28 July 2013

A Love Worth Waiting For (Love Inspired #203)


Back cover copy: Jaded jet-setter Noah Ashton arrived in Montana with the sole purpose of making sure his beloved grandmother was not marrying a man out to steal her fortune. However, when he experienced a life-threatening crisis, the last person he expected to lean on was Julie Renton, the granddaughter of his grandmother's suitor. The small-town schoolteacher not only staunchly defended her grandfather's honor, but also opened this world-weary tycoon's eyes to the Lord's most precious blessings.

A handsome and chivalrous Noah was everything Julie had ever dreamed of in a man. But even while she lavished him with sweet solace to see him through the hardships ahead, she sensed he had the power to shatter her fragile heart. It took a miracle from above to convince Julie she'd finally found a love worth fighting for.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Steeple Hill Books, 2003; 250 pages. I don't remember where I got it.

My thoughts: Enjoyable albeit standard Love Inspired fare. The characters are all likable, the banter between the hero and heroine is often amusing, and the ending is satisfactory.

A Swiftly Tilting Planet (The Time Quintet, Book 3)


Back cover copy: In this companion volume to A WRINKLE IN TIME (Newberry Award Winner) and A WIND IN THE DOOR, fifteen-year-old Charles Wallace and the unicorn Gaudior undertake a perilous journey through time in a desperate attempt to stop the destruction of the world by the mad dictator Madog Branzillo. They are not alone in their quest. Charles Wallace's sister, Meg – grown and expecting her first child, but still able to enter her brother’s thoughts and emotions by “kything” – goes with him in spirit.

But in overcoming the challenges, Charles Wallace must face the ultimate test of his faith and will, as he is sent within four people from another time, there to search for a way to avert the tragedy threatening them all.

First line: The big kitchen of the Murrys' house was bright and warm, curtains drawn against the dark outside, against the rain driving past the house from the northeast.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Dell Publishing Co., Inc., 1980; 256 pages. I don't remember where I got it.

My thoughts: Basically the whole plot was a big convoluted mess that interested me at times and bored me at times and just confused me at times.

17 July 2013

Comanche Moon

Synopsis: Orphaned seven years ago after witnessing the brutal murder of her parents at the hands of the Comanche people, golden-haired Loretta Simpson still lives in terror that the warriors will return. Her fear is so powerful, she can no longer speak a word.

Called the U.S. Army's most cunning adversary, Hunter of the Wolf believes that Loretta is the "honey-haired woman with no voice" of ancient prophesy - the woman he must honor for all eternity. But Loretta can see Hunter only as the enemy who has stolen her, and she refuses to succumb to his control...or his touch.

Despite the hatred intensifying between their peoples, Loretta and Hunter gradually find their prejudices giving way to respect, then flaring into feelings too dangerous to express. In the midst of such conflict, it will take all the force of their extraordinary love to find a safe place...

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 1991; 468 pages; purchased at a library sale.

My thoughts: So good. This book is so good. Where do I even begin?

In a nutshell (if that's possible): There is a prophecy that tells of a fierce warrior and a honey-haired woman who are destined to be together. Everyone in Hunter's village have always known and believed that he is that warrior. But Hunter loved his wife, who was torture and killed, along with her unborn baby, by white men, and he has a hatred for the white race.

Loretta saw her parents killed by Indians seven years ago, her mother raped and brutally tortured. Since then she's not spoken a word, and has lived with her aunt, uncle and young cousin. When she is captured and carried away by the infamous Hunter, she is terrified and desperate to escape.

In the beginning Hunter and Loretta hate each other. He may believe she is the woman he is prophesied to meet and “honor for all eternity”, but his first instinct is to kill her, to avoid the prophecy, which also says he will end up leaving the People. But his sense of duty is stronger than his hatred, so instead he takes her to his village.

In one of my recent reviews, I wrote that I'm not a fan of destined mate stories, preferring characters to meet, get to know each other, and then fall in love, not just be in love because they're supposed to be. This book turned that trope on it's head. Hunter may believe they are destined, but Loretta only sees a filthy savage Indian, and every minute she is in his company she expects that night to be the night he rapes and tortures her. And while Hunter may believe they are destined, he has no desire to rape her, much less touch her. He finds her pale skin off putting and her golden hair puts him in mind of dried out grass.

Over the course of this compelling 400+ page book (which could have been longer and I'd have been happy with that), they spend time together, they part company, they come back together, they part company. They come to grudgingly respect each other and realize that the other person is not just all the cliches they know about white people and Indians. Until suddenly they are those cliches. And then, are they really?

There is a lot of brutality in this book. It may be a romance novel, but it's definitely not a romanticized view of the time period, of the wars between the Indians and the white interlopers. It is a tale of love, hate, revenge, betrayal, loyalty, duty, hardship, good and bad on every level. It kept me up past my bedtime two nights in a row because I was loathe to put it down. This book is going in my small list of all time favorite books.

I don't just want to read the follow up books. I NEED to read them. Soon.

And I love the covers on these reissues.

13 July 2013

Just One Night (9 Months Later; Harlequin Superromance #760)


Synopsis: Zachary Sloan was no ordinary architect. His innovative designs had earned him the reputation of a rebel. The media always had a field day wondering whether Sloan's projects pushed boundaries too far.

Annie Montgomery had married Zach straight out of college. At first his drive to succeed had thrilled her. But although he'd been an exciting and passionate lover, he'd been a less-than-perfect husband, and he'd wanted no part of fatherhood.

Then – six years after the divorce – came a disaster that threatened to destroy Zach's world. Suddenly, only Annie could help him through the night. Now Zach wants Annie back...for a very compelling reason.

She's going to have his baby.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Harlequin Books, 1997; 297 pages; purchased at a library book sale in 2011.

My thoughts: The characters have very different, distinct personalities. Zach grew up poor, with a distant father and a brood of younger siblings that he helped raise. Once a wealthy uncle took him away from the family home and introduced him to a more glamorous lifestyle, he was driven to be a success in his chosen field, live a comfortable life, and never have children. Fine dining, sumptuous home, designer clothing/shoes, etc. Annie, on the other hand, was a social worker, driven to help others, wearing vintage/thrift store clothing, etc. and very much wanting a baby. After a pregnancy scare and a fight, she walks in on Zach in his office with a co-worker, and that was the end of the marriage.

Now the collapse of a staircase in a museum that Zach designed has brought them back together. Annie arrives at the scene with the Red Cross, to help out, and because Zach is so devastated over the destruction and the injuries caused, she decides he shouldn't be alone and takes him home with her. After they spend the night together, she tells him it's a one off, and that they are not getting back together.

Then she discovers she's pregnant.

A lot of the book was taken up with the collapse and the subsequent investigation into what caused it and who might be at fault. Zach is crucified by the media, but staunchly continues to insist that his design was everything it needed to be and the collapse was not caused by any mistake on his part. I'm guessing the author did a lot of research into structural engineering, because she went into detail and some of it bored me and some of it was over my head.

Zach still loves Annie, Annie still loves Zach, Zach wants Annie to marry him and the three of them be a family when the baby arrives, Annie doesn't trust Zach not to hurt her again. They argue, they hurt each other's feelings, they apologize, they make up, then they do it all over again. At times I very much sided with Zach as Annie and her sanctimonious self-righteous do-what's-right-and-quit-being-so-shallow attitude began to grate on me. I can understand her hurt that Zach cheated on her, but whenever that subject came up she declared “I don't want to talk about her”, and as a couple they never really addressed it. But I guess it was far enough in the past to stay in the past.

Zach has drifted away from his family and has a strained relationship with his father and the older of his siblings. The little girls adore him, but the oldest sister, who is still friends with Annie, is very vocal in her feelings of abandonment by Zach, and his father's silence and habit of walking out of the room when Zach comes in seem to indicate he feels the same way. I was much more interested in this plot point, as Zach begins to realize the meaning of family and wants to mend fences.

All in all, this was fairly standard Harlequin fare. It was a quick read, it was enjoyable, but not so much that I feel the need to go out and hunt down more from the author.

10 July 2013

I Thirst For You (Primes, Book 2)


Back cover copy: He appears out of the dark desert night – a huge, dangerous stranger who sparks desire and fear in her like she’s never known. Josephine Elliot knows only that her captor’s name is Marcus Cage, and that he’s on the run. But who is chasing him, and why? Is Marcus protecting her by taking her hostage…or is he planning to use her to buy his own freedom? And why, above all, is she so inexorably drawn to him, body and soul?

Marcus is overwhelmed by his thirst for Josephine and instantly recognizes her as his soul mate. Desperate to evade enemies intent on destroying him and his kind, Marcus has no choice but to take Jo on the run. But when she unwittingly betrays him to his enemies, both are thrust into mortal danger. Can their newfound love survive her deceit and spare them a dark fate? Or will their insatiable desire burn for eternity?

First line: Two things pain can do for you: sharpen you up or dull you down.

Stats for my copy
: Mass market paperback, published by Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2004; 325 pages; received through Book Mooch.

My thoughts: I read the first book in the series, I BURN FOR YOU, in August 2010. At that time I had really gotten into the whole vampire/paranormal genre, but other than the Anita Blake books, almost all of what I'd read had been lighter fare, chick lit type or bordering on chick lit. I BURN FOR YOU was a darker than I was used to and took a little bit for me to get into. The mythology behind the vamps in this world was also more convoluted and confusing than I was used to. I don’t really remember much about that first book now, but I did like it enough to search out the second book, though it then went into my huge TBR pile until now.

Fortunately, this second book can be read as a stand alone, and not remembering much about the first book didn’t affect my enjoyment of this one. I don’t know if that will apply to later books in the series, as the mythology behind the vamps was only briefly touched upon in this one and was not really integral to the storyline, and I didn’t experience the same slight confusion I felt with the first book.

Marcus Cage has escaped from a lab, where he had been held captive as a test subject. Jo Elliot is an empath, and after a plane crash that left her scarred and feeling guilty for not being able to rescue all her passengers, she is camping out in the desert in order to get away from everyone’s emotions and be alone. Running through the desert Marcus picks up on the connection between them and knows she is his destined mate. I’m not a fan of the destined mate genre. I’d rather see two characters meet, get to know each other and fall in love, not just meet and love each other instantly because they are fated to do so. I liked the fact that Jo, as a human, while certainly drawn to Marcus, does not recognize him as her soul mate, and in fact spends a lot of time scared and trying to figure out how to escape from him. For her the love did build up slowly over time, though granted it was over a short period of time.

For a good half of the book, Jo is definitely a prisoner, with Marcus occasionally tying her up to keep her in one place (not in a sexual way), and often using his own psychic powers to make her sleep away long periods of time. The mind manipulation I was a little uncomfortable with. I understand why he did it, but it just seemed a little underhanded to do to your soul mate, even if she doesn’t realize she is your soul mate. Of course, she paid him back ten fold when she later led his enemies right to him. But I’m not going into the plot any further than that as that might be spoilery.

I enjoyed it, it was a quick read, and now I’m off to hunt down book 3.

06 July 2013

The Life & Loves of a She Devil


Back cover synopsis: What can a woman do when her husband accuses her of being a “she-devil” and leaves her for another woman? Especially if that woman is six foot two, has a jutting jaw, a hooked nose and moles on her chin. And her rival is petite, ultra-feminine and a successful novelist....

First line: Mary Fisher lives in a High Tower, on the edge of the sea: she writes a great deal about the nature of love.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Hodder & Stoughton, 1983; 240 pages; given to me by a BookCrossing member.

My thoughts: I was swept up and enchanted by this book almost from the first page, although towards the end the enchantment wore off. Ruth is described as a large, lumbering, plain, not pretty or attractive at all woman married to Bobbo, whom she loves. Bobbo is having a not secret affair with Mary Fisher, who is Ruth's opposite in every way imaginable, and whom he loves. After a family dinner with his parents goes horribly wrong, Bobbo decides he's had enough, tells Ruth she's a she devil, packs his bags, and moves in with Mary Fisher. Thus begins Ruth's road to revenge.*

Some chapters are told in first person point of view with Ruth as the narrator, other chapters are in third person. The writing is what drew me in. The author has a distinctive voice, regardless of which point of view is being used at the time. It's almost lyrical, sort of in the vein of an old fashioned fairytale set in modern times.

Ruth's plan to take down Mary Fisher and Bobbo is very long reaching, with plenty of planning and manipulation. At first I felt sympathetic towards Ruth. She is a woman scorned, a woman who's husband ignored her and took her for granted and then tossed her aside. Her heart has been broken, her life destroyed. But as she carried out her Machiavellian plan, she became so ruthless, so cruel, so hard hearted, that it became difficult to feel sympathy for her, and instead I moved more towards being Team Mary Fisher. At that point the book lost it's enchantment for me, and I was ready for the story to be over and done with.

Still, I very much want to read more from Ms. Weldon, and maybe more about her as she seems a very interesting person.

*I looked up Ms. Weldon on Wikipedia, which says that she says this book is about envy, not about revenge. That quote led me to Google Ms. Weldon, where I found a very interesting interview with her, Fay Weldon: 'All that anti-man stuff is no longer appropriate'.