09 December 2014

A Trip to the Hardware Store & Other Calamities


Synopsis from Goodreads: At 8,000 words, this collection of humorous essays explores such quirky topics as: disastrous home repairs, ("A Trip to the Hardware Store"), an unfortunate dinner party (“Dinner is Served"), the truth about lazy people ("Lazy Bones"), the weird life of a debt collector ("Your Account is Past Due") and obsessions with gadgets ("Gadget Girl"). Other essays examine how surreal the aging process is (“Where Did the Time Go?"), why you shouldn't judge a person by their job (“Beyond Belief”), and how to complicate simple transactions (“High Finance”). Like the author's first work, "I'm Not Talking About You, Of Course…," these essays will give your spirit a lift and leave you smiling.

Stats for my copy: Pdf received from the author for review.

First line: He always gave it his best when it came to home repairs, but my dad was in way over his head. 

My thoughts: I've just moved from a three bedroom house to a two bedroom duplex, and life has been very hectic the past week as I settle in and try to figure out where to put all my stuff. This collection of short essays was the perfect remedy for my tired brain at the end of the day. It took me longer than it should have to read, but I sometimes picked it up and reread a few pages before moving on. The author's sense of humor shines through, and I particularly enjoyed "Your Account Is Past Due", about her experiences as a debt collector, and "Beyond Belief", about her experiences as a waitress. If you're a fan of Erma Bombeck (and who isn't?), you'll enjoy these amusing slice of life stories. My only complaint is the book was too short. 

27 November 2014

Rereadable Lines

"You're walking funny."

Alyssa stiffened under his touch and jerked her arm free from his grasp. "I am not. I'm just trying to be more dignified than your strut."


"Men don't strut, chère, they saunter. Watch your verb usage."

BAYOU CORRUPTION, by Robin Carroll. 

22 November 2014

Death by Didgeridoo (A Jamie Quinn Mystery, Book 1)


Synopsis from Goodreads: Reluctant lawyer, Jamie Quinn, still reeling from the death of her mother, is pulled into a game of deception, jealousy, and vengeance when her cousin, Adam, is wrongfully accused of murder. It's up to Jamie to find the real murderer before it's too late. It doesn't help that the victim is a former rock star with more enemies than friends, or that Adam confessed to a murder he didn't commit.

Stats for my copy: Pdf received from the author for review.

First line: I don't know why I feel guilty, it's not like I killed the guy.

My thoughts: My attention was captured from that first line, which did well at setting the tone for the story. Jamie Quinn, an insomniac family law attorney, receives a frantic call from her aunt. Her cousin, Adam, who has Asperger Syndrome, has been accused of murdering his music teacher, a former rock star. Jamie begins investigating, looking for evidence that will point to the real murderer. Not being a criminal attorney, she's a little out of her depth, but having represented a womanizing PI in his divorce proceeding, she enlists his help, along with that of her friend, Grace, who used to work for the public defender's office.

This was a short, bouncy, fun read. Jamie is our narrator, and she often has a humorous and self-deprecating way of looking at, and describing, things and events. The PI, Duke, was an interesting, somewhat charming character, a little on the sleazy side without being skeevy. There's also the disdainful Nick “Mr. State Attorney” Dimitropoulos, who is determined to find enough evidence of his own to press charges. I thought he might end up being a potential love interest for Jamie, who described him as “a GQ cover model”, but the story never went there. Which is fine since this is a mystery, not a romance – I read way too much romance and expect to encounter it in everything else I read.

There's not a lot of character development, but considering how short the book is (87 pages in pdf format, not counting the excerpt at the back) the author still did a good job of making each character distinct from the others. The plot moved along at a brisk pace without being too rushed or confusing, and mystery was neatly wrapped up in the end. I look forward to continuing with this series. 

16 November 2014

Painted Horses


Synopsis from Goodreads: In the mid-1950s, America was flush with prosperity and saw an unbroken line of progress clear to the horizon, while the West was still very much wild. In this ambitious, incandescent debut, Malcolm Brooks animates that time and untamed landscape, in a tale of the modern and the ancient, of love and fate, and of heritage threatened by progress.

Catherine Lemay is a young archaeologist on her way to Montana, with a huge task before her—a canyon “as deep as the devil’s own appetites.” Working ahead of a major dam project, she has one summer to prove nothing of historical value will be lost in the flood. From the moment she arrives, nothing is familiar—the vastness of the canyon itself mocks the contained, artifact-rich digs in post-Blitz London where she cut her teeth. And then there’s John H, a former mustanger and veteran of the U.S. Army’s last mounted cavalry campaign, living a fugitive life in the canyon. John H inspires Catherine to see beauty in the stark landscape, and her heart opens to more than just the vanished past. Painted Horses sends a dauntless young woman on a heroic quest, sings a love song to the horseman’s vanishing way of life, and reminds us that love and ambition, tradition and the future, often make strange bedfellows. It establishes Malcolm Brooks as an extraordinary new talent.

Stats for my copy: Hardback, published by Grove Press, 214.

How acquired: Won in a Goodreads giveaway.

First line: London, even the smell of it.

My thoughts: So right off the bat I was confused and disoriented. London? Oh, so Catherine is English, but will be traveling to Montana. Wait, what's going on here?

After the first few pages, I began to get my bearings and settle into the story. Sort of. We meet Catherine, age 23, who went to London to study the piano because it was expected of her, but got caught up in the excitement of a local excavation that fueled her love of architecture, and drove her to change her field of study. She's later offered a job in Montana, where a dam is being planned, surveying the canyon for signs of anything of historical significance. Her path crosses a couple of times with that of John H., who is a like a horse whisperer.

The plot bounces around quite a bit, back and forth from Catherine's time in London to the present day exploring the canyon with her requisite but uncooperative guide, Jack Allen, with here and there the various points in John's life that made him the man he is today. At times it was slow going, but at times it was a bit mesmerizing. I wasn't sure at first if Jack was a bad guy or an OK guy. Catherine also hires a local Native American girl, Miriam, who is even younger than Catherine, to assist her, and Miriam was an interesting character, though I was a little disappointed with her in the end. And it took way too long before Catherine's and John's stories finally merged and they actually began interacting with each other.

And then, around the last fifty pages, the action amped up and I became absolutely riveted and couldn't turn the pages fast enough.

One of the reasons I wanted to read this book was because the blurb I read described it as being “reminiscent of Larry McMurtry”. I wouldn't quite go that far, but the passages about John and horses do come a bit close. 

01 November 2014


Synopsis from Goodreads: TV reporter Tiel McCoy is driving to New Mexico for a well-earned vacation when she hears the news on the radio: The teenage daughter of Fort Worth tycoon Russell Dendy has been kidnapped. Immediately, she abandons her holiday plans to chase down what could be the scoop of a lifetime. But in a town called Rojo Flats an innocuous stop at a convenience store thrusts her directly into the dramatic story--and a dangerous drama. For inside the shop two desperate young lovers are holding a half dozen frightened hostages ... and a powder keg of a standoff is about to test Tiel's courage, journalistic objectivity, and everything she has ever believed.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Warner Books, Inc., , 2001.

How acquired: Given to me by my mom in 2008.

My thoughts: Sandra Brown is one of those authors whose books I generally buy new, sometimes even in hardback because I can't wait for the cheaper paperback to come out. My introduction to her was through her romance novels, starting with HIDDEN FIRES, but THE WITNESS, a mystery/suspense, put her on my list of favorite authors (and it's still my favorite of her books).

STANDOFF is more the length of the quick romance books at 261 pages, and not as deep or involved as some of her other suspense books. The story moves along pretty much in real time, though it takes less time to read it than the time that passes for the characters.

Tiel is a successful and popular reporter in a local market, with dreams of hitting the big time. She's on her way to a vacation destination when she hears a radio report of the kidnapping of a millionaire's daughter, and she immediately calls her boss, wanting to be in on the reporting. He's already got it covered for the most part, but suggests she interview the kidnapper's father, a drive that takes her several hours out of her way and into the middle of nowhere. She stops at a convenience store to call him for directions (this was before everybody had cell phones and GPS), and while there, who walks in but the kidnapper and his “victim”, who is actually his very pregnant girlfriend. Tiel suddenly finds herself in the middle of a hold up and taken hostage by the two young lovers, along with the store cashier, an elderly couple on their honeymoon, two Mexican men who speak no English, and Doc.

Doc is a mystery himself. He never provides his name, just says everyone calls him Doc. He's a rancher, but when Sabra, the young girl, goes into labor, he leaps in to help her and it's obvious he has some medical knowledge. I thought maybe he was a veterinarian, or just had lots of experience from birthing baby cows.

I was a little put off at first by Tiel's attitude toward the whole experience in the beginning, seeing it as an opportunity to further her career. She has a small audio recorder hidden in her pocket, and she surreptitiously sets up the elderly couple's video recorder so that it's taping unobtrusively from a shelf. Doc puzzles her at first, but then she finally recognizes him, as he'd been in the middle of a huge media frenzy before disappearing from the limelight. So she thinks she's going to be the reporter that announces to the world where he's been all this time. Fortunately, while helping deliver the baby and mediating between the kids and the feds by phone, her priorities slowly shift.

And Doc. He stayed a mystery to the very end. In fact, he's so much of a mystery that in my head I couldn't picture him, he's just a featureless face. While the story isn't told exclusively from Tiel's point of view, the events inside the store are, with occasional cuts to the parking lot and the point of view of the FBI agent in charge. So we don't get to know Doc, or get any insight into his personality, or really learn much about him at all beyond why he was such a hot story in the past.

A character study this is not. But a fast paced, attention keeping and quite enjoyable read – it is. 

13 October 2014

An Accidental Family (Accidental Blessings, Book 3)


Synopsis from Goodreads: To Love Or Not To Love Again

That's the question stirring Texan widower Lamont London's heart. His longtime neighbor Nadine Greene still turns heads—especially his. But after enduring an abusive marriage, Nadine's gun-shy when it comes to relationships. And Lamont has some unresolved feelings to overcome about his late wife. It isn't until Nadine's ranch house burns to the ground and Lamont offers refuge to her and her son's family in his empty mansion that she opens her heart. Can they find a sweet second chance at love, and make two families into one?

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Love Inspired Books, 2011.

How acquired: Bought.

First line: Lamont had never felt more alone in his life.

My thoughts: I don't know why, but this one just didn't appeal to me nearly as much as the first two books in this trilogy. I had a little trouble staying interested in it. The plot just didn't hold my attention and I couldn't seem to connect with the characters, even though I liked them both in the previous books and was looking forward to their story.

I guess they just can't all be winners.

27 September 2014

He's No Prince Charming


Synopsis from Goodreads: At sixteen, Dakota Dunn was America's Pop Princess. Now twenty-five, she's all grown up-and definitely washed up. She decides to head to her parents' lakefront retreat in Tennessee, fixing to write songs and transform her image from squeaky clean to kickin' country.

Turns out her folks have handed things over to sexy, if cranky, cowboy Trace Coleman-a former bull riding champion benched by injuries. He's none too happy about Dakota's arrival-and makes no secret of it. But though Trace is rough around the edges, Dakota feels a pull of attraction she can't quite shake. For all his brooding, Trace has an animal magnetism that may just lead Dakota to dig in her heels and hold on tight...

Stats for my copy: Signet Eclipse mass market paperback, published by New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2009.

How acquired: Bought.

My thoughts: Dakota is a former pop star, who at the height of her fame bought a marina in her home town, which her parents ran. After her father’s health declined, he turned over the running to Trace. Now Dakota has come back to the marina to take up temporary residence in her old cabin while she tries to write some new songs and reinvent her image.

I really liked Trace. A former bull-riding champion who had to give up his career – along with fame, adulation and money - after being injured, he’s the wounded, scarred, reserved, tough as nails, push everyone away type of hero that I love. Dakota, on the other hand, got on my nerves. She was constantly tripping, stumbling, falling, and doing other clumsy things that caused her to constantly scream, shriek or squeal.

While this is their story, the sidekicks get plenty of page time also, and as much as I loved Trace, I was more interested in the romance developing between Grady, who runs fishing tours and does other odd jobs around the marina, and Sierra, the camp cook. Grady has been a love and leave ‘em type, and Sierra has always just been one of the guys while nursing a crush on Grady. She and Dakota make a pact between them – Sierra will help Dakota become a redneck country girl, and Dakota will help Sierra bring out her feminine side. Which gets Grady’s attention. Their relationship developed a bit quicker than I would have liked, but was still more fun than Dakota’s mishaps.

Fortunately, the last three chapters put Dakota in a better light and everything was resolved quite satisfactorily.

23 September 2014

Lines I Love

Sierra laughed and looked so happy that it touched his heart. It didn't dawn on him until now that she always looked a little sad. And perhaps lost. Well, if she were lost, he had just found her, and he wasn't about to let her go. 


21 September 2014

When Calls the Heart (Canadian West, Book 1)


Synopsis from back of book: Nothing in her cultured East Coast upbringing prepared Elizabeth for a teaching position on the Canadian frontier. Yet, despite the constant hardships, she loves the children in her care. Determined to the do the best job she can and fighting to surviv the harsh land, Elizabeth is surprised to find her heart softening towards a certain member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Bethany Hose, 1983.

How acquired: Bought.

First line: It came as a surprise to me.

My thoughts: I think this is the first book I've read by Janette Oke, and I was a little surprised initially by the writing style, which almost seems aimed at a young adult audience. Nothing wrong with YA of course, I just wasn't expecting it. And I obviously read too many romance novels, because I kept waiting and waiting for the hero to make his appearance. While our heroine sees him once at a distance, talking to her brother, earlier in the book, she doesn't actually meet him until page 143 – literally halfway through the 284 page book.

Elizabeth has grown up in a well to do family, enjoying the comforts of big city living. Being a very independent sort of girl, she has pursued a teaching career, and has no thoughts of or desire to marry and settle into the life of a housewife. When her oldest brother, living in the rugged untamed west, writes to their mother about the opportunities available for women and the need for schoolteachers, and asking if Elizabeth would like to come out, she at first is horrified at the prospect, but eventually agrees.

Upon her arrival, after being reintroduced to her brother, whom she hasn't seen in years, and meeting his wife, she quickly lets them know that she is here to teach only:
...Had I been interested in matrimony, I could have stayed in the East and found an acceptable spouse. Julie, who by the way is our family expert on the subject, assures me that the men of the West are adventurers – undependable, rough, and rowdy. I don't know if her research is totally reliable, but I have no intention of finding out...”

Unfortunately, the school superintendent, Mr. Higgins, who will decide at what school to place her, takes an immediate liking to her and seems to assume that she would be more than happy to forgo teaching and marry him instead. She politely sets him straight, and he gets his revenge by placing her at a school 100 miles away from her family, in a rugged small town that has been unable to attract a teacher, ever. And thus her real adventures begin.

The story is in first person POV, with Elizabeth being a sweet and reliable narrator. She loves teaching, loves getting to know the children and their family, along with other members of the community. Wynn Delaney holds a fascination for her that she finds unexpected and disconcerting. She's not perfect, she makes some mistakes and jumps to some conclusions, though she hurts herself more than anyone else in the process. Her battle with the mice who inhabit the little house she is provided was particularly amusing.

Overall a very engaging and enjoyable read. Knowing this is the first book in a series, I was left worrying and guessing practically up to the last few pages as to how it would end, but was more than satisfied. 

18 September 2014

Shut Up and Kiss Me

Synopsis from Goodreads: Photojournalist Shala Winters already had her hands full bringing tourism to this backward, podunk town, but her job just got tougher. Pictures can say a thousand words, and one of Shala's is screaming bloody murder. Now she has to entrust a macho, infuriating lawman with her life -- but she'll never trust him with her heart.

Trust or not, Sky Gomez isn't about to let a killer get his hands on Shala's Nikon -- or any of her more comely assets, for that matter. Her mouth might move faster than a Piney Woods roadrunner, but all he can think about is how good it must taste...and how she'll never escape true love.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Dorchester Publishing Company, Inc.

How acquired: Received from a BookCrossing member.

First line: “Is that war paint or love paint he's wearing?” a female voice rang out from behind Shala Winters.

My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Christie Craig, and the problem with discovering new to me authors is suddenly having a bunch of books to add to my wish list. Because I very much enjoyed SHUT UP AND KISS ME, and am now excited to look through my TBR books and realize that I already do have four of her other books waiting.

While in the small town of Precious, Texas, where she has been hired to come up with ways to promote tourism, Shala attends a powwow. Becoming disgusted by the raucous and disrespectful comments of the women sitting around her (see that first line above), and a little disconcerted by the dancing man who keeps staring intently at her, she gets up to leave. The mayor had warned her there was some members of the community who didn't want the town promoted and didn't want her here, and she thinks this guy must be one of them. As she turns in the bleachers to escape, her bag slides off her shoulder and her camera falls out. She hastily retrieves it, only to have the man suddenly appear in front of her, snatch it out of her hands, and dash away.

Sky Gomez sees a camera flash, and then sees Shala with a camera in her hands, so he jumps to the assumption that she took a picture, and per the sign posted at the gate, stating that cameras are strictly prohibited and will be confiscated, he quickly takes possession of it.

And that's Shala and Sky's meet cute. Although, they don't actually meet until after Shala has run all over town trying to track Sky down. Humor abounds here, from cover to cover, and there were many times I laughed out loud. Sky and Shala are both fun characters, both leery of love for their own reasons. Sky especially. His foster father, Redfoot, claims that the spirits told him in a dream that Shala is his soul mate, but while Sky is respectful of the old ways and participates in the powwows, he doesn't really believe in all that spirit stuff, and he certainly doesn't believe in soul mates. So before even meeting Shala he is already determined to keep his distance from her. Fortunately, he doesn't succeed. Someone is stalking Shala, and getting more and more violent, which throws Shala and Sky together as they try to figure out who, and why.

There are plenty of other characters with side plots keeping the book very busy. Maria, Sky's foster sister, has been in love with their foster brother, Jose, who is Redfoot's son, since she was a teenager, but just when she thought he might be returning her feelings he had taken off for a job in New York. Now she's dating Matt, a white boy, and while she thinks she's in love with him, she still can't stop obsessing over Jose. Plus she thinks Matt is cheating on her with his constant weekend trips to Dallas.

Jose couldn't wait to get out of Precious, but when Redfoot is injured, he rushes back home. Jose's arrival, and his first couple of days in town, played like a farce, as one thing after another happens to him. The string of events was almost over the top, but the author kept me laughing and engaged enough that I didn't mind. I wasn't sure at first if I liked Jose, but he grew on me.

Another character I particularly liked was Sky's friend, Lucas, a loner with a military past, law enforcement connections and a secret government job. Compared to the other characters above I guess he was a more minor character, but he seemed to open up and evolve a little in his brief time on the page, and I would have loved to see more of him.

After I finished the book, I went to the author's website, hoping there were or would be more books about this quirky little town (ok, hoping there was or would be one about Lucas), but alas, no. I did find an Epilogue to the story. However, after only reading about a third of it I navigated away as I didn't feel it really added to the story and was superfluous.

A light, sometimes silly, bordering on slapstick, romantic comedy, with a mystery at it's core, and a fun cast of characters. 

14 September 2014

Through His Touch (Mind's Eye, Book 2)

Synopsis from Goodreads: Sexy, suspenseful #2 novel of the Mind's Eye Series by Deborah Camp. Psychic detectives Levi Wolfe and Trudy Tucker face an unknown foe who is determined to destroy everything beautiful in Levi's life -- including Trudy. Will Levi's love claim her or kill her?

Stats for my copy: Kindle edition, published by Amazon, 2014.

How acquired: Bought.

My thoughts: If you've read the first book, THROUGH HIS EYES, you know it ended on a WTF cliffhanger that just came totally out of left field. Fortunately, the author resolves that cliffhanger in the first few pages here, and I was able to let out the breath I'd been holding since last February.

Levi Wolfe and Trudy Tucker are psychics who fell in love while working together on a serial murder case in the first book. Trudy has, not visions necessarily, but episodes where in her mind she is looking through the killer's eyes, seeing what he sees, and experiencing his emotions. Levi can channel the victim, seeing and experiencing the murder through her eyes.

The first book had quite a bit of action as they teamed up to catch the killer. In this follow up, there isn't as much of that. Levi is home in Atlanta, dealing with a stalker, catching up on his office work, dealing with his busy schedule, and missing Trudy, the first woman he's ever pledged himself to be faithful to. Trudy and her little dog Mouse have gone back to her home in Tulsa, where I'm not really sure what she gets up to, other than missing Levi.

In the first book, I connected with both Levi and Trudy quickly, and the author did a wonderful job of detailing their characters, making them realistic and taking us inside their minds. She continues that here, particularly with Levi. Learning to be in a relationship, to trust in love, to open himself up...it's a journey of self-discovery for him. There is a lot of angst in this book, and it's mostly coming from Levi. They don't stay apart for too long, and Trudy has her own insecurities of course, but she is more secure in her own feelings than Levi is with his. I definitely felt this story was much more Levi's than hers.

There is a new murder case for them to help solve, which leads to a very intense scene. And there's Levi's stalker to contend with as well. But more than that, the story is a very good character study of a man who knows he's broken and isn't sure if he's fixable. And I especially enjoyed some of the scenes with Gonzo, the head of Levi's security team, and with Wes, his cook/housekeeper, both of whom were interesting and charismatic in their own right.

And while the ending wasn't quite as cliffhangery as the first book, the words “The End” came rather abruptly, and I'm glad that the wait for the third book, due in January, isn't quite as long as the wait between books one and two was,* because I'm ready for book three. Now.

*Technically, the wait is about the same, as the first book was published in April, but I read an early advance copy graciously given to me by the author in February, so I had to wait an extra two months for this one.  

08 September 2014

One Fine Cowboy


Nate Shawcross is perfectly content to spend his days training wild horses. So when a beautiful greenhorn unexpectedly shows up for a seminar from the famous "Horse Whisperer" of Wyoming, all Nate wants to do is send her packing...


Graduate student Charlie Banks came to the ranch to learn about horse communication, but when she meets the ruggedly handsome cowboy, she starts to fantasize about another connection entirely...

Nate needs to stay focused if he's going to save his ranch from foreclosure, but he can't help being distracted by the brainy and breathtakingly sexy Charlie. Could it be that after all this time Nate has finally found the one woman who can tame his wild heart?

Stats for my copy: Hardback, published by Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2010.

How acquired: Bought.

First line: The cowboy boot was the most pathetic piece of footwear Charlie had ever seen.

My thoughts: I wasn't sure I would like Charlie at first. She's a Jersey girl who refers to cowboys as “stupid cowboys”. She's a vegetarian animal rights activist, who doesn't believe in riding horses - “It's morally wrong, forcing animals to serve us.” She's a grad student, and has been sent to this ranch in the wilds of Wyoming to attend a clinic for the purpose of “assessing the parallels between the training techniques of Western livestock managers and the nonverbal cues with which humans communicate their wants and needs.” Or as Charlie sums it up, “harassing innocent animals with a bunch of cowboys”. I love animals, and I'm all for animal rights, but I don't support PETA and their over the top, at times bullying methods of grabbing headlines. And Charlie sounded like a card carrying member. She's even participated in PETA protests.

Nate doesn't quite know what to make of her either. Especially when she tells him she's here to attend one of his clinics. Because he has no idea what she's talking about. Seems his ex-girlfriend flew the coop recently, cleaning out his bank account, but not before printing up a bunch of brochures and collecting four deposits for his non-existent clinic services. But Charlie's car has broken down, and she has no way to leave. Plus her boss would expect her to bring that deposit back with her, which neither she nor Nate have. So the shy, quiet cowboy is forced to come up with a lesson plan and carry on with the promises made in the brochure.

Once Nate introduces Charlie to a couple of horses, and she sees his training techniques in action, she chills out with the abuse accusations and becomes quite enamored with one stallion in particular, and of course, despite her disdain for cowboys, with Nate himself. And I did like her quite well after all. The other three students trickle in one by one, and each individual was quite a character in their own right, though not necessarily who or what they seemed to be upon first meeting them.

When the ex-girlfriend puts in an appearance, things get tense and skewered. Nate is the strong sensitive type. He gets tongue tied very easily and struggles to form a coherent sentence, though the smoldering looks he aims Charlie's way speak loud and clear. With the horses he's much more confident of himself, hence his reputation as a “horse whisperer”. I got a little frustrated with him when the ex came back and began taking over his life again, and he let her bully him without standing up to her. But he's a good guy, coming to realize what a crappy relationship they've had, and seeing through Charlie what a real relationship could be like.

My only real beef were some inconsistencies that pulled me out of the story. In one scene, Nate is having trouble sleeping, tossing and turning as he tries to get comfortable on the sofa. “All he could think about was that morning he'd woken up on this same sofa with Charlie in his arms, tucked against him.” Yet on the next page: “He swung his feet to the floor and levered himself out of bed...He shuffled quietly across the bedroom...” When did he get from the sofa to the bedroom? And then later, he and Charlie are riding together on a horse, him sitting in front of her: “Nate leaned back against her, his broad back warm against her chest.” But a few paragraphs later, while they are still riding: “He kissed the back of her neck.” How the hell did he kiss the back of her neck from in front of her?

There's a bit of humor, some nice descriptions of the Wyoming countryside, a locked attic hiding secrets, some twists and turns in the storyline, and a lot of heart as Nate and Charlie dance around each other, fighting, then being friends, getting closer, then blowing up at each other. Not quite as good as COWBOY TROUBLE, the only other Kennedy book I've read so far, but very enjoyable. 

05 September 2014

Lines I Love

"But we need to set some ground rules."

He nodded, swallowing. 

"First of all, no kissing," she said. "No touching either. And no looking at me like you're thinking about me naked."

Shoot. She'd noticed that after all. 

ONE FINE COWBOY, by Joanne Kennedy. 

The Black Sheep and the English Rose (Unholy Trinity, Book 3)


Synopsis from Goodreads: Finn Dalton is the black sheep of his privileged family--because he's always trying to do the right thing. But do good guys let bad girls go free? Ask British heiress Felicity Trent. Finn should have called the cops when he caught Felicity with a fortune in stolen jewels. But after the hot night they'd shared, betraying her meant he'd never have her again. Two years later, he discovers Felicity scantily clad and handcuffed to a bed in a posh Manhattan hotel room. Finn has three choices. Turn Felicity in. Turn her loose. Or turn her on...

Finn Dalton is bad boy personified. Felicity Trent should know; she's a bad girl herself. But for Felicity, life as a jewel thief is almost as seductive as Finn is--and that's dangerous. Because for a girl like her one night is all she needs to get what she wants, anything more means trouble. Now, with both of them after the same thing--the rarest of treasures--who gets there first might be the last thing they want.

Stats for my copy: Trade paperback, published by Kensington Publishing Corp., 2008.

How acquired: Won from the author in a giveaway on her Facebook page.

First line: Someone else had gotten to her first.

My thoughts: This third book in the Unholy Trinity trilogy is about Finn Dalton, the partner who was off on a job during the first two books and not involved in those stories. He's trying to track down a jewel and return it to it's rightful owner. His path quickly crosses that of Felicity Trent, an English heiress who is also after the jewel. Finn and Felicity have crossed paths before, two years prior, when they had some hot sex and then parted company. He can't quite figure her out. He thinks she's a thief, in it for the thrills maybe, but his gut tells him she's not a bad person.

Finn and Felicity team up, him eagerly as he realizes he wants to know more about her and get to know her better, her grudgingly.

Neither Finn nor Felicity ever really stood out as an appealing character, and their banter didn't seem nearly as witty or entertaining as that of Kate and Mac in the first book, or Rafe and Elena in the second book. But I think it was mainly because the whole plot with the jewel just wasn't my cup of tea and it bored me. It wasn't until the last hundred pages or so that I finally became captivated and didn't want to put the book down.

So for me, not a very high rating on this book, but I think fans of the author and her writing will probably like it, and readers who enjoyed the first two books will probably enjoy this one as well. And while she seems to be a little hit or miss for me, I do like the author's writing style and her humor and will continue to read her.

03 September 2014

Lines I Love

It would take a lifetime to know everything about her, and he just happened to have one handy and available. 


31 August 2014

Alien Overnight (Aliens Overnight, Book 1)

Synopsis from Goodreads: Commander Kellen is on Earth recruiting women for his planet's sex-starved males. Not particularly excited by human anatomy, he seeks nothing more for himself than the occasional slaking of his needs with some anonymous female - which shouldn't be a problem, since she'll have to face the other way to accommodate his special anatomical needs. 

Dr. Monica Teague is thrilled with her ten-year assignment caring for Garathan's sexual recruits. Her quirky looks and childish excuse for a body guarantee she'll never be expected to put out - which is kind of a bummer, now that she's up to her armpits in horny alien beefcake. 

But, when an overdose of alien pheromones makes Monica drunk off her ass, Kellen quickly claims the odd little doctor before another Garathani realizes what she is. The overdose sparks a violent chain reaction in her, and when Monica finally wakes, she's got the body of a porn star - and two sexy alien mates who are determined to tame her. 

If only she were as determined not to let them.

Stats for my copy: Trade paperback, published Ellora's Cave, 2007.

How acquired: Bought.

First line: "Notice the slight emergence of the male's accessory sexual organ, or what the Garathani refer to as a breeding spur.”

My thoughts: The Garathani have a shortage of females on their planet, and have come to Earth to recruit women. Dr. Monica Teague has been accepted into this program,not as a volunteer, but to help oversee and care for the women who do volunteer. While Monica is beyond excited at the opportunity to travel into outer space, she is a little horrified while watching the live demonstration of a Garathani man having sex with a human woman in the book's opening pages. She can't imagine willingly having sex with the men of this alien race. But then, her own body has never developed, so she thinks no man, Garathani or human, would ever be interested in her anyway.

Of course she thinks wrong. Monica's mother died shortly after she was born, and she never knew anything about her father. Turns out mommy had a big secret abut daddy, and Monica is about to learn it. Commander Kellan figures it out pretty quickly during that demonstration, and, ostensibly to protect Monica, he immediately claims her as his mate, appointing Lieutenant Shauss as his second. With that shortage of females on his planet, it's two boys for every girl.

I read Enemy Overnight a couple of years ago, not realizing when I picked it up that it was the sequel to this book. I really enjoyed it, the writing, the characterization, the clear storyline (well, mostly clear although having read out of order I didn't know exactly what Jasmine had done in the first book to warrant her treatment in the second book). I think I liked the second book a bit more. From what I remember, it seems that Jasmine's character in ENEMY OVERNIGHT was more fully fleshed out, and I just liked her better than I did Monica. On the other hand, I struggled to like and accept Shauss as a romantic hero in that book, and if I'd read this one first, I would've already gotten to know him a little and probably wouldn't have had that issue. Which just reinforces my anal attitude about not reading books out of order.

Whatever floats your boat, it's probably covered here. A little bondage, a little discipline, a little butt sex. (But no girl on girl action until the second book.) Overall, a weird but fun read, and I want to go back and read the second book again, and have learned now that there's a third book, which I certainly want to read also. 

23 August 2014

The Black Sheep and the Hidden Beauty (Unholy Trinity, Book 2)

Synopsis from Goodreads: They're back - the boys you go out looking for precisely because your mother warned you not to - the bad boys every good girl needs at least once, if not twice...

Raphael "Rafe" Santiago may have left the streets years ago, but the street has never left him. A rough childhood in the Bronx taught him never to let his guard down, to keep everything in order, and always to trust that little voice in his gut that tells him when someone's got something to hide. horse trainer Elena Caulfield, is definitely hiding something, and Rafe intends to find out what it is and take care of it - his way.

But his way wasn't supposed to include feeling an intense attraction to the tomboyish Elena. With her mud-caked boots, quiet strength, and gentle manner, she's nothing like the flashy, seductive, overtly feminine women Rafe usually beds. The closer he gets to her, the harder it is to control that fiery passion he's worked hard to keep cooled, the kind that can catch a man off guard and leave him open to danger - because whatever secret Elena's protecting, it's big...and worth killing for. Because when you're from the Bronx, you take care of what you love - or die trying...

Stats for my copy: Trade paperback, published by Kensington Publishing Corp.,2008; received from the author - I won autographed copies of all three Unholy Trinity books in a giveaway on her Facebook page!

First line: He found himself watching her.

My thoughts: We met Rafe briefly in THE BLACK SHEEP AND THE PRINCESS, so I already knew his style and personality would be quite different than Mac's. I'll admit right now that I like Mac's cover better than Rafe's – there's just something about a man in jeans and a black t-shirt. Mac also appealed to me because he was a former cop, and I like stories with cop/former cop heroes. Rafe is more the white collar type, always impeccably dressed and groomed. Which of course provides an immediate contrast between him and our heroine, Elena, who is always dressed in overalls and boots, often with a thermal underwear top, and usually dirty/muddy/horse poopy. Most definitely not Rafe's type, yet he can't seem to keep himself from watching her as she trains the horses for Kate's camp kids.

I followed with the plot this time around much easier than in Mac and Kate's book, finding it less convoluted and confusing. The fact that it revolved around horses, and Elena's previous job as a trainer at a racing stable, may have helped, as the world of thoroughbred horse racing used to be my life's dream, back when I was a teenager.

Rafe of course is one-third of the Unholy Trinity, the three friends who grew up terrorizing summer camp, and are now partners in a company called Trinity. They help people, the underdogs, righting wrongs, championing those who don't have the means to champion themselves. Elena is a horse trainer, hired by Kate to work with the horses at her camp for disabled kids. She previously worked for a large racing stable, and supposedly left that job in search of a calmer, quieter environment for her own horse, who is pregnant, and who had difficulties with her first pregnancy. Elena keeps to herself, is friendly but does not go out of her way to befriend other employees at Dalton Downs. After covertly witnessing a conversation between Elena and her vet, who showed up unexpectedly to talk to her one day, Rafe is convinced that Elena is hiding something, and determinedly and doggedly sets out to uncover her secret.

The writing felt a little crisper, and like the first book, there is a lot of characterization and dialogue, both internal and external, along with plenty of amusing banter, not only between Rafe and Elena, but between Rafe and Mac. Mac is a little more involved in Rafe's story than Rafe was in Mac's, and that was a good thing, giving us a look at the friendship and brotherhood bond between them. I figured out Elena's secret quite awhile before the guys did, or part of it anyway, but it didn't bother me or take away from my enjoyment of watching the plot unfold. And things got pretty tense towards the end, leading to a very satisfactory resolution.

Overall, I enjoyed the actual mystery/plot more here than in the first book, but I think if I had to choose between Rafe and Mac I would go for Mac. Sorry Rafe! 

19 August 2014

Lines I Love

“I do understand. You can have all kinds of friendships. Some develop over time, some are destined to remain casual.” He stepped closer, so her back brushed up against the door of the truck. “And then there are the rare few who just become part of your orbit from the moment they step into it. I like it that you’re there. Even if you drive me crazy.” 


16 August 2014

The Black Sheep and the Princess (Unholy Trinity, Book 1)


Synopsis from Goodreads: They’re the black sheep - the bad boys every good girl wants to have hold her, touch her, take her, love her. But being bad never felt so good...

I have some spare beer, if you’re interested...”
I’d know that voice anywhere, and every time I hear it, it makes me sweat. Not that well-bred heiresses are supposed to sweat, but if you saw Donovan MacLeod, trust me, you’d need a change of clothes, too. It’s been eighteen years, but he’s got the same cocky swagger, silver-gray eyes, shaggy hair, and that sexy smile that promises a whole lot of trouble. Not that I’ll ever find out because he loathes me - thinks I’m some spoiled princess. So, there’s something I’ve just got to ask...

Why are you here, Donovan?”
The lady asked a question, she deserves an answer. Well, Kate Sutherland, how about, 
I’ve fantasized about you for eighteen years? Or,I wanted to remember how it feels to need a cold shower every time you flick that perfect blonde hair out of your blue eyes? Or, Why don’t you come over here and let me show you, baby? Yeah, good answers, but I’ll stick with this one - I came back to help, because I think you’re in some trouble. My bad boy gut says you’re gonna need me - in more ways than one...

Stats for my copy: Trade paperback, published by Kensington Publishing Corp.,2007; received from the author - I won autographed copies of all three Unholy Trinity books in a giveaway on her Facebook page!

First line: Donovan MacLeod ducked as the compressed-air tank shot like a cannonball over his head and slammed into the shelves lining the cinderblock wall behind him.

My thoughts: I was a little lost from that first line above for the first few pages, as Donovan “Mac” MacLeod and his friend and business partner Rafe tussle through a warehouse while being shot at by, bad guys? I wasn't even sure at first if they weren't the bad guys themselves, being shot at for breaking into someone's warehouse, making the shooters the good guys, or also bad guys. In the middle of all this confusion, they come across a piece of a newspaper article about Kate Sutherland trading her huge inheritance from her late mother to her step-brother in order to take over his inheritance, the family's lake property, which leads them to think something fishy is going on and she needs help, which leads to Rafe insisting Mac just go immediately and scope out the situation cuz they both know he always had the hots for her.

Goodness. Once Mac arrives at the camp and inserts himself in the middle of Kate's business, it's quickly obvious that something fishy is indeed going on and she does indeed need help, though she of course doesn't agree, yet, anyway.

Kate's socialite mother owned a camp for rich kids. Kate grew up privileged, occasionally visiting the camp, covertly watching Mac and jealously listening to all the other girls' stories about him. Mac's father was the camp handyman, kept on despite his constant drunkenness because he was a mechanical wonder and could fix anything, so Mac grew up on the camp grounds, running wild, hanging with his friends Rafe and Finn (dubbed the Unholy Trinity), seducing all the girls except Kate, who he seemed to studiously ignore but who he was actually always very aware of and assumed was out of his league and not the least bit interested in him.

Cut back to the present day, and sparks are flying as Kate and Mac are still wildly attracted to each other. Mac, who was a cop for awhile, and his two friends are now partners in a company called Trinity. They seem to be sort of like detectives, private investigators – they help people who need help (like Kate), not for the money but for the thrill of righting wrongs and helping people who can't help themselves. Kate was cut off by her mother when she refused to allow her mother to run her life for her, and became a teacher. She now wants to reopen the camp, which has sat unused for years, but not for rich kids - for children with special needs.

The story is told from both Kate's and Mac's points of view, with lots of internal ramblings, characterization, soul searching...all of which I love. The plot line about the camp – graffiti, vandalism, unwelcoming townspeople, and Kate's step-brother dragging out the inheritance trade even though it's to his benefit -- at times seemed convoluted and confusing, and I had a little trouble keeping up with it. But at the core of the book are Kate and Mac getting to know each other, remembering each other from their youth and learning how each of their lives since then has shaped them into the man and woman they are today. The banter between them often made me grin like an idiot, and when they finally gave in to the attraction, it is hot hot hot. I was head over heels in love with Donovan “Mac” long before Kate was ready to admit she was too.

The ending went a bit different than I anticipated, and as I began to see that coming I wasn't sure I liked it, but Mac convinced me right along with Kate that it was the best next step.

Overall, I very much enjoyed the book, and am eager to read Rafe's story, THE BLACK SHEEP AND THE HIDDEN BEAUTY. 


10 August 2014

Streets of Laredo


Synopsis from Goodreads: In the long-awaited sequel to LONESOME DOVE, Larry McMurtry spins an exhilarating tale of legend and heroism. Captain Woodrow Call, Augustus McCrae's old partner, is now a bounty hunter hired to track down a brutal, young Mexican bandit. Riding with Call are an Eastern city slicker, a witless deputy, and one of the last members of the Hat Creek outfit, Pea Eye Parker, now married to Lorena -- once Gus McCrae's sweetheart. Their long chase leads them across the last wild stretches of the West into a hellhole known as Crow Town, and finally, into the vast, relentless plains of the Texas frontier.

Stats for my copy: Hardback, published by Simon & Schuster,1993; bought.

First line: “Most train robbers ain't smart, which is a lucky thing for the railroads,” Call said.

My thoughts: LONESOME DOVE is one of my all time favorite books. It took me awhile to get into it, but once I did I was mesmerized until the last page, and was still thinking about the book and missing the characters weeks later.

STREETS OF LAREDO also took me a bit to really get into, and while I enjoyed it, I wasn't completely mesmerized until about the last quarter of the book. Gus McCrae of course was a very big part of Lonesome Dove, and of Woodrow Call's life, and traveling along with Call without Gus took some adjusting to. Gus and Call complemented each other so well in the first book, and without Gus Call seems even more morose.

A large span of time has passed since the first book ended. Lorena is now married to Pea Eye and they have several kids, ranging from an infant to a fifteen year old. They've settled on their own ranch in Texas, and Lorena is also the local schoolteacher. It was good to find out that Lorena had found a future with a man she loves and a family she cherishes. Call, on the other hand, is just an old man who seems to have nothing much beyond his memories. He still has a legendary reputation, has been hired by the railroad to track down and kill Joey Garza, a young Mexican boy who's built up quite a reputation of his own as a train robber and cold blooded murderer. When Call telegraphs Pea Eye to join him on the hunt, Pea is unhappy about it, but his loyalty to the Captain won't let him refuse. Pea is very happy in his life with Lorena now, and he hates leaving the farm more with every summons from Call.

There are plenty of new characters - Brookshire is an accountant sent by the railroad to accompany Call and keep up with expenses. Having been born and raised in the East, traveling throughout Texas and Mexico with Call is a serious culture shock for him. It starts out as an adventure, with Call looking down on him somewhat, but Brookshire manages to hold his own, earning the Captain's respect and friendship. Deputy Plunkert is eager and excited when Call rides through his town and asks him to joint the hunt, leaving behind a young pregnant wife. Neither Brookshire or Plunkert have any idea of the heartache this trip will cost each of them. And then there's Maria, Joey Garza's mother, and her two young children. Maria has had the hardest life of any of them, and she's desperate to protect Joey from Call, even though Joey hates her and steals from her.

The narrative weaves back and forth between Call and his men hunting down Garza, Lorena setting out to find Pea and take him back home, and Maria, hoping every time she sees Joey that he'll have gone back to being her loving son. As in the first book, the narrative flows from one character's point of view to another, and even minor characters are vividly drawn. The violence is sometimes a little overwhelming, and overall it's rather depressing, as so many characters seem to be filled with regrets or doubts, and live such hard, miserable lives. If you go into this story with a romanticized view of the old west, that will quickly be knocked right out of your head.

While Streets is a sequel, it pretty much reads as a standalone. It's not quite as outstanding as Lonesome Dove was, but a close second.