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 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 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.