This was interesting and unputdownable until the end. This is the drama I was looking for in the last books by this author I read and was disappointed...moreThis was interesting and unputdownable until the end. This is the drama I was looking for in the last books by this author I read and was disappointed with. Add a hero who has a vibe that sets you up to dislike him, and mix him with a heroine who is sweet, but sassy enough to hold her own. Put a dash of "Wow! Did they really meet that way?" and some family drama. And lastly, great sexual tension, and you have an arresting read.
Caleb didn't endear himself to me at first. I admit the butt slapping intro was a black mark. It hit my male chauvinism buttons. Plus, he has the macho air of aggression that normally doesn't work for me when it hits me in the face in a book. However, Cat was so good at facing off with Caleb, and she's no one's pushover, so they were perfectly matched. While the age difference is pretty considerable (15 years), it didn't bother as much, because Cat is fairly mature, independent, and Caleb doesn't feel way too old at 39. He reminded me of the Hollywood sex symbols of the early 80s, and since I was a wee girl and I hadn't developed my palate for actors at that tender age (although I wanted to marry Hutch on the eponymous show for some reason), I can't say I was feeling that vibe. Caleb started winning me over gradually. I think it was seeing his vulnerabilities as much as his obvious strengths. And the fact that even though he was supposed to be this confirmed bachelor hardened against woman after a divorce (except as bedmates) and jaded about women, it's clear he's crazy about Cat. There is plenty of sizzle between Caleb and Cat, but Caleb doesn't win Cat over too easy (I hate that). He has to work to earn her. I liked that he was so jealous of her deceased fiance'/childhood sweetheart.
The fact that Caleb's dad is an elusive Hollywood maven still mourning his wife's death for thirty years adds an intriguing facet to this book. I have a bit of a jaundiced love affair for Hollywood, due to the fact that I am a huge movie buff and TV-watcher, so I am always a bit drawn to a bit of Hollywood thrown into my fiction reading. Lucien's POV was sad and gruff and intriguing, and the perfect touch to help Cat get over her angst over her lost love and to gain some insight on her feelings for Caleb. And his son, Luke's bad behavior (Luke's bad behavior is why Cat and Caleb meet under such infamous circumstances), hides a sad soul that Cat connects with on a deep level because she identifies the desperation within.
Every character in this book adds something to the portrait of its main characters, from Lucien (Caleb's father), Luke (his son), Norm (his assistant/Man Friday), and a bit of Mrs. MacDonald (Caleb's housekeeper) and Vicki, Cat's flatmate. They make a short novel feel incredibly textured.
No Longer a Dream is a vintage Harlequin Presents that I think is worth seeking out. There is a lot of emotional complexity in the short length, and a story that builds on the foundation of a good romance in such a way that you feel like you get a bonus level of storytelling. I think books like this make me keep seeing out vintage Harlequin Presents books.
Thought not a five star read, it's more than a four star. Let's say it's 4.25/5.0 stars.(less)
Loving Lord Ash does the estranged married couple theme very well. I had some happy surprises reading this book, including two main characters who I f...moreLoving Lord Ash does the estranged married couple theme very well. I had some happy surprises reading this book, including two main characters who I found thoroughly likable. Lighter historical romance, but the tone and the storyline are very engaging.
This was a very good follow up volume in the Saga series. It reads as though it picks up immediately after the first volume ends, which is great. I en...moreThis was a very good follow up volume in the Saga series. It reads as though it picks up immediately after the first volume ends, which is great. I enjoy this series, but at times, I feel as though the writer/artists are deliberately trying to be shockingly gratuitous with their subject matter. The violence is quite graphic and there are at least two borderline pornographic scenes on top of the sexual content that I feel is acceptable in a mature-themed graphic novel. I didn't even understand the point of showing the porny images, honestly. I took a double take, and I felt like I had to look again to make sure I saw what I thought I was. One was so gross I had to show my aunt. I couldn't even see what the point of that was.
After all my ranting, I guess I have to explain what appeals to me about this graphic novel. What wins me over with this series is the fact that at its heart, this is a story about the purest forms of love. It's a story about a family that is committed to stay together and fight for a life for their young daughter. Even the cold, amoral bounty hunter turns out to have an altruistic side for a child who is in a very bad situation. I am a sappy, diehard romantic, and I can't help but love a story where enemies fall in love and are willing to face any obstacle for their family, where people sacrifice and fight for love. I enjoyed meeting Marko's parents, and I can see why Marko fell so hard for Alana. She reminds me of his mother in the best ways. Similarly, Marko reminds me of his father, the more gentle, but steady as a rock member of the partnership.
As before, I loved the narrative of Hazel, the young daughter of Marko and Alana. I have a feeling she will be the best of both of her parents, and she will be tough as nails for all she has gone through in her short life. The way this story is written, they are in almost constant danger, and you know that it's only going to get worse, considering that they have the rulers of both planets on their tails, and a very determined bounty hunter.
I just plain love the setting and the out there science fiction/adventure tone. If they toned down some of the violence and sexual content, I could see this is a fun series for basic cable. Of course, they could go in the direction of the HBO/Cinemax and Showtime series and keep the over the top stuff as well. I'd probably end up watching it, but I admit I would cringe or cover my eyes on some parts. That's how I roll.
Anyway, despite the porny parts, I really enjoyed this second book. I'm looking forward to the next installment.(less)
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 as...moreReaders 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.
Games for Sophisticates is a good name for this book, because it is about playing love like it's a game. Of course we know someone always gets hurt in...moreGames for Sophisticates is a good name for this book, because it is about playing love like it's a game. Of course we know someone always gets hurt in that particular game. Quilla is put in the difficult situation of being asked by her brother to attract the attention of powerful businessman and ladies man Fraser McGill so that he will end his affair with her brother's wife. Quilla loves her brother and would do just about anything for him, but she knows she's out of her league making a play for Fraser. It turns out Fraser falls for the bait. His eye is on Quilla and he spends the rest of the book pursuing her, in various ways.
Quilla doesn't like Fraser at all. She has contempt for his love 'them and leave them ways' and she has to balance that dislike with the need to keep him on the hook so that her brother can repair his troubled marriage. Yet the more time she spends with Fraser, it grows harder to resist his seductive allure, and her feelings of dislike are conflicted by growing feelings of attraction to him. Occasionally, glimpses of the gentle, good man show through and gain her affection. However, she soon reminds herself that everyone knows (and he says it himself) he's incapable of staying with a woman and loving her. Quilla is a love and marriage (eventually) girl. She has no time or inclinations for an affair, even with a sexy man like Fraser. So, she makes it clear that all she feels for him is contempt as soon as she can. But Fraser is not a man to be played with. He gives her an ultimatum that ups the ante, and she has to show her hand or fold. But no one walks away from Fraser McGill.
This book is quite full of emotional/sexual tension. I liked that about the book. Set in the 80s, you can see the change in social mores and dynamics. While Quilla isn't sexually active, she doesn't come off as anachronistic in her personal morals. Instead, she's shown as a careful, somewhat introverted woman who has been focused on career and family, not playing the dating game. In that sense, it is not unbelievable that she would be susceptible to Fraser. However, she uses strength of will and cruel words to keep herself from becoming sexually involved with Fraser for most of this book. I didn't blame her for not wanting to get her heart broken by him. However, I did feel she was very mean and cruel in a lot of things she said and did to him. Usually, I feel that the hero is the one who is being mean to the heroine. In this case, Quilla takes that role. Fraser actually is quite nice to her. Of course, he's trying to get her to sleep with him, but he's not given the opportunity to truly know Quilla and her value system because she's stringing him along. He thinks she's up for the usual sort of relationship dynamic. When he finds out she won't be easily brought to heel, he resorts to some manipulations that aren't fair play, but considering the way she shuts him down continually, I didn't hold it against him. I felt that compared to how mean Quilla was to him, it was fair play.
I didn't rate this one higher because of the mind games and mean things Quilla said and did to Fraser. I understood why, but I winced at poor Fraser when he gives her something very beautiful and from the heart and she rejects it cruelly. I also didn't like how her brother was using his fairly sheltered sister against a known rake instead of manning up and saving his marriage the right way instead of manipulating his wife and her so-called lover. I felt that part was pretty immature and silly.
Overall, this is a good book. I liked Quilla's friend and business partner Nico. I couldn't quite figure out how he felt towards Quilla and wondered what his intentions were. I'm assuming he was respecting the friend barrier, but he would have taken things further if he had any indication Quilla was willing. That was one part I didn't mind, Fraser's jealousy about Nico, although it was mean on Quilla's part at the same time (she told Fraser a lie about their relationship). As I've said before, I like a jealous hero. I think that despite a lack of an on-the-page consummation, this was sensual and full of sexual tension. The end is very good, and I liked that for once, Quilla had to do the work in their relationship. Poor Fraser deserved as much.
A pretty good HP for readers who like their 80s output.
Riding her horse one day, Laurel Smith meets a man who makes her want to open her closed world after many years living in the gray background....more Synopsis
Riding her horse one day, Laurel Smith meets a man who makes her want to open her closed world after many years living in the gray background. Tredway Lorent is not exactly a seasoned cowboy. Instead, he is a town-bred fellow with an eye for detail and organization, but he's interested in exploring his possible career options, including working on a horse ranch. She brings him back to Wells Double Bar, her brother and sister-in-law's ranch, and convinces her brother to give him a job, because she feels drawn to him and doesn't want him to walk out of her life just like he walked into it.
Tredway brings Laurel out of her shell, encouraging her art, and supporting her efforts to help others. In return, Laurel sparks this too-serious, too-thoughtful young man to enjoy life and accept that everything doesn't have to be so meticulously controlled, as well as going after his dreams. She finds her way into this heart, but fears of past failure still haunt him. Laurel knows that Tredway is the only man in her heart, but will she and her Perfect Tenderfoot ever make the move towards happily ever after as man and wife?
Perfect Tenderfoot is a sweet love story with two leads that are admirable and kind-hearted. Their interactions speak of deep friendship and admiration, with love growing slowly but surely. Beggs evokes images that take the reader back to life in in late 19th Century New Mexico. A strong sense of community is a highlight of this novel, as Laurel and Tredway continually help others in need, and expand their growing circle of friends and acquaintances.
I appreciated their good-heartedness, and their desire to live meaningful lives, as well as Laurel and Tredway's determination to conquer past fears and insecurities. However, the story was slow-moving at times, lacking sufficient romantic tension. While I could see that the love developing between Laurel and Tredway was genuine, I felt like it seemed to take a backseat to their continual efforts to help others and their personal emotional turmoil. Because of that lack of prominent romantic development, I didn't enjoy this novel quite as much as the first two in the series. However, the likable characters, the sense of community and the historical feel still make it more than an average read.
Perfect Tenderfoot is a novel for aficionados of sweet historical westerns who don't mind a lack of strong romantic tension. Laurel and Tredway are distinctive characters rendered with heartfelt sincerity by Beggs. That and the sense of strong community ties and a motivation to help others do make this book a worthwhile read, although not as successful on the romantic front.
I picked this up because it was recommended to readers who enjoyed A Tale Dark & Grimm on Amazon. I loved the humor and the quirky twist on the fa...moreI picked this up because it was recommended to readers who enjoyed A Tale Dark & Grimm on Amazon. I loved the humor and the quirky twist on the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel in A Tale Dark and Grimm, and I just plain love fairy tales, so I am looking for innovative, interesting retellings of these classic stories. I'm glad my library had this on audio. It was a fun and quick read, about 3 hours (It took me longer because I listened in spurts).
Initially, I was very drawn in. The characters of Sol and Connie are captivating, their story was somewhat poignant. I definitely felt for these kids. If you're familiar with Hansel and Gretel, you can get a head start on the storyline, although McGowan throws in some novel touches that were fun. I won't say which, because that's the fun of reading it. Sol is a young genius and inventor who gets a huge blow to his confidence that he has to work through. His mischievous, free-sprited, and intuitive sister Connie carries a burden of guilt related to Sol's greatest failure. This is a pivotal element of this story, and the author does carry it through successfully to the end. The story shows what the child-eating witch is up to in the modern age, and she's definitely streamlined her operation.
The child-eating witch is truly heinous. What makes it even more harrowing is that people actually volunteer their kids to be eaten because of the manifold failings of those kids! Definitely folks who shouldn't have reproduced! It's humorous, but on one level it's really kind of disturbing that parents would set their children up to be eaten by a witch just because they misbehave or fail to live up to certain standards. I think that they are even worse than the witch, honestly.
This is one of those books that won't appeal if you don't like a dark and kind of twisted sense of humor. Let me just say that here and now. But I think readers who like the Hansel and Gretel story won't find anything here that countermands the original story. Instead, this is just a modern update with more humor.
If there was anything I was underwhelmed with, it was the use of the secondary character who happened to be a witch as well, but she's a good witch. I understand why she couldn't help the kids very much, but I still feel she was underutilized in the story. I also wished there was some sort of confrontation between her and the evil witch. Also, I feel the ending was too abrupt. I know this is supposed to be a short book, but I wasn't fully satisfied with the ending. I definitely wanted more story and more closure.
Overall, this was pretty good. It's hard to rate it higher or to perform a very intensive analysis, because it's very short. I am glad this was recommended to me because I liked A Tale Dark and Grimm. However, it doesn't live up to the excellence of that book, and that's one caveat I would give any reader who is investigating humorous, middle grade/juvenile fairy tale retellings.
As far as suitability for young readers, I think it's fine for kids who are 8-12 (or older readers who like J/MG fiction). However, this would be too scary for a younger reader. Not that much is described, but the idea of a witch eating bad kids or even worse, their parents giving them away to the witch, is pretty disturbing, even for a much older reader like myself.
If you are able to get this on audiobook, I recommend it. I liked the narrator.
Tennyson Wells learns the hard way that Jasper Greon is not to be trusted when he abandons her when they run off together to get married. Cale...moreSynopsis
Tennyson Wells learns the hard way that Jasper Greon is not to be trusted when he abandons her when they run off together to get married. Caleb Cameron is there to pick up the pieces, rescuing her and taking her back home. He also encourages her to change her life, to put behind her past thoughtless behavior and to pursue her dream of helping others. He encourages her to mend bridges with her sister Mauranie, and facilitates her mission to help Theron Barnes, who ends up with a crippling injury after he comes to her aid the night Jasper abandons her. Slowly, Tennyson's feelings for Caleb grow into something more than friendship, but will Caleb be patient enough to wait for Tennyson to notice how much he has loved her from afar?
Substitute Lover is the follow up to the previous book in the Place in the Heart series about Tennyson's sister Mauranie, Breaking Point. In this book, the reader is able to see Tennyson's evolution from a self-absorbed, immature person to a woman in charge of her own destiny. Tennyson is very sympathetic, which was not evident in the previous story. I learned more about her, that while her actions seemed frivolous, she was actually a deeper person with more honest motivations than she seemed. Tennyson is a sensitive and caring young woman who feels compelled to help others, which gets her into trouble at times because she can also be gullible. I came to like her very much. I could see why Caleb fell in love with her, despite the fact that he almost makes a career out of keeping her out of trouble, due to her association with no-good Jasper Greon.
I enjoyed this story for its heartfelt exploration of relationships and realistic people with troubles they are working through. As a shortcoming, the relationship between Caleb and Tennyson could have used more romantic tension, but I did enjoy their friendship and how they genuinely seemed to like each other. Caleb is a real sweetheart, very chivalrous and caring towards Tennyson, even when he doesn't always support or understand her actions.
I feel that this story could have benefited from being longer, giving more room to develop the romance and also the suspense storyline. Additionally, I would have liked to see more interaction between Tennyson and her sister, considering how acrimonious their relationship was in Breaking Point. Despite its shortcomings, Substitute Lover was a very readable and involving book. It touched my heart and made me happy to see Tennyson come into herself and for her to find a good man to call her own in Caleb.
Crystal Gardens is for readers who enjoy their historical romance with strong paranormal elements. In this case, a huge part of the story is the conce...moreCrystal Gardens is for readers who enjoy their historical romance with strong paranormal elements. In this case, a huge part of the story is the concept of 'psychical energies.' Both Evangeline and Lucas have paranormal abilities, and they are drawn to Crystal Gardens, Lucas' deceased uncle's estate by no accident. In the case of Lucas, he comes to investigate his uncle's murder. Evangeline comes to soak up the atmosphere and work on her series of serial novels, and also to investigate the place that her father (a man who studied psychical energies and invented machines that ran on these energies) was obsessed with. Evangeline is also fleeing a murderer and ends up running right into Lucas' arms, which is a very good thing! Lucas is just the knight in tarnished armor to keep her safe.
I enjoyed listening to this book on audio but it did fall short overall. The narrator has a very dramatic way of reading it. Sometimes, her voice sounded a little odd (especially when she narrated the male characters), but I loved her British accent, and that each character sounded distinctive. I think that Quick's books lend themselves very well to audiobooks. Her style is very focused on the mystery components, and the romance seems to take a bit of a back seat at times. This would probably bother me more if I was reading than when I listen to books. That is not to say that the romance wasn't good. It was. I just could have used more than I got. I do feel that she emphasized the paranormal elements too much. She used the term 'psychical' excessively. I think that the reader gets the point about the paranormal energies and she could have spent time on building up the story in other ways. I do think Quick excelled in her descriptions of the Gardens and its otherworldly atmosphere. I felt like I was there in the Gardens, which might be a very strange experience indeed.
Unfortunately, the characters didn't feel as well-developed as I would have liked. I found Evangeline and Lucas likable and intriguing, but I don't feel that I knew them as well as I wanted. I feel that Quick did more telling about them than showing. Maybe she could have caused their characterization come to light more organically if she had spent more time on revealing who they were than explaining about the paranormal elements of the Crystal Gardens. At the end of the story, I could feel their attraction and feelings for each other, but I didn't get to explore this powerful love that supposedly had developed between them. Since this is a romance, that is crucial. I found the love scenes well written and passionate, and I really liked this about the book. I did feel the attraction between Evangeline and Lucas, although Quick sort of stole its impact by implying it was related to the psychical energies. Lucas is the kind of hero I love, strong, intelligent, compelling, and dangerous in an appealing way, but something was missing from his portrayal. Evangeline was a good person, a sweet woman who is independent and intelligent, and I wanted things to work out for her, but she wasn't distinctive as a character. The secondary character were barely fleshed out. I did like Evangeline's friends Clarissa and Beatrice, as well as Lucas' siblings, Beth and Tony. I also like Molly, Evangeline's maid, and Stone, Lucas' manservant, but they weren't as vivid as I would have liked. Judith, Lucas' stepmother seemed more lively in her characterization, especially with her feelings of antipathy towards Lucas and the reasons for them. The way Lucas treated Judith endeared me to him. He was respectful and he took his responsibilities for her very seriously even though she had never treated him well. The villain was quite cardboard, and his motivations were shallow. He shows up just in time for a thrilling climax, but he spends very little time in this book overall.
I guess it's clear I wanted to like this book more than I did. I liked it, but I think that this author is capable of writing a better book than this. I say that with all respect for her. I hope that the next books in the Ladies of Mystery have the spark that this book was lacking, because I think this series really has potential. And I am a sucker for the Victorian Gothic romance! (less)
I gobbled this book down. Seriously! I was so drawn into this story. The heroine's personality and the psychology of her character was tremendously fa...moreI gobbled this book down. Seriously! I was so drawn into this story. The heroine's personality and the psychology of her character was tremendously fascinating. I think Milburne nailed Natalie. Natalie was a ball of rage, and with good reason. She is a realistic product of toxic parents who have forced an innocent child to shoulder blame for something that never should have been her responsibility. And as the author showed, this damage doesn't just disappear overnight. Instead, a hurt child like Natalie takes that into her adulthood and every relationship she has as a grown woman. I literally hurt for Natalie.
Some readers would be turned off by her comments to Angelo, which were often abusive. But to me, I could see them for what they were, a cry for help. Natalie felt trapped by her family obligations and how they had damaged and poisoned her life and her very self-esteem. She wanted to break free, but that wasn't as easy as it seemed. Honestly, I think she probably needs therapy, and I personally feel that an encounter with Jesus Christ would do a lot of good for her. He would take away those burdens and the anger and pain she carries. It hurt to see her truly hating life and having trouble even enjoying one day in her life. I was just glad she hadn't taken the suicidal route. I think she felt obligated to live because of what had happened to her when she was young. So in real life, I would have expected something more interventionist for Natalie than just a love connection with the hero. Most of the time, that isn't going to fix what is broken, although being loved unconditionally is an important ingredient. But in the context of this story, I liked how the author dealt with her issues. Angelo has truly impressed me. He make a few miss-steps along the way, but overall he showed tremendous patience, even though Natalie did things that were hurtful to him. I liked how he didn't give up on her, but kept showing her that she mattered to him and he wanted a life with her. Considering how hurt Natalie was and how damaged her family was, and his ignorance of that, I think Angelo did a great job of connecting to her. Other than one thing he does shortly after they get married, I found him to be a real hero. Just the man for this very wounded woman. Maybe not truly realistic, but still I felt the power of their connection and how it put Natalie on the track to healing.
Man, this book blew me away. I found it very enthralling and emotionally involvinhg. It also involved me intellectually as I assembled the puzzles of Natalie's tormented psyche and came up with a picture of a woman who had been wronged so utterly by her parents. They had failed her in huge ways, and that kind of damage just sets an adult up for a lot of dysfunctional relationships as they get older.
I don't normally read Harlequin Presents for a look at 'real life.' I'll be honest. But I love angst and passion and I love seeing hurting people find happiness, healing and love. And Ms. Milburne definitely delivers.
This book won't be for everyone. But I was very impressed. I just pimped it to my sister, who doesn't read a lot of Harlequin Presents. I can't wait to see what she thinks of it.
I loved the brotherhood bond between Cal, Gage and Fox. They had been friends for a very long time, and you c...moreYay! I finished it!
Thoughts on the Story:
I loved the brotherhood bond between Cal, Gage and Fox. They had been friends for a very long time, and you could see that that bond was titanium and strengthened by their horrific mutual experience and legacy. I liked how they were three very different men, and I could see a distinction in their personalities throughout this book. I loved how the book started in the past, where we see how horrors begin in Hawkins Hollow, but also the three main characters as kids. It made me think of Stephen King's "It", "The Body", and also "Needful Things" and "'Salem's Lot". While I saw sort of an homage to King, I think Nora Roberts distinguished herself very well and gave this story her own stamp.
Additionally, I liked Quinn, Layla (writing this makes me laugh because I always thought of the Black Dagger Brotherhood when I heard their names in the same sentence, which also has a Quinn and Layla, although Quinn is spelled differently), and Cybil. I liked how their characters complemented Cal, Fox, and Gage's characters. While the other characters don't get as much page time, I got a sense for the local color and the world in which the main characters lived, how they related to their friends and family. I am a huge fan of small town fiction, and I think Roberts did a great job with creating this small town which seethes with dark secrets, anguish, but also loving families and friends, who are suffering with a difficult legacy and curse.
One of the best things about this book was the horror element. Roberts spectacularly imbues this book with a dark, horrifying atmosphere. I suppose this is a romance more than anything, but it really stands on its feet as a horror novel. The scary scenes were vivid and quite effective. I won't go into detail because I don't want to spoil anyone, but wow! Stephen King would probably give Roberts a pat on the back.
I have to say that the horror aspect engaged me more than the romance. I liked the romance, but I didn't feel any strong bond or connection to Cal and Quinn as a romantic couple. It could be that I like my romance intense and this wasn't that intense. It was more everyday to me, like when you see your friends meet and get together, and eventually get married. Nothing wrong with that. Just not as enthralling as the horror aspect of this book.
I had mixed feelings about the narrator. He made some of the characters sound kind of goofy, but I liked how he made Gage's voice really deep, and how he did Giles' Scottish accent. I didn't like the way he did the female character's voices. They sort of sounded like men in drag. I think I might have connected more with the females if they sounded more authentically female. I think he did a good job of making each character have a different voice, so points there. On the good side, I loved the sound effects and music. It added to the eerie feel of this story. I listened to this at bedtime, late at night, and I had a couple moments where I questioned the rationality of that. Since audio is a good way to get a book read and still stay on my reading schedule, I'll probably get the other two on audio as well.
Overall Thoughts: I liked this book, but I didn't love it. I think the horror part makes this a higher rated book for me. As I said above, the romance was sort of average to me. Not a big draw in this book. I did love the bonds between the characters and the small town feel, so that's another plus. I want to see how this series concludes, so I'll keep reading. It was a pretty good way to spend some hours listening.
Leopard's Prey is Remy Boudreaux's story and he lives up to the anticipation he built when he entered the scene the first time in Savage Nature. It's...moreLeopard's Prey is Remy Boudreaux's story and he lives up to the anticipation he built when he entered the scene the first time in Savage Nature. It's been a year since I read a Feehan book, so Remy's book is a great way to break my fast. I knew Remy would be 'something else,' the kind of hero only Feehan can write. With Bijou, he gets the story and the heroine that I wished for.
I will freely admit that the GhostWalkers is my favorite series by Feehan, and the others pale in comparison, so I make sure my expectations reflect the fact that all the redoubtable Ms. Feehan's writing gets measured against this series, because of my inestimable love for it. However, I am always very happy to get my hands on another book by her, since I just plain enjoy her writing. She has some interesting stories with characters I fall for and burning hot and emotional love stories. That's what this romance fan loves.
Anyway, Leopard's Prey is steeped in Louisiana bayou atmosphere. The characters are almost all natives of this region, and based on my short visits to this part of the United States, I felt like I was taking another trip down there and enjoying it, taking in the sights and sounds. Additionally, the feel of family is strong in this novel. The Boudreaux clan of brothers and sister, along with the larger Leopard Clan, are tightly bonded to each other, loving and teasing each other, sometimes in mean ways (but it's all in fun). Bijou, who had just about the most dysfunctional childhood ever, needs a family like this, full of people who watch out for each other, even as they give each other a hard time.
Bijou is the daughter of a notorious, yet beloved rock star. This is very important to the story because it affects everything in Bijou's adult life and all her relationships. He failed her beyond measure as a parent, scarring her self-esteem and sense of confidence, despite her incredibly beautiful looks and formidable musical talent of her own. I really liked her character. Despite her awful start in life, she's grown into a wonderful woman with a generous heart and a strong core, despite her insecurities. Remy and Bijou have a long-standing and deep bond from an event a long time ago, when he saves her life as an eight-year-old, but their lives go in different directions. Remy is quite older than Bijou, but in some ways, she has as much to teach him and he does her. Remy needs to learn the language of love that Bijou speaks. He takes it for granted that she night not understand how special she is, when she doesn't have that frame of reference at all. Growing up the way she did, how could she? Remy knows intellectually that Bijou is clueless on their shared leopard heritage. However, he doesn't get that she might interpret the strong sexual attraction they share as merely a function of the Leopards' sexual needs and not any higher bond between them, or that she is special to Remy. So a good chunk of the book is about them exploring their relationship and coming to understand just what it means on both sides to be together (paired to the murder mystery).
Bijou and Remy had great chemistry. The love scenes are quite scorching. Feehan makes a big deal about the leopard's need for rough sex, and it does veer in that direction, but nothing too out there or tasteless, in my mind. I do roll my eyes a bit at the whole 'dominating' aspect of the love scenes, 'cause that's not my thing at all. There is no question that Remy is a sexy beast though! I like how Feehan uses the love scenes to show the different aspects of their relationship: primal, affectionate, deeply emotional and fiercely intimate, and even playful. I also appreciated how Feehan presents the leopard nature. She gets the aspect of this big cat right, and it fits in with this story of human leopard shapeshifters. In some ways, this story reminded me of the film Cat People, but with a much happier ending that I always wished for.
I can only give this in the four stars region because I feel like this story could have been longer. I felt like I missed something when it ended. Maybe I am just very rapacious when it comes to books by this author. She gets me hooked and I hate when the ride is over too soon. The story moves along at an expansive pace, and before I knew it, things were wrapping up. For those who are following the Leopard storyline, this doesn't add a whole lot to the overall Leopard shapeshifter species arc from the beginning. It focuses on the Boudreaux family and the specific group in the Louisiana bayou. Some of the original guys show up in cameos, which was cool. As far as the storyline, it was more of a murder mystery/romantic suspense with paranormal romance, and lacks as much action as some of Feehan's books. I did think the mystery was quite suspenseful and the aspects of the murder was kind of gruesome and disturbing. The killer was not the person I expected at all (Well, I got this sick suspicion later on in the story and was hoping I was wrong). The reasons were very chilling for that person's actions, although there could be no palatable reason for what the murderer was doing.
Although not a five star book, it was higher in the four star range, because I enjoyed reading it immensely, and I tried to savor reading it. I could have done with more book, as I said earlier, so that takes off from my rating. I couldn't subtract too much because of the high enjoyment factor. I have so much fun visiting with Feehan's characters in the various series, and I admit the Leopard series did sneak up on me. I loved Bijou as much if not more than Remy, which is saying something. She's a sweet woman, and you just want her to have her happy ever after. I'm glad that her prince is Remy and she's going to be a part of the Boudreaux clan and will get the family she missed out on. I'm curious to see what Feehan comes up with next in this series.
I have this feeling that Jennie Lucas always has fun writing her books. They are so dramatic! She doesn't seem fearful about going for it with story i...moreI have this feeling that Jennie Lucas always has fun writing her books. They are so dramatic! She doesn't seem fearful about going for it with story ideas. This book has some very iconic imagery, such as Callie sitting on the steps of her old apartment, in a too-big wedding dress hiding her pregnant belly. Her hand full of wilting flowers for her bridal bouquet. And Eduardo shows up and demands the truth about her pregnancy. Drags her off to his car and away from her best friend, who is about to marry Callie. That was powerful. Other moments, like Callie going into labor and the Judge hurriedly marrying them. The characters are very intense, particularly Eduardo. He has such a little boy lost feel to him. Confused by his powerful feelings for Callie. His fear of losing her, but holding back because he thinks that love will make that loss even more inevitable. What he does, in desperation to keep her to himself, in their nuclear family with their baby, is pretty ruthless. I didn't know how I felt about that. I mean, it was very wrong, but I felt bad for this guy that he was so desperate to go to those extremes. I wasn't exactly sure about Brandon. Was he a little bit calculated when it came to Callie? Maybe obsessive? I wish this part had been more clear. As it was, it felt like a mix of Eduardo's paranoia and some intentional behavior on Brandon's part.
I sort of didn't like the way things went towards the end. I felt that both of them weren't truly fighting for what they wanted. Yeah, it was angsty, but a romance buzz-kill. One part gave me an icky feeling. Kind of hard to describe. I didn't find it that romantic, is the best way to put it.
To Love, Honor and Betray overall, was an enjoyable read. Definitely a bit over the top in some ways. The love scenes were very sensual and kinda spicy. If you like your Harlequin Presents with lotsa drama, this one will work for you. If you don't like that 'out there' kind of HP drama, pass this one by. I admit that the soapy drama-loving gal inside of me definitely does. (less)
Mauranie Wells is breaking her back working to keep her family ranch in New Mexico, and living day to day in the shadow of her younger, more b...moreSynopsis
Mauranie Wells is breaking her back working to keep her family ranch in New Mexico, and living day to day in the shadow of her younger, more beautiful sister, Tennyson. Tennyson is constantly angry and demanding more money, when there is little money available. Especially when Mauranie finds out from the bank manager that her father's investments failed since his death and their inheritance is gone. Next she finds out that the mortgage is about to go into default for non-payment.
Mauranie is working to breed and train horses to turn her family ranch into a productive enterprise, but that takes time she doesn't have to meet their overdue mortgage payment. She doesn't have much hope to get through the day until handsome, well-dressed cowboy Stemson Arroyo Smith comes to their ranch. Instant chemistry ignites between her and Stemson, and Mauranie is shocked that he overlooks her more feminine, well-dressed sister to give her the time of day. Mauranie is self-conscious about her hearing disability, which she compensates for, although it makes it difficult to be around other people. Stemson is the new banker in the nearby town of Aqua Gulch. He came to look at her property in order to find a place to stable his horses and genuinely seems to like Mauranie, but Tennyson plants seeds of doubt in Mauranie's mind that he could truly care about her; that he's out to steal their ranch instead.
Mauranie is troubled by the tensions of trying to keep her sister satisfied, and heartsick at the growing distance between the sisters. Can she remain true to her vision for the family ranch, and keep her sister happy? Is a future possible with Stemson, or is that just a distant dream, far removed from the ugly reality of trying to keep their ranch afloat with little help from her sister?
Breaking Point is as much about family as it is a romance. Mauranie has made incredible sacrifices for her sister since her parents died. And her sister seems increasingly ungrateful. Love has made her bend over backwards for her sister. She hates that her sister is always angry and unhappy with her. I felt Mauranie's anguish at the growing gap between the sisters, her desire to succeed at turning their ranch around, and her hope that she could find a man of her own and a family.
I very much appreciated the manner in which Ms. Beggs incorporates Mauranie's hearing issues into the story. Mauranie works hard to live as normal a life as possible, and doesn't allow those hearing issues to get in the way of living a productive life. Mauranie is a great heroine. She is strong, but also loving. Her heart is very good, and she truly cares about others. I hated the way Tennyson treated Mauranie, always demanding and never thanking her for all the sacrifices she made. I was glad that Mauranie did stay true and consistent in her love for her sister; although I wish that she didn't let the younger woman walk all over her the way she did, and would force her to share more of the burdens of running the ranch.
Stemson is an intriguing character. He's a dapper cowboy businessman with a caring, down to earth heart. It spoke highly to me that he could appreciate Mauranie for her unspoiled, unpolished goodness and inner and outer beauty. He also struggles with demons from his family life, although the author focuses less on these overall. The tension between them resides in the trust and self-esteem issues they both have, and in the process of learning to open up to each other. Their loving bond and romantic chemistry kept me reading. I wanted things to work out for Mauranie and Stemson to be together, and I appreciated how the story unfolds on this front as well as with Mauranie's problems with her sister.
Ms. Beggs packs a lot of emotional impact into this short novel. She has a descriptive and emotional writing style that drew me into the story. Her imagery of historical ranch life spoke to the western lover in me. I felt for the characters and rooted for a positive resolution for them all. This was a well-written, enjoyable novella, although I wish it had been full-length; I feel that Ms. Beggs could have explored the issues presented more deeply. I would love to continue reading this series to revisit the characters and see what happens in the future with them.
This was a pleasant historical romance novel. I didn't have that spark of an unputdownable book, but certainly it was a nice way to spend a few hours....moreThis was a pleasant historical romance novel. I didn't have that spark of an unputdownable book, but certainly it was a nice way to spend a few hours.