Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish by Grace Burrowes

Grace Burrowes is a new author and this is her third book out -- so far, I have not been disappointed with any of her works.

Lady Sophie is younger sister to Gayle, Devlin and Valentine -- it's Christmas and she hasn't found her Christmas spirit.

She devices a plan to delay her travel to their family seat -- hoping that the few days alone would be enough time for her to find herself and to make sense of her despondence.

She never finds the quiet she needs because she unexpectedly comes into custody of a small baby boy.

Vim is also on his way home -- he is detained in London because of a snow storm. He sees the bewildered young lady trying to manage a small baby and offers his help.

Vim and Sophie are kindred souls -- they are both trying to make sense of the Christmas season when they are both derailed from their plans. They treat their time together as a respite from their true selves and responsibilities -- and end up discovering what it was they wanted for themselves.

I love the love between Vim and Sophie -- it is very comfortable and very intimate. It is not an instensely-heated passion or insane lust. One of my favorite moments in the book was when Vim ends up asleep in Sophie's bed after taking his turn with the baby.

They both knew that their "escape from reality" would not last so they savor the time they have together -- what they did not expect was how much they still wanted each other when they went back to the "real" world.

There were some vague parts in the story -- was Sophie a virgin? If she wasn't, what happened to her? I also think the publishers mixed up the release of this book and Valentine's book (The Virtuoso) -- in Sophie's book, it supposes that Valentine's story is already finished ... it was a bit confusing when they were referring to bits of Valentine's story --

On the whole, this was a wonderful story -- I'm glad Burrowes has one more book coming out this year. (The Virtuoso) I'm really excited for what she has in store for 2012!
Friday, October 28, 2011

Season for Temptation by Theresa Romain

This is Romain's debut novel -- I tried to like it but felt that it lacked something to make it more interesting.

The author begins each chapter with a clever title -- I felt this limited each chapter -- when the author had fulfilled what was indicated in the title, the chapter end. It made her work episodic -- there was very little character development and, overall, her characters lacked depth.

Romain has a gift for humor and she shows this with her chapter titles, as well as with her heroine, Julia.

Julia is a breath of fresh air for James. She speaks her mind and eats heartily. My problem with her was that she talked too much.

The main conflict in the story is internal, IMHO -- James is engaged to Julia's sister, Louisa but he loves Julia instead.

The problem was, Louisa is a very likable character. She loved books and loved her sister. She was clever and honest. In some instances, the two sisters were very alike so I found it difficult to accept that James would prefer one over the other. (The only difference was that one loved him and the other did not.)

I felt this story was too flat -- but I see Romain's potential.

I will definitely try out her second book.

One Night in London by Caroline Linden

This book was supposed to have been released under a different title (Love and Other Scandals) and, because of the confusion, I ended up ordering 2 copies but the good people at Book Depository were kind enough to refund me for the second copy. ^_^

This is the first book in Linden's new series, The Truth About the Duke -- and I love the premise.

The three sons of the Duke of Durham discover a potentially destructive secret from their dying father. Each one tries to deal with the secret and the scandal that could erupt from it.

The first book is about Edward, the middle child -- who actually manages everything for the Duke (his father and now his brother) --

He has engaged the services of the best lawyer to look at into his father's revelation. What he doesn't know is that he has actually stolen the services of the best lawyer from Francesca, Lady Gordon -- who is desperately trying to find a way to gain custody of her niece.

She confronts Edward and demands that he assist her. He agrees to help her after she helps him quash rumors about his family.

The more time they spend with each other, the more the attraction between them grows.

While it seems that Francesca is too low for Edward (he being the brother of a Duke and she being a widow of a baron), they are actually perfectly suited for each other. Both value their families and protect it at all cost --

When Edward is on the brink of losing everything he thought he held dear, he realizes that it is Francesca that matters the most. In the end, he steps out of his role as second son/middle child and out of the shadows of his older brother.

I'm really looking forward to the next installment. ^_^

Always a Temptress by Eileen Dreyer

It surprises (and saddens) me that not more people are reading Eileen Dreyer's Drake's Rakes series.

Eileen Dreyer made a remarkable leap from writing suspense novels to writing romance novels. Her first romance series, about Drake's Rakes shows Dreyer's expertise in writing about crimes and conspiracies -- but what is surprising is that she has an amazing talent for writing about love.

In most romance novels, it is the hero who is an unrepentant ne'er-do-well -- but in Dreyer's Always a Temptress, it is the heroine who is fallen and in need of reform.

Kate is a duchess and she knows how to wield the power that comes with her title. She has also earned a dubious reputation among the Ton -- but, instead of being ashamed by it, she revels in her notoriety.

Harry has known Kate ever since they were children -- they even fell in love 10 years ago -- but now he hates her and everything that she has become.

Harry and the rest of Drake's men have been following the trail left for them by The Butcher -- and the final clues to the conspiracy lead to Kate.

Harry and Kate are thrown together once again -- and they discover all is not as it seems with each other.

This was a page-turner from beginning to end. Dreyer has kept the suspense of The Butcher's villainy from Book 1 and I can't wait for the resolution in her next book.
Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Accidental Courtesan by Cheryl Ann Smith

I really, really enjoyed Smith's debut novel, The School for Brides and had very high expectations of her follow-up, The Accidental Courtesan.

I felt that the story was not as cohesive as her debut and the characters were not as consistent. I also felt the pace was off -- this story had a more sinister plot -- a jewel that one of the former courtesans had stolen (and, which Noelle returned), starts off a chain of events that puts Noelle and Gavin in danger. The pace was choppy -- some parts were exciting and other parts ... dull.

Gavin seemed a bit hapless and merely reacted to the situation that Noelle would put them in -- it was clear that Noelle was the one steering the course of their story.

Noelle was more lovable in the first book -- in this one, she seemed a bit careless and reckless. She was a woman with a plan in the first book -- in this one, she relied too much on her impulses.

I hope Smith finds her groove in the next book. She has a lot of promise as a writer.
Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ecstasy Wears Emeralds by Renee Bernard

This is the third book in Renee Bernard's Jaded Gentleman series -- and I have to say this was my favorite of the series. I think it's because Bernard has had time to develop his supporting characters' stories so, when it's their turn to take center stage, they are more fleshed out than the earlier stories.

In this one Rowan West was amazing -- a girl can really fall in love with him because of his sterling qualities. (Yes, I am gushing.) He comes from a family of doctors and is a bit of a rebel in the world of medicine. He goes against conventional medical practices: refusing to use opiates in the prescribed quantities, offering free clinic for people who can't pay -- and he has taken on a female apprentice.

Gayle applies for the apprenticeship under false pretense -- she fails to say that she is female. She has a dual purpose to seeking out Rowan: she wants to study medicine and she wants to find out more about the "monster" who was the cause of her cousin's death.

Rowan reluctantly agrees to accept Gayle, impressed with her sharp mind and passion. He expects her to quit after a few days but is proven wrong -- Gayle is willing to do the work and does it well.

Gayle expects Rowan to be cold, heartless and unfeeling towards her and his patients. Instead she sees a man who is tireless and compassionate.

And, like that, they fall in love.

With great reluctance.

Rowan and Gayle have a wonderful relationship -- they are true equals and partners.

I am very excited to read the next book.

(And I will probably re-read the previous books.)
Friday, October 14, 2011

Star-Crossed Seduction by Jenny Brown

Amanda Quick has her talents and her special powers --

Jenny Brown has her horoscope.

This is the second book where Jenny Brown puts horoscope and zodiac readings on center stage -- it is as much a part of the story as the characters.

Trev and Temperance have a hard time trusting people -- true to their Scorpio natures, they are always ready to sting whoever is foolish enough to get too close to them.

They are attracted to each other but they hurt each other with the half-truths and lies that surround their lives. They cannot decide if they want to stay together or go their separate ways.

They reluctantly try to stay together and promise each other that they would be honest with one another.

Their vow is threatened by a conspiracy that involves the king -- Trev thought Temperance betrayed him and Temperance felt that Trev's love for her was too shallow and faltered at the first trial.

Lady Hartwood, the heroine of Brown's debut novel, Lord Lightning plays a pivotal role in bringing these two wary souls together -- she reads their charts and offers guidance and wisdom -- but, as Lady Hartwood says in the book, as Scorpios, their natures are too strong to be directed by anyone else -- they need to make the decision themselves.

Jenny Brown has a very unique writing style and the infusion of horoscope is a fresh perspective in romance novels. I wonder, though, how other people would perceive it -- Brown is very thorough and some parts of her novel border on the esoteric --

But this one was a page-turner and a keeper.

I'm looking forward to her next book. ^_^
Wednesday, October 12, 2011

In Bed with a Highlander by Maya Banks

Maya Banks, like Leigh Michaels, is trying her hand at writing a historical novel. Maya Banks is very successful at writing contemporaries and I was curious about how she would go about writing a historical novel.

I had a hard time finishing this book -- the work felt derivative of other Scottish-themed historical novels and I had to stop and compare Banks' work with those of Julie Garwood and Judith McNaught.

Mairin has a secret and she hides in a convent in order to protect herself and her secret. The convent gets invaded and Mairin is forcibly taken by a clan who knows about her and her secret.

While in captivity, she meets a young boy and becomes his protector. They manage to escape and are found by the young boy's family.

Apparently, the young boy is the son of a powerful laird, Ewan McCabe, and now Ewan has pledged to protect Mairin.

When the clan discovers Mairin's secret, Ewan decides that the best course of action os to marry Mairin. Mairin reluctantly agrees, knowing that Ewan is her only hope to protect herself and her legacy.

This all happens in the first few chapters of the book. The middle part reveals Mairin's life in the McCabe household -- initially, she had difficulty adjusting to her new family and they were also wary of her -- eventually, they all grow to love and appreciate each other.

When I was telling my sister the plot, she also felt that the story reminded her of Julie Garwood's stories. Check out Ransom, Saving Grace and The Wedding.

Sadly, I felt that Garwood wrote it better.

But Banks has a lot going for her -- her characters are wonderful and multi-faceted. Her supporting characters provided color and life to the Scottish Highlands and she was able to lay out the scene for the next 2 parts of her trilogy.

I have already pre-ordered the second part and will read that before deciding to get the last part.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare

I love Tessa Dare! I've enjoyed her 2 previous trilogies and I was very excited when this book was announced.

It took me a while to finish it -- not because it was difficult to read -- but because it was an utter pleasure to read.

Tessa Dare has a way with words -- and she's added a bit of humor into this new love story. (There is a lamb named Dinner so, every time someone asks what the lamb is, the answer is: "That's Dinner.")

Bram is traveling to Spindle Cove in a last-ditch effort to regain his commission in the army. He has with him his cousin, Colin and his friend, Thorne.

His plan changes when he receives a title (and a castle) and the task of training a militia to protect Spindle Cove.

Susanna is very protective of Spindle Cove, which has become a haven (for her) and for other young women who don't fit society's mold. At Spindle Cove, they are allowed to explore their talents and enjoy their uniqueness.

It is a battle of the sexes as Bram and Susanna seem to want very different things for Spindle Cove --

One of my favorite exchanges is when Bram first visits the tea shop:
"I see. So this place isn't a tavern any longer. It's a tea shop. Instead of real, hearty food we have this assortment of pastel absurdity. You've reduced a hardworking, decent man to piping rosettes to earn his keep."


"You'd prefer we offer you a great, bloody slab of meat. Something you can pierce with your fork. Stab with your knife. Conquer, in brutish fashion. A man looks on his food as conquest. But to a woman, it's rebellion. We are all ladies here, and Spindle Cove is our place to taste freedom in small, sweet bites."

But the two cannot deny the attraction they feel for each other -- but they realize that giving in to the other would mean giving up their personal dreams.

It is interesting to see the battles between Bram and Susanna, both external and internal --

The supporting cast are just as lovable and I cannot wait to read their stories next.


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