In order to see that Sugar Beth is not a bad person, we also need to see that all the other characters react, act badly, have their own prejudices and bad experiences that make them react in fearful and hurtful ways. Just as Colin has to forgive and understand what the driving forces are that form Sugar Beth, the reader goes on that same journey.

Honestly, I’ve had this book on my to read list for several months and while it was highly recommended the synopsis of the story repelled me. Sugar Beth sounded just like the type of character that I hated in high school and I really couldn’t imagine that I would be sympathetic to a character like her. I was so wrong. In many ways, my journey as a reader mirrored those of the characters in the book. I was introduced to a strong woman who had been hurt so much that she only knew how to protect herself from more pain. She hurt other people, but they had hurt her as well.

The secondary characters are essential to this story. The nice thing about the book is that ultimately all of the living characters are likeable. Many of them hurt each other and so they journey mirrors that of Sugar Beth and Colin. The book for me is about perspective. The more we understand others, the more their actions make sense. There is no justification of behavior. Sugar Beth knows that she had done horrible things. Colin knows that his revenge upon Sugar Beth is wrong. The secondary characters also have that journey to take. It is a redeeming book to see that all the characters can recover from mistakes and make a better life for themselves.

My ultimate determination is that this book is one that instantly is on my all time favorites. Sometimes I read a book that I keep thinking about and that I want to reread instantly. This is one of those books. When I awoke from my much delayed sleep, there were scenes and sections that just drew me again: Colin’s dinner party revenge, the repartee between Sugar Beth and Colin, Colin’s unfortunate marriage proposal, Colin’s ultimate plan to win Sugar Beth, and the wedding and honeymoon (which is at the same time both the saddest and the funniest ones I have ever read).




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Review: Quicksilver (Arcane Society, #11)


Quicksilver (Arcane Society, #11)
Quicksilver (Arcane Society, #11) by Amanda Quick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Sweetwater Family Romance

QUICKSILVER begins when Virginia Dean wakes up in a strange bed covered in blood, holding a knife and next to a dead body. She is rescued by Owen Sweetwater who she fears because he has a reputation of unmasking psychic frauds and now Virginia is in a compromising position. Owen, however, has another agenda. He feels a link with Virginia and has come to save her. Thus, starts the second book in the Looking Glass Trilogy where man made devices are used a psychic weapons.

This book is a paranormal historical and is the eleventh book in the Arcane Society series which covers historicals (Amanda Quick), contemporaries (Jayne Ann Quick) and futuristics (Jayne Castle). The Arcane Society is a group of those with paranormal talents. Owen and Virginia are both outside of Arcane. Virginia is illegitimate and thus has to use to talent to work; the Sweetwaters are a close knit family because they are in essence assassins who eliminate those criminals with paranormal talents who cannot be dealt with in any other manner.

Virginia is the one who is wary in this relationship. Her mother was her father's mistress and thus she is wary of having a relationship with Owen. Owen on the other hand uses his Sweetwater talent and know that Virginia is the one for him. The combination of Virginia's reticence and Owen's certainty make for a special combination. I also liked how each saves the other.

This plot of this book is intriguing and ties nicely in with the other books in the series. There is a lot of action. The characters of the villains are not as well delineated in this book as in others, but the secondary characters who are friends of the hero and heroine are well defined. There is even a nice secondary romance. I really like the Sweetwater family and wish we could have seen more of them.

I'd rate this one a 4.5.



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Review: Quicksilver (Arcane Society, #11)


Quicksilver (Arcane Society, #11)
Quicksilver (Arcane Society, #11) by Amanda Quick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Sweetwater Family Romance

QUICKSILVER begins when Virginia Dean wakes up in a strange bed covered in blood, holding a knife and next to a dead body. She is rescued by Owen Sweetwater who she fears because he has a reputation of unmasking psychic frauds and now Virginia is in a compromising position. Owen, however, has another agenda. He feels a link with Virginia and has come to save her. Thus, starts the second book in the Looking Glass Trilogy where man made devices are used a psychic weapons.

This book is a paranormal historical and is the eleventh book in the Arcane Society series which covers historicals (Amanda Quick), contemporaries (Jayne Ann Quick) and futuristics (Jayne Castle). The Arcane Society is a group of those with paranormal talents. Owen and Virginia are both outside of Arcane. Virginia is illegitimate and thus has to use to talent to work; the Sweetwaters are a close knit family because they are in essence assassins who eliminate those criminals with paranormal talents who cannot be dealt with in any other manner.

Virginia is the one who is wary in this relationship. Her mother was her father's mistress and thus she is wary of having a relationship with Owen. Owen on the other hand uses his Sweetwater talent and know that Virginia is the one for him. The combination of Virginia's reticence and Owen's certainty make for a special combination. I also liked how each saves the other.

This plot of this book is intriguing and ties nicely in with the other books in the series. There is a lot of action. The characters of the villains are not as well delineated in this book as in others, but the secondary characters who are friends of the hero and heroine are well defined. There is even a nice secondary romance. I really like the Sweetwater family and wish we could have seen more of them.

I'd rate this one a 4.5.



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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Review: In Too Deep (Arcane Society, #10)


In Too Deep (Arcane Society, #10)
In Too Deep (Arcane Society, #10) by Jayne Ann Krentz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



My Favorite of the Series

My Favorite of the Series

IN TOO DEEP is the story of Fallon Jones, a chaos theory talent who people say is a conspiracy theorist -- the difference being that the conspiracies that Fallon sees are real. He lives in a small quirky town because his talent makes him more reclusive and he likes the energy of the area. One day Isabella Valdez comes to town. Isabella has a strange effect on Fallon. She gives him a sense of peace and connection. She declares herself his assistant and comes to work at the psychic detective agency that Fallon runs. The two begin working together to solve mysteries that have obsessed Fallon for the entire Arcane Society series.

IN TOO DEEP is the tenth book in the Arcane Society series. This series deals with those who have paranormal talents. The books cover historicals (Amanda Quick), contemporaries (Jayne Ann Krentz) and futuristics (Jayne Castle). There is also an internal trilogy of books the Looking Glass Trilogy of which this is the first book in the trilogy. The Looking Glass Trilogy concerns mechanical inventions that can be used as paranormal weapons including a mirror.

I have loved the character of Fallon since he was introduced. He is surly and brilliant and antisocial. His talent separate him from others not only because he sees the world differently than other people but because people do not understand him and thus it is difficult for him to build good relationships. Isabella is a woman who have lived off the grid for her whole life because she has a family of conspiracy theorists who keep many secrets. Her life, however, is good preparation for a man such as Fallon. Next to her family, Fallon feels normal and thus the two make a good pair. Isabella is also social and she builds a connection with others for Fallon.

Fallon and Isabella are unusual characters but are a great pair. They balance one another and have a very engaging relationship. I also really like the townspeople of Scargill Cove who represent the west coast post hippie culture.

The action in this story of quick and compelling. Krentz writes in a straightforward clean manner with short chapters where the action of the story is always moving forward. There are multiple layers of plot that keep the reader guessing about the outcome. My only complaint is that there is a clear setup for another contemporary story that has not been written. That leaves the story somewhat unfinished with me. I keep hoping that Krentz will write a sequel and we will get to see more of Fallon and Isabella.



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Saturday, August 9, 2014

Review: The Scargill Cove Case Files


The Scargill Cove Case Files
The Scargill Cove Case Files by Jayne Ann Krentz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Promotional Book

Promotional Book

This book is a promotional book that serves as an introduction to IN TOO DEEP. It collects a series of Twitter messages that tell the story of a case that Fallon Jones investigates and solves. It is a small story but as the purpose is promotion and the book is free, the story is a nice introduction and has a complete story. Fallon is such an interesting character that I was happy to get another glimpse into his activities.



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Review: Midnight Crystal


Midnight Crystal
Midnight Crystal by Jayne Castle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



End of the Dreamlight Trilogy

MIDNIGHT CRYSTAL is the third and final book in the Dreamlight Trilogy. It is the story of Adam Winters and Marlowe Jones. The Winters and Jones families have been at the heart of Arcane Society since its founding in the seventeenth century when two alchemists with paranormal talents were at first friends and then bitter enemies. Both tried to enhance their paranormal abilities with dangerous consequences. Nicholas Winters used the Burning Lamp to enhance his talent and as a result some of his male descendants get the "curse" where they need the Burning Lamp and a woman who can help work the lamp in order to stabilize their talent.

On the futuristic world of Harmony, Adam Winters needs the Burning Lamp and a woman who can help him. He is contacted by Marlowe Jones because the Burning Lamp has been stolen. The two must work together to find the lamp and ultimately all of Harmony.

Marlowe Jones is a strong, independent woman. Because of her talent, she doesn't believe that she will ever find love. She and Adam have an immediate connection and it is so strong that their families immediately realize it. Since the seventeenth century, the two families have had an uneasy relationship since Nicholas Winters is said to have created to Burning Lamp in order to have one of his descendants destroy the Jones family.

The two end of in a serious relationship although Marlowe doesn't want to believe that she could actually have found Mr. Right. The tension in the romantic relationship is Marlowe's fear that she cannot have a long term relationship with a man. The connection between the two is obvious and although Adam is one of those alpha males, he also is entirely willing to have Marlowe as a full partner in their adventures.

What I like here is that the story of the Burning Lamp is resolved midway through this book and thus it allows the plot of this specific book to take precedence. It satisfies the long term story of the trilogy and yet gives this book a new separate plot that doesn't require a reader to have read the previous books in the trilogy to appreciate.

MIDNIGHT CRYSTAL is also the ninth book in the Arcane Society series about those with paranormal talents. This series goes from historicals (Amanda Quick), contemporaries (Jayne Ann Krentz) and futuristics (Jayne Castle). In addition, this book is also part of the Harmony series (number 7) about the earth colony where life is similar to an early 21st century earth.

While this book crosses many series, it is not really necessary to have read all those books.



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Friday, August 8, 2014

Review: Burning Lamp (Arcane Society, #8)


Burning Lamp (Arcane Society, #8)
Burning Lamp (Arcane Society, #8) by Amanda Quick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Crime Lord and the Social Reformer

BURNING LAMP is the second book in the Dreamlight Trilogy and the eighth book in the Arcane Society series. The Arcane series is about those with paranormal abilities. The books span historicals (Amanda Quick), contemporaries (Jayne Ann Krentz) and futuristics (Jayne Castle). The Arcane series overall concerns various people who are attempting to use various means to enhance their paranormal talents for criminal purposes. The Dreamlight Trilogy is an internal trilogy to the series. It deals with the descendants of Nicholas Winters who attempted to enhance his paranormal talents by use of a device known as the Burning Lamp. The result of those experiments altered the DNA of the Winters descendants. Some Winters men develop enhanced talents where they need the burning lamp and a woman who can help work the lamp to save the Winters men.

BURNING LAMP is the story of Griffin Winters, a crime lord, who ended up on the streets after the death of his parents. He has created a profitable criminal enterprise. He meets Adelaide Pyne, a social reformer, who is also the woman who can help Griffin work the Burning Lamp.

I really liked Griffin and Adelaide since there is great darkness in their pasts. They end up helping one see the possibilities of a life together. These are different characters than others in the Arcane series because both have difficult pasts that they have to overcome. I also liked the plot of this book. It manages to bring together characters that have been present through the series. This book is big and romantic and I love the resolution of events.



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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Review: Fired Up (Arcane Society, #7)


Fired Up (Arcane Society, #7)
Fired Up (Arcane Society, #7) by Jayne Ann Krentz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Great Story of Outsiders

FIRED UP Is the first book in the Dreamlight Trilogy and also the seventh book in the Arcane Society series. The Arcane series is about those with paranormal talents who have secret society. That society is in danger for an internal foe who are using a formula to enhance talents for criminal purposes. The series spans three time periods: historicals (Amanda Quick), contemporaries (Jayne Ann Krentz) and futuristics (Jayne Castle). The Dreamlight Trilogy is part of the series and can be read independent of the other books (although the books are better in context of the entire series). The Dreamlight Trilogy focuses on the descendants of Nicholas Winters who altered his DNA in pursuit of enhanced paranormal abilities. Some of his male descendants are in danger of insanity if they don't find the Burning Lamp and the woman who can help work the lamp in order to control the Winter talent.

FIRED UP is a contemporary story about Jack Winters, who has begun to have nightmares and blackouts. He hires Chloe Harper, a private detective, to find the Burning Lamp. Jack also knows that Chloe has the power to work the lamp. Chloe's talent has left her alone because she cannot bear to sleep in the same room with anyone. That has made her romantic relationships difficult. She knows that something is different about Jack and the two find themselves in danger from those who want to kill Jack and take the Burning Lamp.

This is a great romantic suspense book. The story is exciting and moves very quickly. The romance is satisfying and emotional. Jack and Chloe are clearly meant for one another.

For readers of the Arcane series, this book adds a new layer of story. Most of the books have focused on the Jones family and the society. This book is about those on the outside and yet have a connection with society.

One of my favorite parts of this book is getting to see Fallon Jones. He has a great book which is the next contemporary book in the Arcane series. This book introduces his romance story.



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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Review: Obsidian Prey


Obsidian Prey
Obsidian Prey by Jayne Castle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Crossover Between Arcane and Harmony

OBSIDIAN PREY is the sixth Harmony book. Harmony is an earth colony that was cut off from earth and where the people have developed paranormal talents related to items found on the planet. As with DARK LIGHT this book also brings in the world of Arcane where people on earth also had paranormal talents.

OBSIDIAN PREY is the story of Cruz Sweetwater. The Sweetwater family was introduced in RUNNING HOT (a contemporary under the name of Jayne Ann Krentz). The Sweetwater familly is a family of assassins who operate to eliminate those with paranormal talents who cannot be dealt with in any other matter. As a result of their familly business, the Sweetwaters have a great sense of family. Cruz found the woman who was meant for him three months ago. Lyra Dore is the woman for Cruz. However, three months ago, he lied to her about who he was in order to discover the rare amethyst ruin that she discovered but that actually belongs to the Sweetwater company. After Lyra found out about Cruz's lies, the two parted...but now Cruz is back for the woman who was meant to be his soulmate.

I absolutely loved Cruz Sweetwater. The Sweetwater men are so vulnerable to love and I so much enjoyed seeing the family continuing on Harmony. My complaint about this book is not about the relationship but about the storyline. For me, there was too much shoved in here and I never really felt that the suspense of the story was allowed to develop. I felt that the solutions were revealed to the mysteries before I really asked the questions. There was too much happening here.

While this book is part of the Harmony series, it is not necessary to have read the other books in the series before reading this one. I would recommend reading the historical Quicksilver (Amanda Quick) which is also about the Sweetwater familly.



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Review: The Perfect Poison


The Perfect Poison
The Perfect Poison by Amanda Quick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Fantasic Cross-Genre Book

Fantasic Cross-Genre Book

THE PERFECT POISON is the sixth book in the Arcane Society series. The Arcane series is about a society of those with paranormal talents. The books span historicals (Amanda Quick), contemporaries (Jayne Ann Krentz) and futuristic (Jayne Castle). Arcane has a secret...there is a formula created by its founder that can enhance paranormal talents. There is a secret cabal within Arcane that is plotting to perfect and use the formula for criminal purposes.

THE PERFECT POISON takes place in the late 1800s. Caleb Jones has started a private detective agency to investigate paranormal crimes. Caleb has a talent for putting pieces of a mystery together in other words, he is able to uncover conspiracies but fears that he will go insane the way others in his family with the same talent have. He is called to the house of Lucinda Bromley who is a paranormal botanist and is believed to have poisoned her fiance. Lucinda believes that a plant that was stolen from her has been used in a murder. The two end up working together to solve the mystery which also is connected to the overarching story of the cabal within Arcane.

Loved, loved, loved this story between Lucinda and Caleb. Caleb is more surly than the other heroes in the series. He is always working on his theories and he sees the world differently than others. The repartee between Caleb and Lucinda is witty and very sexy. The two have a deep interaction from the beginning. Neither of them are silly people. They both have dark spaces that end up resonating with one another. I think it is beautiful how these two people who don't expect to find love end up being the perfect couple.

I always love how strong the women in these books are. Lucinda is independent and is not threatened by Caleb. She meets him as an equal and he ends up with a deep respect for her.

This book is tied for my favorite of the series. My other favorite is IN TOO DEEP which is the story of Caleb and Lucinda's descendant Fallon Jones.



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Review: Duke of Midnight


Duke of Midnight
Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



How Does Hoyt Turn An Unlikeable Duke Into a Hero?

Spoilers abound so beware…

Duke of Midnight is the story of Maximus, The Duke of Wakefield and Artemis Greaves, the companion of Lady Penelope Chadwicke (the woman Wakefield has decided to marry). Maximus and Artemis do not get off to a good start. Maximus insulted her in Lord of Darkness (book 5) as being “an invisible little woman who trails … like a pale wraith.” Artemis sees Maximus as cold and heartless.

Maximus has created a cold, hard shell over himself after having witnessed the murder of his parents in St. Giles at the age of 14 for which he blames himself. He goes out at night as the Ghost of St. Giles, but unlike the other two ghosts (whose stories are told in books 4 & 5), Maximus does not take on the guise of the Ghost to seek justice or to protect others, but rather to seek vengeance for the deaths of his parents. He has been seeking their murderer for two decades.

Artemis is haunted by the actions of her twin brother Apollo. (Yes, the mythology references are obvious and plenty). Her brother was accused of murdering three of his friends, but rather than being hanged was committed to Bedlam as incurably insane. He has been there for several years but Artemis is afraid that her brother will not live much longer if he is not freed.
One night Lady Penelope goes to St. Giles on a dare. Artemis as her companion has no choice but to accompany her. In St. Giles, the women are attacked and are saved by Maximus as the Ghost. This encounter is the first time that Maximus truly “sees” Artemis, who is ready to draw a knife to protect herself and Penelope. In the resulting confrontation, Artemis comes away with the Ghost’s signet ring and realizes that the Ghost is an aristocrat.

Putting the clues together, Artemis soon realizes that Wakefield is the ghost and decides to blackmail him in order to gain Apollo’s release. Her blackmail attempts puts Maximus and Artemis together alone and the two begin to be attracted to one another. Eventually, Maximus agrees to free Apollo because of his feelings for Artemis and hides him in his London home. Artemis arranges to be a temporary companion to Wakefield’s sister so that she can come into Wakefield’s home and be with her brother.

While under the same roof, however, Maximus and Artemis begin an affair. She has no hope of marriage because of her station. Maximus, because of his guilt about his parents, has devoted himself to the duty of being the Duke and thus must seek an appropriate wife – not one whose family is tainted with madness. The two, however, are enamored of one another and Maximus quickly realizes that while the Duke cannot marry Artemis, Maximus, the man, needs her in his life.
Of course, the situations are resolved and the HEA is well-earned and satisfying. I found it
beautiful and compelling.

This is the sixth book of the Maiden Lane Series. My absolute favorite of the series was book 2, Notorious Pleasures. In that book, the Duke of Wakefield was incredibly unlikeable. I came close to hating him for the way he interfered between Griffin and Hero. Wakefield has made some cameo appearances in the subsequent books and while I had moved from hate, I certainly did not view him as a hero, even as I could see that Hoyt was going to pair Artemis and Wakefield together. It is the magic of Hoyt’s writing, that by the end of this book, I not only loved Wakefield’s character, sympathized with him, and rooted for him to have his HEA, but I also could understand his actions in Notorious Pleasures.

Oh, Hoyt! How do you make me love your characters so much, even when I am reluctant to do so?

The book has one of my favorite ending passages ever. (Not in the epilogue, which is in true Hoyt fashion a teaser for future books). The language of the last few paragraphs was definitely something to sigh about. It was the perfect way for Maximus to communicate that Artemis would never be unworthy of being his Duchess. Loved it. Beautiful!

My only tiny, tiny complaint was that I didn’t find the fairy tale story accompanying the text as compelling as other ones in the series. The last two were so wonderful that I guess I had somewhat of a letdown for The Legend of the Herla King. The fairy tale, however, continues to operate as a mirror and a contrast with the main story, an interesting device that Hoyt uses in all her books.

I really enjoyed this book. In fact, I have a policy of never giving a book 5 stars upon one reading, so I finished it once on the day of release and then turned around and read it again the next day. I’ve been intrigued by bits and parts of it in the subsequent days and have gone back to read certain passages. To me, that signals a book that I will re-read again and again. So definitely 5 stars.

I can’t wait for the next book in the series. The Epilogue was very intriguing!




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Review: Lord of Darkness


Lord of Darkness
Lord of Darkness by Elizabeth Hoyt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Intense, Emotional Romance. First, a warning. The main characters in this book: Godric St. John and Lady Margaret both have been in love before. Some readers may not like that neither prior love was venal or unworthy. These are two characters who loved before and are not looking for love again. But that is one of the reasons that I love this book. The characters struggle with feeling of betrayal and uncertainty. Hoyt always manages to expose the flaws and emotions of her characters. I always feel like I know her characters and that is one reason why I find her books so compelling. Even when her characters make poor decisions and mistakes, I still understand them -- even when I don't have sympathy for them. That makes a great read for me. I believe these characters. When they change and come to love one another, I feel that I have been on the journey with them and I am happy to have spent time with them. As the fifth book in the Maiden Lane series, I was smiling when my favorite couple in the series -- Hero and Griffin (from the second book of the series, Notorious Pleasures) make an extended appearance. Loved, loved. loved this book!



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Review: Thief of Shadows


Thief of Shadows
Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Another Hoyt Masterpiece. Thief of Shadows is the fourth book in Hoyt's Maiden Lane series. It tells the story of Winter Makepeace and Lady Isabel Beckinhall. If you haven't read the other books -- don't read this one first. Not because the story isn't self contained. It definitely is. But there are things revealed in this book that are secrets in the first three books. The romance between Winter and Isabel is hot and yet sweet and deep. Both characters have secrets. What Hoyt does in a magnificent fashion is layer her characters. They are never stereotypes. They are memorable and bigger than life and thus impossible to forget. I've read all her books multiple times because I continue to think about the characters and the language that Hoyt uses is compelling and lyrical. I highly recommend Thief of Shadows and any and all of Hoyt's Maiden Lane books.



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Review: Scandalous Desires


Scandalous Desires
Scandalous Desires by Elizabeth Hoyt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Who Can Resist a Not So Good Pirate? The third book in the Maiden Lane series does not disappoint. The story of Silence Hollingbrook and Charming Mickey O'Connor is a definite treat. For me one of the most interesting parts of the story is how we learn that the night when Mickey "ruined" Silence by having her spend the night with him (even though nothing happened) changed not only Silence's life, but also Mickey's. I always enjoy how Hoyt has characters develop and evolve though her books. I also really enjoy how her Maiden Lane series uses the characters throughout all the books. The incident from book one of the series, spawns this story. While one does not need to read all the books, there is certainly a more layered and interesting storyline being developed throughout all the books. That being said, I hope that Hoyt will give us an update on Mickey and Silence in a future Maiden Lane novel.



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Review: Notorious Pleasures


Notorious Pleasures
Notorious Pleasures by Elizabeth Hoyt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



I'm in love with Griffin Reading! Notorious Pleasures is the story of Griffin, a second son, and Lady Hero Batten, who is engaged to Griffin's older brother. Griffin and Hero have one of the best meeting scenes ever as they meet when Griffin in literally engaged in a scandalous sexual encounter with another woman. I always enjoy how Hoyt confounds the expectations of sterotypical characters. Griffin, who should be the one who reluctantly loves, instead is the grand romantic hero. **small spoiler** I was entralled by the scene where Griffin goes to his brother and begs him to release Hero from their engagement. He does this despite his poor relationship with his brother because he loves Hero and understands how special their love is. Hero and Griffin are my favorite Maiden Lane couple and I absolutely love when they make appearances in subsequent books. Definitely a sigh worthy book.



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Review: Wicked Intentions


Wicked Intentions
Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Story of a Sinner and a Saint. One thing I love about Elizabeth Hoyt's books is how she takes characters who are not always loveable and attractive at first to a reader and then through the story brings the reader to care deeply about the characters and their happiness. She also has a way of taking characters that appear to be opposites and then has them struggling with a similar problem in different ways. Wicked Intentions is the story of Temperance and Caire; she is a "saint" who hides a dark secret and he is a "sinner" who hides a vulnerable and caring soul. These two tormented people learn to accept and love one another. I've now read this book three times and I love it more and more as Hoyt contiues to add to her Maiden Lane world. I never give five stars for a book I read only once. I reserve my five stars for books that I consider compelling re-reads. Hoyt is building a whole world of interesting, compelling characters who interact with one another. While one can read any book apart from the others, the real depth of her storytelling is in the accumulated stories that she is telling.



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