26 September 2013

The Book of Someday

Dianne Dixon

Synopsis: Someday, Livvi Gray will break free from her past. Someday, she will escape her recurring nightmare about a stranger in a shimmering silver dress. Someday, she will have a family of her own. Now she's fund Andrew, and someday seems to be right around the corner.

But there's so much Livvi doesn't know. Shortly before her thirtieth birthday, she will come face-to-face with the stranger from her dream – an encounter that will alter Livvi's future and crack open everything she knew about her past.

Livvi is swiftly moving toward the ultimate turning point in her life – and she's not the only one. Linked by an unforgettable mystery, photographer Micah and young mother AnnaLee are also being rapidly drawn into a web of secrets about the unexpected ways in which we choose to protect – and betray – the people we love.

Stats for my copy: Hardback; published by Sourcebooks Landmark, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc., 2013; 335 pages; won in a drawing on Bookreporter.

My thoughts: The prologue is somewhat mesmerizing, with a young girl named Olivia hiding from her father and stepmother, shivering in the cold while she waits to see if they will look for her. Then suffering when they find her.

Then Chapter 1 starts, with that little girl grown up, going by the name Livvi. And it's not as mesmerizing anymore. The book alternates chapters between Livvi, Micah and AnnaLee. Three separate stories that you know will eventually run together or interconnect in some way, though the connections didn't become apparent to me until about the last fourth of the book. Livvi has nightmares about a woman in pearl-button shoes. She's written a book, and has fallen in love with Andrew. She receives late night phone calls from someone who whispers to her and she quickly hangs up. She has secrets she keeps from Andrew, who turns out to have some secrets of his own.

Micah is a successful photographer who seems to have no friends and no family. She does nothing but work, and isn't even on a first name basis with her long time assistant. When she learns she has cancer, she sets out on some strange odyssey, unsure if she deserves to undergo treatment and live, or if she deserves to die. She has secrets.

AnnaLee's story is set in the past. She loves her husband and their precious little girl, Bella, but he's a dreamer who can't make a living, and she's slowly selling off family heirlooms to keep them afloat.

I struggled to finish this book. I never really connected with any of the characters or came to care about them for the most part. The writing style didn't appeal to me, at times feeling choppy and disjointed. For example, this is a paragraph from page 65:
After a while. After AnnaLee has let Jack lead her into the house. After Bella is tucked into bed. And President Reagan has begun a speech on television and twilight has come. The single, long-stemmed white rose remains forgotten on the terrace. Being buffeted by a cold wind that will soon strip it bare.
And this paragraph from page 79:
Several of the Laundromat's patrons look in Micah's direction. She stares them down until they turn away. Then. To calm herself. She runs her hands along the sides of her silk skirt, smoothing at nonexistent wrinkles.
I was considering putting the book down and giving up on it, when suddenly Andrew's big secret was revealed and Livvi's world was turned sideways, and I finally began to actually feel a little sympathy for her. And shortly after that, AnnaLee has her husband's angry teenage niece thrust upon her for the summer, and I began to admire and respect her a little. So those two story lines kept my attention enough that I finished the book, and for the last quarter I even got caught up in the overall interconnecting story and began turning pages quicker. But I still breathed a little sigh of relief when it was over and I could move on to something else.

17 September 2013


First the hit:

Romantic Notions, by Roz Denny (Harlequin Romance No. 3122)

Synopsis: When Sam Court came raging into Brynn Powell’s lingerie shop, Romantic Notions, to return the frivolous undies his thirteen-year-old daughter had bought, he was shocked to find himself attracted to the proprietor.

Sam disapproved of female vanity. Disapproved of women like his glamorous and unreliable ex-wife...a category that included former fashion models who “hawked filmy underwear.”

But despite appearances, Brynn was really a sensible home-and-hearth person. And she had to wonder if a one-time hockey great with a few too many bruises and an ex-model with far too many responsibilities could ever make a match of it.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback; published by Harlequin Enterprises Limited, 1991; 187 pages; purchased at a library book sale in February 2011.

My thoughts: At one of the annual library sales we go to they always have sealed boxes of books for sale, and I try to get at least one romance box. Some of the books will be good, some will so so, and some will be little gems, like this one. I'd never read a Roz Denny book until now, and what a wonderful introduction to a new to me author.

Brynn was a successful underwear model before coming home to care for her younger brother, who at age 15 needs a kidney transplant, after their parents passed away. But her real passion was design, and in addition to taking over the running of her late mother's shop, she sells her own line of lingerie. Before leaving New York, she had her heart broken by a man who she thought she was in love with at the time, and her focus in life now is to work and take care of her brother and the mounting medical bills. She's not interested in dating or being in a relationship.

Sam Court is a very well known hockey player who has left California (I think that's where he came from) in the hopes of providing a more wholesome life for his 13 year old daughter. He's a little older than the rest of the players on his hockey team, and starting to feel his aches and pains. His ex-wife was consumed by her looks and trying to become famous, and he overcompensates now by being too strict with his daughter.

Brynn and Sam clash from the moment they meet, which is standard fare for these older Harlequins, and which I have come to love and expect. The relationship builds up slowly, tentatively, almost grudgingly. It's a sweet story with wonderfully written characters, including the kids who are integral to the story and not just plot devices (see next review for example). Roz Denny, also known as Roz Denny Fox, is definitely on my radar now and I'll be snatching up everything of hers I can find.

11 September 2013

California! (Wagons West 6)


Synopsis: Violence ignited by the glitter of gold. Men desperate to strike it rich. Families and farms forsaken in a wild rush West to stake a claim. Strong men and courageous women struggle across an untamed continent to gamble their last dollar in overnight boom towns or die bush-whacked by outlaws. Some become valiant fighters in places where six-shooters keep the peace. No risk is too great, no depravity too low - when men catch gold fever and dream of quick millions, strong whiskey and wanton women.

Men answer the siren song of gold. Lonely wives fend off peril while husbands pan for nuggets. And Melissa, a red-haired Texas beauty, finds herself sold in shame by the man she loves. Former wagon master Whip Holt sets out to save her and joins Sheriff Rick Miller in a relentless search for two brutal murderers. Together they try to stem the tide of greed and violence which threatens to destroy the new American territory.

First line: Rick Miller rode out of the forest and drew his stallion to a halt at the top of a hill, where he looked down on the property his wife, Elisabeta, had inherited.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Bantam Books, 1984; 353 pages; received from a Book Mooch member in December 2007.

My thoughts: Several familiar characters are back in this sixth book in the Wagons West series, where the action takes place mostly in San Francisco and the Sacramento Valley during the heydays of the gold rush:

Rick Miller is now the Sheriff in San Francisco, struggling to maintain law and order while on a private vendetta to capture two renegade rapists/murderers after his wife Elisabeta falls victim to them in the opening of the book. While we watched Rick and Elisabeta fall in love in the previous book, this time around he has become a detached hardened (more than he was already) emotionless man. He grieves for Elisabeta, but the grief never really comes off the pages to touch the reader.

Danny and Heather Taylor decide to travel to California with Randy Gregg, to prospect for gold. Their plan is to be smart and while trying their luck panning for gold, to also buy some land and harvest it, so that whatever happens they have the land to fall back on. After being told by Melissa Austin that she will never marry him, Chet Harris also takes off for California and gets swept up with gold fever, and after striking it rich he lives a life of excess.

Two new characters are also introduced. Ralph Hamilton is an attorney who picks up and travels to California after being jilted by his fiancée. He has no intention of trying to find gold, but he figures there will be a need for more and more attorneys as California's population grows and it is admitted to statehood. Along the way he "adopts" an orphan, Isaiah.

Melissa and her newest beau join up with the Taylors and the Greggs to make the journey, but as soon as they arrive Melissa discovers that everything her lover has told her is a lie when he sells her to a pimp. Okay, I know they weren't called pimps in those days, but Big George runs a saloon with a stable of whores, and Melissa becomes his star attraction.

The characters all have their own separate storylines that criss cross with each other's. The writing is often clichéd and somewhat mediocre, and none of the characters have any emotional depth whatsoever. There are several deaths throughout the book, some quite violent, but since we don't really connect with any of the characters, we don't mourn those who die.

From what I learned when Googling information on the author, the books are pretty historically accurate. At times, it's more like reading a slightly dry history book than a novel. And if you're interested in the time period, then that's ok.

01 September 2013

Sleazy Rider

Karen S. Smith

Synopsis: When newlyweds Emma and Kit speed away on their matching Ducati motorbikes, Emma knows not to expect a conventional honeymoon. From the moment they meet a biker gang and the leader takes a shine to Emma, events take a turn for the bizarre. For the first time in her life she will be pushed to her limits as the gang's ideas for how to have a good time get more and more outrageous. With hard-drinking rock bands, hunky stuntmen, booze-filed biker festivals and a whole lot of kinky behavior on the agenda, Emma's taste for adventure is tested to the max – and Kit's not about to step in and save her from the wild bunch as he's having too much fun himself!

First line: I was pressed against the handrail, palms flat on cold metal, gazing across a calm, turquoise sea as the south coast of England receded into the distance.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback; published by Black Lace, 2005; 225 pages; received from a Book Mooch member.

My thoughts: I haven't read the shades of whatever book, but I suspect that this book is a much more realistic portrayal of the BDSM lifestyle. Emma and Kit are on their honeymoon, biking across the countryside. In that opening line, they are having a sexual encounter on the ferry, when Emma catches a biker on the deck below watching them. For both her and Kit, this makes it just that much more exciting. Just before embarking from the ferry, the biker pins a badge to Emma's jacket, and gives her his card.

Emma doesn't expect to ever run into Max again, but after an impromptu race through winding mountain roads leaves Kit injured and his bike sliding down the mountain, a distraught Emma calls Max, knowing without really knowing why that he can help. Which he does, and thus begins Emma's real adventure. Kit is now laid up with a broken leg, and Emma finds herself punished for causing the accident and then “sold” to Max.

Prior to the accident, Emma and Kit run into Geoff, and old friend of Emma's, and at this point I realized that there was a history with Geoff that wasn't really laid out but seemed implied that the reader was aware of. So I had to put the book down and do some research, and sure enough, this is the sequel to another book about Emma and Kit, UP TO NO GOOD. That book is apparently about how they met, and fortunately I didn't feel I was missing enough back story to worry about having not read it first.

This is a Black Lace book, so obviously there is a lot of sex. It starts out fairly vanilla, then Emma has a night with Geoff that includes some light bondage. It's not until she is with Max that the serious shit goes down. Some of it was a little repetitive, and Emma constantly marveling at how she has no control over what happens to her got a little old. I mean, it's only a revelation the first time she's bound and gagged and violated in unexpected ways. Though having never been in her position I can't say that with any experience, and maybe it truly did strike her over and over.

In between the sex scenes, there is a lot about motorcycles and riding, including a race at a rally that is described in excruciating detail. The synopsis is a little misleading, as it suggests Kit being involved in the action but he is actually not even around for most of the book. The writing and narration flow, the sex scenes are fairly hot and well written, and I sped through the entire book in a couple of days.