27 May 2015



Synopsis from back cover: The lives of five captives hang in the balance while their families gather the ransom.

Two brothers, their family frantic to find their sons. A loner whose uncle doesn't even know he’s missing. An army brat whose family will never be able to raise enough money. A cheerleader who can’t count on her stepdad but knows her father will come through.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers, 1990. Previously published under the title “Five Were Missing”.

How acquired: Bought at a library sale in 2012.

First line: The kidnapping took place on a Thursday.

My thoughts: School lets out one afternoon and kids board the bus. A substitute driver is at the wheel, and he misses the first stop, making the boy who gets off there walk back an extra block. The driver apologizes and tells the kids he was called in at the last minute and didn’t get a copy of the route, so Bruce moves to the front to point out the stops. When they’re approaching the last stop, in one of the better neighborhoods, there are just five kids left. But the bus keeps going, picking up another man with a gun.

It’s a disparate group of kids. Bruce, a freshman, a little awkward, living in his brother’s shadow, who he looks up to and admires. His brother, Glenn, the golden boy, jock and all around high school star. Normally he drives to school, but his car is in the shop. Marianne, popular cheerleader who goes out with Glenn. Her stepfather tried to pick her up from school, but she rejected him, as she always does. She resents his presence in her family and thinks the her father hung the moon. Jesse, a quiet loner. Her family are military, and the only family who rent a house in their upscale neighborhood. Her mother thought living off base would be good for Jesse, that she’d have a better chance at a normal life and would make friends. Dexter, another loner who hides his disease misshapen body under long sleeved shirts. He moved from New York to live with his uncle after his parents died, but his uncle continues to live the single bachelor life as if Dexter weren’t there.

The plot felt realistic and the tension came through from beginning to end. The writing was descriptive, although some of the dialogue felt a little stilted. I enjoyed the story, and the way Marianne and her stepfather bonded and arrive a new place in their relationship. As the kids wait out their captivity in a remote cabin with one of the kidnappers and his wife, they get to know each other, and their strengths come out. Bruce and Glenn have some tense moments alone that open Bruce’s eyes to who his brother really is.

I did have one issue, and I guess this might be considered a spoiler by some so be warned -

The only parent reunited with one of the kids on the page was Marianne's stepfather, and I would have like to witness the reunions between the other kids and their families. The narrative occasionally left the kids to focus briefly on one or more of their families, including a passage about Dexter’s uncle, who was out of town and unaware of the kidnapping. There were hints that the uncle’s conscience over his lifestyle and his non-relationship with Dexter was getting to him, and I thought in the end this experience would draw them closer together, make them start to feel like family. But once the narrative left the uncle, it never went back to him, and I was very disappointed that Dexter and his uncle did not have any resolution to their relationship. 

25 May 2015

One Night: Promised (One Night, Book 1)

Synopsis from Goodreads: Livy notices him the moment he walks into the coffee shop. He's heart-stoppingly stunning, with a blue-eyed gaze so piercing she's almost too distracted to take his order. When he walks out the door, she thinks she'll never see him again. Then she finds the note he left on his napkin . . . signed M.

All he wants is one night to worship her. No feelings, no commitment, nothing but pleasure. Every defense mechanism Livy has adopted during her solitary life is at risk of being obliterated by this confounding man. He's obnoxious but well-mannered. He's a gentleman but aloof. He's passionate but emotionless. Yet the fascination is so powerful, Livy can't deny him... or herself.

M awakens something in Livy, something deep and addictive that she never knew existed -- and that she fears only he can satisfy. But she senses that behind the fast cars, fancy suits, and posh apartment, he's aching inside. To have him, body and soul, she'll have to brave his dark secrets. Delving into his world and breaking down his defenses become her obsession - an obsession that could shatter her heart beyond repair.. .

Stats for my copy: Trade paperback, Orion, 2014

How acquired: BookCrossing

My thoughts: I had mixed emotions throughout this book. I liked Livy, the narrator. She was funny and self-deprecating. But I wasn't sure about Miller. At times I liked him, I could understand why Livy was attracted to him, but at other times I just thought he was an arrogant douche bag and I wanted Livy to run in the opposite direction.

Livy meets Miller when he comes into the coffeehouse where she works. She's still new at her job, and learning to master the complicated cappuccino machine. Before leaving, Miller writes her a rude note on a napkin.

Livy can't stop thinking about Miller,and it turns out he can't stop thinking about her. They meet again, and he tells her he wants twenty-four hours with her. No strings, no commitment, and nothing beyond twenty-four hours. She adamantly refuses, but eventually she breaks down and agrees.

It's so obvious that Livy is way too young and vulnerable to enter into an agreement like this, and I felt that if Miller were a real man, he would've realized that and not pushed her into it. What follows is lots of fantastic sex, better than Livy has ever experienced before, along with an emotional roller coaster for Livy, where she swings from misery and angst and self-loathing to euphoria and happiness and back again. The first time Livy comes to her senses and forces herself to walk away from Miller I was applauding her. But of course she went back and started the whole cycle over again. I think it's safe to say that for the most part, I did not like Miller Hart and had absolutely no respect for him.

While there is lots of sex, it's actually pretty tame. Miller tells Livy that he will always “worship” her. They have sex, they make love, but they do not “fuck”. And when she tells him she wants him to fuck her, he is horrified, and insists that no, the pleasure must be slow and savored, every time. I kept waiting for him to finally lose control and give her the fucking she wanted. I mean, jeez, loosen up dude!

The events unfold excruciatingly slow, especially in the first half of the book. And then towards the end there is a twist that comes completely and shockingly out of left field, and after that it's tense and compellingly page turning, and I do want to read the next book to see how Livy and Miller will deal with the fall out. 

17 May 2015

How I Wonder What You Are

Synopsis from Goodreads: Maybe he wasn’t here because of the lights – maybe they were here because of him …”

It’s been over eighteen months since Molly Gilchrist has had a man (as her best friend, Caro, is so fond of reminding her) so when she as good as stumbles upon one, lying comatose, on the moors one bitterly cold morning, it seems like the Universe is having a laugh at her expense.

But Phinn Baxter (that’s Doctor Phinneas Baxter) is no drunken layabout, as Molly is soon to discover; with a PhD in astrophysics and a tortured past that is a match for Molly’s own disastrous love life.

Finding mysterious men on the moors isn’t the weirdest thing Molly has to contend with, however. There’s also those strange lights she keeps seeing in the sky. The ones she’s only started seeing since meeting Phinn …

Stats for my copy: Kindle, Choc Lit Limited, 2014

How acquired: Netgalley

First line (skipping the prologue): The man lay naked, unconscious and , inevitably I suppose given the temperature, slightly blue.

My thoughts: Molly and Phinn are two lost souls, closed up inside themselves and holding the world at bay. Molly writes for a magazine and came to this remote little village after a bad breakup. She doesn't talk about her ex, nor will she talk about her mother and why she's so angry with her that she avoids her calls or hangs up as soon as she answers the phone. Her life consists of her little cottage, her friend (and landlady) across the street, Caro, and a horse named Stan who is a character in his own right. When she sees mysterious colorful lights flitting across the sky, she's entranced and curious about them, although nobody else in the village appears to have seen them.

One day while out riding Stan, Molly comes across a naked unconscious man lying on the ground. And that's how she meets Phinn. He's a physicist, quite well known in the science community. A lanky, awkward, bespectacled man who's taken up residence in an abandoned, neglected, moldy/mildewey house across the village. (Actually I don't remember if the author described him as “lanky” but in my head he is.) When Phinn sees mysterious colorful lights flitting across the sky, he's entranced and curious about them, although his friend Link never sees them, even when he's walking just a few yards behind Phinn.

While Molly is recovering from her bad breakup, Phinn wears the remnants of his marriage like a cloak. It covers him all around, keeping his memories close and allowing his anxiety and low self-esteem to leak out through the worn fabric. His wife convinced him that he's a wimp, that he's not a real man, that no real woman would want him.

Right from the beginning I was captivated by the narration, by the author's voice and her turn of phrase. It was flowing, almost lyrical at times. An example:
Phinn was about twenty yards behind with the tent bag slung across his shoulders and the last rays of the sun tinting his face and hair before it sank behind the hump of moorland to the west. It caught his glasses and blocked out his eyes, replacing them with reflections of the scenery, making him look as though he'd been possessed by the spirit of the moors.”

And another:
The anger weighted his words, made them drop and bend the atmosphere around them.”

For the most part I enjoyed the story, enjoyed getting to know Phinn and Molly, as well as Stan the horse. I expected those mysterious lights to play into the plot more than they did, but the plot moved forward steadily (albeit a little slowly) despite the lights not being more involved. However, as much I hate to say it, I did at times agree with Phinn that he was being a wimp, and kept wanting him to “man up” and grow a pair. And when he finally did, I was initially disappointed at the way he went about it. But everything was resolved nicely in the end and overall it was a sweet little story.

Note: It's my understanding this is the fourth book in a series, The Yorkshire Romances, but each book can be read as a stand alone. 

05 May 2015

Sex & the Immortal Bad Boy (Immortally Sexy, Book 4)


Synopsis from GoodreadsPaige Darlington has a problem. See, she's the former apprentice to Satan's right hand, Becka Gibbs. As a result, she's got this pretty much all consuming need to be bad... not her fault, right? Well, that will be a small comfort when she loses all human emotions, including the ability to love and care about those who matter to her.

To keep his brother alive, Jed Buchanan works for Satan Jr., the heir to hell and the most evil being in existence. Jed has been forced to do a lot of unsavory things during his time on the "job" and his latest assignment - killing Becka Gibbs - isn't pleasant either. It only gets more complicated when he arrives at Becka's apartment, and inadvertently attacks Paige, a beautiful, sexy demon who decides that saving his black soul will be just the thing to keep her own from rotting.

But can the Devil's minion and the Devil's assassin possibly find true love?

Stats for my copyMass market paperback, published by Forever, a division of Grand Central Publishing, 2007.

How acquired: Bought.

My thoughts: I read the first three books in this series several years ago, and I loved all three of them. In the third book, Paige, the heroine of this book, was introduced as a secondary character, and I adored her. She provided a lot of comic relief. So I was really looking forward to reading SEX & THE IMMORTAL BAD BOY. Unfortunately, I’ve just really had a hard time getting invested in the story.

Paige is a Rivka, created by Satan very recently, to harvest the souls of people who are going to hell. She has managed to get away from Satan however, and no longer works for him. Then one day she discovers that any living thing she touches, a plant, a tree, an angel, is burned up and disintegrates. Something Satan did to her without her knowledge in his quest to create the perfect killing machine. Now she’s on a mission to find a cure, before her inner wraith completely takes over and she loses all her humanity.

Jed is a shadow warrior, who works for Satan, Jr. Not by choice, but in order to protect his brother from being tortured. And it turns out that, being damned, Paige can touch him and not hurt or kill him. So now he and Paige are teaming up, to find a way to cure Paige, and get Jed out of his contract with Satan, Jr. and save his brother.

And if that all sounds like a silly confusing mess, it is. I’m not sure if the plot is really that bad, or if I’ve just gotten so far away from paranormal romance in the last couple of years that I just can’t connect with it now. Granted, it’s been awhile since I read the previous book (2010), but Paige just doesn’t seem like the same Paige I loved in that book. She is so desperate to be touching Jed all the time, you'd think she'd been unable to touch anyone else for years and years, not for a day or so. For the most part I just find her to be too dramatic and annoying. I do like Jed, and if the story were just about his problems and solving his issues, I’d probably enjoy it more. Except maybe I wouldn't, since I'm not sure what he sees in Paige, other than that she accepts him for who and what he is. 

I gave up at page 164 (out of 314). I just don’t care enough about these characters to finish their story.

01 May 2015

Heaven to Betsy (Emily, Book 1)

Synopsis from Goodreads: When a dead body swan-dives from a balcony into the pool at a wedding, gossip comes to a halt about disgraced paralegal and former rodeo queen Emily—whose husband left her for a woman who’s really a man. Enter Jack, a secretive attorney and sexy mix of cowboy and Indian. She refuses to work for him until she learns about the disappearance of the six-year old daughter of his notorious client Sofia, the wedding shooter, who is also an illegal immigrant. Emily feels a strange affinity with the girl and launches a desperate search for her. Bodies pile up in her wake across Texas and New Mexico as the walls around her own secrets begin to crumble, and the authorities question whether the child is anything but a figment of her imagination.

Stats for my copy: Kindle edition, Skipjack Publishing, 2015. 

How acquired: Gifted to me by the author. 

First line: I wedged myself up to the bar between an urban cowboy and a sequined octogenarian with a cigarette dangling from her lips. 

My thoughts: Emily has come back to her hometown after a special dinner date with her husband, wherein she was going to announce to him that she is pregnant, was interrupted by Stormy, his cross dressing boyfriend (girlfriend?). Now she’s back in her mom’s house, remembering what it’s like to live among small town gossips. That urban cowboy from the first line turns out to be a criminal attorney who just so happens to need a paralegal. Emily has never worked in criminal law before, and doesn't particularly want to, but grudgingly accepts the job. 

The story is told in first person point of view, and Emily is a self-deprecating and fun, and funny, narrator. Her life has basically fallen apart around her, and she’s struggling to hold it together. Jack is a somewhat strange but good looking laconic loner, who never seems to answer a direct question, insists that Emily loudly ring a bell each morning when she arrives at work, which makes Emily wonder just what he’s doing back in his office, and who has a little white poodle with a pink collar who comes to work with him.  

Emily and Jack are both standing by the pool when Sofia, a hotel janitorial worker, shoots the man who then falls over the balcony into the pool. Sofia becomes Jack’s newest client, but she won’t tell them why she shot the man, or answer any of their questions or do anything to help Jack come up with a defense for her – she just begs them to find her missing daughter. 

Of the secondary characters, Wallace, a CPS worker who is also trying to find the little girl, really stood out. Neat and fastidious, one of my favorite scenes was when Emily picks him up in her trashed out car for the first time. But there were lots of other scenes that also made me smile or even laugh. 

For the first half of the book, it was a very amusing and fluffy little story. And then suddenly it got a bit gritty, as Emily becomes more and more determined to find little Valentina. Somewhere in the second half I became so engrossed, and so invested in Emily and her search, that I stayed up reading much too late one night (so thanks for that book hangover headache I had the next day Ms. Hutchins!). And when I started reading again the next night it got really serious, with Emily in a pretty dangerous situation, and I was practically holding my breath until it was resolved. 

I’d put this more in the mystery genre than romance, with some adventure thrown in. Lively and lighthearted, yet ultimately dealing with some serious subject matter. I very much enjoyed this book, from a new to me author.