It's so good to be back in the world of the Company of Rogues. I loved catching up with some of my favorite characters, and getting introduced to Davi...moreIt's so good to be back in the world of the Company of Rogues. I loved catching up with some of my favorite characters, and getting introduced to David and Lucy. Jo Beverley has such a distinctive voice. I appreciate that about her writing.
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)
As always, I enjoyed this book by Ms. Thomas. Her writing is warm and sweet and beguiling. Her characters are distinct with interesting layers. I feel...moreAs always, I enjoyed this book by Ms. Thomas. Her writing is warm and sweet and beguiling. Her characters are distinct with interesting layers. I feel like I am an honorary member of Harmony, Texas. I am always happy to go back there for a visit.
I'd better finally write my review for this before it disappears into my mind forever.
This was a surprise find on my library's trade shelves, and I gr...moreI'd better finally write my review for this before it disappears into my mind forever.
This was a surprise find on my library's trade shelves, and I grabbed it because it had stories by Lynne Graham and Carole Mortimer. To my surprise, my favorite story was by Marion Lennox, who I had not read before.
The Lynne Graham story is very much in the vein of her full-length romances. The heroine who is young and bubbly, and becomes an unwitting sex toy for the hero (granted he fell in love with her, but he treated her like a sex object). He dumps her because he thinks she spills the goods on his sex life to a tabloid, and it turns out she got pregnant. Now she's working as a landscaper on the estate of a business associate and Rocco sees her and is reminded that he's not over her, despite his contempt. This story rubbed me the wrong way. I felt the heroine allowed the hero to treat her with minimal respect. She didn't stand up for herself enough and was willing to go back to him because she loved him and because he was her baby's father. I think he owed her a lot more than she was willing to accept from him. I don't like that in a relationship when the hero doesn't respect the heroine as his equal. In my mind, I don't see Rocco treating Amber as an equal. Graham is a good writer even when she's not at her best. But this one just offended my sensibilities too much. I couldn't give it more than three stars.
Carole Mortimer's story is a bit ho-hum in the sense that it's almost drama free (I admit that I am a drama hound, so I missed it). It's a decent Christmas romance, and the hero was a nice guy. He palliated my senses after the first arrogant, and in my mind, sexist hero. He was more of an everyday kind of guy (although wealthy). Cally has the wrong idea about Noel, and she comes to realize that he's actually a good guy. Cally has some issues in her past that made her reluctant to trust, but I liked how Noel earns her trust by being a straightforward decent guy and showing his love for her and her daughter. The family interactions (since Noel's family descends on them en masse) were good and what you'd want in a Christmas story. This was more of a 3.5 star read.
Lastly, Marion Lennox was a pleasant surprise. There is something very fresh about this story. I admit I was really impressed with the fact that the hero is a wedding planner. And no, he's not gay. Yay to bursting stereotypes. Guy's cold and precise and a bit snooty, but it's clear that he has a heart underneath that he buried due to tragedy in his past. The heroine was also refreshing in that she was a very down to earth girl who likes her quiet, small town life and embraces family obligations. She's a widow who has dedicated her life to taking care of her son who was burned badly in the accident that killed her hubsand and is recovering slowly from that debilitating accident. I loved her bond with her family-in-law and that she happily embraces their eccentricities. Her son made me cry, I mean big time. I can't believe how mean people are to people with disabilities and physical differences, but I could see what a good man (and a potential family man in the making) Guy was in how he interacted with Henry. I just plain liked this story, maybe because it taps into my fascination with wedding planning and my love for kooky people who don't read the book as far as being trendy and fitting in. Lennox also touches on the phenomenon of celebrity, since Guy is a celebrity wedding planner. Although this couple falls in love over a short time period, I believe in their happy ending. I have to give this four stars.
Because the first two stories weren't as satisfying, I'd have to give this one 3.5 stars. (less)
This was such an exciting free book deal on Amazon Kindle. I am an admitted huge fan of Anna Campbell, so I ran to get it when she said it was free in...moreThis was such an exciting free book deal on Amazon Kindle. I am an admitted huge fan of Anna Campbell, so I ran to get it when she said it was free in her newsletter. What a pleasant surprise that I enjoyed all the stories more or less equally. One caveat, if you don't care for very short romance stories at all, give this one a miss.
The premise was quite pleasing. This collection of stories revolve around the concept of a ball held by a particular doyenne of the ton known for throwing a Christmas ball where a particular couple finds their true love match. You would think the stories would be samey with this idea. In fact, quite the contrary. Each story had a different feel. In fact, you could go down the list and suggest themes for historical romance and this short collection more or less covers the gamut.
I liked the fact that an older heroine finds a second chance at love in Shana Galen's story. The inclusion of a Scarlet Pimpernel-type hero who rescued her and her son from the bloodthirsty French revolution and the fact that that same man has been in love with her for many years made this a delightfully romantic story. I didn't think I would enjoy having a heroine with grown sons as the main character, but it didn't bother me at all. I liked it, in fact.
Anna Campbell's story was the most passionate. I am not much of a fan of forbidden lovers, but she makes the desperate, illicit passion work in this story. Plus the hero is delightfully Scottish. The heroine is of the Cinderella variety, so you have to be in the mood for a downtrodden heroine. However, the romantic in me loves how the hero makes her long-cherished wish come true at the end.
Vanessa Kelly has a nice guy hero who is sorely lacking in historical romance. Thanks to her for that. While I love bad boy, dangerous heroes, I also love sweet, kind heroes and I like the idea that the hero can be that really adorable guy that always has a kind word for a wallflower and is a really good friend. This story hit my 'aww' button.
Readers who like friends to lovers stories will enjoy Kate Noble's offering. Our hero realizes that he took his next door neighbor and boon companion for granted when he returns to find her a diamond of the first water who has no time for him, despite her tomboy past. I liked the turnabout is fair play aspect of this story. It also reminded me of movies like Sabrina, where the hero realizes that his heroine has been there waiting for him all the time when he is about to lose her.
All in all, a very enjoyable, and quick read that this reader enjoyed when she collapsed exhausted on her bed on Christmas evening. I am so grateful that this was a free Christmas present on Amazon. Thumbs up!(less)
The Ocean at the End of the Land straddles the line of magical realism and fantasy, in my opinion. There is a good dose of reality, and did that reall...moreThe Ocean at the End of the Land straddles the line of magical realism and fantasy, in my opinion. There is a good dose of reality, and did that really happen mixed in with some very visually stunning imagery. It's also quite sober and heartbreaking in a subtle, literary fashion.
I think there is a reason that adults continue to read stories with children as the main characters. We never truly detach or divorce ourselves from our child selves. It's therapeutic to look back at that time through the viewpoint of a child character in books and to work through the issues from our own childhood.
That is why I did connect very well with the narrator of this book. I remember vivid the powerful mix of fear, curiosity, joy and the intensely visceral assimilation of all sensations from my childhood. Also in some of the bittersweet experiences that the narrator has. Not in a small way, our parents are godlike figures to us. They live on pedestals and glimmer like gold, until they don't. Until something reveals their feet of clay. However, even as children, we want to keep believing in the purity of their perfection, because we can't not believe. That dose of reality finally takes effect as we near adulthood, if we're fortunate enough to hold on to that innocent view of our parents until then..
I felt the pain of this young boy as his family is nearly torn to shreds by the arrival of a very old, very cruel force. I felt his uncomfortable situation of being the only one in his family who sees through her seemingly benign facade. At the same time, I felt great comfort in knowing that Hattie and her family are there to protect and even coddle him, when his own family fails. I loved the way they take him in and feed him delicious, satisfying food that made my mouth water as I read this book.
I like that we don't quite get all the answers for who Hattie and her family are. We just know that they are old, very old, and they have enormous power. However, they are not invulnerable.
Gaiman succeeds as he typically does in tempering the truly sinister with the sweet comfort of the familiar and childlike. He knows how to use just the right phrasing to convey this duality in his storytelling. Even though this is an adult book, I feel that it speaks to the young girl in me.
I can't say much more about this book because my mind is not very clear right now, and I read this last week (and there have been some busy days for me), but I can say that this was an enjoyable reading experience. It accomplishes much in the short span of pages, and leaves this reader with even more to ponder and to ruminate on.
This is the first book by Gaiman I've read in print. I've been getting his narrated audiobooks from the library (and enjoying them tremendously). His writing stands up to both media formats, but I have a feeling that I will probably get this to listen to as well, because I love his soothing voice and the manner in which he uses that voice to better illustrate his words on the page for an auditory experience.
I was having a discussion with a church friend about whether it was valuable to enjoy Christmas on a spiritual level with all the commercialism and pa...moreI was having a discussion with a church friend about whether it was valuable to enjoy Christmas on a spiritual level with all the commercialism and pagan connections of the holiday. I love Christmas, and I have since I was a child. It isn't even about getting gifts for me. It's about the wonder of the season. As a believer of Jesus, I think there is pressure going both ways for you as far as Christmas. One one hand, you are encouraged to like the holiday season but give no relevance to Christmas or its origins. On the other hand, some Christians reject Christmas as a pagan holiday with no significance to the actual celebration of the coming of the Messiah as a human baby. It makes you feel kind of squeezed from both sides at times. Honestly, though, I will continue to be a Christmas freak until I leave this earth. So I appreciated when my friend loaned me this book to read about one of my favorite Christmas songs, "The Twelve Days of Christmas."
It's a short, easy read, since it's actually a children's book. Short but very meaningful for those who profess faith in Jesus, and even to those who wonder what Christians believe. The song dates back to a time in England where there was much religious persecution and people weren't allowed to express beliefs that didn't go along with the official state church. People used songs to teach about their faith in code (coincidentally, this was also done with Negro Spiritual sang in the field during the American slavery period to communicate about the Underground Railroad to escape to freedom). This code is spelled out in the song. I won't go into that because it would spoil the joy of reading the book, since each day is explained as far as its spiritual relevance. However, I will say that this song will now mean so much more to me now when I sing it.
Christmas is a joyful time, and it's also a tough time because of the stress associated with it. The rat race and the focus on buying presents and keeping up with the commercial cast of the holiday can steal some of that joy. However, I believe that there is simple pleasure in celebrating the holiday with songs such as this and in allowing the power of knowing that light broke into the world in the form of God as a baby who would grow up to suffer and die for the sins of everyone who ever lived, and many Christmas songs convey exactly that. It is wonderful to know that "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is also one of those songs.(less)
With this being such a short story, it's not necessary to write an expansive review. Instead, I will just give a few quick thoughts.
I am glad I read S...moreWith this being such a short story, it's not necessary to write an expansive review. Instead, I will just give a few quick thoughts.
I am glad I read Striking Distance first because this novella feels more like a backstory that I was happy to get after the fact. If you read this first, you'll still be okay. You'll just want to dive right into the full-length follow up on Javier and Laura.
I will be honest and I say I not a big erotica fan at all (I can only count maybe two authors I read in that genre, Shannon McKenna and Lisa Marie Rice), but despite that fact, I enjoyed this book. I feel that Pamela Clare is very good at writing fulfilling romantic stories with sex that adds to the story and doesn't detract. This novella doesn't really have more sex in proportion to her books, but it just feels that way because it's short and the focus is on the sexual interactions between two strangers who decide to share a no-strings attached weekend. I don't find hook up stories that appealing (I'm a HEA, love and commitment girl), so it was great to realize that I could enjoy the interactions between these two people because I cared about them. Clare does a good job of facilitating the reader's involvement in their story.
Readers who love hot and steamy sex will definitely enjoy this novella. You could see that there was a meeting of two equals who knew what they wanted sexually and weren't afraid to go for that, despite the risks of getting caught. Along the way, they might have just discovered they wanted more. For readers who aren't into the kinky stuff, you'll be fine. I'm definitely not into non-vanilla sex in my romances, and this was well within my comfort zone. It's a bit more descriptive than Clare usually gets, but only a bit.
I'd give this 4.5 stars. I'll pretty much read anything by Pamela Clare, because she does write such enjoyable stories and manages to make a 60 page novella about a fling feel like a lot more than that. Kudos to her for that.
Thanks to Ms. Pamela Clare for the opportunity to read this novella in exchange for an honest review.
Wow. This was so fun to read. I am a fan of the Dresden Files urban fantasy series, and it's wonderful to get some visuals to go along with the prose....moreWow. This was so fun to read. I am a fan of the Dresden Files urban fantasy series, and it's wonderful to get some visuals to go along with the prose. Butcher wrote the foreword, and he said he was very happy with the way Harry comes out, that he'd always visualized Harry Dresden in this medium, since he grew up as a huge comic book fan. I'd tend to agree. I think the artist did an excellent job of capturing Harry and also Karrin Murphy and Carmichael. He captures Harry's physicality as well as his self-awareness of both his flaws and strengths. It was interesting to see Harry perform his typical spellwork and see him in action with his blasting rod and staff, and get a glimpse of his beloved VW Bug. While I watched the tv show, and I liked it, there were a few things they changed that I didn't care for, so this was a better way to visualize Harry outside of my own active imaginations, and truer to the plotlines of the books.
The storyline was very good. I loved the infusion of folklore and the underlying concept driving the story. The villain was really quite formidable and very creepy. Harry shows his heroism, even though he is often the underdog in the battle. And he definitely faces some serious obstacles, as always. I liked the secondary characters like Will. Of course, being an animal lover, I enjoyed the fact that this is set in a zoo.
Beautiful artwork, and great storytelling. What's not to like about this? Really glad to see Harry Dresden in the graphic novel medium. Will definitely read more of these!(less)
Willingham's exploration of fables wouldn't have been complete without a look at the Arabian Nights. The folklore of the Middle East fits into this se...moreWillingham's exploration of fables wouldn't have been complete without a look at the Arabian Nights. The folklore of the Middle East fits into this series very well, especially as the Adversary is expanding his takeover of the Fable lands into the Middle Eastern worlds now.
I think that it would be impossible to integrate all of the encompassing Arabian Nights lore into one volume, and I don't think Willingham ever intended to try. Instead, he uses this story as an introductory volume, and it has some elements that really stand out in the 1001 Nights lore. One well done example was the Jinn that the Arabian delegation brings alone with them. I think that perhaps that shows you the powerful motifs of the Arabian Nights in one large sort of concentrated burst at the audience. And of course, the Fables of Fabletown have to account for the power of such a force of nature, and counter-attack or at least attempt to neutralize it, much as one would consider taking on a nation with a stockpile of nuclear weapon that you want to maintain peaceful negotiations with. Never fear, Fabletown has some potent tools in their own toolkit.
Another effective aspect of this volume was the addressing of cultural differences that the Middle Eastern worlds had from what I would consider the European Fableworlds. Prince Charming is a big buffoon, and is completely unequipped to handy any diplomatic relations, thus his predecessor King Cole is called in to do this important job. I did find myself agreeing with Charming on one aspect of the Middle Eastern Fablelands culture though. Sinbad is a diplomatic leader of the Middle Eastern contingent, with a very wicked advisor who might open a few cans of worms that need to be dealt with.
Not related so much to the Arabian Nights storyline but to the overall Fables arc was a story about two wooden creations of Geppetto who fall in love for each other and wish to be human, but will have to pay a hard price. This story reveals Willingham's wonderful storytelling skills and the bittersweet tone and content of this volume in a nutshell. He shows that the opposite side has players that can also evoke the sympathy of the readers, even though their acts and methods might be reprehensible or just neutral morally in the scheme of things.
I'm sure there are some heavy underlying themes in this graphic novel, and I have only scratched the surface. I feel that I would love to reread all of these and revisit the whole series at my leisure, which is why I definitely want to get copies of these for my collection one day.(less)
Gee, this didn't really feel like a Carole Mortimer book. I didn't feel a lot of chemistry between Cat and Caleb, and it wasn't very compelling. Caleb...moreGee, this didn't really feel like a Carole Mortimer book. I didn't feel a lot of chemistry between Cat and Caleb, and it wasn't very compelling. Caleb doesn't have the appeal of Mortimer's typical heroes. He was cute and had an adorable scholarly vibe that I liked. It was appealing that he wasn't taking no for an answer when Cat was not amenable to dating him. He was persistent and won her over.
Overall this wasn't bad. I liked the small town vibe, and I am a sucker for a hero who is a good dad (especially a single parent father). I liked that little Adam was actually in the book a fair amount. He was a cute kid, so it was good to see him recovering from the angst of losing his mom. Cat was a nice woman, but she didn't strike me as very memorable. I didn't care much for the big secret that Cat and her roomie Kate were keeping about Kate's grandmother. I didn't think it was that big a deal. I mean, it was sad what happened to parties involved, but as far as tension, it didn't make for an exciting conflict in this book.
Overall, a decent book, but it lacks the zing and the intensity that I look for in Harlequin Presents books. Small town charm and a slow-building romance is good, so I can't rate this lower than a three. Just not enough here to appeal to me. Definitely an average read.