Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Taking Chloe by Anne Rainey

What was missing from Savas's Defiant Mistress is present in this story in spades. Yes, I'm talking hot hot hotness.

Unusually, I suppose, the hotness has a purpose in the novel. Presumably to show how much the married main couple really trust and love each other. What also comes across is the enormous amount of respect they have for each other. But Merrick was taking Chloe's respect for granted. So whenever Chloe says to Merrick, "I love you but I don't want to go back to living with you just yet" all the readers know it is only a matter of time before she does.

Actually I applaud Chloe for holding out for as long as she did. Even though it got on my nerves a little, seeing how she gave Merrick everything else...including her ass. It's like she was saying, "Yes, we have great sex but....our marriage problems are about more than that." God bless her. She sticks to her principles until she sees Merrick making some changes in his workaholic lifestyle. Yes, she listens sympathetically both when he explains the reason for his driven workstyle and his promises to change. But she waits until she witnesses that change before she goes back to living with him. And even then she persuades him to attend marriage counselling with her. In so many ways Chloe is such a sensible person who knows exactly what was going wrong in her work/life relationship with Merrick and is going to do her sensible utmost to see that it doesn't happen again. I loved the mix of eroticism and total grounding in the story.

Merrick does everything Chloe wants of him. He even shares his Business with her. What does he gain. Well. He misses out on the serial marriages of many successful guys...he gets to stick with the woman who he's happy to admit he loves forever. And of course he gets a family of his own even though he's quite nervous about having babies. We're talking beautiful planned pregnancy in this book. Rarer than snow in July when it comes to erotics and especially series romances.

Words fail to describe how unsordid the hotness truely is. The hero's little quirk in this story is that he likes to gaze at his wife's genitals and admire their beauty. Isn't that lovely? Everything else I've read many times before. Chloe is never in any sexual peril from anyone in the whole novel. Isn't that the function of a caveman? To protect his woman from unwanted advances. Merrick is completely able to fulfill that role. I loved how he was attracted to Chloe from the first time he met her...and knew she would come to mean a lot to him.

Chloe and Merrick are a lot more straightforward than Neely and Sebastian from SDM. But their romance is way more satisfactory. Mind you. I should tell Chloe and Merrick that the most uptodate response to making out in public is not "Get A Room!" but "How much would you like me to pay so I can stay and watch the show?" (I got the impression that despite their little effort both Merrick and Chloe would be totally scandalized by such a reaction. tee hee)

At only 72 pages, a great 2 night read.

A word of advice about the epilogue. Do Not Bother. It is horrendous. All the reader needs to know is that Chloe is going to have Merricks baby and they are both very very happy together.

The remainder of the epilogue is pure set up for the romances of the secondary characters in the story. The trouble is the reader is supposed to care about people who are given no character build up whatsoever. Grace, Nick, Jackson....isn't a bit weird how all the workers in Merricks Company fall for one another?

I am going to read Candy's story though.

Final conclusion for anyone who has any doubts...................................................................................

Good. Good. Good. Hot. Hot.Hot. Hot. Excellent. Excellent. Very fine. A+

......happily another crime free novel.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Deception by Sharon Cullen

From the same author that brought us Obsession.

Well. I enjoyed this novel. But, boy, does the heroine suffer.

First. Her live-in boyfriend of one year just vanishes off the face of the earth. That's the hero by the way. He's a secret agent and he returns to her about 18-months later because he gets into trouble and remembers that he loved her. It doen't change the fact that Kate was living with a guy who lied to her on a daily basis for over a years. Kate goes through emotional agonies when Luke disappears. Lots of people telling her he's an adult and maybe he just wanted out of the relationship.

Next. Completely unconnected. Kate is driving the car which is hit by another vehicle. And Kate's passenger, who is her heavily pregnant sister-in-law, dies! Of course, Kate suffers more agonies of guilt. With the result that she completely changes her lifestyle and appearance, apparently. She quits being a successful artist and becomes, like, a punkish barkeep! However I thought that her relationship with her brother was somewhat unbelievable considering what he lost. But he's probably being set up for a sequel. It had better be a minimum of 5 years in the future. That is the appropriate length of time to mourn the death of someone who you swore, before God, to "love, honor and obey for as long as you are alive."

The book is about how Luke returns to Kate and has to convince her that he loved her despite the lies and the fact that his spy boss is gunning for him because he saw something he shouldn't have. tbh Luke doesn't have to work very hard to win Kate back. Particularly once she's seen his spectacular houseboat in Tennessee. Because, yes, Luke is one of those spys with lots of money.

And finally. In the denouement. Kate takes a shot to the gut for Luke. And has to recover from serious surgery. Surgery that will probably affect her for many years to come. Of course he asks her to marry him. Jeez! What else could he do without looking like a total heel?

Why did the author do that to the heroine? Was it because she was safe in the homeland while Luke was being tortured in South America? In the book there is no description of Luke's torture. So the reader basically has to take his word about the beatings. Except that Luke's experiences hardly seem to affect him at all. Apart from anger that he was betrayed into the situation by his boss. So Kate seems to have had all the trauma and not Luke.

The spy story that Luke and Kate get involved in is pretty fantastical in all honesty. But that is the legacy of Ms Plame coming into the romance market. I found it quite entertaining even though it reaches deep into the beltway.

So after all. I enjoyed this novel....but not as good as Obsession. (Because Obsession is a lot more personal than Deception.)

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Savas's Defiant Mistress by Anne McAllister.

The title is completely misleading. The novel is 100% american. And the heroine, Neely, doesn't become the hero's girlfriend until Chapter 8 of a 10 chapter book.

This is a fantastic fantastic story...if you like romances about high-income good-looking main couples. The plot is excellent. There is no criminal activity whatsoever. No blood-sucking, murder, stalking or thieving. That makes a nice change. Also missing is the hotness. I was going to say that does not matter but that would not be the truth. Especially missing is the language that goes with the hotness. I actually enjoy reading that. But all that is missing from this novel. Just because the main couple are middle class doesn't mean they can't talk dirty about bump and grind.

The spice in the story comes entirely from the two times the hero, Sebastian, turns into a Complete Asshole. The first time is in Chapter 7. Brother! He is such a bastard to the heroine, Neely. He makes an accusation that comes entirely from his own sexism and professional prejudice. The only reason he gets away with it is because Neely puts him right straight away and he immediately apologises in a believable way. The second time is in Chapter 9 when he tells Neely that the condition for continuing their relationship is that she never works for his father. Believing that she betrays him if she even talks his dad. I just totally applaud Neely for the way she dealt with both situations. Sebastian is a very complicated character indeed. I can't make up my mind whether he actually likes all his shirt-tail relations at all or whether he is just determined to be as unlike his father as possible.

Sebastian has a couple of scenes of profound depression. The first when he's lying in the dark when Neely plays the violin. And then it was Completely Wrong how he was marginalised at his sister's wedding. Neely was right. Sebastian should have walked Vangie up the aisle. That was the most fitting way his family could have thanked him for all he'd done for them. I wanted to cry for Sebastian as I read that scene. Real high income extended families don't care a fig about normality. The clever author though immediately turned Sebastian into the bad guy when he resented his Dad making some moves on Neely during the wedding despite her going to so much trouble to communicate verbally and through her body language that she was 100% loyal to him alone.

I'm giving the impression that Neely doesn't have an interesting back story. She does. But she understands it better than Sebastian does his. And she had some happiness when her mom married John. Sebastian was always on the outside. Sebastian returns to Neely because he feels lonely without her. I also wanted him to realise that it was his relationship with Neely that would stop him turning into a carbon copy of his serial womanising father.

What I didn't really understand is how come Neely had so much less money than Sebastian. She is an award winning architect! Surely she could have afforded to buy the houseboat. Also. Is Neely really going to marry a guy who himself says that he is proud to be a carbon copy of her workaholic Dad? That is a conversation she should have had with herself...definitely. A bit less Lara and Max...a little more of Neely dealing with some insecurities would have been lovely. Although I think Sebastian will commit to his children.

The writing is very good. (Yes, its a series romance so it does have the usual quota of ickness...like Neely giving out mixed messages about her relationships with the older men in the story...like Sebastian not asking about what the other tenant in the houseboat was like...like Neely secretly going to work for her long-lost dead-beat Dad...and please...she ditches Sebastian and moves into his Dad's house. What kind of behaviour is that??? In a way. This story should have been about Neely. So really, unlike other reviewers I didn't think she was 'too sweet' at all. Plus. Let's face it, the way she off-loaded her pets onto people she hardly knew at all was pretty ruthless. To say nothing of the fact that she must have known Max had kicked Sebastian off the Carmody project because he wanted to promote his daughter's skills on a touchstone design commission. btw Sebastian is a millionaire in all but name. Happily though, no secret baby.) I'm putting it on my recommended list where it will stay unless I read it a few more times and decide the HEA is too fragile.

I bought it as an e-book from the Harlequin website. It downloaded in about 3 seconds flat. I was at first very suspicious of the speed but everything worked lovely. You need adobe digital editions though.

p.s. I haven't deserted print. I've got a big package on the way. Can't wait!

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Under Cover of Night by Charlene Roberts

I nearly died laughing early on in this e-novel. Undercover RCMP Lieutenant Emma Parris is meeting the gofer of an international jewel fence. She decides to use her real name because " it kept the lies down to a minimum and made things a lot less complicated." Actually. It might also completely blow her cover if the guy, Gerard, has any kind of search connections which is highly likely. Still I'm happy to be on familiar ground where the world is a completely safe place even for TSTL cop heroines so obviously in heat.

The story is set in France. Unfortunately not Paris but some tiny hick village. Why does a guy with 'big hands' and presumably more than enough cash, drive a tiny BMW Mini? They are gross. Only short short people can use them with any kind of comfort. The hero's vehicle of choice only reinforces the fact that he is not alpha-male material. However he is totally lovely all-in-all. Also. I had to keep checking Mr Butler's bio on IMDB. Just in case this story really was written by one of his legion of fan-girlies. That would just be too cringe-inducing for me to continue reading.

The heroine, Emma, from the get-go decides to try for a 'more personal relationship' with Gerard. So on their first date he pushes her dress up to her waist. Then she pulls it off over her head. But then...then she worries about doing the business with a criminal. (Please go figure) Happily those qualms don't last long and the next minute she's nicely enjoying herself. (Him too.)

I actually found the plot quite exciting. The pacing is excellent. Especially once it is revealed that Gerard knows exactly who he is dealing with in Emma and he turns out to be not what he is supposed to be. It's a pleasure to read of a guy who is not the least bit put out by a heroine who he admits can 'outfuck him.'

Sometimes it got a bit confusing as to when Emma was the undercover cop and when Emma was the masked jewel thief.

Other than that this e-book is great fun...it might even be called an enjoyable romp. The main couple are totally at ease with one another. And at ease with who they are despite both of them having challenging back stories. I loved their joie-de-vivre. Even when Gerry is asked to do something nasty to Emma, he tells her all about it ...after a little persuasion. I snorted at Gerry thinking he served in Afghanistan to 'help people.' (There's many explanations of the Nato presence...but 'helping people' is just simplistic. Let's hope they all come back safe like Gerry though.)

Lots of energetic normal bump and grind. tbh there are no surprises. And all problems are solved in the blink of an eye. No-one is in the slightest bit ruthless or psychotic. But I do wonder how those two will keep their relationship going. Part-time MI6...my left foot! Female inspectors in Interpol?! Never come across that before.

The cover is just slightly misleading in a 1970s Harlequin sort of way. Read the description of Emma and you'll see what I mean. Why do publishers still do that sort of thing?

Beauty Tempts The Beast by Leslie Dicken.

Divine was a poor abused fairly good-looking girl tempted into a night of lust by a rich englishman. If you believe that then you will enjoy this e-novel which at its heart is incredibly sordid and features a hero who for some reason needs only the most spurious excuse to victimise himself continuously for a number of years.

Ok. So Charles, the virgin, because he's getting married soon to a beautiful girl decides to get some practise in with his best-friend's chosen hooker. Fine. That is his decision to risk getting a dose of syphilis to pass onto his intended. However. He has one night with the hooker. Then the hooker slashes his face...and gets murdered. For some reason Charles thinks he did the deed and takes the hooker's baby to secretly raise it as his own!! And he gets incredibly possessive about the kid when in fact the little boy's rightful father would actually like to love the child...in his own particular way!! That is way too weird.

If ever a guy chose the wrong 2 best friends it has to be Charles. One is a sadist and the other commits murder because he is secretly in love with Charles. And Charles has absolutely no idea what is going on! He lets his home turn into a hovel...and basically vegetates in misery for the next seven years. (Lovely for the little boy I'm sure.) That guy is as dumb as a post!

I thought everyone in the story was more interesting than Charles...he is such a sap. Vivian basically has to give him some amateur psychoanalysis before he can understand what is going on...but it took her about 2 mins to sumise the true situation. I have to say. It was not very nice of Charles, to kick Martin off the cliff to his death. However then of course, there is no-one to claim Harry for his own. Unfortunately Charles now really is a murderer. (though I'm sure he's not capable of realising this.)

Vivian is just incidental...just the catalyst for the three stooges, Charles, Martin and John to work through their poisonous relationship. But who wins out in the end? The titled toff of course. Even though he's a few fries short of a happy meal. Pshaw! And what will happen when Harry is a few years older and he asks 'Who is my real Dad and what happened to him.' Don't try to tell me that Ashworth will make him his heir over any son he has with Vivian. That is unbelievable.

But what I say to Vivian and her mom is this. Trade, trade, trade. Don't believe the history books. Trade was always an option in those times. Just a lot of very hard work. But some people prefer an easy life...which was probably why the mom stayed with her violent gay husband.

A word about Martin. Yes. He's a repulsive slimeball. But what exactly does he do that's criminal? Vivian seems to have submitted to his disgusting attentions more than once. She should have run away a little sooner to successfully play the violated heroine. She wants Ashworth to solve the problem of Martin for her...but then gets cold feet..sort of. Nowadays women can get jailed for how Viv got Charles to kill Martin.

I laughed at Catherine and her bewilderment at Ashworth's attraction to Vivian. (It's called "youth" dearie.)

This novel features plenty of anger driven violence and general disrespect. And some bump and grind from the bad guy. But only minimal foreplay between the main couple. Mary obviously taught Charles a lot in that one night. More hotness between Vivian and Charles might have put all the lip-curling soullessness of the other relationships more into the background. At around 140 pages this story is much too long for what it is. It is also a bit retro in its portrayal of gay men all being nasty.

A very weird and miserable read that did absolutely nothing for the quality of my life. But it's quite interesting in a cold fish eye sort of way.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Terms of Surrender by Becky Barker

A very short and excellent e-romance. It is only 32 pages long but the author still was able to produce totally acceptable hotness and charactisation of the main couple. That takes some skill indeed.

Basically this is a reconciliation story. Cassie ditched Brody to earn a living as a rodeo rider. Two years later she's lonely and wants a home and family...with Brody. He of course is understandably bitter and will only take her back if she's totally subservient to him. Happily for Cassie, Brody is a thoroughly decent human being who she basically knows she can twist around her little finger. He isn't really cruel or hurtful to her in any way...even while he's angry about her behaviour. What Cassie doesn't tell Brody is that she's obviously made a pile of money from being on the circuit. After all. She buys the ranch next door to Brody's. (The little minx)

I like how Cassie is described as being free-spirited and beautiful. She acknowledges she made a mistake in leaving Brody and is prepared to grovel for a while. But Brody should also have apologised for being pig-headed when he didn't ask Cassie to marry him 2 years ago. In actual fact Cassie did nothing wrong. She obviously is a very talented and skilled rider. She made her fortune doing what she does best and decided to return home to marry her first love. How many times have I read (and enjoyed) romances where the male hero does just that??

Lovely sweet story without being in the slightest bit cute or cheesey.

p.s. I think e-romances are turning me into some kind of addict. They are so easy to buy and read. I'm not even reviewing all those I buy...just buy another if I don't like one.

p.p.s. I have also joined the re-reading gang. I have re-read (with total glee) Cold As Ice and Kiss of Midnight. I am totally bowled over by the complete political incorrectness and sky-high ick factor in both novels. Maybe that's what makes for obsessional love of a particular novel. Do you know. I actually spent a portion of yesterday trawling the net for 'news of zsadist and bella;' 'news of peter and genevieve.' I haven't yet got to the stage of 'news of superman and kat;' or 'news of dylan and skeeter;' but could easily do so with very little encouragement. I hereby state. I am totally at ease with my life at the moment. (Just absolutely aching for publication of Dangerous Passion though...august 4th....august 4th.)

Plagued by K.Z. Snow

Another excellent well-written e-romance with a lot of hot eroticism, particularly in the first half of the story. This is one of the few vampire novels where the hero and heroine end up a nice ordinary middle class couple. Because the hero loses his vampiric characteristics when he kills the evil vampire.

Being the sort of person I am, I really appreciated the descriptions of the Black Death and how it was utilised by Europe's Vampires. I didn't really understand all the Vampire tribe variations but that is completely irrelevant. The only scenes that I thought were a bit silly were the gay scenes between Jackson and Adin. They seemed out of place in the quite intense relationship between the main couple.

The heroine actually has friends, is unashamedly in the habit of having one night stands and doesn't seem to mind being pierced by 'the nail' for her blood. The hero is not fantastically rich...he earns a living as a translator..oh and he was originally born a jew. I have no idea why that fact was included in the story. Actually. I thought they were a very attractive couple.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Dear Sir I'm Yours by Joely Sue Burkhart

All this well-written e-book is, is a total tease that goes absolutely nowhere. It’s like the author knows she has chosen a somewhat dubious subject-matter but doesn’t want to be controversial.

It doesn’t help that the heroine, Rae, in chapter 14, as good as admits she let her abusive husband hurt her because she hated him and felt guilty about it. That’s the definition of a doormat surely.

And throughout the whole of the previous 13 chapters the hero, Conn, goes on and on about how he will do nothing to Rae without her knowing consent. And he doesn’t. Even by page 110 of a 170 page e-novel these two haven’t consummated their relationship. So what’s the point of the novel? To make up for the fact that he is aware he behaved inappropriately by giving her a spanking while she was his college student? Jeez. Give me a break! Suddenly I felt like saying. ‘Get on with it you two!’ No crime was committed. There’s such a thing as overcompensation. Plus. To be brutally honest. Conn groomed Rae in college and then he gets his granny to pay her 40 grand a year to be a ‘Property Manager.’ Hur hur. When basically he’s just treated Rae like she could be bought like some hooker. (or slave)...and he didn't get her consent for that either. So the only difference between Conn and Dick is that Conn is a very effective control freak whilst Dick was useless. And maybe both are what Rae likes.

The reader is treated to endless reminiscing from Conn about his Daddy, his brother, his sister. Miss Belle verges on the border of being voyeuristic. One salacious scene is constantly referred to but never actually depicted. This book reminds me of the fuss about Lady Chatterly’s Lover. Very controversial but when you read it, it’s B.O.R.I.N.G.

I was going to write a good review of this story. And then I got to Chapter 14, realised the main couple still hadn’t got down to it so I stopped reading. I felt I’d been hoodwinked into reading vanilla cack.

The cover is better than the story. Sniff.

p.s. I am of course being slightly unfair. It's a very good story with a nice happy ending. Lots of teasing sensuous scenes before at long last the main couple get down to it. Personally I really didn't understand the tying of the silk rope. I just really expected the novel to be something else entirely.

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley

These were the reasons why I hardly started this historical romance...let alone finished it.

1. Actually I don't really like the name 'Ian' for a romance hero.

2. Red haired guys do nothing for me.

3. Too many big shouting brothers too early on in the novel...so obviously being set up for sequels.

4. The sheer fantastical coincidence that Beth goes to Paris to paint and meets another Mackenzie brother.

5. Beth gets emotional about opera.

...and generally the whole noise and presence of what seemed like enormous numbers of characters made the novel seem more like a version of the rumbustious Pickwick Papers than an emotionally involving romance.

...but that's just my opinion.

Remember. I am not a professional reviewer. No way would I finish a book I don't like. No matter how good the reviews are. That's school stuff.