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Friday, May 6, 2011

Requested Review: A Song For My Mother - Kat Martin

Hardcover; 209 pages
Publisher: Vanguard Press - April 5, 2011
ISBN-10: 1593156565
ISBN-13: 978-1593156565
Genre: Women's Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Book: Standalone, loosely connected to The Christmas Clock as it's set in the same town (Dreyerville)
Main Characters: Marly Hanson & Reed Bennett
On sale at: The Bookdepository Store

Kat Martin brings readers back to the charming town of Dreyersville for another compelling story of love, loss, and hope in second chance.
Years after leaving Dreyersville "for good" with her boyfriend right after high school, Marilys Hanson returns to her hometown at the behest of her daughter, Katie, a brain-cancer survivor, who's never met her grandmother, Marilys's mother, Winnie. Now divorced from her husband, Marilys has a past she wishes she didn't have to face there.

Living next door to Winnie is the handsome young sheriff (and widower), Reed Bennett, and his son, Ham. Ham and Katie become fast friends, and when their parents finally meet, they hit it off quickly as well. But Marilys is insistent that her time in Dreyersville be limited. She's accepted a teaching position back home, and while she's willing to spend some of her summer putting up with her mother, she's intent on heading back and making good on her commitment. But will Marilys finally come to realize that her true destiny and, ultimately, her happiness, lie in coming to terms with her past?

Pearl's Review:
Marilys “Marly” Hanson escaped Dreyerville, her hometown, 12 years ago determined never to look back or come back. Then her daughter escapes death and her only wish is to see the grandmother she's never met. Marly is a teacher and a single mom with a complicated and painful past, now dealing with a daughter recovering from brain cancer. Her return home sets in motion a bunch of events: a reunion with her mother seems less impossible and the possibility of love and romance emerges.

Reed Bennett is Winnie's (Marly’s mother) neighbor and town's sheriff. He’s a widower and single dad and an all-around good and decent guy. Though the focus of the book is more centered on Marly, her mother and her daughter. Reed and his son do make memorable characters that formed a very good match and balance with the female ones.

This novella is not just about Marly and Reed, it's also about the people who surround them and play important roles in their lives. Kat Martin makes sure you get to know and understand them all, which pushes the romance a little bit to the background. Also, there are no love scenes, just kisses. However, I didn't mind that at all, because it's not that kind of book and having read THE CHRISTMAS CLOCK, I went into this book knowing what to expect.

A SONG FOR MY MOTHER is set in Dreyerville, like Kat Martin’s THE CHRISTMAS CLOCK. Although it's in the same setting it can perfectly be read as standalone because there’s no ongoing plot and some characters from THE CHRISTMAS CLOCK only briefly appear or are mentioned. Other than the main theme being love in its different forms the storyline is totally different too.

Kat Martin's writing is unique in its simplicity and the way it just pulls you in the story, no matter what genre it is. The POV transitions contribute to the pace and they're executed very smoothly. It doesn’t even matter what length the story is because even though this was a novella, in the small span of 155 pages Kat Martin gives the reader an emotional story about love in all forms, loss, regret and forgiveness and she even touches the heavy subject of abuse. But she also manages to depict vivid, realistic characters with such depth and back-story I was astounded and pleasantly surprised at the end that I didn’t even miss the sexy times in this book. The story and emotions carried this story so much better than any love scene could have ever done.

Despite the thoroughness with which the characters are portrayed Kat Martin's writing is swiftly paced from the very beginning, keeping the story moving and the reader eager to keep on going till you've read the last page and closed this lovely book with a satisfied sigh.

There were a few scenes that were memorable and made such an impact that I want to mention them in this review. One of them was the scene with Emily, when Marly realizes she needs to forgive her mother. That scene was so powerful and emotional it made me cry. The other one is the scene where Marly and her mom finally talk about the past and make peace. This scene had the same powerful impact on me as the earlier mentioned scene had.

A SONG FOR MY MOTHER is an emotionally heavy read and you have to be in the mood to read it as it will tug at your heartstrings in a most intense way.

Reed hadn’t really been attracted to a woman since Carol had died. Hadn’t felt that little kick in the gut a man feels when he meets a woman who appeals to all his male instincts.

She was attracted to Reed Bennett. For the first time in her life, she understood what it was like to feel desire for a man. When he kissed her goodnight, she didn’t want the kiss to end. When he held her hand, little tingles ran up her arm. When he laughed, she wanted to laugh with him. When he shared his thoughts and dreams, she found herself wanting to share her own, discovering in the process a few she hadn’t realized she had.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Requested Review: Sex on the Slopes - Susan Lyons

Tradesize Paperback; 352 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade - December 7, 2010
ISBN-10: 1439152950
ISBN-13: 978-1439152950
Genre: Erotic Contemporary Romance
Book: Single Author Anthology
Main Characters:
FIRE AND ICE - Andi Radcliff & Jared Stone
SLIPPERY SLOPE - Brianna George & Zack Michaels
IN HOT PURSUIT OF A BAD BOY - Maddie Daniels & Logan Carver
On sale at: The Bookdepository Store

At a destination wedding in Whistler, the bride and groom aren’t the only ones steaming up those cold winter nights!

“Fire and Ice”
Wedding planner Andi Radcliffe wants to be a man’s “first and only,” yet she can’t take her eyes—or hands—off sexy firefighter Jared, a widower who’s already loved and lost. Though she doesn’t want to be any man’s second choice, their secret rendezvous are setting off all the right alarms.

“Slippery Slope”
Brianna George, the groom’s boss and friend, is the celebrity host of a TV talk show. She’s all about business—until Zack, a hot young Aussie ski instructor, seduces her over to the sexy side of life. But will their secret romance jeopardize her career?

“In Hot Pursuit of a Bad Boy”
Maddie Donovan, the groom’s little sister, always had a thing for his bad boy friend Logan. Seeing him again after so many years, she won’t miss her chance to prove she’s all grown up…and find out just how a good a bad boy Logan really is.

Pearl's Review:
Fire and Ice
Andi Radcliffe is a wedding planner. She’s responsible, sensible and organized but in the face of a fire and then possibly freezing to death she decides to be impulsive and take a chance with the sexy firefighter who came to the rescue. She’s the type of girl of takes care of others first and puts herself last.

Jared Stone is a firefighter. He’s a widower, guilt-ridden and still very much in love with his late wife. But when he meets Andi he starts to realize that sometimes opening up to new people in his life and even a new love, doesn’t demean his first love

Jared and Andi have different expectations of their encounter. For Jared it's casual hot sex while Andi's hoping it could grow into something more meaningful.

I enjoyed this first story of the anthology. It set the stage for the other two stories, introducing some of the main characters from those stories. In the beginning I did have a feeling of missing the emotional connection, both between the main characters and between them and me. This feeling disappeared when I read about a third of the story. Something clicked and the second sex scene was more to my liking than the first.

Despite the small page-count, FIRE AND ICE is a well-rounded story that's a balanced mix between erotic romance and character-development but because of the shortness of the story it also felt a little bit rushed. However, the ending was lovely and emotional and made up for the rushed feel.

She must look ridiculous, yet he was still staring at her as if he wanted to eat her from head to toe, paying special attention to the goodies in the middle.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Slippery Slope
Brianna George is creator and host of the TV show ‘The Scoop. She’s a native Canadian who overcame her difficult past and became a successful TV personality and a local celebrity. She’s focused, grounded and pragmatic. A perfectionist with a terrible track record with men and dating and an all work no play kind of woman. Beneath the capable exterior there's an air of insecurity and vulnerability and a fear of failure. She longs to blend in and be respected, to overcome her past riddled with gossip and preconceived opinions.

Zack Michaels is an Australian ski instructor. He’s outgoing, impulsive, vibrant and charming. He enjoys life to the fullest and his zest for life rubs off on people. But he’s also sensitive, perceptive and stubborn.

SLIPPERY SLOPE appealed to me much more than the first and this probably had to do with the trope as I love older woman-younger man stories. I really like this trope and think Susan Lyons did a great job of making it work in this story. I also like that the age difference between Zack and Brianna didn’t form the main conflict between them.

I really enjoyed the banter between Brianna and Zack, which also brought along some humor to the story. Zack encourages Brianna to loosen up and be more playful. This story felt a bit less rushed than the first but as with the first story the resolution of the conflict was whirlwind quick. And again Susan Lyons wrote a wonderful and emotional end to the story.

"If that's your not-so-subtle way of finding out if I'm single, the answer is yes. But don't take that to mean--"
"Mean what?" He gazed into her eyes and sank into pools of bittersweet chocolate.
Dark skin, dark eyes. Did she taste like chocolate, too?
She gave a start and blinked. "Uh, that I'm interested in . . . whatever."
"Ah, but you've never tried my brand of whatever," he teased.
Her eyes narrowed. "I've tested enough brands to be skeptical about the overall product."

Other men had given her tentative kisses and forceful ones. Never had a guy kissed her with this blend of gentleness and confidence. His lips were soft, teasing, seductive, and she had to respond, to open her mouth on a sigh of pleasure.

Rating: 4 stars

In Hot Pursuit of a Bad Boy
Madeleine 'Maddie' Daniels is a massage therapist. She’s sweet, warmhearted, inventive, tenacious and passionate.

Logan Carver is a (undercover) cop. He’s the troublemaker kid that went from foster home to foster home. He puts up a rough, tough bad boy front but deep down he's a good guy, an outsider longing to belong somewhere and have someone who cares about him.

The chemistry between Maddie and Logan is the most sizzling of the three couples. This made their story stand out the most for me. Also the fact that their story didn't start out as "just sex" between virtual strangers, like the other two did, but had a foundation in a friendship started long before, made IN HOT PURSUIT OF A BAD BOY the best of the three stories for me.

The sex scenes are hot and explosive and I loved the shower scene. I also loved how Maddie went about to get the guy she'd loved since she was a teen. She knows he's a tough nut to crack emotionally so she decides to take the physical route and hopes it will be enough for him to realize he wants her for more than a temporary sexual fling and return her love.

I’m starting to sound like a broken record but like in the other two stories the ending was lovely and emotional and a perfect closure to the entire anthology.

Her smile touched a chord in his heart that hadn't been strummed since that last night he'd been with her.

No need for him to know she was all nerves, wondering if he still made her heart lurch and her hormones zing the way no other man ever had.

If he'd played his cards right, he could've been in her bed right now, using his rigid boner for something much more satisfying than holding up his jeans.

Rating: 4 stars

The setting for this anthology is a destination wedding at a chalet at Whistler, Canada: Alpine Hideaway. The couple that is getting married has an important secondary role in all three stories but they are never truly in the foreground. Every story has one or both main characters who has a link with the bride and/or groom.

This single author anthology is my first encounter with Susan Lyons writing despite having her Awesome Foursome Series on my shelves (I still have to read them) and it was a pleasant first encounter. I really liked her clean, crisp writing style, tinged with subtle humor and rife with hot chemistry and explosive encounters.

The three stories balance each other out in a great way. They all have a different trope and vibe and yet form a cohesive whole aided by the setting and the complex, fascinating characters. Together they form a lovely anthology about finding love that was wrapped up in a fitting epilogue.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Jessica Trapp - Defiant

Paperback: 352 pages

Publisher: Zebra (December 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1420100955

ISBN-13: 978-1420100952
Genre: Historical Romance
Main Characters: Jared St. John & Gwyneth of Windrose

Buy at: The Book Depository


Three years ago Jared St. John was imprisoned, wrongly, for the murder of his own brother. Now, finally free, he wishes only to live in peace, hoping to heal the darkness that plagues his soul. But his self-inflicted isolation is destroyed when he is drugged, spirited away to a church, and forced to marry a brazen enchantress against his will...Lady Gwyneth of Windrose knows something of false imprisonment, but that doesn't stop her from abducting a stranger when it's her only hope of gaining her liberty. Yet the moment she's alone in her unwilling new husband's powerful presence, everything Gwyneth thought she knew of men - and of seduction - falls by the wayside. For the first time in her life, it's not freedom Gwyneth craves...but to give herself over to unyielding passion...

Requested Review 

If you are a fan of classic historical romances like the ones Johanna Lindsey wrote in the 80’s and early 90’s you will most certainly love Jessica Trapp’s Defiant. But even if you are not into historical romances you can enjoy this smooth written story for its plot delves much deeper than just a simple love story between a fierce hero and a feisty heroine.

Lady Gwyneth of Windrose is known for her great beauty and many men have asked for her hand in marriage, yet Gwyneth has always evaded the shackles of marriage. Gwyneth has no intention to be the property of a man who can show her off whenever he feels like it. All she wants is her freedom. Fate brings her together with Irma, a whore. They share a secret and it is Irma who shows Gwyneth how she can use her beauty to her advantage to help other women. Now Gwyneth is a woman on a mission, she wants to save as many women from prison as she can so they won’t be sold into slavery.

But Gwyneth cannot escape marriage forever and her family forces her to marry some fop. This will endanger her mission so she and Irma come up with a plan. They abduct a stranger; Gwyneth marries him and pays him off so he disappears. This is Gwyneth’s only hope to gain her liberty and continue her mission, but they picked the wrong stranger to mess with for Jared St. John will not disappear. He is here to stay and for the first time in her life Gwyneth cannot seduce a man to do things her way, for the first time in her life she wants to surrender to her passion… passion for her husband.

Jared St. John is the illegitimate child of a lady, she never cared for him. He is a falconer and shares a special bond with his bird Aeliana. Three years ago he was falsely accused of murdering his own brother, now he has escaped. He only wishes to live in peace and clear his name by finding his brother’s real killer. Living in peace is no longer an option when Gwyneth enters his life and forces him to marry her, but marriage to Gwyneth has its advantages so he exercises his rights as her husband while he tries to clear his name. But it is hard not to fall under the spell of such a beauty.

Though Defiant is a classic historical romance, fluently written and fast-paced to read, it also has a high level of girl power and it is a character-driven story. The changes both Jared and Gwyneth undergo during this story add even more layers and depth to them. They come from very different backgrounds, have absolutely nothing in common with one another yet they are very much the same in many ways. They both have a strong sense of justice and this is what eventually leads them to one another.

Gwyneth is a great heroine, as a lady she could have resigned herself to her role as a wife and live an easy life, instead she tries to take control of her own life as much as she can and help other women. She is an idealist trying to improve the position of women in a men’s world. She is persistent, a little stubborn, smart and emphatitic; she puts other people’s needs for her own. Life has taught her that men don’t listen to women very well and if she wants something she has to do it herself. She depends very much on herself and Irma and does not trust men. When Jared stays in her life she must adapt quickly and find new ways to continue her mission, not once does she give up. She is a very strong, compassionate lady and I like her attitude and her assertiveness very much.

Looking from Gwyneth’s point of view Jared sounds like a bastard, but he really isn’t. I must admit when he forced Gwyneth to wear a brank for a day he did not score any points with me, but she really pushed him too far and Jared needed to show that he could handle his wife, after all this story plays out in the middle ages. Being hurt by women all his life makes Jared very cautious of Gwyneth, he is emotionally closed off yet vulnerable at the same time. He does not trust people, especially women easily. Jared only relies on himself and his bird Aeliana. Yet he is very patient and gentle with Gwyneth, he teaches her how to read and shows her that she can trust him and that he has honor. All he wants is to clear his name and live in peace.

There are not many secondary characters in this story; the only important one is Irma. Irma is Gwyneth’s best friend and she is a whore. She lives a harsh life yet tries to make the best of things and is always to help other women. I liked Irma, she is so practical and she made me laugh. She and Gwyneth are an odd pair, together with Jared they are the pivot of Defiant. Still, Jessica Trapp has done a great job at making you feel a connection to this three characters as they try to live their lives on their terms and reach their goals.

I really loved the plotline of this story, there are many little details in the lives of Jared, Gwyneth and Irma that look trivial, yet it turns out that they are very important for the development of the story. These details also show how tangled up their lives really are without them knowing it. All these little details and loose ends come together with a bang at the end of the story.

Defiant was a pleasant surprise for me, I loved it. The well-rounded characters, the undeniable attraction between Jared and Gwyneth, the fluent and profound plotline and the high level of girl power. The solutions Irma and Gwyneth come up with for their problems were hilarious. Yet at the same time Defiant keeps that authentic medieval vibe. Therefore Defiant is a mesmerizing read from start to finish.

Monday, January 24, 2011

ARC Review: Nalini Singh - Archangel's Consort

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Berkley (January 25, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0425240134
ISBN-13: 978-0425240137
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Book #3 in Guild Hunter series
Main Characters: Raphael and Elena
Buy at: Book Depository Store

Cover Summary:
Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux and her lover, the lethally beautiful archangel Raphael, have returned home to New York only to face an uncompromising new evil…

A vampire has attacked a girls’ school—the assault one of sheer, vicious madness—and it is only the first act. Rampant bloodlust takes vampire after vampire, threatening to make the streets run with blood. Then Raphael himself begins to show signs of an uncontrolled rage, as inexplicable storms darken the city skyline and the earth itself shudders.

The omens are suddenly terrifyingly clear.

An ancient and malevolent immortal is rising. The violent winds whisper her name: Caliane. She has returned to reclaim her son, Raphael. Only one thing stands in her way: Elena, the consort who must be destroyed…

Archangel's Consort gives us a third chapter to devour in the romance story of Archangel Raphael and Guild Hunter Elena. With that I cannot guarantee a spoiler free review and only advice readers to start at the beginning with Angels’ Blood and work your way to this release which I can tell you will be quite the ride!

From the beginning there was an undeniable attraction simmering between Raphael and Elena and this had not diminished in any way in Archangels Consort. Next to their deepening relationship they both have to deal with family issues as well. From the get-go I fell hard for the synergy between Raphael and Elena. Their dialogues are full of wit and barbs, their personalities clashing at times in dominance and the sensual vibe is like a live wire between them. Over the course of the evolving storyline I witnessed their trials and tribulations, their strength, vulnerabilities and flaws, but at the foundation a love grew that encompassed them wholly.

In Archangels Consort, Nalini Singh demonstrates how utterly good she is at bringing characters to life and exploring their personalities. Raphael is a male character who isn’t quite the anti hero nor “just” one who can be branded an Alpha, he transcends these character type’s with his attitude that is born from his ancient age and view on life. He is without a doubt “other”. He is an Archangel who makes me shiver with all of his personality traits and each reader should experience his personality first hand to understand what makes Raphael, Raphael.

To be the love interest of such an Archangel takes quite a woman but Elena holds her ground in her own unique way. She knows how to get through to Raphael when he goes all Archangel attitude and makes him more accessible to the softer side of emotions. Even though Elena has a strong backbone, even when she goes all warrior woman, she also is a sensuous woman and has her vulnerabilities. It is the sensual and emotional interplay between them as a couple that shows this the most. This story definitely created room for the romance part, for conflicts and the fiery passion that often set the pages ablaze. When two angels choose to dance the skies it is a sight to behold!

The one thing that was subdued was the mystery. Practically up front did I know what was going on and it lessened the thrill of the suspense. It made certain events less dangerous and I missed the one-two punch Nalini Singh can deliver when romance and suspense work as one and I can’t read fast enough to know what’s happening. Of course I did get a few small surprises in the end, creating possibilities for future installments but in this story it was the interpersonal relationships that did it for me.

Next to murders, some dangers, romance and challenges there was also Raphael’s Seven. Each of these Seven is a compelling and intriguing character but like many avid readers of this series I have my favorites. My heart skips a beat with the uber powerful vampire Dmitri, I have a wicked grin on my face whenever Illium aka Bluebell, enters the stage, my curiosity is piqued with Aodhan, but it is Jason who yanks all of my chains. In this installment Nalini Singh tantalizes me with small snippets of mystery revolving his, and many other characters, from the Seven. I can’t wait for her to start writing up their stories!!

Nalini Singh’s is one of the powerhouse authors who rule in the Urban-Fantasy genre. Her imaginative writing never fails to invite me into her dynamic world. I get to go on adventures with her characters, enjoy the temperamental dialogues and feel every single shred of emotions sizzling between them! Archangel’s Consort was a wonderful return again to the Guild Hunter world!

Quote Elena:
Now, she was one of those angels, perched high atop a balcony that had no railing, nothing to prevent a fall. Except of course, she would no longer fall. Her wings were stronger now. She was stronger.

Flaring out those wings, she took a deep breath of the air home. A fusion of scents – spice and smoke, human and vampire, earthy and sophisticated – hit her with the wild fever of a welcoming rainstorm. Her chest, tight for so long, relaxed, and she stretched her wings out to their greatest width. It was time to explore this familiar place become foreign, this home that was suddenly new again.

Diving down from the balcony, she swept across Manhattan on air currents kissed by the cool bite of spring. The right green season that thawed the snows that had kept the city in thrall this winter , and now held court, summer not even a peach-colored blush on the horizon. This was the time of rebirth, of blooming things and baby birds, bright and young and fragile even in the frenetic rush of a city that never slept.

Home, I’m home.

Quote Illium/Elena:
“I know I’m your favorite.” He brushed his wings over hers when she didn’t reply. “I swear to god,” she muttered, fighting a laugh, “If you’ve dusted me with blue , I’ll tie your balls in a knot and hang you up by them on the nearest sharpest object I see.” The last time he glittered blue angel-dust over her wings, Raphael had – eventually – seen the humor in the situation. She couldn’t guarantee Illium’s health if it happened a second time. Illium dipped low, stroking back up with movements that looked lazy but took considerable muscle strength. “Be nice to me or I won’t give you your present.”

“Idiot.” But he was her favorite of the Seven. How could he not be when he saw her human heart not as a curse, but as a gift. When he would lay down his life for the archangel’s who was Elena’s? When he laughed with the same easy joy as the children from the Refuge?

The extended posse

Meet the Posse





Calendar October:

We celebrate our fourth anniversary YAY


1 star: Too many flaws and not worthy of your time.

2 stars: An average story with no surprises.

3 stars: An interesting and entertaining story.

4 stars: A riveting and gripping reading experience.

5 stars: A story that is the ultimate reader's high and very addictive.

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