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.