Jennie Lucas is the author to reach for when you want the high drama quotient and the fairy tale vibe to your Harlequin Presents. Lilley is so starry-Jennie Lucas is the author to reach for when you want the high drama quotient and the fairy tale vibe to your Harlequin Presents. Lilley is so starry-eyed, it will probably make a more cynical reader roll her eyes. I didn't mind it so much. I think that if I'm in the mood, it works for the story. I felt that she definitely deserved better than she got with Alessandro, but in his defense he did try to push her away initially to protect her. I didn't want her to go back to him when she has important news. I wanted her to go in the other direction. I think it's because I strongly like when the hero has to do the chasing. I don't like when the heroine falls into his arms so easily. Lilley is a true love believer. She has a heart that is so sweet and kind, I just wanted to protect her from the world. I could identify with her fear about taking risks. I think we all feel like that sometimes. Especially when the root is a sense of inadequacy and that no one truly accepts you for who you are. I hate that Alessandro contributed to that feeling of inadequacy in how he treats her when they are married. He needed and did receive a hard wake up call, but it came at a high price to Lilley.
Jennie Lucas can be a bit over the top sometimes, but in a way, I like that. I think the best Harlequin Presents are the ones that don't feel like real life, but take you away to 100% escapism. When that's combined with a story full of emotional genuineness it's a great combination. While I won't ever hang out with billionaires, I can identify with the human emotions that both Lilley and Alessandro feel, and their struggles with family and a sense of meaning for their lives.
I would have to give this four stars because it kept my eyes glued on the page, the sensuality was sizzling, and the character's emotions felt real and powerful and their story unfolded in a way that I was entranced with and didn't want to stop reading. Plus, the Cinderella vibe is very well done....more
I haven't decided how I feel about this book. One one level, it was a very satisfying read. But there is something I felt didn't quite ring for me. II haven't decided how I feel about this book. One one level, it was a very satisfying read. But there is something I felt didn't quite ring for me. I pretty much loved Tiffany from page one. She was a real person. She had emotions that were authentic considering what she'd gone through. I liked that while she had valid reasons to run in the other direction from a relationship (especially the one he was offering) with Ryzard, she was also brave enough to come out of her half-life she'd lived since her terrible accident on her wedding day. Also the cocoon her family kept her in. I like that Tiffany is a modern woman but her values aren't too out there where I can't sympathize. I'm not here to judge, but I don't like promiscuous heroines who don't have any twinges about casual sex. In all fairness, I don't like that in a hero, and I'm not into double standards. But as a woman, I think it bothers me in a different way and more personal when it's the heroine. I was worried at first that the book would go in that direction, considering the way she and Ryzard first got together. But surprisingly, I didn't have any qualms about it.
I am not a fan of affair romance stories. I like to know that the couple will stay together, and they don't have one foot out the door the whole time they are together. I think that was one thing that bothered me about this book. I could understand both characters were deeply wounded emotionally, but I felt a pang every time they would reference that their time together was a short-lived affair. I feel that Tiffany deserved better than a man who couldn't give her love or his heart because he was hung up on a dead woman. Especially with all she'd gone through and the double standards her family forced on her.
Yes, I think that was the issue I had with this book. Ryzard didn't realize until the end how much he was shortchanging and cheating Tiffany out of. While she wasn't a punching bag and she showed a lot of maturity and self-possession, it was clear she fell in love with him, and he was holding that back, while demanding everything he could get from her.
Ryzard wasn't a bad hero, but he's not a great one either. I like a hero who is completely head over heels for the heroine (or at least has strong feelings for her that develop reasonably early), and I didn't feel that from Ryzard until later on. There was something that compelled him about her, and while he kept telling himself to walk away, he couldn't. But I think it felt mainly sexual to me for most of the book. In some ways, Tiffany needed the confidence of having a man who was so attracted to her, but she needed a man who loved her deeply (with the attraction part flowing out of the emotion), considering her past. So he didn't quite live up to my expectations in that regard. I did like that he was a different sort of hero. The survivor of a revolution, who was trying to put his country back together.
I'm kind of confused about the Q Virtus club. The author's descriptions left me in the dark about how the club worked. I think the descriptions could have been clearer. It's an interesting concept to build a book series around. I hope it doesn't end up being too much of a sex/illicit encounters storyline throughout this series, because that doesn't appeal to me. If there is a way to build a story that goes beyond that idea of sybaritic luxury and discretion used for sexual gratification, I think this will turn out to be a fun concept. I would love to see some sort of spy angle involved with this series, considering the high tech nature of the club.
With all my misgivings, I was very drawn into this book and I couldn't put it down. So I would give this one 3.5/5.0 stars. Overall, I think Dani Collins is a new writer with promise. Collins can write a very effective, sexy love scene and she also writes a passionate love story, and I like the way she developed Tiffany. I will read more of her books....more
Mistress At a Price is perfect for my Dangerous Hero Addict Support Group movie challenge, because it has a 9 1/2 Weeks feel. I needed a book for thatMistress At a Price is perfect for my Dangerous Hero Addict Support Group movie challenge, because it has a 9 1/2 Weeks feel. I needed a book for that movie, and I got one here. This is quite different for a Sara Craven book, IMO. The heroine is a more 'worldly' woman than she usually writes. She's the one who wants a no-strings attached sexual relationship with the hero. The reasons are quite interesting. She is deathly afraid of emotional attachment, because of her parents' disastrous marriage and the subsequent string of marriage and affairs they have both had afterwards. She feels that she's better off staying single and focusing on making a life for herself and a career outside of emotional attachments with men. While she's not inexperienced, it's clear that she is also not a serial 'hit it and quit it' dater. She has some vulnerability that isn't quite as well-hidden as she thinks. She uses brittle armor to try to keep Liam at a distance, and she's not very nice to him at times.
We don't get Liam's point of view, so one has to guess how he feels about everything, but I suspected that he always had strong feelings towards her, and he was taking it slow so she wouldn't be scared off. I think that backfires, because he gives her the impression he is just after sex with her and seems almost predatory in that sense. I think that even when he shows objections initially to Cat's plan, she felt it was because he wasn't in control of their relationship parameters, not because he could have wanted more from the relationship. This is one of those books that I wish the characters would stop playing games. I don't have a lot of patience for that, honestly. This dynamic is not romantic to me. For me, a romance book has to show the emotions and the bond between the characters that goes beyond physical to the emotional/mental level. Otherwise, it's empty for me. I'm not saying that Craven doesn't bring that to the table. You get the impression that there is a lot more going on, but I was frustrated at Cat because she should have just been real and told Liam that she wanted more than what she originally suggested. While she enjoyed making love with him and spending time with him, deep down, she felt rejected and unfulfilled because she wasn't getting what she needed emotionally. It was kind of like when you get a Quarter Pounder with Cheese Large Size meal from McDonalds. It might satisfy at the time, but afterwards, the regrets surface. I realize she was afraid, but it was clear she wasn't happy with what she was getting with their 'no-strings' fling.
One thing I liked about this book was how it showed the change for the better in Cat's relationships with both her parents. Those old wounds were being healed in the best way possible. She was seeing her parents' regrets about their broken relationship and their efforts to make amends and to fix that relationship, because they still loved each other. Also they worked on seeding love into their relationship with Cat. I think they could finally see how damaging their antics were to their oldest daughter. The ending was very poignant, and that definitely enhanced my opinion of the book overall. A good way to end things, and felt almost like full circle.
I didn't enjoy this book as much as most of the others I've read by Sara Craven. I know it's a 'me' thing. I am not big on the no strings attached/affair theme, so of course, I'm not going to get as much out of this as someone who is more attracted to this storyline. I did like that Craven delves into the emotional impact of this kind of relationship on a person who is not jaded about relationships and believes in sex without emotional involvement. I don't look at sex that way, so for me, anytime I read books where sex is treated as something that can be indulged in without an emotional impact, I don't feel it's truthful, at least in my perception.
The writing was good, and I felt the emotions and the poignancy of Cat's situation. I didn't see as much romantic payout, which is why I read romance, so that's part of why I couldn't rate this higher.
Ms. Archer has written another lushly sensual historical romance that entertained me, but also made me think. It was more suspense than action-orienteMs. Archer has written another lushly sensual historical romance that entertained me, but also made me think. It was more suspense than action-oriented outside of the romance, but readers who like espionage fiction will probably enjoy that. I liked the depth she gives her characters with quirks like Marco cursing beautifully in Italian and teaching Bronwyn rude Italian hand gestures, as well as Bronwyn's incredible violin-playing skill. It's worth a read.
This book was upbeat and entertaining with snappy dialogue. I thought that Pete and Serena were a good couple. I don't go for the no-strings attachedThis book was upbeat and entertaining with snappy dialogue. I thought that Pete and Serena were a good couple. I don't go for the no-strings attached theme very much, but I liked how it was made very clear as the story progressed that neither party was able to adhere to that qualification. I also liked how the islanders interfered with their plans for hot rendezvous, since Serena is half-Greek, and it's a small Greek island on which her grandparents are very prominent citizenry, and they are old-fashioned about such things. It helped to build up tension, and for Pete and Serena to get to know each other outside of the bedroom.
I loved Pete. He was a charmer, but he had some depths. He was ex-Navy, and was emotionally wounded from his experiences as a Search and Rescue pilot. Serena helped to heal his wounds. He helped Serena to realize that she could fulfill her dreams and find a lasting love. I liked that Pete was the first to say he was in love, but Serena annoyed me with her reaction this marriage proposal. I thought she was crazy. You can always have a career, but you can't always find a true love. As some career women who are still looking! And he was very supportive of her career. I'm glad she came around in the end.
I liked the side story about Serena's cousin Nico and his courtship of Chloe, who was raising her orphaned nephew. Pete was such a sweetie in how he interacted with Sam.
I will definitely read more of Kelly Hunter's books. I hope she writes about Pete's brothers. One of them owns martial arts dojos and the other is a Navy SEAL. Sounds good to me. :)
A pleasant read, but not much conflict other than 'Will they, won't they?" A lighter historical romance with plenty of dialogue and conversations. AboA pleasant read, but not much conflict other than 'Will they, won't they?" A lighter historical romance with plenty of dialogue and conversations. About a couple who knows they aren't right for each other, although they feel so right together. Samuel is a really sweet guy, the kind of hero you can't help but love.
Readers who like their contemporary cowboy romance on the spicier side might enjoy this. For me, the book seemed to have an identity crisis as far asReaders who like their contemporary cowboy romance on the spicier side might enjoy this. For me, the book seemed to have an identity crisis as far as its romance genre status. The characters are emotionally all over the place and that was wearing. Overall, pretty good.
This is not my personal taste as far as romantic suspense (don't like reading about twisted serial killers), so I don't have much of a basis for compaThis is not my personal taste as far as romantic suspense (don't like reading about twisted serial killers), so I don't have much of a basis for comparison. Overall, it was pretty decent, and I did appreciate Charlotte and Daniel Rokov (of Russian heritage) as main characters, and they had good chemistry. The killer was one sick puppy!
Kelly Hunter is two for two now. I tend to avoid the Modern Romances for Harlequin Presents, but now I know I can get a satisfying read when I reach fKelly Hunter is two for two now. I tend to avoid the Modern Romances for Harlequin Presents, but now I know I can get a satisfying read when I reach for her books. She writes chemistry beautifully. The attraction between her characters sizzle, and the dialogue jumps off the page. Her characters are layered, three-dimensional, and have issues, but they work through them and communicate.
I love the Bennett family, just from the two I've read, this and The Maverick's Greek Island Mistress. I am especially fond of Jake, and I am excited to read Red Hot Renegade. She's already set the stage for the reunion between lonely warrior Jake, and delicate but strong Jianne. I wanted to meet the rest of the Bennett clan after the first book, so I worked on acquiring the Bennett books that were published, and I bought this one when I saw it was out, expecting an enjoyable read. However, Madeline and Luke's romance took me by surprise. I was expecting the story to be about a hot affair that slowly becomes love, but there was a depth and an intensity to their emotions from the start. They didn't fall mindlessly into bed right away. They spent some time getting to know each other first. Initially, a compelling attraction drew them together, but they weren't sure they liked each other and what the other person represented in each of their minds. But respect developed very quickly. They just had to come to realize that they could be together, and not compromise who they both felt were integral aspects of their being. I loved the touches about Luke's job. He defuses bomb and explosive devices, and he can be called to work at a mere moment's notice. He's not eager to give that job up, for any woman, so he settles for casual relationships. But he wants more with Madeline, even if he's not sure how to make that happen. Madeline is considered an older man's trophy wife, despite the fact that she brought his corporation back from the brink, and expanded it in the time since his death. I like that she freely admits that she didn't love her husband and married him for security. After her tumultuous youth, she deserved it. I respected her for who she was. Sometimes marriage is about things other than true love. William loved her and gave her security, esteem, and devotion when she'd never had that as an orphan and ward of the state. She showed William respect and devotion in turn, and he had no reason to complain. She didn't deserve being judged by anyone. I'm glad Luke realized that he was wrong to judge her that way.
I loved the Singaporean setting. Something about Asia always calls my name. I could see the appeal that drew Madeline, Luke, and Jake there, despite them being Australian. I loved how Madeline adopted Po, a streetwise, orphaned youth, and provided a safe, stable home for him with Jake, and later Luke and herself. And then there is Madeline's bossy savvy housekeeper who saw Luke clearly despite his tough warrior facade. These elements just reinforced the feeling of family that this book resonated with, in a delightful way.
Kelly Hunter has made it to my autobuy list after this book (although I had previously made a note to read all her Bennett books after The Maverick's Greek Island Mistress), and I am counting the days until Red Hot Renegade is in print. I'd recommend her to fans of short contemporary romance. ...more
This is not one of my favorite Christina Dodd books. It was decent, but I expect more than decent from her. I think it's a timing thing. BeWell......
This is not one of my favorite Christina Dodd books. It was decent, but I expect more than decent from her. I think it's a timing thing. Being an extremely moody reader, it's hard when I read something and it doesn't fit what I am feeling at the time.
The Not-So Good: *I never fell in love with the storyline, to be honest. I didn't like how Roberto and Brandi got together. She picked him up to make herself feel better after her fiance dumped her. Imagine her telling her grandkids that story. I don't like the fling/hook-up/one night stand storyline at all. Furthermore, I just couldn't get behind Roberto as a glitzy, celebrity count who happened to be a jewel thief (and the subsequent reveal on this). I couldn't suspend my disbelief on that one. And the connection between that and the men who were stalking Brandi was highly tenuous. *Love scenes were too short, not satisfying to me. Christina Dodd writes good love scenes, but these didn't set this book on fire for me. *The suspense part didn't work for me. It was a bit too thin and didn't come together well. *Roberto didn't blow me away or hit me hard like many of Christina Dodd's heroes. He wasn't a bad hero. He just didn't do much for me, except for his beautiful gesture at the end, and how he stood up for Brandi with her ex-fiance'. Those were a few sigh-worthy moments on his part. It might be that I am just not into the Italian allure when it comes to guys. They don't do much for me. And I especially don't go for the high profile ladykiller type like he was. *Sometimes I didn't get Brandi. She acted in ways that didn't make sense and didn't seem like something a logical, goal-oriented type person would do. She had some esteem issues from her dad and I could see that in her. On the positive side, I respected her for taking control of her life and helping out her mother when her father failed them.
The Good: *This was a quick, fast-paced, breezy read, which is nice if you want a quick pick-me-up. *The humor was good *Interesting storyline *Smart, independent heroine *I loved Roberto's grandfather. He was adorable! *Despite not liking how Brandi and Roberto met, I did like their chemistry together, although it didn't grow as fully-bloomed as I would hope. This read like an expanded short story instead of the full-fledged novel it was. *I thought Brandi's relationship with her sister and mother added to the book, but her father was a full-on jerk. (view spoiler)[ I'm glad she washed her hands of him. He doesn't deserve to have a relationship with her (hide spoiler)]
Would I Recommend This Book?
Honestly, I would say avoid this one if you haven't read any Christina Dodd. I think she has written better. If your expectations aren't very high, you will probably find it to be a serviceable read, and you might enjoy it. I just expect so much more from her, and maybe I wasn't in the right mood when I read this. It's like ice cream. If the ice cream tastes pretty good even if it's not great, it's still better than no ice cream at all. But you'd rather eat really good ice cream if you're going to splurge on those calories. That's how I would describe this book.
This was a very good book. From the first page, I was sucked in. There was so much emotional intensity and sizzle in every interaction between ColetteThis was a very good book. From the first page, I was sucked in. There was so much emotional intensity and sizzle in every interaction between Colette and Stephen. Tension in all the good ways when it comes to a romance book. I liked how I continued to discover more about Colette and Stephen. I was not able to hold onto judgments about their behaviors or their personalities.
Stephen captivated me. I don't like player heroes, and he challenged my perceptions of him. I admit that I liked him intensely. I could see that he felt so much for Colette, even if he didn't want to, and he didn't understand how. I loved that he never got over her. He pursued her out of love from the beginning, even if he didn't think he was capable of love. I love that he was tough and strong, an alpha hero (and in a vital way that I don't always feel with the Harlequin Presents businessmen heroes). He has that air that draws me to a hero like superglue. I think he's a great dad, and I loved his interactions with Emma. Stephen doesn't think much of himself, but I do, and I can totally see what Colette fell in love with him. He was sexy and utterly appealing in a way that I don't always feel with the average Harlequin Presents hero. He had a 'dangerous to a woman's heart' air that really spoke to me as I read, and I imagine that he would be irresistible to a woman, even a woman so wary of involvement as Colette. Colette was a good person. She had some self-esteem issues that turn out to be perfectly understandable. I felt I couldn't judge her for running away, and I really respected her for apologizing and facing the music for not telling Stephen about their child together. She was a good mix of tough yet vulnerable. She was a realistic woman with a depth that made me feel for her. I think for what she experienced as a child, she should be proud of herself and what she's accomplished in life, building a career for herself and raising a healthy, happy daughter despite events that could have damaged her completely as a person.
With both Colette and Stephen, Natasha Tate did such a great job of crafting their characters. I could see why they had their commitment/fears of love issues because of their childhoods. That kind of emotional trauma can undermine a child's sense of self and their ability to bond and form relationships. I'm not a big fan of the secret baby theme, but this book serves as an example of a theme that you don't like being used to good effect in a skilled author's hands. I believe that the reason why Colette got pregnant with Emma, despite their using contraception, was that they were meant to be together, because they truly were soul-mates with love for each other that was capable of healing them, and together they are stronger. It wasn't an easy journey, but the results were so worthwhile in the end.
Something drew me to reading this book, even with the blurb having aspects that would normally turn me off a book. I have to say that I am impressed with Natasha Tate's writing. She created a compelling, sexy, intense, emotional book that I thoroughly enjoyed. That makes for a 4.5/5.0 star rating, a place on my keeper's shelf, and makes her an author to watch out for. I look forward to reading more of her books.
It doesn't take much for me to enjoy a Susan Napier book. I think she's a fantastic writer. I like the way she creates her characters. Luc and VeronicIt doesn't take much for me to enjoy a Susan Napier book. I think she's a fantastic writer. I like the way she creates her characters. Luc and Veronica were no different. I do want to take exception to the cover, because it doesn't reflect how the characters look. Luc has almost shoulder-length black hair that he keeps in a short ponytail, and Veronica has reddish-brown hair and is very abundantly curved. When I read the book, I ignored the cover, and formed my own image of them.
Luc and Veronica get together on Bastille Day in Paris (a spontaneous decision on normally very cautious Veronica's part), and ended up enjoying a night of steamy passion. Veronica sneaks out of Luc's apartment while he is sleeping, thinking a one-night interlude was all that was in the cards with a sexy Frenchman that she went home with on an uncharacteristic whim. She jumps on her train headed for the South of France, and keeps seeing Luc along the way on her journey. Is he following her? It turns out he thinks she's following him, and she's some sort of paparazzi. He then tells her something extremely rude, which I won't repeat. It floored me a little, since Ms. Napier's heroes are not usually mean like that. A little later on, I found out why he had that reaction, and I forgave him, and so did Veronica. Veronica arrives at her destination, the vacation home of her sister's recently former employers, where she is staying for the remaining time of her holiday. To her surprise, Luc shows up, and it turns out he's the step-son of her sister's employer, Melanie. Veronica's feckless sister decides to ditch her sister (and their planned vacation together) for a chance to do a modeling shoot in the Bahamas, and volunteers Veronica to work for Melanie for her time at their vacation home. Veronica can't really get out of it, since her sister convinced Melanie that she'd be fine with it. So, she's stuck there with her ex-one night stand, who Melanie volunteers to chauffeur her around the area to check out the cuisine on Melanie's behalf (Melanie is a food writer), since she broke her arm and has limited mobility. Veronica is starting a gift-buying business, so that actually works out for her to investigate the local culture and crafts. The only scary part is hanging out with Luc, who she is still very susceptible to. And Luc is more than happy to pick up where they left off. Veronica might have been okay with a one-off one night stand, but she doesn't want to risk her heart on a sex-only affair.
I'll be the first to tell you that I don't particularly care for romances with one night stands or flings. Just not my thing. I don't find it particularly romantic. But, Ms. Napier writes this story so well, I was captivated. The emotions and the connection was there, and you could see that Luc pursuit of Veronica was about more than sex, and Veronica's feelings deeper than just the physical. Ms. Napier's beautifully-descriptive writing took me to the South of France, where the lush heat and surroundings immersed me into the story. I felt the strong attraction between Luc and Veronica, how they might have met casually, but something compelling will keep them together.
I liked that Veronica was a normal kind of woman, like someone you know, with a curvy body that Luc appreciated. And Luc was a sexy nerd who was inventing robots and selling them around the neighborhood as a boy (helping to finance his Oxford education), and is a millionaire in his late twenties, due to his financial savvy. He's very down-to-earth (not to mention sexy) and approachable, which causes him trouble when he gets into a situation with an old flame (who is presently married to a prominent man in the government) that is captured in the tabloids as a very sordid event, which explains his nasty behavior towards Veronica when they first meet again (since he thought she was trying to set him up). Pretty soon, Luc realizes that Veronica is the woman he's been looking for for a long time, and he's going to take measures to make her his.
There were many small, wonderful touches in this book, typical for Susan Napier. I wish she wrote more often, because she writes so well. I'll buy every book she publishes. She didn't let me down with this book. Public Scandal, Private Mistress was a great summer read, very enjoyable and a nice, quick read (a great way to wind down on a very hot Texas summer day)....more
Very enjoyable book with a realistic heroine that I bonded with. Edie is like the girl next door, someone you probably went to college or high schoolVery enjoyable book with a realistic heroine that I bonded with. Edie is like the girl next door, someone you probably went to college or high school with. I liked how she was an intelligent woman who didn't make stupid decisions with her love life because she felt like doing it or out of desperation. I could understand her not wanting to date for a while after her husband died. She wanted to cherish what she had with him, and she gave herself time to mourn him. I loved that her relationship with her deceased husband had been fulfilling and loving. Ben seemed like a really good guy. It was interesting how she took what he'd taught her about love and caring for someone and applied it to her relationship with Nick, in a good way. I believe being loved teaches us how to love others. And I'm not talking about sex--a whole different issue.
Nick had never gotten over his fiancee' dying a few days prior to their wedding. He blamed himself that he put off getting married to build Amy the house of her dreams. Since then, he's sworn off on relationships other than one night stands. Nick is the sort of hero that gets on my nerves. He thinks it's perfectly okay to have sex with a stranger (which is a serious risk), but not to take the chance to have a real relationship. Relationships are not the kiss of death. They can be what you want them to be. Instead of realizing that he couldn't control what happens in life, he became more of a control freak when it came to emotions. His angst didn't really translate to me. More than anything, it felt more like an ostrich hiding its head in the sand. One could surmise that he feared being hurt, but when he met Edie and felt such a strong attraction to her, one that grew into a deep bond that he wanted to deny, he turned into a real chump. It would be fine if he was with a woman who felt the same way, but since he sought out Edie, then he should have realized that he was playing emotional games, which is a huge pet peeve of mine. It doesn't feel good to put one's heart out there and fall on one's face, and that's what he did to Edie, even after he'd had to work so hard to get her to trust him. In his mind, he never promised anything, but his actions showed that he wanted more. He was the King of Mixed Signals.
On the good side, I enjoyed the fact that Nick was a house restorer, as house flipping is a subject I have a keen interest in. I've been doing a lot of DIY Network watching, with its share of hunky contractors and craftsmen, so this story fit in thematically with what's going on in my TV viewing life. I liked that more about Nick than his personality. I felt he needed to do some growing up. I can't help being hard on the guy. He showed me some traits that makes me want to slap him on the head and tell him to "Man Up." He does come around, which is good. I just wish that he had shown a little more maturity earlier on when it counted. I think he did realize what a gem he has in Edie, so that's for the win.
So, I liked this book more for Edie, the handyman/contractor hero motif, and the smooth flow of McAllister's storytelling. Her books go by at a nice pace and make me feel like I'm relaxing on the porch drinking iced tea and enjoying myself. That's a good feeling. It keeps me coming back to her. ...more
Revenge is a dish best served cold, but what's a man to do when he feels irresistible passion for the instrument of his revenge?
Rafe sees Antonia andRevenge is a dish best served cold, but what's a man to do when he feels irresistible passion for the instrument of his revenge?
Rafe sees Antonia and he wants her instantly. He believes that's mainly because his deadbeat dad is sniffing around her, and he wants to take away his lowlife father's would-be sex toy. However, Rafe has some intense feelings for Antonia that complicate things. Is he cold-blooded enough to go through with his plan to make her his mistress for six months and use her to bring down not-so-dear old dad?
Antonia is reeling from her father's death when drop-dead gorgeous Australian Rafe Benton approaches her with a business offer. He will pay off all her debts if she'll be his mistress for six months. Antonia's appalled. She doesn't even know this man, and she'd never sell herself for money. However, money turns up missing from her father's foundation for cancer research in honor of his beloved deceased wife. Fingers will point towards her father. She can't bear the thought of her father's reputation being tarnished. She agrees to Rafe's proposition, asking for an immediate cash bonus, money that she'll put back into the foundation's accounts. Rafe just takes that as a sign that she's just the gold digger he pegged her for. But there's no reason why he can't enjoy their time together. He doesn't realize that she's going to steal his most closely guarded treasure, his heart.
I'm not a big fan of the mistress storyline in general. I admit that the drama-hound in me does like the themes of blackmail sex, revenge and enemies becoming lovers that come with this theme in some books. (I can be honest in my reviews!) And I love Annie West's writing. It was intriguing to see what she could do with it. She does a good job. She gives Rafe some heart and depth that make him more than the sexy bully he appears to be. I can see his vulnerability and understand why vengeance dug its claws deep in him and wouldn't let go. I like that he had to fight to keep Antonia out of his heart from the beginning, and she continually amazed and charmed him with her complexity and generous heart. He saw that she was a good woman, with a lot more integrity that he thought possible when he first saw her. He didn't understand the relationship (or lack thereof) she had with his father, his perceptions flawed as he viewed the situation through the rage at a father who abandoned him and his mother instead of meeting his responsibilities, and the subsequent slow decline in his mother's life until she died prematurely. On top of that were the feelings he had for Antonia, something he'd never experienced in the past with his lovers.
Annie West writes a passionate, involving romance that made for a quick, satisfying read. I liked seeing the evolution of Antonia and Rafe's relationship, and I admired Antonia. She's a principled, strong, loving woman. I had no troubling believing that Rafe would fall hard and fast for her. And I could see why Rafe appealed to Antonia and why she fell in love with him, despite fighting so hard against it, in light of the circumstances of their relationship.
This isn't my favorite book by Annie West, but I really enjoyed it. I'm glad I didn't kick it to the side because of my typical distaste for this theme, because she did it very well. She had all the emotional complexity that takes the typical Harlequin Presents storylines to the next level. I'd recommend it to Harlequin Presents readers. ...more
I really liked the style of this book, with the French cultural aspects. That restaurant that they went to was such a great idea...and a great steamyI really liked the style of this book, with the French cultural aspects. That restaurant that they went to was such a great idea...and a great steamy moment there. It really added to the passionate atmosphere in this book. Speaking of steam, this book has quite a bit of it. Ms. Green's writing showed how powerful the attraction between this couple was, even if it was totally unexpected. Pascal was a very sexy hero. Both Pascal and Alana carried a lot of baggage. Surprisingly, Alana's load is heavier than Pascal's. If you like a commitment shy heroine, look no further. She almost jumped the shark with me, but when Alana 'woman-ed up,' I couldn't stay mad at her. It was very nice how she proposed to Pascal at the end of this book.
It's all a matter of personal tastes, but I just don't tend to go for books where the couple are having a short fling or affair. I liked that Pascal clearly wanted something more from Alana very early into their affair. Alana did have valid reasons for her fear of getting involved, so it made her relateable.
Despite the title, this story is not in the semi-traditional HP mode. Alana isn't really falling into the mistress role, and Pascal is not expecting that of her. I like that some of the dialogue seems to flaunt the conventions of this line of novels. Well done with that, Ms. Green.
Pascal is a standout hero for me. I liked him a lot. Yes, he's a playboy businessman, but he had some depth that appealed to me. I liked how he really wanted to show that Alana meant a lot to him. And that he was there for her when she became aware of her pregnancy. Despite his parental issues, he was committed to being there for his child. And he was very droolworthy! I hope that we see more French heroes, because they really have an appeal, especially in a good writer's hands. There's just something about Frenchmen.
Abby Green is clearly a very talented author. Her books go to a deeper emotional level, and in this book, it's not always comfortable for the reader. I think that was why this wasn't a five star book, because I don't really go for the relationship angst all the time. It felt more like a painful chore to read about that, than enjoyment for pleasure reading, although it was very well-done on the part of the author. Having said that, There is a maturity to the inter-personal relationships that impressed me.
I can't complain about anything in this book. Other than personal reading tastes, this was a very good book. If I was more into the affair, traumatic relationship-angst books, I think this would be a five star read for me. For the atmosphere, sizzling sexual tension and love scenes, and the sexy, French hero, not to mention good quality writing, this is easily a four star book....more
This was a pretty good book. I had some issues with some of the choices for execution that Ms. Shaw made, and I'll discuss those.
Russian Hero: Major pThis was a pretty good book. I had some issues with some of the choices for execution that Ms. Shaw made, and I'll discuss those.
Russian Hero: Major points there. However, I didn't like that his edgy, dangerousness was mainly due to his ruthless manner in which he would go through women. He was a serious womanizer who never got emotional with his bed-partners. His pursuit of Ella was pretty coldblooded, although there was serious sexual tension and attraction between them. I didn't like how he would think of her as nothing but a sex partner, and he said something pretty cruel to her, although it was in the heat of a moment in which he was grieving what he lost in his past. I have to say, I didn't really like him all that much. He was alright, and he came around. But not a favorite hero of mine. That's a shame, since I love my Russian heroes. I liked the depth that Ms. Shaw gave him, showing his point of view, and how he was tortured by the loss that he blamed on his own actions. I think it could have made him more sensitive to the heroine's needs. But, it didn't seem to do that.
Heroine who is unwilling to marry or make a commitment to a man: I liked this aspect, but Ella's actions seem to belie this. She had a father who was really cruel, cheating on her mother (who was physically frail and had a heart problem), and locking Ella up in a room that was known to be haunted. He squandered the family fortunes on gambling, booze, and women. In other words, the worst role model ever, definitely enough to make a girl sour on men. And yet, Ella fell for a man who had some of her father's traits (at least the cruel womanizer ones) really fast. She told herself that she was just going to have a no-strings sexual affair with him, but she showed emotional involvement very fast. Also, for a woman who prized her independence from a man, it didn't quite ring true that she would allow herself to become a man's mistress. She didn't like him using that term, but she allowed him to treat her as his mistress. I think she should have set more boundaries with him. Such as: not sleeping over, not allowing him to buy her clothes, and jewelry, and having more control over the time she spent with him. That would have rang more true with me, given her emotional scars.
So, I was not blown over by this book, although it had some really good steamy romance, emotional intensity, and was fast-moving. I just had trouble with some of the actions that the characters took, and I wasn't too fond of how things unfolded. One thing that frustrates me is when the heroine falls way too easily for the hero. Where's the conflict in that? I want to see the hero have to do some chasing, and dealing with his feelings for a woman he can't get out of his mind. It seemed as though all he had to do was kiss Ella, and she melted. I realize that the strong attraction is important to the storyline, but I'd like to see some backbone as the heroine fights the attraction. After all, we know the hero is fighting his feelings. Why not show the heroine doing more of the same? I would have preferred that Vadim had to spend more time actually wooing Ella, and showing his feelings evolve as he worked hard to get her. She seemed to be a fairly quick conquest. Too quick for me. It was almost as though her hormones got the best of her.
Overall, this was a good read. I'll probably keep it because of the Russian hero.
I truly loved this book. I was worried, because all my friends raved, and I didn’t want to be disappointed. But I can truly see why this is a hit. TheI truly loved this book. I was worried, because all my friends raved, and I didn’t want to be disappointed. But I can truly see why this is a hit. The depth of character, the intensity and emotion, the freshness, and the humor. I loved how this romance unfolded, the manner in which Jolie and Cole come back into each other’s lives as adults and get the chance to make a go of a relationship together. Their relationship wasn’t just about sex. It was about two people who met each other’s emotional needs and wanted to be loved for who they were, not who everyone assumed they were.
I loved that Cole and Jolie were so nuanced. Both of them suffered blows from their parents’ affair, twelve years’ worth. Both cast in the roles of villains because of the fact that they were the children of an adulterous pair. I thought I’d dislike Cole after what he did to Jolie when they were teens. He seemed kind of cold and arrogant at first, but pretty soon, I could see that he had to make a show of being tough to get through years of what his father had visited on his family. I have to say I loved him. I especially loved how he took a stand for Jolie numerous times. He turns out to be her Shining Knight and he slew more than a few dragons for her. And his proposal was gorgeous! As for Jolie, she’s my favorite Harlequin Presents heroine now! A real woman in every way. A woman I admired and cared about. I loved that Jolie set Cole straight and faced him head on. He scared her, but she was brave enough to say what needed saying. I was telling her “Bravo” loud and clear. I knew I adored Jolie at that point. I identified with her shyness, but her ability to do what needed doing. Sometimes you don’t get to choose to hide. You have to stand tall and fight. At the same time, I could understand how things got too much, and she had to run back to her corner. The process of Jolie going through her epiphany about her relationship with Cole was so beautifully written, my heart completely engaged. I think it took a lot of bravery to go to the party with Cole, and to face Hannah and call Christina the way she did.
I think adultery is about one of the worst things a married person can do to a family. I hate it, and I have personal reasons for doing so. I find it very hard to deal with this plot element, and I really hate when adultery is trivialized, brushed off, or rationalized. It’s wrong to me, end of story. I like that Kelly Hunter doesn’t try to justify Rachel or James’ behavior, but neither does she demonize them. Instead they are portrayed are humans with frailties, and hopes and dreams. And Christina Rees, the wife that was cheated on, isn’t just a martyr. She does her share of hurting others as well.
I honestly can’t find a thing wrong with this story. It made for an involving, entertaining, emotional read. I fell in love with Jolie and Cole as individuals and a couple. I felt their pain, and their joy. And that makes for a five star read for me! ...more
Mistress to the Marquis was a very absorbing, beautifully-written read. It honestly deals with a relationship between a titled gentleman and his mistrMistress to the Marquis was a very absorbing, beautifully-written read. It honestly deals with a relationship between a titled gentleman and his mistress, who comes from very humble origins and has a very scandalous past. Initially Razelby embarked on his mistress arrangement with Alice as a sort of 'last hurrah' before he married and had his heir to meet a 30th birthday deadline that is proven to have a very pivotal effect in his psyche. He is slow to admit how deeply he loves Alice, even though on a heart level, he doesn't want to terminate their arrangement. He does so out of duty. It is time to marry. And he will just have to move on and forget her. But that proves difficult, even impossible in the end. On Alice's side, her feelings are not something she has the agency to dwell on. She doesn't have the power to demand anything more from Razelby, so when he ends it, she has to find a way to be happy in the future without him.
There are things I really appreciate about this book. I am not fond of the trivializing of sexual relationships in romance novels (or the media for that matter). I know that in real life that is how many view sex. However, sex is never as 'no strings' or as 'casual' as we try to make it. Both Alice and Razelby find this out the hard way. I liked that a great deal of this book is about the emotional consequences of ending their affair. While mentally, they have both agreed to move on, their hearts have not agreed, and are in fact in rebellion against their minds.
I was happy with the execution in this book. I appreciate that McPhee makes this book about something more than just illicit passion, which is what you might expect with the subject matter. Instead, she uses the page time to show more than just numerous sexual encounters between the couple that was supposed to be broken up. Instead, McPhee shows how their everyday lives have become intertwined and seeing each other is obligatory. I've always wondered how two people in the same circle who were sexually involved and then break up manage to get past that when they see each other every single day and can't rearrange their lives to not be around each other. That is the case with Alice and Razelby. It's difficult to be around each other without the emotions and the memories impressing on their minds. They both come to realize how important they were to each other in many ways. How their time together wasn't just sexual, but also a deep friendship that blossomed into a profound love affair. It's not so easy to erase that experience. They both come to realize that ignoring what the heart wants is not always possible.
I also appreciated how dimensional the characters were. Instead of Razelby coming off as a heartless rake who enjoys his pleasures without considering the consequences, he is actually a man of consideration, a good man. I mean, he didn't have to end his mistress arrangement, but could have gone ahead and got married. Many did that in reality. But something in him knew that wasn't fair to either his future wife or his mistress. Perhaps in the past he wasn't so considerate, but through his relationship with Alice, he really starts to see her not as a commodity, a piece of pretty flesh for his exclusive and convenient use, or someone that he can use and throw away. Razelby is forced to consider the ethics of the titled gentleman's debaucheries. One of his cronies makes a suggestion to visit a bawdy house and he cringes internally at the thought of how Alice was forced to pursue this profession for her survival. I don't think Razelby could ever see houses of prostitution the same way in the future. This reader can't abide prostitution and particularly hates when it's trivialized as a mere harmless thing. This false conception the idea of a man paying a woman (or vice versa) has no inherent ills associated with it. At the same time, Alice is viewed as a whole and lovable person, despite the fact that she has a past as a prostitute. Many women end up in that life, and there is nothing inherently bad or worthless about them just because they had to make that choice. Razelby is well aware of this past and doesn't think any less of her. It's fortunate that Alice was able to move on from her past and hope for a better future, which is not always the case with women who end up in prostitution, either in the past or now.
I also liked how McPhee shows the the daily life of a woman in the demimondaine. It was interesting to see the rules that they live by and how some of them actually travel in the same circles as the ton, even though they aren't accepted in some places.
At first, I didn't like that Razelby didn't consider marriage to her a viable option. But later, it's revealed that his reasons are as much about her well-being, knowing how hypocritical and cruel the ton particularly the women could be towards a woman with her past, even if she is married to a titled gentleman), as his own status in society.
Frankly, I hate the hypocrisy of this system in which men can act like complete dogs and women are held to a different standard. Women are forced into the sex trade and their world and options shrink and doors close to them because of that, but the men who pay for their services are free to do pretty much whatever they want. It was awkward for both Razelby and Alice to encounter acquaintances who knew them as a couple and now consider Alice fair game or not suitable to be acquainted with. In effect, while Razelby has the option to carry on as usual, Alice is put in the situation of dealing with the fallout of their separation and its effects on her own reputation and future prospects.
I have rambled on big time. I guess that's a good thing when a book gets you thinking so much. I found Mistress to a Marquis that kind of read--involving me in the story, enthralling me with a really good love story, and giving me a lot of issues to ponder. While this is not my favorite theme in romance, it was handled very well in this book, and it definitely a higher rating for that.