I was excited to see Harlequin releasing another bwwm IR novel. They seem to come out like Haley's comet over there so fellow fans like myself of thisI was excited to see Harlequin releasing another bwwm IR novel. They seem to come out like Haley's comet over there so fellow fans like myself of this subgenre have to grab em while they can.
I'm happy to say that S&SB does not disappoint in all aspects of telling a great story. If you're like me and haven't read all of the Braddock series, you won't be lost a bit as all the Braddock siblings are explained in detail.
I won't rehash the synopsis as it is available in the link below on the HQN book page, but I will say what I really enjoyed about the book.
First of all it's characters. Shondra is a strong female without being too close offish. Due to her father's death she's a bit vulnerable and although she is really attracted to the hero (who's seriously a babe, who can blame her?) she wants to tread lightly considering his status in their company. I gotta say much props for the intro of the story to Ms. Amos. I love how the hero and heroine first meet and how they interact right from the beginning. The hero is strong minded, driven and also sensitive and romantic: everything the perfect hero is made of (where can I get me one of him?). I love how they play off each other and the sexual tension is there right from the start. I had to fan myself off now and then!
The loves are hot without being too overly sexual, so if any readers out there are a fan of hot loves scenes without being in your face, you'd be happy here. The race situation is mentioned but doesn't get in the way, which I think is a good thing. During the rise of IRs many bwwm romance books used to place race as a major obstacle and I'm glad it's mentioned here but not the driving force of their problems. Shondra and Connor are mainly treated as a man and woman trying to find a way to each other's hearts despite the workplace and despite the recent death in Shondra's family.
Ms. Amos had me laughing at the interaction between Shondra and Connor, especially over music: he loves hip hop (she's not too familiar with it) and she loves country (he's not too familiar with it) and during a private jet ride to Monte Carlo they discuss this. One of the best lines of the book are in this scene and it's a cheeky one that comes from Connor after they realize the music difference:
"I think we both owe it to our people to fit our assigned stereotypes better."
LOL she had me rolling during this scene and I can could so imagine the facial expressions and voices as they verbally sparred back and forth. And just like good storytelling, a few moments later she nearly had me in tears right there with the hero and heroine as they relived their respective familial losses.
If I had to gripe about one thing I'd say I was kind of bummed about the ending being a happy for now rather than happily ever after. I guess I'm kind of traditional in that I like the couple to make it official with a wedding down the road or at least an engagement. And the two characters felt like they were happy just being physical with each other for now. ...more
**spoiler alert** This has been sitting in my virtual reading pile since HQN first introduced their free holiday reads program at the end of the year.**spoiler alert** This has been sitting in my virtual reading pile since HQN first introduced their free holiday reads program at the end of the year. I finished this recently and although Harlequin Presents book titles bring me into fits of giggles, I thought I'd take a looksie to see why this is the bestselling series imprint under the Harlequin name.
The blurb describes the heroine, a "self-described plain Jane" as a defiant woman and the hero set on marrying her against all odds. He banked on a bride but not a baby!
Well, I don't know what book the blurb writer was talking about 'cause it sure wasn't this one. There's a pretty interesting plotline focusing our heroine Arlene Russell trying to learn viticulture in order to care for the Northern California wine vineyard she inherited from her Great Uncle. She goes to Sardinia, Italy to study under billionaire Domenico Silvaggio d'Avalos's family vineyard. She pushes herself a little bit too much in order to prove that she can take care of herself under the watchful eyes of the hard working Domenico. Despite being a longtime bachelor, he's attracted to her and plans on indulging a little while she's there. Soon he finds himself becoming more enamored with her as he cares for her heat exhaustion then takes her to meet his (very large) family. The scenes with his family are heartwarming and we see how much Arlene (coming from a not so good family background) wishes to identify with such warmth and comfort of her own.
Domenico, being the huge billionaire he is, wines and dines Arlene across Europe as he takes her to extravagant bistros and his various homes. The descriptions of France and Italy are lush and like a vacation for the reader. This was one of my favorite parts of the novel and I can see why most of the heroes in Harlequin Presents are millionaires, billionaires and CEOs. It offers lots of room for that 'spared no expense' romance factor.
The great breakup-to-makeup scene that's inevitable in most books of the romance genre happens, naturally, toward the end of the book. I almost knocked off a star because it's due to a character who seems to come out of nowhere late in the story. She's also one that neither the hero or heroine like much but yet still tears them apart. It's one of those situations that could have been fixed if the the h/h talked to each other rather than the heroine running out and returning back to Northern California.
At the same time I'm grateful for it because we wouldn't have had a chance to meet one of the awesome side characters introduced in this book. An old gentlemen by the name of Cal. I loved Cal! He was a bit crochety, always saying what's on his mind as he helps the heroine focus on what's really important in life. The last few chapters where Arlene returns to her vineyard is probably one of the best because of her interactions with Cal and the realizations of her actions. Not to mention the sweeping romantic gestures from our guy Domenico.
The last few pages are literally where the baby situation comes in as apart of the HEA. The blurb was way off in alluding to her pregnancy being apart of the overall plot, but considering it's 90% off anyway...
Overall, I liked this book and would definitely check out another Presents. Unfortunately, it may not be for a long time unless it's another free eread. The blurb situation puts me off and since that's what I go by in purchasing books, I can't really trust another Presents blurb to be representative of the book rather than sounding like every other one in the series.
This one will probably go on my keeper shelf because I love the family scenes, the cultures, the landscape and the sweet yet sexy romance between the hero and heroine. I wouldn't mind re-reading this one again in the future. ...more
Vivi Anna is an awesome storyteller with her Valorian Chronicles and they're still running on full steam ahead with her newest offering The Vampire's Vivi Anna is an awesome storyteller with her Valorian Chronicles and they're still running on full steam ahead with her newest offering The Vampire's Quest.
This time Kellen Falcon, former lab technician and ballistics expert of the OCU (Otherworld Crime Unit) ventures to Europe for help in his degenerative blood disease called Sangcerritus. The last time we saw him he went a bit ballistic on newcomer and human Eve Grant (who became leader Cane's wife) and the reveal came a few books back. Now we're finally getting down to the nitty gritty of how the disease works on vampires, slowly causing the poor victims to go mad.
Kellen's doctor visit turns on a sour note when a blast in the hospital nearly takes him out. Kellen survives only to become the suspect number one in the Nouveau Monde Otherworld Unit and eventually catches the eye of criminologist Sophie St. Clair who is working the case.
I was really interested in seeing how Ms. Anna not only makes Kellen a hero but also how she deals with a man on death row so to speak. Not to mention the relationship between him and a lycan woman who's father has told her before that "no alpha daughter of mine should be prancing around with a bloodsucker." There was an ongoing story arc throughout the first three books that had concluded in the last book (Veiled Truth) and I also wondered what kinds of turns this story would take in the aftermath. Ms. Anna didn't disappoint on all accounts as she adds a mixture of thrilling suspense to go with the mystery and romance.
I loved how the two units mirrored a bit of real life in how easier Otherworld and human got along in Europe. There was also a bit of real world tension between the two races of lycan and vampire not intermating due to pack politics and one not liking the other. I wonder if we'll be seeing more of Nouveau Monde in the near future. I'll definitely be a long for the ride.
If you love CSI type mysteries with a dash of romance you definitely want to pick up the Valorian Chronicles series by Vivi Anna. Each book stands alone but you'd do yourself a favor in catching up on each of the characters to see how they relate to one another throughout the books. Here's the series in order:
Blood Secrets (Caine Valorian and Eve Grant's story) Dark Lies (Jace Jericho and Tala Channing's story) Veiled Truth (Lyra Magice and Theron LeNoir's story) Mahina's Storm (Mahina Garner's story; available as an ebook novella or in the Nocturne Bites anthology 'Midnight Cravings')
It's great to see Mahina finally get her own story but was kinda bummed there wasn't much behind the sexual relationship between her and Ren. NocturneIt's great to see Mahina finally get her own story but was kinda bummed there wasn't much behind the sexual relationship between her and Ren. Nocturne Bites are short stories which don't allow much for character development and background so with the format it's understandable. But for the series, Mahina deserved a little better because she's a great character. Really loved the opening scenes which to me were the strongest....more
This is my first crack at Silhouette Romantic Suspense and it did not disappoint. Normally I stick to Intrigues and Nocturnes, but the gorgeous cover This is my first crack at Silhouette Romantic Suspense and it did not disappoint. Normally I stick to Intrigues and Nocturnes, but the gorgeous cover and characters caught my eye and I had to check this one out.
I like to pay attention to first chapters particularly in how the author sets up the conflict and characters for the rest of the story. This one was done beautifully as we got to know the backstory toward hints of the scandal of the title and how it ties in with the hero and heroine. HQN doesn't do many interracial books featuring this pairing and they definitely need to especially if there are more written like this one.
The story centers around Anamaria Duquesne who has returned to her home in small town Georgia to learn more about her mother who died when she was younger. Anamaria was brought up with her grandmother and along with a special gift of foresight about people that seems like a curse at times. While researching about her mother and the possible scandal, she meets up with Robbie Calloway, a hard edged attorney who is hired to keep an eye on her. He doesn't believe a lick of Anamaria's powers and is wary of her, but also very attracted to her. Sparks are immediate but Anamaria keeps on her guard knowing how the women in her family are prone to losing their hearts to men. Soon Robbie and Anamaria's attraction grows as they dig deeper into her mother's mystery and Robbie grows protective of her while battling over centuries of his family's teachings to marry a certain woman.
I loved the author's opening notes in her description of the characters. Two people who seem completely different yet deep down are very similar and good for each other. I loved that Anamaria could hold her own against Robbie's gruffness and often he reflected on this himself as he was admiring her as a person. She makes an assortment of lawyer jokes and Robbie's reaction (or lack thereof) made me giggle even more. Both characters are strong not only in mind but in temperament and their stubbornness toward each other. The way the differences in races were handled here was wonderful and at the same time identifiable. The experiences felt real in the tensions an interracial couple would face today and the reactions of the world around our hero and heroine were handled in a believable yet subtle way that still had an impact.
The character's backgrounds were given and although they did come from different cultures and upbringings the themes of wealth, family and professions are explored in how it frames the characters even down to the little descriptions of the houses. One particular scene I liked was prior to Anamaria visiting an old friend of her mothers. While one family was poor and worked in serving the other very wealthy family, the poorer family ended up very rich in the love and compassion shared between each other that was lacking in the more wealthier family.
Robbie, like Anamaria notes, is very much a product of his upbringing and class structure. He's a complex hero who battles with his mind constantly about Anamaria while his body and heart are battling the other way. Normally I would be bugged by his reluctance to be with a woman because of the color of her skin but the way the author handles is more than just a trope. He's been taught a certain way and has grown up being irresponsible, somewhat lazy, headstrong and used to just breezing by in life getting by on his looks, charm and wealth. Not very admirable qualities but the way Robbie is written, it's believable and how he cares for his family and especially Anamaria, it makes him sympathetic and complex. While he's constantly saying he needs a certain type of woman to fit in with his family and friends (one that he's envisioned most of his life), his heart and body desires Anamaria because of who she is and how she appeals to him, body, mind, heart and soul.
The same thing with Anamaria who comes from a family used to loving and leaving them. She knows what type of man Robbie is and she stands up to him, never asks him for more than she knows he can give although a part of her may want more. She knows his limits and her destiny and continues to stand strong for what she wants and believes in.
The characters felt like humans rather than figures and I like that the author wasn't afraid to dig down deep and explain the differences in cultural upbringing without being heavy handed with it. It really added some nice flavor to the characters and made their inevitable union all the more sweeter.
I was a little skeptical at first about the Duquesne women not marrying and each having a different (unknown) father. I winced at first because it felt a little stereotypical but after the explanation, I felt it was apart of who Anamaria was as she was brought up in this particular family within the world-building based on how they handle their gifts. It was an interesting way of exploring the Duquesne power structure and, interestingly enough, it somewhat mirrored Robbie's background in how he relates to his family.
The suspense is at a minimum and knowing how Silhouette Romantic Suspense usually weighs more toward romance than suspense, the focus is mostly on Anamaria and Robbie's relationship than the overall mystery at hand (and a dash of some small town family drama thrown in). But it worked. I would have loved to have seen more worldbuilding a deeper look into the Duequesne family's history involving their powers and to maybe explain more about their "business arrangements". How it started, how it was passed down, what each family member thought about it. I'm sure the info would be enough for a massive epic family saga which wouldn't be a bad idea. I'd certainly love to read it. But at it's length it's a nice category that fits within the line's guidelines.
Scandal at Copper Lake mixes interracial romance, a little bit of paranormal and mystery for a wonderfully written novel I'm more than happy to add to my keeper shelf. I'll probably be rereading this one again as its going on my keeper shelf. I hope HQN pays attention and bring us IR readers and lovers more well written books with various themes that explore what the lines have to offer. ...more
I think I may be finished with HQN Nocturnes until the Time Raiders series. I love good world-building in paranormals and the focus of the Nocturne BiI think I may be finished with HQN Nocturnes until the Time Raiders series. I love good world-building in paranormals and the focus of the Nocturne Bites is more on the relationship while forsaking the world-building (the editors actually emphasize this to their writers). Most Bites are lead-offs into a full Silhouette Nocturne series but this didn't grab my attention enough to follow the story on.
HQN Nocturne fans may enjoy this start to a series. Just be sure you grab the other stories first because this one leaves off without telling the whole story behind the mystery that started off in the beginning....more