24 December 2015

Perfect Chance (Harlequin Presents, No. 1826)

Synopsis from back cover: Take a chance on love....

Mary Newman -- her life was safe, predictable and reasonably happy. Until the day he walked in!

Chance Armstrong -- he had no respect for rules and regulations and cozy life-styles. But he was offering Mary the perfect chance for a lot of excitement, and she was tempted -- oh, so tempted....Until Chance offered the most tempting challenge of all...He asked Mary to marry him!

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, Harlequin Books, 1996.

How acquired: Book Mooch

First line: Mary paused to lean against the counter of the nurses' station as she surveyed the emergency room in the Newman wing at Memorial Hospital.

My thoughts: I love the older Harlequins. I want to read every single one written. Amanda Carpenter is an author I wasn't familiar with, but when I requested a couple of books from another Book Mooch member, she threw in several Carpenter books. So I picked this one up one night to read at bedtime.

Forty pages in I had already put little sticky flags on three different passages that I wanted to go back to later, and I was already a fan of Ms. Carpenter. She reminds me a little of Lucy Walker. The story is in third person POV, yet it still feels as if Mary is confiding in the reader. The narration is breezy, casual, and at times amusing.
If he was in his late thirties, he could have three or four marriages by now, and any number of kids. Mary could just picture them, blond hair dripping into their sad eyes, wanting their daddy to stop flirting with her and come home to them.

Mary has been dating Victor, another doctor at the hospital, for two years. When Chance meets her, he pursues her, even though he knows about Victor. Mary is torn between the two, yet she continues to see Victor, and doesn't tell him about Chance, even though Victor saw her leave the hospital arm in arm with Chance. Another book, another author, and I might've been put off at a heroine stringing along one man while kissing another. Rather than facing the truth and owning up to her actions and her feelings, Mary ran and hid from confrontation. Literally, in one scene, when Chance comes to the home she shares with her brother and grandfather, and Mary bolts into the house and up to her room to hide from him. But she's young and naive, definitely not worldly, and the confrontations catch up with her, causing her all kinds of anguish.
What kind of a kiss was that anyway? It was the kind that sucked your soul out of your body.
Hey, she wanted to call to the man who'd just left. You forgot to give my soul back.

You can't help but empathize with her and feel for her. What chance (no pun intended) does she have up against a soul sucker?

Chance is a journalist, a war correspondent. He's taken a temporary teaching position at the local college in order to spend some time near his family. He's started thinking about slowing down, settling down. And then he gets a call from a White House source and quickly begins packing to rush to D.C. to cover a conference. And Mary's reaction made me angry. Made me want to shake some sense into her and tell her for Pete's sake, grow up already!

And of course it all worked out in the end, cuz, you know, it's a Harlequin. And the journey from page 1 to page 187 was just absolutely delightful.  

22 December 2015

Rereadable Lines

"What kind of a kiss was that anyway? It was the kind that sucked your soul out of your body. 

Hey, she wanted to call out to the man who'd just left. You forgot to give my soul back."

PERFECT CHANCE, by Amanda Carpenter

I left my book at work yesterday, so I started this one last night, and I'll probably end up finishing it first, then going back to the other book!

20 December 2015

Kill the Messenger

Synopsis from back cover: Bike messenger Jace Damon is on his last delivery of a long day – a package from one of L.A.'s sleaziest defense attorneys, Lenny Lowell. But when Jace tries to make the drop, he is chased, shot at, and barely escapes with the package – and his life. Meanwhile, Lowell has been murdered and Jace finds himself suspect number one.

In a city fueled by money, celebrity, and sensationalism, the slaying of a bottom-feeder like Lowell won't make headlines. So when LAPD's elite show up, homicide detective Kev Parker wants to know why. Parker begins a search for answers that will lead him to a killer – or to the end of his career. Because if there's one lesson Parker has learned over the years, it's that in a town built on fame and fantasy, delivering the truth can be murder.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, Bantam Dell, 2006.

How acquired: From my mom.

My thoughts: My mom gave me three or four Tami Hoag books when she was culling books from her collection. This is the first one I've read, and it certainly won't be the last.

From page one we are immediately plunged into the world of bike messengers, as we ride along with Jace through L.A. traffic. I'd not realized what a dangerous and perilous occupation it was, with the messengers putting their lives at risk every day just to deliver documents from one place to another. It was a tense and gripping opening for a book that stayed pretty tense and gripping all the way to the end.

There are lots of characters, and the narrative jumps around at times from one character's POV to another's. We first meet Jace, and stay with him for awhile as he goes on that last ill-fated ride, where the danger he faces is more than the ordinary traffic hazards. He finds himself being chased by a man in a long black car, and while he manages to get away, it's not without injury to himself and destruction to his bike. The attorney he made the pick up from is killed shortly after Jace leaves his office, and whoever killed him is now after Jace and whatever is in the package he carries.

Kev Parker is the lead detective investigating the attorney's murder. He used to be an arrogant hot shot whose career bit the dust after he scuttled a prior investigation. The more involved he becomes in this case, and the more he learns, the more it looks like it could be the case that brings him back. Or the one that ends his career altogether.

There are many other characters seamlessly woven into the plot, and the author does a wonderful job with developing each one, but most particularly (besides Jace and Parker) Jace's younger brother, Tyler. He's a wise beyond his years ten year old who never hesitates to tell an adult he's smarter than they are (with a high IQ to back up that claim), but the author manages to stay away from the dreaded precocious plot moppet trope and make Tyler a realistic little boy. Even when we don't really learn much about a character, he or she is still vivid and individual. And with the detailed descriptions of the city and the characters' surroundings at any given time, L.A. is as much a character as any of the hapless humans roaming it's streets. The good guys are good and the bad guys are bad, and there's not a lot of deviation or surprise in that particular characterization, until suddenly there is.

The action zips along at a quick pace, and without being predictable. KILL THE MESSENGER is an absorbing read with a satisfying conclusion and, for me anyway, a perfect introduction to Tami Hoag's work. 

13 December 2015

Born to Bite (Argeneau, Book 14)


Synopsis from Goodreads: Legend has it that Armand Argeneau is a killer in the bedroom...

But with all three of his late wives meeting unfortunate and untimely ends, is this sexy immortal a lover or a murderer? That's what Eshe d'Aureus intends to find out. As an enforcer, it's her job to bring rogue vampires to justice, even if the rogue in question makes her blood race red hot.

Armand knew she was trouble the moment Eshe roared into town on her motorcycle, clad in tight black leather. She claims she's hiding from dangerous fiends, though he suspects something more. But after three wives who've all had trouble remaining, well, undead, Armand is reluctant to open his heart again. Then strange accidents start to happen, each deadlier than the last, and Armand realizes he may not have much time to prove he's a lover, not a slayer.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, Avon Books, 2010.

How acquired: Bought.

My thoughts: My least favorite Argeneau book so far. The characters just never grabbed me. Except Bricker. I enjoyed all of his scenes and was glad when he put in an appearance. The Argeneau books usually have a lot of humor in them but this one was a little lacking. And there was no romance at all. No sexual tension, no build up. When Eshe and Armand first meet, they both realize right away that they are life mates, and fall into bed together very quickly after that. And yes, the circumstances didn't really allow them any time to pussy foot around and get to know each other, what with Eshe there to secretly investigate Armand who was suspected of killing his three wives and his son's wife. And even when it became evident that someone was now trying to kill both Eshe and Armand, I never felt any sense of urgency. I didn't know who was behind the attacks, yet still felt little suspense. And then when the mystery was resolved at the end, the action was quite civil and a bit of a letdown.

I always thought it was rather ridiculous in previous books that the women always faint after having sex. But now apparently it's not just the women, it's life mates. Both Armand and Eshe faint afterwards. Was it always both partners and I just never noticed? Either way, I still think its ridiculous.

And as I complained about previous books, the characters are constantly saying things “dryly”. Three times on one page. And sometimes now they even smile dryly. And towards the end I began to notice that they also often murmured when they spoke. I'm a little tired of both words now.

Regardless, every book can't be a winner, and I'm still a fan of the author, and I'll still continue with the series, though maybe not right away. 

05 December 2015

The Borrowed Bride (Seavers Brides, Book 1; Harlequin Historical No. 920)


So wrote Hannah Gustavson to her childhood sweetheart, the father of her baby. But with no response, she was forced to marry another man ... her lover's brother.

Tall, handsome and honorable, Judd Seavers could make any woman's heart race. Hannah was no exception, and she was awed by the ex-soldier who gave her his name.

A forbidden love as grand as the Rockies crested between them. But a shadow loomed. Would the baby's father come home? And if he did, would Judd return his borrowed bride?

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, Harlequin Books, 2008.

How acquired: Unknown. I've had it for a couple of years, but do not remember where I got it.

First line: Hannah felt the approaching train before she heard it.

My thoughts: Quint is headed off to find adventures in Alaska. He's wanted to do so for awhile, but with his father dead and his older brother off fighting in the war, he had to stay home and keep the ranch running. Now Judd is coming home, and it's Quint's turn to travel, leaving his childhood sweetheart behind.

Judd and his best friend signed up together and fought together. But now Judd is coming home alone, with a broken body, a broken spirit, and nightmares.

Hannah is devastated that Quint is leaving. She writes to him every week, but there are no letters from him. No word from him, to her, or to his brother and mother. The night before his departure, she gave herself to him in a hay barn. And she soon realizes that she now carries a piece of him, growing inside her.

This was a sweet little story. When I picked it up I was looking for something light. It wasn't. It was in fact a little bleak at times, a little sad. Hannah is young and desperately in love with Quint, but realizing she's pregnant makes her have to grow up quickly. When Judd learns of her pregnancy, he offers marriage, in order to give her his family's name, make her child legitimate, protect her from disgrace. Judd's family is well off, Hannah's is dirt poor. It's to be a marriage in name only. Judd has divorce papers already drawn up and ready to signed the minute Quint comes home.

It was a valiant offer, but I couldn't help wonder what would have happened if Quint did come home, Hannah and Judd divorced, and Hannah married Quint. I can just imagine the gossip and speculation that would cause among the townsfolk.

But it doesn't matter, because of course as time goes by Hannah and Judd fall for each other. Hannah was a good character, sweet. But at times I wanted to shake her and tell her to quit pining for the brother who just up and left, without a look back, and appreciate the man taking care of her. Because I really liked Judd. He was a good man, with a lot of emotional scars, not just from the war, but also revolving around his father's death many years prior. With Quint gone, we don't really get to know him, but it's still clear that Quint is a boy, and Judd is a man.

The ending was satisfying, although part of the resolution felt a bit rushed. Quint does finally come home. His reaction was expected, but then he went from one extreme to another, and I felt like he bounced back unrealistically quick. However, it is Judd and Hannah's story, not Quint's, so I guess I shouldn't actually have expected much dwelling on him. But I do look forward to reading his story in the next book. 

02 December 2015

Devil's Bride and A Rake's Vow (Cynster, Books 1 and 2)

Synopsis from Goodreads: Welcome to the wonderful world of the Cynsters! When I embarked on the stories of the Cynster clan, I knew they fascinated me, but I had no idea how much they would appeal to readers. This volume contains the books that first introduced readers to the glittering, glamorous, passionate, and sometimes dangerous lives of the Cynster cousins and their ducal dynasty. In Devil's Bride, the head of the dynasty, Devil Cynster, 6th Duke of St. Ives, is caught in a compromising position with a governess. He astonishingly offers marriage, but Honoria Anstruther-Wetherby has no interest. Devil is convinced, yet someone is not so enthused, and accidents start to occur. Can Devil convince Honoria that marrying him will be a more exciting adventure than anything she's dreamed? And if he succeeds, will they both survive? In A Rake's Vow, Vane Cynster, Devil's cousin and closest friend, determined to avoid Cupid's dart, takes refuge at his godmother's country house, where fate throws Patience Debbington literally into his arms. Vane is impressed; Patience is not. But as both become embroiled in a mystery involving ghosts, thefts, and ultimately attempted murder, Patience learns that she can place her trust in this rake's vow, because it's one that comes from the heart

Stats for my copy: Hardback, Rhapsody, 2004..

How acquired: Through Book Mooch.

My thoughts: I recently joined a group on Facebook, the Old School Romance Book Club, where at the end of each month a poll is put up and members vote on which book everyone will read the following month. The book for November was DEVIL'S BRIDE. I had to hunt down a copy, and wound up with this omnibus that also contains A RAKE'S VOW.

In DEVIL'S BRIDE, Honoria is a governess. One day while caught in a storm driving back from an excursion into town, she comes across a man lying in the road. While she's investigating his condition, a crack of thunder frightens her horse and he takes off, leaving her stranded with the unconscious man. And then Devil comes riding along and happens upon them. They take refuge in a nearby cottage. The young man, Tolly, who is Devil's cousin, dies. Devil and Honoria pass the night together in the cottage, sleeping in chairs before the fire. Only to be discovered by another of Devil's cousin in the morning, and Honoria's employer. A scandal in the making.

Devil offers Honoria marriage as a way for her to save face, which her brother and countless others are in favor of. But she has no intention of marrying. She wants to travel to Africa. So she repeatedly tells Devil thanks but no thanks.

I struggled to get into the story. I liked Devil well enough, but Honoria often irritated me. Devil and his cousins set out to discover who murdered Tolly and why, and Honoria was determined to be part of the investigation, while Devil was determined that she not be. I was conflicted in my feelings. I get that Honoria was a strong female character who was unwilling to settle into the conventional life of a woman of that time. And yet I often wanted to tell her to just let the the Bar Cynster, as the cousins were known, worry about the murder mystery. Which dragged out and was uninteresting.

I think a lot of my problem was that the author's writing style just didn't appeal to me. It's very effusive and flowery, with lots of long sentences, broken up with lots of commas. It was a little repetitive at times, with paragraphs dragging out in many more words than necessary to convey a thought. And the sex scenes have to to be some of the longest I've ever read. They aren't graphic, yet they are explicit.

Towards the end though I did get quite caught up in the action and was happy with how it all turned out.

In A RAKE'S VOW, which takes place several months later, Vane, one of Devil's cousins, is traveling when he gets caught in a thunderstorm near his godmother's home, so he stops in, planning to just stay the night and then be on his way. Right off the bat he meets Patience, his godmother's niece, and of course he is immediately intrigued with her. And then his godmother, Minnie, tells him that there have been a number of thefts in the household, small, usually insignificant items stolen, and there has been a mysterious being roaming around in the nearby ruins of an old abbey at night, who the household are all referring to as a Spectre. Minnie presses Vane to stay and help sort things out, and so he finds himself settling in with the rest of her house guests to investigate and figure out who is the thief and/or the Spectre.

I liked Patience much more than I did Honoria. She, too, has no plans to marry, especially not an “elegant gentleman” such as her father was, and such as Vane is. Her mother was desperately in love with her father, who did not return her affection, and Patience is determined to not let herself fall into the same type of marriage that made her mother miserable. Vane has no desire to marry either. He's a rake. Who needs a wife when you can have a mistress? And he quickly sets his sights on Patience. I also liked Vane, very much. And Minnie, and Patience's brother. And the mystery was much more interesting, and the writing didn't bother me as much as in the first book. I liked A RAKE'S VOW considerably more than DEVIL'S BRIDE. Enough that I want to get the next book and continue with the series.  

17 November 2015

Rereadable Lines

Actually just one line:

It was not the first time she'd been kissed, yet it was. 

Devil's Bride, by Stephanie Laurens

15 November 2015



Synopsis from Goodreads: The United States is near total collapse. But 87% of the population doesn't care: they're addicted to flashback, a drug that allows its users to re-experience the best moments of their lives. After ex-detective Nick Bottom's wife died in a car accident, he went under the flash to be with her; he's lost his job, his teenage son, and his livelihood as a result.

Nick may be a lost soul but he's still a good cop, so he is hired to investigate the murder of a top governmental advisor's son. This flashback-addict becomes the one man who may be able to change the course of an entire nation turning away from the future to live in the past.

A provocative novel set in a future that seems scarily possible, FLASHBACK proves why Dan Simmons is one of our most exciting and versatile writers.

Stats for my copy: Hardback, Large Print; Reagan Arthur Books; 2011

How acquired: Bought.

My thoughts: I bought this book at a library sale solely because I loved the cover, even though it is very much outside my usual reading genre. And it was good. It was interesting. At times it was a little tedious. And the last quarter of the book was enthralling, which bumped my rating up a star. I liked Nick Bottom, the flashback addicted ex-cop, despite the fact that he'd dumped his son and more or less forgotten about him. I liked Val, a tough kid on the outside, running with a flashgang, worrying his grandfather, hating his old man, vulnerable on the inside, missing his mom, hurt that his dad didn't even call him on his birthday. And the dystopian future setting is just realistic enough to imagine our world actually turning out this way.

05 November 2015

Lovesong (Song, Book 1)


Synopsis from Goodreads: A sweet wild madness swept over Carolina Lightfoot at the sight of elegant Lord Thomas Angevine, reputed to be the most notorious rake in London. The proud Colonial beauty, graced with silvergold hair and flashing eyes, hoped to be his bride. Then, swept into a growing storm of scandal, she was banished to Virginia. Captured by buccaneers on the high seas, Carolina became the Silver Wench of the Caribbean...and the defiant prisoner of the infamous Kells, a brooding man with insolent charm andd a mysterious past.

On the island of Tortuga, where gentle winds caressed the perfumed nights and a lustrous moon whispered love's allure, Carolina must escape...to find Thomas again, and to flee Kells' passionate embrace, the rapturous temptation of his...LOVESONG.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, Pocket Books, 1985.

How acquired: Through Book Mooch.

First line: Fitful shadows raced across the moon.

My thoughts: I was really excited to read this book after seeing some discussion about it on Facebook in a group I recently joined (Old School Romance Book Club, a wonderful group in case you’re interested!). Luckily I found a copy, and copies of the next two books in the trilogy, on Book Mooch (a wonderful book trading site, in case you’re interested!) and immediately requested all three books.

The beginning of LOVESONG was interesting, but nothing fantastic. I was even a little ho hum about it. But then Carolina is sent off to school in England, and it picked up. She meets Lord Thomas, a total wanker, and normally I’d be hating on their relationship and berating Carolina for being such a ninny. But, she was young, still a teenager, and young girls can’t always help but be ninnies about boys. And the author wrote her so well, her thoughts, her feelings, her actions, that very much liked her and felt for her.

But then again I knew from reading the back cover and from the FB group discussion that the real “hero” of this book would be Kells, the wild buccaneer who will capture her later in the book.

And then Carolina goes home with her roommate for the Christmas holidays, and meets Rye. And I REALLY liked him. And even though I knew that Kells is still to come along, I wanted her to forget about Lord Thomas and let Rye love her.

And then comes disgrace, and she is put on a ship back home to Virginia, only to run away and board another ship back to England, only to be captured by a Spanish ship, only to then be recaptured by the buccaneers. For a little while I even convinced myself that Kells was going to turn out to actually be Rye. But then Carolina, now calling herself Christabel, comes face to face with Kells, and the man wasn’t Rye, and there didn’t seem to be any chemistry between them, and he was not described physically or in any other manner the way the hero of a romance book should be described. And even though I knew Kells is the hero, I was very disappointed that, while she was certainly now safely away from the cad Thomas, she was also away from Rye.

But I sighed and pulled myself together, and settled in to see what would happen. And I became completely mesmerized and stayed up late two nights in a row to read, and at the end I was so frantic to find out what would happen next that my eyes kept trying to skip ahead of my brain, and when I finally finished the book, I had that wonderful sated and satisfied yet wanting more more more feeling that only a really good book (or a really good man) can give you.

22 October 2015

My Nerdy Valentine (Nerds, Book 7)

Synopsis from Goodreads: Aspiring psychologist Amanda Rykowsky's schedule is certifiable. Between study, bartending, and an internship with a sex therapist whose techniques would make a Playboy bunny blush, there's zero time for romance. Still, Amanda is flattered to receive an anonymous Valentine…until the messages take a sinister turn.

Stockbroker William Sloan swears he's not the one sending Amanda cards, but he suspects the culprit's intentions are more dubious than sharing a box of Godiva. Something about gorgeous, determined Amanda brings out the usually reserved William's inner he-man, and he insists on acting as a decoy boyfriend.

With a fake relationship masking some very real lust, it's only a matter of time before William and Amanda give in to the sweetest of temptations. And once he's dealt with her secret stalker, William's next mission is to strike Amanda with Cupid's arrow…

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, St. Martin's Paperbacks, 2006.

How acquired: Bought.

First line: The paper bag crammed with sex toys began to rip as Amanda Rykowsky trudged up the marble staircase to her boss's second-floor office.

My thoughts: This is the seventh book in the author's Nerds series. I loved the first two books, but after that each book seemed to be a little more ridiculous or over the top than the one before. That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy them, because I did. They are all full of wacky characters and humorous dialogue/situations, and despite the times when I scoffed or rolled my eyes, they were all still fun reads, even if not quite as good as the first two.

Until now. In fact, this may be my favorite book of the series.

I loved all the characters in this book. Amanda, who takes college classes by morning, interns for a sex therapist by afternoon, and tends bar at Geekland by night, where the staff all dress as geeks, complete with nerdy glasses. She is focused on her studies, planning to go on to Harvard when she graduates. Sex therapy is definitely not the field of psychology she wants to go into, but it was the only internship she was able to get, after having fallen for a man, losing her focus for awhile, and letting her grades slip. Now she's back on track, and a relationship is not part of the plan. Not in the near future anyway.

Then she meets the stockbroker down the hall. William at work, Will to his friends, he wants to date her from the get go, but she puts him off. Meanwhile, Amanda's boss, Gloria, decides Will will be her next conquest (she's never had a nerd before), and she is blatant in her desire. At first Amanda is fine with helping Gloria land the nerd, because if Gloria gets Will, then Amanda doesn't have to worry about him pursing her and can stay on the track she's set for herself.

But then there's a stalker, leaving anonymous Valentines for Amanda. Amanda believes it's Will at first, and keeps trying to discourage him, but eventually she is persuaded to let Will help her try to track the stalker down,and keep her safe.

When Will and Amanda finally do the down and dirty, it gets pretty hot, even if a little over the top there as well. Seriously, three or more orgasms every single time? Who does that?

Gloria was a bit over the top as a character. She's very open, very free, very self-centered, very sexual. But Amanda is so down to earth, they balanced each other out nicely. And of course working for a sex therapist led to all kinds of crazy and potentially embarrassing situations, that were also very funny. Despite Gloria's outrageousness, I loved her interactions with Amanda and Will, and Will's friend Justin. Amanda also has a couple of kooky neighbors who were fun characters in their own ways.

Fun. That's the bottom line, I guess. This book was just plain fun.

13 October 2015

More Than Fiends (Demon Duster, Book 1)

Synopsis from back of book: “Today you are thirty-two years old,” the old woman went on, and just how the hell did she know it was my birthday? “Your time has come.” She smiled, but it wasn't a Grandma-type wanna-cookie? smile. Nope, this was more like the grin on the fake shark they built for the movie Jaws. “There is no time to waste,” she said. “The demons are here. And only you can kill them.”

There's great surf in La Sombra, California – along with a huge mental institution, where Cassidy Burke figures this old lady has escaped from. Especially after she claims that Cassie is next in a long line of demon-dusters – Burke women paired with a centuries-old cleaning solution to shine windows and spot demons. Sure, her Clean Sweep maid service is taking off, with a sexy new client promising to have her rolling in dough, not to mention keep her hormones happy. But wiping out supernatural bad guys? Sounds like a job for a size-two cheerleader.

Yet suddenly Cassie has got fighting instincts and fierce new strength, and she's going to need both. For one thing, her teenage daughter, Thea, thinks her dad is dead, but in truth he just never knew about her, and now he's moved back to town. For another, after many dateless years, Cassie finally has men lining up at her door. Unfortunately most of them aren't human...

Stats for my copy: Trade paperback, Signet Eclipse, published by New American Library, 2007.

How acquired: Bought.

My thoughts: After getting all caught up in the paranormal craze a few years ago, I eventually got a little burned out on vampires and demons and etc., and the last couple of years I've been more interested in contemporary romance novels. But I loved SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL by this same author, so when I saw her name on this book I snatched it up. And I'm glad I did.

There are quite a few characters, and since Cassidy narrates in first person point of view we see the other characters the way she does. Cassidy is a single mom, raising her teenage daughter in the same house where she herself grew up, and running a house cleaning service whose business is starting to pick up. On her 32nd birthday (a random number to say the least), Jasmine, an elderly woman who claims to be a friend of her grandmother, shows up and proceeds to tell Cassidy that there are demons everywhere and she is here to train Cassidy, the newest demon duster, so Cassidy can assume her birth right duties. Cassidy of course thinks the old lady is mental,until she talks to her grandmother on the phone and grandma confirms the story.

As for some of those other characters:

Devlin Cole is the owner of the hottest spot in a town, a nightclub that's also reputed to be a sex club. He needs a cleaning service for the upstairs rooms at his club, and Cassidy wants the job. It would be her first foray into commercial cleaning and could be just the boost her company needs. Devlin himself is probably the hottest bachelor in town, and from their first meeting the sparks start flying. Cassidy's been in a sexual drought, and Devlin has her panting.

Logan is Cassidy's high school boyfriend, who went off to college, leaving Cassidy to spend her senior year of high school pregnant. Although he never knew that. The day Cassidy planned to tell Logan about Thea, he introduced her to his fiance,and Cassidy went home broken hearted, without ever divulging her secret to him. Now he's a police officer, he's moved back to town,he's divorced, and he wants Cassidy back. And try as she might, Cassidy can't help but still be attracted to him also.

Thea is Cassidy's daughter, who's whip smart (she writes up the bid for the cleaning job, having a much better head for numbers than her mother) and who has always been told that her father died a hero, rescuing some kids from a fire. Or maybe it was a flood. Cassidy can never remember what lie she used.

When Thea meets Logan, she's furious with her mother for lying to her all those years. Logan is pretty angry himself, but he seemed to get over it pretty quick and was pretty forgiving. He got over it faster than Thea did, and I loved the interactions between Cassidy and Thea, with her grumblings and eye rolls and “I'm not talking to you!” and other typical teenage girl behavior.

One of my favorite scenes is at a block party, where Devlin and Logan face off against each other and verbally stake their claims on her, trading barbs regarding which of them belongs there with Cassidy. I liked both guys, but I did lean towards Devlin more than Logan.

Cassidy is shocked to learn about demons, but when she finally starts talking to others she discovers that practically everyone she knows already knew that demons lived within their community. From the outset she assumes all demons are evil, and she's shocked again to learn that some of them just want to live their lives in peace and have no interest in waging war on humans. Jasmine withholds information from her, and both Cassidy and I were put out about that. Doesn't Jasmine realize that by not telling Cassidy upfront that there are good demons and bad demons, Cassidy could have unwittingly killed some good ones? And it seemed pretty far fetched that everyone else in town is already aware of demons (and ghosts) living among them and just accepts it as a matter fact. Except Logan, who thinks Cassidy is making it all up, even after witnessing a dusting.

But despite those issues, I enjoyed Cassidy's humorous narration as she navigated this new world that had been opened up for her, and I'm eager to find the next book in the series.

08 October 2015

Engaged in Danger

Synopsis from Goodreads: Finally, life is good for reluctant family law attorney, Jamie Quinn--her father may get his visa soon, her boyfriend is the bomb, and her law practice is growing like crazy--but when she agrees to take on a high-profile divorce case, everything falls apart. What looked like an opportunity to work with her friend Grace and make some serious bucks has turned into a deadly game, one that could destroy their friendship and tear their town apart. Why couldn't Jamie just leave well enough alone?

Stats for my copy: Kindle edition, 2015.

How acquired: Given to me by the author.

First lines: “What do you mean you're going to Australia for three months? If this is a joke, Kip, I don't think it's funny.”

My thoughts: As this fourth book in the enjoyable Jamie Quinn series opens, Jamie is upset to learn that her Parks Director boyfriend is going to Australia for three months to play with wombats. But she shouldn't worry too much – her life is about to get super busy, with plenty of goings on to keep her occupied.

Jamie misses Kip while he's gone, but I'll admit that I did not. With my favorite PI Marmaduke Broussard around, I'm happy and entertained. Of course Jamie's life wouldn't be complete without a little danger thrown in. And there's a lot of plot going on to keep things movin at a brisk pace - a woman who can't get any other attorney in the state to represent her in a divorce from her high-powered attorney husband, an investigation into who owned an airplane that crashed, leaving the little girl next door an orphan, a partnership and then a falling out between Jamie and Grace, and an ending that made me tear up. Plus an unexpected Nick Dimitropoulos moment – he's been one of my favorite characters since the first book, and I've resigned myself to the fact that he and Jamie will never be romantically involved, but I like where I think the author is taking him now!

This is my favorite entry in the series. The writing is smooth and flowing, the characters are realistic and a bit quirky, the story line has some twists and turns, and the dialogue is fun and often funny. I hope there will be more Jamie Quinn books in the future. 

03 October 2015

Animal Instincts

Synopsis from Goodreads: Unleashing your inner tigress isn't easy when you're a doormat by nature! Still, after escaping a wretched marriage to a cheating SOB, Dallas party planner Naomi Delacroix isn't about to let another man sweet-talk her into sheathing her protective claws. Not even hunky millionaire Royce Powell, who's hired her to arrange his mother's surprise party. Even if he does make her purr like a kitten with one heated glance...

Royce claims he's been in love with her ever since she threw a party for one of his friends six months ago. But if that's true, why is this incredibly eligible CEO currently taking applications for a wife? Despite herself, Naomi is tempted to fill one out. But can her inner tigress believe a man might change his stripes?

Stats for my copy: Trade paperback, Harlequin Enterprises, Limited, 2006.

How acquired: Bought.

My thoughts: Naomi has been burned by a cheating husband, and now that she's divorced she's determined to never trust another man. No dating, no falling in love, and definitely no getting married again. Royce saw Naomi across the room at an event she planned for his friend's sister, and six months later he still can't get her off his mind. He arranges for his mother to contact her to plan her “surprise” birthday party, and from the minute he gets her into his life he's determined to keep her there permanently.

I felt for Naomi. I empathized with her, I was right there beside her, agreeing with all her internal thoughts and reasonings. Neither of my exes (one marriage, one long-term relationship) cheated on me (that I know of anyway!), but cheating isn't the only way a jerk of a man can screw you over.

Naomi narrates the story, so we are privy to all of her thoughts and emotions. Watching her deal with Royce, put up walls only to have him knock them down, was incredibly entertaining. She's fun, and funny. She's embarking on a career that she loves, and is good at, but in her personal life she's unsure of herself. She's reading a self-help book, about unleashing your inner tigress, which causes her to have some funny internal conversations with her own tigress. I really liked Naomi.

There's a subplot about Naomi and her mother believing her step-father is cheating and Naomi trying to get proof that was also pretty funny, especially when Royce unwittingly inserted himself into her investigation.

Ah, Royce. What can I say about him besides, Yummy. He's cool and sexy, wickedly charming, and sweet all at the same time. He's pretty perfect and I was in love with him almost immediately after meeting him. Naomi's interactions with Royce's assistant are hilarious. Actually much of the book is hilarious, and I laughed out loud a lot. All of the secondary characters are wonderfully written.

I'll admit I'm not that crazy about the cover, and if it'd been written by some author I was unfamiliar with or wasn't a huge fan of I may have passed it up. I've only read one other book by Gena Showalter, but I loved it (THE STONE PRINCE), and ever since I've been snatching up anything I come across with her name on it.

ANIMAL INSTINCTS is a bit on the chick lit side, which may not appeal to everyone, but don't let that put you off if chick lit isn't your thing. It's a genre I used to read a lot of in my 30's, but as I've aged I began to feel I'd outgrown it. But you never outgrow fun, breezy writing with fantastic and believable characters and a story that keeps you up way past your bedtime two nights in a row! 

24 September 2015

For Better or Worse (A Candlelight Ecstasy Romance, No. 249)

Synopsis from Goodreads: No one had ever inspired such a volatile response with a single kiss as this man she distrusted on sight. John MacMasters, her new boss, was far too handsome for his own good. Or hers. Jaime Clarke should have known better than to accept a position as accounting manager for his California construction firm. They were worlds apart. She'd been highly educated and carefully groomed to take her place in life. He was a rugged self made man. How could their passion ever ripen into mutual love? He broke down all her barriers with the ease of a born seducer, then seemed to turn away. Furious, she vowed to haunt him at every turn until he owned up to the feelings she knew seethed within...

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, Dell Publishing Co., Inc., 1984

How acquired: Bought.

First line: “Don't you think you just might be a little overqualified for this position, Ms. Clarke?” the man's deep, raspy voice asked as he looked over her resumé.

My thoughts: Linda Randall Wisdom, aka Linda Wisdom, is one of those authors who I read a book or two of, and loved them so much that I began obsessively collecting her back list. A count today revealed I have 32 of her books in my TBR pile! I haven't actually read one of her books in about four years. But FOR BETTER OR WORSE most definitely reminded me of why I became such a fan in the first place.

The book opens with Jaime Clarke being interviewed by John “Mac” MacMasters for an accounting manager position with his construction company. Jaime is overdressed, lives in a nice home in a nice area of town, drives a Porsche, and is used to dining in fancy restaurants and buying expensive clothes. But she's not a spoiled rich girl - she's friendly, quick witted, and down to earth. Mac's company has done well and he's making a comfortable living, but he wasn't raised that way and he's worked hard to get where he is. He dresses in jeans and boots, drives an old pickup truck, and spends as much, if not more, time out at job sites with his employees than he does in the office. When Jaime leaves after her interview, Mac's secretary tells him she is way out of his league, and he replies that he'll marry Jaime before the year is out. But deep down inside, he agrees with his secretary.

And that's the main point of conflict between our hero and heroine. As Mac and Jaime spend more and more time together, going to lunch, and then seeing each other outside the office, the attraction is undeniable. But Mac doesn't think he's good enough for Jaime, and she can't understand why he keeps running hot and cold. At first, I vaguely worried that Mac's insecurity might start to get to me, and in the hands of a lesser author he could've come off as a jerk/whiny wimp with his pushing Jaime away for her own good crap. But instead I felt for him, my heart broke for him, and I wanted to reassure him that he's good enough for any woman lucky enough to get him.

Wonderful writing with vivid and well-rounded characters. I loved this book. 

20 September 2015

Peril in the Park (Jamie Quinn Mystery, Book 3)


Synopsis from Goodreads: There's big trouble in the park system. Someone is making life difficult for Jamie Quinn's boyfriend, Kip Simons, the new director of Broward County parks. Was it the angry supervisor passed over for promotion? The disgruntled employee Kip recently fired? Or someone with a bigger ax to grind? If Jamie can't figure it out soon, she may be looking for a new boyfriend because there’s a dead guy in the park and Kip has gone missing! With the help of her favorite P.I., Duke Broussard, Jamie must race the clock to find Kip before it’s too late.

Stats for my copy: Kindle edition, 2014.

How acquired: Bought.

First line: “You know how Floridians always say, 'We don't care how you did it in New York?'” Kip asked me, exasperated.

My thoughts: Jamie Quinn is back, and once again trouble seems to be following her, with another mystery popping up in her life. She and Parks Director Kip are a steady item now, and shady things are going on in the Parks Department. Kip is under a lot of stress with his job, but won't talk about it much, and Jamie doesn't really know what all going on, other than a vandal being on the loose. Then she gets a mysterious email from someone going by the name I-C-U, with pictures of she and Kip at various locations, and warning her to tell her boyfriend to back off. From there things just get more and more mysterious as Jamie, and her PI friend Duke, are drawn into investigating the vandalism and the murder of another PI, with ties to the Parks dept.

Meanwhile, Jamie and her stepmother are still trying to get her father's visa application approved so he can come back to the US.

There's not much more I can say without giving away plot points that should be revealed to the reader along with Jamie. But I can say that it's an enjoyable read, with the mystery surrounding Kip's job having one unpredictable plot twist after another. Jamie is a fun narrator and character, the type of person I'd like to be friends with. A quick breezy read with a nice little mystery tidily wrapped up in the end. I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of trouble Jamie finds next. 

And I LOVE the cover picture! 

 I do recommend reading this series in order, starting with DEATH BY DIDGERIDOO (click the title to see my review... 


Like the first book in the Jamie Quinn series it was a quick, fun read. I'm enjoying the character of Jamie and her breezy humorous narration. The mystery, with the soon to be ex-husband of Jamie's client suddenly dying, didn't feel quite as well developed as the mystery plot in the first book, and was resolved just a little abruptly, but it was still enjoyable. I was glad to see Duke back, but was hoping for more of Nick “Mr. State Attorney” Dimitropoulos - Jamie runs into an old flame and starts dating him, but I was wanting to see Nick become a love interest. Still, this was a perfect light read while recovering from hurting my back during my recent move.  

13 September 2015

Trail of Hope (Hot on the Trail, Book 2)

Synopsis from Goodreads: Callie Lewis is alone on the Oregon Trail. After her brother’s death, she has been left to fend for herself on a journey she never wanted to take. Her only hope for safety and a life at the end of the road is to become a trail bride and wed grieving widower John Rye. But John is harboring secrets that could end their hasty marriage before it has a chance to begin.

When a vicious tornado wakes John from the stupor the death of his wife left him in, he is ready to embrace Callie and the new life they could have together. But John is not the only one with designs on his new wife. Miles away from civilization, in a wagon train bristling with secrets and suspicion, John must catch a thief, fend off his rival, and reclaim his life to build the future Callie deserves.

In their darkest moments will they bring each other hope?

Stats for my copy: Kindle edition, Smashwords, 2014.

How acquired: Received from Badass Marketing for review.

My thoughts: Towards the end of TRAIL OF KISSES, the heroine, Lynne, saw her friend Callie and her husband John jump on a horse and go chasing after three other members of the wagon train. Lynne and Cade continued on their journey, wondering where the others were going, but leaving it to the trail master and his search party to find them.

TRAIL OF HOPE rewinds time and puts us back on the trail with the wagon train, when Callie was driving her brother's wagon while he and his wife and son were ill. We already know about the major events that will happen to the wagon train along the way, but now we're seeing the action through Callie's and John's eyes. This overlapping plot device is not something I can remember coming across before, but I liked it. Knowing some of the plot twists ahead of time only fueled my anticipation of going through it with Callie and John instead of Lynne and Cade. And story lines that were only hinted at in the first book were now revealed and played out.

Like Lynne, Callie is on this wagon train only because she was given no other choice. Her brother wanted to make the trip, and as a young unmarried woman with no other family, where he goes she must go. John is still grieving for his wife, who died in childbirth, and he has a definite plan to execute upon their arrival in Denver City. When Callie's brother, sister-in-law and nephew, an older woman who took the young girls under her wing convinces her that she needs to marry one of the eligible men so she'll have protection on the journey.

I loved Callie. She starts out scared, alone, and unsure of herself. But over the course of the story she matures and finds her inner strength. Of course, falling for her new husband helps. But John is the one who really grows and evolves during the journey. He's courteous, quiet, and keeps to himself. When Callie approaches him about marriage, he agrees because, after all, he's a gentleman. He can't refuse a damsel in distress. And with his final goal in mind, he doesn't really care what happens to him along the way.

The sex is ratcheted down considerably compared to the first book, which was in keeping with the characters. There's a bit of sexual tension between Callie and John, but Callie doesn't know what to do with it, and John is still too immersed in his grief. At first.

I enjoyed this second entry in the Hot on the Trail series. It was warm and sweet, with a mystery involving a teapot that I didn't figure out until just before Callie and John did. Some of the banter between them made me not only smile, but laugh out loud. The characters are distinctive and well drawn. Callie may find her inner strength, but John finds himself, and I'm glad I was along for the journey.

07 September 2015

Please Release Me

Synopsis from Goodreads: What if you could only watch as your bright future slipped away from you?

Sally Cummings has had it tougher than most but, if nothing else, it’s taught her to grab opportunity with both hands. And, when she stands looking into the eyes of her new husband Peter on her perfect wedding day, it seems her life is finally on the up.

That is until the car crash that puts her in a coma and throws her entire future into question.

In the following months, a small part of Sally’s consciousness begins to return, allowing her to listen in on the world around her – although she has no way to communicate.

But Sally was never going to let a little thing like a coma get in the way of her happily ever after …

Stats for my copy: Kindle edition, Choc Lit Limited, being released September 10, 2015.

How acquired: NetGalley.

First line: They were lucky with the weather.

My thoughts: A woman in a coma, following a car accident on her wedding day. A devoted husband who visits her every day, reads to her, and generally lets the rest of his life pass by while hoping his wife will wake up. Another woman whose own life is in a rut following the deaths of her parents. A ghost who is not exactly a ghost.

While drifting in black nothingness, unable to move or speak, Sally slowly realizes she is in a hospital. She hears nurses talking about her, hears her husband talking to her. Telling her inane stuff about his day, his business. Stuff she was never interested in, didn't care to know about, before the accident. I'll admit I didn't much like Sally at first. I quickly came to the conclusion that she was a spoiled gold-digger.

I did like Peter. I loved his devotion and dedication to his comatose wife. And I liked Grace, who invited Peter to join her and other fundraiser volunteers in redecorating a common room at the hospice, and in doing so drew Peter back into the world. Or at least a small part of it. And as I got to know Sally better, and began to understand her, what made her the way she was, I began to actually like her as well, and to feel sorry for her.

This is one of those books where I can't say too much about the story without giving away the plot. Suffice it to say that it's light and amusing while also addressing some serious issues, the characters are well developed, the plot wasn't predictable, and the author gave us a fresh new take on love triangles. I quite enjoyed it.

30 August 2015

Nerds Like It Hot (Nerds, Book 6)

Back cover copy: She's unleashed her inner vixen…

Hollywood makeup artist Gillian McCormick wouldn't normally be caught dead on a cruise aimed at single geeks. But as the sole witness to a murder, hiding out may be her only chance at staying alive. With P.I. Lex Manchester guarding her, and a voluptuous disguise in place of her plain-Jane wardrobe, Gillian should be safe… if she can resist a titanic attraction to Lex that's making her fantasize about some extra-naughty cruise activities…

He's rediscovered his inner nerd…

Lex thought he had left behind his nerdy ways, but his suave demeanor has no chance against Gillian's bombshell image and the smart, sexy woman within. And when the scent of seduction wafts through the sea air, what's a red-blooded male to do?

And the passion they've found is about to get out of control…

With a passenger list that includes a mobster on a mission, a cross-dressing sociopath, and hundreds of lusty nerds, Lex must find a way to keep Gillian safe--and prove that he's truly her nerd for all seasons…

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, St. Martin's Press, 2006.

How acquired: Bought.

First lines: “Gillian, Darling, it's Cora. Four out of five women surveyed say that nerds are amazing in bed. You simply must go on this cruise with me. Kiss, kiss.”

My thoughts: As I've now come to expect with this series, the characters and the situations they find themselves in are a little campy, a little over the top. Well, actually, not the characters this time around as much as the situations.

Gillian does makeup in the cutthroat world of Hollywood. Leaving the studio late one night, she overhears a ruckus coming from one of the star's dressing rooms, and just like that she's a witness to a murder with mob connections. Her elderly friend Cora, a former star who was friends with Marilyn Monroe back in the day, is headed out on a singles cruise for nerds the next day, and Cora convinces Gillian to go along as a way of getting out of the country. And she convinces Gillian to dye her hair and put on a sexy dress and bam, Gillian is a Marilyn Monroe lookalike. Because rather than blend in with the crowds of ill dressed and badly coiffed nerds and be inconspicuous, Cora says that she needs to stand out and participate in as many cruise activities as she can, so nobody would ever mistake “Norma Jean”, her fake cruise name, for Gillian.

Lex and Dante are childhood friends who have a fledgling private investigations business. They grew up in Cora's neighborhood and she considers them the grandsons she never had. So Cora hires them to come along on the cruise as bodyguards for Gillian. Cora happens to know the owners of the cruise line, so has no problem making last minute arrangements. Unfortunately, trouble follows Gillian as it soon becomes apparent that someone else managed to get on the cruise as well, and that someone wants Gillian dead.

A few scenes left me shaking my head with disbelief – Gillian verbally admiring how well endowed Lex is; a cross-dresser using fruit in a way nature never intended – but overall it was a fun and quick paced screwball romp with plenty of the author's signature humor and heart.