Friday, July 18, 2008

Madeline Hunter "Secrets of Surrender"

Madeline Hunter has long been one of my favorite authors. She consistently weaves the mores and realities of the historical time period she's using into her plot and storyline. Sometimes the required description and explanation for us non-historian's is a bit distracting or can feel convoluted within the context of the story, so I could understand if some people don't enjoy her as much as I do. But if you are a historical fiction lover and appreciate having the time period be more than just a notation at the beginning of the book, Hunter is for you.

It's 1826 and Rose's brother Timothy embezzled a lot of money from a lot of people and then fled to Europe. Her cousin's new husband paid off all of his victim's but it's just a matter of time before what he did becomes public knowledge. Kyle is a coal miner's son who was educated as an engineer and architect in France. He is now a man of business, making his living on the edges of polite society.

Rose makes the serious mistake of having an affair with a very nasty Viscount who puts her up for auction at a less than polite country house party. Kyle happens to be there and saves her by buying her.

Rose is smart, has fended for herself before but is also realistically swayed by various bad ideas that appear to better her sad circumstances. Kyle is physically powerful, quiet and has a razor sharp mind, he's always a couple steps ahead of me with the ramifications of each action. That's what I love about the Rothwell brother series.

The author writes people very well, granted these are very smart, self aware people, which might not be entirely realistic, but I think that is where these books fit so well into romance instead of historical fiction. This is fantasy by definition, right. The sex is down to earth, not quite as raunchy as Hoyt's books but still a significant part of their relationship, and yes, Rose is actually a romance heroine without a hymen! Amazing! Was it my favorite Madeline Hunter? Maybe not, but it's very, very good.

Historical Romance 2008: 4.5 of 5 lateral mining tunnels.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Lauren Dane "Fire and Rain"

Um, wow. This was my first e-book. And my first book from Ellora's Cave. And my first book with a menage a trois. The phrase triple virgin definitely leaps to mind. Wow.......

Um, I'm sort of speechless and a bit mortified, so where to start? Laurent is the third highest ranking werewolf in the Cherchez Clan. Rain is a budding artist who is also the daughter of a crime boss out east. She ran away from her family and an arranged marriage and is in hiding in Seattle.

Laurent is an typical muscled alpha hero (although technically in the pack he'd be a Gamma hero). The interaction between the boys in this book reminded me both of the lame frat boys in college and the Vampires in JR Ward books, whom I found sort of endearing when with each other. Saving Laurent from being a complete jerk is this 'fated mate' phenomenon which makes him completely devoted to Rain's health and happiness.

I liked Rain's character, her independence but reasonable fear of her father's retribution struck me as realistic. I loved her first date outfit, where typically I skim over fashion descriptions. There were definite moments of awkward dialog, but most of it worked.

The sex. Well, Ellora's Cave publishes erotica, let's just say it was often, and quite explicit. And I won't be leaving a copy sitting on my desktop for my kids to accidently stumble upon. Yikes. Normally I would sort of evaluate aspects of the sexual representation in a romance novel but I'm out of my depth here. So to speak. I know you might not believe me but I haven't read enough erotica to be able to say this one's sex scenes were well written, this one's sex scenes weren't as good. So obviously I need to read more.

Paranormal Contemporary Romantica 2008: 3.5 of 5 angry jilted fiancees.

Disclaimer, rightly or wrongly I rated this book slightly higher than if it had been a full length mass market romance novel, sort of like I did with the Harlequin. I think it's in it's own category and while I don't know yet if all e-books are really well written, it's my guess they are not. Does that make sense?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Janet Evanovich 'Naughty Neighbor'

Fast, blindingly fast, whipped right along. Janet Evanovich is a new author for me and I really enjoyed how the book was so humorous, the plot moved right along, it's hard not to like a gorgeous down to earth but well dressed rich and famous screen writer type hero. If the heroine wasn't entirely fleshed out, and the pig mystery was solved a bit too simply, and the physical danger they seemed to be in evaporated from the story rather conveniently, and there wasn't much to the actual sex scenes, who am I to complain.

Oh right, I'm trying to be a reviewer here. Fast (did I mention that already) frivolous fun book. An afterdinner mint in the world of romance.

Contempory Romance Reprint 2008: 3.5 out of 5 stolen morning papers.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Jacquelyn Frank 'Damien'

Gideon was a little too serious for me, Elijah wasn't really serious enough and now Damien. Hmm. Ms. Frank can write, and I quite enjoy the world she's created (although taking the lycanthropes seriously is a stretch for me). But none of these books has really been a solid hit for me.

Damien is reigning Vampire Prince. When he visits the newly discovered immortals library, he's the first one to notice that Syreena, sister to the ruling Lycanthrope queen, has been kidnapped and taken away to be tortured. He follows and puts himself at some risk to rescue her. The vampires are not going to like that he's become smitten with a Lycanthrope (were-people) who can turn into either a dolphin or a hawk and the Lycanthropes are definitely not going to like their princess sleeping with a vampire. In the course of their 'interactions' they exchange blood and find out that vampires can take on some powers of other types of immortals, and those immortals can get some vampire powers as well.

I really liked Damien's dark mysterious character (starting with his appearance in Gideon's book) but about two thirds in the book started to feel really long. I'm not always bothered by the 'fated mate' aspect of a book, but in this series I think the author is having so much fun telling the story about this world, she skimps on relationship building and relies too much on the 'well we're meant to be together so I guess we'll have to make the best of it, after all the sex is pretty good.' This isn't a bad series of books and I could see how another reader might really enjoy them. For me, they fall into the good but not great category.

Paranormal Romance 2008: 4 of 5 vampire torpors.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Robot Riley

This kid rivals Steve from Blue's Clues for my undying affection. Check out his cuteness on Youtube.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Karen Hawkins 'To Catch a Highlander'

Another story of the MacLean siblings who have been cursed to foment the weather with their tempers. Once the storms start they can't really control them, sometimes causing inconvenience and sometimes causing dangerous mayhem.

Sophia is the daughter of a one time gambler who has fulfilled his wife's last wish and retired with their daughter on a nice Scottish estate. But he manages to lose the estate to Dougal MacLean in a game of cards. Dougal arrives to inspect his new possession and Sophia entices him into a card game staking her virtue against the deed to the estate.

I really liked both these characters. Dougal was so in love with beauty you could almost believe him hanging around to find out what Sophia was up to. I enjoyed the author's choices with the outcome of the big game, and a few later plot twists even mildly surprised me. They take their time hopping into bed, but there is a nice amount of sexual tension and the consumation is thorough. Overall this is a well crafted, thoroughly amusing book.

Historical Romance 2008: 4.5 of 5 diamond necklaces.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Natalie Anderson 'All Night Long with the Boss'

I'll be a monkey's uncle. (What does that mean anyway?) I just finished a book called All Night with the Boss which I got solely to make fun of, and it really wasn't half bad. No really. I've read a couple Harlequins, most recently from the Silhouette Nocturne series and they have always been horrendously written. Not so with All Night with the Boss. It ain't gonna win a Pulitzer but at some point I stopped snorting at the Boss/Temp thing and just enjoyed the book. That's saying a lot.

I didn't even throw it against the wall when she gets pregnant with twins! To get me to care and believe in these two's relationship within such a short book is something, I must say. Not that it is a great romance novel, she's sort of annoyingly damaged by a previous relationship with a boss, but it's a nice light decently written Harlequin. Something I thought I would never see. I apologize to all the good Harlequin novels out there for judging you all by your covers.

But I have to mention that my book has "Harlequin Presents Pregnant Mistresses" across the top! That's some cover!

Harlequin Contemporary Romance 2008: 3.5 out of 5 inappropriate office liaisons.