Monday, December 27, 2010

Review: Risky Business by Nora Roberts

Title: Risky Business
Author: Nora Roberts

Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: March 5, 2010
Publisher: Mills & Boon
ISBN: 0263877264
ISBN-13: 9780263877267

'I felt the knife against my throat and thought I was going to die'.

Liz Palmer runs a dive business in the quiet tranquillity of a Caribbean island. Tranquil, that is, until a routine trip over the reef reveals the body of her newest employee—diver Jerry Sharpe. But when his brother, Jonas, shows up asking questions, Liz can't see how she can help. She barely knew Jerry. Then someone breaks into Liz's apartment, intent on her murder. Liz realises that she is already more involved in Jonas' quest to unravel Jerry's murky past than she wanted to be. And now Jonas and Liz will be drawn into a dangerous criminal underworld that could cost them both their lives...

My rating:

Another good NR oldie. Wonderful suspense with the drug-trafficking ring, great pacing, and wonderful hero. The heroine bugged me, though, which came as a huge surprise. And it’s because of her indecision, her insecurity, and her inability to face the truth about herself, that lowered the rating for this story. I could’ve done without all her “angst”.

Still, it was a pleasurable, quick, exciting, and intriguing read.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Review: Nightshade by Nora Roberts

Title: Nightshade
Series: Night Tales
Author: Nora Roberts
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: December 4, 2009
Publisher: Mills & Boon
ISBN: 0263877183
ISBN-13: 9780263877182


Colt Nightshade: Professional troubleshooter. A damn good man to know—if he’s on your side…

Althea Grayson: That’s Lieutenant Althea Grayson—a hell of a cop, and heaven in his arms.

Colt Nightshade made his living facing danger—alone. But his search for a runaway girl through the steamy side of the city was one time he had to have help—whether he liked it or not. And if a man had to have a partner, he could do a whole lot worse than Althea Grayson. She was all business…and embodied his every pleasure. Soon, trouble became a four-letter word called love!

My rating:

Though this story held as much intensity as the previous two in the Night Tales series (maybe even a little more of it, thanks to the topic), it was also thinly veiled with humor, thanks to the hero, Colt Nightshade, and his "shenanigans".
It wasn't made humorous to mock the topic of abuse and violence, but to keep it from sinking under its weight. And I guess that's what Colt's character was all about. He was an intensely passionate man, but kept it all hidden under a veneer of light banter and jokes. Needless to say, I loved the man.

He was, IMO, perfect for Lieutenant Grayson, balancing her our, creating a perfect couple. I loved the two separately, and I loved them together. They were good for each other...and for the case.

And though this was yet another great NR suspense story, I felt it also concentrated more on the romance aspect of the plot. Neither of the two took over, but complimented each other, the first adding weight, the other adding some much needed "lightness". A perfect balance.

And a perfect score.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Review: Night Shadow by Nora Roberts

Title: Night Shadow
Series: Night Tales
Author: Nora Roberts
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: September 4, 2009
Publisher: Mills & Boon
ISBN: 0263875245
ISBN-13: 9780263875249

Fear casts a long shadow....

In a city ruled by fear...

...a solitary figure shrouded in black walked the night, determined to awaken a terrified metropolis from the nightmare of crime. There was nothing — no bullets, and certainly not legal technicalities — that could deter the man they called Nemesis from his mission.

Deborah O'Roarke, an idealistic young prosecutor waging her own war against crime, owed Nemesis her very life. She shared his passion for justice, yet she could not accept his lawless methods. Still, though she fought her unwelcome desire for this disturbing stranger, she was unable to deny her longing to share the shadows that were his home....

My rating:

Yet another great NR work in the Night Tales series. Intense, dark, brooding, angsty, dramatic, and slightly paranormal. This last angle could've worked against the story, but it somehow made perfect sense, adding to the plot, instead of making it sound ridiculous and pretentious.

Loved the characters, especially the tension between Deborah and Gage. They had problems from the beginning, not everything about them and their relationship was black-and-white, and for us, lovers of the gray area, this was a real treat...Even the "slight" love-triangle worked in favor of the story, moving it forward, adding to the layers and depth...

Sheesh, I don't know what more to say. Despite its age, I loved this book.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Review: Night Shift by Nora Roberts

Title: Night Shift
Series: Night Tales
Author: Nora Roberts
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: August 7, 2009
Publisher: Mills & Boon
ISBN: 0263875229
ISBN-13: 9780263875225

Her voice was like hot whiskey, smooth and potent, but it was her contradictions that fascinated Detective Boyd Fletcher - the vulnerability beneath her self-sufficient facade. Radio announcer Cilla O'Roarke was being threatened, and it was Boyd's job to protect her. But though she protested his intrusion into her life, an undeniable attraction sizzled between them...and anything could happen on the Night Shift.

My rating:

It starts with (innocuous) phone calls into her radio show, then there are threats and phone calls to her home. Cilla O'Roarke has no choice but to turn to the cops...One cop in particular, Boyd Fletcher.

Nora Roberts is an acquired taste (for me). She isn't an author to like on the first take, and it took a while for me to really appreciate her. I needed to get used to her narrative style, so different from other authors out there. But I came to like her, though it usually still takes a couple of chapters as warm-up.

I absolutely adored this first installation in the Night Tales series, and though it was written 20 (!!!) years ago, it still works (if you forget the fact they constantly use pay-phones instead of mobile ones ;)). Anyway, I loved it.

The style was typical Roberts. A bit choppy, yet effective after those few warm-up chapters. And I appreciate the fact Boyd wasn't the usual slightly-Bety Roberts character, but had a lot of Alpha in him. Good for him, good for Cilla, and good for me as the reader.

The characterization was great, the suspense was amazing, the pacing spot-on...And I didn't figure out the villain until the end, which is amazing for me after a few suspense novels where I could spot the baddie from page one.

In short, this was a great little story in a great little series, but what I liked most about it was the heroine being really tough, instead of just pretending to be tough, talking tough and then going all TSTL on us.

5 deserved stars!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Review: The Orchid Hunter by Sandra K. Moore

Title: The Orchid Hunter
Author: Sandra K. Moore

Read copy: eBook
Published: June 21, 2010
Publisher: Silhouette
ISBN: 1426867034
ISBN-13: 9781426867033

More hunter than botanist, Dr. Jessie Robards had dedicated her life to tracking down the world's rarest flowers. But finding the Death Orchid was different. The legendary medicinal flower could save her dying uncle—if she could keep the precious bloom out of her greedy competitors' hands. But she'd need more than her scientific mind and strong legs to survive the perils of the Amazon. This time the independent adventurer would need the courage to trust a man she barely knew on a journey into the heart of darkness....

My rating:

This could’ve been great if it wasn’t for the heroine going all James-Bond/Indiana-Jones on the reader in the first few chapters. For a botanist that was quite a change of pace.

The rest of the story pretty much went blah from there and stayed blah until the end. I felt absolutely no connection. Disappointing.

Review: Sex and the Single Pearl by Mia Varano

Title: Sex and the Single Pearl
Author: Mia Varano

Read copy: eBook
Published: August 1, 2008
Publisher: Red Sage Publishing
ISBN: 1603102140
ISBN-13: 9781603102148

Urban legend promises the woman who finds the single pearl one week of pure sexual fulfillment, so L.A. attorney, Kyra Davis, is thrilled when she finds the fabled gem. There's only one problem. Kyra doesn't even know her own sexual fantasies. Can hot-shot sports attorney, Gavin St. Clair, help her realize those fantasies? Gavin doesn't know a thing about the single pearl, but he does know he wants to lead the reserved Kyra on an exploration of her deepest desires.

My rating:

Shoot! This could've been a great full-length novel with a little more plot, not that much sex, and without the threesome in the end.
Sometimes the latter works for me (rare occasions, because I can't contemplate the notion of sharing someone in bed, call me weird, why don't ya), in this one it didn't.

Still, up until the last sex-fest, this was a good little story.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Review: The Fall by Marie Force

Title: The Fall
Author: Marie Force

Read copy: eBook
Published: December 16, 2010
Publisher: Smashwords

Dr. Ted Duffy has finally met a woman who makes him ache with desire. Too bad she’s dating his best friend of twenty years.

This simple premise has momentous consequences for Ted in “The Fall,” a story that explores the bonds of friendship, the expectations of family, and the power of love to unite and divide.

Ted is a third-generation pediatric oncologist in Boston. He is thirty-seven years old, married to his work, and his patients are his kids. He and his college friends spend summer weekends in Newport, Rhode Island, which is the only break Ted gets from the grind of his job. After a devastating loss at work, he leaves for Newport where he meets his friend’s new girlfriend, Caroline.

During that first weekend together, Ted and Caroline fall in love. When they later act on their feelings, shock and disbelief ricochet through his tight-knit group of friends and family. A highly respected doctor, a beloved son and grandson, a loyal friend, Ted is stunned by his sudden free fall from grace. Sometimes love is not enough...or is it?

My rating:

I’m speechless. Actually speechless and I can’t remember the last time it happened to me after finishing a book.

There was so much going on in this story I could never do it justice no matter how long or detailed the review, so I’ll keep it simple.
This was a complex story of long friendships being broken because of an act out-of-character, of trust toppling when someone does something unexpected, of bonds made in a blink of an eye, of “survivor’s guilt”, of wondering how something good can be born out of hurt, pain, and betrayal...

Gosh, this sounds so lame, but I’m still speechless.

This book was made of four stories intertwined into one with great characters, realistic problems and troubles, moments of magic, bitter-sweetness, romance, laughter, and tears.
It was definitely on the “heavier” side of romance, nothing light-weight about it, but still a real pleasure to read.

And yes, I’m still speechless. But there’s one thing I can say. I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Review: Infamous by Suzanne Brockmann

Title: Infamous
Author: Suzanne Brockmann

Read copy: eBook
Published: July 27, 2010
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
ISBN: 0345521218
ISBN-13: 9780345521217

When history professor Alison Carter became a consultant to the film version of the Wild West legend she’d dedicated her career to researching, she couldn’t possibly have known that she would not only get a front-row seat to a full-blown Hollywood circus but would innocently witness something that would put her life in peril. Nor did she expect that a tall stranger in a cowboy hat would turn the movie—and her world—completely upside down.

A. J. Gallagher didn’t crash the set in dusty Arizona to rub elbows with Hollywood’s elite. Unable to ignore ghosts from the past that refuse to stay buried, A. J. came to put an end to the false legend that has tarnished the reputation of his family. But when he confronts Alison, sparks fly. And when Alison is targeted by ruthless criminals, suddenly she and A .J. must face the intense attraction that threatens to consume them—and survive the danger that threatens their very lives.

My rating:

Jamie Gallagher is fed up with the severely inaccurate version of his history, so he decides to put an end to all the lies and tell his side of the story. Unfortunately he’s dead, so he has to ask his great-grandson, A.J., for help.
And as if seeing his Gramps’ ghost isn’t problem enough for this recovering alcoholic, first Gulf War vet, the historian that can help set the record straight is a looker. And after a long dry spell that spells trouble with a capital T. So yeah, he thinks he’s crazy, his mother thinks he’s crazy, the historian thinks he’s lying…What’s a guy to do?

On top of it all, Jamie’s spirit, not that he’s really there, is spouting nonsense about a dead guy , a guy with a pony-tail, a gizmo that blocks cell signals…The film set is chaotic, he can’t stop thinking about the looker of a historian, Jamie just might be there…And someone apparently wants the looker of a historian dead and frame A.J. for it.

So really, what’s a guy to do?

Judging from what I just wrote this story was all over the place. Well, it wasn’t. This was my first venture into the writings of Suzanne Brockmann and I must say I wasn’t disappointed. Quite the contrary in fact. Also maybe because I went in with nary no expectations. The story promised quite a romp and it delivered with plenty to spare.

It was a nice mixture of contemporary romance, romantic suspense, humor, a ghost, and a few historical tidbits. And I loved it.

The characters were wonderful, especially Jamie. I loved this ghost. He was funny, sarcastic, loved to sing and dance (lol), and loved his great-grandson to bits. I adored the bond between these two men (or whatever) it shone in every scene they had together, in every word. Ms. Brockmann did a great job in transmitting this bond to the reader with her writing. Though she told us of it, she also showed it to the reader and that’s a great achievement.
The romance part was a bit subdued and at the beginning more on the humorous, friendly side, turning bittersweet toward the end, riding shotgun to Jamie’s story, which could’ve been a big no-no, but turned out great.

The only problem I had with this story was the suspense thing. Because I didn’t really get it. The explanation to all the shenanigans at the end was too rushed and a little too convenient for my taste, and I still feel a little out of the loop about it.

Despite the suspense not working quite right, all the rest was absolutely great, and I can’t wait to read more of what this author has to offer.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Review: True North by Marie Force

Title: True North
Author: Marie Force

Read copy: eBook
Published: November 23, 2010
Publisher: Smashwords

The first time Travis North lays eyes on Liana McDermott, she’s wearing the most hideous bridesmaid dress he’s ever seen. He doesn't immediately recognize the world-famous super model who is attending her cousin Enid's wedding at the country club he owns.

Thanks to Enid's shameless matchmaking, Travis and Liana become acquainted and later embark on a two-week fling intended to be free of emotion and entanglement. As Liana's return to work gets closer, however, Travis wonders how he'll ever let her go when the time comes while Liana considers whether he might be her true north.

Two high-powered careers, two amazing weeks and a love that comes along just once in a lifetime. Is she ready to give up her career for a different kind of life? Does he want the same things she does? After insisting on an emotionless affair, she can't very well ask him. Or can she?

My rating:

Liana McDermott. Gorgeous supermodel. She’s in town for two weeks to attend her cousin’s wedding as the maid of honor. Which also entails a hideous dress, but that’s not important right now.
Travis North. Gorgeous owner of the establishment where the wedding reception is taking place. He sees Liana across the room and sparks fly, despite the fact he doesn’t recognize immediately who he is.

Liana’s cousin, Enid’s wedding coordination contract also has an addendum. Travis has to be the one to take Liana home. But she doesn’t want to go home just yet, so Travis invites her to his apartment to change, but that doesn’t quite go according to plan. Well, it depends on your point of view, really
She ends up thinking he’s yet another guy wanting her for her looks. He ends up questioning whether he read the signs right...And they’re at an impasse.

Lucky for all of us, Travis is quite stubborn when he wants something, and he wants Liana. And nothing will stay in his way, not even her mother whom he charms in a matter of minutes, scoring a date with the elusive Liana.
Liana, whom her cousin finally convinced she should have a fling. It’s just sex. Well, sweaty sex, so what’s the harm, right? And Travis is just perfect for the job, but first they have to make some rules.

Rule number one: the fling will last for only two weeks, then Liana has to get back to work
Rule number two: no one is to know about it, she prefers her stay in town to be a secret
Rule number three: no emotions, this is a strictly no-strings-attached sweaty-sex fling, so they won’t fall in love.

The number one isn’t that difficult, she really has to go back to work. Number two and three might prove a little more tricky, though.

Awwwwwwwww. It’s not even a word, it’s a sound, but that’s what comes to mind when thinking about this cute story. Just a plain old awwwwwwwww. Because it was sweet, sexy, romantic, funny, a little bitter-sweet, and a whole lot lovable.

We actually got two love stories packed into one, and though the second one might’ve been just a filler, serving as a catalyst for the one of the two suspense sub-plots (that wasn’t that necessary, mind you), it worked nicely alongside the main romance, and the suspense wasn’t that bad either...And it all ended well.

For the second love-story, that is. The first one, the main one between Liana and Travis was hard work. Because it sure didn’t look good for them in the future. She had her career and contractual obligations, he was firmly rooted in Rhode Island and his fledgling resort. And she sure as heck didn’t know what she really wanted.
And here comes the only problem I had with this story. Yes, it’s the heroine (again). The chick had no idea what she really wanted in life. She claimed she didn’t like her supermodel life anymore, all the demands, the media attention, the circus...Yet, she didn’t want to give it all up for Travis and the love she found with him. She claimed she needed to make an informed decision, not based on only two weeks with him. And called him unreasonable, when he just wanted her to choose him...Whatever. And even when she realized she was miserable without him it was him who had to go get her. And still she couldn’t give him a definitive answer. Sheesh. If I don’t like something in women, whether real or fictitious, it’s their indecision. I know, you just can’t decide what you want in life at a moment’s notice, but she’s been in the business for ten years and she knew she didn’t like it. And still she didn’t want to give it up for him.

She should’ve taken her colleague, Jessie, the one living the second romance in this story, as an example. She was younger, yet she didn’t have a problems with giving it all up. And her explanation for dropping all her contracts? “Tell them I’m knocked up.” Doesn’t sound that hard, does it? ;)

Still, despite the heroine’s indecision, this story was one of the best contemporary romance I’ve read in a while. And it was yet more proof that Marie Force should stay on my to-watch list.

For those of you who love contemporary romances with a bit of a “maybe-not-meant-to-be” twist, great characters, filled with romance and humor, this story is for you. Enjoy.