Friday, July 27, 2007

Laura Lee Guhrke 'And Then He Kissed Her'

Oh yeah, that's what I'm talking about!

Obviously someone should punish me for my shortsighted judge a book by it's cover problems. This book was fantastic. Emma has worked for five years as Lord Harry's secretary, running his successful publishing company. When he rejects her third manuscript in a row without even reading them, she quits and his life goes to hell.

Emma is one of the most wonderful romance heroines to come along in a while. Harry takes a bit of time to develop into a man who is worthy of her. The journey is very enjoyable.

Some romance novels divert blood to certain parts of your body and well, that's fun for what it's worth. Then some leave you with your chest tight with giddiness. And some do both.

Historical Romance 2007: 5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Jane Feather 'A Wicked Gentleman'

Jane Feather has always been a hit or miss author for me. She writes well, but sometimes she crafts a really good story and sometimes she just doesn't. I liked Lady Cornelia but the first half of the book was really slow, both from a relationship development standpoint and a plot perspective. The hero and heroine do manage to spend some time together but there is very little sexual tension or even any spark, leading me to wonder why they end up in bed together when it finally does happen. I even questioned Harry's incredible intellect (he's a spy and a code cracker) when he doesn't pursue the issue of the missing nephew more thoroughly.

This is an author who can write, and can craft reasonable character development. This story had neither a spark between the two protagonists, nor did it have a compelling enough plot.

Historical Romance 2007: 2 out of 5 stars.

Monday, July 23, 2007

J.R. Ward 'Dark Lover'

I intended to only review books published in 2007 on my blog, since there are a lot of review sites out there with huge databases of older books. Well, since my readership pretty much consists of Anne and Stewart (oh I know you're lurking out there, Jean) I'm going to break that rule and throw one in for Anne about Vampires.

Also, it's my belief that to judge the usefulness of any review/er, you should know something about that person. So I'll say up front that I enjoy action films. I tend toward the female protagonist supernatural type, not so much the Die Hard type (although I really enjoyed Con Air with Nicolas Cage) but I come to them with different (ok, lower) expectations than I do when I see movies of other genres. I loved Underworld, was it silly? Of course!

That having been said, my ability to 'suspend need to snort out loud' when it comes to supernatural/paranormal books is pretty high. I haven't read a lot of the genre, so I'm still feeling out where I draw the 'this is a bad book/this is a good book' line. But there's a lot of material out there so I have a feeling it'll get pretty clear, pretty quick. (See Dark Seduction review)

I definitely enjoyed reading Dark Lover. I have to admit that my snort 'o meter went off a couple of times (The Black Dagger Brotherhood consists of Wrath, Vichous, Zsadist, Rhage, Phury, Torhment and Darius!!) But I genuinely liked Beth, she's not stupid, and thank goodness, when put next to a super alpha vampire hero, she doesn't need to prove she can fight harder than he can. Wrath is, well, a super alpha vampire hero with a little self loathing thrown in for good measure. The writing tends toward the colloquial "ya feel me?", the characters swear and they like loud rap music. The book is well paced, I liked the heroine and didn't laugh out loud at the hero, the secondary characters are decent, the sex is very steamy and of course you have simple, truly evil bad guys. For what it is, fun to read.

Paranormal Vampire Romance 2005: 4 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Elizabeth Hoyt 'The Leopard Prince'

Totally enjoyable. If you suspend disbelief that an Earl's daughter would eventually marry a land steward in order to get to the happily ever after (with a 15 year old sister who still has to go out on the marriage mart.) Well, who am I to quibble. He's a mighty fine land steward.

My husband has a theory that every romance novel has a sex scene on page 169 plus or minus 5 pages. Well, he was testing the theory with this book and was a bit shocked at how steamy said sex scene was. Serves him right for messing about with my books! Great characters, the plot was a little distracting, and I have to agree with Aunt Euphemia that 'There certainly has been a lot of traveling of late. Back and forth between Yorkshire and London....' Otherwise an excellent read.

Historical Romance 2007: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Christina Dodd 'Scent of Darkness'

As much as I hate to get too serious (especially about a genre of books that's supposed to be, above all, fun) I think this book requires a bit more than a simple review. Bear with me. Forced sex in romance novels (we all know where the term Bodice Ripper comes from) has been viewed differently by every generation of readers and writers. After the bodice ripper, 'she hated him and told him 'No', but he knew she didn't really mean it' there came the 'I'll stop this torture when you tell me explicitly what you want me to do and sign this waiver saying you haven't had any intoxicating substances other than my incredibly potent presence in the last 24 hours.' Things have loosened up a bit from there, but it's my impression that the norm now is pretty obvious sexual consent from both parties.

Christina Dodd's Scent of Darkness involves demon offspring who change into predators at will as hero's. And she doesn't shy from weaving their predator instincts into their characters. Ann the heroine, never specifically tells Jasha no, but in two of their 'encounters' afterwards Jasha apologizes and characterizes his state as furious and that he 'gave her no choice..' While the first scene was a bit rough, and in the second, Ann was really mad at him when it happened... the actual sex scenes aren't that different than other scenes I've read recently. But I felt that the discussion of his 'forcing' her and apologizing without Ann specifically saying, "Get over yourself, I enjoyed it." brought the specter of bodice rippers too firmly into my mind. And more importantly why introduce a controversial element into the sex scenes that is so unnecessary to the plot and characters.

Otherwise the book is paced well, the plot kept me turning the pages, the warm russian family is nice, and I was only mildly annoyed by her being his secretary. Gotta ding this one for the principle of the matter.

Paranormal Romance 2007: 2 out of 5.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Jacquie D'Alessandro 'Sleepless at Midnight'

I was avoiding reading this book because of the really lame cover and the equally lame title. Boy am I glad I feel this compulsion to read now that I have people depending on me, waiting for my insight. Er, well, maybe Erin cares. Anyway, Sarah is a spectacle wearing spinster who accompanies her sister to a house party at Lord Langston's estate. She catches a glimpse of Lord Langston returning to the house in the rain, carrying a shovel in the middle of the night. Hmmm.

The plot allows Matthew and Sarah to spend a lot of time together, their dialog with each other is wonderful, their internal dialog with themselves is even funnier, the sexual tension is terrific and follow through is great. You love these characters so much you don't even mind the slightly silly happily ever after. And Erin, there's a wolf hound in the story!

Historical Romance 2007: 5 out of 5

PS. Ann, I have a vampire story on tap!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Mary Balogh 'Web of Love'

Ellen is married to Captain Simpson as the English army readies itself for the battle of Waterloo. Captain Simpson is Dominic's mentor and good friend for the last three years. When Captain Simpson dies in the battle of Waterloo, Dominic is wounded but returns to Ellen to give her the news, then collapses on her doorstep.

The first section of the book drove me nuts, all the characters sounded like they were in a 1940's movie, very stilted and overly dramatic without the gorgeous visuals. I was quite sure I was going to have to slog through the book just to be able to review it. But two things saved it for me. I am a bit of a sucker for the opps pregnancy plot device. I know some people don't like it, I fall for it every time; the hero is overcome with the magic of the woman he loves carrying his child, etc. etc. And then the character of Dominic, well he's lovely. And to be fair, this author is Welsh, so her dialog is probably more authentically English than I am used to reading, so that could account for the 'stilted' way I heard it.

My main critique would be Ellen taking two days of rain to process her husband's death and get over it. I mean really. The author could have let a bit more time pass so the heroine had a believable chance of getting over her guilt about loving someone new. Otherwise, sex was good although the plot mandates a definite lack of sexual tension. I ended up genuinely liking the hero and the heroine and the secondary characters are well drawn. Nice read.

Historical Romance 2007: 4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Christine Feehan 'Safe Harbor'

I really wanted to like this book but I'm afraid Jonas is just too much of a jerk for me. He's portrayed as an overprotective special ops type but when it comes to Hannah, the very shy supermodel, he is just too obnoxious. In the first half of the book he yells at her constantly and if it weren't for their 'always meant to be together' status, I wouldn't believe that these two should be together at all.

Hannah is one of the Drake sisters (seven sisters of a seventh sister) and comes from a long line of magically gifted women. Hannah has a special affinity for controlling the wind, she is painfully shy, suffers from panic attacks and is a supermodel. Jonas has known the Drake sisters all his life, is like one of the family and doesn't want to get involved with Hannah to protect her from the bad guys he used to hunt when he was in special ops.

In the second half of the book, the plot gets going and Jonas gets less obnoxious so I can give this book a decent rating. If you enjoy this series, then you'll want to read this one, but otherwise, it's very skip-able.

Paranormal Romance 2007: 3 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Liz Carlyle 'Never Lie to a Lady'

Interesting. New author for me. About a hundred pages in, I was a bit bogged down in the relatively complicated plot (okay not relative to a Le Carre novel; cut me some slack here). But the writing was good, and I finally got hooked on the characters. The heroine insists on running her family's shipping business, which seemed plausible since the hero is not too concerned with his 'place' in the ton. The sex was on the graphic side with a bit of lite bondage thrown in, which could offend some readers. But I thought it was done well. I usually like more sexual tension, but this was also in line with a heroine who knows her mind. And I have to say I loved Mr. Kemble, the assasin/interior decorator/comic relief to the story.

Not the funny light book I generally favor, but overall a very good read.

Historical Romance 2007: 4.5 out of 5