Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard

What do you get when four friends get together for their weekly girls night out and have a little too much to drink? Well, in this story, you get a list detailing what these friends think it takes to make the perfect man.

And what do you get when that list becomes an overnight sensation with a nearly cult like following? Well, in this story, you get murder!

I’ve had this book on my shelves for quite awhile and whenever my Goodreads friends would talk about Linda Howard’s books, Mr. Perfect was sure to be listed as one of her very best, and almost always a favorite. So why did I put off reading this book, you ask? Because I thought the cover is ugly. And let me just tell you now, it’s true what they say; you should never judge a book by its cover.

Mr. Perfect was a fun, fast paced, sexy read and once I got started I just couldn’t put it down. And while the idea that such a list could become so insanely popular and cause such havoc is a bit on the farfetched side, the story was written in such a way that made it believable, and the characters were written just as well.

Jaine Bright and Sam Donovan were both so perfect, and yet so flawed that they felt like real people to me, not just words and images bunched together to give us characters to read about, but honest to goodness real people. Their banter was laugh out loud funny and their sexual chemistry burned up the pages.

I also loved the secondary characters who filled out the group of friends, four ladies working for the same company yet in different departments. Their love for each other was so apparent, and it made me think of a couple of my own closest friends. I could easily see us all sitting down and getting carried away, laughing and just having a great time creating our ideal man, our own Mr. Perfect.

The bottom line – This was my first Linda Howard read and before I was even 1/3 of the way through I was ordering more of her books. It was fun, exciting and very sexy, so needless to say, I really enjoyed Mr. Perfect and I’m looking forward to reading more by this author!

4/5 stars

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pursuit by Elizabeth Jennings

I sure do love a wounded hero!

I borrowed this book from a friend, and feeling badly that it was taking me so long to get to it, I almost returned it, unread. I’m very pleased that I decided, instead, to put other things aside and spend some time with Matthew Sanders, an amazing alpha hero, and Charlotte Court, a strong, independent heroine, because this story was well worth the time invested in reading it.

I’ve read books Lisa Marie Rice, who also writes as Elizabeth Jennings, and really enjoyed them. I could see and feel a slight difference between the writing styles, which really intrigued me because I just assumed that an author, no matter what name they wrote under, would still write the same way. But I found that Pursuit, while still a good read, was much more intense in its character roles. What I mean to say is that the villains in this book were over the top sick in the head and some of the things they did made my stomach churn. While there weren’t many such instances, I think it’s important to point this out for those who would prefer not to read about what sick, greedy, evil men are capable of.

Robert Haines has been working for Charlotte Court’s father for some time, and makes quite a healthy salary, but as is often the case, healthy just isn’t good enough. He’d tried all the usual ways to move himself up the pay scale – making himself indispensible, wooing the heiress daughter of the Court empire’s owner, murdering said owner and framing said daughter – but nothing is going his way. Realizing that he’s going to have to take drastic measures, he hires a hit man to dispose of Charlotte because time is running out and he needs this all tidied up if he hopes to win a Pentagon contract and earn a few billion big ones.

Named after the gun, Barrett has the reputation of being the best hit-man in the business. His list of satisfied clients goes on and on and includes some really big names. Of course, he isn’t the kind of man you’d find listed in the Yellow Pages under Assassins ‘R Us but still, with such impeccable references via word of mouth, Barrett could ask for – and get – huge dollar amounts for his services. He’s good at what he does - dealing in death, and has no doubt he’ll find his target. Charlotte who, realizing she’s been set up for her father’s murder, is on the run and Barrett has no qualms about doing whatever he has to do to find her. Between Barrett and Haines, I’ve read some of the more disturbing scenes I’ve come across in any book.

The 'framed for murder/on the run' storyline isn't terribly original, but still, it was well written, given enough twists and turns to keep it interesting and exciting. There were a couple of eye rolling moments, but overall the story was great!

I really loved the way the relationship developed between Matt and Charlotte. Matt was definitely alpha, and yet, he knew how to control his intensity and those made for some very interesting moments. I came to respect him as not only a protector, but a caring, honorable man. He knew when to give Charlotte her space and when to demand her compliance. He needed to watch over her, to keep her safe, because her life and his heart depended on it.

Charlotte had grown up quite wealthy, but she wasn’t spoiled, and didn’t take that wealth for granted. She knew the importance of helping others, and she was genuinely a kind, caring, generous person. The thing I think I really liked most about her was that, while she was strong and independent, intelligent and very cautious, she wasn’t a “too stupid to live” heroine. She knew when she needed help and accepted it. This made Charlotte an interesting, exciting and totally believable character.

The bottom line, if you’re looking for a suspenseful, romantic, sexy read, check out Pursuit. It might just be what you’re looking for.

3.5/5 stars

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ride the Fire by Pamela Clare

It seems to me that the best books are often the hardest for me to review and, as is always the case with Pamela Clare’s books, Ride the Fire is no different. Once again this author has given us a deeply emotional story and characters we can’t help but admire. They are honorable, courageous people who understand that doing the right thing is often the hardest thing to do.

Nicholas Kenleigh is a man with a tortured past – literally. And as Ride the Fire opens, his torture is shown to us in explicit detail, but to truly understand the man he was, the choices he made and the man he became, we had to see that. We had to experience it with him. Every. Horrific. Moment. And let me tell you, it wasn’t easy to read so be forewarned. I wept for Nicholas and for Eben and Josiah. I can’t begin to comprehend the physical and emotional pain these men endured, but due to Pamela Clare’s amazing writing, I can certainly imagine it – vividly.

And years later, as the story continues, we meet Elspeth “Bethie” Stewart living alone, a widow, on the dangerous American frontier during the French and Indian War. It’s not easy being a woman alone, and to make matters even more complicated, she’s pregnant. Bethie is a brave and resourceful woman, and while she also has a nightmarish past she wishes she could forget, she’s quite capable of taking care of herself. Bethie’s life has been every bit as emotionally and physically painful as Nicholas’s was and I found myself once again weeping, this time for an innocent young woman who endured the worse kind of abuse imaginable, and was then married off by her family who blamed her, ridiculed her, and was ashamed of her. While deeply painful, their treatment only served to make her stronger, something Nicholas learned the hard way when he showed up at her homestead, badly injured, seeking shelter and aid. He thinks he knows what to expect from this little bit of a woman, but he finds out quickly that there’s more to her than meets the eye when he wakes up bound to her bed. Granted, he was badly injured, but not so badly that he shouldn’t have been able to keep that from happening!

And so the story begins and it’s a tale of two incredible people whose hearts have been broken and whose souls are deeply scarred. Fate has brought them together because they are each other’s only hope for healing, but before the healing can being, they must learn to trust one another. They’ll have to face their pasts head on to escape the nightmares which bind them to a life of fear and loneliness, keeping them from a life they so deserve - one of peace, happiness, and something neither of them ever expected to find – love.

Once again Pamela Clare has taken my breath away with a story that is touching, tragic, uplifting, full of hope and as always, comes straight from her heart. It’s exciting, intensely emotional, and very, very sexy and a book I couldn’t put down! And here I am going on and on and yet, I find I’m at a loss for just the right words, the words that will convince you to pick up this book. Please, just trust me and so many others who have read and loved Pamela Clare’s stories and read Ride the Fire. You'll laugh, you'll sigh, you'll cry, but above all, you'll come away with your heart full of joy for Bethie and Nicholas who are no longer fighting their demons alone, but who together have vanquished them once and for all and have found in each other a happily ever after for the ages.

5+/5 stars

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing A Rake

My “keepers” shelf just got bigger!

I find I’m at a loss for words when trying to describe the wide range of emotions this book evoked in me, except to say that it made me laugh, cry, sigh, gasp, and hope for a happily ever after for the hero and heroine more than I have in any other book I’ve read in a very long time. And, this is the first book in which I’ve found myself more invested in the heroine’s happiness than the hero’s.

The prologue had my heart breaking for a young woman’s shattered – albeit it brief – fairytale fantasy, and her so very low self esteem. But that said, this is one of those books that made me wish that I were the heroine. Not just so I could live happily ever after, but for the kind of person she was. I loved her for her goodness, her kindness and compassion. I adored her for her sense of humor, her generosity and her selflessness, but most of all; it was her strength, her courage to live, rather than sit on-the-shelf collecting dust as society dictated that all self respecting spinsters should. It’s for all of these reasons that I wish I were Callie.

It took me awhile to fall in love with Gabriel St. John, Marquess of Ralston, but it did happen. I mean, how could it not? Take a gander at that step back… again, I ask... How could I not fall for him?? The look on his face speaks volumes as to his passionate nature, his need… his hunger for this unusual woman who was nothing like society expected her to be. She was daring, witty, refined, and intelligent and she’d managed to work her way under his skin, and before he knew what happened, into his heart. His reputation was no secret - he was known by all as a rake and a libertine, so when he became aware of her plan to experience the same kinds of things that gentlemen are allowed to experience, I wasn’t terribly surprised when he offered to facilitate her in her quest to check each item off of her list, whilst risking utter ruination!

I’m always impressed by other readers who include quotes in their reviews. Me? I’m too engrossed in the book to make myself stop long enough to make notes, but this book demanded that I do exactly that—twice. This first quote I’ll share is from the prologue and had me sobbing. My ever faithful Goodreads friends, Catherine and Rane, were there to help me through this tear-jerking scene as I posted it on my status update:

She pushed aside a devastating pang of sorrow as the truth coursed through her. She would never have the magnificent Marquess of Ralston, nor anyone like him. She felt an acute certainty that the things he had said to her earlier were not the truth but instead the lies of an inveterate seducer carefully chosen to appease her and send her blithely off, easing his dark tryst with his ravishing beauty. He hadn't believed a word of it. No, she was not Calpurnia, Empress of Rome. She was plain old Callie. And she always would be.

Seriously, when read in context, with the entire prologue, that was one of those most heartbreaking moments from any book I can recall. Now, the second quote/snippet I have for you is the moment in which I finally became invested in seeing Callie and Gabriel’s happily ever after come to pass, and knowing I could believe in it.

***Possible Spoilers***

This is yet another gut wrenching scene and takes place when Callie finds out about a wager that had been placed between Gabriel, and Oxford as to whether or not Oxford would be able to convince Callie to marry him. Of course, this is a romance novel so we, the readers, already know who’s going to end up the winner, but when Callie gets wind of it, she’s humiliated and thinks she’s nothing more than something for men to wager over. Gabriel had proposed to her and she’d accepted, but now, even though the bet was for 2,000£, she suddenly felt so very worthless. So she has demanded that Gabriel stay away from her, and she’s fled the ball where this scene takes place. Oxford, well into his cups, has some unflattering things to say about Callie in front of Gabriel and Benedick, Callie’s brother:

“Certainly, the best thing about spinsters is that they’re eager for a toss, but you can’t really mean to tell me you need to resort to one as plain and uninspiring as that one. Although, it did appear she was more than willing to lift her skirts for you…and I suppose that is something.”

Benedick stiffened, and fury, hot and quick, coursed through Ralston at the words, so demeaning and unpleasant, directed at the woman he planned to make his wife. Because there was absolutely no question that Callie was going to be his wife.

Drunk or no, Oxford would pay for his words.

Reaching out, Ralston grabbed Oxford by the lapels of his topcoat and slammed him against the stone wall that marked one edge of the balcony. The force of the blow took the breath out of the baron, and, gasping for air, he slumped to the ground, clutching his chest.

Ralston looked down his long, elegant nose at the vile creature at his feet and said, “You just impugned the honor of my future marchioness. Choose your seconds. I will see you at dawn.”

Leaving Oxford sputtering on the ground, Ralston spun on one elegant heel to face Benedick. “When I am done with him, I am coming for your sister. And, if you intend to keep me from her, you had better have an army at your side.”

***End Spoilers***

So, Gabriel had been slowly working his way into my heart, but it was his actions and his words in defense of Callie that sealed the deal for me.

The bottom line – this was my first Sarah MacLean read and it most assuredly will not be my last. I’m anxiously awaiting the October 26th release of the second book in this series, Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord. It’s Gabriel’s brother, Nicholas St. John’s story, and will undoubtedly be every bit as wonderful as this book was.

5/5 stars

Monday, November 8, 2010

Angels' Blood by Nalini Singh

I don’t even know where to begin when raving about this book. Do I tell you about Raphael, the Archangel in charge of New York City, and how amazing and sexy he is and how much I love, love, love it when an author can change a character from someone I really don’t like into someone I adore, someone whose transformation from complete jerk to hero is totally believable and someone I cheer for, someone my heart aches for and someone I want to see find his happily ever after.

And there’s always Elena Deveraux, the Guild’s best vampire hunter. I could talk about how refreshing it is to see a heroine who is truly that, a female hero. She’s strong and amazing and clever and all the things you’d expect a vampire hunter to be. Plus, she’s feisty and sassy and feminine and… well… you get the picture.

Maybe I should rave about the unique, incredible world this author has managed to create in a genre so saturated with books that coming up with anything different is nothing short of miraculous! I could tell you about angels and how when I think of them, especially archangels, I imagine winged beings seated on heavenly thrones on high, halos shining brightly and harp music being played in the background. Well, let me tell you, these angels and archangels are nothing of that sort. In fact, I find them to be more on the devilish side of the spectrum which really blew me away! From the foods they eat to the places they live and the people they take to bed, they are very decadent beings who enjoy pleasure in whatever form they can find it. Theirs is a dark world, one of greed, lust, and power plays. Real life politicians have nothing on the backstabbing maneuverings of these angels!

And what a supporting cast of secondary characters! I’d love to see any one of them have their own books, even Michaela who I’d love to see slowly and painfully killed in hers.

So which of these things do I talk about when telling you how much I love this book? I don’t know, but I will say this – if you don’t already own this book, buy it now.. If you own it and haven’t yet read it, read it now! I’m certain you won’t be disappointed! 

5/5 stars

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Desire Unchained by Larissa Ione

There were so many things to love about this book! Desire Unchained is the second installment of the series and was every bit as exciting as the first, and drew me deeper into the world of Demonica. I loved the character development, the world building, the angst, the heartache, the hope…

And while I did enjoy seeing Shade and Runa’s relationship grow from one of anger, bitterness and suspicion into one of joy, devotion and trust, I most loved learning more about Wraith. I despised him in Pleasure Unbound and while I felt the same way about him for most of this book, by the end my heart was breaking for him. I love it when an author can make me go from one extreme to another in the way I feel about a character. I’m very much looking forward to his story now! And Kynan and Gem… what a tender and heartbreaking story theirs is. I’m quite anxious to see how things work out for them.

As I said, there was so much to enjoy about Desire Unchained, but what I didn’t like about this story will probably raise some eyebrows, but here goes:


It bothered me the way Shade’s sexual “nature” and BDSM was portrayed. Now, I know that BDSM isn’t everyone’s cuppa, and I get that, but normally in books like this, BDSM would be something of a lifestyle choice. Something enjoyed by the hero and heroine. But that wasn’t the case here, and to take something that was sexually such a big part of the story, and make it something that Shade hated, not only seemed off to me, it seemed… wrong. I understand that he hated that part of his “nature,” and said so repeatedly, and yet was compelled to give women what they wanted, no matter how dark that was… and well, that just didn’t set well with me. I didn’t find it hot, didn’t find it sexy, it was just… uncomfortable and disappointing in the way it was portrayed. I can’t be more specific than that, it’s just the way it made me feel.

The bottom line – I really enjoyed this book. I think the Demonica series is a great one, with amazing characters and a unique, exciting world. As I said, I’m really looking forward to the next book, Passion Unleashed, Wraith’s story.

4.5/5 stars

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dark Peril by Christine Feehan

Christine Feehan’s Carpathians and Leopard People series are 2 of my favorites, and this book combines the best of both. No matter how hard I’ve tried, I can’t find the words to express my love for Dominic, who I never imagined could touch me this deeply, and Solange, a Jaguar shifter, who I never thought I’d be able to like, let alone, adore.

I found this story to be very refreshing, in that Dominic was so patient, and not borderline insane with the need to turn Solange fully Carpathian… I mean, he was and yet, he also loved her for who she was and worried about how much of herself she might lose during the transition. He understood her needs to remain connected to her cat and truly, truly wanted her to keep that part of herself and not just because it was the “enlightened male” right thing to do, but because he loved her for everything she was. That really had an impact on me because very often in this series, and series’ of this nature, the males are so over the top alpha it’s almost annoying. That is not the case with this book.

I had completely forgotten about Solange from the previous books, but the references to her past were just enough to help me remember the sad, angry, mistrusting soul that was this beautiful female had become. Like Ivory, in Dark Slayer, Solange was a strong, honorable, determined female and despite her worries about Dominic’s desire for her, and her fear of allowing herself to become vulnerable and controlled by a male, she learned to trust him fairly early in the book which made room for a great story, without too much relationship drama.

I’ve noticed a trend in the last few Carpathian novels, one that, as a reader, I really appreciate. The life-matings aren’t one sided anymore. Both the hero and heroine are truly just that – heroes and heroines. They complement one another with their strengths and weaknesses, making them great couples, with truly believable and wonderful happily ever afters.

I’m going to share a couple of my favorite quotes from the book, and yes, they are very Feehan-esque in their prose.

This quote was a thought running through Dominic’s mind when he realized that Solange was embarrassed by her body. She wasn’t fashionably thin, and she had many scars, and was constantly trying to cover herself:

“She had no idea of her beauty of her appeal to him. Carpathians saw what was inside. The body was simply a shell. Perhaps because they could shift into any form they chose, the outside mattered little to them. But he could see into her heart and mind, and he’d fallen deeply in love. Solange was exactly the woman for him, with her fierce loyalty, her unfailing courage and her natural sensuality.”

And then this one, when Dominic answered Solange’s question about where his home was:

“I have traveled all over the world and gone to the highest peaks, and the densest jungles. The Carpathian Mountains will always be my homeland, but my home is a woman. Solange Sangria. You are home to me. You’re body is my home. Your mind. Your heart and soul. It matters little to me where we are.”

I repeat, they are very Feehan-esque, and whether you love or hate her books, you know what I mean by that. As I said before, I love the way she writes. The dialog, which I hear so many people complain about, is truly in keeping with these ancient males who were born and raised in the Old Country. I wouldn’t expect them to talk as though they’d just walked off the streets of Caldwell, NY – and some of you will know exactly what I’m talking about – but their language, their mannerisms, their hearts and their souls are exactly what I would expect from these amazing Carpathian males.

I’m very much looking forward to the next book, and hoping with all my heart that it’s Zacarias’ story. 

5/5 stars