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!