31 March 2013

Once Burned (Night Prince, Book 1)


Synopsis: After a tragic accident scarred her body and destroyed her dreams, Leila never imagined that the worst was still to come: a terrifying ability to channel electricity and to see a person's darkest secrets through a single touch. Leila is doomed to a life of solitude...until creatures of the night kidnap her, forcing her to reach out with a telepathic distress call to the world's most infamous vampire...

Vlad Tepesh inspired the greatest vampire legend of all – but whatever you do, don’t call him Dracula. Vlad's ability to control fire makes him one of the most feared vampires in existence, but his enemies have found a new weapon against him – a beautiful mortal with powers to match his own. When Vlad and Leila meet, however, passion ignites, threatening to consume them. It will take everything they have to stop an enemy intent on bringing them down in flames.

First line: I parked my bike in front of the restaurant, wiping the perspiration from my upper lip.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Avon Books, An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2012; 346 pages; received through BookCrossing.

My thoughts: In the Cat and Bones books, Vlad is a peripheral character who appears now and again. Like Mencheres, I wasn't overly fond of Vlad in those books, but I was curious to learn more about him and his back story. Unlike with Mencheres, reading Vlad’s story did not make me a much bigger fan of him. I know all of the vampires are violent and ruthless and protective of what's theirs, but Vlad just seems to go overboard with it.

I liked Leila, and felt terribly sorry for her and what her life had become since she was electrocuted. When we meet her, she and her only real friend, Marty, work for a carnival. Marty happens to be a vampire, so Leila already knows all about them.

Leila can't have a relationship with anyone because she can't touch anyone without shocking them. She keeps her right hand in a rubber glove or tight against her side, because if she even brushes against someone with that hand she has a vision of their worst sin, and relives some of their memories, and sometimes gets a glimpse of their future. She can also touch an object, and see flashes, memories, of the person who touched it before her. If she gets a glimpse of a future vision, she knows where that person will be at that time.

Leila is kidnapped by a group of vampires who force her to use this ability to track Vlad. But Vlad's own abilities are strong enough that he is aware of Leila peeking inside his head. Thus, that is how they meet for the first time.

Vlad is well known among the vampire community for being able to produce fire from his hands, which is how he conquers his enemies – burning them to death. Leila's touch seems to have no affect on him, other than lust.

Vlad and Leila go well together. But Vlad told Leila right off the bat that he will never love her, that he no longer has that capacity. Bones loved Cat from the start. Spade and Denise had a love story, Mencheres and Kira had a love story. I expected a love story for Vlad also, but this was all action. Yes, there was sex, but no romance. And there wasn't as much humor as I've become accustomed to. Leila tossed off some funny lines, but Vlad didn't toss them back like the others do. I'm trying to remember if he had a better sense of humor in the Cat and Bones books – maybe I expected to much from him.

This is the first in a new series, and the second book releases in April. Even though I didn't love this one as much as previous Frost books, I didn't dislike it either, and I still look forward to the next book.

25 March 2013

The Truth About Cowboys (Harlequin Superromance No. 743)


Synopsis: Erin Mackenzie considers herself a candidate for the Dumped by Cowboys Hall of Fame. Especially since she was stood up by rodeo cowboy Abe Cockburn, the father of her baby daughter, Maeve.

And then there’s another cowboy – Erin’s own father, rancher Kip Kay, who she’s never even met. Who’s never acknowledged her.

Erin makes a risky choice: she goes to Colorado to tell Abe about his daughter. And to tell Kip about his.

She goes to Colorado to find the truth about cowboys – and about fathers.

First line: No cowboys, vowed Erin Mackenzie.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Harlequin Books, 1997; 298 pages; purchased at a library book sale.  

My thoughts: I’m still reeling a little bit by this emotional roller coaster of a book. Right off the bat, Erin is not your typical chaste, inexperienced heroine, and Abe is not your typical rich, arrogant hero, especially for a book written over ten years ago. Abe spots Erin in the stands at a rodeo and flirts with her. Their paths cross again at a dance later that night, where she learns he’s from Alta, Colorado – the same town her father is from. By the end of the night she’s ready to take him home with her. Something she’s apparently done before, to her mother’s disapproval.

Abe is a bullfighter, a rodeo clown. And I’m gonna make a confession here. Until I read this book, I’d never realized the bull rider and the bullfighter are two different things. Or people, rather. I thought those words were interchangeable. Also, my parents took me to a rodeo when I was very young, and a rodeo clown like Abe came up into the stands and scared the bejeezus out of me. I’ve had a strong disliking for clowns of any kind ever since.

Erin’s weakness is cowboys, who always dump her, and when Abe asks her to meet him at another rodeo a couple of months later, she hesitantly agrees. And when she goes to that rodeo and finds out he cancelled his appearance, she accepts that she’s been dumped once again. Except this time, the dumper has left her pregnant with his child.

Months later, Erin decides to go to Alta, Colorado, on a mission. Her father runs a working ranch that also takes vacationers, and she’s booked a week at the ranch, using a false last name.  She wants to meet her father, and she wants to find Abe and tell him he has a daughter.

A couple of times while reading this book, I’d see the Harlequin logo on the cover and be momentarily surprised. This book is definitely not a standard category romance. In fact, one of the characters at the ranch has named two dogs Gus and Call, and a horse Mouse, which though that book is never mentioned are obviously a nod to LONESOME DOVE. And the further I got into this book, the more Larry McMurtry’s book was brought to mind.

And you know how despite all the problems, obstacles, etc., the hero and heroine eventually make their declarations of mutual love and have their HEA, and that’s the end? Well not in this case. The book continued on for quite some time after that point, and I even wondered to myself disbelievingly if their relationship was going to fall apart after all. At times, it was downright depressing, with tragedy after tragedy, until you feel like you can’t stand it if one more thing goes wrong.

I think this book is going to be one of my favorite reads for this year. No, scratch that, one of my favorite reads, period. Ms. Early has a large back list, and I have lots of books to hunt down now.

17 March 2013

The Story Girl


First line: “I do like a road, because you can be always wondering what is at the end of it.”

Stats for my copy: Cloth bound hardback, published by Grosset & Dunlap, 1911; 365 pages; purchased at a library book sale.

My thoughts: I have very fond memories of the ANNE OF GREEN GABLES series, which I first read many many years ago. So when my sister and I went to a library book sale and I saw this book on the “Old Books” table, I snatched it up, even though I'd not heard of it before. Then my sister saw it in one of my sacks and told me she'd watched a series with a character who was always referred to as the story girl. After we'd gone home, she looked it up in her Netflix history and told me it was called “The Road to Avonlea”.

It was an enjoyable book, though I didn't like it nearly as much as I remember loving the Anne books.

The narrator is Beverly King, who is sent to Prince Edward Island with his brother to stay with relatives while their father is working in another country. The Story Girl is cousin Sara Stanley, not a particularly beautiful girl, but when she tells a story her audience is always enraptured and drawn to her. As Bev and his brother and cousins, along with their friend, also called Sara, and hired boy Peter enjoy their idyllic life, going to school and church and having mishaps and misadventures, The Story Girl often amuses them with her tales.

Before starting the book, I found and ordered the sequel, THE GOLDEN ROAD, through Paperback Swap, with the intention of passing both books to my sister after reading them. However, rather than read them back to back as originally planned, I'm setting the second book aside for awhile. I also think I'll reread ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, and then give that to my sister as well, since to my surprise she said she hadn't read any of that series. I cannot imagine how she missed them since I'm pretty sure I read them all when we were in high school. Maybe she just doesn't remember.

09 March 2013

Janauary Acquisitions

It's March, and I'm just getting around to posting my Janauary acquisitions! 

I got five books through Book Mooch and one through BookCrossing in January:

Nothing Bad Ever Happens in Tiffany's, by Marian Keyes; His Immortal Embrace, by Hannah Howell, Lynsey Sands, Sara Blayne, and Kate Huntington; Petals on the Wind, by V.C. Andrews - I read Flowers in the Attic not too long ago, and then discovered that I had already given away my copy of Petals!

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, and Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict, by Laurie Viera Rigler; The Bite Before Christmas, by Lynsey Sands

My daughters gave me a Half Price Books gift card for Christmas, and I found lots of good books there. I used the entire card in one trip!

For a Few Demons More and The Outlaw Demons Wails, by Kim Harrison - I really need to get caught up on this series; Hollywood, by Larry McMurtry

By Sorrow's River; The Desert Rose; and The Wandering Hill, by Larry McMurtry - I've only read one of his books, Lonesome Dove, but it was so incredible I want to read everything he's written!

Outlaw Bride, by Jenna Kernan - another author I've only read one book by (Turner's Woman), but I really enjoyed it; Primal Desires, by Susan Sizemore - I've only read the first in this series so far; Hope for Animals and Their World, by Jane Goodall

Love, Lust & Faking It, by Jenny McCarthy; Fly Away Home, by Jennifer Weiner; My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon, edited by P.N. Elrod

And then a trip to the thrift store yielded some good results as well:

This is a Book, by Demetri Martin; Wild Shores of Australia, by National Geographic; Pet ER: Memoirs of an Animal Doctor, by George A. Porter

Pure Drivel, by Steve Martin; Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor, by Lisa Kleypas; Return to Sender, by Fern Michaels

Freedom Writers Diary, by Erin Gruell; Look Again, by Lisa Scottoline

And last but not least, too many books from Harlequin Reader Service:

Memory of Murder, by Ramona Richards; Defending the Duchess, by Rachelle McCalla; The Cowboy Target, by Terri Reed (love that cover)


Guard Duty, by Sharon Dunn; A Place for Family, by Mia Ross; Meeting Mr. Right, by Deb Kastner


Catching Her Heart, by Carolyne Aarsen; Bundle of Joy, by Annie Jones; Perfectly Matched, by Lois Richer


Home To Montana, by Charolotte Carter; The Cowboy's Surprise Bride, by Linda Ford; Beauty in Disguise, by Mary Moore

The Rake's Redemption, by Regina Scott

06 March 2013

Flat Water Tuesday

Synopsis from Goodreads: When documentary filmmaker Rob Carrey flies back to New York from a shoot in South Africa to salvage his relationship with his lover Caroline Smythe, he unexpectedly finds himself called back to his former boarding school following a heartbreaking tragedy. Despite having long ago buried the memories of the brutal year he spent at the elite Fenton School in Connecticut as a postgraduate rower, Carrey finds that those days now return to haunt him. The Fenton School Boat Club’s top rowing team, called the God Four, is legendary. But the price that they pay for a shot at glory will scar each member of Carrey’s team far into adulthood.

Colin Payne, the Massachusetts blue-blood; Jumbo, the good natured giant; John Wadsworth the preppy lawyer-to-be; Ruth Anderson, the Yale-bound coxswain; and Rob Carrey, the scholarship athlete from Niccalsetti, New York — all of them are forever bound to one another by the terrible cost of victory. Over one tumultuous week, Rob Carrey will learn that he cannot leave the past in his wake.

Stats for my copy: ARC, St. Martin's Press/Thomas Dunne Books; release date June 4, 2013; won in a Goodreads giveaway.

My thoughts: I have been introduced to a whole new world. I've never given much thought to rowing, competitive or otherwise. But you guys, it's a real Sport, with a capital S! My daughter played soccer in high school, she made the varsity team her freshman year. But she did not put in nearly as much work, pain, suffering, as the kids in this book do. In fact, after reading about our hero's aching knees and blistered hands, I'm wondering if this is a young man's sport? Are these kids broken down and retired by the time they graduate from college?

Our narrator is Rob Carrey, alternating between filling us in on his adult life today, and his life as a student who was given a scholarship to row at the prestigious Fenton boarding school. He'd already completed his senior year of high school, but Fenton offers students an additional year, an extra senior year, and the chance to win the attention of an Ivy League college.

In his adult life, Rob shoots documentary films for National Geographic, traveling all over the world. When the narrative begins, he's learned that one of his classmates has passed away, and he's been invited back to Fenton for a class reunion and a memorial service. At the same time, his relationship with his live in girlfriend has imploded, and upon arriving home from his latest assignment he has to pack up his belongings and move out.

The narrative also often backtracks, to tell us about earlier days in the relationship, and in Rob's life before Fenton, but despite the constant shifts in time the story flows smoothly and seamlessly. In the beginning I was a little overwhelmed with all the unfamiliar boating and rowing terms, which the author uses naturally and matter of factly (is that a word? I think not, but I’m using it anyway) and without condescending to provide definitions or explanations to the reader. And before long the jargon settles into your brain. Although I will admit at one point I stared at the little picture on the front cover for several minutes, wondering how the coxswain can do her job when she's facing the wrong way, before my mind finally realized that the rowers are the ones going backwards. And then I felt stupid, because duh, I have seen people rowing boats before.

The races are tense and vivid and gripping. While much of the narrative meanders along (in a good way), the races rush across the pages, leaving you emotionally drained. The characters are three-dimensional and well written, not just Rob, but the people around him whom he comes to know and understand, or in some cases not really know or understand. It's a gripping look at life and loss, and how your future can be planned out and then change, and you adjust because that's all you can do.