Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sandra Brown: Ricochet

Ricochet C-

Elise Laird and Detective Duncan Hatcher

Hunky yet sensitive Detective Duncan Hatcher is called to investigate the gorgeous and wildly manipulative Elise Laird when she kills a burglar in her elegant home, supposedly in self-defense. Complicating the case is that Mrs. Laird is the trophy wife of a patrician judge who dislikes our hero. Worse, her account of the murder is somewhere between sketchy and laughable.

Hatcher finds himself falling for the mysterious Mrs. Laird, even as he uncovers each new fact that seems to suggest that the murder was intentional and the burglar, Gary Ray Trotter, no stranger. Hatcher doubts Mrs. Laird's increasingly weak explanations, but he still can't help thinking about her body...

How to say this in the most kind of ways?

Don’t read this book because it’s not worth your time. You’d probably have more fun weeding all of your acquaintances’ backyards for the next twenty weekends.

Ricochet was another downer, whish is even more disappointing because I know Ms. Brown is capable of writing captivating stories, dangit!

Duncan Hatcher is a detective. He is a good man, working for justice and liberty. He dislikes a judge named something Laird because Laird is making foolish judgment calls. Judge Laird is married to Elise, someone Duncan is highly attracted to.

When there is a murder at her house, everyone agrees that Elise shot the burglar out of self defense. But she comes to Duncan, saying that she is scared that the judge is trying to kill her, a preposterous statement since the judge seems wholly in love and infatuated with his young, hot wife.

Duncan struggles with his feelings for the already married Elise. He is wary of her motives – she may be a cold-blooded killer who is playing the detective on case, or she might be telling him the truth. It is a problem that plagues Duncan and the unthinkable happens when he agrees to meet her at an abandoned house in the middle of the night. This event is predictable – from the start of the book, your eyes itch for Duncan and Elise to get together (after all, Duncan is the hero and Elise is clearly the heroine. They have to end up together, right?). But when the scene came, I was in a mixed frenzy – partially excited that they were together, but still superbly distressed because she’s married.

I figured out what would happen in the end for Elise and Duncan to be redeemed of this adulterous act, but the fact that the honorable Duncan wasn’t able to resist Elise is something that stayed on my mind. On the one hand, he sure was overcome by lust for Elise, only showing how much he was risking to be with her. On the other hand, he was foolish since he himself knew that there was a good chance Elise was counting on him to think with his whoo-hoo.

There was also the interesting tidbit of Duncan being the good son of a pastor. (Do pastor’s son act in such ways?) I know that it is a grossly huge stereotype to think that the children of pastors ought to be goody-goods, but at the same time, I don’t recall pastors raising their children to be promiscuous…(not saying that Duncan was unspeakably promiscuous, but….)

As you can see, this book had me in titters, really over nothing.

But this isn’t the reason for the less than pleasant grade. The romance was not believable to be love, but it was clear that the characters had full lust for each other. So when they told each other that they loved each other, I thought, “bullocks!” The suspense was good – I was confused as to whether Elise was evil or not, but there were times when I desperately wanted to skip ahead to the parts with Elise and Duncan… parts that weren’t really even that romantic.

Read, if you must, but have low expectations. Then maybe, you won’t be a sorely disappointed.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Connie Brockway: All Through the Night

All Through the Night: A
Anne Wilder & Colonel Jack Seward

My goodness, Ms. Brockway! Bravo!

It is believed that the thief known as Wrexhall's Wraith has stolen a jewel box containing a damaging letter that has to do with a murder, and the king. It is Jack Seward's job to apprehend the thief and recover the letter before it falls into the wrong hands.

The danger and thrill of stealing intoxicates the thief, yet there is a purpose behind this dangerous madness. Though well trained and an expert, the thief is caught unaware when the Whitehall Hound makes his presence known. The thief thinks it is rather extreme that the Hound was set on Wrexhall's Wraith just because some aristocrat's jewels and treasures are being stolen. The only thing the Wraith has going is the element of surprise - the thief is a 'she.'

Everyone knows Jack by his reputation as Whitehall's Hound; he is feared and respected. And they know the circumstances of his low birth and deprived childhood, yet he is tolerated by the ton as he circulates in their social circle looking for the thief. He has narrowed the suspects down to four women and when he crosses paths with one woman in particular, he feels the same sexual excitement that he felt when he surprised the thief and she kissed him.

Jack is told to get the letter and kill the thief, but his suspicion about her identity will not allow him to carry out his orders because he is drawn to her like a moth to a flame. And later, when he confronts her, she tells him there was no letter in the box. He believes her, but knowing she will be killed regardless, he marries her to protect her. Unless or until the letter is found, her life is in danger.

And it takes the old king himself, George III, to put an end to this madness.

Though there is no secret as to the thief's identity, the cat and mouse games played are titillating and delicious. The missing letter, the question of it's contents, who has it and the hunt for it make this book quite a thriller... (amazon)

Reading All Through the Night was a gem and a wonderful journey. It was a little difficult for me at first because of Brockway’s style of writing – complex, realistic (how the British ton would have truly spoken among themselves), and advanced – therefore, making it more than a light and easy read.

However, once you get into the rhythm of the characters’ dialogue and her fluid descriptions, you notice that the characterization of both Anna Wilder and Colonel Jack Seward is beautiful. Brockway takes the reader deep inside both characters’ minds and their struggles, which are also complex and original. (Moreso than problems other fictional characters deal with.)

The obsession and attraction that Anne and Jack feel for each other is so thick, you can almost taste it. The want is so strong, you sometimes wonder if either character has a problem with obsession. But quickly, you learn that the initial attraction and obsession (continued desire of wanting to be with the other person) leads to something substantial and deep.

Jack’s task of trying to find his thief is also engaging and equally amusing, since the reader is aware that Anne is in fact the thief. And you fear for her when Jack discovers her covert identity.

This story was psychological and emotional – something that I cannot say for many of the books in the romance genre.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Gaelen Foley: Princess

Princess: C

Princess Serafina & Darius Santiago
Ascension Trilogy #2

Imperious and beautiful, Princess Serafina has loved Darius Santiago, the king's most trusted warrior, since she was a child. But Darius was plucked from the gutter by the king to be trained as a spy, and although he loves Serafina beyond reason, he conceals his heart for he believes his background forbids a union between them. When Serafina is betrothed to a ruthless Russian aristocrat in a bargain that gains her tiny island kingdom protection from Bonaparte's armies, Darius intervenes to save her. His actions set in motion a sequence of events that will challenge the strength of their love and threaten their lives as well as the survival of the kingdom.

This energetic plot has the hero and heroine poised on the razor's edge of physical danger at the same time they're struggling to trust each other with the deepest secrets of their hearts. The supporting cast of secondary characters is excellent, especially the members of the heroine's family. Their normalcy provides a stark contrast to the hero, whose childhood of neglect and abuse has left scars and built emotional walls that only the heroine's love may heal. (amazon)

Princess Serefina has known Darius Santiago all her life…and has been in love with him most of the time. She knew that she would always be his when he risked his life to save her father’s life. However, she is in despair because Darius sees her as the young, spoiled daughter of his boss.

Darius Santiago is Ascension’s top and most trusted spy. As a young child, the King Lazar and Queen Allegra took him in and raised him; going out and completing dangerous missions is the only way for him to redeem himself and to show everyone that he is doing something worthwhile with his life. To his horror, he falls in love with Serafina, putting him in an awful position – there is no way he is worthy enough to marry Serafina. Darius is a “fabulous” tortured hero and the demons he faces are more than trivialities.

When Serafina is betrothed to a Russian count, Darius is furious. The King has arranged the marriage because of the fear of Napoleon – if Napoleon attacks, the Russians are the only ones with enough man-power to protect the small island of Ascension. However, Darius discovers some unpleasant discoveries about the Russian and Darius is dead set Serafina marrying him.

So he comes up with a plan to rescue Serafina from the marriage.

But before he leaves, he and Serafina admit their feelings to each other and cause a bunch of ruckus.

With the classis male I’m-not-good-enough-for-her syndrome and the classic female I-don’t-care-about-anyone-but-you counter-attack, this tale is full of hot scenes, of fluttery, flowery dialog, and of love.

I love the ending where Darius finally realizes his self-worth, when he finally stands up to King Lazar and I especially love it when Serafina walks into the room and shows Darius that she will always love him, no matter what. It is very sigh-worthy.

But as it is with most books, there were some things that did not click with me.

I did think “jailbait” while reading most of the book because Serafina is twenty and Darius is thirty-four. Plus, he’s known her since she was four. He’s literally seen her grow up. That’s kind of like… him being there, like her father was there. Fatherly figure? Icck! I know it was normal for young young girls to marry old old men, but something about it still gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Second, Ms. Foley is very flowery with her dialog. Some of the things that Darius is to have said to Serafina had me snorting. Men don’t really say things like that, especially not while doing the hanky panky. (…do they??)

Third, Serafina grows in the story, but I still thought that she was a spoiled, pampered princess. She acted like she was a child for most of the book and when she commits the unthinkable (because she doesn’t want to lose Darius), I was grimacing. But! the internal struggles of both Serafina and Darius are believable and intricate – they deal with their problems separately, then finally deal with it together.

Fun read – A good sequel to The Pirate Prince, I would probably continue reading the last of the series, Prince Charming.

Note: I didn’t realize that we were introduced to Darius in the first of the trilogy. He is the boy that Lazar brought home, which means that the current King and Queen were the hero and heroine of the first book…

I read The Pirate Prince well over a year ago, so I don’t remember much of it. But those of you who like to read series in order, definitely read The Pirate Prince first!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Catherine Anderson: Always in My Heart

Always in My Heart: A+
Ellie Grant and Tucker Grant

Two years ago, Ellie Grant would have fallen apart at any reminder of her ex-husband, Tucker. But now she doesn’t bat an eye when “their song” comes on the radio. She’s unfazed by the thought of Tucker’s perky new girlfriend. Ellie Grant is over him. And things are better for Tucker as well. The single life agrees with him. And certainly they’ve both done a good job of being civil to each other, for the kids’ sake.

But the kids aren’t buying it. Zach and Kody are convinced that, deep down, their parents are stll meant to be together. Up to their elbows in scheming and dreaming, the brothers hatch a plan: They’ll run away from home into the Oregon wilderness and stay there until their parents agree to get back together. Surely Ellie and Tucker will come to the rescue – and to their sense.

Let the games begin and the sparks fly…

This is story is so much more than a romance – it’s about family, the loss of a loved one, grief, and moving on. There was so much depth and romance in the story, it is hard to believe that it’s only a romance.

Ellie and Tucker Grant lost their first born son, Sammy, two years ago. Following Sammy’s death came their divorce and their family fell apart. It’s hard to believe that Ellie and Tucker were once childhood lovers; the hatred and bitterness they have for each other is heartbreaking and painful to read.

The hurt and grief that Ellie and Tucker have effects their two remaining sons, Zach and Kody ages fourteen and eleven. They choose to run away into the wild woods of Oregon and refuse to come home until Ellie and Tucker have reconciled.

Ellie and Tucker set out to search for their runaway sons and bring with them their spiteful words and their lovers. Together, they hike through the wilderness for their sons and on the way, manage to share their grief so that they are able to move on from Sammy’s death.

This story is more than a reconciliation; it’s about communication between loved ones, about hurt and grief that is strong enough to destroy lives, and the rekindling of old love.

When Ellie and Tucker finally shared their perspectives with each other, my heart broke for them. Then I squealed in joy when they were finally able to share their grief together. Their chemistry is stronger than ever and even more tender, because of what they’ve suffered.

Ms. Anderson, you’ve really outdone yourself.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Catherine Anderson: My Sunshine

My Sunshine: A-
Kendrick/ Coulter series #6

Laura Townsend & Isaiah Coulter

Veterinarian Isaiah Coulter agrees to hire Laura Townsend as a kennel keeper at his clinic despite her speech impediment, the result of brain damage she sustained after a diving accident five years earlier. With her sparkling personality and love of animals, Laura is the perfect addition to Isaiah's clinic. But when errors are committed on Laura's shift, naturally she's blamed, and she begins to suspect that someone is framing her in the hope of getting her fired. Isaiah remains her stalwart defender as attraction sparks between them, developing into a romance that is both sweet and sensual. While the identity of the individual framing Laura will come as no surprise to the savvy reader, the uniqueness of the relationship between the successful veterinarian and the woman whose handicaps are overshadowed by her ability to love more than compensates.

This was a story that was more than the regular romance, as usual, and it was a great read.

Laura Townsend was an environmental scientist who, after an accident, is unable to speak properly due to the damage in the language area of her brain. After being brilliant, she is reduced to having to work miscellaneous jobs for money and eventually takes on the job as a kennel keeper (unglamorous work such as cleaning kennels, feeding the puppies, etc). Isaiah notices her, is attracted, but is intrigued by her sunny disposition and her ability to make him see what life is like when one is appreciating it.

More than anything else, I loved Laura. I was so drawn to her because of her strength; I cannot imagine having to live with a speech impediment that affects your life on so many different levels and the way that Laura fought to support herself, refusing help from her family and friends, is a trait that I find amazingly admirable.

I also loved Isaiah and his determination to stick with Laura despite her “he’s-too-good-for-me-and-deserves-better” syndrome. He is hunky, as are all the Coulters apparently, and he is courts her well.

They work well together – she pays attention to the miniscule details and feeds him. He has the money and has the ability to bring fulfillment in Laura’s life.

There were some aspects of the story I wasn’t too terribly fond of; I love animals, but probably not to the extent that Laura did, so I didn’t particularly care for the fact that she was so tender with them. However, the reason that she cared so much for them was apparent and completely understandable since she, herself, experienced the feeling of abandonment from her acquaintances after her head injury. Isaiah is also a vet, which makes their love for animals a large aspect of the story…

I also didn’t like her love for shopping. Call me a dork, but she reminded me of a typical consumer – buying little, useless nitnacks for her home. It was something that Isaiah loved since she was able to transform a place into a home, but to me, all I am able to envision is clutter. Everywhere. (The shopping-for-Christmas scene had me cringing. Shopping for forty/ fifty people? Are you freaking kidding me? That would suck…and he’d be poor by the end of the Holiday seasons.)

There was also a slight “suspense” tint to the story, which brought more substance, but not too much more. The romance is the most important element, something that Ms. Anderson brought wonderfully.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Elizabeth Vaughan: Warprize

Warprize: A-
The Chronicles of the Warlands #1

Xylara and Keir

Even though she is the daughter of a king, Xylara refuses to wait idly for a marriage that will benefit the Land of Xy and so becomes an accomplished healer, a useful skill when her country is drawn into war with the Firelanders. Even though her half brother, the present king, does not want her treating the enemy, Xylara feels she must--both for the honor of Xy and for simple humanity. When her brother suddenly surrenders to the Firelander Warlord, Xylara is stripped of all her possessions and sent to the conqueror as a slave referred to as "Warprize." As Xylara learns to live with the masterful Warlord, she begins to understand the very different social structure and beliefs of those she has seen as uncivilized. Vaughan's brawny barbarian romance re-creates the delicious feeling of adventure and the thrill of exploring mysterious cultures created by Robert E. Howard in his Conan books and makes for a satisfying escapist read with its enjoyable romance between a plucky, near-naked heroine and a truly heroic hero. Diana Tixier Herald ( – booklist)

The first of the Warland series, I completely fell in love with Ms. Vaughan’s creative fantasy world. The heroine was refreshing, the hero was heroic (and completely lovable), and the adventure they embark on is wonderful.

Xylara is the daughter of the king, making her an elite. However, she has chosen the path to be a healer, loving the fact that she can use her skill to serve her people. Xy is fighting a rebel group called the Firelanders, and she acquires permission to heal the enemy soldiers as well; she refuses to stand by and watch soldiers die for the lack of treatment.

The warlord of the Firelanders agree to cease fighting in exchange for Lara and she willingly sacrifices herself for her people. Her love for people (hers and even for the Firelanders) is wonderful and gives depth to her characters, something rare in romances. To her surprise, Keir, the warlord, is handsome and treats her with the utmost respect.

This story focuses on Lara’s adaptation to the Firelanders and her insecurities about being seen as the slave. It is in written in her point of view, which is also a little different from the traditional romance.

A great start to the trilogy, there were some scenes in the book that I read over and over again, just because it was so dreamy. Fantastical and exciting, I enjoyed this read immensely and when I finished, I immediately started on the next book because I wanted to be with Lara and Keir as they continue their journey together.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Susan Elizabeth Phillips: Nobody's Baby But Mine

Nobody’s Baby But Mine: A-

Tender and hilarious!

Stars #3
Dr. Jane Darlington and Cal Bonner

Physics professor Dr. Jane Darlington spends her 34th birthday in tears. She wants a baby,but not a husband. Where can she find an average or, preferably, stupid man? She decides that Cal Bonner, legendary quarterback for the Chicago Stars is perfect. Jane sets her plan into action and after some trail and error she succeeds. But the results are more than she bargained for when Cal discovers her duplicity. How can a football player with an interfering family and a nerdy professor who has never known family love ever fall in love? With lots of honesty, understanding and a whole lot of humor.

I have to give it to Ms. Phillips for writing the funniest and most entertaining stories with the most absurd story plotlines. As expected, I couldn’t put this book down and bust a gut laughing (especially when Jane is trying to “seduce” Cal, oh goodness.)

Initially, I thought this story was going to be a flop. A genius physicist pretending to be a hooker to seduce a dumb jock? And by seduce, I mean impregnate herself with his sperm with his stupid genes. C’mon, you can’t get stupider than that. For someone so brilliant, Jane was astonishingly stupid.

Then there was Cal, the gorgeous, hunky football star with a deep-seated fear of getting old and getting booted off his beloved football team. So what does he do? Pick fights with Kevin Tucker, the much-younger, new “it” quarterback and date stupid blond bimbos barely old enough to be considered legal.

With a terrifically negative mindset I started reading Nobody’s Baby But Mine and I’m sure glad I did! It was entertaining, hilarious (I repeat, when she is trying to seduce Cal, it’s the funniest thing) and SEP has this way of writing so that you cringe and feel for the humiliation the heroine is feeling (something she truly and wholly deserves, but is painful to read at the same time).

Little does Jane realize that Cal is a very shrewd and clever jock. And Cal thinks she’s a hooker who’s slightly older than what he usually prefers (she claims to be twenty-eight or something).

It’s a hoot when Jane is faced with the awful truth that Cal is brilliant and Cal is sorely pissed when he discovers that Jane is thirty-four (oh Heaven forbid!).

When Cal catches onto Jane’s evil and sneaky scheme, he hurriedly marries her – so that their child will have his name and won’t be considered illegitimate – and plans to divorce her shortly after the baby is born. They move back to Cal’s hometown, Salvation, North Carolina, and Jane meets Cal’s family – his estranged parents, bitter and cynical Gabriel, angel-y Ethan, and Cal’s wicked-cool grandmother.

It’s a poignant tale of tribulation and overcoming differences with love at the very bottom. Completely recommended – ignore the almost too-stupid-to-live heroine. (She eventually redeems herself.) I did and everything worked out well!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Susan Elizabeth Phillips: Dream a Little Dream

Dream a Little Dream: C+
Chicago Star Series #4
Rachel Stone and Gabriel Bonner

Setting her story in Salvation, N.C., Phillips adeptly develops the theme of love's healing power. Broke and desperate to provide a better life for her son, gutsy Rachel Stone ends up in Salvation when her car breaks down. She knows the place, even worse, they know her as the widow of G. Dwayne Snopes, a televangelist who fled stealing millions. Luckily, Gabe Bonner, who owns a drive-in theater where Rachel asks for work, seems to be the only person who doesn't recognize her right off. Rachel's proud mettle distracts Gabe from the grief of his own tragic loss, but enemies strike out at Rachel, while Gabe's brothers mount a family defense against the gold-digging widow. Phillips (Heaven, Texas) digs deep to expose weaknesses and strengths in the psyche and faith of her characters…

Not really a “part” of the Chicago Stars series since the story has very little to do athletics and professional sports, but it is a continuation of Gabe and Ethan Bonner, whom the reader meets in the previous book, Nobody’s Baby But Mine.

I knew that this would be a particularly hard story to love since I don’t do well with stories where a main character is a widow, or the survivor of his or her lover’s death – a lover that the character has loved immensely before. (It’s kind of like one giving his entire heart to a woman and then having his heart broken into a million and a half pieces, then getting over that woman to love another person.)

Gabe Bonner has lost his wife and childhood sweetheart (he knew he loved her since he was thirteen, or something like that) and his son in an automobile accident two years ago. Being a lively and very gentle person before the death of his family, our heroine Rachel Stone finds Gabe to be a very bitter, hard-edged, and cynical man.

She has a five year old son and is a widow of Snopes, a once hugely famous corrupt tele-evangelist. He was from Gabe’s hometown and was found to be pocketing millions and millions of dollars, ruining lives in the process of doing so.

Rachel returns because she is at the very bottom of all possible lows; she has no money, no job, and a son to support. Her car breaks down in front of an old drive-in theater, one that Gabe has bought, and tries to work there.

To Gabe’s surprise, he finds himself attracted to Rachel and does his best to tamp down his desire for her, but more than physical attraction, he finds Rachel’s ability to keep going, even when she’s constantly shoved and pushed down, admirable and intriguing. She is shunned by the entire town, including Gabe’s very friendly family and Gabe’s pastor brother, Ethan.

The development of Rachel as well as her son’s character is truly remarkable. So is Gabe’s ability to move on with his life after the death of Cherry and Jamie. Their relationship is down to earth and full of angst –because of Gabe’s remaining pain and the hate that is hurled at Rachel.

Story-wise, there is nothing wrong with Dream a Little Dream, I just dislike that Gabe was still so fully in love with Cherry and Jamie. I know that it’s a necessary fact in life for people to move on after the death of their loved ones, but I still don’t understand (from the lack of experience?) how he was able to put his pain away and focus on his blooming love for Rachel.

SEP was able to write about it and technically, I understand – I just don’t comprehend how the feelings play into the entire equation. It’s something I probably won’t understand for a long time.

Good story, but full of pain that is gritty. I probably won’t want to read it again…

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tara Janzen: Crazy Sweet

Crazy Sweet F+

Crazy/ Steele Street Series #6

Utterly ridiculous and atrocious!

During a secret mission gone bad, covert operator Gillian Pentycote ceased to exist. Held captive by a madman, shot full of drugs that stole her memory, Gillian survived. Now, with a new identity and nothing to lose, the woman who calls herself Red Dog has gone from bookish secretary to sizzling-hot hired gun. And she has one plan: to find the man who shattered her life and take him down for good.

Special agent Travis James has the same plan, except he has rules to follow–and using a gorgeous amnesiac as bait isn’t in them. So Travis must play a dangerous double game of his own. He knows Red Dog will do anything to lure the ultimate criminal to her side and exact revenge. But from
Central America to a Colorado showdown, Travis has gotten his priorities straight. He’ll kill the bad guy, but only if he can save the beauty–and never, ever let her go.... (

There were so many elements of this story that I just really disliked, I think I only finished reading the story because of the introduction of Honey and C. Smith, and for the cameo of the other SDF members (yummy Christian and yummy Kid).

Element 1: Gillian is nine years older than Travis. I prefer my heroes to be older than the heroines, but I can tolerate if the heroine is a little older. But nine years, holy monkey! That’s almost a decade! Travis is just too young to be taken seriously in his role as bad-ass, shit-kicking government operator and Gillian seems too old to be lacy thong-ing Travis.

Element 2: Too much action, no romance. It’s like a speedy sex scene (which was blech, considering I don’t even like the characters) and then time for revenge. But the action scenes are haphazard and rushed. No, the entire story is that way.

Element 3: I couldn’t take Travis nor Gillian seriously. Love? What? When? There was no character development other than Travis wanting to “protect” his older lover-woman and her wanting justice for her amnesia. It’s a bad problem when the reader cannot sympathize with any of the characters.

I give it a small “+” next to the F because of C. Smith and Honey – two characters who were somewhat endearing and exciting, despite the fact that their book was a flop. I also loved Christian and everyone else’s cameo. (Well maybe not Dylan’s as much because the word “jailbait” still echoes in my head when I think of him and Skeeter.)

What a horrible read; I wanted to giggle because of the overall absurdity.

Overall, this is how I would rate the Crazy/ Steele Street Series:

Crazy Cool (book 2) and Crazy Kisses (book 4) were amazing, fast-paced, awesome, and stays in your head for a long time – even after you’ve put down the books. Christian and Kid are hotty hotties and wonderful; I even thought of trying to be a government FBI agent so that I could meet these types of real-life hotties. (lol.)

Crazy Hot (book 1) was acceptable, but nothing incredible. It’s good enough for you to continue reading the series.

Crazy Wild (book 3) was distasteful because love is nonexistent and Crazy Love (book 5) keeps on making me think of pedophiles and jailbaits.

Crazy Sweet (book 6, last) sucked and I hated it. I could have had more fun counting the number of eyebrow hairs I have on my face.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sandra Brown: The Switch

Sandra Brown: The Switch C-

Gillian & Chief Hart

Identical twins are fair game for a thriller writer, and in The Switch, queen of suspense Sandra Brown (The Alibi, Standoff, Fat Tuesday) makes the most of an intricate setup involving Gillian and Melina Lloyd, a pair of thirtysomething
Dallas beauties. When Gillian hears her biological clock ticking, she puts herself in the hands of the world-famous Waters Clinic and is artificially inseminated (as described in a somewhat plodding first chapter that omits no detail of the procedure). The action picks up when Gillian switches places with her twin, a media escort, and chauffeurs sexy astronaut Chief Hart around town. It turns out to be a fatal attraction, and suspicion falls on Chief when Gillian's mutilated body is found the next day.

The dead woman's smarmy and enigmatic boyfriend, Jem Hennings, has a vested interest in focusing police efforts on Hart, but Melina has her own reasons for thinking him wrong. Jem's connection with a charismatic preacher known as Brother Gabriel is at the heart of this mildly creepy mystery, in which the plucky Melina tracks Brother Gabriel to his lair and uncovers his diabolical plot while simultaneously revealing her own dark secret. The ending is telegraphed well in advance… (

After being impressed with Sandra Brown’s Envy and Mirror Image, I prayed that The Switch would be as equally excellent.

I was wrong. (This is where I start sobbing uncontrollably.)

While the premise of the story was exciting, I couldn’t help but to have problems with the characters.

Gillian, wanting to be a mother, is artificially inseminated at a famous clinic because her longtime boyfriend, Jem, has had a vasectomy. That night, she and her twin switch places and she takes Melina’s place as a media escort to handsome astronaut “Chief” Hart.

It is no surprise that the attraction between Chief and Gillian is thick. One thing led to another, I suppose, and they sleep together. Disconnect 1: Gillian doesn’t seem to be the type of person to sleep with strangers on first dates – especially because she has a loving boyfriend. Even though she is pretending to be Melina, I feel that this is a very out-of-character deed for Gillian and something that I don’t understand because she loves Jem – and has told Melina repeatedly of how wonderful Jem is.

Gillian, you cheater and liar! I don’t care if it’s suggested for couples to sleep together on the night of the insemination (so that if the woman gets pregnant, then there is a possibility that the child was from the hanky panky and not the insemination) and that you couldn’t sleep with Jem because he’s sterile – what a way to betray your boyfriend’s trust. Creep.

So then Gillian is found dead the next morning, to Chief’s chagrin, because amazingly, he’s fallen in love with Gillian. (“love at first sight” is another disconnect for me, but it’s believed by many and common, so I let it pass). He spends many hours with Melina to track down Gillian’s killer – Melina and Chief both want revenge and the police are doing a crappy job of everything, so they decide to work together to bring about justice.

But the more time he spends with Melina, the more lustful thoughts lurk in his head. Furthermore, he questions his feelings for Melina – was he falling in love with her too? Of course, Melina has fallen in love with the lameface.

When Melina and Chief do the hanky panky, I can’t help but to think that Melina got used. Chief may be falling in love with Melina, but he’s already lost it to Gillian. Don’t tell me crap about falling in love with two people – that’s a pickle as is; the fact that the two women Chief is in love with are twins makes it incestuous and gross. Ew, imagine sharing your twin sister’s lover – the twin sister that you love and adore dearly, the sister who is so close to your heart that she is a part of you…

To add to this slightly disturbing procession of events, when Chief is in the throes of passion with Melina, he yells someone’s name. I’ll let you guess whose name he yelled.

…yea, what a douchebag. Way to satisfy your lust by hooking up with the identical carbon-copy twin of the woman you fell in love with.

While the ending might bring everything together, the premise in which the characters acted is disturbing. To me, it doesn’t matter if Captain Hook ends up being the good guy in the very end; if Wendy thought that Hook was the bad guy BUT does the hanky panky with him anyway, that is a breach of moral goodness for Wendy, in my book.

It’s like that. It doesn’t matter for the ending, really, because we all know that somehow, things work out because they’re romances and HEAs are necessary. It’s the idea that the characters have of each other that determine motivations and drives – that is crucial. Both Gillian and Chief breached the line of moral goodness.

Because of this, I find the book merely amusing.

Catherine Anderson: Sweet Nothings

Sweet Nothings: B
Kendrick/ Coulter series #3

Molly Sterling and Jake Coulter

Out of work, out of luck, and almost out of money, Molly Sterling Wells shows up at Jake Coulter's ranch, the Lazy J, with Sonora Sunset, a beautiful horse who has been so badly beaten he may even be beyond Jake's talents as a horse whisperer. Jake intuitively knows there is more to Molly's story, but he agrees to help if Molly will stay on as the ranch's new cook and housekeeper. Little by little, Molly and Sonora Sunset find peace and security at the Lazy J until the day Molly's past catches up with her. Anderson continues to demonstrate a gift for creating richly emotional, deeply satisfying romances with her newest tale, which features Jake Coulter… ( - booklist)

Catherine Anderson is terrific at bringing a sense of realism into the fantastical romance world. She is not afraid of delving into difficult physical and emotional scars and does a superb job of showing the growth of the heroine.

My first CA was Blue Skies, a story where the heroine has an eye disease which has a huge impact on her and the hero’s life when she discovers that she is carrying his child. When I read it, I remember being blown away (and a little overwhelmed) at the range of emotions shown in the story, the book being more than the usual fluff.

In Sweet Nothings, an abused woman, Molly Sterling, shows up on sexy Jake’s horse ranch with an abused horse, Sunset. With a bit of luck and Jake’s kindness, she manages to stay on the ranch to pay for her horse.

Within hours of knowing her, Jake sees Molly’s nonexistent self esteem and her self-consciousness in everything she does. He does his best to reassure her as she struggles with her own inner demons.

I love how Jake is patient with Molly; he is the type of friend (or lover, heh) that she needs in order to deal with her insecurities. He is confident and kind enough to guide her and to love her for her golden heart, something she realizes she’s never had from her ex-husband. I love how Jake falls in love with Molly’s personality, despite her looks (which he is also attracted to). I love how he encourages her and I love how Molly finally comes to trust Jake.

When Molly is able to acknowledge and love herself, she is able to see Jake, which is a wonderful.

Sweet Nothings is a tender tale with lots of heart.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Julie Garwood: Saving Grace

Saving Grace: D

Julie Garwood: Saving Grace

When Lady Johanna learned that she was a widow, she vowed she would never marry again. Only sixteen, she possessed a strength of will that impressed all who looked past her golden-haired beauty. Yet when King John demanded that she remarry – and selected a bridegroom for her – it seemed she must acquiesce, until her beloved foster brother suggested she wed his friend, the handsome Scottish warrior Gabriel MacBain.

At first Johanna was shy, but as Gabriel tenderly revealed the splendid pleasures they would share, she came to suspect that he was falling in love with her gruff new husband. And it was soon apparent to the entire Highlands clam that their brusque, gallant laird had surrendered his heart completely. But now a desperate royal intrigue threatened to tear her from his side – and to destroy the man whose love meant more to her than she had ever dreamed!

There was nothing really wrong with this book, more of that there is nothing interesting to really talk about. This read felt unoriginal and like Ms. Garwood’s other historicals.

Checklist for unoriginal historical:

-Sweet, innocent, good-hearted, unrealistically patient heroine

-Gruff but internally sweet, fierce but tender, masochistic and egotistic but loving Scottish leader as hero

-Weird deranged madman as the arch nemesis of heroine (and therefore eternal enemy of hero)

-Other insignificant events that show that hero loves heroine

I liked that Johanna learned to stand up against her fears (aka arch nemesis) but the read itself was boring and the ending anticlimactic.

Maybe I’m getting old and bitter – jaded from life and hard to please. Heh.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Books read in 2007

I read 107 books in 2007 and most (99%) were romances.

I started this blog late in the year (November) and so most of the books I read aren't reviewed here. I would go back and review the books, however, I don't remember most of the details and I would want to reread in order to get the facts correct, something that I don't particularly want to do if the book wasn't a great read.

Anyway, here is a summary of my 2007 reads. (Italicized titles are books that aren't traditional "romances." Chick-lit, mystery, general fiction, etc would fall under this category.)

2007 overview

A books

1. J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix A+

2. JK Rowling: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince A+

3. JK Rowling: Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows A+

4. Harlan Coben: Tell No One A+

5. Susan Elizabeth Phillips: Natural Born Charmer A+

6. James McBride: The Color of Water A+

7. Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice A+

8. Karen Robards: Nobody’s Angel A+

9. Karen Robards: Scandalous A+

10. Jerry Spinnelli: Stargirl A+

11. Dixie Cash: My Heart May Be Broken But My Hair Still Looks Great A

12. Karen Robards: Superstitious A

13. Karen Robards: Bait A

14. Harlan Coben: Deal Breaker A

15. Harlan Coben: Drop Shot A

16. Harlan Coben: Fade Away A

17. Jennifer Donnelly: The Tea Rose A

18. Jennifer Donnelly: The Winter Rose A

19. Sandra Brown: Envy A

20. Tara Janzen: Crazy Kisses A

21. Tara Janzen: Crazy Cool A

22. Laura Esquivel - Like Water For Chocolate A

23. Judith McNaught: A Kingdom of Dreams A (reread!)

24. Penelope Williamson: Keeper of the Dream A

25. Elizabeth Vaughan: Warprize A

26. Elizabeth Vaughan: Warsworn A

27. Susan Elizabeth Phillips: Heaven, Texas A

28. J.R. Ward: Lover Revealed A-

29. Julia Quinn: An Offer From a Gentleman A-

30. Julia Quinn: Romancing Mr. Bridgerton A-

31. Eloisa James: Kiss Me Annabel A-

32. Josie Litton: Believe in Me A-

33. Lavyrle Spencer: November of the Heart A-

34. Lauren Willig: The Secret History of the Pink Carnation A-

35. Nicola Kraus and Emma McLaughlin: Dedication A-

36. Jerry Spinelli: Love, Stargirl A-

37. Tess Gerritsen: Bloodstream A-

38. Sherrilyn Kenyon: The Beginning A-

39. Sherrilyn Kenyon: Night Pleasures A-

40. Nora Roberts: Montana Sky A-

41. Susan Elizabeth Phillips: Just Imagine A-

42. Nora Roberts: Carolina Moon A-

43. Susan Elizabeth Phillips: Nobody’s Baby But Mine A-

44. Robin McKinley: Beauty A-

45. Sandra Brown: Mirror Image A-

46. Lisa Kleypas: Where Dreams Begin A-

B books

47. Cara Lockwood: I Do (But I don't) B+

48. Nora Roberts: Angels Fall B+

49. Stephenie Meyer: Twilight B+

50. Harlan Coben: Back Spin B+

51. Eloisa James: Much Ado About You B+

52. Josie Litton: Dream of Me B+

53. Elizabeth Hoyt: The Raven Prince B+

54. Elizabeth Hoyt: The Serpent Prince B+

55. Julie Garwood: Ransom B+ (re-read)

56. Catherine Anderson: Sun Kissed B+

57. Julia Quinn: The Duke and I B

58. Julia Quinn: The Viscount Who Loved Me B

59. Linda Howard: After the Night B

60. Phillip Pullman: The Golden Compass B

61. Elizabeth Hoyt: The Leopard Prince B

62. Liz Carlyle: One Little Sin B

63. Lauren Willig: The Deception of the Emerald Ring B

64. Sherrilyn Kenyon: Fantasy Lover B-

65. Jude Deveraux: A Knight In Shining Armor B-

66. Connie Brockway: My Seduction B-

67. Selena Montgomery: Secrets and Lies B-

68. Lavyrle Spencer: Separate Beds B-

69. Lauren Willig: The Masque of the Black Tulip B-

70. Loretta Chase: Lord of Scoundrels B-

C books

71. Jennifer Blake: Luke C+

72. Susan Elizabeth Phillips: It Had To Be You C+

73. J.R. Ward: Lover Unbound C+

74. Julia London: The Perils of Pursuing a Prince C+

75. Tara Janzen: On the Loose C+

76. Susan Wiggs: The Drifter C+

77. Jennifer Blake: Kane C

78. Julia Quinn: To Sir Phillip, With Love C

79. Carly Phillips: Hot Item C

80. Tara Janzen: Crazy Hot C

81. Jill Barnett: Wonderful C

82. Heather Graham: The Island C-

83. Sherrilyn Kenyon: Dragonswan C-

84. Christina Dodd: The Prince Kidnaps a Bride C-

85. Gayle Callen: The Lord Next Door C-

86. Julie Garwood: The Prize C-

87. Lavyrle Spencer: Hummingbird C-

88. Susan Wiggs: The Mistress C-

89. Julia Quinn: When He was Wicked C-

90. Sandra Brown: Richochet C-

D books

91. Lisa Jackson: Temptress D

92. Lauren Royal: Lily D

93. Lavyrle Spencer: The Endearment D

94. Julia London: The Hazards of Hunting a Duke D

95. Lynn Michaels: Marriage by Design D

96. Julia Quinn: It’s In His Kiss D

97. Julia Quinn: On the Way to the Wedding D

98. Tara Janzen: Crazy Love D

99. Julie Garwood: Saving Grace D

100. Tara Janzen: Crazy Wild D

101. Mary Jane Meier: Hometown Girl D-

F books

102. Tara Janzen: Crazy Sweet F+

103. Lynn Michaels: HoneyMoon Suite F


104. Stephenie Meyer: New Moon

105. Sherrilyn Kenyon: Night Embrace

106. Brenda Joyce: Dark Rival

107. Jo Beverley: To Rescue a Rogue

Hoping for a 2008 full of laughter, love, adventures, and dashing heroes... cheers!