Saturday, February 28, 2015

Review: Samurai Game

Samurai Game
Samurai Game by Christine Feehan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Somewhat Uneven But Returning Favorites Make It Better

"There is no doubt in my mind Azami, we belong."

THE STORY: Azami "Thorn" Yoshii was tortured by Dr. Whitney as a child in his pursuit of super soldiers and abandoned as a failure. Azami was trained by her adopted father as a samurai and now is determined to destroy Whitney. She comes with her brothers to the GhostWalkers compound and meets Sam "Knight" Johnson. Sam and Amazi have an instant and powerful attraction.

OPINION: I really loved Amazi. She has a dark and painful past and meeting Sam begins to free her from that past. I love how the two of them are so sweet together and yet are deadly soldiers as well. Their interactions just made me smile because they are so well matched. My favorite part of this book is getting updates on prior couples. Seeing the teams work together and actually seeing how they have created a haven for themselves and their children was especially gratifying for readers of the series. I loved that we also get to meet Lily and Ryland's son who is simply adorable.

WORTH MENTIONING: Readers get a good look at the children of prior couples.

FINAL DECISION: I liked this book because of the presence of so many characters from the past who are beloved. The romance was good, but I really loved seeing past characters working together again.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SAMURAI GAME is the tenth book in the GhostWalkers series. The book can be read independent of others in the series for the romance. The overarching storyline, however, is very advanced this point and new readers will have to catch up.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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Review: Ruthless Game

Ruthless Game
Ruthless Game by Christine Feehan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Things are Coming Together

THE STORY: GhostWalker Kane Cannon agreed to father the child of Rose Patterson to save Rose from being raped as part of Dr. Whitney's breeding program for GhostWalkers. Rose has been on the run for months since she escaped from Whitney's facility. When Kane finds Rose again, he is determined to protect her and their child and to never be separate from her again. They have to protect Rose and their child from various factions that mean to capture or kill them.

OPINION: After the prior book was disappointing, this book returns to the main storyline of the series and was more focused and connected to the series as a whole. This book resolves one of the mysteries of the series regarding what happened between Kane and Rose. The first half of the book was amazing. I loved the interaction between Kane and Rose and there was drama and adventure along with these two reconnecting. I was not as intrigued by the second half of the book where there is more action and very little romance. I really appreciated that unlike STREET GAME things are resolved and the story is integrated into the overarching story well.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are some updates on what has been happening with the other GhostWalker couples.

FINAL DECISION: I liked this book because the overarching storyline was clearer here and it felt like things were being clarified and moving forward -- finally. In addition, I enjoyed that the teams are joining forces more.

CONNECTED BOOKS: RUTHLESS GAME is the ninth book in the GhostWalkers series. This book assumes knowledge about the overarching story that is critical to truly understanding what is happening here.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Review: Mate Bond

Mate Bond
Mate Bond by Jennifer Ashley

My rating: 0 of 5 stars

"We're good together," he said in a soft voice. "You and me."

THE STORY: Bowman and Kenzie O'Donnell are mates without that mystical mate bond that binds shifters together forever with their mate. Bowman and Kenzie married in order to help bring the divisive parts of their pack together. The two wolf shifters expected that their attraction and care for one another would result in the mating bond eventually developing. Fifteen years and one cub later, Bowman and Kenzie have a great relationship but still no mating bond. The lack of that bond is keenly felt by Bowman and Kenzie who live in some fear that eventually one of them will develop the mating bond with someone else ending their relationship. There is also danger because there are some creatures who endanger the shifters who seem shifter-like but are mindless monsters and Bowman and Kenzie work together to discover what is happening.

OPINION: This book is unexpected in many ways. Unlike most novels there isn't a boy meets girl and then fall in love scenario. The hero and heroine are long since married in this book (although readers get a glimpse at their courtship). Neither is it a book where the marriage is troubled. Bowman and Kenzie really do love one another. They have a good marriage and are happy with their son. There is nothing wrong with their life except that they are not sure that they will be together forever because of the lack of the mate bond.

This is one of the most wonderful married romance novels. The drama in the relationship comes because they already know that they are right for one another and really want to have that mystical connection that will bind them forever. The characters are smart, act rationally, don't get in stupid arguments or fail to talk to one another. They are mature and responsible.

Kenzie is a great mate for her position. She is smart and strong and a partner to her mate. She is not a damsel in distress. At the same time, she is vulnerable and caring. The character feels vibrant and well-rounded and complex. She feels pain from the lack of a mate bond, but she is not desperate or grasping. When she is jealous or afraid, she acknowledges her emotions and deals with them.

Bowman is just a wonderful hero. A dominate alpha male, he is not a jerk. He is a wonderful father and husband. He is not afraid to show how much Kenzie and their son mean to him. A definite strong adult man.

I loved Kenzie and Bowman both and their son is adorable. This is a book that definitely about grown ups with grown up problems and feelings. The drama comes from the fact that these two love each other so much that they don't want to be torn apart but fear they might be.

I just felt good reading every page of this book and it felt so different from most books in the genre and even the series -- and in a good way.

The external drama story regarding the mysterious monster was interesting and created drama that was resolved in a reasonable fashion.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book takes place primarily in a new Shiftertown from what readers have known before although there are some mentions and cameos from old favorites.

FINAL DECISION: I absolutely loved this book. Kenzie and Bowman love each other from the beginning and have built a wonderful life together as partners. This book is about them discovering that themselves and realizing how much they mean to one another.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MATE BOND is the seventh book in the Shifters Unbound series. While there are references to other characters and the overarching story of the book, this book introduces readers to a new Shiftertown and so can definitely be enjoyed as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this one 5 stars.

NOTE: I received and ARC of this book as a prize in a contest from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.

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Review: Street Game

Street Game
Street Game by Christine Feehan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A Disappointing Entry

"She's taken his heart and soul when she'd left."

THE STORY: Mack McKinley and Jaimie Fielding grew up together but when Jaimie realized that she could not be the GhostWalker soldier that she was trained to be and that Mack would not see a future together with her, she ran. Two years later, the two meet up again and Mack is determined not to let her go again. There is a tremendous amount of danger surrounding them that threatens their "family" of GhostWalkers. They must work together to discovery who is trying to kill the GhostWalkers.

OPINION: This one had so much promise. The story was interesting, but the entire book seemed muddled. At this point the conspiracy seems so complex that there can be no satisfactory ending. Instead of resolving questions, it seems that Feehan just keeps adding new GhostWalker teams and new conspirators. While that doesn't matter when the romance is good, when the story is just okay as here, all the weaknesses of the overarching story become clear. Instead of the separation between Mack and Jaimie building drama, it really came down to Mack loved Jaimie too much and resented it so he didn't tell her how much he needed her. For me, that wasn't enough to build the drama in the story. I've really enjoyed most of the GhostWalkers books, but this one was a disappointment.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are small mentions of the existence of the other GhostWalkers teams and couples, but no updates on what is happening with them.

FINAL DECISION: My least favorite of the series. This one was a disappointment because of the messy conspiracy and the lack of real chemistry and drama between the main characters.

CONNECTED BOOKS: STREET GAME is the eighth book in the GhostWalkers series. This one can be read a standalone.

STAR RATING: Regretfully, I give this one 2.5 stars.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Review: The Tempting of Thomas Carrick

The Tempting of Thomas Carrick
The Tempting of Thomas Carrick by Stephanie Laurens

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"She'd waited for years for him to come to her. Now that he had, she wasn't about to let him ride away."

THE STORY: Lucilla Cynster has known for a decade that Thomas Carrick is the man that she will spend her life with. Lucilla, however, is destined to live her life in the Vale as the next Lady of the Vale. Because of this, Thomas knows that she is not the woman for him as he is determined to forge a life for himself in town with his businesses. He has spent most of the last decade trying to ignore and forget Lucilla. When a mystery brings him back to his family lands and puts him in contact with Lucilla again, he begins to discover that there might be things he is missing that he didn't expect.

OPINION: I am a fan of the Cynster series and the beginning of the next generation does not disappoint. Lucilla is strong but not strident. She, as her mother does, knows her destiny in the world and has a zen-type acceptance of the road before her. She is competent and secure in her own actions and sexuality. She knows her destiny is with Thomas and yet she doesn't attempt to manipulate or force him. She knows that he must choose her through his own free will and while she is willing to try and show him that they can have something special, she does not intend to trap him.

Thomas is a sweetie. He knows what he wants in life and works to achieve it. Yet, he doesn't want to hurt Lucilla. He cares for others but doesn't try to dominate them. I especially like how he and Lucilla discuss their problems. (They are also really hot together but that doesn't overwhelm their relationship).

As with many of Laurens' books, this story also has a mystery regarding what is happening with the Carrick clan. The integration of the romance and mystery works well here and doesn't feel forced. I was equally interested in the romance and the mystery and the pages kept turning as I waiting to see how things would turn out.

I especially liked being introduced to the next generation of Cynsters. Readers get a good look at Marcus Cynster but there are glimpses of many other children of the first generation. Fans will get to see some of their favorites!

WORTH MENTIONING: Be prepared to commit to the next book as well about Lucilla's twin brother A MATCH FOR MARCUS CYNSTER. There are lots of unresolved mysteries and a clear romance in bloom by the end of this book.

FINAL DECISION: I loved this book. Lucilla and Thomas are strong independent people but their romance is full of respect and caring. The romance is the center of the book even though there is an ongoing mystery. This new generation feels fresh and is not dependent upon the prior books in the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE TEMPTING OF THOMAS CARRICK is the twenty-second book in the Cynster series. It is also the first novel in the next generation Cynster grouping and a new reader can start here and not miss anything since this is in essence a new beginning.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Review: Murder Game

Murder Game
Murder Game by Christine Feehan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dark and Violent Love Story

THE STORY: Kadan Montague is a GhostWalker (a genetically and psychically enhanced soldier). He is on a secret mission to hunt down a serial killer who is suspected of being a GhostWalker. Kadan must find the real killers or his friends are in danger of being eliminated to reduce the threat. To find the killer, Kadan intends on obtaining the services of Tansy Meadows who is a psychic elite tracker who tracks serial killers with her mind. Tansy had a breakdown after her last job and now wants to live peacefully. When Kadan finds her, the attraction is immediate and Kadan knows that Tansy is the woman for him. He just has to convince her to join his quest and also to acknowledge his place with her.

OPINION: This is a dark book. The serial killings are dark and sick and Tansy spends most of the book in the mind of the killer. Kadan's history is dark itself and he takes on very difficult assignments that also are dark. This book is dark and bloody and violent. At the same time, this demonstrates how beautiful and light the connection between Tansy and Kadan is. I especially loved how this hard man is so incredibly emotional with Tansy. He needs her intensely -- not only physically but also emotionally. The relationship between the two was so incredibly intense and beautiful that I loved every moment these two were together. The only part of the book that I didn't like was the incredible amount of violence. It works in the story and is not gratuitous, but it bothered me personally because of the intense and persistent nature of the violence.

WORTH MENTIONING: I was very pleased to be back in the heart of the original group of GhostWalkers.

FINAL DECISION: I loved the relationship between Tansy and Kadan. They are in such need for love that it is beautiful to see them both blossom when they find one another. I dinged the book only because it is more violent than others in the series which is something that diminished my enjoyment.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MURDER GAME is the seventh book in the GhostWalkers series. This book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.25 stars.

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Review: Predatory Game

Predatory Game
Predatory Game by Christine Feehan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Boy Meets Girl and They are Both Trained Killers

"He'd seen love in her eyes, tasted it on her lips, yet they couldn't talk about who they really were."

THE STORY: Jess Calhoun is a GhostWalker, enhanced genetically to have physical and psychic abilities. When he is tortured and left in a wheelchair, he has made a new place for himself on the team. Ten months ago, a mysterious young woman came into his life. He knew that Saber Wynter was hiding something but he discovers that she is a GhostWalker as well and then begans to worry that she may be there to spy on him. Saber is one of Whitney's orphans: taken and trained as an assasin. She is now running from her fate and fears that she might have made a mistake in taking a job with Jess because he might be part of Whitney's attempts to recover her. Even worse, Jess and Saber might unknowingly be part of Whitney's breeding program.

OPINION: I loved the characters in this book. Jess and Saber have a real relationship before either realizes that the other is a GhostWalker. This relationship allows them to trust one another in the face of finding out about the truth about one another. Saber's story is especially tragic and despite her innocent appearance she may be the most damaged heroine so far. She and Jess are both different than they first appear. Jess, especially, is especially sweet even though he is a strong soldier. From the beginning, he wants Saber as his own to care for. I loved his determination to convince Saber to stay with him and to commit to their relationship. This book is also full of action and mystery about what parties are threatening Saber and Jess. I also liked that there are appearances from other GhostWalkers and we get an update on what is happening with them.

WORTH MENTIONING: For fans of the series, the conspiracy expands and gets more players.

FINAL DECISION: This book has a different feel than the previous books in this series. This book begins as a simple girl meets boy book where they are concealing their true selves and then an action adventure story breaks out. This gives the romance a different feel because these two people know one another and thus their connection is special. I really loved how it was different.

CONNECTED BOOKS: PREDATORY GAME is the sixth book in the GhostWalkers series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.25 stars.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Review: Bound by Bliss

Bound by Bliss
Bound by Bliss by Lavinia Kent

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"A lady was not supposed to want."

THE STORY: Stephan Perth, Lord Duldon has wanted to marry Bliss Danser since she proposed to him at twelve. He has waited years for her, however, because he has dark desires that he wanted to get control of before he married. Now that he has decided to marry her, Bliss doesn't want him. Bliss has a reckless side. She has desires of her own that she doesn't even understand but she knows that she doesn't want to marry Duldon so she only has to the end of the season to find another man to marry or her brother will force her to marry Duldon. Surprisingly, Duldon agrees to help her find what she wants in a husband while introducing her to her own sexuality. While she might not want to marry him, Bliss cannot resist Stephan.

OPINION: This was a very, very hot book. Readers who don't like graphic sex should avoid this, but the sex is definitely in furtherance of the story and not gratuitous. Bliss and Stephan are definitely meant for one another. Bliss is determined to be strong and forge her own destiny. Stephan wants Bliss even when he thinks he will have to subdue his own nature. When he finds out that Bliss might want the same thing he does, he wants her even more. This book has a lot of BDSM involved. My one complaint about the book is that I was annoyed by the determination Bliss has to not marry Stephan and the reasons for it. Considering how much the two engage in sexual relations, it is just difficult for me to buy her reluctance. By the time her reasons are revealed, it just didn't seem significant enough to justify her reluctance. This book is hot and readers who like that type of book will be happy with this one.

WORTH MENTIONING: I was somewhat distracted during this story by my interest in Ruby who was the subject of the novella REVEALING RUBY that takes place right before this novel. That novella was left on a cliffhanger and there was a small mention that reminded me that I still wanted resolution of Ruby's story.

FINAL DECISION: This book is hot with lots of graphic sexual scenes with an emphasis on BDSM. The romance between the couple stays the focus. The only complaint is that the reason Bliss has for denying Stephan's desire to marry her did not seem sufficient when finally revealed.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BOUND BY BLISS is the second novel in the Bound and Determined series but can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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

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Review: Deadly Game

Deadly Game
Deadly Game by Christine Feehan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Conspiracy Becomes Broader and Darker

THE STORY: Ken Norton is a GhostWalker, one of the genetically enhanced psychic soldiers. Ken and his twin brother Jack are a sniper team. Ken was horribly disfigured when he was captured in South America. Although for most of their lives, Ken was the easygoing twin, his torture has ripped off his mask and Ken fears that he is becoming a monster. Ken and his brother are searching for Jack's wife's twin sister who has been kept under the control of Dr. Whitney. When Ken and Marigold Smith meet, they worlds are turned around. Mari has been trained as a soldier since childhood. When Whitney begins pairing the women GhostWalkers with men to be used as breeding experiments, the women decide to escape. Mari doesn't trust Ken in spite of or because of their attraction, but the two are forced into close connection which challenges both Mari and Ken.

OPINION: This was a difficult book for me to get engrossed in because the main characters are incredibly closed off. As they begin to open up to one another, however, I became transfixed by the story and couldn't put the book down. These are dark characters with sad pasts and a lonely present. I loved how they manage to find joy with one another even as they are guarded and afraid of the effect they have on one another. The overarching story and conspiracy is further revealed and a big disclosure is presented for longtime readers. There is definite progress being made on the overall story. Fans of CONSPIRACY GAME will be pleased to get what amounts to a partner book as Jack and Briony get important roles here and this book feels like a true resolution of CONSPIRACY GAME.

WORTH MENTIONING: Fans of CONSPIRACY GAME should read this book.

FINAL DECISION: This book was a little difficult for me to get into because of the hardness of the characters. However, as the characters reveal themselves to one another, I became more interested in the story and finally really loved the book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DEADLY GAME is the fifth book in the GhostWalkers series and is most closely connected with CONSPIRACY GAME.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.25 stars.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Review: Beyond the Sunrise

Beyond the Sunrise
Beyond the Sunrise by Mary Balogh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Poignant Story of Two People Who Cannot Have a Future

THE STORY: Robert and Jeanne met at teenagers at his father's estate. Robert is the bastard son of a marquess who is unwelcome in his father' home. Jeanne is the daughter of a French noble. Both excluded from the activities in the house, Jeanne and Robert spend several days together talking, exploring and kissing. They fall in love but both know that it cannot be because of the difference in their stations in life. Over a decade later, the two meet again during the Pennisular Wars. Robert has made his own way in life and is a captain in the British army. Jeanne is now known as Joana and a wealthy widow. The two meet again and the forces of the battles between the English and the French put them both in jeopardy. While they both have changed, their love is as doomed now as it was when they were teenagers.

OPINION: BEYOND THE SUNRISE is deeply emotional book. Robert and Jeanne have a long road before they can find happiness and throughout their journey there is a overwhelming sense that the two have no future which adds a sense of urgency and sadness to the book. Robert and Jeanne have a sad story because it is so often limited by lies and deception. My one complaint was that Jeanne is often the author of the problems between the couple and it comes from her pride. After a while, I tired of the constant misunderstandings between the couple. I enjoyed the book because it is deeply emotional and full of angst and sadness that is ultimately uplifting.

WORTH MENTIONING: This story is told deep in the Pennisular Wars which is a critical part of the novel not just a background.

FINAL DECISION: I liked this book. The story is dark and emotional. My only complaint is that I thought that most of the problems in the book were caused by the heroine's actions and after a while I found that a bit annoying.


STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Review: The Master

The Master
The Master by Kresley Cole

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! A Hot Book With a Hot Russian

"Never, never, never trust another man."

THE STORY: Catarina Marin is desperate. She has been on the run for years from her murderous husband. She needs to flee Miami and needs money to do it. She decides to agree to be a substitute escort for one night in order to make enough money to leave. Her client is Maksim Sevastyan. Maksim is a rich Russian politician and also Mafiya. Cat is nothing like the woman that Maksim ordered but she is appealing to him in ways he doesn't expect. Their experience is more explosive than either expects and both are drawn to one another in ways that two solitary people never expected.

OPINION: I loved this book. It is hot and full of angst. Cat is a great heroine who takes control of her own life even while it is a mess. Maksim is sexy and filled with his painful past. Cat and Maksim are wonderful together as these two people who have no trust to give one anyone find something special together. This book works so well together. This book is definite erotica, but even though sex is an important and central part of this book, the relationship is never overshadowed by the graphic sexual depictions. This book worked much better as a whole than the first in the series. After finishing this book, the reader is left with the strong characters as the focus rather than the erotica. The book was filled with witty conversations and sweet emotions for two people who don't expect it. This was a book that grabbed me from the beginning and I loved just about everything about it.

WORTH MENTIONING: Fans of THE PROFESSIONAL will get to attend the wedding of Aleks and Natalie.

FINAL DECISION: I loved this book and found Cat and Maksim to be a great match in every way. There was enough drama and angst and hot sex to keep the story interesting without overwhelming the romance.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE MASTER is the second book in The Game Maker series. It can be read as a standalone although characters from the first book make significant appearances here.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Review: Bear Attraction

Bear Attraction
Bear Attraction by Jennifer Ashley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another Winning Shifters Novella

"She was a tall, sexy-as-hell Shifter woman who turned into a bear -- not your usual girl next door."

THE STORY: Rebecca is a bear shifter who lives in Shiftertown. Shifters are treated as second class citizens where they are collared and subjected to laws to restrict their movements and behavior. One night Rebecca is apprehended when she is taking a run and ends up going through a restricted area. She is taken into custody by Major Walker Danielson. Walker is the liaison between the Shifter Bureau (which is in charge of Shifters) and Shiftertown. Walker has grown to understand Shifters and especially Rebecca. In order to save her life, Walker has gotten the agreement that Rebecca will be released into his custody in order to help him find a missing woman who is believed to have been abducted by shifters.

OPINION: Readers join this romance already in progress. Rebecca and Walker have already met and although they had a confrontational first impression, they were also attracted to one another. Months have passed and although the two have flirted with one another, neither has made a move. The novella is about how they finally get together. This novella also solves a mystery from prior novels about the disappearance of the woman. Ashley has a complex story structure in this series. Mysteries and challenges are developed and solved over time and various novels and novellas rewarding the long time reader while keeping each book pretty self contained. Rebecca and Walker are a more straightforward couple than might have been expected and Ashley makes the decision to make the drama about the mystery rather than the romance. It is clear from almost the start that Rebecca and Walker are meant to be together and just need that final push to get them there. I like the story and the characters and was glad to see old friends again.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is a new group of shifters introduced in this novella.

FINAL DECISION: A good balance between action, story and character and romance, BEAR ATTRACTION is a fun read. Not as emotional as some of the shifter books, this one is more action adventure with a good dash of romance.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BEAR ATTRACTION is number 6.5 in the Shifters Unbound series. The story, however, builds upon previous books where Walker and Rebecca already had encountered one another. A new reader can start here and be satisfied although it is better experienced after reading the other books in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this novella 4.25 stars.

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Review: What the Librarian Did

What the Librarian Did
What the Librarian Did by Karina Bliss

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Deep Complex Story That Struggles in the Shorter Format

"The librarian didn't want to date him any more than he wanted to date her."

THE STORY: Devin Freedman is the ex-guitarist for a rock band. After seventeen years, he has ruined his health and made so many mistakes that he doesn't know who he is anymore. He has returned to university and ends up meeting Rachel Robinson who is the librarian. She is thirty-four years old and believes herself a heartbreaker because she has run from relationships on the verge of marriage. Neither intends on finding a soulmate in the other...but they do.

OPINION: I really liked the characters who were complex and vibrant. My biggest problem was that I wanted to know more about the characters but the multiple storylines meant that there was less time to spend on the characters and their romance. I was pleased to know that the older brother Xander gets his own book because he was a compelling character.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is an adoption story here as well.

FINAL DECISION: I liked the characters but the complexity of the story seemed squeezed in this shorter novel.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This book is a standalone although the story of Devin's older brother is told in the book RISE.

STAR RATING; I give this book 3.5 stars.

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Review: A Comfortable Wife

A Comfortable Wife
A Comfortable Wife by Stephanie Laurens

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nice Couple, Story is Only Pedestrian

"Being Philip's wife was what she wanted to be, had always wanted to be, she had not come to Ruthven Manor seeking love."

THE STORY: Philip Marlowe, Baron Ruthven is thirty-four and knows that it is time to find a wife but hasn't seen any woman who seems suitable. Just at that juncture, Miss Antonia Mannering comes back into his life. Antonia is his stepmother's niece. They haven't seen one another for eight years because after Antonia's father's death, her mother withdrew from life and took her children with her. Now Antonia is back and has Philip in her sights. She has had a infatuation with Philip for years and although she isn't looking for love, Antonia believes that they will have a satisfactory marriage.

OPINION: I am conflicted about his book. I really liked the characters and I even liked the premise of two people who think to have a conventional ton marriage soon find themselves ensnared by love. What annoyed me about the book was that Antonia loses her mind when they enter society and she begins to believe that despite all their personal relationship that she needs to be distant. Worse, she never talks to Philip about her beliefs or concerns. I just found that annoying as the only reason for distance between the characters. Because that point was just repetitive, I lost interest in the ongoing story. Finally, when the characters begin to talk, the story brightened again and I became interested again.

WORTH MENTIONING: This story has no explicit sex scenes. There is one scene but it is very oblique.

FINAL DECISION: I was disappointed in this book because it had much promise with the characters and parts of the book were very compelling. However, I found that the story dragged and it diminished my interest.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A COMFORTABLE WIFE is a standalone book but the hero appeared in AN UNWILLING CONQUEST which is the third book of the Lester Family Saga. It is not necessary to read AN UNWILLING CONQUEST or its connected books.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Review: Conspiracy Game

Conspiracy Game
Conspiracy Game by Christine Feehan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Angst Filled Exciting Adventure Suspense Romance

THE STORY: Jack Norton is a GhostWalker. The GhostWalkers are genetically enhanced soldiers who may actually still be subjects to experiments that they are not aware of. When his twin brother is captured, Jack comes to rescue him and ends up captured himself. Tortured while in captivity, Jack escapes and comes upon Briony Jenkins with whom Jack shares an immediate and intense attraction. Briony is a circus acrobat who has unusual talents and abilities. The danger is that even their attraction might be part of the experiments to which they have been subjected.

OPINION: I really liked this book. I took a break after reading the first three because I had found them somewhat repetitive and while I enjoyed the characters, I was not enthralled with the writing. This was a great book to come back to. Jack and his brother are compelling characters and I just wanted to turn page after page to find out what would happen. Jack is controlling and dominating and yet he has a soft gooey core that he doesn't acknowledge but rather keeps hidden. I especially enjoyed how Briony completely accepts Jack and yet is strong in her own way and won't be weak in the relationship. This is a book I would be happy to read again.

WORTH MENTIONING: CONSPIRACY GAME sets up the story of the next book DEADLY GAME.

FINAL DECISION: This is the most complete book so far. The suspense story is balanced and keeps the reader engaged throughout without being overwhelming. The romance is entwined with the suspense story and feel integrated. I love the Norton brothers!

CONNECTED BOOKS: CONSPIRACY GAME is the fourth book in the GhostWalkers series. This book can be read independent of the others in the series although a new reader misses the underlying story regarding what is going on with the GhostWalkers.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Review: Obsession in Death

Obsession in Death
Obsession in Death by J.D. Robb

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Couldn't Put This One Down

"No suspects, no leads. No known connection between killer and victim -- except for herself. No known motive -- except for herself."

THE STORY: Eve Dallas is enjoying the end of the year when an antagonist from her past is murdered. What brings the attention of the prominent homicide lieutenant, however, is the letter written to her left at the scene. The murderer is obsessed with Eve and is committing murders in an attempt to impress her. Eve must look back at her prior cases and interactions with people to discovery who might be a victim and look to those around her to find out who is the killer.

OPINION: This is one of the best In Death books in a while. While Eve has resolved most of her past, she is confronted here with her celebrity in a way that makes her feel guilty. When Eve is personally challenged by a case, the drama and tension of the story is increased. The entire story feels more open, more grounded and more natural. There are some very fun moments with the secondary characters and they don't feel forced or put in to check off points. They arise naturally from the story. As with much of Eve's story, the crisis in this book brings her to acknowledge the importance of those she has surrounded herself with in the last years. Even as Eve is challenged by this killer, it is refreshing to see her turning naturally to those around her rather than going it alone. Eve has come far from the isolated woman in NAKED IN DEATH and longtime readers can really appreciate her growth.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book rewards those fans who have read the prior books since there are plenty of references to Eve's prior cases.

FINAL DECISION: This is my favorite In Death book in a while. I feel these books are best when Eve is personally engaged in the crime being solved. This book satisfies that requirement. There is good rapport with all the secondary characters and Eve and Roarke are incredibly in tune here.

CONNECTED BOOKS: OBSESSION IN DEATH is the fortieth book in the In Death series. While this book references old cases of Eve's, a new reader should be able to catch up pretty quickly and could enjoy this book as well.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

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Monday, February 9, 2015

Review: An Unwilling Conquest

An Unwilling Conquest
An Unwilling Conquest by Stephanie Laurens

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My Favorite of the Series

"In my opinion, Mrs. Babbacombe, women like you should not be allowed out alone."

THE STORY: Harry Lester is a rake with a new fortune and as a result the women of the ton are now after him in earnest. When he retreats to Newmarket for the races, he comes across an overturned carriage. He meets Mrs. Lucinda Babbacombe, a widow who is independent and self-assured. Although the attraction between them is immediate, Harry is determined to resist the snare of this virtuous widow. At the same time, Lucinda thinks that Harry may be the man for her.

OPINION: The Lester Family series is softer and gentler than Laurens more recent works. This is my favorite of the series because I like Harry who doesn't seem to have the stupid gene of the other men in the series. Although he is determined to avoid matrimony, he fairly quickly begins to change his mind because of Lucinda. He is even rational about how he has fallen into a pattern that Lucinda breaks for him. Lucinda is independent and strong and clearly has her life under control when she meets Harry. She sees the possibility of their alliance and goes after him. There is a side story of people trying to harm Lucinda that brings some drama into the story. Otherwise, this is really a good story of two people who actually work out their differences and build a relationship.

WORTH MENTIONING: This story introduces Lord Ruthven who is the hero of A COMFORTABLE WIFE.

FINAL DECISION: My favorite of the series. The story has drama but also is a sweet romance at the same time. This book is the first in the series that feels more like Laurens more recent books.

CONNECTED BOOKS: AN UNWILLING CONQUEST is the third book in the Lester Family series. The book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

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Review: Premiere: A Romance Writers of America® Collection

Premiere: A Romance Writers of America® Collection
Premiere: A Romance Writers of America® Collection by Sylvia Day

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a collection of short stories all based on the idea of a wrong number. This collection is very diverse and demonstrates a great variety of stories and techniques and genres.

RAVISHED BY THE GEEK by Vicki Lewis Thompson: Jamie Smith receives a misaddressed email from Vivian Crowley who is the woman of his dreams. When Jamie reads Vivian's fantasy scene in her email, he decides to make her dreams come true. This is a sweet story and Jamie is simply adorable. Rating: 4 stars.

UNDER A WICKED MOON by Lila Bell: Stacia Bryne and Liam MacTire were foster children together. They are now enemies as Liam has been sent to kill the half-human, half-sorceress. Liam is a half-human, half wolf shifter. Stacia creates a potion to turn Liam into her protector but when it works, she fears that what they have isn't real. I really liked this story. There was something compelling about the characters. It certainly made me interested in reading the connected novellas. Rating: 4.25 stars.

A RIGHT HONORABLE GENTLEMAN by Courtney Milan: Miss Catherine Hooks is a servant in the household of Mr. Edward Glennon. In the almost five years that she has been governess to the widower's son an attraction between the two has arisen, but their stations make acting on it impossible. When Catherine decides it is time for her to leave, Edward realizes that he doesn't want her to. This is a favorite. Sparkling characters and dialogue despite the short length. I could read a whole novel about these two and yet this story story also is satisfying. Rating: 5 stars.

STATION 12 by Amber Lin: Isobel Monroe goes to the fire station to return some of her ex's things and ends up at the wrong station. She meets Matthew Gaines who is also a fire fighter. He asks her out on a date, but she refuses. But their story isn't over. This story is really just the beginning of their relationship, but I thought the characters were interesting and their interaction felt genuine. Rating: 4.25 stars.

WRONG NUMBER, RIGHT GIRL by Monica Murphy: Ty Webster is a player with women and he is bored. When he succumbs to a dare to get the number of a hot young woman, he can't help but notice her friend who is definitely not his type. Lauren thinks Ty is attractive but knows this guy would never be interested in her. This story is told in alternating first personal narratives. This is a sweet new adult story about a guy changing his life. Rating: 4 stars.

A LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS by Regina Scott: Major Sir Percival Nightincourt and Eleanor Grasland knew each other years before but parted when Percy joined the military. Now Percy has given up his commission and when the two encounter one another again, he realizes what he has been missing. This is a sweet inspirational romance. Rating: 3.5 stars.

COMING HOME by Joan Johnston: Savannah Whitelaw is an FBI agent and Luke Winters has just been exonerated after spending 6 years in jail. After being convinced to go on a double date, Savannah can't help but be attracted to this man who is so wrong for her. I really liked this story because there was definite angst and potential in the story. I wish there was more to the story because this is really just the beginning of a relationship. This story is connected with her Hawke's Way series. Rating: 3.5 stars.

THE POET by T.L. Costa: Wyatt Hershowitz has had a crush on Hannah Smith since sixth grade. When she asks for the Spanish homework, he accidentally sends her a poem he wrote for his mom's birthday. What follows is a funny attempt by Wyatt to rectify his mistake. This story is well written and funny and made me smile. Rating: 4 stars.

DEAD WRONG by Cindy Gerard: Erin Livingston has just been acquitted of the murder of her husband and has come home under threat from her father-in-law who blames her for his son's death. Jed Rafferty and Erin had a thing as teenagers and haven't seen one another in years. Jed knows, however, that Erin is the woman for him and doesn't intend to lose the chance with her. This story felt complete and substantial despite its short length. Rating: 4.25 stars.

THE FALLOUT by Harper St. George: Elena Black and Dexter Thomas Herrington married young and within two years were separated. Now four years later, they are getting divorced. When Dex comes back to talk to her, however, they find that there might be something worth saving. This story had much promise, but once the two meet up again, I didn't feel the emotional connection the story should have had. Rating: 3 stars.

HARD TO BREATHE by Syvia Day: Annalise knows that she needs to get away from her trainer Gareth. Annalise is in love with him although a relationship between angel trainer and student is forbidden. When she tries to get reassigned, Gareth foils her attempt. When she is forced to reveal her reason to him, she feels his rejection but he might be hiding something as well. I loved this story. Well written and executed with interesting characters. I want to read more. Rating: 5 stars.

ALL I WANT by Erica Ridley: Lady Matilda Kingsley and Major Owen Turner were childhood friends but Owen is illegitimate and not the proper match for the daughter of a duke. Years later, they meet again over a game of cards. The story between these characters was sweet and completely unrealistic but enjoyable nonetheless. Rating: 4 stars.

COVERING HER SKIN by Laura Kaye: Emery Morgan has come to Ronan Kane to get rid of one of the biggest mistakes of her life. A year ago, Emery had Ronan, a tattoo artist, give her a tattoo of her fiance's jersey number and football team right before he dumped her. Now she wants the tattoo transformed. Ronan made one of the biggest mistakes in his life when he agreed to do Emery's tattoo a year ago and wants to rectify that mistake for the woman he has had a crush on for years and never thought to see again. This story was really good. There is great character development and an interesting idea of transformation. Rating: 4.25 stars.

THE LONG WAY HOME by Katy Regnery: Clarissa Calhoun and Ford McInerney end up sitting next to one another on a bus cross-country traveling to the same wedding. Ford has been in love with Clarissa forever, but she was his older brother's girlfriend. Now he has a chance to get her to give them a chance. This new adult story was good. The relationship between Clarissa and Ford is complicated and their history makes the story interesting. Rating: 4 stars.

THEIR NIGHT OFF by Allison Brennan: FBI Special Agent Suzanne Madeaux and Detective Joe DeLucca have had a casual relationship for a while complicated by their work and Joe's ex-wife. Just when Suzanne is thinking that their relationship should be more, the two get involved in one of Suzanne's cases. This story was just okay for me. It was an interesting story but not enough about the romance between the two. Rating: 3 stars.

FLYING IN THE FACE OF CONVENTION by Lex Valentine: A mis-delivered delivered wedding invitation bring Trey Beaumont and Jordan Smithson together. Trey had been interested in Jordan when they were in college together and now he finds out that they were unknowingly living in the same building. Trey had never told Jordan of his interest in him but now sees a new opportunity. My complaint here is that the character o Jordan is not really developed. It would have been nice to know more about him so that the relationship was more balanced. On the other hand, I really liked the epilogue which gave the story a nice ending. Rating: 3 stars.

AN APRIL FOOL'S FORBIDDEN AFFAIR by Sabrina Jeffries: Mason Brandt, Earl of Westville wants Miss Augusta Hunt, his late wife's sister but knows that it is impossible since is would be scandalous to marry his sister-in-law. Augusta wants Mason as well but knows only that he has purposely kept away from her. When the two discover a prank by Augusta's younger brother, they work together to foil it. This story is well written and has characters in an interesting dilemma. I wish there was more to this story because this could be a longer novella or a novel itself. Rating: 4 stars

WRONG ADDRESS, RIGHT GUY by Diane Kelly: Katelyn Harrington is unlucky in love. When her boyfriend is late for their date again, she breaks it off with him. Then her neighbor stands up her date. When that date arrives, Katelyn decides that she will pretend to be his date. I liked this story because the premise was interesting and the romance was sweet. Rating: 3 stars.

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Saturday, February 7, 2015

Review: Warrior

Warrior by Elizabeth Lowell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Hero Makes the Book

"She's the wrong woman in the wrong place at the wrong time...and she's headed right for me."

THE STORY: Nevada Blackthorn has come to live on the Rocking M after years of covert operations in Afghanistan. He has managed to find some peace, but he remains emotionally withdrawn as a way of protecting himself from pain. Nevada managed to survive but he doesn't really believe in love for himself. Eden Summers is a wildlife biologist who has come to the area to study cougars. Eden recognizes in Nevada a wild creature and draws upon her knowledge to bring him closer to her.

OPINION: I love these old Elizabeth Lowell books. First published in the early 1990 as a category romance, WARRIOR is a story that almost has the quality of a fairy tale. It has a sense of unreality about it that makes it extremely appealing to me. Nevada and Eden are mirror images of one another. Both have endured great pain but Eden chose to embrace the light and love of life while Nevada has denied both. I especially like that both of these characters are strong and yet Nevada is emotional. He has a soft heart as babies and the women of the Rocking M know. Nevada's character makes the book for me. I like Eden but I love Nevada and can read this book again and again simply because of him.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book reminds me of the disappointment that Lowell never wrote the story of Utah Blackthorn. One reason I gave up on Elizabeth Lowell books was that she has a tendency to abandon a series with books left to be written. So read this book but don't bother to look for Utah's story.

FINAL DECISION: I rate this book highly because I absolutely adore Nevada who is so damaged by his past that he has built a wall around himself to protect himself and I love the story of him and the woman who shows him the light in the world again.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WARRIOR is the fourth book in the contemporary Rocking M series aka the MacKenzie-Blackthorn series. There is also a prequel historical book as well. It is not necessary to read the prior books in the series although there are recurring characters that make appearances.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

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Friday, February 6, 2015

Review: Granite Man

Granite Man
Granite Man by Elizabeth Lowell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Classic 1990s Category Romance

THE STORY: Mariah MacKenzie has come back to the Rocking M ranch looking for the brother from whom she was separated from 15 years ago. After years of not belonging, Mariah is looking for a home. She ends up meeting Cash McQueen, her brother's best friend. The attraction between Mariah and Cash is fierce even as Cash has a deep distrust of women.

OPINION: This is the weakest of the Rocking M romances. This book has many of the qualities that I love in these romances: the dreamy elaborate language and emphasis on the couple to the exclusion of having only a basic plot. I felt that Mariah was a much weaker character than the other women from the series. She has little purpose except to follow Cash around. I am torn about this book because I love so much about it but her character keeps this book from being super. The presence of the recurring characters raise the rating from a 4 to a 4.25.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book was first published in the early 1990s as a category romance and thus has limitations in length and in the story typical of books of that era and format.

FINAL DECISION: I liked this book although I find Mariah to be the weakest heroine of the series. This book preserves the dreamy romantic quality of the other books in the series but this one has more holes than the others.

CONNECTING BOOKS: GRANITE MAN is the third contemporary book in the MacKenzie-Blackthorne or Rocking M series. There is also a historical prequel. None of the prior books are necessary to this book although the historical especially gives some background to this book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.25 stars.

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Review: Outlaw

Outlaw by Elizabeth Lowell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Emotional Story Centered on the Couple

THE STORY: Diana Saxton has come to the Rocking M to help preserve and document the Anasazi ruins on the ranch. Diana has a fear of men after she was raped by her boyfriend when she was younger. She has kept apart from men since. Tennessee Blackthorn is the ramrod of the Rocking M who is given the job of accompanying Diana to the archeological site. Ten knows that there is no future for him and Diana but he is complex man who is willing to help Diana recover her own sensuality.

OPINION: There is something very dreamy and mythic about these classic Elizabeth Lowell books. The stories are not realistic and for some the language may slip into purple prose, but I enjoy the emphasis on the characters and their emotions and how the entire story shrinks to these two people. Ten and Diana are a wonderful couple and I especially liked that their relationship developed over time and was not resolved in a day or a week.

WORTH MENTIONING: OUTLAW was originally published in the early 1990s as a category romance. It has some of the hallmarks of that time, but this book was unique then. The sensuality of this book far exceeds similar books of the time period.

FINAL DECISION: I love this book. It has a dreamy, sensual feel to it. The story feels unreal in its prose, but that adds to the mythic quality of the story that appeals to me.

CONNECTED BOOKS: OUTLAW is the second contemporary book in the MacKenzie-Blackthorn series. There is also a prequel historical. OUTLAW can be read as a standalone without missing anything.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Review: Fire and Rain

Fire and Rain
Fire and Rain by Elizabeth Lowell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Classic and Yes a Bit Melodramatic

"Three years ago he had wanted Carla so badly that he had sent her running for her life from the Rocky M. And him."

THE STORY: Luke MacKenzie knows that he will never marry and bring a woman to his family's ranch where marriages have been destroyed for a century. After a childhood where his mother and sister were torn from him and his father drank himself to death, Luke is determined to avoid falling in love and marrying. His problem is that he has wanted his best friend's sister for years. Carla McQueen loves Luke and the ranch and has for years but has cut herself on Luke's fears and determination for years. Three years ago, she offered herself to Luke and he dismissed her in an emotionally scarring matter. Carla is back for the summer to try to overcome her feelings for Luke.

OPINION: I love this book. There are many reasons why I shouldn't. Luke is emotionally abusive to Carla at times. Carla takes far too much of Luke's behavior when she should walk away. But this story is about how neither Luke nor Carla can walk away. The language of the book is lush and emotional and at times melodramatic and gives the entire tone of the book a more mythic or classic tone. I have never felt that this book is intended to be realistic, but rather almost like a fairy tale. In that vein, I don't ask for realism and don't overly analyze the characters. This book was very sexy and sensual for its time. It might be tame compared with some of today's explicit books, but the romance is lush and definitely adult fare.

WORTH MENTIONING: FIRE AND RAIN was first published in the late 1980s and was a category romance so it is short and relies on typical conventions of the time including an emotionally distant hero and a virginal heroine.

FINAL DECISION: I love this book. Luke is a man who has been deeply harmed by his forefather's bad marriages and by his own childhood. He is a wounded hero who cannot stand before the love of Carla who is like a rock who refuses to turn away from him.

CONNECTED BOOKS: FIRE AND RAIN is the first contemporary book in the MacKenzie-Blackthorn series. There is a historical romance RECKLESS LOVE that is also about the MacKenzie family. It is not necessary to read RECKLESS LOVE before reading FIRE AND RAIN.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Review: Reckless Love

Reckless Love
Reckless Love by Elizabeth Lowell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Classic Elizabeth Lowell Historical

THE STORY: Ty MacKenzie survived the Civil War with a dream to find a soft sweet woman to create a new family after the death and destruction of the war. As part of that dream, Ty comes to Utah to capture a dream horse to serve as the basis of his new ranch. While stalking this horse, Ty is captured by a band of renegades and is almost killed. He escapes seriously injured and is cared for by Janna Wayland. Janna has been living on her own on the land in Utah since her father died several years before. She risks her life to save this stranger and nurse him back to health. Janna falls for Ty, but she knows that she is not the dream woman that Ty wants.

OPINION: I am a longtime fan of Elizabeth Lowell's older books. Although sometimes dated by the depictions of the relationship between Ty and Janna, I really enjoyed the intensely emotional book. This book is sexy in more of an intellectual manner than a physical depiction of sex model. Rather than focusing on body parts, this book is about how these two people desire one another at the level of thought and emotion. That doesn't mean there is no sex in this book -- there is. It is just that the book is lyrical and descriptive of the emotions of these characters. There is an interesting story here, but some readers might not be attracted to this very internal story structure. The characters reflect the 1980s when this book was written. Ty is the strong alpha type who is often a jerk to the heroine. Janna is young and a virgin despite her years living on her own in the Utah wilderness. I especially like how these typical characters show some depth that sets them apart from stereotypes. Ty is a jerk, but when Janna confronts him about his behavior, he immediately is remorseful. Janna is strong and independent despite her innocence. She is stubborn and doesn't shrink before Ty.

WORTH MENTIONING: I always feel disappointment in this story because some incredibly stories of Ty's siblings are teased in this book and yet there was never a historical sequel to this book. Some information comes out in the contemporary books in the series, but I have always wished that Lowell had written the connecting historical books.

FINAL DECISION: I really love this historical romance. Yes, Ty is somewhat of a jerk at times and definitely fits into the alpha hero mold of the 1980s when this book was written, but he also has a deeply emotional side. Janna is incredibly independent and a strong woman who has lived on her own for years. Their romance is deeply emotional.

CONNECTED BOOKS: RECKLESS LOVE is the historical prequel to the MacKenzie-Blackthorn contemporary series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.25 stars.

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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Review: The Redemption of Darius Sterne

The Redemption of Darius Sterne
The Redemption of Darius Sterne by Carole Mortimer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Andy Tames Darius

"Dark, cold and scary."

THE STORY: Miranda "Andy" Jacobs was a promising ballerina when she was in a serious accident four years ago which left her scarred and destroyed her career in dance. Andy has managed to recover and has opened a dance studio where she teaches young children. On her birthday, Andy gets the chance to dine at an exclusive restaurant where she sees Darius Sterne. Darius and his twin brother are the billionaire owners of Midas Enterprises. From the moment he enters the restaurant, Andy and Darius cannot take their eyes from one another. Neither is inclined to believe that a relationship between them is possible or even advisable. Darius has dark secrets from his past that have made him close himself off from everyone except for his twin brother. Both those secrets and a danger from Andy's past threaten any relationship between Andy and Darius.

OPINION: Andy is incredibly strong for such a young woman. She has endured much and yet she has been able to make more of her life than she might have expected. When she and Darius begin their "courtship" neither believes that it will go anywhere. Darius is closed off, cold and tries to avoid emotional entanglements. From the start, however, Darius cannot avoid his compulsion to get to know Andy. The story is short but it moves at a quick pace and the characters keep the story interesting. Enjoyable one time read except that I really liked the characters being introduced and it makes me want to read the next book about Xander.

WORTH MENTIONING: It is intriguing that Xander the twin that appears lighter and more open is apparently the twin with the darker side. Can't wait for his book.

FINAL DECISION: The relationship between Andy and Darius makes this book interesting. Andy is incredibly strong and Darius is completely unable to resist her despite his intentions. The book is short and uncomplicated, but the main characters make the story interesting.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE REDEMPTION OF DARIUS STERNE is the first book of the Twin Tycoons series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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Review: A Lady of Expectations

A Lady of Expectations
A Lady of Expectations by Stephanie Laurens

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tamer, Gentler Laurens

THE STORY: Jack Lester is in search of a bride. Recently having earned his fortune, Jack wants a bride who doesn't want him for his wealth so he hides his newfound fortune. His plan backfires when he finds the woman he wants but she thinks his lack of fortune means that that cannot hope for a future together. Sophie Winterton realizes that Jack is the perfect man for her. When she discovers, however, that he doesn't have a fortune, she realizes that despite their compatibility, they cannot have a future because Jack will need to marry a fortune to support his estates.

OPINION: The story between Jack and Sophie is wonderful. Their courtship is incredibly proper at times (although there are some improper kisses) and focuses on them getting to know one another. They are immediately so perfect for one another that is requires the misunderstanding to drive the drama in the story. This misunderstanding was annoying after a while because it seemed obvious that either Jack or Sophie should have discussed the issue with the other considering how reasonable they were about everything else.

WORTH MENTIONING: Readers of the first book in the Lester Family series, THE REASONS FOR MARRIAGE, will get a small update on Lenore and Jason even though they don't make an appearance in this book.

FINAL DECISION: I really loved the sweet and gentle romance between Jack and Sophie. Lacking the intense sex scenes in Laurens' later books, this book focuses more on the characters having conversations. I liked this book for that reason. What I did not like was that the entire conflict was based upon Sophie making assumptions about what would be best for Jack.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A LADY OF EXPECTATIONS is the second book in the Lester Family series. This book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

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