Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Into The Crossfire by Lisa Marie Rice

Warning! Unlike many other reviewers I am going to give this book a totally glowing review! That is because (unfortunatley) I seem to be the only reader in the whole universe who appreciates its brilliance. So there.

A relatively short book with big print. All the action and the whole romance takes place over about 3 amazing days. Like. 3 days that changed Sam and Nicole's lives forever. Basically beautiful classy Nicole becomes the target for some chillingly ruthless tangos and uber-protector Sam rescues her. That's the plot.

When I first got the book I was so happy to be reading a Lisa Marie novel again (despite the fact that I hated the last one 'Desperate Drake') that I guess I was just too excited to read the story properly. And basically missed all the detail and subtleties that make, particularly, the romance work.

So 2 weeks after the first read, just as I was typing out another indifferent review I picked it up again...

Despite the story being quite short many pages are used to reinforce the notion that the hero, Sam, a big overwhelming type of guy would never never, under any circumstances harm or coerce a female in any kind of way. So all the info about Sam running some kind of Underground Network for survivors of spousal abuse has a purpose to convince the reader that the heroine, Nicole, never comes under any kind of pressure to sleep with Sam, apart from the call of her raging hormones.

In a way it didn't really matter for me because it was made clear throughout the novel that Sam was getting as much from being with Nicole as she was from being with him. If in the future they go their separate ways that's ok because they both made each other very happy for the time they were together. (I hope they don't break up though.) The reason I say this is because Sam and Nicole have completely different backstories.

Remember Jack from Dangerous Boiler? Well, Sam has some of his characteristics. In that he basically fell for Nicole from the first time he saw her. And engineered his entry and exit from his office to coincide with Nicole going into her office across the hall for the whole month after she rented it. And. He calls her 10/20 times after their one night stand together.(ie discretely obsessive.)

However Nicole is also totally effectively characterised. A reader is left in no doubt that she is capable of off-loading any guy she doesn't like. And having told Sam she has no time for romance in her life she then agrees to a one-night stand for no other reason than strong mutual attraction. Her hesitation at Sam's office door the following day is probably an indication that she would have come round to being with Sam in the future. Even without the cataclysmic events that happened next. Then of course there's the fact that although she was grateful to 'low-life' looking Sam she wouldn't have dreamt of going on a date with him if he hadn't told her he owned the successful security company across the hall from her office...AND had the Mayor of San Diego give him a character reference. (And what a standout scene that was!)

Absolutely without Sam there would be no more Nicole. She is riding a total cockamamie speeding juggernaut to oblivion. Not that she seems aware of it. First. She's about to be shot dead by tangos. Second. She's in danger of being brutalised by real low-lifes living in the rooming house across the street from her. Third. Her father's illness would probably have bankrupted her in the end. Sam rescues her from all three. But just so the average reader doesn't think that beautiful classy privileged Nicole gets off too easy, she gets physically thrown across a room by one of the bad guys. Which I thought was a horrible thing to happen to a romance heroine.

Again. All the bad guys, although somewhat cartoonish in a first read turn out to be very capable and horribly efficient people. Although I knew from the very beginning that everything would be all right I really felt Nicole's terror in the deserted warehouse. Mr Paul Preston had better meet a nasty painful death in the final Protectors novel.

Being me. I just totally loved the richness of the incidental details in the book. The references to Geneva, Lebanon, philosophy professors, Louis XV Philippe Starck consoles (huh?)...and Thuraya satellite cell phones. Thank you for sharing.

There's even an insignificant thread running from the beginning to the end of the book. I missed it on the first read. When Sam first saw Nicole he noticed her bare ring finger and thought that if she was his girl he'd buy her a huge stone to show other guys she was spoken for. In the final chapter, yup, he's the guy that's bought her the egg-sized diamond. This so-called short book even has space for a happy little epilogue.

Presumably Mike and Harry will be getting their own Protectors novels. I struggled on the first read with Sam calling them his 'brothers' when they clearly were not and the three guys didn't even serve together when they enlisted. I think the brotherhood idea is supposed to explain why Mike and Harry are willing to drop everything to help Sam rescue Nicole before she gets shot. Their presence allowed Sam to loose his cool a little without compromising the race to find Nicole. Most writers wouldn't bother with details like that.

There's also just the right amount of technology in the story and just the right amount of weapon use. There's 3 big love scenes and they are par for the course for the author. One of Sam's more unusual idiosyncracies is that he has quite good visualisation skills...along the lines of...what if this or that terrible thing happened to Nicole...Make of that what you will.

Lastly. Nicole can sometimes read as being too helpless. But what else could she do with her father's life at stake? I'm not a big fan of romance heroines being slaves to their parents but in this case the construct worked. Mainly because it was made clear that Nicole had already had a good life of her own and that caring for her father was a time-limited activity seeing how he was terminally ill. And she could think under pressure. It was she who discovered the file with the info about the tango target. Bless.

Of course, now, I keep reading my favorite pages over and over again.

It'll be 2011 before the next Protectors novel comes out. Shame! I absolutely loved this one. Hope you do too.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

More DNFs

Two ridiculous books. Both of which received good reviews on other sites. So readers might still enjoy them.

First. Untamed Rogue, Scandalous Mistress by Bronwyn Scott. Which means girl-friend and boy-friend are sleeping together almost from the beginning. I didn't really like it almost from the start. Perhaps because the hero, Crispin, is at a cross-roads in his life and doesn't know what to do with himself. Except he is absolutely sure he doesn't want to settle down with a wife and kids. But we all know he is going to be wedded by the end of this short novel. And the heroine, Aurora, declares ' I don't need a man.' Again. The whole novel is completely about her and a man, Crispin. What's more. Her attitude stems from the fact that she had been 'let down' by a guy (guys) in the past. Rather than from any sense of self-empowerment. She makes a living giving riding lessons to young women. And as far as I could tell was completely dependent on guys giving permission for their daughters and wives to have those lessons. Her name is Aurora but she is known as Rory to most people. So she's sort of pretending to be a guy. I lost interest in all her hypocritical posturing. The previous novel in this series had a wonderful background story of conniving murderous Russian tsarists. Nothing like that here.

Second. The Making of a Duchess by Shana Galen. A servant girl has to masquerade as a member of the aristocracy in order to discover if the hero, Luc, is a spy for France during the Napoleonic Wars. Utterly ridiculous. The heroine, Sarah, lives in the hero's house and spends her time searching through the rooms for evidence of his treason. Very early there's a scene where she pukes into a vase. Does she go to clean herself up? No. She drinks a cup of tea, offered by the hero who at the same time notices her full soft lips. Only in a novel could that happen. Any person with an ounce of sense would have been suspicious of a woman who had lived in Italy but couldn't speak Italian, couldn't dance, couldn't remember what was going on with her parents, Not the hero, Luc, though. Which made him more of a twit than her. I didn't really understand who Sarah's employer was. Northrup or the Mertons. Nor did she ever ask how the Widow had come to be shot. But it was the relentless snooping around in someone else's house and lying that eventually antagonised me. Why would Luc want to wed someone who behaved like that? Plus. Add in the plebian names of Luc's friends and the whole story seemed to be like reproduction of a Hogarth cartoon...full of fugly people doing fugly things. Not really helped by all the work that went into describing the heroine as borderline ugly at the start of the story. I just lost the motivation to read further than about page 122.

However. This story provides an interesting insight into the mind of a servant who believes she has no choice but to obey her employer in his wishes. Spying...betrayal...theft. She seemed to have no sense of right and wrong and was only worried about being made destitute. That was the power that the Church gave to ordinary men and women of those days. And that is partly why it became so powerful. It gave them morals and the power to say no to unreasonable requests. That's what I thought anyway.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Secrets of a Scandalous Bride by Sophie Nash

I absolutely did not like this story. Of the heroine, Elizabeth, making preparations to marry a man she hated all the whilst doing the deed with 'her one true love.' It didn't help that the bad guy, Pymm, was a national hero second only to Wellington at Waterloo. And the lover, Rowland Manning, seemed to have been a baddie in a previous novel written by the author.

Elizabeth was being blackmailed by Pymm because she received letters from her uncle, Napoleon's commander at Waterloo. Are you telling me that no-one else knew she was related to this soldier? And you know what? I myself might feel suspicious of Elizabeth in such circumstances. Elizabeth also believed that Pymm had used the cover of battle to murder her father. But there was very little development of that plot throughout the book. I have no idea why Pymm was so obsessed with Elizabeth. Nor was it explained why Elizabeth believed it was her fault that her father and Pierce Winters had been killed. Nor could I understand what on earth Sarah was doing in the plot, apart from maybe being prepared to be the heroine of the next book by the author. Why would anyone be interested in the plodding romance between granny Ata and Brownie. None of these side plots were ever developed in any way. Mysteries were dangled in front of the reader...and just be continued elsewhere. Was I supposed to care?

Sarah was going to pimp herself out to Pymm so that Rowland would get the money owed to him by the Cavalry. Why would she do that? She's met him about a week ago. It's not as though he saved her life or anything like that. Basically she just felt sorry for him for various reasons. There were too many references to Rowland's previous nasty deeds to his brother and the brother's fiance for a reader to feel that he deserved such a sacrifice. And just a thought. Maybe Pymm himself had also had a difficult upbringing. The reader was given no choice to decide who was the better person between him and Rowland.

It was good that Elizabeth understood all Rowland's strange habits and that he fell in love with her. But what they should have done is just eloped and then sailed to the colonies in the New World to start a life away from from the stultifying expectations of titled friends and relatives.

In the end it became increasingly painful to read of Elizabeth's deceptions to both Pymm and Rowland. For the sake of a lot of money? And as I said before, the reader basically had to take Elizabeth's word about the murder of her father. What was the evidence for that belief?

The characters in the book kept each other in the dark about their various motivations, the reader was kept in the dark about the many on-going threads in the book and in the end I was just exasperated with the whole story.

The big mistake in the plot is to make the friend of a national hero into a baddie. While the main couple seemed to be of no better character than him...a novel with no cultural heart.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Masked by Moonlight by Nancy Gideon

I skim-read this story after about chapter 3. Which is why I almost missed the part where the heroine, Charlotte, pistol-whips her guy, the hero Max. Because she thought her good friend, the conniving nun, had died. The next day he forgives her.

Yes it is so much that type of relationship between Max and Charlotte. They hump and declare their love for each other. A few pages later they lie and hide the truth from one another. Max, in particular, seems to have emerged from an abusive relationship with Jimmy, his common-law adoptive father, only to start another with Charlotte, who is basically wacko. Mind you, Max's servility to Jimmy is also pretty cringeing to read. An image of Norman Bates and his mom kept creeping into my mind.

Oh, and Charlotte is also a serving police detective. Unable to solve any crime until someone anonymous hands her a brown envelope full of incriminating evidence against some poor schmuck. I struggled to get over the construct of an officer of the law sleeping with a major hoodlum, her colleagues know and she is not suspended from work and is even allowed to investigate alleged crimes committed by her lover, Max.

The novel is set in New Orleans. Which almost explains the totally bonkers plot. A mash-up of grand-guignol and southern gothic. Featuring off page grisly murders, gang-rape and arson. Plus a few ick factors. Fairly entertaining if you like that sort of thing. But for me...less is more.

What went wrong...

Charlotte is called different names by the different people in her life. The author calls her Charlotte or CeCe completely interchangeably. Like she couldn't make up her mind about her character. She also got called Lottie and Ceece.

For a moment. I actually thought tough brainy police detective Charlotte was going to allow herself to be raped despite the fact she had a weapon and her attackers did not. Thank goodness Max saved her. Like she was some kind of simpering miss.

For the first half of the novel the reader can get the impression that Charlotte became a cop to pay back Legere for her brutalisation. I thought psych tests prevented that sort of person from being a cop. (Thankfully.) Anyway that thread was dumped when Jimmy got shot by his relative. (A complete anti-climax.) And it made the heroine look demented.

Why would a working police detective even want to dress 'almost like a hooker.'

For most of the novel Max is a tearful weenie. He's a grown man who has chosen servility. Yuk. And that part about how Max's mom started hooking to buy him shoes is utter bilge.

I hate to defend slime but spousal abuse is not a capital offense. And could be said to be a whole lot less serious than racketeering. Which is what Jimmy and Max were involved in.

Some scenes were just ludicrous...Max introducing Charlotte to all the gangsters. Charlotte stopping a fellow detective from questioning Max, in the police station, when they all knew she was sleeping with him. The woman had no shame.

Towards the end of the novel, Charlotte suddenly had a realisation of the conflict of interest between her job and her relationship with Max. Lasted about a microsecond.

The love scenes weren't very hot...or descriptive. They were more about athleticism than emotion. And Max seems to have developed a pash for Charlotte when he rescued her from the gang-rape. Ick!

I absolutely didn't get who killed Ben Spratt or why. Or why Mary-Kate felt she should also die. I realise that that was all sequel bait. But that wasn't really made clear either. Just so annoying.

Why did so many characters have french names? Was some insult intended upon cajuns?

...but as a big positive. A whole lot happens in quite a short book. And for readers who like unlikeable (cod) serial victim heroes and heroines it was actually an interesting story. A variation on the theme of 'its so bad its probably a best-seller.'

Friday, 16 July 2010

Eye of the Beholder by Jackie Weger

I've been re-reading some of the older romances on my faves list.

Arctic Enemy by Linda Harell has lost its lustre. The journalist heroine now seems media-standard selfish and self-serving. Although the setting itself and the story is very exciting.

However Eye of the Beholder is still just absolutely wonderful. It's basically the story of how stick thin, itinerant Phoebe gets her man, Gage Morgan. This novel is just so much full of love and family. If only real-life were this happy and straightforward. Phoebe and her folks have absolutely nothing. They have all lost their jobs at the cotton mill. So what does Phoebe do. No, she does not let her mom pimp her into an arranged marriage. Phoebe packs her younger brother and sister into a pickup and goes to look for work. Bless her. And bumps into miserable Gage Morgan, the hero. Although basically, the story is 80% per cent about Phoebe.

Jackie Weger wrote an even better romance. On a Wing and a Prayer. Also on my list. The hero of that story actually lived in a trailer. And he was still wonderful. One of the few romances where both the hero and the heroine had minimal material possessions. But the characters in both stories were pretty similar. Crochety hero. Optimistic heroine with a heart full of love for children. And of course the sassy granny.

I don't know why the media prefers to portray the american under-class as being scarey (Hills Have Eyes, Texas Chainsaw, Deliverance) or immoral (Bens Wildflower).

Most of Jackie's other romances were bog-standard middle-class stuff. As was she herself. But those two mentioned above are a couple of 22-carat gems. And the best way to view both Eye and Wing is as sublime Works of Art. Cos there's no way they were an easy write.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

The Forbidden Rose by Joanna Bourne

An absolutely astoundingly well-written romance novel. With some quite emotional bits. Not much bump and grind though. But that didn't matter so much. What there is is a lot of stress and tension. Because the story is set in the times of the French Revolution. And the reader often feels like bad karma is on the verge of steam-rolling over all the protagonists. So much so that as always in such cases I needed some reasurance that there would be a HEA for the main couple. So I skipped to the final chapter, particularly once William was imprisoned. You know what. I couldn't make heads or tails of what was going on in the final chapter when I first read it out of sequence. It doesn't really help that the main couple modify their names. So William morphs to Guillaume and Marguerite becomes Maggie. But in the final chapter she assumes the name Martine, and Suzette.

Be aware that this is a resolutely (cod) literary novel. Complete with full descriptions of the characters of a couple of donkeys. And frequent views into the head of the female lead. Which often come across as inane witterings. And the love scenes feature corny purple prose. Sometimes the plot momentum just comes to a grinding halt whilst the heroine gives herself up to her imaginery world. The opening chapter where she has a conversation with a rabbit is completely characteristic of who she is. Actually I did buy into the characters and considered Marguerite as the person who moves the plot along.

The villain, Victor is totally horrible. Really. He should have had his head chopped off. Presumably he didn't because the main couple had to be so wonderfully wonderful.In fact. Absolutely no-one dies. Baddie or goodie. And sometimes a reader could feel the hard work that went into making it so. So why put in a thirteen year old former hooker?

A couple of things made me squee. Too many of the secondary characters are minors who have had difficult lives. In particular there seems to be a thirteen year old former hooker (probably coerced). Although she is portrayed as thoroughly heroic I just thought her back-story was just too much of an ick-factor for me to appreciate her presence in the story. And I didn't like that she gave up her four-year old sister into the hands of strangers, even though they were the completely decent main couple who swore to love the child as their own. Just all too sad.

I didn't really understand Madame who was supposed to be French secret police. And quite menacing toward Justine with her stupid gifts of food and clothes. Who did she report to? Why did her boss not get at all involved in the plot. I also had no idea why William's father had treated him so badly when he was a chid. Even at the end of the novel I had no idea why finding Marguerite's father (and his list) would stop the assassinations. But that part of the plot certainly seemed very clever.

So. What is so good about the novel. Because it is very very good. The sense of impending doom. The fact that the hero places himself in danger to safe-guard the heroine. Some scenes are totally derivative of the Scarlet Pimpernel. As is the writing style. But that is a positive comment. Both the main couple will always plot and plan to lead innocent civilians away from an unjust certain death ie the guillotine...even at risk to their own lives. Bless them both. And yes. I believed Marguerite was capable of setting up and maintaining an organisation called La Fleche (The arrow)...after all..she had lots of money. Just observe how loyal people were to her. Going back to the first chapter. The fact that Marguerite was very very hungry and still let the trapped rabbit go free told me everything I wanted to know about her character...and that I would love it. But that's just me.

And of course I absolutely loved the relationship between Marguerite and William. Which was never abusive or domineering or disrespectful. But always mutually supportive. I especially loved it when William told Marguerite that he owed her every breath he breathed. (After she saved him from the guillotine.) Although his own idea of a forger adding powerful names onto Robspierre's list was probably as instrumental in saving his life as Marguerite's efforts.

btw I have read the Spymasters Lady where William made his first appearance. And long since forgotten it.

Absolutely fantastic. But probably not suitable for those with a short attention span.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Branded As Trouble by Lorelei James

First. Who is Buck McKay? In AJ's novel, Cowgirl Up, Kade's twin is named Kane. But in this story Kade's twin is named Buck. Or am I wrong?

This is one of the longer Rough Rider novels. And it is all all all Colt and India. Bickering, making up and humping, on and on for twenty-six chapters. The ending is good though.

Colt is a recovering alcholic and India is his sponsor in the program. So what the reader gets is a blow by blow account about how they change that relationship to a lasting romantic partnership. For the first 2 weeks they agree to just date platonically. That's very nice. But does a reader buy an erotic to read about the main couple watching movies together. tbh Not enough temptation to fall off the wagon was placed before either Colt or India to make the story gripping.

What exactly was his problem? He's probably the richest of the McKay brothers and completely independent of the family ranch if he wants to be. Yet for some reason he was resentful of the fact his birth family didn't show him enough love and appreciation...or so he thought. How come in the end his brothers and his Dad came around to say they had misjudged him but poor ol' Cam had to grovel in the grass in his novel?

I also struggled with India's back story. All her memories of her younger years were tied up in drugs and drug-guys and exchanging sex for drugs or to pay the rent. But compared to the difficulties Domini faced or even AJ it seemed India just made some bad life-style choices. I didn't really understand why she seemed ashamed of her tatts and piercings at various community events. At times her anxieties about her relationship with Colt made her read like doormat material. In fact choice of guys seemed more her problem than drink or drugs. The tattoing business was sometimes poor and it might have been more interesting to see what India would do if she couldn't pay the rent on her shop nowadays.

22-year old Macie wouldn't have dreamt of humping Carter without a condom. Sometimes she had to peel him off her body and order him to put one on. But the much more experienced India gets herself knocked up by Colt. She was such a chaotic personality. No wonder she couldn't handle her 3 adorable nieces.

For me this novel was just too middle class to be as enjoyable as some of the other Rough Rider stories.

btw I didn't read Colt offering to help Cam get that technologically advanced prosthetic. With all his gas money. So what's he got to bellyache about?

A Kiss to Kill by Nina Bruhns

Thoroughly awful. Total rubbish.

The back blurb says the story is about Gina and Gregg. However equal, if not more space is given to Rebel and Alex. And there's yet another couple Sarah and Wade.

This guy Wade deserves a special mention. All the female leads have either slept with him or want to sleep with him. Yes they all work together. And I thought. Eww. So Gina and Gregg, and Rebel and Alex is not about romance. It's about just moving onto the next guy. What's more all the characters work for agencies dedicated to keeping the US safe from tangos. But how can they be doing that effectively when they seem to be on some kind of carnal merry-go-round.

So now we come to the main flaw. The character of Gina. She was kidnapped, tortured and rescued. She blames her more current lover Gregg because he handed her over to the bad guys, in ignorance. So now she hates him and is dedicating her life to drawing him out of hiding so she can kill him. But what does she do when she meets him. She doesn't make any effort to harm him. She listens to him deny any part in her abuse...and then she totally believes him...because he was her lover and wouldn't betray her. Ok. Not particuarly smart but understandable. Never mind that she has trained for months to knife him dead. Gregg says he's innocent so it must be true. No other evidence required.

Of course the agency Gregg used to work for isn't quite so gullible, so he's still in hiding. Gregg stashes Gina in a hotel and advises her not to leave because the bad guys are probably looking to harm her still. So what does she do? She leaves the hotel room to get some ice for her freakin' house champagne. From that moment on I hated the stupid woman. Who by the way is supposed to have a doctorate. But there's more to come...and worse.

There's a traitor in the agencies that all the characters work for. A traitor who's feeding intel to the tango cell. At some point suspicion falls on Wade. And in an official briefing Gregg, Alex, Rebel, Alex's boss and Gina all discuss the evidence against Wade. So what happens. Wade calls on Gina. Who instead of behaving normally. This stupid woman blabs to Wade all about how the others suspect him of treason. Why? Why? Because he was her lover and can't possibly be guilty. Although there is a lot of circumstantial evidence against him. Praise be that the nation's security doesn't depend on half-wits like her. The thing is. As far as I could tell. Gina wasn't part of any black-ops team during the course of this book. So why was she there during the briefing? Because she used to be attached to the team before she was kidnapped, because Gregg was her lover, because Rebel is her good friend. See. There was no reason for Gina to be present at all.

In the end the author wants the reader to believe that Wade isn't a traitor. Except that he's being blackmailed to give out classified information. But he's giving it to another american so that makes it right. Wade is actually a case study of a traitor. It could be argued that the reason the prez was in any danger at all was because of Wade passing on info...about Gina...about STORM. Of course Gina forgives him. (Save me from this eejut.) Another thing about Gina is that she is so needy in the novel. Always on the verge of tears despite talking tough. I could completely understand why given what she suffered. But then she should have been in therapy. Not back with her old team getting stressed out on a daily basis.

Rebel and Alex have more pages in the first half of the story. Unfortunatley Alex is an agent with a tendency to get PTSD flashbacks in tight situations. I know it's supposed to make him loveable...but as a reader I thought he was one liability too many for an ongoing operation. There is a briefing that takes place between Rebel, Alex and their boss, Quinn. And without asking, the two guys expect Rebel, a perfectly competent agent, to make them coffee and sandwiches. Rebel actually fetches a ziploc bag for Quinn to put his sandwiches in. Yup. That's what happens when guys in the workplace start serially sharing the women around. Gross.

I hardly read any of the pages involving Sarah and Wade. He came across as just too slimey.

I did read the book to the end. If only in the hope of seeing Wade charged and jailed. Or even fired. No such luck. The final wtf moment involved the identity of the traitor. Where did this guy Tommy come from?? Was he mentioned at the start of the story? No way am I reading the book again.But in a way it doesn't matter. Because for the reader, Wade is the person who gave up classified info. He is the bad guy. It is a serious mistake to expect the reader not to hate his guts and not get angry that he faces absolutely no consequences for his actions.

On a minor note. Poor little me struggled for a while with all the obscure abbreviations in the novel. I can handle CIA, FBI and NSA. I'm ok on POTUS, CONUS, CSI. Trouble was. This novel had all those plus PMC, STORM, AFIS, NCVIC, SAC, ZU-NE, TOD, LT, BCD,...and still more. Mainly in the first half of the book. It just seemed like technical overload.

The love scenes were few and far between and seemed out of place generally. In fact the story worked better as a spy adventure than rom-sus. The relationships on view were just so icky.

btw. The first clue to the general stupidity of this novel comes early on. The tango cell are based on a yacht moored in Chesapeake Bay. The name of the yacht? Allah's Paradise. As if. Why not just put up a sign that reads 'Raid Me.' Just such a freaking stupid (and embarrassing) story. Don't even think of reading it if you are even the slightest bit patriotic.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Rode Hard and Put Up Wet by Lorelei James

Basically quite a sweet erotic romance featuring an older couple, Cash and Gemma, and a younger couple, Macie and Carter. All four live on Gemma's ranch; Cash and Gemma in the big house, Carter in a trailer and Macie in a camper. The boundaries between the two couples are strictly observed.

The best relationship in the novel is between Cash and his daughter Macie. These two are making an effort to get to know each other because Cash just wasn't around for any of Macie's growing up years. Actually Macie is a wonderful person. Beautiful, hard-working, completely unresentful about Cash's absence during her childhood, but somewhat conflicted about what she wants from life. She's probably too good for moody, self-centred, callous, exploitative Carter. Jack Donohue (the guy who will be Keely's husband) makes an appearance because he is basically Carter's best friend. He tells Macie that Carter is capably of causing Macie unintentional emotional pain...and that is exactly what he does when he shows Macie his portraits of her naked body. Carter offers Macie a threesome (with Jack) because she told him she had a fantasy about it (a gay fantasy). But she refuses because she says it was just a fantasy and she didn't want to make it real. A couple of times Carter really shows that he doesn't understand Macie at all. She's wasted on him. Macie had an irrational fear of thunderstorms which was somewhat trying at times. She and Carter have a huge amount of energy and go at it all over everywhere, in the open, in the car...repeatedly.

Gemma is quite happy when Cash provides her with another guy for a threesome. I loved it when Gemma actually asked Cash about his relationship with Macie's mom. And she did it to show that she cared about the relationship Cash was trying to build with Macie. Gemma could be an assertive lover with Cash.

I want to mention that both Cash and Macie have a Native-American heritage. In addition Cash is an ageing rodeo-rider who never quite made it to the big time. With all that implies. Cash, in particular, seems not to have had much luck in life before Gemma came along. Both Cash and Macie are portrayed very sympathetically. And if any reader takes offense I'd love to know the reason. For me it was exactly that background that made the story so poignant at times.

By the time Keely's story takes place both 48-year old Gemma and 22-year old Macie have a couple of kids with their guys.

Like I said. Very nice.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Cowgirl Up and Ride by Lorelei James

The story of 22-year old AJ and the oldest McKay son, 35-year old Cord.

AJ must be the only McKay wife who's had only one lover, Cord. And don't tell me former crack ho India, and Keely, who's had half the county don't gossip about that fact. Yes. It so much is that kind of town.

Cord and AJ's story is pretty straightforward. She propositions him. He accepts. They have 7 weeks to discover they love each other too. Before the return of Cord's little boy Ky who's staying with his mom. Somewhere. Cord's special nookie treat is that AJ is a massage therapy student, and he gets given the kind of 'therapy with extras' that most guys can only fantasize about. Hot hot hot.

Almost immediately alongside the main romance runs a side-story that charts another McKay brother, Colt's, descent into a sordid drink and carnal hell. With a gay orgy scene thrown in the mix. For Dag, the cousin. Who winds up dead. Imagine! And it is a very bleak picture of 3 macho guys sharing a house and just being so nihilistic. It turns out Cord had some Daddy issues that needed airing...

But the person I felt the most sympathy for was AJ. She turns out to be one of those heroines whose family use her like a servant. From the time she was about 13 to 22 years old, she basically did all the work on the family ranch. When her mom hurts her leg AJ postpones college to become a full-time carer. When her sister's marriage breaks up AJ is expected to share baby-sitting duties. And suddenly her mom is going to sell the ranch.

The reader really gets a feel for the saddness and insecurity AJ feels about losing her home. If anyone deserved a carefree fling with a guy her own age it was AJ. But what happens? She fixates on divorced 35 year old rancher and lone parent, Cord. Yes. In the end he gives her the wedding ring she thinks she wants. And how he wooed her was really sweet and all that. But. It might have been better for AJ if she got away from Sundance for a few years. Having kids straight aways and being stuck forever in a teeny-tiny 2-horse town is not easy for a lively young girl. In fact. AJ had more reason to become addicted to drink and drugs than Colt. But of course that doesn't happen.

Notwithstanding the fact that AJ and Cord get happily married. And Colt gets himself checked into rehab by the end of the novel. This is a much bleaker story than that of Cam and Domini. Still spellbinding though.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Shoulda Been a Cowboy by Lorelei James

I obsessed about this story from the moment I started reading it until about a week afterwards.

The heroine is Domini. A Ukranian immigrant who works as a short order cook in the local diner. (Think Carmen Kass.) Domini comes with some baggage. She had her uterus removed when she was a teenager. And that was after being attacked by a dog which resulted in some scarring when she was about 5 years old. And I thought, 'Why? Why does she have to have scars as well?' And the answer is of course to make her a believable love interest for maimed veteran Cam. It also gives her a reason for saying she's quite shy. Well maybe she is but when once she gets going with Cam, she ain't timid that's for sure.

The first 100 pages or so of the e-novel is about Cam and Domini overcoming some relationship difficulties whilst doing lots of smokin' hotness. And no. I did not skim read the hotness. (Unlike some weenies...who actually dare confess in public they read an erotic for the plot!!) There's even an experimental threesome that doesn't quite work out. But each of the Rough Rider stories features edgy nookie of some sort.

And then about half way through the novel the fostering side-plot is introduced. And Cam and Domini get married to give little Anton a home. The reader already knows they're in love but they just haven't spoken their feelings out loud to each other. This is where Domini shows the iron in her character because there is no doubt that she would have run with Anton if social services tried to place him with another couple.

Anyway. For a little while it did look as though the main couple would split up because Cam wasn't really committed and struggled to cope with a not very likeable Anton making kiddy messes and noises around his previously quiet and tidy home. Then comes this extraordinary scene where 7 year old Anton tries to attack Cam because he thinks he sees Cam hurting Domini when all he's doing is having a full body back cuddle with her. I thought. This is it. No way back for Cam and Anton. But the scene was handled so beautifully. None of the adults got angry or argued or had hysterics. Domini totally let Cam handle the situation so sensibly. It showed that neither Cam nor Dom had any trust issues between themselves. After that scene the reader knew everything was going to be ok for this little family. In fact by the end of Keely's story, All Jacked Up, Cam and Domini have 5 more young children all adopted from Romanian orphanages including lovely Liesl who has a physical impairment just like Cam's and for the same reason. Imagine!

However. I didn't really appreciate the fact that Cam had to eat all that humble pie at the family picnic. I mean. He's lost a limb, got other scarring. Wouldn't that make anyone a little withdrawn from his family and friends. He doesn't have PTSD. Instead of him apologising for being nervous and insecure about their reaction to his limb-loss they should be thanking the Good Lord that Cam came back ready to love. After all he'd been subtley eyeing Domini for over 2 years at the diner. The scene where Cam made it up with his family just went on too long. And was just too sentimental.

But again. That's the Rough Rider series. Dark, light and gooey. Absolutely fantastic.

I wikied Sundance, Wyoming. It really exists. With a population of around 800. You think if I go there for a vacation I might get to meet Cam and Dom and the kids? ;)

Monday, 31 May 2010

Skin Tight by Ava Gray

Credit where it's due. A brilliant job was done of explaining why Foster was so detached when he was with the hooker in the previous book Skin Game.

And it looks as though the series is devoloping into a Breed-lite clone. Except that Kyra from the first book, Skin Game, was not a product of Micor far as I remember.

Despite two name changes for the hero I just couldn't get emotionally involved in the plot. A big part of the problem was Foster's characterisation. In Skin Game for the most part he was the big manipulator...unafraid of even his mafia-connected boss, Serrano. Here he is more a conflicted victim of circumstance and his own guilt trip. There was no reason for his hatred of Micor labs since Foster was never inside them. Micor had nothing to do with the fact that his daughter Alexis lay brain dead for so many years. In the end Foster had nothing to do with the destruction of Micor...that was down to Taye and Gillie. Also. It took awhile for me to understand Foster's paranormal trait. I remember asking myself. 'Why would Foster expect Mia not to recognise him. I don't get it.'

And no way would an organisation like Micor hire an outside embezzlement consultant to chase down a few million bucks. When what they were doing was an outrage against humanity...kidnapping, serial murder, human experimentation without consent.

Nor did the character of the heroine make much sense. Why did she suddenly become so lacking in confidence about her own feminity? Plus. When Mia is captured by the bad guy, well, she just gives in too easy in colluding with his fantasy world where all his prisoners are his 'guests.' Even some token resitance would have been appreciated by this reader.

The trouble was. No matter how long those two would have been at Micor they were never going to get close to the labs.

In Skin Game, Kyra nicely resolved her own problems by killing Serrano. Foster and Mia are completely tangential to the destruction of the silo-lab. Skin Tight is basically over-written. Foster doesn't read like a romance hero at all. More the main guy in an angsty piece of womens fiction. I never got emotionally involved because I was never sure of who the characters were or where they were going.

But it is a perfectly acceptable read. And I will be buying the next in the series.

All Jacked Up by Lorelei James

I'm not saying this is a good write. But I loved this erotic e-read.

For much of the story it's pretty standard stuff. Jack and Keely think they don't like each other but they need each other for their respective careers so they shack up for a while, pretend to get engaged and become attracted to each other. But even then I loved Keely's huge family. The brothers, their wives, their kids. Adopted crippled kids from Romania, one-armed brothers, brothers who sculpt. All set in Wyoming. With some good but not particularly hot bump-and-grind. I really enjoyed the sex-toy scene though. But that was because the girl uses the toy on the guy for a change. And. Keely and Jack talk to each other. Sometimes not so nice but they communicate well. Which is why they do have a future together.

But once Jack took Keely into his 'architectural' world, well that's when I really started to get involved. Wow! That Martine. She was so nasty. And I was surprised how quietly Keely took her barbs. Like she was truely intimidated by the slick city bitch. What a curve-ball it was when Jack didn't get the project he wanted. While I didn't really like how he straight blamed Keely there was no doubt he was genuinely sorry afterwards.

This is a story with some themes. Country versus city. Family versus independence. Career versus happiness. None of which were resolved btw. But then why should they be. That's what life is about. No? There's a really bizarre scene at Jack and Keely's engagement party where about 4 of Keely's older brothers each in turn threaten to 'gut' Jack if he hurts Keely. Which is laughable really since Keely has had about half the county. And. Jack is best friends with Carter, the youngest of Keely's brother's. So the reader knows nothings gonna happen....unless you count trussing Jack up, heaving him into a pick-up bed to deliver to Keely. But that happens much later. Ha!

I hope the next story in the series shows that Jack's business thrives despite him losing the Milford project. And I hope he and Keely have lots of happiness together because they are very different people. Yup. I'll be reading the earlier stories too.

Basically. Unpretentious. Grounded. Very likeable.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

His At Night by Sherry Thomas

At the heart of this story is a completely malignant marital relationship. Between Edmund and Rachel Douglas. What I didn't understand or like is how Rachel comes out smelling of roses. Edmund basically terrorised the heroine, Elissande, for years. But it was Rachel who took away Elisande's identity. By telling her she was Edmund's daughter not his niece. One is as bad as the other. But somehow Rachel gets a happy ending. And it was Rachel who made Elisande feel so desperate that she basically pimped herself out. By the end of the book I absolutely hated Rachel. With her sudden recovery from her laudanum addiction. After placing her daughter in the position of a stool-counting servant for countless years. Yuk. Vere should have banished Rachel from his many homes.

For me. There was just too much underlying misery in the story. The way Vere treats Elissande is often very harsh. It sometimes seemed that Elissande had exchanged one tyrant for another. But that's what can happen when you just latch on to a complete stranger to be your protector. The book also contains a really miserable drunk consumation scene. Something that shouldn't really appear in a so-called romance nowadays. I liked the scenes when they were both pretending to be idiots. But there were just too few pages where they brought each other happiness. Especially very few happy nookie scenes. Even not many nice kissing scenes.

Basically the putrid relationship between uncle and aunt just took up too much of the book. I especially didn't appreciate the scenes where Edmund punched Elissande in the face. The two of them contributed to the enslavement of Elissande. And she should have been able to see that. Instead the reader gets an 'I love you Mommy - always and forever' scene. Charles Dickens always allowed the reader to recognise an evil emotionally manipulative parent. In this book we're supposed to empathise with her. It spoiled the story for me.

And. After spending about three quarters of the book (rightfully) despising Elissande, suddenly Vere had a change of heart. (coldly narrated in the third person)

Well-written. And heartless. Not that the reader will realise this until well over half-way into the book. Took me just 6 hours to read. That's because the writing style sucks the reader in. Only towards the final chapters does the reader realise that actually the story really isn't very nice...or romantic.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Reading Speeds

I've gone through a little spell where I've been reading whole books in about 2 days. Really. That's too fast to appreciate a novel properly. (But it certainly cuts down on the DNFs.)

So. I'm going back to a book a week. Except for e-books.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Her Last Chance by Michele Albert

Well. I will finish this book. But only because I was brought up to have good manners.

I just think the story, about minor art-thefts, is non-involving. And the characterisation of the main couple is very flat. Very little emotional content. The heroine, Claudia, chases after the hero, Vincent, almost desperately. Often he seems uninterested in what she's offering. And then when she's done the deed with him a number of times, Claudia isn't sure about having a real relationship with him, which he wants because he's portrayed as a totally decent sort of guy. There's no way these two can have more than a passing relationship because she has a job which takes her all over the US and even all over the world and he's an FBI guy. So what's the point?

Add to that. The fact that a number of chapters are devoted to the main bad guy (who within this story actually does nothing that merits him being called referenced as a 'bad -guy' and why on earth have him schleping around Vanessa who has all the appeal of a dead fish), the main couple from the previous book in the story arc( they do nothing in this story), and an ongoing story arc featuring Claudia's boss (who also does nothing). And I found I couldn't really stir up much interest in any of them.

Definitely not a romance. Sort of Suzanne Brockman...lite. And no. I wasn't hooked in to buy the preceding book in the series nor the sequel.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Wild Card: Reread

News Flash. I still love it to pieces. Can't belive Wild Card was published over a year ago. Who do I read it for? Probably for Nathan. His demons are more compulsive. And the plot has become something of a hot topic. Strangely. But mainly I read it for Nathan and Bella. My eyes still get all watery when I read the final two chapters. Imagine Grant's pain for so many years when he couldn't love his sons. I just loved how despite all the emotion, Nathan still used the opportunity to re-negotiate his marriage contract.

Wild Card is just so good. And. I don't think it contains one single typo. That bears repeating. Not one single incorrect edit. Or even one superfluous character. Consistent plotting. The bad guys stay bad. Just so brilliant to make the Sherrif's wife the mole.

Something else I really appreciated. Yes. Nathan has been through hell. And still bears mental and physical scars. But he knows (and the reader quickly comes to know) he is never going to hurt or disrespect Bella. In fact. She runs rings around him. There is absolutely no chance of Nathan 'going postal.' I loved that.

I remember gushing about Wild Card after my first read. Here.

Other stuff I like. Sabella remembers that Nathan, who for the remainder of the story completely fulfills his role as an alpha-hero was in the habit of 'pouting' when he was annoyed with her. That was such a cool description. I loved how Bella felt when she found out she was expecting. Because at that time she didn't know if Nathan would stay with her. Patrick was found 'gutted like a fish.' Now I wonder who did that? All thankfully done out of story. I also appreciated that the other members of Elite Ops treated Nathan with respect...and did not make light of the problems that he had due to that drug with that totally stupid name.

Why did Nathan stay away for 6 years? I have no idea. Other than what he says is the reason. And I completely believe him. Why did Sabella take 6 years to come out of mourning. Again I don't know. She never explained that. She must have loved Nathan deeply. Too much bump and grind? Actually I thought it was great. The angst it produced in Sabella was astounding. But doing it with him is how she showed Nathan he could trust her with all that he had become and that he was wrong to hide his new nature from her. And in the end there was no doubt in my mind that Noah was just as gentle to Sabella as Nathan had been. That's how I saw it anyway.

I'm so glad I placed Wild Card above Lover Awakened. Not least because Wild Card is all about Nathan and Sabella...not just a few chapters.

And as we all know. Their son is called Nate. Ahh.

I wish more people would give this type of novel good reviews...

I'm waiting for one more book to arrive. Then it's back to making more choices. Actually although sometimes I get a bit fed up with reading romances that I don't like I will always keep going because I know that there will be a writer out there who produces something that is going to be that extra bit special.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Letters from a Scarlett Lady by Emma Wildes

Phew. For a moment there I got quite hot under the collar while reading about Brianna's efforts to spice up her marriage to Colton. Phew. I got especially hot when Colton actually discusses what Brianna's doing to him in the bedroom with his brother Robert! Phew! And suddenly I realised exactly why the vanilla romance between Brianna's friend Rebecca and the aforementioned Robert is inserted with boring regularity between the chapters detailing the marital shenanigans of Brianna and Colton.

Because otherwise readers might have been lead to believe that a menage between the two brothers and Brianna was on the cards. And really. This just isn't that sort of book. At all!

Phew. After that so nauti flight of fancy my imagination settled down. To enjoy the story for what it was. Apart from about two-thirds through the book. When Brianna is expecting. Basically. In those times of No Birth Control, I reckon most wives would have been more than grateful for every nookie-less night their husbands gave them unless they wanted to a) considerably shorten their life-spans by b) having a child every 2 years...until they died.

So you see. An historical romance written entirely for the 21st century female.

Actually. Brianna was such a nice female. Yes. She was young and naive. But she had good friends and a very lovely life. Apart from Colton. I got the impression that no matter how he justified his actions, this guy was never going to change his behaviour. And good luck to Brianna with that. He stopped her from visiting her parents! She should have brained him! Not acquiesed. What she really wanted was her husband to talk to her, with her, about the weather, about his work, about his likes, about her likes...anything. Imagine. On a carriage trip he actually hardly even looked at her once. If Brianna had had any pride she would have been insulted. But what did she do? Got down to some more dirty bump and grind. Ho hum.

The romance between Rebecca and Robert was just not interesting enough to hold my attention. I wondered what else could have been inserted in its place. Maybe the reader could have been given some episodes of Colton and his tenant farmers or Colton and his factory workers and how they (and their children) depended on him being so involved in estate business so much. To the extent that he didn't understand that personal relationships are very important. Just a thought.

The novel is full of Lords and Ladies talking endlessly about nookie between one house party and the next ballroom dance. It was incredibly socially exclusive. And. Nothing. Happens.

However. It is an excellent thoroughly decent erotic read. By which I mean the main couple don't do anywhere near as much as a Lora Leigh couple but actually I thought the story was smokin' hot.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

The Earl's Forbidden Ward by Bronwyn Scott

Hmm. The heroine, Tessa, is 22-years old. The hero, Peyton is around 38. If you can handle that kind of age gap between the main couple then this novel is a totally stonking read.

I didn't even bother to do a character count because everyone who appears has a purpose and place in the plot. Characters remain consistent. So the bad guys actually get more dastardly and evil as the story progresses. Boy oh boy the hero is really made to suffer. The poor guy. Amazingly the heroine, a gun-toting diplomat's daughter does actually rescue the hero from a truely horrible situation.

The plot itself is just a beautiful piece of work. Even though I didn't really understand the importance of the list. But the way the issue was resolved to both Peyton's and Tessa's satisfaction was pure genius. I mean. Kind-hearted Tessa didn't want the Russian Revolutionaries to be slaughtered, and patriotic Peyton didn't want grunts to lose their lives needlessly. So they came up with a solution between themselves. That alone showed how suited they were as a main couple.

I also loved the historical detail. By which I mean, the visit to the market, the visit to the zoo, the visit to the art exhibition and the Whitehall setting.

The main couple are two people who don't really fight their mutual attraction despite being characters in an historical and I liked that. Together with the fact that Tessa can be quite prickly and defensive about what's good for herself and her sisters. Readers need to know that the hero, Peyton, is a conniving liar for much of the story. But once he knows that he loves and wants to marry Tessa, nothing but nothing is going to make him betray her trust. So don't be put off by the opening few pages which don't really show him in a good light. I don't think Tessa makes a single mistake throughout the novel and she's beautiful too. Yup. She's that perfect.

There's plenty of canoodling. A medium sized body count. Maybe Count Sergei got off too lightly. The title's a bit of a clunker though. Tessa is not at any time 'a ward' in the accepted sense of the word. Like I said. She's an intelligent adult and more than used to running a household for her dead father and being responsible for her younger sisters. What she is throughout the story is 'in danger.' So basically. It's an excellent little Harlequin adventure story. Please be aware that series romances can be an acquired taste. i.e ignore the back cover blurb.

Absolutely fantastic book...Apart from the cover which is too ordinary...And the authors name. Which makes me think of little ol' ladies writing romances for little ol' ladies. If this book hadn't received a good review from another site there is no way I would have even thought about buying it. The author's real name is Nikki. That's a much better name for an author. The hero's name isn't much good either. But never mind...he's a great guy.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

What Happens In London by Julia Quinn

Cor. May already.

I read this historical romance (about 17 named characters in a 400 page novel) in 12 hours. The question is, 'Why do some authors get good reviews while others get criticism?'

The story on offer is basically a rehash of 'Rendevous' by JAK which was probably written in 1996 or some other ancient era. A much inferior rehash.

Basically this book begins seriously depressive, becomes light-hearted about mid-way and ends up in slap-stick. As in madcap. As in farcical. Completely negating all the serious scenes in the story. From which you can tell that I didn't laugh when I was supposed to and just got annoyed. My bad.

The plot is just as full of holes as, say, Heat Seeker. With some identical weaknesses. Like turning the so called bad guy into a harmless guy half way through the novel. The Prince Alexei who tells Olivia he's like to rape her (in Russian) is not the same guy who listens enthralled to Sebastian as he acts out that ghastly 'story within a story' Ms Butterworth and the Mad Baron. I grew to hate that stupid novella.

Another piece of useless padding was all that stuff about the hero's father's relationship with alcohol. What purpose did that serve? It was completely irrelevant to the storyline? The hero Harry cleans up his Dad's puke 127 times. Did I really need to know that? Or how Harry changed his mind about going to college on a whim. Just totally irrelevant. And just why did Olivia's Mom leave her alone to be slobbered over by the Prince?

What was good about the story is how Olivia and Harry fall in love. That was nice. There is no way Olivia's aristocratic Dad would ever, ever have accepted Harry's proposal to his daughter. Harry has much less wealth and status. Olivia will be sneered at by many of her peers for marrying Harry. I only say that because in the story so much is written about the social positions of each of the main couple.

I didn't like how useless Harry is in finding Olivia when she is kidnapped. He acts completely irrationally and almost has fisticuffs with a guy who is basically harmless...that's the legacy of a drunk Dad of course. There is one scene of rumpy-pumpy in the whole story. It felt completely out of sync with the general tone of the book. Which is 'kisses' as AAR might say. It very much read like the hero was taking advantage of a naive ninny heroine.

In the end I felt let down because the story seemed to promise so much and actually delivered very little that was interesting. Like really neither of the main couple have any character at all. I mean the author goes out of her way to portray the heroine as have absolutely no attributes other than being beautiful. And loyal to her friends and family. Whilst the hero is basically disempowered by his family. Harry's behaviour after about the middle of the book turns out to be rather shabby and shallow. The hero's bff Sebastian is written way more interesting than Harry. But that's probably deliberate sequel baiting. When I think about it even the bodyguard Vladimir is more interesting than Harry.

I think Caroline Linden's View To A Kiss covers pretty much the same ground also.

But nothing can compare to the AWESOME 'Rendevous.'

Coincidentally. I think all three books have the same name for the hero. But only Rendevous writes the hero as being in control of his life. And only Rendevous gives the heroine any character at all. I thought Augusta was an absolutely marvellous creation. Particularly when she challenges her husband to a duel even though she has zilch fighting skills. Now that was meaningfully funny. It is also one of the few romances that portrays both the courtship and the married life of the main couple. Like I said. Awesome!

tbh Reading a novel like 'What Happens' makes me understand (and appreciate) the market for edgey erotica. RockOn Lora! al.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Her Vampire Husband by Michele Hauf

I hated this story. It will probably end up being a dnf for me.

Here is why.

An arranged marriage between a werewolf princess and a vampire clan chief. The heroine is deliberately written as an airhead. Rather like Emma in Hunger Like No Other. Unfortunately this one, Blu, comes across as very mean-spirited.

Ok. Its an arranged marriage. And she didn't want to go through with it but she had to because Daddy said so. Fine. Some females are like that. And she doesn't want to do any bump and grind because it's an arranged marriage. Fine. Even though she's had a previous partner right up until the wedding. Not that she loves him either. Thats cool.

A lot is made of the difference between werewolves and vampires in the story. And the werewolf princess thinks its cool to call the vampire all the nasty names she can think of. Well. One way to read the story is like it was an inter-racial marriage. So she calls her husband the n-word and herself the h-word. Is that nice? Is that clever?

I took all that on board. And made no judgements intially. After all its a werewolf and vampire story. Nothing else.

But then. Blu. Who doesn't like her new husband. Calls him names. Is generally disrespectful about his cultural habits. This Blu. Asks her husband if she can have some spending money. !!!! Puh-lese! That's where my judgemental self woke up. I felt embarrassed on behalf of the female population in general. And later on Blu trolls victims for Creed to bite. There's real-life serial killers with similar profiles to this main couple.

That's why I put the book down. And am unlikely to pick it up again.

Although I have figured out what the problem for me is. The spine of the book says 'paranormal romance' but it isn't. Its urban fantasy.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Heat Seeker by Lora Leigh

I enjoyed Heat Seeker (50+ named characters in a 300 page novel) even though about half-way through reading it I took time to set up a spreadsheet to list all the names and I read another novel, Heartbreaker by Linda Howard. (7 named characters.) between chapters. Just for comparison.

I very much like all the Elite Ops heroines, Sabella, Lilly and Bailey. (As opposed to the heroines of the previous SEALs series, who were mainly bat-crazy and delusional imo.) Although I think it is a shame that the series seems to have moved into socio-economic group A. The first book, Wild Card was set around a struggling gas station if I recall…and that was an absolute stonker.

Who is the arms-dealer and traitor Warbucks? That is the plot of Heat Seeker. Other reviewers have griped on about how Mary suddenly changes into Jules. I have to admit that was a cruise missile out of nowhere. Particularly during the denouement, within a couple of pages (321 to324), one minute the character is Mary, then she’s Jules, then she changes back to being called Mary. It is very very strange. However. There was a precursor to that craziness on page 71. In the course of one paragraph the reader is told Micah Sloan's real name is David Abijah, his current alias is Jerric Abbas but then the heroine Bailey refers to him as Mr Abdul and Azra. Later on Bailey calls him Garren Abijah. That’s six different names for one minor character. And even earlier, the hero is named John Vincent when he should still be Trent Daylen ie before the explosion that killed Timmons.

Actually even though I knew what to expect I still have to admit…I’ve never come across anything like it ever ever before. Are the publishers too scared of the author?

There’s more on the plus side in Heat Seeker. Some of the dialogue is great. Landon Roth gets told ‘release Bailey or you’ll die hard.’ And Bailey herself has a great response to John Vincent. The killer for me was towards the end, when Myron reveals that he’s helping Bailey, he says, “I’m old and tired. And I voted for our current president. I believe in him.” I laughed out loud at that. But was unexpectedly impressed by the throwaway line about Saddam. There’s plenty of hotness too. I suppose you could say the story gives the reader an insight into the world of illegal arms-trading and how it connects to the rich, powerful, and double-dealing agency staff. It’s all a bit too labyrinthine for me though.

The real weakness, I suppose, is things like Raymond Greer suddenly changing into a good guy half way through the story. So a totally new bad guy, Landon, has to be introduced to provide some action. Rodriquez presumably is suddenly put in for the same reason. And suddenly around page 230 Bailey is defending the four fathers where towards the beginning of the novel the reader is lead to believe that one of them is Warbucks. Otherwise the reader might get bored with all the pointless chatter going on. And the endless round of house parties. Not me though. I even enjoyed the final chapter discussion about that silly contract. Bailey came across as a very kind-hearted princess.

Let’s see. Elite Ops have official permission to terminate a rich powerful American citizen (suspected traitor of course), the gun-runner Warbucks…on American soil. Isn’t that a completely illegal activity? Isn’t that the kind of action that Jason Bourne and Pamela Landy objected to …the kind of action that got Agency Director Ezra Kramer fired in Bourne Ultimatum? In fact Travis and the team execute Rodriguez in cold blood. Bailey of course doesn’t know jack…she suspects everyone except the real Warbucks…I can only handle one red herring per novel not dozens while she flails around clueless. Plus she has to be rescued (by John Vincent) from the only two tight situations she finds herself in…with Landon and Alberto.

Yet somehow. Despite all the craziness. Maybe because of all the good parts. This is a perfectly readable and entertaining novel. Readers may like to know the first Bourne novel was a dnf for me because Bourne slaps Marie around. That certainly didn’t appear in the movies. The point I’m making is good novelists can have iffy things happen in their stories.

...begorrah! I'm reviewing Lora Leigh books again. I was under the impression that I had given her up. Probably do Maverick next.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Black Jack by Lora Leigh

I fully accept that this novel has been written by 'The Studio of Lora Leigh'. Similar to 'The Studio of Michelangelo' producing the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Italy. And yes. Lora's little group has produced an absolutely great story...with a few minor flaws (of course).... rather like those ghastly 'putti.'

Wow! They have borrowed ideas from 2 of my fave romances. Katya Deker being sent to the French psych hospital by her Senator Mom in Crazy Cool and the garage scene with Peter and Genevieve in Cold As Ice. Wow! How could I not like this novel?

Basically Black Jack is a romance between 2 English blue-bloods, set in the US. Huh! And it is a most joyous read. Particularly after the miserable dirge that was Fragile. I was most impressed by Travis's real name. Many writers of historical romances would struggle to come up with such an impressive moniker for a hero.

There may have been a million plot-holes and all sorts of craziness in the world around them but Lily and Travis remained rock-solid in their attraction to each other. Lily didn't so much as bat her eye-lashes at another guy. Although she was sporadically full of minor insecurities. And who can blame her. What with losing her memory...twice. Being shot in the head! Despite that both Lill and Travis are full of life and not afraid to (repeatedly) ride around on big bikes (no doubt bought with taxpayers cash...but that's ok by me for once) for no other reason than to meet for a night of bump and grind.

An added bonus was the presence of some of the characters from previous books...Morganna and her guy! I ask you...that's ancient history! Plus Wild Card. He actually gets to say a few lines. (More please)

The plot really starts about page 40. Other reviewers have called the earlier pages 'the prologue.' Signifying that it wasn't present on some versions of the e-book. The author probably did originally write that Lilly's Dad returned alive with the brother Jared. And then most likely changed her mind. Unfortunately all the references to the returned Dad in the final chapter haven't been sent to the rubbish bin. But this is a Lora Leigh book so experienced readers know to expect editorial craziness.tee hee.

It actually doesn't matter that Lily never fully recovers her memories...the girls know her as their sister and she relies heavily on her 'instincts' honed over the previous 6 years. I had no trouble with that. My only hitch of breath occurred when Angelica says 'For sure.' Most unlikely considering the way she is written. I was so impressed by how although Lily loves her Mom she absolutely does not allow her to influence her relationship with Travis. That alone shows she has some common sense and backbone. I tend to despise those romances (mainly historical) where a supposed gutsy heroine is basically a slave to her parents wishes. (ie marry a stranger for the sake of the family.) That's just me though.

...i'm probably going to go back and read Heat Seeker despite its bad rep. And So Should You!!! :)

Stuff I learned from reading Black Jack...

1. When a Lord dies his title goes to his brother. Despite the fact that the dead guy had a grown-up son. Total craziness at the very start of the story.

2. Paramilitary groups operate freely in the U.S.

3. You can have extensive facial reconstructive surgery and never feel any aches or pain or need to massage the affected area.

4. Hagerstown, Maryland is an epicentre of spy activity.

5. Elite Ops are the dumbest ever...the whole 'highly trained' group
couldn't spot Lilly going into the sports bar.

...or am I wrong?

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Fragile by Shiloh Walker

This is the book that spawned Broken. And it is a very twisted read. (And nowhere near as good as the slightly similar Obsession by Sharon Cullen...who needs to publish a new story soon please.)

Surely the heroine Devon was purposefully written as a serial victim. And really I couldn't see why such bad bad things keep happening to her. Even I questioned what was going on with her hallucinating about 'nasty' Luke. I couldn't make sense of it.

But. She also has good stuff happen. Being adopted by the Mannings, loving Luke, steady job, kicking her habit. Despite the description of Devon I thought she was one of those beautiful people who don't actually realise how pretty they are. Readers need to know she is seriously molested by more than one psycho during the course of the story. She is at her weakest when she doesn't know what is happening to her mind...that's when she kicks Luke out. But essentially she is a strong person...although what's the point of being strong when so much rubbish happens to her.

I hadn't a clue what was going on with Quinn or how he happened to show up just in time to save Luke and Devon. That was never really explained. The philosophy of Devon's life is to rely on luck to sort things out. Although she doesn't seem to realise that. It was great to read as the relationship developed between Luke and Devon. There's plenty of hot scenes between the pair of them. The story ends very abruptly...I think what happened was that the novel ended in the bedroom and then someone in the crit group probably whined 'But what about that poor guy Quinn?' and so we got the final scene between the three of them which goes absolutely nowhere.

Geez. Poor Danielle. I bet no follow-up book is written about her. That's what comes of being friends with a serial victim.

When I originally read the review of Fragile on Amazon I did actually reject it because I could guess just what Devon's 'troubled youth' entailed...going by the number of that type of book on the best-seller lists. But I was suckered into buying Fragile by reading Broken and I had forgotten what I read about Fragile.

Although the descriptions of Devon's underage-abuse are thankfully sparse I didn't really enjoy reading about how disrespectfully she was treated by Curtis and Tony. I think I would have preferred it if Devon had been more of a devious fighter...and had managed to prevent at least one of those 3 nasty incidents from taking place..(the one with Curtis preferably because then maybe the completely innocent Danielle might not have been hurt so bad.) She should also have recognised a crap shrink for what she was. She should have told Luke the name of Tim's Dad and what she knew about his background. And. The times Devon felt afraid to go into her own house, that's when she should have rung Luke and suggested they move into his condo. If the nightmares had continued then she could have suspected him. Having said all that I have to ask 'What good was Luke in the story?' Cos all he actually did was ring the cops when Curtis was already dead anyway. And so we come to the important question. Is Devon addicted to being a victim? And is that what drives Luke to her? Many times during the course of the story he admits he's an adrenaline junkie. If Luke had really cared he would have advised Devon to 'Carry A Weapon At All Times.'

Also. I have no idea about what was going on with Quinn, Luke and Tony's Unit. Or why Tony went crazy. Read totally like opsec paranoia to me.

In the final analysis the novel was a bit strong (and indecipherable) for me. In fact I wish I hadn't read it. But many other readers will probably be very impressed with the story.

I first read a book like this from one of my favorite male authors. Now deceased. It was like he came to hate most of the characters he had spent about 10 years creating and fleshing out. And so towards the end of his life he just wrote about bad things happening to them. For me its like watching someone bully helpless people. Not very edifying at all. So in the end, I know exactly who to blame for what kept happening to Devon. Shame On You!

p.s. I know I sound completely crazy. But it's a genuine heartfelt protest.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Broken by Shiloh Walker

Well...What I say is this. In a story full of characters with names like Quinn, Don, Sara and James, why introduce a character who is basically raped and beaten to death and call her Elena. Her only function is to highlight Quinn's supposed inability to express his emotions to people he wants to care about. But that's just me and my my capacity as CEO of the Society for the Protection of Minor Characters.

Basically I suppose this is Quinn's story. His main parent for most of his youth was a drunk, foul-mouthed mother. So it's understandable that he's not really confident in making relationships. I suppose. But. Something that Quinn does have is a wonderful fairy godmother. So when his mom dies he is whisked off to a rich rancher Dad. And then at the end of the story (spoiler alert) incredibly the main bad-guy dies by his own hand, so Quinn gets his girl. Lucky ol' Quinn.

For me the trouble with the story was Sara. And how the reader is led to believe that she is an abused wife. Because then it would seem that Sara is having a relationship with a new guy Quinn when she hasn't resolved the poisonous relationship with her abusive guy. And she's certainly picked what looks like another controller in Quinn. He programs her cell phone number into his cell without telling her; he shows up at her place of work when she hasn't actually told him where she works.

Despite all that I ended up feeling sorry for Quinn. Because I would say that Sam is not a good relationship for him. Sam is in fact pretending to be Sara to lay a false trail for Sara's abusive husband. There is no way the mindset of the sister of a marital abuse victim would in any way be the same as that of the abuse victim herself. But that is what the reader is lead to believe. Or so it seemed to me. It was just ridiculous that after all his threats, James decided to take his own life and so leave everyone free to carry on happily ever after. (With Sara being the ultra-rich widow seeing how she was still married to James at the time of his death.) Sam totally played Quinn and she should have been made to grovel some. I don't remember coming across a heroine who absolutely refuses to trust the hero with any relevant information at all.

From almost the beginning this book totally read like it was the minor character follow-up of a successful novel. Good luck to Quinn as he watches the lovely Sam change back into a blimp now that she doesn't have to run anymore. Actually he'll probably be very happy with such a completely normal relationship.

What I enjoyed most about the story was that the main characters worked blue-collar jobs and that Quinn thought in terms of his (and Sam's) future when he took that high-paying job.

Not to be compared to Tate and Matt in Lauren Dane's novel ....Chase. But an interesting read anyhow.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Soulless by Gail Carriger

Not a good read.

Why. Because it features quite a nasty human experimentation sub-plot which adds an unexpected and unwelcome gore/horror element. Because it introduces stuff which turn out to be completely irrelevant. Like the parasol. And the octopus device. Because the heroine, Alexia spends a lot of time complaining about the dark color of her skin. But that is also an irrelevancy. Endless pages are spent describing the interior decorations of each house Alexia visits. Totally irrelevant. Giving many characters silly names doesn't constitute wit either.

And not least because it is set in a kind of alternative reality in Victorian times where everything but the kitchen sink, including the presence of Queen Victoria herself, is thrown into the plot. Lots of things made no sense. How could all those vampires and werewolves be captured so easily by the scientists? I couldn't detect anything alpha about Maccon. Often he read as little more than a buffoon. Just why did Alexia stay with a family who denied her a coming-out season because of her color?

Unfortunately the romance is weak. By the third book in the series the heroine has left her husband. But actually the heroine herself is a passive pain. She's one of those (inexplicably popular recently) hero types who relies on people around her to save her and get hurt. She does very little herself. Other than 'be special.' And be hypercritical of herself and most of the other females in the story. I kept waiting for Alexia to 'solve the mystery.' But it's the minor characters who do all that. Completely off-book. Instead the reader is forced to read page after page of out-dated pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo.Also. For some reason I've developed an instinctive dislike of happy-clappy servants who just love their masters. There's a whole gaggle of them in this book.

The novel is 'steam-punk' and so so clever it's up its own end. Waste of time really.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

How Can This Be?!

When last I trawled the internet for news of Loose Ends by Tara Janzen the publish date was August 2010.

Now I read that the date has been put back to January 2011!!!!

That is completely ridiculous.

Why put out one date and then change it to another one that is over six months later?

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Skin Game by Ava Gray

I absolutely loved this story. From chapter 2 onwards. Can you believe it?

It's the story of a romance between an grifter and a killer for hire. You would think that both these types were much too cynical to, ahem, 'fall in love' but that is exactly what happens. And I totally believed in the romance as it unfolded. Because when either one of the main couple, Kyra Marie and Reyes feels rejected or ignored by the other, they feel miserable and want to cry. I even accepted the totally ridiculous paranormal thread that runs throughout the novel. Can you believe at a couple of points in the story I had to take a tea-break because the tension was getting to me! There are of course secondary characters, Foster and Mia and I was even interested in how they were doing. I thought the bad guy, Serrano was a nasty piece of work. Yes. There's a lot of shooting and killing in the story. But it doesn't happen to innocent bystanders...just criminals.

Much of the novel is basically a road trip where the main couple learn stuff about each other...even though neither is exactly the talkative type. Get this. The hero, Reyes, like Kade in Shades of Midnight, also has some issues with a deadbeat Dad. But he has worked through them in an entirely realistic way. Kyra on the other hand still looks at her own crappy father with rose-tinted glasses. But at the end of the novel even she consciously lets go of the ties she still had to her life with her Dad. Reyes talked about 'Dad's who put their own pleasure before the welfare of their kids.' I loved all that. (Mainly because I see many Moms who do exactly the same thing.) And then there's a throwaway line about the 'Pretty Woman' movie. Condemning it for making prostitution seem like a fairy-tale. I loved that too.

Geez. The heroine, Kyra. Has. Never. Been. To. School. I absolutely loved her character and attitude. Geez. She actually read through much of 'A Hundred Years of Solitude.' I also loved how she treats Reyes once she discovers he's been lying his head off to her. Make no mistake though. Everyone in the novel. Has Money.

What didn't ring true was how she was going to trust her millions to her friend Mia. I was also quite amazed how much killing Kyra does without any kind of hesitation.

tbh. There were some gaping plot holes. I didn't really understand why Serrano took Snow to Switzerland, killed him, and then think no-one would suspect him. Also. I didn't really understand how Kyra relieved Serrano of all that money. She said she only did one-night stands; does that mean she had a non-biblical relationship with Serrano. Is that really likely?

btw. I suspected I would like this story as I read the scene where Kyra checks into a dive motel and examines the water jug for signs of meth cooking. I just love cool refs in contemporary romances.

Best read of the year so far.

p.s. I have now read some of the other reviews of this novel. One of the reasons I am not bothered by Kyra's and Reye's moral justifications of who they victimise is that, well, they are both hardened criminals. Their real mantra, which is also touched upon in the novel, is 'Dont Get Caught.' Everything else is just padding to keep up their self-esteem which is basically what you need when you do what they do and have the crappy upbringings they both had. New readers might like to know that Kyra literally stomps Serrano to death. And Reyes doesn't bat an eyelid...her actions absolutely do not even register on his moral compass.

It goes without saying that I have never met people like Kyra and Reyes. But I have met many people who just think (and behave) differently from the norm. You just have to accept them for what they are. Non-criminals. If either Kyra or Reyes ever appeared in court. You just know it would (deservedly) be LWOP for both. Minimum. But the story isn't about reality. Anyway, I liked the tableau it presented of criminals killing other criminals and cheating other bullies. Far far better than the morals on view in Stephanie Rowe's Chill; where criminals saying 'sorry' is acceptable when innocent people have been hurt.

The Golden Season by Connie Brockway

This is one of those romances where the main couple, Lydia and Ned, spend a lot of time apart. And too many pages are spent describing the lives of supposedly minor characters. I got tired of reading about Emma Cod’s kleptomania, Sarah’s slutting or Childe Smythe’s longing to be accepted by society.

The thing was. I could see the plot development a mile off. Lydia and Ned fall in love. One of them finds out the other has no money and calls off the romance. But in the end true love conquers all. The trouble was. Half way through the book and still nothing had happened. Ned was still wasting his time over his lame-brain cousins. And Lydia was just seeing Childe Smythe in a more sympathetic light. Also one or both of the main couple needed to do some serious grovelling for placing social position and wealth above happiness. And I know, with this author, that isn’t going to happen.

I’m almost ashamed to admit…dnf…lightweight and boring.

Shades of Midnight by Lara Adrian

Another novel set in Alaska again featuring a bush pilot…but this time it’s the heroine, Alexandra.

This is the latest in a series about good vampires fighting bad vampires. Yup, it’s a bit Blade-ish. And like all the others in the series, quite elitist with lots of ‘master-slave’ elements as depicted in the ‘Rogue-Minion’ relationships.

tbh I thought the story was perfectly acceptable. But nothing special either. In fact. For me it came very close to being boring. I read it in about a day and a half. It contains some hot love scenes. But from the story point of view the guys get all the action.

Some things kept me from fully liking the plot. The heroine, Alex, admits she fell into bed in a New York minute with the local cop who had a sideline in dealing because she was feeling sorry for herself. But then she seems to take an age making up her mind about doing the deed with the good guy because she ‘knows nothing about him.’ That got on my nerves. Her dithering just held up the story. Then. The hero Kade seems to have gained the impression that his Dad belittled him throughout most of his childhood and teenage years. But all the Dad has to do is apologise and give a reason for his behaviour and all is forgiven by Kade. Huh? Kade doesn’t feel anger toward his Dad?? A bit of tough love by Dad toward the older brother might have saved his life. And Kade doesn’t tell him that?! Relationship issues that are glossed over tend to reappear later on…with evil effect.

The best part for me was when Teagan made an appearance. And please god, that creep, Harvard will turn into a traitor not just another member of the Order.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

The In Death Challenge

I used to read the In Death series. Then I stopped. Because to read book after book with (often) detailed descriptions of child abuse made me ask myself 'Are Eve's memories being written as a form of entertainment?' Ugh.

The second reason I stopped is that I read a couple of the In Death books where I thought Eve was totally wrong to punish the 'perps'. (The Icahn killers; her abusive stepmom's killer.) She has a much too 'black and white' view of crime. And it made her seem narrow-minded. (Which of course is why the author has to keep reminding the reader that Eve used to be a victim too.)

Chill by Stephanie Rowe

This is about the 10th time I have tried to write a review for this book. Which I read in about 2 days. That tells you its well written but extremely problematic.

I need to tell you. Everything the heroine believes in turns out to be true. But that doesn't make the book better; just worse. Also tbh the main couple who are initially presented as being an antiquities expert (her) and a bush pilot (him) actually turn out to be a couple of quite sordid low-lifes.

Another caution. The novel is chocabloc full of men owning and using weapons. With the result that a number of completely innocent people are terrorised and/or seriously injured.

I never realised that the antique jewellery business was so incredibly dirty. Or that a necklace and earing set could be worth half a billion dollars.

In theory the story contains adventure, exotic (cold) locations, romance and a happy ending. And there's a lot packed into quite a short novel.

Let's discuss the romance. Actually there's not much. It's more like a 'will to couple' on his part. I always take a step back when the author has the heroine admit she kissed 'countless others.' Because in theory that makes it about 10 times as hard to persuade the reader that the heroine is falling in love in the novel itself. (It's like sabotaging your own work.) Believe me. I never got persuaded that the heroine doesn't kiss or hump like you and I shake hands when we meet someone new. There is one big love scene towards the end of the book. It seemed to me that the heroine used her body to get the hero to disclose the whereabouts of the missing earings....and then she knowingly betrayed that knowledge to his enemies for some half baked scheme she decided upon without the hero's slightest consent. In the hope that 'everything would turn out all right.' Which it did. But only because its a piece of fiction.

The heroine turned out to be the daughter of a hooker. A hooker who kept her daughter hungry and dressed in hand-me-downs while she bought glamour wigs and short skirts for her trade. But of course. Daughter absolutely dotes on Mommy. Eventually Mommy gets a respectable job where she immediately falls for a guy. But when she tells the guy she used to be a hooker the guy dumps her. So Mommy goes straight back to the life...the rough life. And when she gets beat up by a john the daughter beats the guy to death. But the daughter, our 29 yo heroine, still dotes on her dead hooker Mommy. Because they were the 'best of friends'. In my book, the hooker Mom had an abusive relationship with her daughter. What's more the daughters fixation in finding a substitute father figure exactly mirrors the hooker Mommy's fixation in finding a respectable fiance to marry. But Ms 'PhD' Isabella couldn't see that. And in believing the loathsome Marcus Fie is a kindly caring old man Isabella goes to Alaska to ask Luke for help. But in actual fact Isabella is being sent to flush out Luke by the bad guys. Because they know he can't resist a beautiful body...and they also seem to know that Isabella isn't going to say 'No' to Luke. Jeez. I wonder how they came to that conclusion!

Terrible things happen to Isabella. She gets shot and doesn't go to get the wound treated. She gets pistol-whipped. Of all things. And about 2 hours later in the very next scene is humped by the hero. One of the bad guys cuts her gun wound with a knife in order to make her suffer. Two minutes later she's sitting on evil ol Marcus's lap twittering happily at the reconciliation between father and son. In fact. Isabella is a serial victim. Completely not in control of her own destiny. Bad enough she was emotionally blackmailed by her mom into committing murder. (Thank goodness the stupid woman died.) She was manipulated into going to Alaska. She allowed Marcus to pick her up in college. She is an employee who lives with her employer. And ever so slightly sociopathic. The expecting Roseanne being shot in front of her eyes produced a minimal emotional reaction on her part. She closed her eyes to the goings on in Marcus's house for 8 years.She can do that because she has no moral compass other than her own needs and wants. Totally another legacy from the hooker mom from hell. That's not my kind of heroine but I can see the potential appeal for other readers.

Before the final chapter I had grown to hate Isabella. For her stupid idolising of her hooker mom. And for the pain and destruction that followed in her wake once she arrived in Alaska. How did she come to locate Luke? Why didn't she have any conversation with herself about that maybe he had the right to remain lost to his Dad? What Isabella actually did was a gross invasion of Luke's privacy. After reading the final chapter I just felt guilty that I'd hated Isabella so much. I still didn't like her. I said to myself 'I need to reread this story to see Isabella in a different light.' But I couldn't bring myself to do that.

I liked the heroLuke/Adam for quite a while. He at least, had some idea of the violence and criminality of his former life. That is until he admitted he drunkenly shot some completely innocent interior decorator by mistake thinking that it was his father coming through the front door. And he admitted he was a violent robber on behalf of his father. In fact Luke's life as Adam, together with his bro's Nate, Zack and Leon is an excellent case study for stricter gun control. And poor ol innocent Anna got drawn into that cesspit and paid for it with her life. The vision of Marcus skipping off into the sunset left me feeling nauseated.

In the end Isabella and Luke probably deserve each other. No doubt in a couple of years he'll shoot her dead in a drunken row because she's decided to move some 'misunderstood' teenage crack addict into the house.

A ghastly couple. I felt so sorry for Cort. All the money in the world can't undo brain trauma. No way will he be able to go back to being a bush pilot.


Friday, 29 January 2010


Ok. I admit it. I'm one of those sorry reviewers who actually has to beeyouwhy all the novels they read.

So following recent experiences I'd like to publically ponder on the meaning of 'in stock.'

To me 'in stock' means...The book supplier receives an order (from me) on one day. The next day they package up the book(s). Then the day after that the merchandise gets shipped. Well that's how it used to be.

What 'in stock' does not mean is. T.E.N days after the order has been received the supplier still hasn't shipped the goods. To me. That is 'OUT of stock.' What's more. I don't like suppliers that don't tell the truth about whether a novel is in stock or not.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Looking forward to Loose Ends by Tara Janzen

The full title is Loose Ends: A Steele Street Novel.

So no nonsense about younger heroes and heroines anymore. They were all anonymous anyhow. Though they shouldn't have been because they all had good connections to 738. But that's what happens when you let a 'crit-club' write your novels for you.

Actually. I Can't Wait for this story. Although obviously, I'm going to have to seeing how it isn't published until August 2010!!! And then I'll cry. Because there is no doubt (in my mind anyway) that this will really be the last Steele Street novel. An excerpt is up on the authors website. J T staking out 738 to get Scout back. Plus being set up for his own obligatory romance. Cherie Hacker is around again. At one point I was sure she was being set up for a romance with Gabriel, Red Dog's brother.

I've been re-reading my absolute faves. Crazy Cool (probably the most sensuous romance I've ever read), Love and Sweet. All of which feature the totally weird relationship between Dylan and Skeeter. I love them both. And Supes and Katya. I'm thinking of going on a fanfiction site to rewrite Sweet. Basically having Royce going down a lot harder. With Dylan doing the damage. Royce got off too easy for all the pain he caused Dylan and Gillian. But I probably won't do that because I'm a person who enjoys reading a lot more than writing.

The real difference between the Loose series and the Steele series is that the latter had 'the starts of the major romances in one novel that was finished in another novel, 'a la Suzanne Brockman.' Nothing like that happened in the Loose series. A feature of both series was that a lot of time was supposedly spent inside the hero's head...with him usually obsessing about the heroine. People might say 'That's a girl writer pretending to know how a guy thinks for girl readers. Hur hur.' But I've decided it doesn't matter. From a reality point of view. I love my romances to be all about the 'shadows on a cave wall.' And Steele Street is stellar cave wall stuff.

6 Steele Street novels were turned out in about 2 years. So why recently are we faithful followers just getting one novel annually? I reckon the author is writing other books under a different name. Does anyone out there have a clue what the new pseudonym is?

Yours eternally grateful.....