Monday, May 25, 2015

One Night: Promised (One Night, Book 1)


Synopsis from Goodreads: Livy notices him the moment he walks into the coffee shop. He's heart-stoppingly stunning, with a blue-eyed gaze so piercing she's almost too distracted to take his order. When he walks out the door, she thinks she'll never see him again. Then she finds the note he left on his napkin . . . signed M.

All he wants is one night to worship her. No feelings, no commitment, nothing but pleasure. Every defense mechanism Livy has adopted during her solitary life is at risk of being obliterated by this confounding man. He's obnoxious but well-mannered. He's a gentleman but aloof. He's passionate but emotionless. Yet the fascination is so powerful, Livy can't deny him... or herself.

M awakens something in Livy, something deep and addictive that she never knew existed -- and that she fears only he can satisfy. But she senses that behind the fast cars, fancy suits, and posh apartment, he's aching inside. To have him, body and soul, she'll have to brave his dark secrets. Delving into his world and breaking down his defenses become her obsession - an obsession that could shatter her heart beyond repair.. .

Stats for my copy: Trade paperback, Orion, 2014

How acquired: BookCrossing

My thoughts: I had mixed emotions throughout this book. I liked Livy, the narrator. She was funny and self-deprecating. But I wasn't sure about Miller. At times I liked him, I could understand why Livy was attracted to him, but at other times I just thought he was an arrogant douche bag and I wanted Livy to run in the opposite direction.

Livy meets Miller when he comes into the coffeehouse where she works. She's still new at her job, and learning to master the complicated cappuccino machine. Before leaving, Miller writes her a rude note on a napkin.

Livy can't stop thinking about Miller,and it turns out he can't stop thinking about her. They meet again, and he tells her he wants twenty-four hours with her. No strings, no commitment, and nothing beyond twenty-four hours. She adamantly refuses, but eventually she breaks down and agrees.

It's so obvious that Livy is way too young and vulnerable to enter into an agreement like this, and I felt that if Miller were a real man, he would've realized that and not pushed her into it. What follows is lots of fantastic sex, better than Livy has ever experienced before, along with an emotional roller coaster for Livy, where she swings from misery and angst and self-loathing to euphoria and happiness and back again. The first time Livy comes to her senses and forces herself to walk away from Miller I was applauding her. But of course she went back and started the whole cycle over again. I think it's safe to say that for the most part, I did not like Miller Hart and had absolutely no respect for him.

While there is lots of sex, it's actually pretty tame. Miller tells Livy that he will always “worship” her. They have sex, they make love, but they do not “fuck”. And when she tells him she wants him to fuck her, he is horrified, and insists that no, the pleasure must be slow and savored, every time. I kept waiting for him to finally lose control and give her the fucking she wanted. I mean, jeez, loosen up dude!


The events unfold excruciatingly slow, especially in the first half of the book. And then towards the end there is a twist that comes completely and shockingly out of left field, and after that it's tense and compellingly page turning, and I do want to read the next book to see how Livy and Miller will deal with the fall out. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

How I Wonder What You Are


Synopsis from Goodreads: Maybe he wasn’t here because of the lights – maybe they were here because of him …”

It’s been over eighteen months since Molly Gilchrist has had a man (as her best friend, Caro, is so fond of reminding her) so when she as good as stumbles upon one, lying comatose, on the moors one bitterly cold morning, it seems like the Universe is having a laugh at her expense.

But Phinn Baxter (that’s Doctor Phinneas Baxter) is no drunken layabout, as Molly is soon to discover; with a PhD in astrophysics and a tortured past that is a match for Molly’s own disastrous love life.

Finding mysterious men on the moors isn’t the weirdest thing Molly has to contend with, however. There’s also those strange lights she keeps seeing in the sky. The ones she’s only started seeing since meeting Phinn …

Stats for my copy: Kindle, Choc Lit Limited, 2014

How acquired: Netgalley

First line (skipping the prologue): The man lay naked, unconscious and , inevitably I suppose given the temperature, slightly blue.

My thoughts: Molly and Phinn are two lost souls, closed up inside themselves and holding the world at bay. Molly writes for a magazine and came to this remote little village after a bad breakup. She doesn't talk about her ex, nor will she talk about her mother and why she's so angry with her that she avoids her calls or hangs up as soon as she answers the phone. Her life consists of her little cottage, her friend (and landlady) across the street, Caro, and a horse named Stan who is a character in his own right. When she sees mysterious colorful lights flitting across the sky, she's entranced and curious about them, although nobody else in the village appears to have seen them.

One day while out riding Stan, Molly comes across a naked unconscious man lying on the ground. And that's how she meets Phinn. He's a physicist, quite well known in the science community. A lanky, awkward, bespectacled man who's taken up residence in an abandoned, neglected, moldy/mildewey house across the village. (Actually I don't remember if the author described him as “lanky” but in my head he is.) When Phinn sees mysterious colorful lights flitting across the sky, he's entranced and curious about them, although his friend Link never sees them, even when he's walking just a few yards behind Phinn.

While Molly is recovering from her bad breakup, Phinn wears the remnants of his marriage like a cloak. It covers him all around, keeping his memories close and allowing his anxiety and low self-esteem to leak out through the worn fabric. His wife convinced him that he's a wimp, that he's not a real man, that no real woman would want him.

Right from the beginning I was captivated by the narration, by the author's voice and her turn of phrase. It was flowing, almost lyrical at times. An example:
Phinn was about twenty yards behind with the tent bag slung across his shoulders and the last rays of the sun tinting his face and hair before it sank behind the hump of moorland to the west. It caught his glasses and blocked out his eyes, replacing them with reflections of the scenery, making him look as though he'd been possessed by the spirit of the moors.”

And another:
The anger weighted his words, made them drop and bend the atmosphere around them.”

For the most part I enjoyed the story, enjoyed getting to know Phinn and Molly, as well as Stan the horse. I expected those mysterious lights to play into the plot more than they did, but the plot moved forward steadily (albeit a little slowly) despite the lights not being more involved. However, as much I hate to say it, I did at times agree with Phinn that he was being a wimp, and kept wanting him to “man up” and grow a pair. And when he finally did, I was initially disappointed at the way he went about it. But everything was resolved nicely in the end and overall it was a sweet little story.


Note: It's my understanding this is the fourth book in a series, The Yorkshire Romances, but each book can be read as a stand alone. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Sex & the Immortal Bad Boy (Immortally Sexy, Book 4)


MICHELLE ROWE

Synopsis from GoodreadsPaige Darlington has a problem. See, she's the former apprentice to Satan's right hand, Becka Gibbs. As a result, she's got this pretty much all consuming need to be bad... not her fault, right? Well, that will be a small comfort when she loses all human emotions, including the ability to love and care about those who matter to her.

To keep his brother alive, Jed Buchanan works for Satan Jr., the heir to hell and the most evil being in existence. Jed has been forced to do a lot of unsavory things during his time on the "job" and his latest assignment - killing Becka Gibbs - isn't pleasant either. It only gets more complicated when he arrives at Becka's apartment, and inadvertently attacks Paige, a beautiful, sexy demon who decides that saving his black soul will be just the thing to keep her own from rotting.

But can the Devil's minion and the Devil's assassin possibly find true love?

Stats for my copyMass market paperback, published by Forever, a division of Grand Central Publishing, 2007.

How acquired: Bought.

My thoughts: I read the first three books in this series several years ago, and I loved all three of them. In the third book, Paige, the heroine of this book, was introduced as a secondary character, and I adored her. She provided a lot of comic relief. So I was really looking forward to reading SEX & THE IMMORTAL BAD BOY. Unfortunately, I’ve just really had a hard time getting invested in the story.

Paige is a Rivka, created by Satan very recently, to harvest the souls of people who are going to hell. She has managed to get away from Satan however, and no longer works for him. Then one day she discovers that any living thing she touches, a plant, a tree, an angel, is burned up and disintegrates. Something Satan did to her without her knowledge in his quest to create the perfect killing machine. Now she’s on a mission to find a cure, before her inner wraith completely takes over and she loses all her humanity.

Jed is a shadow warrior, who works for Satan, Jr. Not by choice, but in order to protect his brother from being tortured. And it turns out that, being damned, Paige can touch him and not hurt or kill him. So now he and Paige are teaming up, to find a way to cure Paige, and get Jed out of his contract with Satan, Jr. and save his brother.

And if that all sounds like a silly confusing mess, it is. I’m not sure if the plot is really that bad, or if I’ve just gotten so far away from paranormal romance in the last couple of years that I just can’t connect with it now. Granted, it’s been awhile since I read the previous book (2010), but Paige just doesn’t seem like the same Paige I loved in that book. She is so desperate to be touching Jed all the time, you'd think she'd been unable to touch anyone else for years and years, not for a day or so. For the most part I just find her to be too dramatic and annoying. I do like Jed, and if the story were just about his problems and solving his issues, I’d probably enjoy it more. Except maybe I wouldn't, since I'm not sure what he sees in Paige, other than that she accepts him for who and what he is. 

I gave up at page 164 (out of 314). I just don’t care enough about these characters to finish their story.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Heaven to Betsy (Emily, Book 1)


Synopsis from Goodreads: When a dead body swan-dives from a balcony into the pool at a wedding, gossip comes to a halt about disgraced paralegal and former rodeo queen Emily—whose husband left her for a woman who’s really a man. Enter Jack, a secretive attorney and sexy mix of cowboy and Indian. She refuses to work for him until she learns about the disappearance of the six-year old daughter of his notorious client Sofia, the wedding shooter, who is also an illegal immigrant. Emily feels a strange affinity with the girl and launches a desperate search for her. Bodies pile up in her wake across Texas and New Mexico as the walls around her own secrets begin to crumble, and the authorities question whether the child is anything but a figment of her imagination.

Stats for my copy: Kindle edition, Skipjack Publishing, 2015. 

How acquired: Gifted to me by the author. 

First line: I wedged myself up to the bar between an urban cowboy and a sequined octogenarian with a cigarette dangling from her lips. 

My thoughts: Emily has come back to her hometown after a special dinner date with her husband, wherein she was going to announce to him that she is pregnant, was interrupted by Stormy, his cross dressing boyfriend (girlfriend?). Now she’s back in her mom’s house, remembering what it’s like to live among small town gossips. That urban cowboy from the first line turns out to be a criminal attorney who just so happens to need a paralegal. Emily has never worked in criminal law before, and doesn't particularly want to, but grudgingly accepts the job. 

The story is told in first person point of view, and Emily is a self-deprecating and fun, and funny, narrator. Her life has basically fallen apart around her, and she’s struggling to hold it together. Jack is a somewhat strange but good looking laconic loner, who never seems to answer a direct question, insists that Emily loudly ring a bell each morning when she arrives at work, which makes Emily wonder just what he’s doing back in his office, and who has a little white poodle with a pink collar who comes to work with him.  

Emily and Jack are both standing by the pool when Sofia, a hotel janitorial worker, shoots the man who then falls over the balcony into the pool. Sofia becomes Jack’s newest client, but she won’t tell them why she shot the man, or answer any of their questions or do anything to help Jack come up with a defense for her – she just begs them to find her missing daughter. 

Of the secondary characters, Wallace, a CPS worker who is also trying to find the little girl, really stood out. Neat and fastidious, one of my favorite scenes was when Emily picks him up in her trashed out car for the first time. But there were lots of other scenes that also made me smile or even laugh. 

For the first half of the book, it was a very amusing and fluffy little story. And then suddenly it got a bit gritty, as Emily becomes more and more determined to find little Valentina. Somewhere in the second half I became so engrossed, and so invested in Emily and her search, that I stayed up reading much too late one night (so thanks for that book hangover headache I had the next day Ms. Hutchins!). And when I started reading again the next night it got really serious, with Emily in a pretty dangerous situation, and I was practically holding my breath until it was resolved. 

I’d put this more in the mystery genre than romance, with some adventure thrown in. Lively and lighthearted, yet ultimately dealing with some serious subject matter. I very much enjoyed this book, from a new to me author. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Bet Me


Synopsis from Goodreads: Minerva Dobbs knows that happily-ever-after is a fairy tale, especially with a man who asked her to dinner to win a bet. Even if he is gorgeous and successful Calvin Morrisey. Cal knows commitment is impossible, especially with a woman as cranky as Min Dobbs. Even if she does wear great shoes and keeps him on his toes. When they say good-bye at the end of their evening, they cut their losses and agree never to see each other again.

But Fate has other plans, and it's not long before Min and Cal meet again. Soon, they're dealing with a jealous ex-boyfriend, Krispy Kreme donuts, a determined psychologist, chaos theory, a freakishly intelligent cat, Chicken Marsala, and more risky propositions than either of them ever dreamed of. Including the biggest gamble of all—true love.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback; St. Martin’s Press, 2004

How acquired: Received through Title Trader, of which I used to be a member some eight years ago

First line: Once upon a time, Minerva Dobbs thought as she stood in the middle of the loud yuppie bar, the world was full of good men.

My thoughts: When you pick up a Jennifer Crusie book you know you’re going to get:

- a relatable and realistically flawed heroine
- a charming hero
- a cast of quirky and eccentric supporting characters
- usually a dog but this time it was a cat
- fast paced slapstick humor right out of a Cary Grant/Rosalind Russell era movie

Min has just been dumped by her boyfriend, David, in the middle of a theme bar. They haven’t had sex yet, and he’s tired of waiting for her to put out. Her biggest concern? Now she doesn't have a date to her sister’s wedding in three weeks, and her mother will go ballistic.

David then runs into Cal Morrissey and tries to bet him ten thousand dollars that Cal can’t get Min into bed within one month. Cal isn’t interested, in Min or in a sleazy bet and tries to ignore David’s goading, but when David bets him ten dollars he can’t even get Min to leave with him, he takes that bet just to get away.

Min overhears part of the conversation about the bet-to-get-her-in-bed but not the bet-to-get-her-to-leave-with-Cal, and when Cal hits on her shortly after, she thinks he’s just bet David ten dollars to get her into bed. She’s pissed, but decides to string him along, go out with him, take him to her sister’s wedding, and then dump him and make him lose the bet.

However, when they part company that night, they are both agreed that not seeing the other person ever again is a sound plan. But of course their paths will cross and recross, especially since Min’s two best friends get mixed up with Cal’s two best friends. Min is not a thin girl, and her mother is constantly nagging her about not eating sweets and losing weight. Mom has crushed her self-esteem, and since she thinks Cal is out to win a bet, Min certainly doesn’t think he’s really attracted to her. Some of the sweetest moments in the book were Cal addressing her weight, which he doesn't see as a problem in any way, shape or form. And my favorite passage was Cal defending Min to her family at dinner:
"Look, I don't mind you grilling me about what I do for a living," Cal said. "Your daughter's brought me home and that has some significance. And I don't mind your wife asking about my personal life for the same reason. But Min is an amazing woman, and so far during this meal, you've either ignored her or hassled her about some dumb dress. For the record, she is not too big for the dress. The dress is too small for her. She's perfect." Cal buttered a roll and passed it over to Min. "Eat."

Cal’s family are just as bad as Min’s, albeit in a different way, and later Min gets her chance to sit at their dinner table and watch them belittle him and then tell them off.


As with all of her books, BET ME was a fun, fast, slightly manic, entertaining read. Fluffy chick lit (Min’s passion for silly high heeled shoes was a little ridiculous, but then I'm more into purses than shoes) with a feel great resolution.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Rereadable Lines


"Look, I don't mind you grilling me about what I do for a living," Cal said. "Your daughter's brought me home and that has some significance. And I don't mind your wife asking about my personal life for the same reason. But Min is an amazing woman, and so far during this meal, you've either ignored her or hassled her about some dumb dress. For the record, she is not too big for the dress. The dress is too small for her. She's perfect." Cal buttered a roll and passed it over to Min. "Eat."


BET ME, by Jennifer Crusie

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Househusband

AD HUDLER

Synopsis from Goodreads: When his wife, Jo, is offered her dream job, Lincoln Menner leaves his thriving landscape business in Los Angeles and moves to Rochester, New York. This will be his chance to start over, spend a little time with their three-year-old daughter, and finally do things right at home. 

But Linc had no idea what it really meant to be a househusband: to stay home every day, folding laundry, cleaning soap scum, and teaching his little girl to use the potty. To be ignored at parties by his wife’s colleagues who see him as just a homemaker. Though he soon has the house humming, Linc misses the outside world. Most of all he misses Jo, who works too late and barely notices the fabulous dinners he slaves over. Drastic action must be taken to make his efficiently run house truly a home, sweet home. And Linc knows he is just the man for the job!

First line: This is a good day. 

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, Ballantine Books, 2004. 

How acquired: Bought. 

My thoughts: I went into this book thinking it was going to be light, amusing chick lit (for lack of a better word) style, even though it’s written by a man. I mean, look at that cartoon cover. But it was actually a deeper, almost depressing look at what it means to be a stay at home parent, losing your own identity in the shadow of your working spouse. 

Staying home starts out as a temporary situation. Jo has gotten a really good executive level job and the family have moved across the country. While Jo settles into her new job, Linc takes care of three year old Violet, and gets the new household up and running. But when he begins looking for a nanny, he can’t find anyone he likes as much as the one they had to leave behind, and staying home with Violet rather than looking for work stretches out longer and longer. 

I didn’t relate to either Linc or Jo, having been a working parent for my daughters’ entire lives, but still being the primary care giver as well since my husband also worked. My older daughter started day care at nine months, and my younger at two weeks, which would have horrified Linc, a controlling snob. Spotless house. Healthy gourmet meals. Violet is not allowed to eat junk food, and when she starts refusing to eat carrots, he cuts them up small, makes a little incision into pieces of tortellini and sticks a piece of carrot inside so she’ll eat them without realizing it. She can watch Pocahontas, a strong female role model with “…knowledge of plant life, awareness of the biosphere and where she fits into it. Respect for her father. Curiosity of things unknown” etc., but she isn’t allowed to watch Rugrats, “one big lesson in how to mock and sneak around authority figures” or The Little Mermaid, “no redeeming traits. Zero. She continually defies her father and wants nothing more than to be some rich hunk’s bride.” I got exhausted just reading about everything Linc does. 

I loved this line:
I tried to tell my clients that flowers were intended to be random, dropped into place by birds and the wind. Flowers should be occasional, visual surprises, like a found conch shell on the beach.
An enjoyable, quick, but unremarkable story.