Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Review: Hold on to the Nights by Karen Foley

Title: Hold on to the Nights
Series: Dressed to Thrill
Author: Karen Foley
Read copy: eBook
Published: November 1, 2009
Publisher: Harlequin
ISBN: 1426842651
ISBN-13: 9781426842658

Graeme Hamilton: Hollywood's hottest bachelor. Lara Whitfield: his biggest fan. To the world, they're strangers. But Lara has a juicy secret... their five-year-old annulled marriage is still legal!

How should Lara break the news? Jump Graeme at a fan convention, of course...in costume! Her reward: the earthshaking sex she's been missing.

But Graeme instantly recognizes Lara's tantalizing touch. And he's got a secret, too. First, though, he's going to make his wife pay for their years apart... one shattering orgasm at a time....

My rating:

Lara Whitfield's father recently passed away, disclosing a shocking secret. Lara's marriage to a struggling Scottish actor had never been annulled. She is still very much married, and the struggling actor is now Hollywood's favorite stud muffin.

Lara, not knowing the truth, has been dating a nice, safe man back in Chicago, never revealing to him what happened in Scotland when she was seventeen. And if she wants a future with her nice and safe boyfriend, she first has to get her divorce.
But first, she wants to see her husband one last time without him recognizing her. And the costume shop Dressed to Thrill comes to mind. She would go to a fan conference in Las Vegas in disguise.

Graeme Hamilton immediately recognizes his wife, despite her mask. He's dying to know just what brings her around after five years of silence, so he follows her - the Princess Leia slave-girl costume helps a great deal - and ends up fulfilling a fantasy they both have been harboring for the entire extent of their marriage. Spending one hot, raunchy, breathless night in each other's arms...

This was one hell of a story. A quick-read, sexy, sweet, and heart-breaking tale of love found, lost, and found all over again.

Graeme and Lara were great characters, wonderful separately, perfect together. And for once (an extreme rarity in Romancelandia), after the first hurdle, they actually didn't have that many problems in communication. Not that they did much talking after they were alone on that first night.

Yowzers! They sure set the sheets and pages (and my Sony) on fire. The attraction was sizzling and the passion explosive in its intensity. The sex scenes weren't bordering on erotica like a previous Blaze I read, but they certainly weren't mellow in their sensuality and sexuality.

Scorching sex, coupled with a good, strong story and two wonderful characters this is a hot little read that will make you bite your nails in hope of a happy ending. Add to it a dash of a Scottish burr from the hero's mouth and you got yourself a keeper. Yum!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Review: Making A Scene by Trudy Doyle

Title: Making a Scene
Author: Trudy Doyle

Read copy: eBook
Published: December 17, 2008
Publisher: Ravenous Romance
ISBN: 1607770075
ISBN-13: 9781607770077

Pamela Flynn is the author of the popular Tanaka & Shields series, about a hot Philadelphia detective duo whose upcoming fourth book will no doubt send Pam into the bestseller stratosphere. Or so believe her editor and agent, since a prestigious production company wants to turn the series into a movie. But only on one condition: Pam has one week to deliver a scene in which the sexy Philly cops finally drop the double entendre and do the down and dirty. But ever since Pam tossed out her live-in boy-toy after she caught him in bed with her oldest friend, she’s been cursed with a perpetual blank page. And if writer’s block isn’t bad enough, she can’t even get a decent cup of coffee.

So when Pam ends up at the new bistro, Serious Joe, she doesn’t realize how much inspiration can be packed into a gratis cup of coffee from the cafe’s steaming-hot owner, Roark Carmelli. But even though it’ll take a few Mocha Javettes, several croissants, a stakeout, a wild train trip, a gun to the head and the beta version of the mile high club, with Roark’s help, Pam’s betting she can make the scene!

My rating:

I can't believe I'm writing this, but...This "book" would've worked better as a short story.

What glimpses of plot I got from between all the female lead's sexual fantasies and the sex scenes between the aforementioned female lead and her masculine counterpart, the premise was good, the plot was tight and well-written, the characters were nicely developped and well-rounded...There was just too much sex, cloaking everything in a cloud of steamy pheromones.

In short, a pretty decent story crammed into an over-sexed package.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Review: Shadow Protector by Jenna Ryan

Title: Shadow Protector
Author: Jenna Ryan

Read copy: eBook
Published: September 1, 2010
Publisher: Harlequin
ISBN: 1426866186
ISBN-13: 9781426866180

Sera Hudson didn't need an invitation to Blue Ridge; she was looking for an escape. The only surviving witness of the Blindfold Killer, Sera wanted to lay low, but when danger found her yet again, she had no choice but to turn to the handsome local sheriff.

Logan may have patrolled a small town, but he had big-city instincts. The object of every woman's desire, he had a soft spot for newcomers and there was no chance he'd allow a murderer free rein over his charge. But he wasn't going to babysit Sera, either. He knew more about her than he let on, and their shared past held clues to the killer's identity. If they could find common ground, then maybe, just maybe, Sera could finally stop running away and see that he was her reason to stay....

My rating:

She saw a killer's face, but can't remember it, so a cop, before she might end up dead, whisks her off in the middle of Wyoming, to the only man who can protect her.

But who will protect the small-town Chief of Police from the bombshell with a serial on her heels?

Yes! Another winner by (one of my favorite authors) Jenna Ryan. I absolutely loved it from beginning to end, the pacing was spot-on, the characters amazing, the tension wonderful, the attraction between Sera and Logan palpable, the suspense chilling...Everything clicked.

I absolutely loved it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Review: Zorro by Isabel Allende

Title: Zorro
Author: Isabel Allende

Read copy: eBook
Published: 2005
ISBN: 0007201974
ISBN-13: 9780007201976

Witnessing the injustices against Native Americans by European settlers from childhood, Diego de la Vega, the son of an aristocratic Spanish landowner and a Shoshone mother, returns to California from school in Spain to reclaim the hacienda on which he was raised to seek justice for the weak and helpless.

A swashbuckling adventure story that reveals for the first time how Diego de la Vega became the masked man we all know so well.

Born in southern California late in the eighteenth century, Diego de la Vega is a child of two worlds. His father is an aristocratic Spanish military man turned landowner; his mother, a Shoshone warrior. At the age of sixteen, Diego is sent to Spain, a country chafing under the corruption of Napoleonic rule. He soon joins La Justicia, a secret underground resistance movement devoted to helping the powerless and the poor.

Between the New World and the Old, the persona of Zorro is formed, a great hero is born, and the legend begins. After many adventures—duels at dawn, fierce battles with pirates at sea, and impossible rescues —Diego de la Vega, a.k.a. Zorro, returns to America to reclaim the hacienda on which he was raised and to seek justice for all who cannot fight for it themselves.

My rating:

Being a big fan of "El Zorro", this book came as a bit of a disappointment. I can't put my finger on exactly what bothered me...I guess there was just something missing. Don't ask me what, the book and I simply didn't click.

Don't get me wrong, the book was good, just not as good as I expected it to be. I guess it must be poisoning from the telenovela with Christian Meier I've been following lately, and the residues from the two Zorro TV series I watched when I was little.

Maybe if I read it with my mind "pure" I would've liked it better.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Review: Nocked for a Loop by Sam Cheever

Title: Nocked for a Loop
Author: Sam Cheever

Read copy: eBook
Published: July 20, 2009
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
ISBN-13: 9990100000290

When Cupid Christian Kairos sees the lush, beautiful goddess Arion on Olympus, he’s drawn to her like a bee to pollen. Her reaction to him suggests she feels the same. So when they find themselves alone together, it doesn’t take long for them to pollinate. Christian decides he has to have her for his own. Unfortunately she’s been promised to another.

My rating:

It's quite a feat creating a slightly convoluted short story, and Sam Cheever did it. This required mild bran activity to get through, mostly because the "editing was a bit choppy" (if I may use a movie term). It didn't flow as it was supposed to flow, would maybe be a more suitable explanation. The story (and characters) jumped all over the place, while the two leads also jumped each other.

But since that's the main reason these NN quickies are created, jumping each other wasn't a problem. The jumping all over the place, on the other hand, was.

Also...What was it with Greek gods using archaic English?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Review: The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Title: The Princess Bride
Author: William Goldman

Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: October 8, 2007
Publisher: Harcourt
ISBN: 0156035219
ISBN-13: 9780156035217

As Florin and Guilder teeter on the verge of war, the reluctant Princess Buttercup is devastated by the loss of her true love, kidnapped by a mercenary and his henchmen, rescued by a pirate, forced to marry Prince Humperdinck, and rescued once again by the very crew who absconded with her in the first place. In the course of this dazzling adventure, she'll meet Vizzini - the criminal philosopher who'll do anything for a bag of gold; Fezzik - the gentle giant; Inigo - the Spaniard whose steel thirsts for revenge; and Count Rugen - the evil mastermind behind it all. Foiling all their plans and jumping into their stories is Westley, Princess Buttercup's one true love and a very good friend of a very dangerous pirate.

My rating:

This book truly is a perfect companion to the movie, very similar to the motion-picture version unlike others of its kind.

If you love the movie (there's just something about it that makes it timeless), you have to read the book, just to broaden your horizons about the characters' histories.

And if you're like me, you'll appreciate both the book and the movie better when you've "experienced" the whole package.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Review: Wild Heat by Bella Andre

Title: Wild Heat
Series: Hot Shots: Men of Fire
Author: Bella Andre
Read copy: eBook
Published: April 28, 2009
Publisher: Dell
ISBN: 044033845X
ISBN-13: 9780440338451

He's a hotshot firefighter addicted to risk.
She's the sultry beauty he never saw coming.

Maya Jackson doesn't sleep with strangers. Until the night grief sent her to the nearest bar and into the arms of the most explosive lover she's ever had. Six months later, the dedicated arson investigator is coming face-to-face with him again. Gorgeous, grinning Logan Cain. Her biggest mistake. Now her number one suspect in a string of deadly wildfires.

Risking his life on a daily basis is what gets Logan up in the morning. As the leader of the elite Tahoe Pines Hotshot Crew, he won't back down from a blaze—or from beautiful, lethal Maya Jackson. She may have seduced him with her tears and her passion, but it'll be a cold day in hell before Logan lets down his guard again. But when Maya's life is threatened, his natural-born-hero instincts kick in, and Logan vows to protect the woman sworn to bring him down. And as desire reignites, nothing—not the killer fire nor the killer hot on their trail—can douse the flames....

My rating:

Maya Jackson’s brother is dead. One day he was there, the next he died in a fire. She comes to Lake Tahoe to clear out his house, but the grief is too strong and she needs a few drinks to help her get through the ordeal. The bar is closed, but the Good Samaritan inside lets her in, pours her a drink, and lets her have her way with his mouth, tongue, fingers, and body...But before things escalate, she bursts into tears and runs off.

Six months later Maya is back in Lake Tahoe investigating the possible arson that started the wildfire blazing near town. Her prime suspect, thanks to two witness reports and an anonymous tip, is the local hotshot (wildfire firefighter) Logan Cain. And she’s just in time to see him and his two buddies escape a blowout. But nothing can prepare her for the shock when he removes his helmet. The hunky firefighter is none other than the hunky stranger she almost did the vertical mambo with in the bar six months ago. The same man she was unable to forget.

The same goes for him. The brief interlude in the bar has ruined Logan for any other woman, so when the object of his fantasies yet again stands before him, he’s more than glad to see her. A little less when she tells him her true purpose in Lake Tahoe, puts him on suspension, and starts digging in his not-so-stellar past.
He’s a firefighter to the core, his men are out there risking their lives, he needs to help put the wildfire out, and all that stands in his way is this sexy woman intent on proving him guilty.

Lucky for him, a few strange incidents prove the exact opposite. And that Maya’s life is also in peril. Now the two must race against time and against the weather to find the true arsonist, live to tell the tale, and put the fire out while they’re at it.

One word — FANTASTIC!

This was a complete impulse buy, because I loved the firefighter theme and the cover, but boy am I glad I did it. I can’t think of a single thing that bothered me much in this novel, which is a rarity indeed.

The premise was great, (almost) perfectly executed, the story flowed flawlessly, the pacing was great, the characters even greater, but what struck me the most was the author’s uncanny ability to tap into my mind and evoke such vivid images with her words.
The contrast between the sunny, relaxing Lake Tahoe brimming with tourists and the raging force of nature the wildfire presented. The chilling effects of literally seeing that wall of fire in my mind’s eye. The similarities between the fire blazing in the forest and between Maya and Cain. The selfless actions of hotshots risking their lives to save others.

Though the story, the characters, the plot, the romance, the passion, the suspense/thriller were great and awesomely-presented, they still seemed to take second place to the true protagonist of this story—the raging inferno of the wildfire. Absolutely amazing.

Yet the hero and heroine held their own against that central character. They both had emotional baggage, yet it didn’t hamper them down (much). And Maya, clearly the reluctant party in this duo, despite her fears and reservation didn’t strike me as annoying. I actually understood where she came from, and shared her heartbreak a little.
While Logan was simply perfect. A true hero, a hotshot with integrity, pride, and passion, and hunky eye-candy to boot. What more could you want in a romance hero?

I didn’t even mind the "quickness" of their romance. It somehow worked with the story, twining seamlessly with everything going on around the two. With the threat of the fire and the deadly peril surrounding them they sort of didn’t have a choice but fall for each other, to prove they’re still alive (as they both thought in one scene).

There are a few reviewers here that are a bit iffy on the subject of the villain. I never got my WTF?! moment when the identity of the baddie was revealed. The two scenes with the villain stalking Logan’s cabin were clues enough for me to pinpoint who might be one of the culprits, I just didn’t think it could be one and the same. So it was still a surprise, though not in the what-the-hell-just-happened kind of way.
And kudos for the villain’s twistiness and props.

This was one hell of a book, a great starter to the series, and a definite keeper. Only 4 days left until the second hotshot story is released. Don’t you love the "preorder" button? *grin*