Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Review: Rescue Me by Anna Leigh Keaton

Title: Rescue Me
Series: To Serve and Protect
Author: Anna Leigh Keaton
Read copy: eBook
Published: 2007
Publisher: Cobblestone Press
ISBN-13: 9781600881510

An attempt to salvage a failing relationship leaves city girl, Carla Benevito stranded, injured, and lost in the woodlands of Wisconsin. Starving, she struggles for survival even as she gives up all hope of ever finding the man of her dreams. After years spent conducting search and rescue missions for the Cooper Valley Fire Department, Jamie Roberts is resolved to a life as a bachelor with is partner--his only female companion--a gentle wolfhound named Pixie. But that was before a missing woman stumbles across his campsite ... and straight into his heart.

My rating:

Another awwww-sound-inspiring, sex-fest with a pretty solid plot. I seem to have found another solid author to keep me company with her short stories.

This shorty was cute, incredibly unrealistic (come on, who falls in love after two days of boinking in the woods?), but sweet nevertheless. I want to know if this Cooper Valley truly exists, because if it does, I'm on my way there. It seems to be the town with most eligible, hunky, caring, sexy, one-right-woman men in the US. And they all seem to work either for the fire department or for the police force.

Out of the three stories I've read in this series, this was by far my favorite. It didn't have a stuck-up or mercurial heroine, it had plenty of humor, some outdoor sex, an ugly dog, and a HEA (in the making).

Loved it and can't wait for more.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Review: One Night of Paradise by Anna Leigh Keaton

Title: One Night of Paradise
Series: To Serve and Protect
Author: Anna Leigh Keaton
Read copy: eBook
Published: 2007
Publisher: Cobblestone Press
ISBN: 1600880436
ISBN-13: 9781600880438

Normally shy, quiet, unassuming Carol sets out to nab her man. She's seen him frequent the local pub and knows that's where he goes every Friday night after work. Dolled up to the nines, her plain hair highlighted, her drab matronly garb traded in for a sexy, slinky black dress, she sits at the bar and waits. Two years after a nasty divorce, women in general aren't high on Detective Taggert's priority list. All he cares about is his work and his teenaged son--until he surprises even himself by taking the sexy seductress home for one night of passion.

My rating:

Another awwww-sound-inspiring sex-fest shorty. Once you get past the mattress rumba, this one also had a story, and some news about the couple from the previous book. Gracie and Steve are married...and expecting. Yay.

Anyway, this one was the story of Gracie's friend Carol who decided to seduce the guy she was secretly lusting for. But since her inferiority complex made her think the hunky detective wouldn't go for unassuming, shy librarian, she decided to dress up as a hooker, put in some colored contacts, and give him a fake last name.

They set the bed on fire and suddenly the guy, forgetting all the rules of one-night-stands, decides he wants to see her again. What is a girl to do? She makes a date, he stands her up (he had to work!), and she calls it quits...Leaving the poor guy searching for her for THREE WEEKS. Until her best friend takes matters into her own hands, and invites him to the school library, where he, naturally, immediately recognizes the librarian (he's a cop, for crying out loud, he ain't stupid)...

I'm going to stop now, though I'm sure you all figured out what happens next. Cute, short, hot, and sweet.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Review: Five Alarm Neighbor by Anna Leigh Keaton

Title: Five Alarm Neighbor
Series: To Serve and Protect
Author: Anna Leigh Keaton
Read copy: eBook
Published: June 2, 2006
Publisher: Cobblestone Press
ISBN: 1600880002
ISBN-13: 9781600880001

Gracie Terrence has lived next door to firefighter Steve Sheldon for two years. She’s lusted after his hot body since day one, but Steve is a taken man. Gracie is no home wrecker and keeps her fantasies locked safely behind closed doors. Besides, all she wants is one hot night with him.

After getting dumped by his fiancée, Steve decides it’s time to have a little fun with Gracie. She makes his blood heat. But when one night turns to two, and emotions complicate their simple affair, can they survive the inferno of their growing love?

My rating:

Okay, what can you expect from an erotica short story? Page-to-page sex fest. And this one was no different. But, unlike many other page-to-page sex fests, this one actually had a story. Somewhere in the background, that is, but a story, a plot nonetheless.

A pretty tight one, which I actually enjoyed, despite my adversity to page-to-page-sex-fest stories. I rather disliked the heroine and her 'animosity' toward heroes—stereotyping all firefighters/search-and-rescue officers/etc. because of her father dying at thirty was just wrong. And almost cost her her man. And, as usual, it took a near-death experience (not hers) to conk her over the head and make her see reason.
I loved the fact it was the guy who took the plunge first, and wouldn't take no for an answer. Made me go awwwww.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Review: Racing Against Time by Marie Ferrarella

Title: Racing Against Time
Series: Cavanaugh Justice
Author: Marie Ferrarella
Read copy: eBook
Published: June 2, 2010
Publisher: Harlequin
ISBN: 1426868499
ISBN-13: 9781426868498

The Honorable Brenton Montgomery would break every rule to recover his kidnapped little girl. But he wasn't prepared to clash with the one woman he'd secretly loved for years, Detective Callie Cavanaugh, whose job it was to find Rachel. And when tensions grew hot between them, Brenton knew he'd have one helluva fight on his hands...and in his heart.

Every time the troubled single father touched her, kissed her, he made Callie's job that much harder. When this nightmare was over, how would she ever find the strength to walk away from this man and his precious daughter without wanting more?

My rating:

The first in the lengthy Cavanaugh Justice series. For someone (like me) who started this series somewhere toward the end, this beginning might seem a bit odd, since there's an important character (that does appear in the later books) missing. So I'm looking forward to see how that pans out.

But let's focus on this first book for now. A gripping, intense tale of a judge and a detective (who just happen to have a connection—they danced once and sort of clicked, though he was married at the time and nothing happened) racing against time to save the judges kidnapped daughter.

The plot and tension were tight, the characterization great, and the development of the romantic sub-plot rather realistic, if a bit rushed toward the end. I would not have minded for a little more time to have passed before the final 'showdown'.

Everything worked, though the story did drag a bit here and there, and I can't wait to read more about the Cavanaughs that were all nicely paired-off when I actually started reading this series.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Review: After Glow by Jayne Castle

Title: After Glow
Series: Harmony
Author: Jayne Castle
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: February 24, 2004
Publisher: Jove
ISBN: 0515136948
ISBN-13: 9780515136944

Life is complicated for Lydia Smith. She's working at that tacky, third-rate museum, Shrimpton's House of Ancient Horrors, trying to salvage her career in para-archaeology - and dating the most dangerous man in town. Just when she thinks she might be getting things under control, she stumbles over a dead body and discovers that her lover has a secret past that could get him killed. Just to top it off, there's trouble brewing underground in the eerie, glowing green passageways of the Dead City.

Of course, all of these problems pale in comparison to the most pressing issue: Lydia has been invited to the Restoration Ball and she hasn't got a thing to wear

My rating:

A great ending to this two-part Harmony story. The heroine wasn't as bitchy, but still stuck her nose into things she should not be sticking her nose into, the hero was even yummier than in the previous book, the mystery was intriguing, the 'suspense' gripping, but I could've done with only one climax instead of two—the kidnapping was enough of a finale for me, I didn't need that extra little hiccup of suspense. It seemed like an afterthought.

Loved the romance between Lydia and Emmett having more of a center stage in this one. They were already past the initial get-to-know-each-other thing, and past the first few weeks into the relationship, making their continued relationship a real pleasure to read.

Now I think I'll take a small breather from the series, but I'm sure to return soon.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Review: After Dark by Jayne Castle

Title: After Dark
Series: Harmony
Author: Jayne Castle
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: September 5, 2000
Publisher: Jove
ISBN: 051512902X
ISBN-13: 9780515129021

Life is tough these days for Lydia Smith, licensed para-archaeologist. Seriously stressed-out from a nasty incident in an alien tomb, she is obliged to work in Shrimpton’s House of Ancient Horrors, a very low-budget museum. She has a plan to get her career back on track, but it isn’t going well. Stuff keeps happening.

Take the dead body that she discovered in the sarcophagus exhibit. Who needed that? Finding out that her new client, Emmett London, is one of the most dangerous men in the city isn’t helping matters either. And that’s just today’s list of setbacks. Here in the shadows of the Dead City of Old Cadence, things don’t really heat up until After Dark.

My rating:

What a great start (real one) of the Harmony series. Wonderful introduction into the world, the history, and paranormal elements. And despite the fact it’s set in a foreign planet, in the (distant?) future, and the inhabitants all have paranormal abilities, it still reads like a pretty straightforward romance (almost contemporary, if you ignore certain para/sci-fi terms). It has murder, it has romance, it has danger, it has an explosive attraction, it has mystery and intrigue, it has sex, it has a pet, it has a tall-dark-and-dangerous hero, a stubborn heroine (that is, in true JAK/AQ/JC style, a little bitchy sometimes)...

And it also has a sequel. Does it need it? Yes, because there are two parallel stories going on. One is the current case (which is ‘solved’ at the end of the first story) and the second is the backstory that still needs an explanation—what happened to Lydia six months ago to make her experience her Lost Weekend, when she came to in the middle of the alien catacombs without her amber. Had she truly been reckless or had someone tried to get rid of her?

And yes, it also needs a sequel, because the romance isn’t ‘done’ yet. And well, I’ve grown rather fond of Emmett, though I still think he could’ve found someone less argumentative, biased, and bitchy that Lydia. I truly hope she’ll grow up a bit in the next book.

Anyway, this was a great start to the series and I’m an even bigger fan of it and the world as before.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Review: Copper Beach by Jayne Ann Krentz

Title: Copper Beach
Series: Dark Legacy
Author: Jayne Ann Krentz
Read copy: eBook
Published: January 10, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
ISBN: 1101554282
ISBN-13: 9781101554289

Within the pages of very rare books, some centuries old, lie the secrets of the paranormal. Abby Radwell's unusual psychic talent has made her an expert in such volumes—and sometimes, taken her into dangerous territory. After a deadly incident in the private library of an obsessive collector, Abby receives a blackmail threat, and rumors swirl that an old alchemical text known as The Key has reappeared on the black market.

Convinced she needs an investigator who can also play bodyguard, she hires Sam Coppersmith, a specialist in paranormal crystals and amber—“hot rocks.” Passion flares immediately between them, but neither entirely trusts the other. When it comes to dealing with a killer with paranormal abilities, and a blackmailer who will stop at nothing to obtain an ancient alchemical code...no one is safe.

My rating:

And JAK does it again. Again. If there's an author that succeeds in blending suspense, romance, and paranormal in an engrossing, believable, rather realistic, and understandable book, it's her.

Though I haven't seen this book mentioned as part of the Arcane Society series, it's safe to say it's a spin-off. Because you'll find all the Arcane elements in it. Instant attraction between H/h, a bond forged by their intertwined psi, both H/h are strong talents (though their talents aren't categorized as they are in Arcane), some sinister crystals are mentioned, a twisted villain is shadowing their every step, there's a red-herring toward the end, lots of dead bodies, lots of gripping suspense, and lots of hot, psi-infused sex.

I absolutely loved it and can't wait to read more about the Coppersmith family, which I suppose will feature prominently in the future books since Sam (the hero) has a sister, Emma, and a brother, Judson, who are still single.

A great start to a great new series (trilogy?).

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Title: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Series: Millennium
Author: Stieg Larsson
Read copy: Paperback
Published: June 29, 2010
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 0307454541
ISBN-13: 9780307454546

An international publishing sensation, Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo combines murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel. Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden's wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption.

My rating:

A rather slow beginning that ended up in a mad dash toward the end. I think it took a tad (half of the book!) too long for the whole setup (characters, relationships, back-story).

I loved the suspense, the action, and the mystery, while it were the characters that just didn't work for me somehow. I don't know exactly why, it simply didn't click. The relationship between Mikael and Erika, for starters (issues!), the relationship between Mikael and Lisbeth (issues!), Lisbeth herself (issues!), Mikael himself (issues!). I felt like all those character-based issues intruded on the whole story.

I'm still going to read the rest of the trilogy (and maybe see the original movies). Maybe the connection will be better in the next two books.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Review: Beastly by Alex Flinn

Title: Beastly
Author: Alex Flinn

Read copy: eBook
Published: January 27, 2009
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN: 0061830275
ISBN-13: 9780061830273

I am a beast.

A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright—a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.

You think I'm talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It's no deformity, no disease. And I'll stay this way forever—ruined—unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I'll tell you. I'll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I'll tell you how I became perfectly...beastly.

My rating:

For someone who doesn't particularly like YA books and doesn't particularly like first-person narrative (if it isn't the Fever series, of course), this story pleasantly surprised me.

Not in a OMG-I'll-read-only-YA-from-now-on way and not even OMG-what-a-wonderful-story-more-stories-should-be-like-this kind of way (the kidnapping angle ruined that for me).
But if you do look at this 'modern Beauty and the Beast retelling from a straight fairy-tale point of view, it works. If you look at it from a normal 21st century point of view, it doesn't. Especially not since it's a YA book. You usually find kidnapping-is-an-aphrodisiac themes in those pesky Harlequin and Silhouette novels.

Still, it was a nice little read, if you forget the major plot element.