Saturday, 30 May 2009

Smoke and Mirrors by Natasha Moore

...a guilty pleasure 88-page e-book.

What I liked most about this is the memories the main couple have about their times together when they were first young lovers. No idea why EC put book in the their 'Taboo' niche.

I almost accepted Alex's reason for leaving Gabrielle but was surprised that she didn't seem to have moved on emotionally. But this is what a poor guy has to do in order to marry the rich man's hard and grab every chance he can get.... Ten years isn't that long to make it as a magician in showbusiness imo. Some people work all their lives and never get to make it really big.

I thought Alex was quite honorable despite his behaviour with Gabrielle all those years ago. Although some honesty from him at the time would have helped the situation. But let's not forget that the story is set around show-business so normal codes of behaviour don't really apply.

Quite a joyful little novel really. Both the main couple essentially ready to give their relationship another try without harboring too many resentments. I loved the fact that Gabrielle's first job was being a magicians assistant...and then she settled for marketing. Ha!

The story is well written but the plot makes no sense. Either Robert Winslow despises Alex or he doesn't. What actually happens is that he seems to change his mind half way through the novel.

...and yes, some might say this story is very hot...takes about an hour to read through.

Expecting Dangerous Passion

...of course I've immediately returned to my copy of Dangerous Lover to find out where 'Drake' appeared. Basically he was the bad guy, Deaver's, supplier of various stuff he needed. Read about him mainly on page 195 to 203.

I'd also sorta forgotten just how steaming hot Dangerous Lover was. Totally fantastic. And how raw the language used by Deaver and Sanders was. I just love the fact that Deaver was essentially jealous of Jack and that fueled his resentment of him. And I'd forgotten how Caroline dedicated herself to her brother for so many years. She certainly deserved her happiness with Jack.

What a gobsmacking wonderful read Dangerous Lover was. btw I must one of the few LMR fans who didn't really like the Midnight series. It was Woman on the Run that started me gushing about LMR.

I hope Dangerous Passion isn't too 'romantic' (at the expense of eroticism) as she says in her interview. Decide for yourself. Available here.

Monday, 25 May 2009

A View To A Kiss by Caroline Linden idea what the title is all about.

A really interesting book although not for everyone. Because it features a political intrigue sub-plot. From a really boring period of history. Of another country even. Very well written. Or the book could be viewed as a mild 'Bourne' wannabe seeing how the hero is misinformed as to the true nature of his mission by his superiors and has to figure out the truth for himself. Mind you he was a bit thick about the horticultural letters that Crane was writing. The romance was so good there seemed to be too little of it. Fortunately the two threads in the book dove-tailed nicely towards the end of the story. Although I did struggle as to who was who in the resolution chapter which tbh features the generally reviled deux ex machina plot device...something which, like magic vaginas, I personally have no problem with. (Listen, if adults can go for Potter magic wands in their millions why quibble about shoe-horned HEAs?) Again only sporadic hotness. I could care less about Brandon, Angelique and Ian.

The trouble was both the hero and heroine were on the wrong side. I looked up 'Cato Street' on Wiki. As far as I could tell the conspiracy had its roots in ordinary people protesting about protectionism and political corruption. As is hinted in the story, significant numbers were starving. So why was Harry on the side of the establishment? How could he possibly accept Doncaster's offer of a 'pocket borough' when that is exactly the sort of thing people were protesting about?

Anyway I really enjoyed the portrayal of the heroine Mariah. She falls in love for the first time and lets nothing come between her and her chosen one. I liked how she saw through Harry's disguise as old Lord Wroth. Some great 'stolen moment' kissing. I'm so used to heroines in other novels regretting their first romance and moving onto a series of new guys that I really appreciated this portrayal of a young woman's trust and loyalty to her first love. Plus. There is a touch of realism in that I believe Mariah behaves exactly like a young heiress...not bothered who she hook's up with knowing parental money will sort everything out nicely. I think she'll make a great politician's wife. Harry however is bound to become disillusioned with the political process within 5 years imo.

Terrible cover again. The heroine has too modern a profile and looks to be about 10 years older than the hero. Who seems to have an unfortunate problem with his right eyelid.

I keep re-reading the 'good' all the scenes where Harry and Mariah meet and talk. And then all the chapters where the plot climbs to its climax! (Amazingly) Yes. The book has flaws (but who wants a perfect story); for instance, Harry loves Mariah because she's so very beautiful and I'm not sure Mariah would appreciate that. And yes. Harry is ambitious. But it also has excitement (the bomb under the carriage). I love a book where bits of it stick in my mind.

...I've got a little confused...suddenly I've read 2 good historicals in a row...I just hope my high standards (or my hormones) aren't slipping.

Busy busy little me.

I've been reviewing away like a little pro recently....


Nothing. NOTHING. Has come anywhere near the perfection that is Cold As Ice. I still absolutely love it. Although it has been at the top of my recommended list for nearly 2 years.

Currently I'm loving it because of the heroine's little death wish that makes an appearance in the first half of the story.

All girls know. Love and death go hand in hand...something very few authors are capable of writing about in a non-threatening kind of way.

Plus. I think I've got the postage thing worked out. Forget abe. Their people often send out the wrong books which is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE. Don't bother with amazon. It takes too long. Use amazon marketplace. Much faster than amazon. (Because I read old romances from other readers favorite lists I'm not too fussed about the condition of the novels.) That's what works for me.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Tempting Fate by Alissa Johnson

I'm still reading this book. But I have to mention that on page 147 the heroine, despite not being terribly rich and basically living with the hero and his family, tells him "I buy my own clothes."

Much better than the shameless Meg from the previous rubbish novel. However. There's no hotness in the story....

Wow! This is a really good historical. Totally because some thought has gone into the character of the heroine. Although she lives with the hero's family Mira still has some pride and basically looks forward to the day she inherits her father's money and can buy a little cottage and invite all the family who have shared their home with her for so long into her own little home. Ahh! Isn't that sweet. What is really enjoyable in the story is the initial verbal sparring between the main couple and how they manage their truce. I loved all that. I also completely empathised with Mira's shame at the venality of her uncle's life and her worry of how it would affect her relationship with Whit. I loved the passage where Mira allowed Whit his principles because he was rich but acknowledged that others less fortunate might have to compromise their values at various times. That probably explains why she had pre-marital nookie with Whit.

The 'heroine in danger' scenes towards the end of the book were also convincing. Unusually this novel contains a mother who wishes for nothing more than that the main couple should fall in love. But the way she goes about plotting the development of their relationship is truly astounding. As is the number of suspicious characters who turn out to be good-guys.

Mira's uncle was a disgusting piece of slime. Not because of any criminal activities (non-existent)...but because he impoverished his young niece and 'sold' her off to a creep. That's what life could be like for single females in those days. And Mira suffered real violence from Eppersly and Hartsinger. Poor girl. For much of the novel I got the sense that Mira balanced on the cusp of complete degradation and that provided more than enough tension and danger for me. (Even though thankfully she mostly remained unaware of her predicament.)

I've hardly mentioned the hero Whit. But what I liked about him is that once he realises he loves Mira, which is about two-thirds through the book, he immediately thinks of her as his wife. And that justifies the pre-marital relations between Mira and what is supposed to be an honorable man.

The main strength of the story though is the many and varied conversations and encounters between Mira and Whit. While I may bemoan the lack of hotness, in fact any more hotness would have actually been out of place within this story as it was written. The trouble is. Without 'hotness' many novels just end up being bland and I'm not sure that this isn't true for this story also.

This is an out of the ordinary historical with an unfortunately boring cover. I bought it because it popped up on my recommendations list on amazon. Imagine that!

At the end of the year this romance may end up on my recommended list. My only hesitation is that there is a power element in this relationship that Whit just doesn't acknowledge...although on the whole he also doesn't abuse it either.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Tempted by His Kiss by Tracy Ann Warren

Yuk. This was going to be another dnf but then I thought maybe I've been a bit fussy with my romances so I gave it another chance. More's the pity.

Let's just say that once Meg goes to live with Cade and his family the game of chess never makes another appearance. She started out as a fairly interesting independent heroine. That impression changed when she agreed to perpetrate the fraud on Cade's family and then when she agreed to let him buy her tons and tons of clothes. So she was hardly in a position to say no when he crept into her bedroom night after night to introduce her to 'new positions.' All that was just tawdry. Unfortunately the author also has Meg humiliated both by Everett, who basically said she was easily fooled, and then by Cade, who said she was an easy lay. Poor Meg. I felt her shame. But also I agreed with both the comments made by the guys. And then the author has her almost commit murder for the sake of the guy who had just insulted her. Meg still gives Cade her unconditional love!! In God's name, "Why?"

The trouble is that Cade doesn't actually talk that much to Meg during the novel. He escorts her to parties and shops but it's hard to see how the relationship develops. He is also a blockhead who doesn't seem to realise how much he hurt Meg with his words; and he is also too easily provoked to violence and led up the garden path by the so-called villain. No way could a character like Cade have been any kind of successful spy with the type of temperament he displays in the novel. And then there's the fact that even after he does her for the first time (due to 'loss of control') he states he can never marry Meg because of his guilt about Calida...pathetic cop-out.

Also. Didn't Meg have any friends of her own? Whatever. She never seems to look them up once she is esconced within the Byron family home. btw It is unimaginable that a dowager Duchess would allow a second son to install a woman who is effectively his mistress into the family home. I've never read that in a historical before.

Originally I stopped reading around Chapter 6. That's when the heroine, a single female in cod-regency times, goes into the bedroom of a man who is almost a stranger and let's him molest her ...because she likes him. Not a thought to call the servants to help Cade in his nightmare. And then when they consumate their relationship for the first time he lets her wake up alone the following morning to preserve appearances. Very sordid, although the penny never dropped for Meg. Still she got what she wanted. Marriage to a good-looking rich nobleman. Unfortunately the humiliations and general disrespect made it all seem decidedly unromantic to this reader. It's no big deal to marry a pig.

btw. There is no such word as 'shined.' The past tense of 'shine' is 'shone.' Anyone who's ever sung hymns knows that.

Very poor overall.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

In The Midnight Rain by Ruth Wind

Let's cut to the quick in true spoiler style. This story is about a woman in her late 20's finding out she has a dual heritage. I decided to accept that as it is written. So yes. We are in supposed worthy literature land. And in this place an author has to be quite careful imo. At the same time I'm not a reader who absorbs all the teeny tiny details in a's the general impression that I'm often left with.

So let's go. This novel manages to reference Gerard Butler (written before he gained '300' mega-stardom despite the fact that he has appeared in so much appalling cack both before and since), Tupac...and gob-smackingly astoundingly some character called 'Sambo' (a true wtf moment seeing how's I personally have never ever come across him in any fiction book in my whole life...other than when reading scathing tracts about life pre-MLK cornerstone speech...and I'm not too happy that I read it in this story either.) all in the space of a couple of pages towards the middle of the story. So on that level the book fails for me. Then later on there's this conversation that includes the words 'watermelon' and 'fried chicken' in the space of half a page. I didn't appreciate that either. I'd love to know the intended audience for this book.

The story just sags interminably for the middle half. The hero Blue is just too happy being maudlin and more importantly is basically irrelevant for much of the plot. Although I liked the detail about pets, music, orchids, it too is completely irrelevant to anything. Too much time is spent on repeatedly detailing Ellie's 'plainness' when actually her looks are also irrelevant to the successful life she leads. (Although with hindsight I think the author was trying to give the reader clues as to the outcome of Ellie's personal search.) What is the point of writing a love story where the heroine tells the hero that if he doesn't want to be with her she will keep an eye out for someone who does? Is that anything other than a notch on the bedpost of life?

Mabel gave up her baby son to the mother of the lover she shot dead. That would make sense if the lover had been some kind of upstanding citizen...but he was a total dog. Did she want her son to turn out the same way? And she gave up her music too!!! Fine. But then she continues living in the same small town under a different name! Childless and unmarried for 30-years. Without being bitter? I didn't get that either. Of course her story is potentially 100-times more interesting than that of serial lover Ellie. Also unfortunately I tend to totally loathe 'I'm having your baby and I can raise the child on my own' story-lines or even 'I'm having your baby and I'll run away so you can chase me' story-lines. The former is selfish, the latter is a form of bullying..neither are appropriate to a romance. And why did Blue go after Ellie...Marcus told him to and drove him there. So even as a romance this novel just died for me.

There is a lot of emotion in the novel but it's based too much around Ellie's particular issues about her previous love-life. A few conversations with Blue might have helped her and helped the reader see more of the relationship between the two of them.

And watching Ellie cast around for potential candidates to be her father turned out to be almost as boring as the never-ending cyphers featured in the Da Vinci Code. Just too many appetizers not enough real plot.

I could never recommend the Dave Brandstetter books by Joseph Hansen because although they are well-written many of the ethnic characters are basically kind stereotypes. And this novel is quite similar to that.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Night Angel by Renee Reeves

Something has gone terribly wrong with this book. It took me a little while to figure out what it was. And then suddenly I realised. The gratuitously salacious descriptions of Richard’s abuse of Morgan. (Who. By the way. Is a complete off the chart head-case.) Why does anyone put up with that kind of treatment if they don’t like it? And as far as I could tell from the fantasies, Nick wanted to do pretty much the same to Morgan as Richard had, but this time with her consent. Why would she give it??

I just didn’t get Morgan all round. She didn’t escape Richard. He conveniently got killed one day by a drunk-driver. If not. Morgan would still be in the marriage with him. And it struck me that what Morgan was looking for with Nick, was another abusive relationship. Well. She certainly chose a likely candidate. Actually. Morgan is like Zsadist. She doesn’t need a lover. She is in desperate need of some serious, serious therapy. Six years of an horrendous abusive marriage and she’s going to commit to another guy after just months of being single. Jeez. She’s like an addict looking for her next hit, so to speak.

One big reason Morgan needs a therapist is to teach her how to say no through her mouth not just in her head. There is one scene where Nick wants to make love in the morning but Morgan doesn’t. But she doesn’t tell him. She leaves it to Nick to guess from her expression that she’s too sore for the act. Sorry. That’s just too much self-martyrdom for me to understand. Why should Nick have to guess what she wants?? That constitutes unreasonable behaviour imo. Let’s not even go there about why she stayed with the husband for six years of hell. The week after the honeymoon is when she should have left him.

So the big question is. Why was Nick attracted to Morgan? Is it because she’s been scarred and abused like his rescue horses? And that’s where his particular talent lies…giving self-respect back to victimized beings? (I sure hope it’s not because having relations with abused horses is not acceptable unlike it’s very worthy to fall in love with an abused human being….I mean let’s not forget that Nick has done serious time inside…hur hur.)

I think what the author was trying to say is that Richard’s actions were only wrong because he did not gain consent from Morgan. And those same actions could give pleasure to Morgan if she gave the consent she withheld from Richard, her abusive husband. But that is plainly rubbish imo. Come to think of it, this story reminds me too too much of Ben’s Wildflower!!! And that is not a good thing at all!!!

I used to know a woman who told me up front she divorced her husband because he wanted too much from her in the bedroom. Even though he had a good job she was happy to walk out with nothing more than she brought in.

In the end I can’t recommend this novel. It’s just too gross-out weird. Yes. There’s a happy ending but there was too in Ben’s Wildflower. Plus. This is one of those erotics where they guy does all the ‘work’ so to speak…like he was a servant or something. He’s supposed to be happy that he gets his girl to scream. That’s hokum.

I would also like to say a word about abused animal sanctuaries and animal charities. Where was Nick’s funding coming from? Looking after groups of animals just eats up cash. And who is the biggest destroyer of unwanted animals…animal charities of course. Just be very aware of what’s going on. Good luck to Nick though. I sure hope his love for Morgan doesn’t conflict with his love of horses. She’s a very very needy person as far as I can tell.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Allie's Moon by Alexis Harrington

A fine example of a retro romance whose main purpose seems to be that it shows just how wonderful most modern females heroines really are.

The story features an evil female relative of the heroine, Allie. As a reader it gets just a little annoying that 90% of relatives featured in many romances are just so all-fired supportive of one another. Is it too much to ask that a couple of the wives of the BDB or the Breed might not like one another? It seems the answer is yes. (One of the many reason why I stopped reading both series ages ago.) Anyway, Olivia, the selfish sister in this story is a truly nasty piece of work. Why, she’s willing to get an innocent man hanged rather than see the heroine, Allie, happy. Boo!

Unfortunately. The story also features a device which I am glad to say most authors have abandoned. Although all relations are consensual, I couldn’t rid myself of the suspicion that what Allie experiences is a form of transference, or even gratitude. She is generally living such a dry life where for years she has sublimated all her emotions that really, anyone could have come along, shown her some affection, and she would probably have ‘fallen in love’ with him. Allie basically goes from being her sister’s go-for to being a housewife for her husband. Not that the husband isn’t a very nice hero indeed. But I wasn’t too sure that when times get tough, Jeff lacks some backbone. Whilst Allie, on the other hand is a person who delivers 200% when it matters most.

I quite enjoyed this romance. Not least because neither the hero nor heroine are hypocrites which is so often the case with historical romances. Not much hotness though.

…if this novel had been written in 2009, what would have happened is that Jeff would have been entranced by Olivia, leaving Allie free to pack up her carpet bag and head for the nearest big city where she would have become a successful shop-keeper, then fallen in love and married a mining tycoon’s drunk wayward son who’s feeling guilty because he thinks he caused a cave-in where miners died.

But that wouldn’t have made this romance any better though.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

The Mark of the Vampire Queen by Joey W. Hill

This was the biggest load of hokum tosh and twaddle I have read (right to the very end, tee hee) in a very long time. With half-baked literally pertentions that just serve to drag out the well-buried plot. About half of the endless bump and grind is unremittingly sordid and degrading to all participants. Jacob the hero, in other books, would be a class A creepy obsessive. I hadn't read the prequel but his fondness for servility was totally explained by the fact that he seems to have been a travelling carnival performer. The big insurection scene at the south american villa is almost comical in its absurdity.

But the saddest thing in the story is how the heroine, Lyssa changes. For most of the novel she's an arrogant, low-minded piece of nastiness. With her own home. Lots of nice cars and clothes too. Jeez. She even has her own territory where she offers sanctuary to other vampires. By the end of the book she has absolutely none of those things left. Basically homeless, without clothes, running wild in the deepest Appalachian forests. And often fearful.

Much of the novel is full of chatter between her and Jacob; mostly her telling him what to do. She talked to him through her mouth and through her mind. In the final chapter this once proud powerful female has almost no voice at all. All the author has her do is listen to Jacob's stupid prattle about how deep his love for her is.

Jacob doesn't even ask her permission to change her back into a human form. He should have! And the roles are reversed. Now he's the powerful vampire.While Lyssa is....well. Ordinary I suppose. Tears came to my eyes at how far she had fallen. Why would she, formerly a thousand year-old vampire queen, be happy with that for more than a microsecond? Anyway. Here's hoping the baby will live...unlike her first one.

The characteristic a reader needs to read this book is 'fortitude.' It takes forever for the plot to run its course. And why on earth choose the charisma-free aussie couple for the sequel??!! Australia is a land of light so how can it support a culture based on darkness??!! The author should have bit the bullet and gone wholly oriental. (You know I love the imagery of Throne of Blood...and that's even nothing about vampires.) have produced a much better review of this book than me. Although I'm not surprised it's absent from Mrs Giggles's site. She probably would have an apoplectic fit at the ending.

Not for everyone. I've ordered two very gentle romances as a result of reading MoVQ. Plus the prequel. (Oops. Should I have admitted that.)