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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Review and Feature: Pulled by A.L. Jackson

Publisher: Sapphire Star Publishing  
ISBN:  1938404009
Pages:350 pages
Genre: Romance/Contemporary 
Challenges-TK
Buy this Book: Amazonclip_image001_thumb_thumb, Powell's, Indiebound clip_image0013_thumb_thumbclip_image0014_thumb_thumb


Summary from publisher:

Melanie Winters and Daniel Montgomery shared a love they believed bonded them together for life. After the tragic loss of their daughter, overwhelming grief and misguided guilt distorts the truth, and their relationship ends in unanswered questions.

For nine years, they drift through life, each unable to forget the one who holds their heart.

Now, when their lives again intersect, will the power that drew them together be enough to heal the wounds from their past?

Pulled is a story of attraction and separation, of destiny and duty, of a love so strong it refuses to give up even when all others have.

My Review: 

I need everyone to prepare for a gushy review. Because I will not be able to control myself with this one. I won’t even try. I usually try not to fangirl but yeah, I’m fangirling and it’s not even in an attractive way. I LOVED this book. I am all about the angst and heartfail…and this is full of it.

Melanie was one treasure of a character. It is so easy to like her even though it is also easy to get extremely frustrated with her. I empathized with her. I don’t know any human with rudimentary emotional responses that wouldn’t feel some sort of sadness for her and her situation. I mean she lost the love of her life under the worst circumstances and ended up married to the cruelest, coldest piece of cow dung on the planet. Daniel wasn’t much better. He ended up immersing himself in his career after he lost Melanie, the love of his life. I felt just as bad for him. Maybe even a bit worse because the control was in Melanie’s hands. He was just a bystander. It was completely and utterly impossible to not feel every possible form of sympathy for these two because they were just victims of life’s follies and foibles—and sometimes their own dunderheadedness.

I don’t believe in soul mates. I think it’s way too fatalistic and unrealistic. Perhaps that’s because I haven’t met mine yet but that’s how I feel now. But I do have to admit that I loved the soul mates theme in this book. It worked very well in the love story between Daniel and Melanie because if any two characters were soul mates (aside from Lizzy and Darcy, Anne and Gilbert, Sherlock and Watson), these two were. They had some of the best chemistry I have ever seen (and I read many romances). I also loved how the soul mates aspect added a bit of the paranormal to the plot. I initially thought it would be a bit hokey but it wasn’t. It added another level of depth to the plot.

Rating:

*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review.   My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies   made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the  blog.

Excerpt:

I glanced at the clock.

Shit—nearly six o’clock. I needed to hurry. I’d lost track of time and Nicholas would be home soon. I wiped the tears from my face before carefully gathering the pictures from the bedroom floor. My chest weighed heavy as I collected each one, cherishing the memories a moment longer as I tucked them away in the envelope.

The memories were all I had and I clung to them as if they were my last breath, knowing that once they faded, there would truly be no reason to go on. I hid the envelope at the bottom of the large jewelry box in the back of the closet, mindful to spread the necklaces out over the hidden compartment. Nicholas had never found them, but I was certain he would destroy them if he ever did.

Drawing in a deep breath, I ran my hands through my hair and dragged myself from the past I had immersed myself in for the last two hours and forced myself downstairs.

My footsteps echoed against the marble floor, each an accent of emptiness. I entered the kitchen, the only sanctuary I had. Every room of this house was gaudy and overdone, designed by the pompous for the pompous, except for this haven. It was no less extravagant, but held a warmth missing from all of the others.

As I worked, my thoughts inevitably wandered back to those beloved pictures hidden away in the back of my closet, but even they weren’t enough to ward off the anxiety steadily building within me as the passing minutes warned of Nicholas’s arrival. At six thirty-one, I heard the garage door open. Bile rose in my throat.

“Melanie?” Nicholas called from the entryway.

“In the kitchen,” I called weakly. Maybe he would go upstairs and spare me a few more minutes, but of course, I never had that kind of luck. I heard his footsteps approaching and prepared myself.

“Dinner ready?” He yanked at his tie as he came through the door.

“Um, not quite, just a couple more minutes,” I said, not meeting his face.

I felt him pause, though I refused to look up. I’d learned a long time ago how to survive in hell. The less I interacted with him the better.

He snorted through his nose, muttering, “Worthless whore,” under his breath.

I gritted my teeth, holding in the anger his accusation triggered.

He set his briefcase on the island next to me and tossed his tie over the top of it. “What time do I get home from work, Melanie?” Nicholas dipped his head, forcing me to look at him.

“Six-thirty.”

“Is it too much to ask that dinner is ready when I get home?” he said, “or do you have something better to do with your useless life?”

I cringed but said nothing. He was the one who didn’t want me to work.

“I didn’t think so.” He leaned in closer, his words a low warning. “When I tell you dinner needs to be ready at six-thirty, it means dinner is to be ready at six-thirty. Do you understand?”

I saw the threat in his eyes. He had never hurt me physically, but he made sure I knew who was in charge. I’d given up any control nine years ago when I’d followed him here to Chicago, looking for an escape from the pain.

I knew then what this life would be like. I’d met him at the airport when I’d fled Colorado that final time, the trip that severed the last thread holding my heart together. Nicholas hadn’t seen the broken girl who sat numb with nothing but pain swimming in her eyes. He saw the young, beautiful girl, the one who said nothing at all but seemed to be willing to do whatever he said.

I wasn’t stupid. I had known exactly what he wanted, but I could never go back to Colorado Springs to face what I could no longer have, and I refused to stay with my mother in Dallas.

So I left all of it behind, moving with Nicholas to Chicago just days after I returned from Colorado.

I knew then Nicholas would never bring me happiness. That had never been the point. My heart belonged to another and would never be his. All I wanted was a way out, while Nicholas got the trophy wife he thought he deserved. The only thing I hadn’t anticipated was how the numbness I felt for him would evolve over nine years into bitterness and loathing.

About the Author:

ALJacksonPhotoA.L. Jackson first found a love for writing during her days as a young mother and college student. She filled the journals she carried with short stories and poems used as an emotional outlet for the difficulties and joys she found in day-to-day life.

Years later, she shared a short story she’d been working on with her two closest friends and, with their encouragement, this story became her first full length novel, Pulled.

A.L. resides in Southern Arizona where she lives with her husband and three beautiful children. Her favorite pastime is spending time with the ones she loves.

Starline Publishing: http://www.sapphirestarpublishing.com/aljackson

Website/Blog: http://www.aljacksonbooks.blogspot.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/aljacksonbooks

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Review: Lessons After Dark by Isabel Cooper

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN:  1402264402
Pages:346 pages
Genre:  Romance/Historical/Paranormal
Series: Englefield series-1
Challenges-TK
Buy this Book: Amazonclip_image001_thumb_thumb, Powell's, Indiebound clip_image0013_thumb_thumbclip_image0014_thumb_thumb




Summary from publisher:

For years, Gareth St. John put his supernatural talent for healing in service to the British Army. Now he's the doctor at a very unusual new school that helps people with special "talents" learn how to hone their abilities.

Olivia Brightmore became a fake medium to support herself after her husband died, but she never expected to discover real magic as the school's newest teacher. Olivia tries to keep the handsome doctor at arm's length, but she can't resist the urge to get under his skin.

My Review: 

I have been a little lax with the blog lately. I had a family emergency and I just needed a break. But I am back now and have many many reviews to catch up on.

This one took me longer to finish than I was expecting. It’s not that I didn’t like it but it took me a while to get into the book. I have no idea why. It’s a historical romance with paranormal elements---right up my alley. But I really did like it once I got into it.

I love it when I find a mature and intelligent heroine. It’s very rare but when it happens, it’s an occasion to be celebrated. Olivia was one of those strong, smart and brave heroines who never has any of those dumb moments that relegate lesser heroine to the TSTL classification. Gareth, unfortunately, was a bit of a tough go for me. He had a tendency to be so judgy about Olivia’s past. I am sure he was not a choir boy so how could he be so judgmental. Especially because she did what she had to do to survive. And really it wasn’t so bad to begin with.

As I said, the start was a bit slow going for me. It took me a couple of chapters to even begin to approach getting into the story. I think if this had been any other week, I would have been right into the book because it really was great but I had other things on my mind. I loved the paranormal element. It was interesting and fun and I am always up for a book about a magic school. I loved how each of the children in the school had their own personality and backstory instead of just being the cookie cutter “adorable child.” It added depth.

Overall, despite my difficult start with this one, I really ended up loving it. I will be continuing with this series.


Rating:

*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review.   My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies   made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the  blog.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

It’s about time for the Dewey 24 Hour Read-A-Thon!

dreamstime_readathong

I have been absent from the blog for a bit. I had a death in the family and I needed time to clear my head. But I am back now and I have been yearning for the Dewey Read-A-Thon to get me back into gear. I have decided that I am going to focus on the books I love…romance novels.

The list is huge but I am definitely not going to read all of it. I am going to attempt to read through Lisa Kleypas’ backlist and the Black Dagger Brotherhood series (and maybe more assorted series if I get bored)—I’ve crossed off the ones I’ve finished already:

Berkley-Faulkner Series
  1. Where Passion Leads (1987)
  2. Forever My Love (1988)
Only Vallerand Series
  1. Only in Your Arms (1992) = When Strangers Marry (2002)
  2. Only with Your Love (1992)
Gamblers of Craven's Series
  1. Then Came You (1993)
  2. Dreaming of You (1994)
Stokehurst Family Series
  1. Midnight Angel (1995)
  2. Prince of Dreams (1995)
Capitol Theatre Series
  1. Somewhere I'll Find You (1996)
  2. Because You're Mine (1997)
Bow-Street Runners Series
  1. Someone to Watch Over Me (1999)
  2. Lady Sophia's Lover (2002)
  3. Worth Any Price (2003)
Wallflower Series
  1. Secrets of a Summer Night (2005)
  2. It Happened One Autumn (2005)
  3. Devil in Winter (2006)
  4. Scandal in Spring (2006)
  5. A Wallflower Christmas (2008)
The Hathaways Series
  1. Mine Till Midnight (2007)
  2. Seduce Me at Sunrise (2008)
  3. A Hathaway Wedding (short story) (2009)
  4. Tempt Me at Twilight (2009)
  5. Married By Morning (2010)
  6. Love In The Afternoon (2010)
Other Historical Romance Novels
  • Love, Come to Me (1988)
  • Give Me Tonight (1989)
  • Stranger in My Arms (1998)
  • Where Dreams Begin (2000)
  • Suddenly You (2001)
  • Again the Magic (2004)
Travis Series (Contemporary)
  1. Sugar Daddy (2007)
  2. Blue Eyed Devil (2008)
  3. Smooth Talking Stranger (2009)
Friday Harbor (Contemporary)
  1. Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor (Oct 26, 2010)
  2. Rainshadow Road (Feb, 2012)

Black Dagger Brotherhood:

  1. Dark Lover
  2. Lover Eternal
  3. Lover Awakened
  4. Lover Revealed
  5. Lover Unbound
  6. Lover Enshrined
  7. Lover Avenged
  8. Lover Mine
  9. Lover Unleashed
  10. Lover Reborn

And I am going to alternate with other books on my TBR and my Nook:

  • A Warrior’s Promise by Donna Fletcher
  • The Art of Duke Hunting by Sophia Nash
  • The Taker by Alma Katsu
  • The Reckoning by Alma Katsu
  • Tarnished by Karina Cooper
  • Scandal Wears Satin by Loretta Chase
  • How To Be A Proper Lady by Katherine Ashe
  • Hot For Fireman by Jennifer Bernard
  • A Night Like This by Julia Quinn
  • Lady Alexandra’s Excellent Adventure by Sophie Barnes
  • Perilous Pleasures by Jenny Brown
  • Crazy on You by Rachel Gibson
  • Once Upon A List by Robin Gold
  • A Secret in Her Kiss by Anna Randol
  • Rescue Me by Rachel Gibson
  • Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal by Grace Burrowes
  • A Gentleman Says “I Do” by Amelia Grey
  • Kiss of The Goblin Prince by Shona Husk
  • Nadia Knows Best by Jill Mansell

Hours 1-6

My cable company messed up my internet. I guess they think no one wants to be online early in the morning…wrong. Luckily, I can read while rolling my eyes and yelling.

Currently Reading: Dark Lover by JR Ward (pg. 294)
Pages Read: 294
Books Finished:
Up Next:
Forever My Love by Lisa Kleypas

Challenge Hour 1: Introductory Post:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? New York
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? All of Lisa Kleypas
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Chestnut Tea
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I am a really nervous girl today. My hockey team is playing a playoff game and I have a whole mess of lucky rituals to complete.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? I am a vet. I won’t do anything differently. I’ve had fun every year.

Challenge Hour 3: Book Puzzle from One Librarian’s Book Reviews

+

= ?

Challenge Hour 4: Turn To Page at Reflections of a Bookaholic

"I would rather read than hear the drone of her voice any day!"

It’s on page 33 but nothing on page 32 fit!

Challenge Hour 6: Book Appetite at Book Journey

1.  Dark Lover by JR Ward

2.  Rare steak, red wine, scotch, dark dark chocolate cake. It seems fitting.

Hours 7-9

Currently Reading: Forever My Love by Lisa Kleypas(pg. 45)
Pages Read: 438
Books Finished: Dark Lover by JR Ward
Up Next: Lover Eternal by JR Ward

Hours 10-12

Currently Reading: Lover Eternal by JR Ward (pg. 22)
Pages Read: 831
Books Finished: Dark Lover by JR Ward, Forever My Love by Lisa Kleypas
Up Next: A Warrior's Promise by Donna Fletcher

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Review: How To Ravish a Rake by Vicky Dreiling

Publisher: Forever
ISBN:  0446565407
Pages: 337 pages
Genre: Romance/Historical/Regency
Series: How To-1,2
Challenges-TK
Buy this Book: Amazonclip_image001_thumb_thumb, Powell's, Indiebound clip_image0013_thumb_thumbclip_image0014_thumb_thumb



Summary from publisher:

SCANDALOUS DESIRES . . .
Amy Hardwick has one last Season to shake off her wallflower image and make a love match. If she can't, she'll set aside her dreams of romance and return home to a suitor who can provide security-if little else. What she doesn't count on is the inappropriate-and irresistible-attention lavished on her in a darkened library by rake extraordinaire Will "The Devil" Darcett . . .

DEVILISH DELIGHT
When Will is caught in a tryst with the ton's shyest miss, he knows he must offer for her hand. Yet Amy is not the shrinking violet she seems to be. Passion lies beneath her prim exterior and Will is eager to release it. But winning Amy isn't simply a matter of seduction; first, Will must convince her that he's mended his wicked ways . .

My Review: 

I hate to admit it but I am flying blind with this series. I have them all and haven’t gotten a chance to read the previous books yet. And I really hate jumping into a series at the end but I did it. And I liked this book quite a bit. I will have to reread it once I read the other books.

Amy was one of those heroines that I wavered with a little. I did really like her. I always feel a bit of a kinship with the wallflower heroines. And I really loved that she was ambitious and had aspirations of a career. At times, her voice did get a bit dronish but not often. Will was, of course, a rake. He’s nicknamed “The Devil” how much rakier can you get? But I like that, of course. I love that he started out with terrible intentions but he’s not at all a bad guy just a misguided one.

I normally hate stepping into a series at the end of a series. I really do. It’s like you walked into a room in the middle of an important conversation and can’t catch up. It wasn’t the case with this one. I immediately fell in love with both the story and Will and Amy. Amy and Will are kindred spirits and that connection definitely shines through. I have a feeling that both Will and Amy would have annoyed me with anyone else but they were borderline perfect together.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Review: Confessions From An Arranged Marriage by Miranda Neville

Publisher: Avon
ISBN: 0062023055
Pages:384 pages
Genre: Romance/Historical/Regency 
Series: The Bugundy Club-.5,1,2,3
Challenges-TK
Buy this Book: Amazonclip_image001_thumb_thumb, Powell's, Indiebound clip_image0013_thumb_thumbclip_image0014_thumb_thumb




Summary from publisher:

They couldn't be more different, but there's one thing they agree on.

In London after a two-year exile, Lord Blakeney plans to cut a swathe through the bedchambers of the demimonde. Marriage is not on his agenda, especially to an annoying chit like Minerva Montrose, with her superior attitude and a tendency to get into trouble. And certainly the last man Minerva wants is Blake, a careless wastrel without a thought in his handsome head.

The heat and noise of her debutante ball give Minerva a migraine. Surely a moment's rest could do no harm ... until Blake mistakes her for another lady, leaving Minerva's guests to catch them in a very compromising position. To her horror, the scandal will force them to do the unthinkable: marry. Their mutual loathing blazes into unexpected passion but Blake remains distant, desperate to hide a shameful secret. Minerva's never been a woman to take things lying down, and she'll let nothing stop her from winning his trust ... and his heart.

My Review: 

This is another book that I read as a part of the awesome Avon Addicts program and it has been on my wish list since it popped up on Goodreads. I quite literally could not put this one down. I carried my Nook everywhere with me until I finished. I was obsessed.

This is the second book in the last two weeks with a heroine named Minerva (A Week To Be Wicked by Tessa Dare). It may be a good omen because I loved both books and both Minervas. This Minerva was just as brainy but in a more political way. She was also quite ambitious which I really loved. I did, however, wonder why she didn’t pick up on Blake’s secret sooner than she did. It was kind of obvious. Speaking of our hero, Blake, I wavered between wanting to kill him and loving him. He was a true rake. He had a mistress, he visited her, he bought her jewelry—all while he was engaged to Minerva. Bad very bad. But really, I found him to be a likeable hero in spite of his faults. He had a massive inferiority complex because of his secret (not telling!) and he really did fall completely in love with Minerva.

This was my first Miranda Neville book. I am happy to say that it won’t be my last and I am pretty committed to marathon reading this whole series when I get a chance. If all of her rakes are like Blake then I will be a very happy girl. It’s very rare that an author can get a rake “just right” (kind of like toast or soup) but Neville comes very close. I am also a big fan of any romance novel involving an arranged marriage and a mistress. This one definitely comes highly recommended.


Rating:

*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review.   My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies   made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the  blog.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Bloggiesta Update

I have to admit that I didn’t get much done. This was a lazy weekend full of sleepiness. I blame the cloudiness outside.

Update 3/31

  • Find a new template. Something colorful and bright. Something to do with books as well. If anyone knows where to find a good free one (I’m low on funds) or is willing to help me build one for myself, let me know. –Still to do.
  • Announce giveaway winners. Totally forgot in the hazy daze that was March. –Monday
  • Sign up for all year long challenges. –This week.
  • Add books from 2011 and 2012 to applicable challenges. –Not anywhere near done. Will work on it this week.
  • Create Author Index including website, blog, Twitter, Goodreads. –3/4 done. Will go live in April.
  • Draft reviews for all undrafted books. And schedule into May. –Scheduled into June. Also cleared up some of the backlog.
  • Tweak the layout. Get rid of unnecessary widgets. Add Avon Addicts badge. –Still not done.
  • Tag all read books on Goodreads with descriptive tags. –Working on it.
 

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