Saturday, June 29, 2013

Wife for A Week by Kelly Hunter

Why I read it:  I was browsing through my reader and this one jumped out and said "read me".  I picked it up in a Harlequin sale a while back.

What it's about: (from Goodreads)  Nicholas Cooper must produce a wife for his business deal, and Hallie Bennett is beautiful and intelligent enough to pull it off. She needs the money, and Nicholas has determined some strict rules for their week together. Rule No. 1: Displays of affection in public only

Keeping their hands on each other in public turns out to be surprisingly easy. It's keeping them "off" in private that's the problem. Hallie is falling for Nicholas, but will Nicholas make his contract wife his real-life bride?

What worked for me (and what didn't): This was so much fun! It's short, only 120 pages or so but the author manages to create a believable, amusing and sexy romance, not only in a short word count but in a short space of time also - the whole book takes place in just over a week.  

Hallie and Nick meet when Nick's mother is searching for shoes in a shop Hallie is working in and the witty banter and consensual double entendres begin between the two protagonists, egged on by Clea (Nick's mother), who is outrageous but huge fun.
‘No, they met at a birthday party. Clea was in the cake. I try not to think about it.’
Nick is heading to Hong Kong the following week to cement a business deal which has been months in the making.  His potential business partners is widower John Tey, who has a nineteen year old daughter, Jasmine.  Last time Nick was in Hong Kong Jasmine put the moves on him and to let her down gently, he told her he was married.  Now he feels like he has to keep up the pretense of risk the deal and the feelings of both John and his daughter, neither of which he wants to do.  He also doesn't want to set up unrealistic expectations, as he's not in the market for a serious relationship, let alone marriage, so paying someone to pretend seems like the best solution.  After Clea quite outrageously (also shamelessly matchmaking) suggests Nick hire Hallie for the job, things quickly progress to offer and acceptance.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley, narrated by Katherine Kellgren

Why I listened to it:  I borrowed a copy from a friend because mail from The Book Depository takes too long when a book is this much anticipated.

What it's about:  (from Goodreads):  Nicola Marter was born with a gift. When she touches an object, she sometimes glimpses those who have owned it before. When a woman arrives with a small wooden carving at the gallery Nicola works at, she can see the object's history and knows that it was named after the Firebird - the mythical creature from an old Russian fable. Compelled to know more, Nicola follows a young girl named Anna into the past who leads her on a quest through the glittering backdrops of the Jacobites and Russian courts, unearthing a tale of love, courage, and redemption.

Warning:  Spoilers for The Winter Sea

What worked for me (and what didn't): I have been eagerly anticipating this book.  My previous two favourite Kearsley books were The Winter Sea/Sophia's Secret and The Shadowy Horses.  When I found out that Anna Moray from The Winter Sea and Rob McMorran from The Shadowy Horses were featured in this book, I just knew it was going to be wonderful.  I was not disappointed.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I'm Over at AAR today...

for Speaking of Audiobooks where I have 3 reviews upFlowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale, narrated superbly by Nicholas Boulton

as well as Tempting the Best Man by J. Lynn, narrated by Kaleo Griffith and The Lion's Lady by Julie Garwood, narrated by Susan Duerdin.

My fellow SOA reviewers also share their thoughts on The Haunting of Maddy Clare, Beauty Queen and Practice Makes Perfect.  Come see what we thought.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Skin in the Game by Jackie Barbosa

Why I read it: I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

What it's about: (from Goodreads)  Angela Peterson was always the quiet, shy kid growing up in Harper Falls, crushing on the high school quarterback and honing her football strategy skills. Now grown up and coaching the high school team, she’s shocked when that same sexy quarterback returns to Harper Falls asks her back to his hotel room. And then tries to steal her job.

Injured NFL quarterback Cade Reynolds is in Harper Falls to take over as interim head coach, and he never thought the tall, blond bombshell he propositioned would offer up any resistance. Not to a repeat of the amazingly wild night they shared and certainly not to his coaching position.

But the Harper Falls High Eagles are Angie’s team, and even the hometown hero won’t take that away from her, no matter how hot he is. As the two engage in a battle of wits and wills, this is one game neither is prepared to lose.

What worked for me (and what didn't): I liked Angie very much in this book.  She is a strong woman in a non tradiational role, kicking ass and taking names. She is the math teacher so popular there's a line to sign up for Calculus (this is unimaginable to me) and not just because she's good looking - but because she's such a good teacher.  She's also the Head Assistant Coach of the high school football team and she designs all the plays for the team.  Her vision and imagination when it comes to the team's playbook is one of the main reasons the team is headed to the championship.  She has the respect and affection of the players.  She loves her job and wants to keep doing it.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Wait for You by J. Lynn

Why I read it:  I'd heard mostly good things about this self published new adult novel, so I bought it when it was 99c at Amazon.  I thought it was a pretty low risk investment.  It was subequently picked up by HarperCollins.

What it's about: (from Goodreads)  Some things are worth waiting for…

Traveling thousands of miles from home to enter college is the only way nineteen-year-old Avery Morgansten can escape what happened at the Halloween party five years ago—an event that forever changed her life. All she needs to do is make it to her classes on time, make sure the bracelet on her left wrist stays in place, not draw any attention to herself, and maybe—please God—make a few friends, because surely that would be a nice change of pace. The one thing she didn’t need and never planned on was capturing the attention of the one guy who could shatter the precarious future she’s building for herself.

Some things are worth experiencing…

Cameron Hamilton is six feet and three inches of swoon-worthy hotness, complete with a pair of striking blue eyes and a remarkable ability to make her want things she believed were irrevocably stolen from her. She knows she needs to stay away from him, but Cam is freaking everywhere, with his charm, his witty banter, and that damn dimple that’s just so… so lickable. Getting involved with him is dangerous, but when ignoring the simmering tension that sparks whenever they are around each other becomes impossible, he brings out a side of her she never knew existed.

Some things should never be kept quiet…

But when Avery starts receiving threatening emails and phone calls forcing her to face a past she wants silenced, she’s has no other choice but to acknowledge that someone is refusing to allow her to let go of that night when everything changed. When the devastating truth comes out, will she resurface this time with one less scar? And can Cam be there to help her or will he be dragged down with her?

And some things are worth fighting for…

Warning: I don't think it's a spoiler to say that this book contains a (not very graphic) description of sexual assault.  It's not by the hero, but those for whom rape is a hot button may want to avoid it.

What worked for me (and what didn't): For the hero-centric reader, there is a lot to enjoy in how very nearly perfect Cameron is.  Even his flaws arise out of being protective and caring.  He falls for Avery almost from the beginning, is very patient with her without ever being  doormat.  He's gorgeous, popular, and not an asshole, so: win.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

I have a new gig...

Hey everyone, I have some news.  I'll be reviewing at Dear Author a couple of times a month.  My first DA review is up today.  The Au Pair Affair wasn't a huge success for me unfortunately.  Go here to see why.

I'll still be reviewing here and for AudioGals and Speaking of Audiobooks as well as the occasional ARRA review (hence why there will only be a couple of DA reviews a month). I'm a busy girl!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

It Had To Be You by Jill Shalvis

Why I read it:  I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley.  

What it's about: (from Goodreads) Ali Winters is not having a good day. Her boyfriend left her, everyone in town thinks she's a thief, and now she's about to be kicked out of her home. Her only shot at keeping a roof over her head and clearing her name is to beg for help from a police detective who's as sexy as he is stern....

After a high-profile case goes wrong, Luke Hanover returns to his hometown for some peace and quiet. Instead he finds a bombshell brunette in a heap of trouble. As he helps Ali put her world back together, the pieces of Luke's own life finally seem to fall into place. Is this the start of a sizzling fling? Or are Luke and Ali on the brink of something big in a little town called Lucky Harbor?

What worked for me (and what didn't: There is something to be said for a reliably good read. My reading mojo was a little down when I picked this book up but I knew that this would be a fun sexy read.  Jill Shalvis books are always that for me.  Some are more successful than others, but even the "average" ones are good and the comfort I can take in knowing that I'm going to have a good experience when I open a Jill Shalvis book cannot be underestimated.  

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh, narrated by Angela Dawe

Why I listened to it:  A friend loaned me a copy to listen to while I was waiting for my print copy to arrive from the Book Depository.  I felt the need to get in quick to avoid spoilers.

What it's about: (from Goodreads) A dangerous, volatile rebel, hands stained bloodred.
A woman whose very existence has been erased.
A love story so dark, it may shatter the world itself.
A deadly price that must be paid.
The day of reckoning is here.

Warning:  Spoilers as to heroine's identity - if you don't want to know look away now.

What worked for me (and what didn't): I liked this one but I think it may have worked better for me in print.  Nalini Singh has a number of writing tics - in particular, she repetition of certain words - in this book it was "obsidian" "adamantine" and "entombed".  She also phrases things a little strangely sometimes - eg "in the bed that was her own" - and both of those things are easier to skip over in print than on audio, where I cannot skim.  In fact, Angela Dawe's narration style tends to emphasise these tics if anything.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker

Why I read it:  I bought this New Adult book a little while back and finally decided to open it up and see what was inside.

What it's about: (from Goodreads)  Kacey Cleary’s whole life imploded four years ago in a drunk-driving accident. Now she’s working hard to bury the pieces left behind—all but one. Her little sister, Livie. Kacey can swallow the constant disapproval from her born-again aunt Darla over her self-destructive lifestyle; she can stop herself from going kick-boxer crazy on Uncle Raymond when he loses the girls’ college funds at a blackjack table. She just needs to keep it together until Livie is no longer a minor, and then they can get the hell out of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

But when Uncle Raymond slides into bed next to Livie one night, Kacey decides it’s time to run. Armed with two bus tickets and dreams of living near the coast, Kacey and Livie start their new lives in a Miami apartment complex, complete with a grumpy landlord, a pervert upstairs, and a neighbor with a stage name perfectly matched to her chosen “profession.” But Kacey’s not worried. She can handle all of them. What she can’t handle is Trent Emerson in apartment 1D.

Kacey doesn’t want to feel. She doesn’t. It’s safer that way. For everyone. But sexy Trent finds a way into her numb heart, reigniting her ability to love again. She starts to believe that maybe she can leave the past where it belongs and start over. Maybe she’s not beyond repair.

But Kacey isn’t the only one who’s broken. Seemingly perfect Trent has an unforgiveable past of his own; one that, when discovered, will shatter Kacey’s newly constructed life and send her back into suffocating darkness.

What worked for me (and what didn't): This is a hard book to say much about because the plot hangs on one thing and it's either going to work for you or it won't.  I think, overall, it was too melodramatic for me.  I liked Trent and Kacey together but the big reveal cast a whole new light on what had gone before and it left me feeling a bit strange.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Breathe by Kirsten Ashley

Why I read it:  I bought this one a while back and I decided to finish the series (so far) as a little reading treat.

What it's about: (from Goodreads)  In order to protect a father he does not respect, in Lady Luck, we learned that good cop Chace Keaton went bad, sacrificing his career and his future. But when the local police department's secrets are revealed and the wife he's forced to marry is murdered, Chace finds himself the town of Carnal's hero. Knowing how deep in the mud he was forced to sink, Chace feels he'll never get clean. The quiet, content future he envisioned of the love a good woman with whom he could build a family was now beyond his reach. The only thing he can do is find his wife's murderer.

But he isn't the only one looking.

While searching for new leads, he runs into Faye Goodknight, the town's quiet, shy, pretty librarian. Chace has long since had his eye on what could possibly be the town's last remaining virgin but he has also long since given up hope he could make her his. Faye is pure and clean and Chace refuses to dirty her with his sordid past.

Pure and clean Faye may be, but when the shy librarian is forced to go head to head with the man who she's had a crush on since he hit her hometown, Chace finds Faye is full of surprises. And he doesn't know what to do with her.

What worked for me (and what didn't):  To be honest it took me a little while to get into this one.  I felt my reading mojo was missing initially and I was getting too distracted by Twitter.  But, by about 1/3 in, I felt I had hit my straps and things were looking up. By the end, I had mixed feelings. I enjoyed the romance but the subplot involving the Elite was too opaque for me and the parts involving the children mixed with so much cheese as to render me lactose intolerant.

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Tale of Two A**holes, or: What a difference female agency makes

I recently listened to a book with an asshole hero and, around the same time, read another with a similar type of male lead.  Though there were problems with both, one of the books worked much better for me than the other.     The main reason I disliked the first book was that I could not like the hero.  But in both books, the hero is  an asshole.  So: why did I like one and not other?  This post is the result of my mental ramblings on the topic.  And it all comes down to female agency.

Book 1 was Fever (Breathless #2) by Maya Banks.   This author seems like a lovely lady from what I can tell from Twitter. My opinion of this book is in no way an opinion of her.  She tends to be a hit or miss author for me.  I loved Sweet Surrender and I enjoyed Rush, the first book in the Breathless series quite a bit.  But Fever was not a success.  While lots of people loved Fever (which is fine because Vegemite), it didn't work for me.

The second book was Tangled by Emma Chase.  Ms. Chase is a new author but I enjoyed her writing style and the humour of the book very much. (and again, just because I thought Drew was an ass, doesn't mean I think she is. Just to be clear).

The two books are very different in tone.  But they have in common that the male protagonist is a jerk.  I discussed Drew a fair bit in my review of Tangled. As the book is told from his point of view, we are steeped in Drew from start to finish. 

Fever is told in third person with the POV shifting between the two main characters.  But, Fever is almost always in the male gaze so our hero, Jace Crestwell is the most prominent character in the book by a factor of about a million.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Defiance by Stephanie Tyler

Why I read it: I received a review copy from the publisher. I like New Adult and I liked Motorcycle Man and Reaper's Property.  I liked Beyond Shame.  So, this one, combining a motorcycle club, a post apocalyptic world and young adult protagonists looked promising.

What it's about: (from Goodreads) Rebelling against her legacy as the MC's princess, Tru Tennyson escaped the ruthless, male-dominated culture of the Defiance motorcycle club. Three years later, her newfound freedom is ripped away, thanks to a massive hybrid storm that killed millions. Now, in the post-Chaos world of semi-darkness and near-total anarchy where gangs rule, she discovers the dangerous world of Defiance may be the one thing that can keep her safe.

Tru is at the MC's mercy when she's dragged back to her former home … and to the only man she's ever pictured a future with. Caspar is the bastard son of the club's leader, her safe haven when life got rough — and her onetime lover the night she left. When Tru refuses to trade sex for power and be claimed by a rival club leader, she also dares to announce she wants Caspar instead, throwing the MC into turmoil.

Tru's brazen revolt could start a gang war and destroy the club from within. Now both Tru and the MC must wait for Caspar's response … and the inevitable fallout.

What worked for me (and what didn't): Unfortunately, for me, the book didn't live up to its promise.  I found the world building confusing and... not terribly believable and I think in the end, the author's style just doesn't work for me.  She is a bestselling author so there are obviously plenty of people who like her style just fine but I wasn't as engaged as I'd hoped I'd be.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Why Can't People Just Talk To Each Other??

Dear Everyone,

I'm a results person.  I tend to look at where I want to go and plot a course to get me there.  (I am also a details person but for the purposes of this post, that's not so important - although it can make me very annoying.)  In a potential conflict, my goal is to resolve it.  If I think maybe I have misunderstood something, I'll ask a question to clarify.  I don't tend to jump to conclusions without evidence.  I'll ask until I'm clear.  So I don't get the "Big Mis".  It's my least favourite trope in romance. 

Very rarely, it can work for me - usually where the misunderstanding is logical (this takes some setting up so that I don't want to kick either main character) and of short duration.  The longer it is drawn out and the less rational the conclusion jumped to, the more likely it is I'll want to throw my reader at a wall.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

May Round Up

on Paper/eBook

Play With Me by Alisha Rai - B+ Fun and super sexy short (about 100 pages) about Tatiana and Wyatt.  They dated in high school and college and were each other's first lovers.  They discovered kink with each other.  But things fell apart.  Now, 10 years later, they meet up again.  After they meet, their chemistry is still so strong, they agree to spend one night together.  
“I met you when you were chubby and had frizzy hair and acne.”
A gasp escaped her lips. So she’d had a bit of an awkward phase. Bringing it up now was hardly gentlemanly. “Shut up, Caine.” 
“My point is, I wanted you then. I still want you now. When I walked away from you all those years ago, I knew that wanting would never stop.” He tucked a strand of hair—sleek, not-frizzy hair, thank you very much—behind her ear. “Prettiness helps, Tatiana, but you and me? It’s always been more."
I loved that there was more to Wyatt's attraction than just the physical.  And it was the same for Tatiana.  Their connection was far more complicated than lust.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Vegemite: It's a Matter of Taste

I like Vegemite^.  A sparing amount  over freshly made and hot buttered toast, can be just the thing for breakfast if I'm in a toast kind of mood.  Other than that I grew up eating it and I like the flavour of umami reasonably well (or, possibly, just saying "umami"), I really can't explain it though.  I don't expect you to understand.  It is almost black and thick and kind of ... greasy. It is a by-product of the beer brewing process. (And it LOOKS like a petroleum by-product.) But I like it.  It is okay for me to like it.  It is also okay for you not to like it.

If you'd like, I will try and explain why I like Vegemite but if you don't "get it", it doesn't mean I have failed you. I'm  not obliged to keep trying to come up with new ways to justify to you why I like Vegemite. I am not a Vegemite-Evangelist. I'm a Vegemite-Live-and-Let-Live-r.  Vegemite, like many things, is something that ultimately, you either "get" or do not. And LOADS of people DON'T.  LOADS.