Monday, 13 October 2008

Lord of Fire by Gaelen Foley

I am being so good.

Reading this utter fucking boring badly plotted contradictory nonsensical tripe from beginning to end. It is taking me forever and a day to plod my way through it.

Apart from the deflowering scene there is no hotness whatsoever. The overwhelming problem is the self-righteous, delusional too-stupid-to-live heroine. And yes. She thoroughly deserves to die. Time after time she almost causes the hero's death.

Plus the totally useless nitwit hero. Who is supposed to be a spymaster!!! But cannot find a big enormously fat Frenchman masquerading as Germanic nobility who is being introduced to the ton by a broke Lord of the realm. The hero's men not only shoot dead an unarmed woman in the back, but have completely innnocent French men and women thrown into jail. Jeez. What a bunch of fools.

tbc maybe. And please. Take offense and buy a better romance than this. I've read it so you don't have to. Ugh!

Thursday, 25 September 2008

After the Kiss by Suzanne Enoch

See how many chances I am giving to historical novels!

First. The cover. Is just plain weird. I mean its obvious they started with a photo of a good-looking couple. Then they seem to have photoshopped paint smudges over the photo. The effect of which is to make it look like there is strange hair growths all over the models. Over his face. So he looks scruffy. Over her clothes so they look scratchy and itchy. Very strange.

Actually. This novel is vile. Not that I dislike the main couple particularly. It is the theme that is vile. The hero is a grown man, who has fought in wars; he has friends, a good living...and he is totally obsessed with his relationship with his estranged daddy. That's twisted...and a bit babyish. The theme is class difference.

Boo hoo. The hero is the illegitimate son of a Lord...and he hates his daddy for rejecting him and taking his dead artist mommy's paintings when he was fighting in the Peninsular Wars. The heroine is of course a toff. I haven't finished the book yet but I know there will be a happy ending for the hero and heroine. But the question is. Would Sullivan have fallen in love with the heroine if she had been a servant instead of a Lady? The answer is most probably no. But it gets worse. The hero is a sortof part time criminal. (With the noblest of causes of course.) And he gets caught in the act by the heroine. In the book the heroine admits to herself pretty quickly that if the hero hadn't been so very very handsome she'd have turned him in to the authorites for hanging. How gross is that? (Class and eugenics in the same story. Ugh!)

The language in the book freqently takes the reader back to modern times. And is often highly culturally offensive. (I'm sure the Georgette Heyer stories I used to read never had that problem.) There is endless conversation about the hero's illegitimacy...often by the heroine and her friends. Phrases like 'by-blow' are used. Jeez. The guy has been in a war. But everyone is obsessed by his parentage. The question is. Why does he bother with those kind of people?

Many characters use a kind of mockney rhyming slang that didn't really come around til Victorian times. I'm sure the currency in Regency times was 'guineas' not 'quids'..which is an entirely modern word. Why would a Regency Lady ever set foot in the kitchen? I got totally confused when the heroine invites one of her beaus to eat some 'cooked biscuits.' Surely she couldn't be talking about the kind of hot biscuits cooked in pioneering times? They didn't ever ever exist in Regency England. I hate nick-names. Throughout much of the novel the heroine, Isabella, is referred to as 'Tibby' by her friends. Yuk.

The hero, Sullivan, is supposed to be a horse-breeder. On just 3 acres of land! I don't think so. I really didn't like how he loses colour when he's around his daddy's legitimate heirs. Was he some kind of pussy or what?

The book is about 350 pages long. The reader has to plod through the first 180 pages which basically detail the courtship between the main couple. Only a couple of kisses present. With lots of good conversations, inner and outer. After page 180 the story really comes to life. The frivolity disappears and some really quite serious issues are written about. Actually the novel almost gets quite sad with a hint of potential tragedy. At one point the hero acknowledges that if he cannot be with Isabel then he will remain unwed for the whole of his life. Boy. You don't read that very often.

The penultimate conclusion between the hero and his natural father was just a little too pat. Although in reality, I believe. The illegitimate son of a Lord of the Realm was often given his own title and income. It was only the main title and entailed lands that were inherited by legitimate heirs. So maybe the reconciliation scene wasn't too far-fetched after all.

I enjoyed how the heroine's family essentially support her efforts to help the hero. Even though she never gets round to actually telling them that she and her guy have got down to it a couple of times. The hero is quite a passive guy who relys a lot on his friends to help him out of a very tricky situation. Like someone who's had too many knocks in life. Maybe that's why he let himself get beaten up...too proud to run. The message comes across that yes, we like to think we determine our outcomes, but sometimes it is others around us who decide our futures. The heroine, Isabel is very easy to like. She knows what she wants and goes after it but doesn't at any point turn into even the ghost of a doormat. Like in all the best romances, falling in love opens the hero's eyes to the futility of his previous hatreds. (A similar theme formed the background to one of my favorite historicals; Dangerous by JAK.) I liked that. (Although without those hatreds, Sullivan would never have met Isabel. Would he?) I'm amazed Isabel's family didn't try to pay off the hero.

Please god, the author, at some later date, doesn't decide to make Oliver Waring, Lord Tilden, the hero of a novel in the series. In the nicest possible way, he was a truely disgusting character. After all. He spat at Sullivan when they were children. And then. Then. He tries to get the adult Sullivan hanged...because Isabel likes him. Oliver showed a true 'master-slave' mentality. There is no possible redemption for that piece of slime.

My final impression was; 'Thank goodness Sullivan was handsome and good in bed. Otherwise he'd have been dead...about 3 times over.' The book is ok though. Very readable.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

What Isabella Desires by Anne Mallory.

The blurb gives the impression that the heroine is a person who knows what she wants and goes after it with the precision of a heat-seeking missile.

I got to page 11...

Isabella fell in love with Marcus 10 years ago. But in the meantime she married someone else who has now conveniently died. A 10-year marriage. That's a lot of intercourse with a guy she admits she has few feelings about. That says a lot about Isabella's character imo. Her own parents married for love...so why on earth didn't Isabella? And she still lets mommy guide her behaviour in public. I thought Isabella was kidding herself about her feelings. Basically she's looking to catch another mark. That's ok. but it's not romance or even love.

And the printing was too big as well.

dnf

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Loose and Easy by Tara Janzen

Well. At least I finished it. And what an unpleasureable chore it was. Why any romance fan would enjoy this story is a complete mystery to me. There is no romance. In fact by page 271 there had only been one kiss and absolutely zero emotions between the main couple.

The overwhelming problem is that there are just too too many threads within the novel. Mostly about people I cared nothing about.

Apart from the Johnny and Esmee thread. There is

the Dax thread...(goes nowhere)
the Loretta thread...(irrelevant)
the general Grant thread...that was ok..brought a little excitement to the table
the Franklin Bleak thread...
the Esmee's mom thread...
the Erick Werner and shoko thread...
the Kevin and Dovey thread
the Mitch and Leroy, Baby Duce, Katherine Gray, Dom Ramos threads. Crikey! I almost forget to mention the Patsy Cline thread. Does anyone under a 100 years of age actually know who she is? Or care?

Just enumerating them all makes me want to cross my eyes and yawn. Because so many of those threads were left hanging. They were completely irrelevent. And they felt irrelevent as I was reading them. That's the problem. What should have been explained and wasn't. Was. How come Esmee's dad kept finding all those paintings stolen in WW2? Why did Esmee keep coming to rescue her dead-beat dad when he'd been an habitual gambler for years? Plus. If I'd had my skin carved up by someone, I'd have changed careers....long ago. But not Esmee. One minute she's on the academic fast-track. The next she's a gumshoe. Not even high-tech investigations. But foot-work. None of that really made sense. Another thread that did not appear was the 'contemporary political landscape.' This story was too firmly rooted in Denver..with a small diversion into the huge irrelevence that is South America. You know what else. I didn't really appreciate the local gang-bangers being made into Johnny's helpers either. That's just cloud cuckoo land for me.

Just why did Johnny visit the Locos? No idea. What was the point of the long tunnel and Johnny's fears. Other than story padding. Eventually I lost interest and fell asleep. Give me pink leeches and butterflies anyday. Franklin Bleak...the bad guy. Ha ha ha. A limp dope. My mom could put him in his place. Bring back T. Royce...or Dr Souk. Is what I say.

You know. I wanted to ask. Sure. Johnny and Esmee had a crush on each other in school. But after so many years. Why couldn't they just give each other a hug and go share a drink together at some bar? As far as I could tell. There was no justification for them going to bed with each other. Other than they'd spent too much stress time together.

Three quarters of the way into the novel and the reader is still only about an hour from the start. Where's the progression in plot and character development? In a way it was like the final chapter was just stuck on by someone else's orders.

Also. A word about Suzi Toussi. Didn't she dump Hawkins and take up with another SDF member in a previous novel? And didn't Hawkins breathe a sigh of relief when she moved on from him? And suddenly she's being built up as the drop-dead gorgeous heroine for a future novel? No thank you. I had enough problems with seeing Cody as a deserving case after she slept with half of central europe in her search for her father.

Actually. It has taken me 3 weeks of olympic perseverence to get to the end of the novel. I read the first 300 pages at my usual fast pace. Then I got so bored that I could only read about a paragraph a day for a while.

I'm still wondering. Is the new J.T story line a great big tease for the next novel? Or is it an ongoing thread that will appear in all the following novels? Just like the original thread. Whatever. The new J.T thread completely overshadowed the main plot. Jeez!!! J.T is the big deep tragedy of Steel Street. And suddenly he's alive???!!! How could Tara even mention his name and expect regular readers to be interested in Esmee and Johnny's light-weight escapades? When General Grant first showed in chapter 11, well, that's when I lost 90% interest in the main couple. I don't know about other readers. But I could do with either or both Dylan and Hawkins featuring big in another novel. I want the J.T. mystery to be solved. Right now.

Ooooooooo!

Saturday, 6 September 2008

A Wicked Liaison by Christine Merrill

I so loathed that cold-hearted coward Constance. And yes. She is the heroine of the romance. Why the hero, Tony, gave her even the time of day certainly defied any reason I could muster. Constance is so horrible to him. Refusing to see him during daylight because she thinks he is beneath her social station. Yet Tony is the one who rescues her from almost certain prostitution and destitution. Constance married a man old enough to be her father because he had a title. And could not please him sufficiently to stop him taking a mistress. Even now, after her first aged husband’s death, Constance is yet again willing to wed anyone, anyone with a title, so long as they give her security and respectability. She is so horrible. How is this novel a romance? Oh. Because she gets all emotional when she’s with Tony. Actually she treats him with no respect. She acts like his pimp in many ways. Getting him to steal this and that, then hand over his money to her. She’s continually cruel and hurtful towards the hero. Even the nominal villain, Lord Jack Barton, treats her with way too much respect.

Poor Tony. Of course in the end Constance declares her love for him. But that is only because she is expecting Tony’s baby. I doubt even a single day will pass in the next 20 years when she doesn’t remind him how she married beneath her station. Poor Tony.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Wild Card by Lora Leigh

Jeez. Who'da thought that a writer of erotica would come up with a modern romance about everlasting love? Jeez.

Did I say I absolutely love this book?

Did I say I absolutely loved the things I hated in so many of the author's previous novels? The small-town politics. The southern melodrama. The screaming hysterics. Well. I absolutely loved them all in Wild Card.

But most of all I loved that 18-year old beauty Sabella could commit forever to Nathan and mean it. And vice versa. Jeez. Jeez.

I'm not saying the book is perfect. By any means. But I've always had a preference for husband and wife romances. Which unfortunately are not often written nowadays.

Hotness afficienados might say that the hotness takes a while to get going and that it's just slightly repetitive. It would have been nice if Bella had swallowed just once. (Oops. Actually she does.) Or that exactly the same phrases occur in different places in the novel. And really why on earth would the BCM want Sabella's auto repair shop. (Other than all the people in Texas small towns are completely crazy.) But that's it. That's where I stop.

This story is going straight on my recommended list. Which is only fair. Considering the amount of Lora Leigh books that I read. But I'm nervous about my decision. My experience has been that her books don't stand up well to more than one reading. (Elizabeth turned out to be one of the stupidest, criminally negligent parents I've ever come across in a novel.)

The clever thing about Wild Card is that both Bella and Nathan were young when they married. They claim they've both changed (not) and they're still committed. It's funny when Nathan is jealous of himself. But that Sienna got off much too lightly. Seeing how it was made obvious that she had repeatedly punched poor Sabella on most of her body. Sienna should have died in screaming agony after say, being bitten by a deadly rattler in the cave. As she watched Noah hold Sabella in his arms.

Some great little scenes. Of course. The chapter where Sabella lets Nathan drive his own pickup is just totally cute. I also loved every time Sabella tries to smack Nathan pretending to be Noah, and he reminds her patiently and gently that she is not allowed to do that. Imagining Sabella riding behind Nathan on the Harley in her bare legs was also somewhat awe-inspiring. (I'd never have the nerve myself.) The scene where Sabella realises Noah is Nathan is pretty good considering she could have had screaming hysterics...but she saves those for later. I completely loved Nathan's words when he admitted to Sabella he was '...an ignorant fool too fucking scared to have his wife see him weak.' Poor Nathan. His poor body is actually covered in scar tissue but he never dwells on his physical injuries. He thinks they've changed his nature but they haven't. Also. It's absolutely great how Nathan is completely rooted in this small town in Texas. I loved this strange theme of how you can grow up in a place like that and not really be aware of what's going on. Nathan could have turned out looking stupid but he didn't because he had a total sense of honor and did not hesitate to put right what had gone wrong with the community.

Some readers are gonna ask why Sabella was such a wimp in the cave. That's because her main focus was on protecting the baby and keeping knowledge of the baby from that vicious bitch Sienna. Sabella never had any doubt that Nathan would rescue her. I loved the way the author had Sabella tell Nathan straight out that it was Sienna that gave her the facial bruise. Like she didn't know Sienna was dead meat from that point onwards. Personally I also enjoyed the presence of Ian and Kira and seeing their relationship towards each other.

I have to say I totally mourn the absence of the c-word. In my experience the p-word is used almost exclusively by males in their teens.

And yes. I did take the day off work to read it. And I'd do it again. So there!

Novels like Wild Card and Dangerous Secrets completely make up for all the dross I read in 2008. The shame is that even other books by the same writers will be nowhere near as entertaining.

I think I'll try the Nauti series next...

Finally. I also loved the ambiguity of the front cover...even though the author went to a great deal of trouble to show that Nathan's roots were totally Irish...Obviously she hasn't seen Bernie Mac's performance in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. tee hee.

Ok. The gushing ends. Here. And. Now.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

Miss Winthorpe's Elopement by Christine Merrill.

Harlequin Historical.

Marry in haste...repent in leisure. Might be the moral of this story. However as we all know, sometimes it pays to take a risk. And rich printer's daughter Penelope Winthorpe certainly takes a risk when she marries basically a drunk who her carriage nearly runs over one night. Happily the drunk turns out to be a peer of the realm who is desperate enough to consider topping himself as a way out of his money troubles. He's handsome, she's bookish. Unfortunately he is also somewhat of an unmitigated snob once he sobers up. In fact. The marriage seems to be going nowhere for quite some time. With Penny being the one who has to make all the adjustments to being the wife of a Lord and having to fit into his social circle.

On one level the hero, Adam, seems as frivolous as his many friends. On the other hand. He is a thoroughly decent guy, probably somewhat too aware of his responsibilities to his tenants and other people who depend on him. Consider. He feels guilty about the loss of life when a ship he has invested in is lost at sea. That's like saying you or I feel guilt about where the interest in our bank accounts comes from. Seeing how the ship had a cargo full of tobacco, if Adam wanted to feel guilty then he could have thought about the living conditions of the slaves that worked the tobacco plantation. But that never happens in series romances.

In actual fact. This is a fantastic read. With a true villianess, the mega-bitch Clarissa. For large parts of the story I was in total suspense wandering what wickedness she would get up to in order to destroy the happiness of the main couple. And boy. She gives it her best shot. The husband, Tim, is also not very nice, but in a completely different sort of way. With friends like Tim, who needs enemies.

What makes the story special is the characters of Penny and Adam. And of course there are a couple of great scenes featuring the servant, Jem. Both the hero and heroine are multi-dimensional people. Adam is full of regrets about his former life-style. Penny is surprisingly emotionally mature considering she is a romance heroine. Towards the end she does revert to type. The ending is a bit pat too. What what else can a reader expect from a series romance? A couple of scenes of strategically placed hotness only.

Also. The novel is primarily about the relationship between Penny and Adam. But really. I'd like to have known more of how Adam came to be as broke as he obviously was. I mean. One hundred and fifty thousand pounds in Regency times. That's like about 10 million in modern times. Who's to say he wouldn't lose that much again?! Now that's a thought for Penny to ponder.

But basically. It's a little gem. For what it is.

Recent purchases.

I bought 4 series romances at the supermarket today. 2 from the "Intrigue" imprint and 2 from the "Historical" imprint.

I totally ignored the author's name and went only by the imprint title and the blurb on the back of the books. Actually. It's amazing how many imprints there are nowadays. I could see "Super Historical", "Instant Family", "Baby on the Way"; all in addition to the usual "Medical", "Blaze", etc.

Unfortunately. At the check-out I was somewhat surprised by the cost of each. Nearly as much as a proper romance novel.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Three historicals

The trouble is. I don't like heroes who use hos. First. It's generally disrespectful to women. If the hero was a decent sort of guy, he'd give the ho some money without using her body. Most ho's in those days were full of disease...which they passed on to the guys who used them. Very unpleasant for the usually nice respectable heroine. Also. It doesn't say much about the social skills of the hero if the only way he can get a woman is by paying for her services. How can such a person be heroic?

So...

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase.

The heroine starts out fairly sparkling and independent minded. Then she marries Dain and turns into some kind of doormat. So what he's had a rough childhood. He's verbally abusive, drags her around physically, bangs her practically in public...and she says nothing. And that was all before the sub-plot about the illegitimate child of Dain. dnf.

Scandalous by Night by Barbara Pierce.

Another man-ho. Plus. This novel featured endless characters with such strange names. Often it was difficult to tell who was a guy and who was a female. Couples from previous novels are introduced far too quickly in the plot. The hero came across like a mean-spirited bully to the young heroine. Also. A stepmother has carnal relations with both her stepsons. But thats just padding for the novel. The father knows but does nothing. Why on earth does the heroine live in a house where she knows that sort of thing is going on and is slapped by the stepmother as well. So what her own parents are dull. They are not abusive. She should have moved back to her own home. The hero, generally, is knee-deep in sordid degeneracy and is just seeking to carry on the cycle of abuse by courting the heroine, who, I think, was his full cousin. I got to page 91 and realised the story was making my skin crawl. Revolting...dnf.

Again. This books shows exactly why I started my blog. None of the reviews I read even mentioned all that intra-family biblical relations stuff.

Before the Scandal by Suzanne Enoch.

At the very start of the novel, the hero, estranged from his family, returns to his ancestral home because of a letter full of lies written by his younger sister. Again he says nothing to her. Which shows him to be a fool. I couldn't maintain interest after that. Boring. dnf.

Neither Harry in Rendevous nor Ravenstone in Dangerous used prostitutes. Simon in Enchanted did and he was made to suffer for it. And that's how it should be.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Into The Fire by Anne Stuart.

No, no, no Jamie. You do not want to live for ever more with a guy who has ratty grey towels, lumpy sofas, thin mattresses on the floor instead of proper beds and a fridge without fresh food in it. Even to spite Nate and the Duchess.

Every time I think about this novel I start to feel heart-sore. Because the main couple have no chance together despite going through an unbelievable amount of mental and physical pain. Even the so-callled happy ending didn't convince me.

The heroine is such a complete wet wimp. She takes being TSTL to fresh depths. She seems to have had no idea that her foster brother was a total murderous psycho. That her adoptive parents were indifferent to her. I really don't get why she cared for these people. But she did. The person she shows absolutely no respect for and to is the guy she loves, Dillon. Throughout the whole novel I don't think Jamie says one nice word to him. I felt so sorry for Dillon. He's trying to make a decent life for himself and various members of this poisonous family stalk him, take away his only friend and try to kill him. No wonder he makes such great efforts to smother any gentler emotions when they are around.

Most of this novel is set in a creepy dark warehouse being used as a auto repair shop. It is so bleak. As the reader I was allowed to know almost from the beginning who the villain was. Never let it be said that Nate is unrealistic in his viciousness. He is a truely nasty piece of work who victimises both Jamie and Dillon for years on end. That's why I felt miserable at the end of the story. There's only a glimpse of happiness between Jamie and Dillon. Not enough. Considering she had her chest carved with a knife; considering he was the love object of a pervert. I can't see how they can survive as a couple. She is used to ...cleanliness, tidyness and comfort. He doesn't care.

Very sad.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Wild Card Countdown.

Lift-off is Aug 26th. Harriet, at last, has put up a review on her Blogger website. I've linked my image of the cover to it.

Basically. I think even Harriet is saying that the plot is totally implausible. Which is a first for her. Complete rubbish is probably a more accurate description. But thats hardly a surprise to us Lora Leigh fans. I am simply aching to get hold of my copy. Definitely taking the day off work to read it.

Two years is just about acceptable to mourn what is supposed to be the love of your life. I just hope Ms Leigh remembered that this series is supposed to be HOT!

Sunday, 3 August 2008

The Courage To Love by Samantha Kane

Very very hot e-book. Basically two guy friends use a woman as a conduit to have carnal relations with one another. Yes. It’s that simple and that insulting to gays and women alike.

Historical erotica featuring gay and hetero. The first of the series. Well-written. The female, Kate, despite her protestations, is a trollop. First she was a trollop for money, then she was a trollop for free. She’s another one of those romance heroine types that actually has only a life of poverty when not living off the succession of men in her life. Highly retro. I suppose I should remind female readers that there are plenty of women who are poor who retain their dignity and do not prostitute themselves. Plus. For some women. No man = Freedom. That type of woman rarely makes an appearance in erotic romances. And let me ask you this. If someone forces you to stick your arm in a fire...it hurts a lot. So would you voluntarily stick your arm in another fire about 6 months later? Yet that is the principle behind the plot of this story and many other e-book erotics. It’s quite strange when either of the male heroes refer to themselves as ‘we.’ One of the quirks that makes reading the novel enjoyable.

This book contains a very small sub-plot that again should have placed this EC novel in the x-treme category. I live in a home where all the occupants are legal adults. So there are no access issues for me to take into consideration. Other readers in different circumstances need to think long and hard before downloading this novel.

On some levels the story is just as sordid as Moonrise. But it’s much less bleak and actually contains a lot of happiness in amongst the usual obligatory misery and public humiliations. Actually. I quite enjoyed reading it. As a completely irrelevant aside, I loved all the names of the males in the novel. Richardson should have died. The swine.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Moonrise by Anne Stuart

This edgy rom-sus novel has some amazingly hot scenes considering it was published in 1996. A case of quality over quantity. Despite the fact that the heroine Annie frequently got on my nerves. Ok. I can understand that her father turned her into some kind of stepford clone. (Teenage rebellion seems to have passed her by.) But she knows she loves James. And she allows him to hand her over to some other guy who she ends up doing it with. Twice. It's like she doesn't have any will of her own or independence of mind or spirit. Because of that I thought she deserved all the humiliation and degradation she received. I thought a very good job was done of making the ex-husband truely repulsive and the bad-boy hero attractive. Considering they were both in the same trade. And despite the fact that her husband-to-be killed her father. Who was of course a complete and utter monster.

In the end both Annie and James earned the happiness they found together. I hope they had long peaceful lives. Filled with love for one another.

Actually. This book well deserves it's reputation. I found it an interesting read. Although very sordid and bleak.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Shadow Lover by Anne Stuart

Published in 1999. Quite a good sus-rom story if you can work your way through the lame first half.

A novel where the main couple spend entirely too much time sniping at each other. Where the main couple spend entirely too much time not in each others company. Where the heroine feels shocked and guilty because she had the time of her life in the hero’s bed. But she is generally spineless and avoids all risk. And is deeply obsessed about inherited money. Despite her loud protestations to the contrary. Nor did Carolyn have any real good reason not to tell the cops about the violent act she witnessed on the beach. Imagine. She didn't tell her adopted mother that her son was seriously injured or probably dead. In fact. All her actions for much of the novel seem to have been motivated by a selfish desire to maintain her tenuous status with the rich MacDowell family. The hero, Alex, is actually, much too good for her. Far too many stupid relatives all over the novel. Like I was interested in any of them.

Lots of clever stuff though. First the reader is told that the hero is an imposter called Sam. Then it turns out that Sam and Alex are actually the same person. Then it turns out that even real Alex is not really the son of the dying matriarch. I’ve always loathed characters like Aunt Sally. Nasty poisonous spider-like people. And she is no exception. Sally should have suffered a lot more. Her last days on the earth should have been filled with misery. Why Carolyn devoted herself to Sally defies logical reasoning or even emotional intelligence. A thirteen year old girl gets kissed in this story. That’s a no-go area nowadays. Her punishment. Not to love until the hero, Alex, returns some 18 years later. His punishment. A bullet between the shoulders. Which I thought. Was a bit harsh.

Unusually. Both the hero and heroine are blond. Makes a nice change. The main fault though. Not enough nookie. Or emotions between the main couple. They continually run away from one another. Somewhat frustrating. Once stupid Sally dies the story comes to glorious life. Apart from Carolyn, the heroine, who keeps displaying completely irrational behaviour. Like so many heroines of the 70s, she puts the hero through a lot of crap for no good reason at all.

It’s good that I read this novel straight after Dangerous Secrets. I’m back to loving Charity. For taking risks with her life. For not letting caring for her aged relatives get in the way of her chance of happiness. For being happy when stranger Nick made her feel good in bed.

I’ve read better stories about orphans too. Alex isn’t really a bad-boy hero. Again. Having an older heroine is fine if she's lived a proper life. Which Carolyn hasn't. She'll spend the rest of her 30s regretting she didn't get together with Alex earlier. (Even though that would have been impossible.)

One weird thing. This novel is set amongst the over-privileged super-rich of Vermont but amazingly when the family come to stay the heroine has to make up a bed in the library because there are not enough rooms in the mansion! That's some device that is.

This novel is perfectly ok. Actually. It's better than Spymasters Lady. Not as good as All Through The Night. Which was written around the same time. Lowell's Sweet Wind, Wild Wind which is about the same kind of relationship is miles better. Makes me salivate thinking about the craziness that is bound to be Lora Leigh’s Wild Card. (Hurry up August end!)

And finally. I can't believe how fast I got this novel. I ordered it on the 22 July through the abe network from some tiny place in Mass. Mailman pushed it through the letterbox on 25 July. Amazon orders usually take 2 weeks exactly. How is that possible?

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Dangerous Secrets by Lisa Marie Rice

There is no way any words from me can do justice to this stonkingly enjoyable novel. I like this author’s voice so much. I don’t care that many less fawning readers might say that the hero and heroine from each book are completely interchangeable. It’s the nuances of difference that matter to me. Like. I loved the driving-ability thread in this story. And happily. The suspense in each novel is so completely unique.

If I was a son or daughter of that proud nation of Russia I’d be just a tad annoyed that a man with the sheer determination, guts, willpower, talent and class of Vassily Worontzoff is aired out by an alpha male dimbo and his dumb blonde bunny girlfriend. Sheesh. I’m not Russian though. And I liked the message the author gave out. That there is no excuse for soft or hard terrorism where innocent people die. Not even if you have suffered gut-wrenching heartache and awful physical deprivation as did Vassily. I personally. Would have liked to witness Vassily do something baaad. He is built up as this evil evil guy. But doesn’t really display any behaviour that justifies this rep. He is very menacing though. And is killed far too quickly.

This time the hero and heroine are Nick and Charity. And yes. She’s as dumb as her name suggests. However. Being dumb is not a crime. So I’m not ashamed to say I liked Charity. Even though she gets married to a guy she’s known for a week only. And then totally forgives him for lying his head off to her. There is a great chapter in the story that illustrates exactly why Charity falls for Nick. It totally worked for me too.

What didn’t work in the novel was why Nick let Charity go to Vassily’s house for the meet. It’s not exactly unknown for terrorists to have the same scanning technology as black ops guys. So really. Nick should have expected the mike to be detected. A big weakness is that Nick does not save Charity. Vassily does. Nick just blusters. That’s the tragedy of Vassily. Hope he and Katya are reunited in the afterlife. Also I completely felt Arkady’s love for his Vor.

Hey! What was the point of Jake? I suppose he was needed to convert Nick into a rich guy. Except that billionaire Jake making a million for Nick, the guy who saved his ass countless times in the orphanage came across as slightly mean. Jake should have made at least $50 million for Nick.

There’s a lot of reader teasing in the romance scenes. Sometimes the reader is shut out of the bedroom. Other times the reader is allowed to see the hot visualisations in Nick’s head. Hmm. There are no hot scenes after the marriage. The plot took over. But overall the story certainly did qualify as erotica. It is streets ahead of 99% of the e-book romantica trash I have recently read.

You know what. I knew I would like this story even while I read the prologue. I actually considered calling in sick to work for the day. And sitting in a Starbucks all day to read the book. I was so tempted. In the end though, like Nick and Charity, I did my duty and fulfilled my obligations to my employer.

That stupid word. Gelid. Makes a couple of appearances in the book. Sign the online petition to ban it from all further Rice novels.

A very very special mention needs to be made about Chapter 22. It contains some of the corniest scenes, images and dialogue that I have ever read in all my life. My eyes practically bugged out as it's outrageousness unfolded before me.

Lets start at the beginning of Chapter 22. Oooo! Watch Nick and John wave their shiney DHS badges under Charity's nose. As if badges were a proof of anything. Then there's the bit where Charity asserts she's made of steel and agrees to spy on Vassily because she's a true patriot. To say nothing of the paragraph where Nick throws the test-tube, bolt and CD in front of Charity and proceeds to explain how they are proof of Vassily's evil mafia network. That dumb bunny Charity laps up every word Nick spills from his lying mouth. But oh, she believes that when he went to bed with her his body told her the truth. Jeez. That poor girl. I expect Consuela believed in Nick's body too. Hur hur. And it goes on. At the end of the chapter Nick weeps all over Charity. Oh brother. Like I said. The whole of Chapter 22 belongs in the twilight zone. It was like Charity was being inducted into some fringe cult group.

But none of the above stopped me totally loving the experience of working my way through this fabulous (small-town) novel.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

The Spymasters Lady by Joanna Bourne

Sweet and tender historical romance. While this novel regularly shows it is plotted oh so cleverly it is still not in the same class as Rendevouz by Amanda Quick. Which also deals with spying but is much more emotionally satisfying to read.

Basically. Annique the French spy lurches from one dangerous situation to another. She’s a strange character really. She believes she has developed a technique of chattering aimlessly to bamboozle whoever is interrogating her and most of the time it works. But not with the guy she loves. He sees right through her fabrications. And a couple of times Annique reveals an excellent assessment of the character of the hero and his friend. There are some genuine surprises in the novel but they are not nasty so I will not reveal them. There are also far too many unbelievable coincidences which border on ridiculous. I’m glad that neither Annique or Grey suffered any real harm (physical or emotional) but that fact contributed to the fairy-tale feel of the story. She is like a Napoleonic Superwoman. See in the dark, do surgery, escape from dungeons. But amazingly unsuspicious about the death of her mother. And even when her nominal enemies deconstruct her entire belief system she remains astoundingly passive. The nice thing about Annique is that she is young and very positive about life despite all the bad war things she has witnessed. (And she only injures and refuses to kill…even her enemies.)

The cover is completely misleading. This novel is 100% about Annique. There are no scenes that feature the hero without the presence of Annique. And I couldn’t really discern the skills that enabled Grey to attain the position of British Head of Section. Often Grey seemed in danger of being overshadowed by the character of William Doyle and his wife. Even Adrian sometimes. And surely in those times there was not the separation between military intelligence and civilian spying of modern times? So I didn't really understand how Grey could defy Reams and get away with it.

I really enjoyed how Annique fell in love with both Robert and Grey. Even though not recognizing them as the same man was one of those ridiculous contrivances that I wrote about earlier.

However. This book is a lovely read. There is some quite affecting nookie but not until way past halfway into the story. Readers need to be aware that much of the 'romance' is built up during locked-room scenes.

The true effect of this story was to remind me of just how much I loved Rendevouz. I think both novels may even take place in around the same historical time frame.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Into The Darkness by Delilah Devlin

This is not a romance but a sordid and distasteful trailer-park urban fantasy. Vampire genre. Why do I describe it as ‘trailer park?’ The author bio. How were my prejudices confirmed? This astounding paragraph towards the end of the novel where the main secondary character remembers her murdered baby girl; “Her Daddy had just taught her to say ‘shit.’ He thought it was funny. I got mad.” Yup. I can just imagine the scene. Characters have been to college but they still work in video stores and hump at the office in plain sight of anyone. Lovely. Scenes take place in tacky motel rooms.

The main couple have some sort of relationship going but that doesn’t stop them doing it with a lot of other people. The hero and heroine spend most of the novel in a locked room and there is just too much non-consensual activity between them…perpetrated by her on him. Because of this fact the author tries to interest the reader in bump and grind between secondary characters. Unfortunately the main secondary character does it with just about anything that walks on two legs. Nor was I interested in the millionaire life-style of the people who had kidnapped and imprisoned the hero and heroine. My sympathies often lay with the hero who is basically humiliated and disrespected through much of the story. To say nothing of the fact that there is a general theme of a community using and abusing complete strangers. (As food)

The heroine’s name is Natalie. She starts off in the novel as a fairly na├»ve and innocent character. By the end of the story she is exposing herself to convenience-store clerks. Occasionally she makes the struggle to display some integrity which basically consists of laying in bed with the covers up to her chin. As opposed to most of the time where she is raping the hero. For large parts of the story her actions are determined by her hormones (rather than her brain or her heart) and her potential fertility is openly discussed by her captors as a reason for denying her freedom.

I suppose you have to be unapologetically culturally southern to appreciate this kind of novel. And believe me when I say I am not referring to Cajun culture.

Because this novel is obviously the beginning of a series, threads pop up and then disappear for large parts of the story. Just who is the person who killed Natalie’s parents. And why? Appalling is a good word to use to describe this book. It is also very very dirty and doesn’t rise above sewer level at any point.

In the final chapter, Rene goes through the portal with Natalie because he believes he'd 'rather die than live without her.' Why? This is the woman who abused his body. Who will continue to do so because she's a 'Born' and he's a 'Revenant.' I guess that's the vampire word for doormat. And Rene's the first guy in a romance I've read who qualifies to hold that title. Poor sap. In true trailer-park style, instead of breaking free from his abuser, he chooses to stay with her. Too scared to take back his self-respect. Sad.

Mostly I read romances where falling in love makes the main couple happy. None of the rampant carnality in this novel results in any happiness whatsoever.

Read this book only if you generally despise humanity as it will just confirm your low opinion of the species.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Twice The Temptation by Suzanne Enoch

...two short novels in the one book. Linked by a cursed diamond.

Personally. I thought both novellas were too long.

I can understand a hero who wants to rescue a heroine from danger. But a hero who wants to rescue a girl from her mother????!!! What is that all about? Particularly when the reader knows that in 10 years time the girl will turn out to be a carbon copy of said mother. Yuk. Why not marry the mother in the first place? After all. She’s going to be around in his life for the next 20 years or so anyway. That’s the pitfall with historicals. The author writes one kind of story which the reader interprets as another.

The heroine, Gilly, reads as a precious pain. I’ve met 14-year olds who make more decisions about their lives and take more risks than this18-year old heroine. Gilly isn’t blonde but the best way to describe her is standard issue bimbo. Or just plain horrible. Despite her pretty looks. Even when she’s been deflowered by the hero, she still is happy to see her life as being married to her 51-yo suitor, denying him anything but an annual consummation, whilst maybe taking lovers. That is gross dishonesty. The poor guy has done nothing to deserve being treated with such disrespect.

I struggled to continue reading. Around page 138 of a 178-page novella the heroine eventually became less calculating and honest. Much too late for me to enjoy the story. Unfortunately it also became obvious that her future husband would have no trouble using s.e.x to get whatever he wanted from the dim gullible chit.

The plot device of a cursed diamond became quite interesting towards the end of the story. It almost developed into a joke at one point. For me this story is about the power of beauty. Why else would Addison have gone to all that effort to get the gal? Plus. This is one of those novels where the heroine is all feisty and difficult before the hero does her. But once the deed is done she mellows and becomes an all round good egg.

Reminded me too much of the dry historicals I was forced to read in school. Five chapters of torture until all issues are resolved in about 5 pages. Not much bump and grind either. Although what there was was freely given. End of.

The other novella in this book is another in the Sam n Rick story arc. The big disappointment is that the baddie is telegraphed out at the very start of the story. And I was truly amazed that Sam, with her supposed keen antenna for cops, scams and fellow thiefs didn’t rumble him as quickly as I did.

Sam is just as high strung and neurotic as ever. Sometimes she seems to have a good sense of fairness in her relationship with Rick. Like when she almost goes into the lake with Rick to search for the diamond she threw in the water. Other times she seems to make unnecessary problems for herself. Like when she plants the cursed diamond on Rick, knowing (and hoping) it will bring him trouble. I don’t get Sam’s chosen new career either. The security industry is basically one big scam. I can’t think of anything worse than having cameras and patrols all over all your big millionaire mansions. Some nicely steamy scenes though. With a lot less anatomical descriptions than some of the romances I’ve read recently. And a lot more post-coital talk. Which I enjoyed reading.

The cursed diamond wreaks havoc on a huge scale in this story. Rawley House literally overflows with security people, house-guests, armed ex-lover robbers and armed police. All in the middle of Devon. It’s a wonder Rick doesn’t die of shame. The palaver a guy has to put up with in order to get the woman he’s chosen to bear his children. Obviously he thinks she’s worth it. Good luck to the pair of them. The jewellery robbery scenes were unrealistic and irrelevent. I skim-read them until Rick joined in the action.

I think readers who aren’t familiar with Sam n Rick might find her a bit of a mean shrill bitch. And sometimes Rick reads like a trusted loyal lap-dog. I look forward to the novel where she has to grovel to him for a couple of chapters. By no means could Sam be described as a door-mat or one of those women desperate for a guy. But she still values her relationship with Rick. And that’s why I like her and hope there are more stories after ‘A Touch of Minx.’

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Dangerous Lover by Lisa Marie Rice

Ace. Ace. Ace. This is a fantastic lovely piece of rude romantic suspense. What's more. The ending is just right. Not too abrupt at all. The heroine gets to show her love and trust. The hero is prepared to sacrifice his life for her safety. Super. Then let's talk about the image of the final action scene. The hero holding his woman in one arm and his weapon in the other. Isn't that just totally iconic? Don't tell me that happened by accident. I absolutely completely appreciate the thought that has gone into producing these stories.

It's official. I am now totally hooked on this author. Even though I've long sinced sussed out her formula. Yet the novels themselves are absolutely wonderful story-telling. One of the many things I love is the way she references contemporary world politics. With none of the dopey sentimentality perpetrated by the big media. This is a much better story of blood diamonds than the movie. Set resolutely in America of course. Thank goodness.

I have to say I prefered the character of silent Sam Cooper (from Woman On The Run) as a hero to Jack Prescott. Even though Jack is the more effective warrior in that he at least prevents his woman from getting hurt. Something Sam so notably failed to do. Although Caroline is on the whole very easy-going I just loved the way she refused to leave the freezing basement while Jack was there mending the boiler. Despite the fact he kept ordering her to go somewhere warm. They were a great couple. I also loved the way Caroline's grief for her brother is written...so poignant. And the way that Jack acknowledges that his love for Caroline changes the way he views the world around him. Wow! How many threads can you get into one novel.

However. I'm sick of the word 'gelid' to describe the wind. Does anyone actually know what it means? I do know where she picked it up though. My advice. Don't use it again. There's a reason why it fell out of use....it's a stupid sounding word.

I read this novel from start to finish in about 36 hours. With breaks for my job and house-keeping too. I'm saying I was hooked from the very beginning. The author just does not disappoint. Bless her. Goes without saying I'll definitely be buying Dangerous Secrets. And I'm more than half-way interested in reading more Avon Reds since I much prefer following a publisher's series than any particular author. But we'll see how that pans out.

Sometimes I wonder why none of these novels make it onto my recommended list. Basically. It's because the main couples tend to be so completely different from one another. I can't see how the love will last after the immediate peril is over. For instance. Dangerous Lover takes place over the course of just 3 days! Much too short to develop a relationship. But that's just me and my opinion. I still love the stories told.

Also. The heroines are too passive in the relationship. The heroes always go down on the women but their actions are never reciprocated. Very strange. In particular there were a lot of inconsistencies in D-Lover. Take Caroline's relationship with Sanders. Towards the beginning of the novel she describes herself as one of the few women in the town who he hasn't slept with. Then later on it becomes apparent that Sanders sees Caroline as some sort of casual fuck-buddy and she admits he was her first lover. Sanders is in fact too large a presence in Caroline's thoughts and the reason her parents came to despise him is never fully explained.

But the really glaring weakness in this book is this. How does Jack being Ben explain to Caroline how he knows what the inside of her house looks like? Since it is made clear at the start of the novel that Ben went into Greenbriars when the family were out. And they never gave their permission for him to be there. Another reason for avoiding homeless shelter people. 90% weirdos. I expect the news that Jack had bequeathed his millions to her encouraged Caroline to run towards him in the final shootout. So typical of middle-class romance heroines.

There's a chapter in Dangerous Lover when the baddie's name changes from Deaver to Deacon. I know that's just poor proof-reading but still...these novels are not cheap you know.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Reflection

A hiatus has occurred in reviewing. It's not my fault at all.

I ordered some books from amazon. Supposed to be 'in stock.' Despatch date turned out to be a whole 2 weeks into the future. Imagine that! I wonder how they define 'out of stock.'

I also ordered an older romance through the abe network. That didn't arrive at all. Even though they took my money.

Actually. I did read another Shiloh Walker e-book. Eli and Sarel. Number 2 in the Hunters series. However I'm not going to review it right away. Because then I'll have reviewed 3 pieces of smut in a row. And some people might think that I'm obsessed with nookie. Which I am most definitely not! (How dare they!)

Still. I've taken the opportunity to re-read all my 'Ice' novels and my 'Crazy' books. I still love them all. I also went to the movies. (Those are the breaks.)

Thursday, 5 June 2008

I'll Be Hunting You by Shiloh Walker

This is a follow-up to Declan and Tori. I only read it because I knew that Declan died. I thought. "Serves you right...sharing your girl with that wimp Eli." However I also concluded from the review I read that Declan doesn't actually stay dead. I didn't mind that. One of the things I hate about death is that it's so permanent. So why not fantasize about it being temporary?

I have to say though. This e-novella is total badly written schlock. Tori is really made to suffer grief. Poor woman. She and Declan had been together for 15 years. But it's only for one whole year. Very few romances nowadays deal with grief. And I felt all her anguish. Even though it wasn't particularly realistic.

However I would have been annoyed if she then fell in love with another guy after just one year. Like happens with so much women's fiction nowadays. Blah. But instead she falls for a guy called Brian. Who actually turns out to be an amnesiac Declan. With a small completely unrealistic child in tow. I didn't really get Brian's memories of his life. And as the story progressed I didn't really like that it was obvious that he was destined to meet and bang Tori. Brian is another wimp's name. So how could Brian turn out to be Declan but have none of Declan's memories? We are not talking reincarnation here. Just memory loss. I thought it was all a bit stupid. To say nothing of the fact that the story criss-crosses America but all the towns seem equally anonymous places.

I also don't like the vigilantism thread of the Hunter series. It just doesn't happen. Miscarriages of justice are too commonplace to be treated superficially in some stupid romance. (I don't mean banged up for a crime not committed. I'm talking about being jailed for say 4 years for a really horrible assault or even murder. Sadly all too common.)

I thought all the romance scenes were a bit tepid too. A less well-read reader might think they were hot though. It's a bit boring really is what I'm trying to avoid saying. But those are the facts. The novella did make me interested in reading more about 'the mean bitch' Sarel. Oops. I've swallowed the bait. Maybe that's the whole point of this story.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

The Hunters 1: Declan and Tori by Shiloh Walker

I am over 21. So should you be to read this novel. I bought it as an e-book. But it is also available in print form. At only 165 pages it's a quick 'series romance' type read.

Better plotted than a Lora Leigh story. More effective world-building than the hyper-inflated J R Ward. And it's still a stonking hot read. As in 'very very hot'. There's a lot of voyeurism, girl-friend sharing and girl-anal. tbh While I could go along with the threesome I found myself left behind when Tori humps Eli in front of Declan...out of sympathy or to keep a promise. Tori is Declan's girl. She liked him before she turned into a vampire. I found Eli to be too much of a wet wimp to deserve Tori on his own. But that's just opinion. Also. I think the author, like so many writers of paranormals, needed to be a little more aware of both ethnic sensitivities and master-servant issues.

Basically, Declan and Tori is a vampire, shapeshifter story. Although it's a contemporary novel I did miss the named cars and clothes aspect of, say, the Sam n Rick books. This is the beginning of a series so I'll wait til I read a few more before I pass judgement.

Monday, 2 June 2008

The Devil To Pay by Liz Carlyle

This novel is so utterly profoundly boring I almost slit my wrists after reading the first 154 pages.

The basic problem is that every single character, including the main couple displays such ugliness in lifestyle and behaviour. I kept seeing those grotesque cartoons from old editions of Punch come to life. Drunkenness is not attractive. Yet the hero loses days due to the effects of consuming too much alcohol. He is also a case of syphilis waiting to happen. Pus-filled boils and all. He treats women like pieces of meat. A grown financially independent man, he still allows his mother to try to marry him off. The heroine is not much better. She pretends to be a hooker, takes the money but does not deliver. A street tart has more honesty than her. Again she earns a living as an instructress in her own house. She's supposed to be intelligent and resourceful. Yet it seems she is attracted to the cigar and pipe smoking drunken mess that is the hero. Yuk! Could it be because he has a title and money? That is so disgusting. The heroine's name is Sidonie. Yet straight away the hero calls her Sid. When he is little more than a stranger to her. In an age when public deportment counted for so much. It's like he's telling her 'You're unworthy.' Of course she says nothing.

This novel aspires to be a rip-off of Connie Brockway's All Through The Night. It is nothing more that a miserable smelly vomit inducing failure. I felt I needed a shower after reading the book. Also. Totally ghastly decor in all the houses.

What I really objected to was this novel's misogynistic portrayal of women as a whole. Completely at the beck and call of males. And the way that the cockney dialect is used as a euphemism for being an unworthy second class female. You know. Even the hero's mother is shackled. Since it is obvious that the hero's father, her husband, would be making her life a complete misery if she didn't at least try to reconcile the two of them, son and husband. Sick-making.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Billionaires Prefer Blondes by Suzanne Enoch

Very disappointing. Way, way too much crime caper stuff. Nowhere near enough humping. And half of what there is is alluded to!!! As in 'Let's go to bed' said Sam...The next morning.... Jeez. I don't buy romances for that kind of dish-water. What's worse. Sam allows herself to get groped by a blackmailing piece of slime. Ugh. I started off reading quickly. By half-way I'd slowed right down.

What was the point of re-introducing the supposedly dead dad, Martin? Romance novels in general are not very good at portraying family ties. And this is no exception. Martin reads like a really horrible amoral person. Doublecrossing everyone he meets, including his daughter. Why am I supposed to be entertained by his intrusion into this novel? Sam may get an adrenaline rush from burglarizing but I found it all very sordid. Particularly when innocent people can't even sleep safely in their own beds without being in danger from felons. This story actually proves to be an excellent illustration of why people should avoid associating with anything criminal. Unless you enjoy having threats to your safety, peace of mind, free-will on a daily basis.

I'm very glad that Rick decides that he will not cross the line. If Sam goes back to her life of crime he will split from her. Despite the fact that he loves her. Well said Addison. Hola!

Friday, 30 May 2008

Don't Look Down by Suzanne Enoch

Number 2 in the Sam n Rick story arc.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel from start to finish. It has a most wonderfully imaginative denouement scene. Involving a girl-on-girl muddy catfight, cops and polo players. There's plenty of hot but not too graphic bump and grind. And a fairly decent plot. But most of all. It's about interlocking relationships. Between a guy and his attitudinous girl-friend, between an ex-wife and the main couple, between a girl and her surrogate Dad...and some more too. I loved them all. The heroine also allows another guy to put the moves on her but there is never any doubt that she is completely faithful to the hero.

I'll say it straight out. I think Sam is a great romance heroine. Clever, resourceful, beautiful. She can talk clothes, gardens, cars, children at the drop of a hat. Also. For the record. I like the way the characters speak to each other.

Definitely joining my 'to be read again' pile.

So anyway. After I finished my first reading of Don't Look Down I immediately started another novel, Passion by Lisa Valdez. Which turns out to be quite a problematic read for work or public spaces in general. Together with the fact that the heroine gets felt up in public by a complete stranger and does not kick him in his gonads. (Obviously she must be completely desperate to find such behaviour acceptable.) So taking all that into consideration, I decided to return to an immediate re-read of Don't Look Down where everything is completely consensual between the main couple...and leave Passion for some other time.

So. Don't Look Down. The one where Sam slashes the tyres on Rick's BMW. The one where Sam n Rick have sticky food nookie. And the one where quite a few times Sam hugs Rick for strength and comfort. I love all that kind of mushy stuff. Plus. It's one of those novels where the beautiful heroine drives to a Palm Beach place in a Bentley with the dishy hero following behind, convoy style, in a flashy Merc. Not that I worship money or crass style but I totally relished visualising that scene in my mind.

There are some humdinger threads going on in all the 3 Sam n Rick books I have read so far. The Rick's Chicks thread is funny. Rick is absolutely right to encourage Sam to go legit. If only for the sake of their future children. A life of adrenaline rushes isn't particularly healthy. Sam'll find it harder to let go of her mantra that she needs to depend only on herself. But that's such an isolating antisocial attitude to have, imo. There's a great pleasure in depending on people who, no way will they let you down...just as much of an adrenaline rush...with a warm fuzzy afterglow.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Killer Secrets by Lora Leigh

Buy this book and read it. Although it's not very good. But good enough. Satisfied? tee hee.

Now I will micro-criticize it...

Why is the novel called 'Killer Secrets?' Nothing is secret. Ian's SEAL buddies know he is not a traitor; Ian knows that Diego is a DHS asset and that Kira is there to protect him. There is no explanation of how these things come to be known. Which is a shame really. Seeing how SUCH A BIG EFFING DEAL IS MADE OF THE FACT THAT THEY ARE ALL SUPPOSED TO BE SECRET AT THE START OF THE BOOK!!!

The heroine, Kira, is a thousand times better written than that criminally forgetful witless brat Emily from Hidden Agendas. She's a useless agent though. Seeing how the first time she sees any action she gets caught by the baddie and faints. I also didn't like the fact that she kept sympathising with evil drug baron Diego. A man who had annihilated most of his family in addition to building up his blood-drenched business. The fact is Diego had no conscience or moral compass. Authors who've had a relatively easy life should stay away from writing about this kind of dilemma.

Basically this book is about a bunch of nobodies thinking they are somebodies because they can name drop an alphabet soup of american agencies. FBI, DHS, DEA...SEALs. The setting is the latest sleazy isle of choice, Aruba. There is absolutely no tension whatsoever in the whole of the story. Which is probably why, despite the fact that is is only 350 pages long, sometimes I thought it would never ever end. What there is is pages and pages of love scenes. To give the author credit, there is quite a bit of variety in those scenes. My own favorite is the one where the hero and heroine were feeling up their own naked bodies in front of one another. Plus. For about a second it seemed the heroine might be giving the hero some anal. But that seems to be a variation too far even for the e-rotic market. I grew tired of the innumerable screaming orgasms. He grunts, she screams. Over and over again. (Yawn)

I kept losing sight of the plot. Ian agreed to become a drug baron like his Dad to prevent the dug cartel from being taken over by a terrorist called Sorrell. And to identify a spy within one of the agencies who is compromising the missions of his SEAL buddies. By the end of the story Sorrell is dead. But what about the spy? Or were Sorrell and the spy the same person? No idea really.

Another fundamental problem for me as a reader. The hero Ian has been a drug baron for a year. He sanctions the vicious torture of rivals. I don't care how often or how deeply he agonizes about his career. He's crossed the line. The author should have made him suffer a lot more. Believing Kira might have been killed at one point would have helped. Instead he got oodles of nookie with a beautiful knowledgeable woman, dressed nice and lived in luxury. Also too often, Ian stomped around the story banking his anger. Cool, calm and collected were not in his repertoire. Kira also had trouble holding onto her beliefs. One minute she's an agent for the DHS looking to betray Ian and keep Diego alive. The next minute she rationalizes that she's only a contract agent and Ian is her priority.

But the biggest mistake in the story is the sudden appearance of Teyha. Sorrell's lost daughter. Without her the novel would have gone on forever without a resolution. But she appeared out of nowhere. Not one mention of her character in the first two-thirds of the story. And unfortunately she had more guts and bravado than Kira.

Diego should have died...killed by a stray bullet in the final shootout. Which by the way was pathetic. Guns going off in a small enclosed space and no-one is injured!

This type of story is terribly ageing. I suppose somewhere along the line the publishers decided that the drugs business is exciting and romantic...for younger readers. Yuk. However I loved the way the characters speak. The author uses some big words too. Imperative...and perpetuate when she probably meant perpetrate. But I enjoyed the fact that she made the effort. Poorly proof-read though. Particularly for the last third of the novel.

Still. I'm quite interested in how Nathan's story will develop. Be nice to read a Lora novel where the hero already has a wife that he loves. (August is 3 months away)

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Night Rhythms by Charlene Teglia

This e-book cost $2.50. I didn't get my money's worth. It is not a novel, or even a novella. Basically the story is shorter than essay length. It took me one hour max to read. I downloaded 57 pages to Adobe. The story was finished by page 42. Even within those 42 pages there were huge spaces where one chapter ended before another began.

No story is told...just some situations are related. I don't like rock-star novels per se. Too much drink and drugs. Drinking impairs judgement when driving or interacting with other people; users promote the continuous brutalisation and intimidation of whole rural communities in the countries where the product is grown. The e-book is quite effective in Val's memories of Lisette but that's as far as it goes. Lisa is much too passive. Surprisingly she has no memories of dying alone and in pain from a miscarriage. She accepts Val's ridiculous explanations of reincarnation much too readily. This ultra-short e-book contains the line..."six months later" so the reader knows there is just no continuity whatsoever.

The synopsis of the e-book on the Samhain website is definitely better than the story itself. And the warning about explicit and graphic rumpy-pumpy is just laughable.

I only paid $2.50 but I still felt cheated because the ideas contained within the synopsis were quite interesting.

I'll avoid $2.50 e-books from now on. In fact it's put me off Samhain itself. I want proper e-books not kindergarten scribblings. I felt less hostile after reading Ben's Wildflower. Which although poorly written told a recognisable story. (And if you have ever read The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon you will know that the people depicted in Lynn's novel do actually exist.)

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Forthcoming picture links

I am now able to provide links for all my book-covers. Thanks to Blogger. (What took them so long?)

After deep extended thought. And to encourage readers to spread their money around the industry as a whole rather than just the usual suspects of am., b&n, etc. I have decided to link all my covers to the abe network via the fantasticfiction website. In theory I've nothing against used books although I've yet to buy one. But if I ever get round to ordering that Ruth Wind novel or Linda Castillo's Harlequin books I won't worry about newness. Legal minimum-cost websites are to be treasured...a bit like Blogger itself.

When I get round to it eventually.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Dead Reckoning by Linda Castillo

Don't bother with this one. Too much dumb crime plot. Only about 5 pages of romance. The heroine was rich, willful, self-obsessed before she was brutalised. And she continued rich, willful, self-obsessed ...and ineffectually vengeful after that nasty incident.

I need to point out that as an experienced reader once I realised what was happening, I did not read the parts of the plot written in italics. But I certainly recognised it for what is was...'brutalisation and gore' written solely for entertainment purposes.

It's not often I read a heroine who is so obviously disliked by the author that wrote her. Cripes! The pain Kate is subjected to is ...almost cartoonish. A couple of times I also thought she had some TSTL moments. Like when she doesn't connect the capital case to her stalker. Like when she actually goes to visit one of the main suspects in the case completely alone.

The plot itself is also lame-ass. Kate works all hours of the week and weekend on an open and shut capital case. Why? How would she have coped with a more problemmatic trial? Nearly all the baddies die when justice would have been better served by jailing them forevah. The denouement scene is totally laughable. Rooks doesn't try to kill Kate in Ferguson's home. No he takes her for a scenic tour of Dallas...to his very own high-rise. Up up to the nth floor and even then he can't kill a badly-injured unarmed defenceless female before the hero arrives and pumps about a gazillion bullets into him. The numbers involved in the 'peasant insurance' murders didn't add up. Rooks had over 400 convenience stores. That's a retail empire. He could have sold all the stores for more than the $10 mil he got for the murders. And oh. He still had cash to invest in a prestigious high-rise.

So many strands were left hanging. The heroine's relationship with her parents. They were right. The incident was due to Kate. She should feel guilty. But seeking a vengeance that she then couldn't go through with...what a waste of her years. And I wondered. Did she like her experience with low-life so much that she decided on a career that brought her into daily contact with that type of person?

The romance was also ludicrous. There was just no relationship development. The main couple hardly spent any time together. One minute she was trying to get him fired from the job, the next he turns out to be the first guy she humps in over 11 years.

It read like a 'by-the-numbers' series crime novella. Not worth the effort for romance fans.

A Touch of Minx by Suzanne Enoch

Heavens above. This novel is simply crammed with plot plot plot. Despite the fact that Avon have wisely changed it's genre tag from rom-sus to plain rom. It is, I think, the 4th or 5th in the Sam n Rick story arc. This is the one where he asks her to marry him. Sam hardly curses or gets injured. Her fundamental problem is not that she was a burglar but that she obviously hasn't paid any income tax for many years. The IRS will hunt her down for sure...eventually.

Because the main plot about recovering the Jap armor ends so peacefully and predictably the author probably felt obliged to suddenly insert a riduculous stalker sub-plot over two thirds of the way into the story. Presumably to get the readers adrenaline going. Didn't work with me. I read the novel all the way through. It was just about Ok. Almost vanilla. Completely acceptable series read though. Very easy on the brain. Not in the least controversial or offensive.

In many ways the parts of this novel are better than the impression of the whole of it. I just loved the set-up for Sam n Rick meeting at the Sailfish Club...and when Rick gives Sam the Godzilla toy...and when Donner accused Sam of corrupting his wife because she'd given him great sex the previous night. (That was some kind of genius scene that was) Other parts were just so lame...the Stoney thread...the Castillo thread. Even the anatomy-man thread. Their point was?

I also enjoyed being inside Rick's head. Like how he appreciates the heroine. Including his naughtly little habit of comparing his life with his ex, Patricia, to his current love for Sam. However I don't want the author to have Sam compare all her exes to Rick. I hope Rick gets his wish for children with Sam. I hope the readers get to see it too. One thing though. In the first novel in the series, Flirting With Danger, Rick was definitely 32 years old. A year later and he seems to be 35 yo. He should still only be 33...an excellent age for a romance hero.

Sam n Rick have a big argument in this novel. With her dressed in Vera Wang and him in Armani. Classy! Their issues were not entirely resolved..presumably like Eve n Roarke for further tensions in future novels..but I appreciated that neither of them screamed at each other. It was a bit pussy for Sam to threaten to leave...just to get Rick to back off. And it was good how he got rid of her backpack without her having a crazy hissy fit. Really both of them showed they have fully adult emotions...although the whole setup is still a bit stupid. (Burglar loves billionaire.) You can see how much I'm liking the books. :>)

Having said that. There's a big missing romance scene in the story...the night after Sam n Rick rob the Picaults's. Shame! I just hope this isn't the last in the series.

One of those romances where the guy does oral on the girl but she hardly seems to return the favour. And some of the language used is so no-class. ie the main couple 'hump', and the 'tits' word is used for the heroine's cleavage. But that's down to the writer and not Sam n Rick. (!!!)

Monday, 5 May 2008

Hidden Agendas by Lora Leigh

First I need to say that this novel is almost beyond my abilities to review. And to read. There's an underlying plot throughout. A drug baron has sent an assassin to kill or kidnap the heroine, a senator's daughter. But there are just so many diversions on the way to the denouement. The heroine has to lose her virginity willingly. The hero has to remember his roots and his dead wife. Then there's a useless side plot about using condoms (for all of two seconds) and having a baby. The reader has to witness boring political partying. We get to find out all about previous boyfriends, Charlie Benson and Deuter. I just lost the will to live at many points. Even the hot scenes didn't interest me. Some of the plot twists were just so ridiculous.

For me the fundamental problem is the character of the heroine, Emily. (Not that the hero is any better...just that there is less about him in the story.) She's been rescued from a kidnapping in which a member of a SEAL team died, witnessed another girl being raped and then, not only conveniently forgets about her experiences, but lives a life of somewhat sordid thrill-seeking. It made no sense at all. She doesn't suffer nightmares about the kidnapping or guilt for the girl and guy that died. She constantly bickers about nothing with her senator Dad. And is basically superficial and lightweight. She's supposed to be a school-teacher but all the people she socialises with in the story have been provided for her by her Dad. What about her co-teachers and pupil parents? If she really wanted some cheap thrills (which she gets by learning lap-dancing) she could have done some voluntary work with homeless youngsters.

The story takes ages to get going. In fact the relationship part of the novel is weak. Emily likes Kell, Kell likes Emily. After a while they bump and grind. But boy does she lead him a merry dance which involves plenty of screaming and posturing before they do it. Something to do with an over-protective relationship with her doting Dad. Emily is 25 years old but she feels guilty having a hickey on her neck when she goes to meet her father. And yes. He cross-examines her about it. Yuk.

And in the end the story turns out to be very nasty indeed. That stupid Emily. Those girls were relying on her to tell their story. But she didn't. Poor Risa was institutionalised by the monster that caused her brutalisation. She did remember. So why didn't Emily? Nathan was tortured for 18 months. And all because Emily refused to remember. I couldn't forgive her for that.

I know Kira survives to feature as the heroine in the sequel. But a shot to the heart?! And she doesn't retire nor is she invalided out of the service. How is that possible? Nor does it affect her desire to be laid by Ian.

Basically the novel is pure inbred southern gothic screaming melodrama. Everythings a crisis. I also felt embarrassed on behalf of competent SEALs everywhere. That their name is used in junk like this. DOD should think about registering trademarks.

Conclusion. Basically. Inconsistent characterisation and plotting. Not very good. Which didn't really come as a surprise. But the series is short so I'll probably be buying a few more.

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Woman On The Run by Lisa Marie Rice

Well this is interesting. On page after page the main couple Get Down To It with hardly a word between them. Because, actually, that is how the hero is written, uncommunicative. So the suspense plot is absolutely vital to the progression of the relationship. This is the first novel I have read where that is the case. Usually the suspense element of the plot turns out only to be a page filler that gets in the way of the portrayal of the main romance.

The story shows its e-book roots in that it is a very simple tale of love. Between two quite sophisticated people as it happens. Maybe I'm too sensitive but I thought it pretty horrible how close to death the heroine actually gets. Unusually only the missionary position is explored by the main couple and as always, size matters.

The other theme; how to transform a dying small town into a vibrant growing community. Heartwarming stuff I'm sure. The ending was total sweet corn. I just about refrained from puking.

I like romances that feature the hero or heroine being kind to mistreated animals.

Again. recommended.

.....and then I remembered how much I was charged for this paperback. Man! It is seriously overpriced for what it is. It isn't even HOT (much).

Ooooo!! I have just discovered that this is basically a re-write of a book called Pursued written by Elizabeth Jennings. Honestly! Authors are such tricky little beasts.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Flirting With Danger by Suzanne Enoch

I thoroughly enjoyed this restrained romance between burglar Samantha and billionaire Rick. Published in the Avon Romantic Suspense series which means there's a lot of 'who cares' plot which climaxes in a gobsmackingly violent denoument scene. The heroine gets her head battered repeatedly by the baddie. Unbelieveably she seems to make a complete recovery in just about 2 weeks. I felt all her pain even if she didn't.

There are no secondary romances (praise be) and reading Sam and Rick together was a nicely sensuous experience.

Sometimes I didn't really like how Samantha speaks but that wasn't a big concern. After all the story is set in Palm Beach and we all know the wives/girlfriends of Florida millionaires are foul-mouthed. Another point is that the brit lord, Rick Addison, is mostly portrayed as refined, rich and classy when towards the end of the novel he is shown to be mean and vengeful. Not to mention the fact that he was too dumb to notice that a long term employee and old friend were robbing him blind. The american heroine is too often called a no-class whore by other characters in the book when she's nothing of the sort. Also 'Mr Wonderful' Rick totally fails to protect Sam from harm. And he stops wearing 'body armor' after only 2 days into their biblical relationship. (try that with me sonny and see what happens.) What I liked is how Rick talks to Sam and how he talks about his feelings for her. Other reviewers have said that the main couple are basically 2 highly strung individuals who don't seem to belong together. But that's the aspect I enjoyed.

I feel obliged to add that the food the main, supposedly rich, couple eat is totally disgusting...fried chicken, pie, chicken and parmesan, endless sandwiches...guaranteed to turn them both into obese blimps within the next 5 years. Sometimes I had to work hard to stay with the character of the heroine and not hear the voice of a cynical west coast author.

With each twist and turn in the plot I kept asking myself 'Why does he stay with her,' or 'Why does she stay with him.' And I liked the fact that the answer wasn't necessarily 'He has money,' or 'She's beautiful and clever.'

I'm buying the rest of the series definitely.

In the end I read the story about 2 or 3 times. And each time I felt more sympathy for Sam, the burglar heroine. Ok, she's an unconvicted felon. But basically she goes through the whole story with some quite serious, deep cuts on her back and leg. Which she got when she protected Rick from the bomb blast. Yet she rarely complains nor does she allow her injuries to cramp her style. And she gets so emotional about having feelings for her guy. Lovely.

Plus. It's not her fellow criminals who are doing all the killing.

btw. In popular culture a beamer is not 'a James Bond car'....actually its a dealers vehicle of choice. On the other hand. Nice to read about the lure of the Bentley.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who's a bit bored by Eve n Roarke. Although other reviewers say it's not in the same class, I found it satisfyingly more emotional than the 'In Death' books. With no crappy Mavis n Delia-wannabes in sight. Nor the now slightly annoying futuristic setting. And absolutely no sermonising. Thank goodness.

Damnation by Nathalie Gray

Page 19 of a 124 page story “Now was not the time to indulge in carnal needs” I disagree. Page 19 was just the right time to get down to it for the first time. Oh well. Mind you later on. This novel contains a half-way decent vampire orgy. That was nice.

Earlier than half-way through the story I realised this was a stonking good read. On so many levels. Wow! Hot hot scenes. A very high body count. That still doesn’t make the reader lose sympathy with the hero. Omg. The hero isn’t even faithful to the heroine. And I still like him. The heroine isn’t a very nice person either. I think I love her! Wow! It’s a freedom fighter’s novel. It’s about a downtrodden minority Doing Something Proactive about their situation. Rather than waiting for a rich prince to fall in love and rescue them from hell. Am I making sense? No matter. Wow. Wow. Wow. Everything a vampire love-story should be. Have I used the word poignant? It is. Thank you Mrs Giggles for first bringing this author to my attention. I didn’t really like Feral. But this. This Damnation. Is amazing. Oral. Anal. A smattering of non-consenual guy on guy. (Don’t worry. The perp Dies) Tension, excitement. All in 124 pages. I thought skills like that were a thing of the past. I suppose I should use the word ‘futuristic’ as well. For a change it works quite well.

Ok. Calm down. Let’s discuss the heroine’s transformation from a ball-breaking ‘bitch from hell” to a revolutionary sympathiser. Was it believable? Let’s face it. Dawn basically transforms into a spineless puddle of gooey emotionality. Ahhh. Ugh.

Page 84. Things start to turn nasty. The heroine, Dawn, gets caught. I had to stop reading and go do some housework for a while. I just know the author will punish and humiliate her. It’s her style. Obviously there was some higher purpose to me reading Wolfsbane first. :>( On page 87 the heroine got captured. I couldn’t take the tension. So I decided to read from the ending backwards. (yesiamacoward)

But have no fear gentle reader. The plot gets resolved by page 104 and then it’s nothing but carnality all the way to the end. Lovely. I checked out page 107. No criticism intended. Just that my latest book package arrived at that very moment. I’ll return later.

Geez. What a fantastic read. Goes straight onto my recommended list.

p.s. sorry about all the repetition. I'll re-edit in the future. Obviously I got a bit excited about the fact that I actually enjoyed a novel after so much dross. And then there's the aforementioned book package....and I still have all the shopping and gardening to do! Pooh.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Wolfsbane by Nathalie Gray

Another e-novel. I read them much quicker than print novels. And they're usually shorter than print novels too. In a way I'm glad e-authors don't spend pages and pages on boring characterisations.

This is one nasty piece of work. Because it features a lot, repeat, a lot, of non-consensual activity. Plus a lot of brutality. The main couple are really two poor victimised human beings finding comfort in each other.

My main complaint is this. Ok. The two persons who perpetrate the non-consensual acts on the hero both deservedly die. But those in Amsterdam who subjected the heroine to various indignities get no punishment whatsoever. So unfair.

Wolfsbane is essentially an eerie twisted Grimm faery tale. Set in medieval times on continental europe it still reads like a very modern story.

On many levels Wolfsbane is sordid sordid sordid. What redeems it is the rock-solid belief of the main couple in the goodness of each other. Both the hero and heroine have endured physical outrage to their bodies for quite some time past. But neither of them are bitter nor filled with hatred. Although the hero is a werewolf his condition reads more like a serious illness that has marginalised him from most of society than a rage of blood and lust. In fact the main couple do not get it together until almost the final chapter.

The story is notable for the fact that the author plays a mean trick on the readers. It's like she's trying to punish those persons who like to read hot hot scenes. Bitch! But really. I bear no ill-will to her.

Quite a nice happy ending. Although that dim-wit Frederick lets himself be taken for a fool by the heroine, Scarlett. One day he'll learn.

imo EC incorrectly categorised this novel as e-rotic. It should be x-treme because of all the non-consensual stuff.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

The Unsung Hero by Suzanne Brockmann.

Oops! I'd better be polite.

Obviously this book is written by a hugely talented and mega-successful author. But it is not for me. And I wondered why. Probably the reason is this. I think it’s weird if you still have the hots for someone you last met 16 years ago. And it’s disrespectful of what they may have made of their life. I absolutely know that serial monogamy is the norm nowadays…you marry and divorce (or change partners) every 5 years or so...but unless the writing is excellent I’m not that keen on reading about it. Romance, commitment, loyalty, respect, fidelity are all part of the same package. This novel is not for people who subscribe to that kind of thinking.

But most importantly. It’s not really a romance. More a small-town adventure caper. Like a grown-up version of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys featuring the two old coots from the Muppet Show. And boring boring boring. Vanilla. Mainstream. Boring. Well written though I’ll admit. It’s just personal taste that I don’t like stories where characters bicker for pages and pages. Also it would take a lot of special special writing to make me accept a hero with male pattern hair loss.

Plus. Did I get this wrong. But there were a minimum of 3 courtships in this story. That's far too many. And each couple is a stereotype. Dork, SEAL, rich girl, coot; all cyphers. Everyone knows that like gets attracted to like. Especially in a small town. So all these couples manufactured purely to appeal to a diverse readership I found to be a construction too far.

I did finish the book. But no more. Give me interesting, stimulating, emotionally involving over successful any any day.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Confession Time

I've caved in. Because I'm grateful to adult authors who write entertaining books for grown-ups.

Not only am I buying Killer Secrets. Also Hidden Agendas. Of course Fire and Ice. (If only for the continuing adventures of Peter) And A.N. Other. But I haven't decided what yet. Maybe that Linda Castillo that nearly traumatised Rosario. Or a Christine Warren. She seems to get regular good reviews.

What's more. I'm quite excited about reading them tooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Demon's Kiss by Eve Silver

Childish poop.

Another trailer-park romance with a no-life, no money heroine going gaga over the hero's wealth. Cripes! She's 28-years old with no friends and working in a flea-pit motel. Of course. She's also a medical student. But then again. Aren't we all? (hur, hur)

There's a hilarious scene where the heroine is attacked by a demon. She feels about on the floor for some kind of weapon and finds...a thumbtack!!! So wtf is the point of the scene?? Seeing how the thumbtack doesn't even get used.

I strongly suspected the high poop factor from the names of the hero and his friends. Ciarran, Darqun and Javier. I bet 90% of the readers (including me) don't even know how to say Ciarran.

In the end I couldn't finish the novel. Mainly because of the character of the heroine. I admit to having had a fantasy when I was young. For about 2 days while I got used to a new school. That I was secretly 'very special' and that one day a rich handsome popstar guy would fall in love with me and whisk me away from my humdrum life. And this novel is that fantasy brought to life. Except that I would not have been as cloyingly, embarassingly grateful as the cringe-making 28-yo heroine, Clea, of this novel. And the hero is not a popstar but a sweet biker guy with dark shades; a fantastic motorbike; who probably practises a lop-sided grin daily in front of a mirror in order to look mean.

Clea obviously has so little going on in her life. Apart from grief at her grandmother's death. She can't even afford a nice cup of coffee. She gushes pathetically when the hero buys her three types of the frothy brew. Sometimes I got the impression that Ciarran with his fake fawning over the very ordinary Clea read more like a psychotic episode she was experiencing. A total delusion. Signifying 'special' mental health problems. Because the poor dear was in need of some positive strokes.

I felt sorry for her.

Also. Why is the novel called Demon's Kiss? The hero is a Sorcerer. The demons are ugly animal type creatures. I doubt if the heroine ever kisses one of them. Unless maybe they are also rich.

dnf.

Midnight Angel by Lisa Marie Rice

You know. I find it amazing how romance novels from minority publishers are able to address stimulating social issues in an entertaining manner in addition to including the obligatory hot hot earthy nookie.

Anyway. Midnight Angel. It's all about how big ugly Douglas and blind Allegra find true love. In the blink of an eye basically. Seeing how it's an Elloras Cave print novel. There's also a cracking good secondary plot about Allegra being stalked by a low-life killer on the orders of an imprisoned high-life killer.

The big let-down is that the psychological tension is built up very effectively but then the whole situation is resolved much too quickly. In the space of one chapter...because the author ran out of pages....because she spent too much time on the hot hot nookie between big Douglas and blind Allegra...and forgot about the suspense plot. Maybe a decent editor would have helped. On the other hand. Midnight Angel is a romance. So maybe that's the only plot that needed to be completed properly.

Not for one minute did I believe that the main couple have a long-lasting HEA. So much effort was put into depicting Douglas's ugliness. Allegra's gratitude will only last so long. Then it's 'Goodbye Douglas.' Poor man. One broken heart coming up.

The story also touches upon issues like what happens when a girl says 'No' to the men in her life. OMG. The author dares to talk about the political affiliations of the hero. I liked that. Then there's all that alpha, red, 3 o'clock stuff which I didn't understand but enjoyed reading through. Also the main couple have shared interests that bind them. Music, good food.

However. The heroine does unfortunately express some quite intolerant views about her blindness. No excuse. Seeing how she is probably not a Republican! tee hee. Plus Allegra hasn't even begun to feel any guilt about her part in the father's murder. Did she really have no idea that Corey was a psycho waiting to happen? Of course she did. That's why she asked her Pop to go with her to the contract-breaking meeting with Corey. Really another 2 or 3 chapters minimum should have been written in to make the novel a Stephen King-like tome.

Wow! That would have made a magnificent read. And successful too. I'm sure.

The character of Allegra is A Million Times Better than the Vile Dylan from Midnight Rising. Although in the interests of fairness I feel obliged to add both Allegra and Douglas are thoroughly amoral. Allegra because she fakes orgasms (understandable), fakes attraction (why?) and blatantly lies to Douglas about his looks (Acne scars are not 'beautiful.') Douglas because he contracts someone to kill Corey in jail.

A good hot stimulating read for anyone with more than basic education.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Midnight Rising by Lara Adrian

Geez. I cannot believe how much of a slimey amoral inconsiderate b.i.t.c.h. the heroine, Dylan is. She works as a tabloid journalist with her career going nowhere. And even when she did have a career in serious journalism she victimised a completely innocent man. So maybe her nasty nature was to be expected. And making her emotionally dependent on a cancer-ridden mom did nothing to redeem her in my eyes. Geez. The more I read about her the more I disliked her. Nor do I believe that Dylan is beautiful. Maybe a long time ago when she just started college. But not now. Not after working for years in scummy tabloid journalism. With all that smoke, alcohol, foul language and take-out meals. Even by her early 30s she’d have already mutated into a sexless geezer-gal. With about 100 notches on her bed-post. Why would Rio fall for someone like that?

Also. Until now this series has been relatively free of hookers. Unlike the BDB. I don’t find the idea of hookers interesting at all. Let alone do I want to read about them. As far as I can tell from newspapers, hookers are often old or ugly or addicts and prone to pass on social diseases. Often all four. Particularly in continental Europe. Why do people think they are suitable for romances with primarily a female readership? Ugh. (Plus in today's world it just doesn't work as a device for the good woman/bad woman divide. I've read too much about the poverty and brutality that being a hooker involves.) It's pathetic that this author (and her alter-ego) still circulate the stereotype that hookers are second-class citizens by definition.

Midnight Rising is put together in such a way that the heroine first admires the luxury, fine arts, good food of the Darkhaven. Only then does she become receptive to the charms of the hero. Gross! I suppose that the character of Dylan is supposed to be enough life-hardened not to be repulsed by the physical and emotional trauma experienced by Rio in the warehouse explosion. Trouble is. She has absolutely no empathy with anyone's situation but her own. She is transfixed by the thought of fame and money if she manages to get her vampire story into print. Nevermind the consequences for another person, Rio. Actually. Vile Dylan would make a perfect mate for ho-loving Sterling Chase.

In fact I’ve now gone off the whole series. Repeat appearances by lightweight hooker-loving wannabees like Chase, Reichen initially dimmed my enjoyment. And now this awful awful heroine. I will struggle to finish the novel. I probably won’t even bother. Rising is a 350-page novel but by page 150 the hero and heroine haven’t kissed nor are they hardly even friends. As a former reader of the series I do not want any more exposition of Breeds and their mates. I’ve read it all before. At all levels a reincarnated Eva would have made a much better heroine. With Rio falling in love with her all over again and her somehow atoning for what she did. I think I got suckered in by Kiss of Crimson which was a stonking good read. The others have been so so. I actively hated this novel.

I bought this book from the abe network which I accessed from the fantasticfiction website. It was sold as new and even with post and packaging seemed to work out cheaper than amazon. ABE seems to be an excellent seller so long as you buy one book at a time.

ps I have never met a hooker or a journalist. Nor did I ever aspire to become either. (Just thought I'd add that. Most of my 'knowledge' comes from documentaries and broadsheets.)