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Monday, July 23, 2012

Review: Christmas Eve At Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor (Friday Harbor, #1)Publisher: St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 0312605862
Pages: 211 pages
Series: Friday Harbor-2,3,4 
Buy this Book: Amazon, Indiebound, Powell's
One rain-slicked night, six-year-old Holly lost the only parent she knew, her beloved mother Victoria. And since that night, she has never again spoken a word.

The last thing Mark Nolan needs is a six-year-old girl in his life. But he soon realizes that he will do everything he can to make her life whole again. His sister’s will gives him the instructions: There’s no other choice but you. Just start by loving her. The rest will follow.

Maggie Conroy doesn’t dare believe in love again, after losing her husband of one year. But she does believe in the magic of imagination. As the owner of a toy shop, she lives what she loves. And when she meets Holly Nolan, she sees a little girl in desperate need of a little magic.

Three lonely people. Three lives at the crossroads. Three people who are about to discover that Christmas is the time of year when anything is possible, and when wishes have a way of finding the path home…

My Review:

I began my epic odyssey through Lisa Kleypas’ books in April. It is July as I am typing this review out…and I am still working my way through Lisa’s books so be prepared for a Kleypas onslaught.

I read this series backwards. I started with Rainshadow Road and then read this one. I don’t like working that way, people. It makes me twitchy. I am, however, one of the few people on the planet who think spoilers are fantastic.

I loved Maggie. She had this very easygoing way about her. I loved how she made an instant connection with Holly and was able to bring her out of her silence using her imagination and magic. She isn’t without depth. She nursed her husband through cancer and is still dealing with the emotional scars. Alex is still my favorite of the brothers but Mark was a very close second. He was a hard nut to crack. He was almost cold at the start of the book but as he got closer to Holly, and eventually Maggie, he just became so sweet.

I never say this because I am not the most Christmasy person on the planet but I really liked the “Christmas joy” feel in this one. It felt like it belonged in the book not like it was added on as an afterthought. It also never crossed the street to cheesy but remained completely heartwarming. Also, kids in novels usually walk the line between adorable and “why are you stealing all of the story”-style obnoxious. That never happened with Holly. She was part of the story but never overwhelmed the plot at all. I do wish this book had been a bit longer. I really like longer books. I never feel as if I get a full grasp of the story, the characters or the chemistry in novella-like books. Either way, I am looking forward to Dream Lake (Alex’s story) because he was my favorite.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Review: Luscious by Amanda Usen

LusciousPublisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN: 1402262183
Pages: 320 pages
Genre: Romance/Contemporary
Buy this Book: Amazon, Indiebound, Powell's
Eat, play, love

Plain old ice cream just isn't going to cut it. To beat these blues, chef Olivia Marconi needs the good stuff: rich, creamy tiramisu gelato. And no place better to get it than Italy. But a fresh start is nearly impossible with Sean Kindred dogging her every move. She's been burned by his too-hot-to-handle antics before. Though there's no denying the man can still get her all fired up. Could a weeklong affair finally turn into something more lasting...or will it all go up in flames?

My Review:

I loved the first book in this series, Scrumptious, not only because it was an awesome book but because it was, to be quite honest, food porn. There, I said it. Food porn. I’m a foodie and any book that includes a heavy dose of it is good in my book. I was looking forward to this one from the moment I knew there was going to be another book in the series.

Olivia was admittedly not my favorite character in the first book. In fact, I disliked her quite a bit. But in this one, you had to feel sympathy for her. Her ex-husband was a putz, her mother a control freak and her confidence completely shot. She becomes much more tolerable when you spend time with her and get to know her. I found myself become quite protective of her. Sean was a bit of a difficult hero for me at first. Lawyers are not my favorite sort of hero. I prefer my heroes to be less polished. But I really liked Sean. He had such a sweet personality but he had the rough edges to temper it a little. He also didn’t have any hint of the obnoxious that I sometimes find in nice guy heroes.

As I said before, I loved the previous book because it featured food so well. This was much of the same maybe even a bit better. I think every other chapter I was Googling a recipe or two. I also surprisingly didn’t mind the mob connections in this book (and in Scrumptious). It wasn’t done in a pejorative way like I have seen in other books. It was actually kind of adorable. The chemistry between Olivia and Sean was also great. Maybe not to the epic level of awesome of Marlene and Joe but definitely close. I am yet again left anticipating the next book in this series—that’s the sign of a one heck of a great author.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Review: The Officer Says "I Do" by Jeanette Murray

The Officer Says "I Do"Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN: 1402265409
Pages: 352 pages
Genre: Romance/Contemporary/Military
Series: Semper Fi
Buy this Book: Amazon, Indiebound, Powell's
He's a Marine...she grew up on a commune.

He always puts duty first...she's a free spirit with an unshakable belief in Fate.

He loves routine and order...she brings chaos and creativity wherever she goes.

They're going to balance each other perfectly—or drive each other completely, utterly insane...

On a wild pre-deployment celebration in Las Vegas, Captain Timothy O'Shay encounters free-spirited beauty Skye McDermott, and for once lets down his guard. Now his life is about to take off in directions he never could have imagined...
My Review:

I must admit that I’ve never really read a military romance before. I mostly stick with my historicals. I’m a creature of habit and, while it’s not a problem yet, I need to branch out. This book was the perfect opportunity but it is a subgenre that I’ve never really read or liked. It’s about time that I tried something new.

For some reason, Skye, our heroine, got on my every nerve. Well maybe it’s not so mysterious. I have three reasons—I’ve thought about this very seriously. (1) She expected Tim to live up to a marriage that occurred when he was intoxicated. I wouldn’t have minded it much if she didn’t strong arm him into staying married. He literally had no choice because she was determined to give the marriage a try based only on her belief in fate. (2)She is a vegetarian. Normally, I have no problem with people with special diets as long as you don’t try and force your dietary restrictions on me. The problem with Skye is that she does force her dietary restrictions on everyone she meets. She expects everyone to cater to her diet. For example, she makes facon for Tim, a man who clearly enjoys his meat product. Not only selfish but kind of cruel because I have eaten that stuff and it is just barely edible. She seems to look down on people who eat meat and that just grinds my gears. (3) She bamfs out the minute she senses trouble. She hightails it down to Texas. I kind of felt bad for Tim. He was extremely likable, completely normal and relatable. As much as I didn’t like his wife, I really liked him. It always depresses me when I find a really great hero but the heroine just lets me down.

I think I would’ve liked this book much more if the heroine was a little less “pushy.” She seemed less of a free spirit and more of a control freak. However, in spite of my trouble with the heroine, I do think that Tim and Skye have a nice chemistry. Maybe not the best ever and but just good enough to keep me interested. I did think that the ending was a bit rushed but overall the flow of the story was great. I really did love the military aspect. I have not read many military romances but if this is any indication of how good they are, I will be reading more. I will definitely be reading more of Jeanette Murray’s books. I really loved her writing style. It was very engaging and moved the plot along nicely. I can’t wait for the next book. I hope it’s about Madison and Jeremy. As far as secondary storylines go, they were excellent, and I hope they get their own book.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Once Upon a Readathon: Introduction and Updates

I can never resist a good readathon and this one just happens to be among my favorites. I have no plan or list of books. Well, I do kinda. I am planning on finishing my Lisa Kleypas collection of and perhaps moving on to either Julia Quinn, Jo Beverley, Stephanie Laurens, Laura Kinsale, Elaine Coffman or Judith McNaught. I have no idea what's next so any input would be helpful.

I will be updating here, on Twitter and on Goodreads
Currently Reading. On page 60. But it's a slow go because my brain is melting.
Up next

Update #1-I finished Luscious in under 2 hours. I think it was all the food talk. I'm restarting Someone To Watch Over Me now.
Update #2-Finished Someone to Watch Over Me and Lady Sophia's Lover. Now reading Worth Any Price
Update #3-I went a little crazy and couldn't sleep again last night so I picked up a book that I thought would put me to sleep--I'm not very smart when I'm tired. I picked up Anna Karenina and read the whole thing. I also managed to read two other books. I don't know whether this is good or bad. And I am tired. I am surviving on coffee and sheer willpower. If I can't sleep tonight, I may just lose my mind.
Update #4-Finished two books yesterday and then another sleepless night resulted in four more books being read. My insomnia is running rampant but it's getting much reading done. I don't know whether to consider this positive or ask for help.
Books Finished: Luscious by Amanda Usen (5 stars), Someone to Watch Over Me by Lisa Kleypas, Lady Sophia's Lover by Lisa Kleypas, Worth Any Price by Lisa Kleypas, Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, It Happened One Autumn by Lisa Kleypas, Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas (Sebastian OMG!), Scandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas, A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas, Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas, Seduce Me At Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas, Tempt Me At Twilight by Lisa Kleypas
Pages Read: 5234

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Review: Goddess in the Middle by Stephanie Julian

Goddess in the MiddlePublisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN: 140225153X
Pages: 320 pages
Genre: Romance/Erotica/Menage
Series: Forgotten Goddesses-1,2
Buy this Book: Amazon, Indiebound, Powell's

Romulus and Remus are sexy werewolf cousins with an unbreakable bond. When they meet beautiful goddess Amity and save her from an encroaching demon, they discover that the three of them together are way more powerful than any of them could ever have imagined. And they're going to need that power to overcome the forces that are determined to steal Amity's magic and destroy the two men. As different as night and day, and each an amazing man in his own right, Rom and Remy make all of Amity's deepest fantasies come true ...

My Review:

I am pretty prudish when it comes to my romance reading. Very odd to say as a romance reader but I am. It's usually one man and one woman (sometimes two men) for me. Very rarely two men and one woman. So this is almost completely new for me and I can't say that I didn't like it.

Amity was an instantly likable heroine. There was nothing in the least bit obnoxious about her. She was perfect for both Remy and Rom because of her utter normality. Our two heroes were equally great. Rom was dependable and stalwart. He was kind of the nice guy hero but with Remy there to balance him out, I didn't mind it at all. Remy was more of a tough nut to break and, quite honestly, my favorite of the cousins. He had more of an edge and I do have a thing for scarred heroes.

I was a bit skeptical that two heroes could be equally great matches for one heroine. Stephanie Julian (sp?) completely proved her point. It worked and it worked well. I was amazed at how well both heroes worked with Amity. I was happy to see that there was nothing gratuitous about this book at all. It's more of a romance than erotica. I also loved how Gods, Goddesses and mythology were integrated into the plot in such a unique and smart way.

P.S.- Is there a hockey player hero I spy in the second book, How To Worship a Goddess? I must read that ASAP!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday (July 6th)

Reviews Posted This Week (Or so):

I haven't done this meme for a while. I had a death in the family and I took an unintentional break. But I am back now. And with a whole new look. My blog was redesigned by Jude at In Between Designs. Ain't it pretty?

Q: Jumping Genres: Ever pick up a book from a genre you usually don’t like and LOVE it? Tell us about it and why you picked it up in the first place.

I am a romance reader primarily but I do jump genres occasionally. Not very often anymore. And when I do there is usually some romance to be found in the book I'm reading. 

I think the most dramatic jump I ever made was into Non-Fiction and Typography with Just My Type. I am not at all into Non-Fiction or Typography but I loved this book. 
Just My Type: A Book About Fonts

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Review: Lady Amelia's Mess and a Half by Samantha Grace

Lady Amelia's Mess and a Half (Beau Monde, #2)Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN: 1402258348
Pages: 384 pages
Genre: Romance/Historical/Regency
Series: Beau Monde-1 
Challenges- TK
Buy this Book: Amazon, Indiebound, Powell's


When she returns to town a widow—pursued by an infamous rake, Jake's debauched brother, and just maybe by himself—Lady Amelia will have a mess and a half on her hands.

A sparkling romp through the ton, Lady Amelia's Mess and a Half delivers a witty Regency romance in which misunderstandings abound, reputations are put on the line, and the only thing more exciting than a scandal is true love.

My Review:

The first book in this series, Miss Hillary Schools a Scoundrel, was one of my favorites. I was really looking forward to this one. I have to say that I found myself a little bit let down.

Amelia started out great. She was smart, made good decisions, and did not display any idiot tendencies. But close to the end of the book--as soon as she gets on Daniel's ship--her brain seemed to disappear. All of a sudden, she was a spoiled brat who refused to board the ship without her lady's maid. I can't decide if she was trying to push Jake away by being a brat or if she was actually a brat. I may have missed something but either way it was obnoxious. I liked Jake. I am not usually a fan of the nice guy hero. I like my heroes a bit edgier. But he was as good as a nice guy hero can get.

To tell you the truth, the secondary romance in this novel worked a whole lot better for me than the main pairing. I loved Bibi and Jasper. It's almost a pity that they didn't get their own book because it would have epic. If you read this book, you'll get it. This one did take me a while to get through. I can't really pinpoint a reason, it took me a couple of days to finish. It usually takes me a couple of hours to finish a book. That's not to say I didn't like this book because I did but it was a slow go. I had periods of intense interest and then a lull. I am looking forward to the next book--which I hope is about Daniel. I love nautical heroes.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Review: Lord of the Black Isle by Elaine Coffman

Lord of the Black Isle (Black Douglas, #3)Publisher:Sourcebooks Casablanca
Pages:352 pages
Genre: Romance/Historical/Highlander
Series: Black Douglas-1,2
Buy this Book: Amazon, Indiebound, Powell's


David Murry, Earl of Kinloss, never wanted to be the laird. But the title is thrust upon him, and now the well-being of his clan weighs heavily on his shoulders. He has never felt so alone, until a beautiful healer from another time is brought to the Black Isle...


When Dr. Elisabeth Douglas is thrown back into time to sixteenth-century Scotland, she decides to use her modern medical knowledge to save lives. In a time when a healer may be accused of witchcraft, she must keep her secret closely guarded, especially from David, whose uncanny curiosity could destroy them both.

My Review:

Lord of the Black Isle has been on my TBR since I finished the first book of this series, The Return of the Black Douglas. That one was amazing and I was hoping for much of the same with Elisabeth's and, for the most part, I was not disappointed.

It was easy to love Elisabeth. We know her past has not been easy. She has a huge tendency towards abduction and, at the every beginning of the book, her engagement ends in the very worst of ways. But I love how smart and brave she was even in the worst of situations. She never lost her cool or did anything stupid. I did wonder how her use of modern medicine did not create sort of paradox but that's just me. I've read too many time travel romances. I love love loved David. It's amazing how some of the most seemingly tough heroes can turn out to be the sweetest. He did have his moments of complete pigheadedness. Like his sulkfest after Elisabeth could not save his sister. But overall, he was a great hero.

Lord of the Black Isle was one of my best reads in the last couple of months. David and Elisabeth had great chemistry. Not necessarily the same amount of amazing, soulbreaking chemistry that Isobel and Alysandir had but a good amount. I had moments of complete annoyance with both David and Elisabeth but they were compelling as a couple and individually. After I am done read through Lisa Kleypas' backlist, Elaine Coffman is next. I was wavering between Elaine Coffman and Laura Kinsale but this one has convinced me. I am hopeful that this series continues...perhaps with Fergus as the hero. I do like the poor guy.


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