Hard Evidence was an excellent book. It quenched my thirst for good romantic suspense, that's not just about a hot hero and a cute, likable heroine sc...moreHard Evidence was an excellent book. It quenched my thirst for good romantic suspense, that's not just about a hot hero and a cute, likable heroine scratching an itch while dodging bullets, and ultimately falling in love. No, there's nothing wrong with that. But it's great to read something that goes deeper and touches on issues that are real and meaningful in the world today while I get my high octane romance fix.
Julian is a man who has spent most of his life in the dark. He started out with a less than ideal childhood, a truly heartbreaking childhood, and channeled that into undercover law enforcement. He's seen only the worst of people. And while he believes that this has barred him from the possibility of a good, normal life and a good woman, undeserving of both, he is a very good man. He has put his life, soul and sanity on the line everyday to help the helpless. That made me love him. He's a gorgeous, sexy man in every way, but it was his heart that touched me the deepest.
Tessa is a crusader in a different way. She works as an investigative journalist to use the print media to bring positive change. Some of the risks she takes makes my hair stand on end. (And knowing that the writer, Ms. Clare taps from her own experiences in journalism makes it even more harrowing). Sometimes I wanted to ask her if she was crazy. But I also understand her need to help others, to use what God gave her to effect change in a world where too many people either don't know, don't care, or look the other way.
These two together make sense in a beautiful way. It was a pleasure to read their emotional, highly sensual, and meaningful love story. I started out reading this slowly (around my other review read), just taking it all in, enjoying the leisurely visit with Tessa and Julian, and soon I couldn't put the book down because I was so compelled to see what happened next.
Hard Evidence does hit hard with the realism of this world in which underage/teenage girls are abused, brutalized, and treated as objects and commodities. It makes me upset and angry to know that this is really happening, and it made me cheer for Julian (who is so well named, for he is a Dark Angel), and Tessa, who is an angel of justice from a whole different direction to do what they could to help those girls. Sometimes it seems as though the good guys don't win nearly enough, and it's too easy to give up the fight. But reading about heroes in these books like Tessa and Julian, that they represent the many unsung heroes, and knowing that there are those in real life who sacrifice and strive to make this world a better place is hugely encouraging. Some dark subject matter, but ultimately hopeful. A beautiful love story in which the light of love shines into places where most angels fear to tread, but not these in this book. Highly recommended!
In preparation of the November release of Striking Distance, The Pamela Clare Fan Group will be hosting a group read of the series, starting with this book! If you haven't yet read Pamela Clare's I-Team series, you're missing out on some truly fantastic stories.
I was glad to read Molly's story, out of a group of half-siblings with a mother who 'got around', looking but never finding love. Molly was what I hop...moreI was glad to read Molly's story, out of a group of half-siblings with a mother who 'got around', looking but never finding love. Molly was what I hoped for in a heroine. She is standard Lynne Graham heroine. Young, optimistic, determined in the face of adversity, chaste, but completely unable to resist her hero when he comes along, although she does make a stand when he is not giving her what she needs in their marriage.
Leandro is fairly standard for Lynne Graham, although there were a couple of novel touches. He'd been married for several years and widowed and celibate for a year prior to meeting Mollie. I was happy to finally have a hero who wasn't as big a tomcat as usual for this author. Of course, he did his share of that in the past, but at least, he wasn't including the heroine in his revolving door of girlfriends. He does a few things that annoy me, but I found his impassioned bid for Molly's love near the end of the book to be quite irresistible. I could understand some of his control/not showing emotions issues when the reveal occurs about his so-called 'happy marriage'.
I have to be honest and say I spent a significant portion of this book waiting for Molly's siblings to show up. The romance was good and sexy, nothing lacking, but I was more attracted to the family dynamics that Ms. Graham had pumped my excitement up for in the prior books. And yes, eagerly awaiting another glimpse of sexy Nikolai from Ruthless Magnate, Convenient Wife (Pregnant Brides, #2) as Molly's older brother. What can I say??? He's Russian. I love Russians! Sorry, Leandro. Russians trump Spaniards, even though you are sexy and can be a real sweetie. I was not disappointed when Molly's siblings showed up. I loved how they closed ranks around her as a family, taking her in, and making sure that she was happy, even in her relationship with Leandro. Nikolai is just the kind of older brother I think a girl needs. At any rate, it was great to see the family together, and really sweet. And I adored Ophelia, so seeing her again was great.
The epilogue was lovely as well. Molly, who had always felt unwanted and unloved, alone in the world, had a family that loved her, and a husband who would hang the moon barehanded because of his adoration for her.
Deliriously sappy (in a good way), a bit silly, sexy, a good way to spend a few hours. Nothing ground-breaking, but I wasn't looking for that. Just a good read, and I got one with this book.
This was a pretty good book. I think Ms. Wright has a way with words. However, I did have some issues reading this book that knocked the rating down q...moreThis was a pretty good book. I think Ms. Wright has a way with words. However, I did have some issues reading this book that knocked the rating down quite a bit.
The big lie that Mary told was NOT OKAY. I know that technically Ethan was in the wrong, but it was vicious and wrong how she lied. She was very underhanded in what she did and she hurt him pretty bad. I can understand to a certain degree why she did it, but I didn't like this decision that she made, and how she dragged it out until she had to come clean. Yes, he blackmailed her, but she had a choice to say yes or no. And he was upfront about what he was doing. I think any moral high ground Mary had was lost with the lie that she told.
That lie really bothered me, but I suppose I could have gotten past that, but what started as a compelling book, sort of changed into a run of the mill modern relationship drama. Nothing wrong with those, but generally they don't interest me the way the blackmail, revenge, enemies to lovers themes interest me. I read romance to get away from the mundane. And frankly, relationship drama is very mundane to me.
I thought the love scenes were well-done, and there was intense chemistry between the characters. Mary was a little cold and detached for my tastes, although that didn't seem to extend into the bedroom. A cold heroine doesn't bother me most of the time, but the execution makes the difference for me. Even though the author planted seeds about Mary being a caring person and putting others first, I didn't really see her as being that warm and caring, although she did show some warmth with her father. I liked Ethan. He definitely had issues, but I found him compelling and interesting. It was clear that he was a decent human being, although Mary didn't seem to think so at first, and maybe he didn't want the world to see him that way.
I had issues with the fact that Ethan seemed to do a lot more grovelling than Mary did. He apologized and made amends for the blackmail attempt, and was upfront about his issues with being born on the wrong side of the tracks. But I'm not sure that Mary really met him halfway. I would have liked to see her open up more and admit to her issues, and apologize more for the lie she told. The unequal feelings and emotional vulnerability level between the hero and heroine is a big sticking point for me. I don't like to see one person eating their heart out, while the other just selfishly sucks up the affection and love vibes. I got a bit of that from this book.
All in all, a decent read, but this book wasn't a keeper for me. Maybe if it had proceeded in the intriguing way it started, I might have felt differently. This is more of a 2.5/5.0 star read, but I'll bump it up to 3 stars.(less)
I stayed up until 5:30am listening to this audiobook, because it was due back at the library today. I can't say that it was wasted time. It was a pret...moreI stayed up until 5:30am listening to this audiobook, because it was due back at the library today. I can't say that it was wasted time. It was a pretty good book and the narrator, Davina Porter does a satisfying job. However, I didn't love this book. I think the major issue I had was that I found most of the characters unlikable.
Charlotte did grow on me. She had some notions and beliefs that weren't ideal (she tended to be very naive about things and was somewhat snobbish and judgmental towards others), but at heart, she was a decent person. She matured a lot over the course of this book, and I liked how her feelings evolved for Thomas Pitt and how they changed from where they were initially. My favorite character, Inspector Thomas Pitt, doesn't have a point of view. We only see him though the eyes of the Ellison family, including Dominic, who is married to the oldest daughter, Sarah. It's a shame, because he's the only character I truly liked and respected without reservation. I guess I can say that I didn't have anything against Carolyn, the mother, but she lacked depth to me. She seemed to be a cipher for a 'good Victorian wife' and did not seem to know how to be true to herself. I am not being judgmental. I completely understand the pressures that were on her.
After all, this book focuses a sharp lens on the Victorian woman and the tremendous societal forces on her. In some ways, this book is more of a social commentary than a suspense novel. Yes the mystery is prominent, because someone is murdering young women (and the police are hunting for the killer) and this affects the lives of the Ellison family on a deeply personal level. But I feel that this series of murders is really more of a catalyst for the exploration of characters in this family and an examination of their individual roles in this microcosmic society of their family and the people they interact with in their periphery.
Anne Perry seems to know Victorian society. While she does not info-dump facts about the time period, the narrative doesn't bypass any opportunities to give the reader insight on the time period. I think that this was well-done. Perry uses characters, situations and conversations to convey the social mores of the times. It was pretty evident that Victorian women did not have it easy, whether they were upper class, titled society women or lower class women. It was just a question of whether they had the dubious security of marriage or the uncertain and likely demoralizing life of a single woman with few prospects as far as earning a living. Through the eyes of Carolyn and Sarah, we learn what it's like to be married to a man who we must spend our lives with and take care of, be the perfect wives to, and hope that they take their marriage vows as seriously as we do. And if they do not, we don't really have the agency to leave him or hold him accountable for his failings as a husband. Through Emily, we learn about the society girl's quest for an advantageous marriage to a man who clearly has shortcomings, but we have to make the most of the man and the opportunity. Martha Prebble's character is the vicar's wife, and she has spent many years subjugated to an unfeeling moralist, which has done her great emotional and mental damage. Charlotte is the next oldest daughter who has always felt alienated from society and who has been in love with her sister's husband for several years, but is unable and unwilling to act upon those feelings.
As you can see, there is a built-in complexity to this novel, despite the subtle presentation. It gave me something to think about, but as I said earlier, it was hard to get as invested as I wanted, since the characters were largely unsympathetic in their point of views. I don't know if that was a failing of the narrator in how she conveyed their POVs, or just the things they said and did. The characters seemed to be in a state of arrested development, although I did see growth in Charlotte's character, and Sarah as well. I especially disliked Dominic. I felt little sympathy for him, but then I have a huge issue with marital infidelity. Not to mention his inherent sexism. He treated his wife and other women like they were intellectually inferior to him. He was also a self-absorbed snob. Emily was a brat, and I didn't care for her manipulative nature. Thomas, on the other hand, had a maturity, a depth of character, and a firm, steady personality that allowed him to navigate the stormy seas of both high society and the rookeries to get his man. His love and admiration for Charlotte made me like her more as a person. I felt that Thomas Pitt showed great insight into the other characters that helped Charlotte to get past her emotional involvement with her family and societal counterparts and at the same time to trust her instincts about human nature as well.
After much rambling, I have come to the point of concluding this review. This was a good book. It had some insights to offer this reader, but it lacked characters that I could feel for, with the exception of Thomas and Charlotte, and to a lesser degree, Carolyn and Sarah. I felt terrible for those girls who were murdered, and I wish that more of the characters in this book were able to feel the wrongness and the waste of young life for reasons that were quite disturbing with the final reveal in this novel. The whole structure of this novel points to the issues of Victorian society in which hypocrisy is a facade for dark decay and the deep dysfunction that was integral to its institution.
I'd give this book 3.5/5.0 stars. Fortunately, my library has more of these on audio, so I will continue this series.(less)
For seven years, Alejandro Montoya (I love this name!) focused on gaining his revenge against Sebastian Huntington, the man who fired his mother and t...moreFor seven years, Alejandro Montoya (I love this name!) focused on gaining his revenge against Sebastian Huntington, the man who fired his mother and threw them out on the street, all because he had the nerve to get involved with his daughter. But, he never forgot how Rebecca made his heart beat faster, even if he forced himself to believe he hated her. Now, Alex is a powerful man, rich, and determined to show that Sebastian Huntington is not better than him, just because of his Latino heritage and because his mother cleaned his house.
When it turns out that Sebastian embezzled $300,000 from the Texas Cattleman's Club, he plays right into his hands. Now he had the power to bring Huntington down. Even still, the idea of Rebecca being hurt doesn't sit right with him. He does what he can to nail her father, but help Rebecca, because his feelings for her have not dissipated despite his rage at her father.
Rebecca never got over Alex. She didn't understand why he would have made a terrible bet with his old friend from the barrio, "El Gato", that he could sleep with her. She's determined to help her father, even if it means she has to convince Alex to give her a loan against her lingerie shop and work as his housekeeper to help pay off her father's debt. Yet, as much as she wants to keep it all business, and Alex wants to focus on his need for revenge against her father, their powerful attraction keeps getting in the way.
I loved Alex. He was sexy and hot, all man. He was angry, but he really didn't want to see Rebecca hurt. He went out of his way to seek a resolution which would spare her, although he fully intended for her father to pay for his crimes, even if it was losing his ranch and having to move out of town. Alex reminded me of Alex from Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles, except all grown up, and a little more of a cowboy. They both have that powerful charisma. I could totally see why Rebecca was head over heels for him.
I liked Rebecca. She had mettle, and even though I didn't like her father, I admired her loyalty to him, which she didn't let blind her to the truth about him. Her actions were understandable. It would have felt cold-blooded for her to completely wash her hands of him.
Ms. Leclaire dealt with the prejudice issue deftly. People looked down on Alex and his family because they were Mexican-American, and his mother was a domestic. Even some of the members of the TCC who had books already did the same (especially Lance and Mitch). I liked that Alex stayed true to himself, and was proud of who he was, but strove to make something of himself to show the snobs where they could stick their prejudice. I was glad that Rebecca wasn't prejudiced against Alex, although she should have taken her father to task for his snooty attitude while she was dating Alex the first time.
I liked the suspense angle, with Alex's shady friend "El Gato" as a major player in Huntington's troubles, with intentions to claim Rebecca as his bride, and Huntington's land so he could play Cattle King. Alex had to resolve his loyalty to an old friend, who had some designs against the woman he loved. He showed some real mettle dealing with his friend, who was clearly a slimy criminal. And it forced him to accept his true feelings for Rebecca.
So far, this is my favorite in the newest Texas Cattleman's Series, at least out of those I've read. I need to read Darius and Summer's story, since I've liked him quite a bit in the books I've read.
This was an enjoyable book about two people who had fallen in love as teens, but had gone their separate ways because of outside influences. However,...moreThis was an enjoyable book about two people who had fallen in love as teens, but had gone their separate ways because of outside influences. However, ten years apart didn’t break their bond. When Brittany comes back to the small town in Australia where she and Nick grew up, it’s strictly for business. But she finds her feelings for Nick had only been suppressed, not vanished. She doesn’t want to be emotionally susceptible to the man who broke her heart. She’s worked hard in the past ten years to build a reputation and to climb the advertising ladder. A business relationship with her first love could help her significantly. She needs him to agree to allowing her to use his sugar cane farm to pitch as an advertising campaign so she can get her raise. He won’t do it unless she agrees to marry him, for business. When she finds out that she owes a debt to her abusive father, she agrees. However, the hard part is keeping those feelings at bay.
Although I’m not a big fan of the reunited lovers theme, Ms. Marsh handles it well. Also, I love seeing heroines who are successful in their careers, and financially independent, on equal to the heroes. Ms. Marsh did a great job of showing me who Nick was, revealing his emotional vulnerabilities in a way that I wish was done more often in the Harlequin Presents books. Instead of Brittany being the only one who seemed emotionally at risk, it was clear that Nick had a lot at stake on that level as well. I liked that Nick and Brittany had been friends since childhood, and their love grew out of their bond. It must have made their separation that much more painful. I appreciated that time was taken to show the rebuilding of Brittany and Nick’s relationship outside of the sexual aspect. That would have been way to easy too show them jumping into intimacy when they had to work to rebuild the trust between them that was lost when they parted.
This was a good, quick Saturday read, and I’m glad to know I have more of Nicola Marsh’s books in my tbr pile to read. She has a way with words and writes a very good romance. (less)
This is one of my sister's favorite books, which always makes me want to read a book, since she has good taste. She's usually not wrong about the book...moreThis is one of my sister's favorite books, which always makes me want to read a book, since she has good taste. She's usually not wrong about the books she raves about. The other night, I decided to give it a read, since it has a flower on the cover, I needed a pure, happy romance book to get my mind off of darker thoughts, and it would meet my Spring challenge. I was glad I did. I love the old school romance books. They seemed to build up the romance story in a more believable fashion. As well as the chemistry. I must say Sandra Brown did a great job. She built up the sexual tension expertly in this book. Each scene and interaction, both in the past and the present, showed the attraction between Laura and James. Their kisses and caresses escalated that tension until they consummate. I miss that feeling of expectation of when they finally will do it, instead of the more prevalent insta-sex of today, which really just makes the romance fizzle before it begins. After they have sex, what's the point really in reading the romance? I like the romance to come first. But that's just me.
Other things I liked about this book: *There is something about Southern-set books. The ambience of that location, with all the societal aspects, the simmering heat, and the conventions of Southern folk. I could smell the gardenia and honeysuckle, taste the sweet iced tea, and feel the humid breeze against my skin. It is a clever metaphor for the heated sexual attraction between the characters that is burgeoning right under my eyes as I read. *I love books where the H/h knew each other growing up, although they didn't get together, merely flirting around, or having the unconsummated attraction that will culminate when they reunite later on as adults. *The bad-boy made good storyline: Although I didn't like the snobbery that Laura showed initially against James, I liked the dynamic of Laura and James having been in different social spheres. James was the son of the town drunk, and Laura the daughter of one of the town's more prominent families. James was pretty much like James Dean in the old 50s movies, a greaser with a bad attitude. But he was always a hard worker, just dealing with more pain and rage than a young man can carry and still have peace in his heart. It was good he shook the dust of his hometown off his feet and set off to make a life for himself, and his fortune. And he created his darling little girl, Mandy, who needs a mother. Good thing Laura is there to fill that job. James had a master plan of coming back to his hometown and making a good reputation for himself. Laura's found out that her father left her a mountain of debts and has to sell her house. It's a heartbreaking decision for herself, especially when she has to sell it to James, who she doesn't think is good enough for it. Things change in her thinking, and I was glad that she was able to open her heart and mind (although James had always been in her heart, even if he was way 'too bad, too experienced, too everything' for her). James sure has a way of bringing a girl around in her thinking. James has some revising of his views to undergo too. He wants a perfect southern maven wife, and doesn't need love or passion (at least not with her). He thinks Laura will fit the bill, until he realizes how much passion she has inside, and how much he feels for her. I think Ms. Brown did a good job of showing how James and Laura got to know each other past the misleading perceptions of each other they had (fostered by a society that is way too fixated on such things), and realizing how much they loved each other.
There was a lot to love about this book. I takes me back to the golden days of contemporary romance that I sincerely mourn nowadays. I've read a few of her older books, but I guess I should have paid more attention to Sandra Brown's contemporary romance. Now's as good a time as any.(less)
I was glad when I read the afterword and found out this was Ann Major's first book. For a first book, it's actually quite good. If this was a recent e...moreI was glad when I read the afterword and found out this was Ann Major's first book. For a first book, it's actually quite good. If this was a recent entry from an author I had read and been very impressed by, I would have been more disappointed. As it stands, it was pretty good.
Things I didn't Love *Let's face it, Kit is very immature. She's young, with very little life experience. She's also spoiled. For all that, she is a good person. I think she always did love Ted, but her youth made it hard to express that. She doesn't quite know how to make a relationship work, and it shows. *Ted is harder to get a handle on for most of the book because the book is from Kit's viewpoint. He annoyed me when he flipped out on Kit and put her out. He didn't give her a chance to defend her, just assumed. He should have been a bit better at relationships for his advanced years over Kit, but clearly he isn't. *This book relies heavily on misunderstandings, which can be kind of tedious as a source of conflict. As I said, for a first book, I can respect that this was a chosen device for a novice author. *Phyllis, Ted's sister-in-law was annoying and interfering in Kit and Ted's relationship. I wanted for Ted to tell her to butt out, but he didn't get around to it during the book. That's a shame.
Things I liked *I did get the feeling that the love between Kit and Ted was real and strong, despite all their fits and starts. I just wish they communicated better. *I liked that Kit was half-Mexican and half-white, and embraced both parts of heritage. *I'm always a sucker for books set in Texas. *Ted's daughter was cute. I wish she was in the book more though. *Ted was a self-made man. *Ted was red-headed.
So not a great book, but not a bad one either. It's always interesting to read an author's first book and to see how far they have come.(less)
Sweet and evocative. This book took me back to the 1930s. Roxie was fierce and kind, and Luke made me want to hug him tight. Recommended to readers wh...moreSweet and evocative. This book took me back to the 1930s. Roxie was fierce and kind, and Luke made me want to hug him tight. Recommended to readers who enjoy sweet (lightly sensual) historical romance.
When Grace met Seth eight years ago, she was a different person. She was shallow and spoiled, and immature. It caused her to treat him cruelly, and un...moreWhen Grace met Seth eight years ago, she was a different person. She was shallow and spoiled, and immature. It caused her to treat him cruelly, and unbeknownst to her, her grandfather got him fired. When they meet again in the present, it's clear that Seth is still holding a grudge. He buys up the controlling shares in her family's company from her grandfather's young trophy widow and Grace's ex-fiance'. So now Seth is her boss, and he wants her back in his bed. Is it just about revenge, or are the flames of passion still burning just as brightly as they did for their brief time together in the past?
I liked that Grace had come to realize that she didn't want to be the same girl she'd once been. She'd learned a lesson about what was important after the tremendous loss she'd suffered. Now she was realizing that she still loved Seth. When their passion leads to a pregnancy, they end up getting married, but can Seth love her the way she yearns to be loved by him?
This is a good Harlequin Presents. It has all the passion, drama, and angst I like in these books. I also appreciated Seth's viewpoint. He didn't always approach Grace the way I would hope, but I could understand his issues with her. At the end of the day, he was a good man, and his actions showed that he was crazy about Grace, although she couldn't see the forest for the trees. Although life had pulled them apart and in different directions, and he was angry at the way she'd dismissed him in the past, I think that he was motivated down deep by his desire to get her back, because he never got over her.
There was a poignancy in the losses that Grace suffered, losses that helped to mature her and to encourage her to get her priorities right. I think that as a mature woman, she had a lot to offer, and I can't hold what she did at eighteen against her. The same goes for Seth at twenty-two. We all make bad choices when we are young, and hopefully have the opportunity to learn from them as Grace and Seth did. I'm just glad that these two fated lovers got a second chance together. A chance to be in love, and to have a family together, which was denied the first time around.
I really liked this book, despite the sniping and back-biting between Grace and Seth initially.(less)
This was a very enjoyable reading experience! I especially appreciate how much they just talked to each other and got to know each other at the beginn...moreThis was a very enjoyable reading experience! I especially appreciate how much they just talked to each other and got to know each other at the beginning. I miss that in romances. Constant is a wonderful heroine, and it was great for Kameron to realize how much he didn't deserve her, despite the fact she loved him dearly. The story is quite interesting, but a twisty-turny path to happy ever after. I recommend it.