Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Booked a Trip to See the Book Setting?

I am heading off to the UK on Friday. I'll be gone for 10 action packed FULL days. I am trying to cram as much into my trip as I can.

Many of the places that I will be visiting in England and Scotland stem from the various romance novels I have read over the years. In England I am going to walk down St James's Street, see White's from the outside and saunter along the Serpentine in Hyde Park. Of course, the Tower of London is on the list too!

In Scotland I am focusing on many of the places mentioned in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. 
Mostly I am going to soak up the landscape of the Highlands and just imagine what it was like to live in the times that I read about so often.
Is it Friday yet?

So what about you? 
Have you read a book that prompted you to take a trip to see the setting?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Fantasy Lover by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Dr. Grace Alexandar & Julian of Macedon

Fantasy Lover (Dark Hunter book 1)

By Sherrilyn Kenyon

Book Blurb:
Dear Reader, 

Being trapped in a bedroom with a woman is a grand thing. Being trapped in hundreds of bedrooms over two thousand years isn't. And being cursed into a book as a love-slave for eternity can ruin even a Spartan warrior's day. 

As a love-slave, I know everything about women. How to touch them, how to savor them, and most of all, how to pleasure them. But when I was summoned to fulfill Grace Alexander's sexual fantasies, I found the first woman in history who saw me as a man with a tormented past. She alone bothered to take me out of the bedroom and onto the world. She taught me to love again. 

But I was not born to love. I was cursed to walk eternity alone. As a general, I had long ago accepted my sentence. Yet now I have found Grace--the one thing my wounded heart cannot survive without. Sure, love can heal all wounds, but can it break a two-thousand-year-old curse? 

Julian of Macedon 

I know I'm about a decade late to the Dark Hunter party but better late than never right?

Out the gate I wouldn't say I am wow'd as I had expected to be with this first book, Fantasy Lover. In fact it was a big fat "meh" for me. I found the character's emotions to be over the top and highly descriptive. It seemed like Grace's eyes were always stinging with tears or she somehow managed a scream. Grace was too dramatic of a character for me to take. Her parents die and she shrines them for years. She gets her heart broken in college when she loses her virginity so she has banned men from her life forever. Now I found this adverse action an entire contradiction because as it turns out Grace is a sex therapist. If anyone needed a therapist I would say it was Grace. 

I felt the villain in the story was a last minute decision and he seemed out of place. Rushed. Oddly inserted into the story. Maybe the first draft didn't have enough drama so the author decided to create that silly story-line of a crazy client. There was no depth to the his part of the plot and he was in and out of the story quickly. 

Julian's character was creative and I really did like the actual story of how he came to be and I enjoyed all the Greek Mythos back-story. To me that was the saving grace of this novel and promptly put my book rating from a 2 up to a 3. 

I think I am going to regret that I have slowly purchased this entire series over the past year. Yep. I have every book. I was sure I was going to fall in love with this series since it is so highly rated. I am going to try book 2 right away because I am totally in the mood for an awesome paranormal fantasy story. That is why I decided to start reading this series now. I really hope that the books get better than this lack luster beginning. 

Teasers: love slave, sexy deadline, chick magnet, showers 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean

Lady Philippa Marbury and Cross (Jasper)'s book

One Good Earl Deserves a Lover ( The Rules of Scoundrels book 2)

by Sarah MacLean

Book Blurb:Lady Philippa Marbury is odd. The bespectacled, brilliant fourth daughter of the Marquess of Needham and Dolby cares more for books than balls, flora than fashion and science than the season. Nearly engaged to Lord Castleton, Pippa wants to explore the scandalous parts of London she's never seen before marriage. And she knows just who to ask: the tall, charming, quick-witted bookkeeper of The Fallen Angel, London's most notorious and coveted gaming hell, known only as Cross. 
Like any good scientist, Pippa's done her research and Cross's reputation makes him perfect for her scheme. She wants science without emotion—the experience of ruination without the repercussions of ruination. And who better to provide her with the experience than this legendary man? But when this odd, unexpected female propositions Cross, it's more than tempting . . . and it will take everything he has to resist following his instincts—and giving the lady precisely what she wants.

If you loved Lisa Kleypas' "Devil in Winter" you are going to adore One Good Earl Deserves a Lover. Now that is not to say that this story is a copy of Ms Kleypas' book. No not at all. I just kept being reminded about the gaming hell story-line and the secret passageways. One Good Earl Deserves a Lover can certainly stand on it's own and I am awarding a perfect 5 hearts. I adored this story and the characters. Bravo once again for Sarah MacLean's exceptional story telling and witty characters. 

My friend met Sarah MacLean at a book signing and got a copy of this paperback signed for me. What a treasure! I wish I was there in person to tell Sarah MacLean how much I adore her writing. 

Pippa is book smart. She has a scientist's mind and rarely believes in things on a leap of faith. She needs proof. Additionally, she is awkward and is a complete oddball in social settings. Pippa understands why she must marry, she gets what will happen on her wedding night but of course she wants to dissect each detail and anthropologically speaking, she needs to understand the details from a factual perspective. Since her betroth and her are not a love match, she hasn't the natural passion, giddiness or lust that has happened to her sisters. She's confused by the whole thing and decides the best thing to do is seek out a legendary rake to lecture her on all the aspects of sex. I loved this angle. Pippa was so believable in her quest. She doesn't follow the norms so for her to just get up and walk into a gaming hell to seek out the rake, she doesn't understand that it is not something a lady would do. 

The rake that Pippa is seeking out is Cross. Cross has an entire backstory that is slowly revealed as the story moves forward. Pippa is unlike any Lady that he has ever met. She puzzles him. She says things to him where he doesn't know whether to smile or scoff at her. She has big eyes peering out of her spectacles and Cross becomes more and more attracted to her. 

It was so nice to read a book about a couple of oddballs. Pippa with her glasses and scientific mind and Cross with his ginger hair and uncertain background. I loved it. I could not put the book down. I sat in my car after work in the garage and read because I couldn't wait to get home to read more. 

There was a type of villain that readers love to hate and I despised him with the heat of a thousand suns. Blackmail from the blackguard delivers so much angst in a story and Sarah MacLean hit is perfectly. I couldn't wait to see the villain get what was coming to him. It was worth the wait. 

Teasers: dog loving fiance, Chapter 11, fixed dice, blackmail

Blog Hop Winner - Bad Boys of Romance

The winner of the Bad Boys of Romance Blog Hop was
Amanda Kalp DiDonato

Amanda has been contacted and I hope she enjoys spending her $15 Amazon prize. 

Thank you to everyone who participated. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

June's Vintage Romance Review - Honest Illusions by Nora Roberts

It is with great pleasure that I write a vintage romance review for Nora Roberts's Honest Illusions. 

Roxanne Nouvelle & Luke Callahan's story

Honest Illusions

By Nora Roberts

Book Blurb:
The daughter of a world-renowned magician, Roxy Nouvelle has inherited her father’s talents—and his penchant for jewel thievery. Into this colorful world comes Luke Callahan, an escape artist who captures her heart—and keeps secrets that could shatter all her illusions…

Originally published 1992

I picked up this beat up old paperback at a used book store about a year ago. It is certainly a well used loved copy but my friends kept encouraging me to read Nora's earlier stuff. I have to say, Honest Illusions was absolutely fantastic. It was a lengthy paperback at 499 pages and worth every last word. 

Honest Illusions spans over the years of Roxy and Luke's life. My favourite type of romances are always when the protagonist's have a deep-seated history and Roxy and Luke's history starts right from childhood. I was memorized with the story and there was no tearing me away from the magic of Honest Illusions. This story is timeless and can be easily read fresh today as if it was newly published. Even with the mention of VCR tapes, it fits with the time period when it was wrote. That is always one of my goals of Another Look Book Reviews; to take another look at previously published stories. 

Because Honest Illusions takes the reader on a journey with the entire Nouvelle family, it is one of those books that when it's over you feel sad that that you aren't going to visit with them anymore. That's me right now. I'm going through a bit of a withdrawal. Honest Illusions isn't just about Roxy and Luke's life; Roxy's father and step-mom (Max and Lily) are a centralized core to the story. I came to love their family and admire their love for one another. 

Roxy's magician father Max was a special man and his beautiful wife, Lily were role models and it was refreshing to read about such parental love and respect. Now it is amusing that I am using words like "role models" and "respect" to describe Max when he is an international jewel thief and Lily completely supported him. It was interesting that Max used the guise of being a talented international and highly renowned magician to cover his double life. When you think about it, David Copperfield or Chris Angel would be spectacular criminals. What a genius story line Nora Roberts created. 

Max saved a young Luke's life by practically adopting him when he was a lowly twelve year old pick pocket and Lily falls instantly in love with him as her maternal instincts kick in. Of course Roxy had different ideas and the pair start their relationship like any other would be brother and sister by bickering and pestering each other. However throughout their young life and their awkward teenage years, they're fiercely protective of each other and through eventual maturity recognize that their feelings aren't exactly normal sibling love. 

There is so much story in Honest Illusions. You have almost a lifetime with Max, Lily, Roxy and Luke. You experience adrenaline rushes with the burglaries, you are in awe of the spectacular magical shows (although no secrets are revealed) and more often than not you want to knock Roxy and Luke's heads together when they fight their feelings toward one another. That is until you finally feel all warm and fuzzy when they once and for all succumb to their feelings.  

Oh and there is anger and lots of it when the sociopathic villain of the story causes pain and despair to the Nouvelles. I wanted to reach into the book and harm Sam Wyatt myself. I fell so in love with this family that I found myself being protective of them. 

The most upsetting emotion I experienced with Honest Illusion was the heavy sadness when the horrid alzheimer's disease is draped over the Nouvelles. Such heartache. It is such a wicked disease. The lump in my throat has been there for days and I'm sure it will be for awhile. 

What an adventure. I am glad I decided to give an old tired paperback a try. 

Teasers: free lesson, carnival life, the love a true father and mother, blackmail, framing, redemption 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Blog Hop - Fictional Bad Boys

herding cats & burning soup

Okay who doesn't love a fictional bad boy? I have to say that I love fictional bad boys but I would never think about loving them in real life. I think one of the reasons I am so fascinated by them is how different they are to MY real world.

Here are just a few of my favourites:

Deuce from Madeline Sheehan's Undeniable. O.M.G! He is a bad, bad boy but let me tell you, no thanks for ever wanting him in real life. If you have not read Undeniable and you LOVE bad boys, you totally need to read it. This story knocks my socks off!

Ryodan from Karen Marie Moning's ICED. He is a timeless immortal and as sexy as sin. He is one in-command alpha man! But would I want him in real life? NOOOOO way. He physically abused a 14 yr old Dani, in front of a crowd and he tried to crush her spirit. Honestly, I think he is a jerk but KMM's magical writing makes him drool worthy with scores of fans. 

Lothaire. He has such a presence that the entire book is just titled with his name, "Lothaire". 'Nuff said. Bad ass, devious and a wee bit crazy. Also vicious, lethal and as ancient as dirt. I wouldn't want him any other way. 

This post could indeed be really long as it seems I am a fan of the bad boys. Who are your favourite fictional bad boys? 

I'm giving away a $15 Amazon gift card to a US or Canadian reader for you to buy your own bad boy book. 

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mr. Mayhem by Maggie Wells

Melanie Curtis and Dr. Marc Mayhew's book

Mr. Mayhem (St. Blaise book 5)

by Maggie Wells

Book Blurb:Lab tech Melanie Curtis claims Dr. Marc Mayhew’s shy smile won her vote for Mr. May, but the fact is, she’s been aching to get a taste of the delicious Pathologist’s mochachino skin since the moment she set eyes on him.
Quiet and reserved, Marc was happy to take refuge in his research until she walked into his lab. He tried to ignore the attraction that sparked and sizzled each time she drew near, all too aware of the strict edicts issued by the hospital’s Human Resources department, but he couldn’t deny that he wouldn’t mind subjugating himself to his bossy little subordinate. Over and over again.
The only variable he couldn’t predict was how far Melanie was willing to go to get the results she expected. When she tests his mettle, Marc finds he’s more than willing to risk everything on a case of chemistry run amok if it means he can claim her as his. For keeps.

May's edition of the St. Blaise series, Mr. Mayhem was a lot of fun to read. Book 5 continues with the sexy calendar models and Dr. Mayhew cause mayhem with Melanie. 

Each of these books can be read as a stand alone. 

Mr. Mayhem had me giggling and smiling all the way through. Melanie is a spitfire. I love me some smirks and smiles along with my smut and Mr. Mayhem totally delivers. 

Melanie is a lab tech who reports into the sexy doctor and after months of pinning for Dr. Mayhew, she takes charge. "It was time to put up or shut up...or, as she hoped the case would be, put out." I was fist pumping and chanting, 'YOU GO GIRLFRIEND!'

She waits for the rest of her co-workers to leave for the day and with her confidence in check, she prepares to tell the good doctor what she wants. Of course, she was going to deliver this speech wearing nothing but her black lace bra & panties under a crisp white lab coat. Well that got his attention!

It turns out it wasn't much of a reach because Marc had been in turn longing for Melanie as well. The scare of a harassment suite was the only thing holding him back. As Melanie and Marc embark on a weekend of bedded bliss they discover just how much in love they have been with each other all along. I loved how they revealed memories from their past and how they held each other all weekend. 

Teasers: "jungle love" comment causes slamming doors, The Gap exotic, peanut butter staple diet, longing for cookies, 'who's going to quit' banter

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Shattered Valor by Elaine Levine

Eden Miller and Ty Bladen's book

Shattered Valor (Red Team Book 2)

By Elaine Levine

Book Blurb:Every step leads her deeper into danger...
Eden Miller has her life arranged exactly as she wants it--until a reunion with her high school BFFs places her in the middle of a turf war with a ruthless prison gang, their terrorist allies, and the hunters tracking them. Her every move draws her deeper into the danger surrounding Ty Bladen and his team of terror fighters, but his seductive charm and engaging smile make her believe his promises of protection.
A secret is a dangerous thing...
When the terrorists Ty Bladen is tracking infiltrate his remote ranch in Wyoming, he learns the past he buried cannot be so easily escaped. Though he's recovering from a bullet wound he received in Afghanistan and is hunted by an unseen enemy, he knows he can't leave Eden alone to face the danger swirling around her, danger he and his team have brought to her--even if the has to risk letting her near his frozen heart. But when she learns his terrible secret, will she stay or will she run?

Book 1, The Edge of Courage was excellent but this book, Shattered Valor was super excellent! I am completely hooked on this series. I want book 3 now! Unfortunately I need to wait until the end of June. Well not too long of a wait I guess. 

Once again I am scratching my head about the cover's relation to the story. Ty is not a cowboy nor has he ever been. It makes me think I am missing something. He left home and joined the armed forces as soon as he was old enough and he hasn't been back to his house since. 

There is a deep-seated reason why Ty has not been back to his childhood home. That house (which is more like a mansion) haunts his memories and he'd just as soon as forget that nightmarish past. It is heart wrenching and the entire story is skillfully explained to the readers at a perfect pace when needed. 

The readers really start to know the fabulous secondary characters of the Red Team in Shattered Valor. The first book The Edge of Courage provided brief introductions but each of the men's personalities blaze through in book 2. I can't wait for each of guy's stories and books. When is that book 3 out again? Oh yeah, end of June. 

I laughed and smiled a lot more in Shattered Valor than I did in book 1. There were some genuine giggle worthy moments in Shattered Valor. Those cheerful breaks provided a great offset to the intensity of Ty's background and the deadly threat of the terrorists. 

At first I thought I wouldn't care very much for Eden. She seems so defensive even with the smallest interactions. I started to appreciate Eden more as the story rolled out. She was not a "girly girl" and basically focused her energy on her career; training her dog to sniff out drugs and weapons. That career choice certainly came in handy as the men converted Ty's house over to a temporary headquarters. I loved that Ty didn't really try to coddle Eden or "protect" her. He understood she had a job to do and she needed to do it. 

The intimate scenes between Ty and Eden were smoking hot and highly sensual. I loved how each of the scenes enhanced the story and the story wasn't necessarily enhanced just because two protagonists had sex.

The terrorism plot certainly thickened in Shattered Valor and I would recommend reading The Edge of Courage first. 

Teasers: hidden underground bunker, heart breaking teenage memories, undergarment shopping adventure, sensual strawberry dessert