Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Review: Crux by Moira Rogers

Title: Crux
Series: Southern Arcana
Author: Moira Rogers
Read copy: eBook
Published: March 3, 2009
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
ISBN: 1605044598
ISBN-13: 9781605044590

To find her destiny, she must trust him with her life...and her heart.

Jackson Holt makes a decent living as a private investigator in New Orleans, home of one of the largest underground supernatural populations in the United States. He and his partners have never met a case they couldn't crack...until a local bar owner asks him to do a little digging on her newest hire.

New Orleans is the fourth destination in as many months for Mackenzie Brooks, a woman on the run from a deranged stalker. After all, any man who shows up on her doorstep claiming to be her destined lover has more than a few screws loose. But crazy doesn't explain why he always finds her no matter how far she runs.

When her well-meaning boss puts a PI on her case, Mackenzie comes face to face with the incredible truth: magic is real, and whatever spell has kept her hidden and separate from the paranormal world is rapidly deteriorating.

With time running out, she has no choice but to trust Jackson as he struggles to uncover the truth of her past-and her destiny.

My rating:

I loved Ms. Rogers’ Sanctuary series and I knew I’d love this new series. I just didn’t know how much. I absolutely adored the world-building (who would’ve thought—shapeshifters, witches, spell-casters, psychics...but no vampires), and the initial cast of characters, who I have on good authority will continue appearing in future books, made me literally itch for more.

Wonderful pacing, great plot and suspense, amazing characters (the heroine didn’t annoy me, the hero made me drool, their friends and co-workers were wonderfully “painted”), great tension, wonderful chemistry, hot sex...I loved it from beginning to end.



Monday, May 30, 2011

Review: A Lot Like Love by Julie James

Title: A Lot Like Love
Series: FBI / US Attorney
Author: Julie James
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: March 1, 2011
Publisher: Berkley
ISBN: 0425240169
ISBN-13: 9780425240168

The FBI wants her cooperation.

As the daughter of a billionaire and the owner of the city’s top wine store, Jordan Rhodes is invited to the most exclusive parties in Chicago. But there’s only one party the FBI wants to crash: the charity fundraiser of a famous restaurateur, who also happens to launder money for the mob. In exchange for her brother’s release from prison, Jordan is going to be there—with a date supplied by the Bureau.

Agent McCall just wants her.

As the top undercover agent in Chicago, Nick McCall has one rule: never get personal. This “date” with Jordan Rhodes is merely an assignment—one they’re both determined to pull off even if they can’t be together for five minutes before the sarcasm and sparks begin to fly. But when Nick’s investigation is compromised, he and Jordan have no choice but to pretend they’re a couple, and what starts out as a simple assignment begins to feel a lot like something more. . .

My rating:

The FBI needs ears in the office of a money-launderer for the mob. But they need a decoy to plant those ears. Enter Jordan Rhodes, gorgeous heiress and wine connoisseur. She’ll get them into a charity event, posing as an agent’s girlfriend in exchange for her brother’s freedom. Easy as pie. Especially when the agent posing as her boyfriend isn’t the asshat that gets on her nerves.

The big day comes and the nice agent is down with the stomach flu and Jordan is stuck with the asshat, Nick McCall. Okay, still easy as pie. Get him in, get him out, say goodbye forever.

Wrong-o. Because the money-launderer appears to have a major crush on our valiant Jordan and decides to put a tail on her “boyfriend”, determined to uncover some sort of dirt in the guy, because, let’s be frank, she’s so out of his league there must be something fishy going on.

So Jordan and Nick are stuck together for the immediate future. What a mess.

Wrong. Again. Because while it might sound like a mess, it was really a pretty amazing story, written with the JJ usual flare and panache, featuring a grouchy FBI agent (not unlike Jack Pallas from the previous story) and the first un-lawyer heroine in the JJ history.

And I loved every minute of it. Even the rather child-like argument toward the end when neither spoke to the other, because they were both scared spitless of ending up with a broken heart. And this is, this being me, someone who hates theH/h inability to communicate that inevitably leads to “conflict”, “misunderstanding”, and (unnecessary) “tension”.
This wasn’t such a case. Yes, they failed to communicate, but the setback didn’t last long enough for me to start gritting my teeth.

Loved the plot, loved the pacing, loved the style, loved the characters...Loved everything.

And I was so glad to see Jack Pallas and the new U.S. attorney Cameron Lynde make an appearance. It’s good to visit with old friends from time to time. And the trash-talking camaraderie between Jack and Nick was a real fun to read. And the convo about their “secret weapon looks”, the clash of titans between glowering-and-growly (Jack) and don’t-fuck-with-me-face (Nick) was hilarious.

When’s the next book coming out?

Note about the cover: Love the placement of his hand. :D



Friday, May 27, 2011

Review: I Do (But I Don't) by Cara Lockwood

Title: I Do (But I Don't)
Author: Cara Lockwood

Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: January 26, 2010
Publisher: Pocket Star
ISBN: 143917542X
ISBN-13: 9781439175422

She creates perfect days.

In spite of her incorrigible curly hair, Lauren Crandell is a neat-freak and organizational guru, qualities that make her the perfect wedding planner. But when two weddings in one day go haywire, and hunky firefighter Nick Corona comes to the rescue—twice—Lauren realizes there are a few important details in her own life she hasn't been tending to since her divorce. Namely, her sex life.

She lives lonely nights.

Sweet and sexy Nick seems hell-bent on fanning the flames between them, and Lauren definitely feels sparks flying. But she's scrambling to plan nuptials for her most challenging client yet -- a beautiful, cunning, and certifiable Psycho Bride. With the big day rapidly approaching, a series of misunderstandings, mishaps, and mistaken identities threatens to ruin not one, but two happily ever afters. But with her career and her love life on the line, the wedding planner just might learn that you can't plan everything, least of all true love.

My rating:

Chick-lit is hit-and-miss for me. First person POV chick-lit even more so—okay, not counting Kristan Higgins it’s mostly a miss. And this book was no exception.

I hated the heroine’s guts and given the book was written in her POV I hated the book. Some fellow reviewers say she was written that way to make us see her growth toward the end. I didn’t see it like that, and I didn’t see any significant growth. Lauren spent the entire book feeling sorry about herself, mostly to do with her hair, using parentheses when parentheses weren’t needed (I never think in parentheses and I don’t think inner monologue needs parentheses when the entire book is mostly a giant inner monologue), and feeling sorry about herself some more.
I kept waiting for someone to slap her, maim her, kill her...But it didn’t happen.

And because it was written in whiny Lauren’s POV I also didn’t get to enjoy the supporting cast of characters, mostly the hunky firefighter hero. Because they were all drowned in the whiny-Lauren-feels-sorry-for-herself crap.

Yuk.

P.S. And I have a big bone to pick with the author on the whole hospital/sprained ankle scene. I’m not in the medical profession or anything, but I do have some experience with sprained ankles, X-rays, and behavior of medical personnel in such cases. I sprained my ankle 9 times in my life, five of those times required me wearing a cast for a month, and I’ve never come across a nurse/doctor/whoever that wouldn’t first give me some sort of protection when I came to get my X-rays done. It just isn’t done.
And the nurses in my case(s) never behaved like I was faking it, because if the doctor sent me in for an X-ray I probably wasn’t faking it. Gee, my ankle was swollen like a balloon and they knew it hurt and they strove not to pain me more than was necessary.

I don’t know what Ms. Lockwood tried to accomplish with the scene, she only drove home the fact the heroine was a whiny, petulant, spoiled little child that actually loved feeling sorry for herself.

P.P. S. I watched the TV movie with Richards and Cain and that little that I remember it was much better than this (even though I cannot claim either of them can really act).



Thursday, May 26, 2011

Review: Regency Christmas Proposals (anthology) by Gayle Wilson, Amanda McCabe, Carole Mortimer

Title:Regency Christmas Proposals
Author: Gayle Wilson, Amanda McCabe, Carole Mortimer

Read copy: eBook
Published: November 1, 2010
Publisher: Harlequin
ISBN: 1426874952
ISBN-13: 9781426874956

The Soldier's Christmas Miracle by Gayle Wilson

Wounded soldier Guy Wakefield has finally found the woman who saved his life. Isabella Stowe accepts his gratitude, but it will take more than a kiss under the mistletoe to convince this world-weary widow to accept his proposal….

Snowbound and Seduced by Amanda McCabe

Mary Bassington, Lady Derrington, longs to be the carefree woman she once was. But she gets more than she bargained for this Christmas when she's snowbound with old flame Dominick, Viscount Amesby, who reignites her passion for life—and love!

Christmas at Mulberry Hall by Carole Mortimer

Spending Christmas alone with his unconventional ward pushes the boundaries of propriety—and self-control—too far for Lord Gideon Grayson. So he takes delectably pure Amelia Ashford to Mulberry Hall—but that pesky mistletoe is still all around….

My rating:

Gayle Wilson’s The Soldier’s Christmas Miracle was a cute little story about miracles and lost hope found again, but I couldn’t get past the heroine. She had no idea what she wanted and she got angry when someone tried to show her what it was that she might want and what might be good for her.
I felt sorry for the poor guy, named Guy, that fell for such an annoying creature.

Amanda McCabe’s Snowbound and Seduced was much “mellower” than its predecessor with two star-crossed lovers meeting again after many years only to discover that love is still binding them.
It was “mellower” because it didn’t have any annoying characters, though that somehow made it all rather bland, but still it was a cute, sweet little Christmas story.

Carole Mortimer’s Christmas at Mulberry Hall was a little less “mellower” than the previous one, though I can safely say it was the best of the bunch. A ward/guardian story that could’ve been a bit weird, but was done masterfully thanks to the plot device of ward being old enough to be safely in love with her guardian and them having just recently met.
It was the hero that was a bit wary this time, but given his (past) profession it was to be expected.
Cute, sweet, and Christmas-y.



Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Review: Tempestuous/Restless Heart by Tami Hoag

Title:Tempestuous/Restless Heart
Author: Tami Hoag

Read copy: eBook
Published: December 16, 2009
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
ISBN: 0307575284
ISBN-13: 9780307575289

Tempestuous

Alexandra Gianni had come to Briarwood with her infant daughter, Isabella, to start over. Determined to rebuild her life and the ramshackle farm she’d purchased with the last of her money, Alex had one goal: independence. She wasn’t looking for another relationship or the painful revelations she’d have to share about her past. Most of all, she wasn’t looking for a man like Christian Atherton, who could lead her dangerously astray. But the handsome, aristocratic English rider won’t accept that it’s too late for Alex or that she has to keep running…from her past and him.

Restless Heart

As a world-renowned globe-trotting photographer, Danielle Hamilton was at home with Tibetan nomads and Kenyan bushmen. But she didn’t think she’d survive six weeks in the “wilds” of New Orleans babysitting her sister’s five children. Then help arrives in the form of the most unlikely nanny Danielle could imagine. Tall, dark, and Cajun, Remy Doucet isn’t really a nanny and he isn’t accepting Danielle’s certainty that true love isn’t in the cards for her. He’s convinced that her self-control masks a deeper need to let go, and he’s determined to prove she could trust him with the memory of a tragedy that still haunts her dreams.

My rating:

This was my first venture into the Tami Hoag world, and I'm pretty satisfied with the experience.

Nothing extraordinary, mind you, but not half bad, with two stories about two women with loads and loads of emotional baggage and two men (one of them younger than his heroine) intent on helping them to finally move on.

The second one was a bit more humorous than the first one, but they both had one common denominator—an annoying heroine. Someone should've slapped the two chicks silly to make them see reason, because talking to them obviously didn't work.

Anyway, two good little stories. I'll probably venture into the Hoag-world again in the future.



Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Review: Wild (anthology) by Maya Banks

Title: Wild
Author: Maya Banks

Read copy: Paperback
Published: July 1, 2010
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
ISBN: 1605045128
ISBN-13: 9781605045122

Golden Eyes

When Duncan finds an injured cheetah, questions about how she wound up in his mountains—and going after the poachers pursuing her—can wait. First he brings her home. Then he checks in on his patient, and finds not a cat, but a gorgeous, very naked woman.

Aliyah Carter spent the past six months trapped in cheetah form, a prisoner of the poachers who took her to use in an illegal exotic-game hunt. Finally she’s escaped, but now she faces another problem. A devastatingly sexy sheriff who knows her secret.

Amber Eyes

The beautiful, timid cougar that appears at Hunter and Jericho’s remote cabin breaks their quiet routine, warms their hearts—and rouses their curiosity. Why would this wild creature want to form a friendship with humans?

Kaya has survived a lifetime of isolation in her shifted form. Yet there’s something about these two men that draws her to embrace her human side. In the shelter of their love, she blooms. Then they are called away on a mission that goes terribly wrong. Now pregnant and alone, Kaya’s only hope is that the men who love her will find their way home.

My rating:

Two stories, about two shifter women (long-lost sisters) finding the men of their lives. Which could make you go all “awwww” if it wasn’t for the fact both stories seriously lacked in plot, and compensated with sex.

In that aspect I can safely say it was very MayaBanks-y. A lot of sex (front and back, upward, downward, sideways etc.) and not much of anything else.

Notice the first sentence of this review...I didn’t feel it. I didn’t feel the love and affection, a lasting bond. It was just sex. Nothing more (and nothing less).



Monday, May 23, 2011

Review: The Adultery Diet by Eva Cassady

Title: The Adultery Diet
Author: Eva Cassady

Read copy: Paperback
Published: August 31, 2007
Publisher: Piatkus Books
ISBN: 0749937343
ISBN-13: 9780749937348

Eva Cassady is stuck in a marriage that's completely lost its luster. She's even envious of her twenty-year-old daughter, living la vie Parisienne (complete with les condoms) in France for a year. Somewhere inside, Eva knows she's still a woman with dreams and desires—but her whole dull, status-quo existence can be summed up by the tyrannical numbers on her bathroom scale. At 176 pounds, is she just one more invisible, middle-aged woman who will never inspire lust in a man again?

Then fickle fortune—via her job—puts Eva back in touch with Michael Foresman, her passionate lover one unforgettable college spring break. Michael seems trés interested in meeting up and rekindling some old sparks, but she can't possibly let him see her the way she looks now. With reborn fantasies burning through her blood, Eva starts dieting and exercising like a woman possessed...by passion.

With the pounds dropping away, Eva feels as if twenty years have rolled back as well. She feels young, sexy, desirable...and when Michael arrives, he obviously agrees. So now Eva has to make a choice. When a diet promises to change your life, just how big a change do you really want to make?

My rating:

There are plenty of better chick-lit out there (and this from someone who isn't exactly a fan of the genre).

A clichéd, cringe-worthy tale of a forty-something career woman cum wife becoming disillusioned with her life, and using a prospective (old) lover as an excuse to diet and change her life around.

Which could've worked if it wasn't for the cheating part. I truly hoped she wouldn't go through with it, and when she did, it just ruined more an already rather bad book. Sure, she had a log for a husband, but there are plenty of such women out there. Women who decide to diet for themselves, to make them feel better, to make them give a new energy to embark on the quest of making their husbands notice them once more. And many of those women do no cheat on their logs of a husband. And those who do, their logs don't just take them back.



Sunday, May 22, 2011

Review: Ghost Moon by Karen Robards

Title: Ghost Moon
Author: Karen Robards

Read copy: eBook
Published: December 18, 2007
Publisher: Dell
ISBN: 0307422968
ISBN-13: 9780307422965

Olivia Morrison is the prodigal daughter returned. She was only six when her mother died, leaving her to be raised by a stepfamily, the affluent and well-respected Archers. Growing up on LaAngelle Plantation—a lavish estate in northern Louisiana—and leading a life of privilege did little to quell Olivia's wild urges as a teenager.

After a promiscuous and rebellious few years, she ignored the advice of her adoptive family and ran off at the age of 17 to marry a charismatic rodeo rider. Now, nine years later, divorced and struggling financially to raise her eight-year-old daughter, Sara, Olivia has been summoned back to her childhood home by her beloved step-aunt, Callie, who has been diagnosed with a deadly form of cancer.

Though Olivia is prepared for a less than exuberant welcome, she isn't prepared for the reaction she gets when she first arrives at the estate. The Archer patriarch, John, takes one look at her and collapses with a heart attack. From this less-than-auspicious beginning, Olivia's visit quickly becomes even more complicated.

There's Seth, her older step-cousin, who was once like a brother to her but now triggers an unexpected passion. There's Seth's fiancée, Mallory, a cool, slender, professional woman who is busy planning the wedding, which is mere weeks away. Then there's Seth's daughter from his first marriage, eight-year-old Chloe, whose temper tantrums and hysterics have everyone on edge. Rounding things out are a host of aunts, uncles, and cousins who all trip in and out of the stately old house, making for an eclectic extended family.

As John Archer lingers near death, Callie's condition rapidly deteriorates, and Seth's marriage date draws ever nearer, Olivia's emotions are further taxed by a recurring nightmare centered around her mother's drowning death years before. Several times Olivia is awakened in the middle of the night, only to smell the lingering traces of her mother's perfume. As time goes by, Olivia begins to suspect there is much more to her mother's death than she remembers. What Olivia doesn't know is that her return to LaAngelle Plantation has resurrected a dark and deadly family secret, one that can provide the answers Olivia seeks but at a horribly high price—namely, the lives of her and Sara.

My rating:

Maybe a tad too long for my liking (the whole are they, will they started to drag), but the suspense was great. Toward the end there were so many theories, so many suspects...and when the truth was finally revealed, I sure didn't see it coming. I love surprise endings.

It concentrated more on the suspense aspect than the romance, and the romance was made up of the whole push-pull think that got old rather fast, so I rated it accordingly. I missed a better mix of romance and suspense that would've made this book a true romantic suspense. Instead it was a thriller with romantic aspects. Which could've worked if those romantic aspects were better.

I don't think I'm making much sense...I liked it, but not as much as I hoped I would.



Review: Sanctuary Redeemed by Moira Rogers

Title: Sanctuary Redeemed
Series: Red Rock Pass
Author: Moira Rogers
Read copy: Paperback
Published: May 3, 2011
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
ISBN: 1609280261
ISBN-13: 9781609280260

The most scarred heart can’t run from love forever.

Sanctuary’s Price

Dylan Gennaro is reeling from the changes in his life: a new home, a new alpha, a pack at war. Still, he doesn’t hesitate to protect an outcast witch, thinking it will help him rediscover his own inner strength.

Wounded in body and spirit, Sasha Wallace found refuge with the Red Rock pack. Yet her willingness to lend her powers to the battle makes her an object of suspicion. Except for Dylan. Their attraction is a balm to their wounded hearts, until they face a fight for which neither has the strength. Unless they do it together.

Sanctuary Unbound

After eighty years of solitude, a life debt owed to the Red Rock alpha forces Adam Dubois to leave his retreat—where he encounters a woman who challenges and tempts him on every level.

Cindy Shepherd isn’t concerned that her interest in the mystery-shrouded new vampire in town seems mutual. After all, it’s only sex—there’s no danger he’ll dig deep enough to unleash her demons.

Casual flirtation turns deadly serious when Adam discovers an evil has followed his tracks to Red Rock. To survive, Adam and Cindy must trust each other with more than just their lives…

My rating:

A moon-crazed wolf, a witch, and their two boyfriends go to Maine to seek a vampire...
No, this isn't a beginning of a joke, but it sure sounds like one, the above-mentioned vampire observed in the second story in this omnibus.

This second installment (the third and fourth book in the series combined) wasn't as good or as strong as the previous two, mostly because the second story reminded me a lot of C. Feehan's universe, but still they were much better than most paranormals adorning the selves out there.

This time, Ms. Rogers added a witch and a vampire lumberjack (don't ask) to the werewolf mix and got interesting (and funny at times) results. The pacing was a little slow at times, but the stories more than compensated for it with characterization, action scenes, drama, and hotness.

Definitely an author to watch out for.



Friday, May 20, 2011

Review: Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

Title: Halo
Series: Halo
Author: Alexandra Adornetto
Read copy: eBook
Published: August 31, 2010
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
ISBN: 1429945052
ISBN-13: 9781429945059

Three angels are sent down to bring good to the world: Gabriel, the warrior; Ivy, the healer; and Bethany, a teenage girl who is the least experienced of the trio. But she is the most human, and when she is romantically drawn to a mortal boy, the angels fear she will not be strong enough to save anyone—especially herself—from the Dark Forces.

Is love a great enough power against evil?

My rating:

Well, it was much a little too long for comfort and the writing style needed some getting used to, but it wasn’t as bad as I feared. A bit too preachy at times, but at least it didn’t have that usual young-adult-y feel. I’m not sure I’ll read the rest of this trilogy, but I guess many YA authors could learn something from Ms. Adornetto.



Thursday, May 19, 2011

Review: Sanctuary by Moira Rogers

Title: Sanctuary
Series: Red Rock Pass
Author: Moira Rogers
Read copy: Paperback
Published: April 1, 2010
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
ISBN: 1605045691
ISBN-13: 9781605045696

The only way to win is to lose your heart…

Cry Sanctuary

Keith Winston has come home to Montana to find peace. Instead, the veteran warrior finds himself fighting pressure to become the alpha’s right hand. His attraction to a new wolf on the run sucks him into yet another battle between his instincts and his heart.

Abigail Adler knew nothing about werewolves—until she became one. Red Rock is her only refuge, but she chafes under its rigid rules. Except when it comes to submitting to the passion Keith stirs in her body. With her sister in danger, though, they will both have to risk breaking all the rules.

Sanctuary Lost

Brynn Adler hates feeling helpless and vulnerable. But that’s right where she is…in a world of werewolves. Worse, her sister Abigail is one of them. The pack wants to send her packing, yet she’s unwilling to leave—her sister, or the one man who makes her forget her life is falling apart.

Joe Mitchell knew getting involved with Brynn was a bad idea. A supernatural war is no place for a human, and he’s not about to let her make a decision that will bring pain and regret. Now all he has to do is let her go.

My rating:

Two wonderful little stories about two sisters, changed into werewolves against their will, and two strong alpha wolves helping them embrace the change and live with the new animal within.

This was a complete "blind" read, a completely new author, but Ms. Rogers and her were-world literally blew me away. While I absolutely loved the first story, the second one took some time to get "used to", but I ended up loving it as well.

Wonderful characters, great plot, amazing world-building (despite the obviously been-there-done-that topic, Ms. Rogers managed to find something fresh to bring out of the lore), intriguing suspense sub-plot...I loved every minute of it.



Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Review: Cold Feet by Brenda Novak

Title: Cold Feet
Author: Brenda Novak

Read copy: eBook
Published: August 1, 2007
Publisher: Harlequin
ISBN: 1426836597
ISBN-13: 9781426836596

The Seattle police suspect Madison Lieberman's father was the serial killer they call the "Sandpoint Strangler." Madison refuses to believe it. Her father is now dead, and all she wants is the chance to create a new life for herself and her six-year-old child.

Then she discovers something in the crawl space beneath her parents' house. Something that makes her question her father's innocence. Or the innocence of someone else who's equally close to her...

When another woman turns up dead, crime writer Caleb Trovato wonders whether they're dealing with a copycat killer. Or is the real Sandpoint Strangler still alive? Caleb's sure Madison knows more than she's telling, and he's determined to find out what. But he doesn't expect to fall in love--or to lead Madison and her child into danger....

My rating:

It moved rather slowly and the characters had a little too many secrets for comfort (but that’s what made it rather realistic, I think). In general I don’t particularly care for novels where the hero or heroine aim to deceive their counterpart, so that’s probably why this didn’t get the rating it probably deserved. Also, the whole romance aspect was rather shady and bland—I didn’t feel the “love”, if you catch my drift.

Still, it was a solid little suspense number with a particularly nice (and unexpected) twist in the end. Sure didn’t see that one coming.
I’m looking forward to more books by Ms. Novak, hoping for more “romantic” suspense.