Friday, January 30, 2009

Sick of Me Yet

I had to post this picture for the sake of truth in advertising. Yes, that's my 'cute' puppy with my camera strap. I call it, "What having a puppy is Really Like."

Thursday, January 29, 2009

More Pictures of Cutie Pie

Oh, it just doesn't get much cuter than that. What a ham. So far her favorite toy is my youngest's toes as they run away screaming. Um, puppies and children, new complications.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Slutting for Hits

YAY! A PUPPY! My mom said January in Wisconsin wasn't really the best time to get a puppy but what's better than a black lab in the snow. Nyx seems to like to blog, despite the six new toys she got today. She was named after the Greek goddess of night and darkness. Thank you Wikipedia.

Here she is seven weeks old and a day. We are so excited.

Oh, yeah, now that I'm done typing you plop down for a nap you little stinker.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Pamela Clare 'Unlawful Contact'

This author writes highland romances as well? I'm not usually much for contemporaries, but I do have a soft spot for ex-military protector type hero's (are there any other contemp hero types? No, don't answer that, my TBR pile is daunting enough as it is).

Sophie is a journalist following the story of a convict who had a baby while in the big house. She's cleaned up, gotten paroled to a half-way house and is finally getting visitation rights when she breaks parole and takes off with the baby. Sophie has gotten to know this girl and smells something fishy, so when the girl's also imprisoned older brother contacts her for an interview, she agrees.

Marc Hunter actually knows Sophie, they had an encounter in high school (the one sex scene in the book I totally snorted at) that was good for both of them, and now that's he's desperate about his younger sister, he needs to use Sophie to break out of jail and find her.

The break-out scene/scenes are really amazingly believable, unlike the high school sex scene. The plot bogs down a bit in the second half but it's hard to argue too much, as it gives our couple a bit of time to get to know each other. I especially enjoyed these characters internal voices, which took Marc out of the ridiculously gorgeous, studly, wonderfully caring, self sacrificing, skilled at protection perfect man realm and put him in the ridiculously gorgeous, studly, wonderfully caring, self sacrificing, skilled at protection, perfect man who thinks badly of himself realm. Just enough of a shift for me to keep my romance novel fantasy bubble pretty much intact, thank you very much. And even if I did think, "Are you guys just going to uk like bunnies, or are you ever going to find his sister already?" the ukking was hawt. Okay, except for him bringing her vibrator into hiding with them. Whatever.

With the small exceptions of the aforementioned high school sex and the vibrator, this book was good. Really good. I liked it a lot. I'd say this was a step above most of the 'on the run, have to prove our innocence and solve the crime' contemps that I've read. I'm no expert in the field but there you have it.

Oh, and special bonus points for the bitchin' title and awesome cover.

Contemporary Intrigue Romance 2008: 4.5 of 5 soggy plan b pills.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Julie Anne Long 'The Runaway Duke'

I believe this was Ms. Long's first book, it's cute, spunky and ultimately forgettable.

Rebecca Tremaine is engaged to be married to a man she doesn't love, Connor Riordan is her friend and groom, and a Duke living in hiding in her stables. He agrees to whisk her away to his aunt while he travels on to America. They encounter highwaymen, gypsies and lots of mud.

There is an annoying use of the big misunderstanding to forward the plot and of course there is the duke as a stable hand ridiculousness. I will say, you can see some of this author's promise in the book, but unless you really are hard up, you can skip this one.

Historical Romance 2004: 2.5 out of 5 gypsy stews.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Surf Lessons Extraordinaire

On our recent trip to Honolulu we were able to take some surf lessons with Hawaiian Fire Surf School. They were awesome. The company was started by a couple of firefighters/paramedics who have first hand experience with the dangers to beginning surfers. So this group is all about safety, they have specially built long boards, take you to a nearly empty beach with protected beginner waves and give terrific instruction.

Now, I'll admit I did not get on a board myself, but my hubby has done some surfing on his own in California, and my two kids got out there, a five and nine year old. The day we went out the waves were pretty big but the huge benefit of this group of instructors is, they hold the back of your board and pick the wave for you. Husband had never been able to do a long upright ride before, and after about five runs he was up like a pro (well, maybe not a pro, but definite improvement was observable). My nine year old went tandem once or twice, then alone and made it look way too easy. My five year old rode with an instructor the whole time. He paddled them out, picked the perfect waves, got himself and her up and kept his hand wrapped around her upper arm the whole time. She loved it.

So other than putting in a shameless plug for this company(because they deserve it), I'm posting this cause it's related to my favorite story from our vacation and tangentially related to romance. My five year old's instructor was not effusive, or overly friendly, but was very patient with her. She was a little anxious about the whole endeavor. When they came in for a rest break she said to me, "The waves were really big, Mom, but Kevin kept me safe the whole time." Then a few minutes later she says, "I can tell Kevin really liked listening to my stories, Mom. He really liked hearing me talk." They went out again for twenty minutes and as we were loading up in the van to go home, Kevin gave her a big buss on the cheek. I thought she would melt all over the seat.

Talk about porn for women, a man who can keep you safe, help you do something challenging and fun, and who likes to hear you talk. :) Oh, and I'd like to think it doesn't matter, and maybe it doesn't to a five year old, but yeah, he was hot.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Lorraine Heath 'Just Wicked Enough'

Promising. I recently visited a good friend who dragged me to a used book store where I picked up way too many books by Julie Anne Long and this one by Lorraine Heath. I chose it only because I hadn't ever seen her name before and there were several books by her on the shelf.

Just Wicked Enough is the story of Michael Tremayne who determines that his financial straits require him to auction himself off to the highest bidding wealthy American father offering a daughter to bride. He figures why lie about what the transaction is, his title of Marquis for lots of money. Mr Rose buys Michael for his daughter Kate.

Kate is the less popular sister, bookish, red haired, believes in true love. But she has been torn away from the love of her life, Wesley. She is in such a fog of despair at news of Wesley's recent marriage that she allows her parents to marry her off to the marquis without much resistance.

Michael is stoic, doesn't believe he is worthy of love, is pretty certain he can have a satisfactory marriage without it, and for some reason is willing to do almost anything to please Kate. Kate's character is relatively capricious, so much less likable. I like that the author tries to up-end a lot of typical power structures within romance novels, Kate has control of all the money, Michael is auctioned off for his beauty and title, etc. But with this endeavor comes some more detailed scrutiny of those power structures than might have otherwise been the case. I have a hard time believing in Michael's character, 'Sure I'll do whatever you want since you hold the purse strings and I'm not really resentful of you." I enjoyed reading him, he's totally perfect, who wouldn't enjoy him, but in the end I didn't like Kate that well, and I couldn't help notice how completely fantasy-like Michael was.

Historical Romance 2007: 3.5 of 5 favorite colors.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Patricia Briggs 'Cry Wolf'

You may have noticed I'm quite into Patricia Briggs lately. A good friend just gave me Robin McKinley's book Chalice and the two authors remind me of each other. Not in the writing style, but in the power of the characters and storylines.

Cry Wolf is probably my least favorite Patricia Briggs book so far. I suppose any book that is related to the Mercy Thompson books but doesn't have her in it, is going to be a difficult sell. Mercy's (relatively) complicated world doesn't draw me, she does.

Anyway, Anna is an Omega wolf. She's been abused by her pack leader in Chicago and when the marrok finds out about it, the alpha of her pack is killed and she's taken back to Montana for safe keeping. Charles, the marrok's son and his enforcer, recognizes her as his mate....

I was annoyed that being an Omega is not explained, and I didn't really buy the fact that no one explained it completely to Anna, much less to me. Way too much of the book's plot relied on the fact that Anna and Charles are very taciturn. Okay, there's taciturn, and then there's taciturn.

I like Patricia Briggs, she writes a good story, I just didn't love either of these characters. There was a lot that could have been avoided if a few of the characters had talked to each other at all, so the plot didn't ring as true to me as it might have otherwise.

Fantasy Werewolf Fiction 2008: 2.5 out of 5 immortal Spanish witches.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Best Book of 2008 - Better Late Than Never

I love this book. Love it, like I love chocolate Lindt balls. And I love chocolate Lindt balls almost more than I love my offspring. I'm not kidding around here people. True love is no laughing matter. It's what's between me and this book.

If I were to entertain the idea that this book had faults, I might be convinced to mention it's loquaciousness. But I prefer to think of it as a verve for life, not a slight habit of repeating itself. Oh, sure you might try to argue that the book could have been trimmed by a suitor or two, but you'd only be showing your true jealous colors.

Cynthia is on a suddenly desperate husband hunt. Miles had been transfixed then repulsed by Cynthia upon seeing her in London. It's never nice to overhear someone referring to you as the 'dour second son.' A few weeks later, his sister invites her to their estate for a country house party.

I will admit, on occasion, the author dances dangerously close to purple prose (I can not keep turgid images out of my mind when I read or use that phrase, yuk, yuk, yuk.) I loved Miles, his slow dissection of Cynthia, her motives, her strength, her inherent goodness underneath this shallow but real exterior. I loved that they give each other up, because the only thing better than reliving infatuation is empathizing with someone else's impossible love. While knowing of course that they get together in the end. Oh, sorry for the spoiler.

I love clever writing like this: "They both watched Lord Milthorpe cast the china cup a wistful glance, as if he knew he was bound to crush it eventually and was issuing a silent advance apology." And finally I loved Cynthia, she's smart, she's insiteful about people and she is transformed through the story into a better person, and not only because Miles loves her (although it helps, this is a romance novel after all).

Best Historical Romance 2008: 5.5 of 5 statuary penile projectiles.

Julie Anne Long Like No Other Lover

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Elizabeth Hoyt 'To Seduce a Sinner'

Lord Vale is the amusing life of the party who has just been jilted for the second time. Melisande is the serious mousy woman who has loved him for years. She would have dismissed him as a shallow London rake except that she happened to see him comforting a fellow soldier outside a soiree one night.

Now don't laugh....this book felt rather contrived. I enjoyed the fairytale told at the beginning of each chapter a bit more. I didn't dislike either character, even appreciated that Melisande stays true to her central serious nature, forcing Vale to come to appreciate her instead of having love change her. But the plot is quite thin and it's rather central to the emotional life of the hero, so it can't afford to be this, well, silly or convenient. I felt this way about the plot in the first book of this series but to think that four books are going to be spun around it, hmm.

There are interesting emotional excavations, enough to keep the book going, just not enough to make me love it. And the sex is truthfully a bit too graphic, too early in the story. Since I enjoyed the surprisingly graphic sex scenes in Hoyt's Prince series, I can only describe this one as lacking a bit of finesse.

Historical Romance 2008: 2.5 of 5 blankets on your pallet.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Belated Vacation Announcement

So sorry for the long hiatus. I have been reading, just having difficulty getting internet access from Honolulu. I know, life is rough. I figured I would be blogging right and left with my classes finishing up, vacation after the holidays. Well, not so much.

This picture is not taken by me, but it's pretty much the view from our balcony. I borrowed my kid's book light and thoroughly enjoyed reading after they went to bed on said balcony with the sound of the ocean in the distance. You would think with nine hours on the plane (direct sounded good until they told me the length of the flight) from Chicago to Honolulu that I would have gotten through more books. I did finish Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs, To Seduce a Sinner by Elizabeth Hoyt and am working on The Runaway Duke by Julie Ann somebody. So reviews to come soon.

Home soon. Not looking forward to the upper Midwestern weather, but it will be nice to sleep in my own bed again.