Saturday, December 4, 2004

Review: Stroke of Midnight (anthology) by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Amanda Ashley, L.A. Banks, Lori Handeland

Title: Stroke of Midnight
Series: Were-Hunter, Dark-Hunter, Night Creature, Vampire Huntress Legend
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon, Amanda Ashley, L.A. Banks, Lori Handeland
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: November 2, 2004
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
ISBN: 0312998767
ISBN-13: 9780312998769

Winter Born by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Two enemy Were-Panthers discover that fate has destined they become lovers. Pandora must learn to trust Dante's foreign nature. But as she slowly succumbs to the truest passion she has ever known, dark forces have already set out to reclaim her...

Born of the Night by Amanda Ashley
When Lady Shanara Montiori is taken hostage, she learns that the rumors about her captor are true. Lord Reyes is afflicted with the dark curse of the werewolf. Still, Shanara can't fight the attraction they both feel. Will their love break the curse-or feed its powerful hold?

Make It Last Forever by L. A. Banks
An innocent mistake forces the beautiful Tara onto a mission to save herself from the dark fate that awaits her. Salvation comes in the form of a seductive biker with a heart of gold. But will surrendering to their ripe attraction unleash a danger even she cannot control?

Red Moon Rising by Lori Handeland
Novelist Maya Alexander's peace is shattered when she is stalked by a Navaho skinwalker who has taken on the guise of a wolf. Her only hope is the mysterious Clay Philips. In his arms, she seeks protection-but as the red moon rises, no one is safe from the danger that lurks nearby...

My rating:

This book earned three stars from me only, and exclusively because of Dante Pontis, the hero of Sherrilyn Kenyon's Winter Born. What can I do, I'm a sucker for Hunters - Were-, Dream-, and specially Dark-Hunters.
The L.A. Banks' story just made me skip pages, but the other two were passable.
Nothing to miss, there.

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Review: Man of My Dreams (anthology) by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Maggie Shayne, Suzanne Forster, Virginia Kantra

Title: Man of My Dreams
Series: The League
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon, Maggie Shayne, Suzanne Forster, Virginia Kantra
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: October 26, 2004
Publisher: Jove
ISBN: 0515137936
ISBN-13: 9780515137934

Every woman dreams about meeting the perfect man--the one whose power will spark her fiery passion and make her tremble with desire. Now, in this spellbinding collection, today's hottest authors present four devastatingly handsome heroes who can possess a woman's heart and satisfy her late-night yearnings. Let yourself indulge in their mesmerizing stories, and travel into a seductive world wher--when it comes to love--anything is possible...

My rating:

I loved Sherrilyn Kenyon's Fire and Ice. It's obvious the woman knows how to write, so what the heck is wrong with her books lately?
Maggie Shayne's story is a normal, a bit paranormal romance.
Suzanne Forster also writes enjoyable tales.
And we finally arrive to Virginia Kantra. Now, that story did nothing for me, absolutely nothing. No spark, no enlightenment, nada, zilch.

Overall, the anthology is an enjoyable read (in parts).

Sunday, October 3, 2004

Review: Hot Blooded (anthology) by Christine Feehan, Maggie Shayne, Emma Holly, Angela Knight

Title: Hot Blooded
Series: Carpathians, Mageverse, Midnight
Author: Christine Feehan, Maggie Shayne, Emma Holly, Angela Knight
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: August 31, 2004
Publisher: Berkley
ISBN: 0425206580
ISBN-13: 9780425206584

Four HOT New York Times bestselling authors. A HOT fiction quartet that will really arouse interest. In the tradition of theHOT bestselling anthology, Fantasy. Four HOT predators...Four HOT women. THIS IS HOT BLOODED...A bound man with a voracious appetite...A werewolf with human desires...A shape-shifter with one basic need...An immortal lover with a passion for mortal women. These are the stories of "Hot Blooded."

My rating:

Two out of four isn't bad, but it could be better.
Christine Feehan's Dark Hunger is the usual Carpathian/Dark Series book. Hot and sexy - and a great introduction to the stories of the five De La Cruz brothers.
Maggie Shayne disappointed me - her story didn't have the right vibe.
Emma Holly's storytelling and plot improved from the novella in Fantasy. At least it made me laugh.
Seduction's Gift by Angela Knight made me lift my eyebrows and say "Huh?!" at first - but then - wow! And let me repeat that: wow! Really hot blooded, indeed! Since this book she's on my favorite's list.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Review: Once Upon A Pillow (anthology) by Christina Dodd, Connie Brockway

Title: Once Upon a Pillow
Author: Christina Dodd, Connie Brockway

Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: January 27, 2004
Publisher: Pocket Books
ISBN: 0743459466
ISBN-13: 9780743459464

As Laurel Whitney leads a tour of an old English manor, she tells romanticized tales of how the exquisite Masterson bed affected the lives of couples who slept in it. The actual stories—which sweep through medieval times, the Elizabethan era, and the Regency period—are sexier and bawdier than she can say! Shocked to see her former lover on the tour, Laurel is even more surprised to find their love rekindled when a twist of fate tempts them to give the famed Masterson bed a whirl.

My rating:

This book suffers from short-storiness, if you ask me. As we all know it's tough writing short stories, since you have to cramp up a plot, believable characters and their development, romance, and the resolution in approx. 100 pages, give or take a page or two.

And though some anthologies are pretty decent (at least parts of some anthologies), this is not the case with Once Upon A Pillow.

The four stories revolve around a famous bed - The Bed. Which is pretty nifty if you ask me, if it weren't all botched up.

The first story, set in the Middle Ages, about how The Bed came to be was pretty sweet, with a battle-scarred hero that is still a decent, piece-loving guy despite having "served time" in a Saracen prison. The heroine though comes through as a blood-thirsty wench on her way to sainthood. Throw in three blood-thirsty monks, a young would-be suitor and you have Connie Brockway's story.

There is not much background for the characters, no development whatsoever. One day they're married by proxy with her hating his guts and him just calmly taking it all in stride and the next they're madly in love with each other and making master's sons.

Christina Dodd takes the quill next for an Elizabethan era would-be-romp, which is just plain weird, if you ask me. The hero kidnaps the heroine thinking it's her cousin, that in reality set the heroine up to be "ruined" because she hates her. So the heroine, trying to make the best of things, turns the hero's castle into a well-run household and his battle-weary men into gentlemen in a day.

The two resist their attraction, because he must marry a heiress to keep his castle and his lands, but they end up in The Bed anyway, because her friend and his friend set them up. But even after they did the deed he still needs an heiress and she leaves only to fall into the clutches of her uncle that tries to kill her, but the hero saves her, she turns out to be an heiress and they all live happily ever after.

The third story, once again by Ms. Brockway, is a little too similar to Ms. Dodd's story in My Scandalous Bride. There are smugglers, a suspected brother (though he's alive), a huge misunderstanding between hero and heroine, and the hero ending up chained to the bed. The only difference is the fact that they use chains and the heroine ends up in the same predicament.

At least this one had a semblance of a backstory to it.

The fourth, wrapping up The Bed saga is a contemporary by Ms. Dodd, and it just freaked me out. Up to a few months past the heroine had apparently been one of the rare twenty-something virgins in England, the hero "deflowered" her and in a bout of chivalrous behavior immediately asked her to marry her.

That which would have worked nicely for a historical, is just a right-hook into the teeth for a twenty-first century romance. What the heck?!

The plot basically leaked like a barrel after a rundown with Al Capone's men. Besides the obvious ludicrous backstory of a one night of passion ending up in a marriage proposal, there are some more smugglers and Interpol agents thrown in the mix, with the final revelation of the hero's true heritage.

All in all, I give it four stars for the welcome workout my eyes underwent with all the rolling.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Review: My Scandalous Bride (anthology) by Christina Dodd, Celeste Bradley, Stephanie Laurens, Leslie LaFoy

Title: My Scandalous Bride
Author: Christina Dodd, Celeste Bradley, Stephanie Laurens, Leslie LaFoy

Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: May 28, 2004
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
ISBN: 0312995229
ISBN-13: 9780312995225

Christina Dodd, "The Lady and the Tiger"

Laura Haver will stop at nothing to find out who killed her brother-even if it means posing as the wife of notorious rogue Keefe Leighton, the Earl of Hamilton. But things go too far when Keefe engages Laura in an artful game of seduction-a game that can have only one winner...

Stephanie Laurens, "Melting Ice"

Once, Dyan St. Laurent Dare, Duke of Darke, dreamed of making Lady Fiona his bride. Now they're together again-at a scandalous dinner party where debauchery is the menu's main course. But will wedding bells ring after the guests get their just desserts?

Celeste Bradley, "Wedding Knight"

Alfred Knight will do anything to avoid a scandal-even marry a woman he barely knows. But his bride has a most titillating she'll share as soon as she conquers her temptation for the man she was never supposed to marry!

Leslie LaFoy, "The Proposition"

Rennick St. James, the Earl of Parnell, has four days to seduce London's most popular widow into becoming his wife-or else she'll marry another man. It won't be easy...but Rennick has been lusting after the beguiling Julia Hamilton far too long to let her go now...

My rating:

I admit to buying this book because the cover bore Christina Dodd's name, but her story, The Lady and the Tiger, was a huge disappointment. Don't get me wrong, I love steamy scenes, but there were too many crammed up in a novella. Instead of exploring the spy plot more fully, Ms. Dodd concentrated on the lead couple's sexapades at times plunging the plot into weak chick-porn.

Stephanie Laurens's Melting Ice was a pleasant surprise. There was still enough steam to boil Chinese dumplings, but at least she gave her characters an extremely believable back story that made the reader root for the two to finally clear the humongous misunderstanding and have their deserved HEA.

Celeste Bradley's Wedding Knight was a delight to read. Though the premise was quite outrageous to begin with, the plot was charming, the two leads at first glance complete opposites, yet so similar. Maybe the "mystery" took a little too long to unravel, resulting in a hasty, rather patched-up ending, but still, this story was an endearing one. It most definitely put Ms. Bradley on my map.

Leslie LaFoy's The Proposition is another little gem in this quartet of novellas. It's a bittersweet and poignant take on "the second chance" everyone deserves yet few get. Rennick's words "I'll wait for you, Julia. For as long as I must." give additional emotional weight to the already deep story of second chances and the difference between forgiving and forgetting, yet ending up doing both.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Review: Charming the Highlander by Janet Chapman

Title: Charming the Highlander
Author: Janet Chapman

Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: November 29, 2003
Publisher: Pocket Books
ISBN: 1416523413
ISBN-13: 9781416523413

A feisty beauty tempted by a bold highlander's touch...When a plane crash strands brilliant scientist Grace Sutter on an icy mountaintop in Maine, she finds herself alone in the wilderness with the only other surviving passenger—Greylen MacKeage,a sexy, medieval warrior who's been tossed through time to find the woman he's destined to love. Forced together to survive the harsh, wintry landscape, neither expects the fierce passion that flares between them. But Grace is not used to letting her heart take control, and Greylen will settle for nothing less than her heart's surrender....

My rating:

I admit to buying this book only for the word highlander in the title.
Grey is great - every woman's dream man. Tall, strong, dependable, trustworthy, protective... But what is that - going after men with guns armed only with a sword. He's lived in this century for four years, and still hasn't figured out the odds?
Grace on the other hand only made me want to slap her - hard. The selfishness of that woman made me cringe. In my opinion, every father has the right to know he has a son, and every son needs to know his real father. I know her sister died, and all, but what the hell was she thinking?!
The plot itself was good - only the kidnapping scene towards the end just wasn't right. It disrupted everything, if you ask me. The author could think of something else, if she wanted to add some suspense.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Review: Lost in Your Arms by Christina Dodd

Title: Lost in Your Arms
Series: Governess Brides
Author: Christina Dodd
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: March 1, 2002
Publisher: Avon
ISBN: 0380819635
ISBN-13: 9780380819638

Enid's marriage was a brief and disastrous episode she'd rather forget. But when the disreputable husband who abandoned her nine years ago returns, injured in an explosion that has cost him his memory, Enid is persuaded to nurse him back to health. As her patient slowly regains his strength, Enid realizes that, except for his remarkable green eyes, her husband is a changed man—he seems to have come to value honor, loyalty, and compassion. And, while this appealing stranger has clearly forgotten her completely, he is also apparently enchanted with the woman who calls herself his wife. Indeed, despite the dangers that surround them, he is eager to sweep her away on an irresistible tide of passion. But, even as Enid finds herself losing her heart to a man she'd once thought herself relieved to have out of her life, she wonders what could have changed her husband so in the years they were apart—and what terrible secrets might be locked away along with his missing memories

My rating:

Enid MacLean is finally at peace with herself and her life when her husband, the man she hoped never to lay eyes on again, is wounded in an explosion and she has to nurse him back to health.

Unfortunately, he's forgotten everything. Grateful for his wife's presence, he reaches out to her, seducing her anew, rekindling her love... and his.

Despite her reservations, Enid gives in to the temptation, but things are seldom what they seem.

Another wonderful historical romance by Christina Dodd. At first the story might appear predictable and been-there-done-that, but the extraordinary plot twist in the middle completely shifts the plot, the characters, and their perception of what is real and what not.

An entertaining beach read.

Wednesday, January 7, 2004

Review: In My Wildest Dreams by Christina Dodd

Title: In My Wildest Dreams
Series: Governess Brides
Author: Christina Dodd
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: October 1, 2001
Publisher: Avon
ISBN: 0380819627
ISBN-13: 9780380819621

Having received glowing references upon leaving her post in Paris in a diplomatic household, Celeste Milford is delighted to accept a position at Blythe Hall, where her mother was the cook, her father the gardener, and Ellery Throckmorton, the younger son of the family, her idol. She's been hired to teach Penelope (the daughter of Garrick, Ellery's widowed older brother), and Kiki, a mysterious wild child under the family's protection. Before long, Celeste has her two young charges well in hand. But she's also encountered several impediments to pursuing her long-unrequited love for Ellery—and discovered a most unexpectedly passionate attraction to Garrick that her new employer returns with interest. If all goes well, Celeste's next post may be a lifelong position, with extraordinary benefits for all concerned.

My rating:

Since she was a girl Celeste Milford was in love with Ellery Throckmonton. But a gardener's daughter has no chances of winning the heart of one of the England's most desired men.

After receiving her polish at the Distinguished Academy of Governesses, Celeste returns to her childhood home, a refined, beautiful lady about to get her dream man, Ellery, but his brother gets in the way.

Garrick Throckmonton had no intention of letting anyone interfere with his brother's wedding, least of all the gardener's daughter, ravishing as she might be, and though Celeste finds his meddling and constant presence infuriating, she cannot help but wander just how scorching the passion she sees in his eyes might be.

The resemblance to Sabrina cannot go unnoticed, but there is so much more going for this story, you'll soon forget the minute similarities.

There is even a spy thrown into the mix to keep you at the edge of the seat, though there is no need to worry that this book will keep you awake at night. It's a prefect epitome of a light beach read.

Monday, January 5, 2004

Review: My Favorite Bride by Christina Dodd

Title: My Favorite Bride
Series: Governess Brides
Author: Christina Dodd
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: September 1, 2002
Publisher: Avon
ISBN: 0060092645
ISBN-13: 9780060092641

When Miss Samantha Prendregast arrives at Devil's Fell to take charge of six rebellious girls, the vibrant, outspoken governess is not quite prepared to deal with the tall, dark and dashing master of the grand estate. The children she can manage with intelligence, guile...and a little bribery. Their widowed father, Colonel William Gregory, is not so easily charmed—and far too easy to fall in love with, which she dares not do.

William always cherished the orderliness of his life, until this captivating troublemaker began flouting his authority and distracting him with her witty defiance and breathtaking beauty. Despite the fact that they clash at every meeting, William finds himself inexplicably drawn to Samantha's fire. And now he's even contemplating marriage, which would be sweet madness indeed.

But before he can successfully woo her, William must discover what it is that Samantha is hiding from him. But the secret the lady is preciously guarding is far too shocking and dangerous to ever reveal...

My rating:

Miss Samantha Prendergast is on a mission. She's to be the governess of six little girls. Though not an easy task at first, she quickly charms the little tykes, but their father is another story altogether.

Tall, dark, and handsome, Colonel William Gregory is all about order and discipline, until the new governess challenges everything he believe in. She's distracting, has absolutely no regard for authority, she's witty, and breathtakingly beautiful.

Despite their differences, the two are inexplicably drawn to each other, up to the point when the Colonel is contemplating marriage.

The only problem is the little secret Samantha's been keeping from everybody, a secret too dangerous to ever be revealed.

When her past emerges, will Samantha and William still have a chance for a happily ever after?

And the ending will bring a smile to the face of even the most disgruntled anti-romantic.

Though this book was a little too similar to The Sound of Music for comfort, it was still a refreshing little gem to be savored.

Ms. Dodd has an uncanny knack to bring her characters to life before the reader's eyes. So much in fact that, despite the predictability of the plot, one cannot help but avidly turn the pages to discover just what will happen next.