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.
Emma, daughter of Lord Grey, and Richard, Lord Hamilton are kindred souls, with the same robust appreciation for life and wicked sense of humo...moreSynopsis
Emma, daughter of Lord Grey, and Richard, Lord Hamilton are kindred souls, with the same robust appreciation for life and wicked sense of humor. They fall in love and are engaged to marry, but they have to convince Emma's uncle, the powerful Duke of Arden that they shouldn't have to wait a year to marry. When the Duke orders Emma to spend time at his country estate, Richard hatches a plan to masquerade as the new head gardener for the Duke of Arden so he can be near Emma. He also intends to romance Emma as the gardener so that the Duke will look more favorably on him as Lord Hamilton and Emma's true suitor. His plan turns out to be more complicated than he thinks when he has to take on all the head gardener's work for real, deal with the teasing of the other servants, spend time with Emma, and avoid Lady Babbage, the Duke's controlling sister's machinations. He calls in his friend, Lord Raikes to pretend to be him when the Duke invites Lord Hamilton (his true identity) to visit. The plot thickens when Lord Raikes, who is pretending to be him, develops a reciprocated strong attraction to Lady Catherine, the Duke's daughter and Emma's cousin. Lady Babbage turns out to be a blackmailer with lots of enemies among the house party attendees, which will have its own consequences. Richard's little wager with Emma to see if he could get her uncle to agree to a quicker marriage within a month's time, and the ensuing complications, makes for a caper of a read.
The Wicked Wager is a light historical romance with a dash of mystery that makes for an entertaining read. I appreciated the humor, light and sly, with some hilarious, laugh-out-loud moments. While I liked Emma and Richard, I connected more with Lord Raikes and Catherine. They had great chemistry, and while they fought a lot, you could see the tension sizzle between them, as they realize that they weren't supposed to like each other that way. The mystery plays a bigger role towards the end, which made me feel that it should have been more evenly integrated into the story.
The Wicked Wager was a fast-paced, enjoyable novel with some funny comedy of errors moments and engaging characters. Its strength lies in the humorous interactions between the characters, and the romantic tension between Lord Raikes and Catherine. Unfortunately, I didn't feel quite as much chemistry between Emma and Richard, compared to the secondary couple. Additionally, the mystery aspect felt uneven in its execution. It could have been stronger and more consistently integrated throughout the entire novel. Overall, The Wicked Wager is a story that readers who enjoy the Regency period would probably appreciate.
Geraldine Jordan has been preparing herself for an arranged marriage contracted by her late aunt and the matriarch of the McKenna family, hopi...moreSynopsis
Geraldine Jordan has been preparing herself for an arranged marriage contracted by her late aunt and the matriarch of the McKenna family, hoping that she might end up the wife of Alistair McKenna, a man she has been in love with most of her life. With the congenital malformation of her foot and her subsequent limp, she knows she's not the best choice for a bride, but her trust is in God to work everything out. To her surprise, her Uncle Henry arrives with news that her intended has turned her down as a bride and instead wishes to hire her as a governess for his orphaned niece, Erin Elyse. When Alistair arrives, she makes it clear that she has no desire to marry him anyway, especially with the hurt of his rejection and the fact that his brothers made her life miserable with their teasing when she was younger. Although hurt about the rejection, Geraldine clings to her faith in God, and trusts that this was his plan for her to be there to help this young girl, and to cherish any time she can spend near Alistair.
Alistair feels profound regret for hurting Geraldine with his rejection, when the truth is, he's been in love with her as well for many years. His reluctance to marry is not because of her, but because he doesn't think he'd be a good husband. He wants to make amends for hurting her, and seeks to draw closer to the God he has distanced himself from lately. Forces inside the McKenna home are working together to unite the two sweethearts in marriage, while at the same time a veiled threat lurks in the household with other plans for Alistair McKenna's future.
That Impossible Dream is a historical romance with an intrinsic Christian faith message. Geraldine is a young woman who has faced some significant obstacles, but relies on her faith in God to keep her strong and to keep her moving in the face of heartbreaking circumstances. I liked her character a lot. I found her encouraging, and her anguish at life's disappointments and her faith in the Lord helped to draw me into the story. Unfortunately, she was the only character who had a noteworthy impact on me as I read this book. Alistair was introduced too late in the story to grow attached to him, and the romance wasn't sufficiently developed for me to find it credible. I needed to see Geraldine and Alistair spend more time together in this story to become emotionally engaged in the love story between them.
Another issue was the heavy reliance on narrative, which didn't serve to advance the story. More dialogue and character interactions, particularly between the two leads, would have given this story much more impact. I actually felt like some less important characters got more screen time than the most pivotal ones. And characters who play a crucial role seemed not to have enough dialogue.
Lastly, there was a major pacing issue. It was as though the last fifteen pages included most of the action and wrap-up in this story. The suspense element felt like an afterthought because there was no buildup or gradual progression over the course of the story. The resolution occurred so quickly that it wasn't believable.
Overall, I was disappointed with That Impossible Dream. Although I liked Geraldine's character and I rooted for her happiness, I didn't find much more appealing about this novel. With more dialogue, better pacing, and more focus on the interactions between Geraldine and Alistair, I think this would have been a more satisfactory read.
This is my first contemporary read by Ms. Thomas, and I really enjoyed it. Feel good, small town contemporary romance populated with a host of interes...moreThis is my first contemporary read by Ms. Thomas, and I really enjoyed it. Feel good, small town contemporary romance populated with a host of interesting characters. Works for me!
A Royal World Apart stands out as a Harlequin Presents in good ways. We have a hero here who is very self-controlled, and physically dangerous, not ju...moreA Royal World Apart stands out as a Harlequin Presents in good ways. We have a hero here who is very self-controlled, and physically dangerous, not just a guy with a lot of money and charisma who likes the ladies. In this case, Makhail is a man who took his responsibilities so seriously that he nursed a wife through a long illness (staying faithful to her while she was alive and even afterward). While Makhail isn't what I'd consider a passionate hero for most of the book, I loved that he was the 'still waters run deep' type man, very focused, intensely self-controlled. He had a maturity that was beyond his almost thirty years. I could see why Eva fell for him. He had traits that her brothers and father lacked, and even when he didn't have to care about her feelings and needs as her bodyguard, he took the extra step to do so.
Maisey Yates is a very good writer. While this book took me a while to read (because I am just very busy right now), I felt that it was a rich story, with well-developed, multi-layered characters. I was emotionally engaged in their story. Eva is a rich princess, but she's not spoiled as you might assume. Her life has been so controlled that she hasn't even had the opportunity to figure out who she is and what she wants, and she starts to act recklessly because of that fear that she will never have that opportunity. I loved that her and Makhail's developing relationship was so well-described in this book. I could see the progression from bodyguard and charge to man and woman deeply in love with each other and willing to give up everything to be together.
A Royal World Apart is a good romance for readers who enjoy royal romance and the bodyguard theme. Yates does a great job of combining both into an enjoyable story. Makhail is quite different from a typical Harlequin Presents hero, but in a thoroughly refreshing way. Some readers may not care for him because he seems so controlled and is not an arrogant man (very atypical for HP heroes), but I really liked him (and not just because he's Russian and I love Russian heroes). In fact, he might be one of my favorites. Another good book by this author.(less)
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.
Liana is a young, transplanted Frenchwoman taken in by an older Native American when her father dies with his gold claim in the Yukon under di...moreSynopsis
Liana is a young, transplanted Frenchwoman taken in by an older Native American when her father dies with his gold claim in the Yukon under dispute. She has learned all the many lessons that Henry taught her to survive in the cold wilderness of the North. When Henry is murdered and she flees her pursuers, she will have to rely on that training, especially when she's stranded on a deserted narrow island in the middle of the raging, icy river. The days tick down slowly and her chances for survival narrow with each day with no food and limited shelter. Liana must face the unsympathetic, cruel force of nature, all alone on her frigid island of refuge.
An Island Between Two Shores is a tale of survival that brings back my memories of reading stories by Jack London in which humans travel to the frozen North and pit their wills against the unforgiving wilderness. The story of the struggle between man and nature is not a new one. In this case, it is woman against nature. I appreciated that because gender is no factor in having the skills to survive in the wilderness. It's about knowledge, will, and sometimes just sheer luck. In this case, Liana's education in living on the land in the North comes from the best, and other than that, it's up to her wits against nature.
The writing was crisp and clear, taking the reader to this place of brutal cold and harsh elements. It had a vividly realistic feel. Williams paints a bleak picture, but there is beauty in the descriptions of nature, even at its most fierce. Liana herself appreciates the beauty of nature as she waits for the ice on the river to freeze so she can leave the island. With little to do except rest in her improvised shelter, she has time to observe it. She sees the Northern Lights and all the constellations in all their unpolluted glory. In the wilderness, man (or in this case, woman) is alone with herself and the forces of nature. Self-knowledge is unavoidable in this process. Liana's inner dialogue as the days count down and she realizes that she is growing weaker wrenched at my psyche.
This story grabbed at my gut. I wanted to keep reading, hoping all the while that she would survive, yet fearing that she would not. The sheer enormity of Liana's struggle to survive, and the bleak nature of her predicament hit home with me. I could feel the grinding ache of the fierce cold, as well as the horrible emptiness of the starvation that Liana suffered. An Island Between Two Shores will stay with me a long time. In a profound way, I identified with this young woman, who just wanted to survive the cruel, indifferent wilderness that preys on both the strong and the weak.
As much as I enjoyed this story and appreciated the writing, I felt the ending was weak and robbed this book of some of its impact because it was too quick and a bit predictable. Otherwise, this is a well-written novel. I believe those who enjoy survival tales will probably appreciate An Island Between Two Shores as much as I did.
This is the coursebook for the Alpha course that I attended through my church between September and November.
What is Alpha?
Alpha is a course that in...moreThis is the coursebook for the Alpha course that I attended through my church between September and November.
What is Alpha?
Alpha is a course that introduces people to the fundamentals of the faith of Christianity. It's broken down into fourteen topics concerning the faith, and after a short talk, the members divide into small groups and discuss the issues. It is a way for people who have some tough questions and issues about God, faith, and Jesus to have a safe, non-judgmental forum for this discussion.
I decided to attend since it was free, and since it sounded like a worthwhile opportunity. It definitely was. I have never gotten this opportunity to sit down and talk about fundamentals of the faith like this course allowed. The book is a good adjunct. I finished the course and a few weeks ago, I read through the book again, referencing some of the Bible verses again. Reading the coursebook again cemented some of the concepts and allowed me to take the time to digest and reflect on the information offered in the weekly sessions.
What I really like about this book is the easy to follow outline style. I like that it's organized and it gives support for the points made with Bible verses and historical references.
I don't think God ever intended for faith in him through his Son to be complicated. He wanted each person to have the opportunity to know him, and that's the model that the writer of this book, Nicky Gumbel follows. Also the essence of Christ's personality, to speak the truth in love, is evident in the layout of this book.
While this isn't a scholarly approach like one would find with something like CS Lewis' Mere Christianity, it shouldn't be. It's simple and straightforward, well-suited for the course and the group discussion style.
Taking the course was a real blessing, and having the coursebook to go back to, not to mention the notes I took during the talks (because I am a huge nerd), will be very useful and worthwhile in the future.
I am rating this book as I would any coursebook. On that level it's a five star rating. As I alluded to above, it's not written in sentence style, but more in bullet/outlines, but that doesn't detract from its usefulness. I'd recommend taking an Alpha course if you get the opportunity. You don't have to be a believer in Jesus to benefit from it. It's a good place to go even if you have questions about the faith and the idea of God in general.
Just One Last Night is a very good and quick contemporary romance about an estranged married couple who have a very tragic event in their lives that c...moreJust One Last Night is a very good and quick contemporary romance about an estranged married couple who have a very tragic event in their lives that causes a rift in their marriage.
Without spoiling readers, I would say that what happens to this couple was very devastating, and it would take two very devoted people in love to overcome it. Melanie is already carrying baggage from her childhood, on top of their recent tragedy, and this acts as the icing on the cake for her belief that she is poison to love. What I loved about this book is that Forde is a man who loves his wife enough to fight for her, and he loves her in spite of the way she pushes him away. When he made those marriage vows, he took them seriously, and is more than willing to fight for his marriage. A devoted hero is Helen Brooks' stock in trade, and she does it very well. One of my favorite kinds of heroes is a devoted one who will surmount any obstacle to win the woman he loves.
I could understand Melanie's emotional wounds. I could even give her some slack for how she was pushing Forde away, although she was admittedly being irrational about her past and how it affected her self-image. I mean, that's very human to be less than level-headed when it comes to emotions and their impact on our lives.
I especially enjoyed the cozy days around Christmas that Melanie and Forde shared, their feline companion(s), and the unique way that this couple becomes reunited. I'd have to be honest and admit I'm not big on stories with estranged married couples. However, Brooks acquitted herself admirably with this book. The execution was well-done, and Just One Last Night was a very good book to read in the month of December to get me in the Christmas mood.
Merry Anna Dougal is a very passionate animal rescuer who literally stumbles into Grady McGrath in the middle of the forest. She is hunting fo...moreSynopsis
Merry Anna Dougal is a very passionate animal rescuer who literally stumbles into Grady McGrath in the middle of the forest. She is hunting for injured wildlife. McGrath is a bounty hunter and animal cruelty investigator hunting for a bail-jumper with a penchant for abusing animals. McGrath knows instantly that Merry Anna is a woman who needs a protector. Her heart is so big for animals that she doesn't have much of a grip on reality and the danger she is in when someone is trying to kill her. He insists on her staying in his house for 24 hour protection when someone vandalizes her house. They will end up playing house together with a fostered Basset Hound and nearly newborn kitten under their care. That's saying something for two people who don't have good experiences with family or relationships. Will they be able to walk away from each other when the danger is all over for Merry Anna?
Charming Champion is well-named. This is a charming book. Merry Anna has an endearing innocence and earnestness with her passionate love for animals. McGrath is adorable. He's tough and sweet at the same time. He is clearly in over his head for a typical loner who falls head over heels for a woman who comes with baggage, the emotional and furry kind. He is a protector by nature, a man who was a sickly child who developed his body into perfect fitness and fought to escape from his overprotective mother's fold. As an adult, years of living under his mother's stifling over-protectiveness has made him wary of commitment. However, Merry Anna inspires him to want a woman in his life on a forever basis. It's very cute seeing them together, discovering love for each other.
As an animal lover, I appreciated spending time with Mr. Ponder, the Basset Hound they end up fostering, as well as Snowy, the abandoned newborn kitten they are hand-feeding. Also, I admired the work that both Merry Anna and McGrath do with animals and for animal welfare, although Merry Anna has issues to work through with her single-minded, blind determination to help animals at any cost. Often, I was frustrated at her when she would dive in headfirst trying to help animals, without thinking things through. I could understand how McGrath might have felt, since he usually had to pull her back from the edge.
A shortcoming of this novel is the fact that the suspense angle is lightweight. It definitely ties in with the overall theme of animal welfare, but the villains lacked depth and intensity. I couldn't help giggling at the various altercations with the bad guys.
Charming Champion was a pleasant, fun, heartwarming book. I think I would have rated it higher if the conflict with the animal abusers was stronger and had more impact. It was hard to take it seriously. Nevertheless, the message about care and respect for animals was well received by this animal lover. I enjoyed the romance. It was sweet with just enough sensuality, the chemistry between McGrath and Merry Anna well-written and appealing. I would recommend this to readers who enjoy lighthearted, animal-themed sweet romance.
This is a good devotional for a Christian to read in that it is a collection of what Jesus taught and said during his three year ministry on earth, fo...moreThis is a good devotional for a Christian to read in that it is a collection of what Jesus taught and said during his three year ministry on earth, found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. In the style of the Touchpoints series of books, the writing is divided into sections based on content. The scripture is provided in New Living Translation, and commentary on the scripture is included under the Bible verses.
To know Jesus is to believe what he said and what he expects of his followers. That knowledge is right there in the Word of God, the Bible. As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us into truth, and the Bible as our reference on God. With those sources of inspiration we can live our lives through the power God gives us. This devotional in my hands helped me to focus on his sayings and teachings and put them into the perspective of addressing life's specific conditions and what my calling is as a believer in Jesus. This book doesn't take the place of reading the Bible, by any means. Instead, it's a good adjunct for those who are desirous to hide the words of the Lord in their heart, and to apply what he said and what it means to your life in particular.
Although this is pretty basic, it serves its purpose. The four star rating is because it's a good condensation of what is spread throughout the Gospel that Jesus said and taught, and I like the ability to reference the Lord's sayings based on subject matter. I picked my copy up at the used bookstore and it more than paid for itself. (less)
This one was just okay. I found Tessa's tendency to let Marc treat her disrespectfully tedious, especially since she is known for her independence and...moreThis one was just okay. I found Tessa's tendency to let Marc treat her disrespectfully tedious, especially since she is known for her independence and feisty nature. Not to mention being the only sister surrounded by brothers. She should know how to hold her own. I wanted her to tell him where to stick it, and she never did.
Unfortunately, I didn't buy his declaration of love, and I especially didn't like that she went back to him instead of letting him do the pursuing. This guy needed to eat a large helping of 'humble pie.'
So at the end of this read, I was just feeling so-so about it.(less)
This was a really good book. I like how Helen Brooks takes two people who have no intention of getting romantically involved and shows them falling de...moreThis was a really good book. I like how Helen Brooks takes two people who have no intention of getting romantically involved and shows them falling deeply in love.
In the case of Willow, she is recovering from a very toxic marriage, married to a man who abused her mentally, undermining every inch of her confidence in herself. She does not intend to trust any man with her life ever again. On the other hand, Morgan has no problem with sexual involvement with savvy career women who don't want any more emotional entanglement than he does. However, when they meet, the mutual determination to keep things light and to be 'just friends' doesn't work very well. Because the more time they spend together, the more they realize that nothing less than everything will qualify when it comes to each other.
I'll be the first to tell you that I don't usually go for heroes like Morgan, guys who eschew emotional involvement and settle for empty sexual relationships. However, I couldn't help but like him. He was actually a very good guy underneath all the city sophistication. More than anything, he was used to trying to control his life and compartmentalize things. He had his slick city existence, and his quiet country life, and he kept them both separate. Before he knows it, the country life and time spent with Willow (who was not at all likely to go for a light sexual affair) is what he wants more than anything. And when the time comes, he's brave enough to tell her he loves her, even knowing her emotional wounds will make her run in the other direction.
Helen Brooks writes a very romantic story. The writing felt fresh and modern, with characters who seemed relevant today. Despite that, I didn't feel like they were unrelatable. I had plenty of time to see the love develop between them, and their happy ending felt right and genuine. Willow is very down to earth, and despite his image, so is Morgan where it counts. I liked that he was generous with himself in a relationship with Willow even though he knew there wasn't going to be the usual payoff.
A good story about friends turning into lovers. I'd recommend it to people who enjoy this theme.(less)
12.21 was an entertaining read. I never got bored, that's for sure. I'm not big on the whole Mayan Prophecy thing, so I normally wouldn't run to read...more12.21 was an entertaining read. I never got bored, that's for sure. I'm not big on the whole Mayan Prophecy thing, so I normally wouldn't run to read this sort of thing. However, Random House offered a giveaway for the Action/Adventure Aficionados group, so I decided to give it a try. I am glad I did.
What I liked: * I love medicine, so medical dramas in various incarnations almost always appeal. The whole concept of an epidemic illness arising out of a connection to an ancient Maya tomb and civilization, and related to the Mayan Prophecy was a unique approach. I liked the characters' race to find out what the etiology of the infection was and how to combat it. There was a real sense of urgency and I felt my pulse racing as I read. History is another favorite subject, so there's a good combination here. * This was quite readable. The narrative was cohesive between modern day and flashbacks to the ancient Maya times (900AD), and there was a sense of steady progression in this story that I appreciated, especially for a suspense-driven book. *I like that the author didn't slow down the story too much with excessive explanations, but the Maya cultural elements seemed well-researched and the science was fairly credible (except one heinous element below that I must rant about). *Sadly, I knew little about the indigenous Maya descendants of Guatemala. That was very interesting to read about their thriving community in LA (assuming that it's real). Also, I wasn't aware of the situation with the indigenous people in Guatemala. It's always good to learn about different peoples and their struggles, and it will make me more sensitive about their plight.
What could have been better: *Okay, I have a mini rant. The scene with the slaughterhouse/meat processing factory is so unrealistic it's insulting and laughable. The things that occur in that facility would never happen. I know for certain. They had serious food safety issues going on, including commingling of meat ingredients and use of products that definitely are not approved for meat production or use in the United States. Then the author made a point of saying that kids eat that product. A lot of inspectors work very hard to make sure that products safe for consumption make it on the shelves, and that was offensive to the hard work they put in and the many safety checks that meat plants have to follow in their food safety system. One could argue that maybe that facility was not under government oversight, but the author made a point of mentioning the USDA, so I know it was. And let's be clear that is not going to happen in a federally inspected facility. I don't mind the line between fiction and reality blurring in appropriate settings. This wasn't one. For a medical science drama, I expect more realistic and credible use of information in a story. Fortunately, I was able to get over my disgust with this and keep reading the book, but it affected my rating without a doubt. *I didn't feel a heavy sense of connection to any of the main characters. The storyline itself was more interesting to me. Towards the end, the sense of urgency for their situation did hit me, but I can't say I fell in love with anyone in this novel.
Overall Thoughts: *A pretty good, readable, suspenseful novel. I liked the mix of ancient civilizations and treasure hunting with modern medical science. There were a couple of pitfalls that lowered my rating, but overall, it was a worthwhile read, especially for those interested in the Endtime Mayan Prophecy and Meso-American ancient civilizations. For a quick-read medical suspense story with some ancient connections, this is a pretty good one to pick up.
Overall Rating: 3.75/5.0 stars.
A special thanks to Random House for the opportunity for members of the Action/Adventure Aficionados to read this novel. (less)
Spring Showers returns to Whispering Cypress River, Louisiana, after a ten-year absence. She left to pursue a career in the big city when thin...moreSynopsis
Spring Showers returns to Whispering Cypress River, Louisiana, after a ten-year absence. She left to pursue a career in the big city when things didn't work out with her childhood sweetheart. She buys the old campgrounds on the river, where some of her happiest memories occurred, determined to fix it up and open it to the public again.
The man she once loved, Hackett Woods has never left, and all this time, he has regretted disappointing her and ruining their chance at a life together. He is determined to make things right with Spring, to win her trust back. They strike a bargain for Hackett to do the restoration work on the property, but Spring is determined to keep the barriers between them and deny any chance for a romantic relationship again. However, the love they felt is still there and stronger than ever.
Not everyone is happy that Spring is back. Spring has a dangerous stalker determined that she won't settle back happily in Whispering Cypress. The path to true love for these reunited lovers is complicated, and they deal with their past hurts, reconcile their lives to their faith in God, and help a troubled young woman with a complicated relationship with Hackett, along the way.
Whispering Cypress was a tough read for me. The writer clearly had good intentions to write a novel about a woman's reunion with her former love and her determination to live a life of faith in Jesus despite all the obstacles she faced. However, the end result was convoluted and rambling. Too many ideas and no clear destination in mind made for unsatisfactory reading. The characters lack depth and realism. Not because of their faith in Jesus, but because of actions that don't make sense in light of the storyline. In addition, the author tackles heavy subjects like alcoholism, adultery, promiscuity and unwed pregnancy, but seems to shy away from writing with clarity and honesty about the actions of the characters that get them into tight moral dilemmas and result in unpleasant results they have to confront. Understandably, Christian fiction has certain standards to maintain as far as content, but I feel that the author could have kept the overall story content clean but still clarify the situations faced by the characters. If there was a motivation on the author's behalf to avoid depicting the darker aspects of human nature, it didn't make sense to introduce them in the first place.
Unfortunately, this novel had promise that strong editing and a more thorough revision process could have refined into a good book. On one hand, it was free of editing and grammar errors. However, the story meandered on with the frequent introduction of conflicts that lacked intensity, and I felt that there was an overall dearth of cohesion and vision to this novella. Continuity errors that a good, thorough review during the editing process should have caught were present, leading to some confusing moments as I read.
I liked the message about faith and personal integrity, and I liked the main characters. I believed in their love for each other. They were good people. However, the villain was too underdeveloped, and seemed more like a stereotypical and one-dimensional antagonist along the lines of Snidely Whiplash than a realistic human character with a lack of moral compass.
Whispering Cypress was ultimately a disappointing read. It has a good message, but lacked in the execution. Because I liked the main characters and the message, I was able to give this two and ½ stars, but the writing quality wasn't very good, so I couldn't rate it any higher than that, unfortunately.
The terribly unlikable heroine killed this book for me. The Greek Mythology is interesting, but otherwise, this didn't have much of an original feel t...moreThe terribly unlikable heroine killed this book for me. The Greek Mythology is interesting, but otherwise, this didn't have much of an original feel to me, and wasn't groundbreaking as far as female-lead urban fantasy.
I liked the intricate way that the spiritual beliefs of the characters and magic were interwoven into this story. There is depth in this novel, but it...moreI liked the intricate way that the spiritual beliefs of the characters and magic were interwoven into this story. There is depth in this novel, but it was also an easy read. I'd recommend it to traditional fantasy readers.
I liked this book and I couldn't put it down. But I honestly have to say I was almost repelled by Spencer initially. I mean ugh! Even if you are stron...moreI liked this book and I couldn't put it down. But I honestly have to say I was almost repelled by Spencer initially. I mean ugh! Even if you are strongly attracted to your best friend's fiancee', that doesn't mean you have a right to pursue that and wreck his engagement because you feel like you have a stronger bond with the woman than your friend. He didn't respect boundaries at all. Keep your octopus hands to yourself dude! I think his insistence on honesty came out of a sense of self-indulgence, arrogance and not true honor. If he was the better man he would have walked away. I wasn't sure I wanted him to be the hero of this book until well into the story. I thought Allison was much too good for him. He gave me this skeevy vibe that I couldn't get past. Towards the end of the book I felt better towards him, but I can't say I love him as a hero. He is merely okay to me. When I finished this book, I shrugged and thought, "If that's what she wants, okay." If I had a choice, I would have gone for a different hero with a lot more class than Spencer (and I'm not talking money and polish).
I really liked Allison. Despite her insecurities, she was twice the woman her sister was. Her sister had the same level of intelligence, but seemed kind of shallow, and I feel that her guilting her sister into pretending to be her with her fiance' was selfish and immature. Why would you do that to your sister? Put her in that situation, just so you could get a (view spoiler)[ surprise boob job (hide spoiler)] for your fiance' and not be sensitive to the distress you were causing her? I loved when Allison finally got fed up with both guys and came clean on the switch. That was the best part of the book. If I am going to be honest, I might as well lay it out here. My sister would never want me to go off to have a fling with a sleazy guy who was hitting on his best friend's fiancee'! I'd want him to stay far away from my sister, not helping her buy sexy clothes and unpacking her bras when she went off for her fling. Honestly, I don't find her sister's fiance' to be a deep man either. I hope they will be happy together in their shallowness. Your mileage may vary.
This book was pretty darn steamy. For a book written in 1985, I was like, wow. Very sensual. Sandra Brown knows how to write some sexy romance! I liked the voyage of discovery for Allison, and I liked that she realized that her life was a lot more open to possibilities than she could imagine. But I also liked that she did fall in love with Spencer instead of just being hot for him. That would have made the whole situation a lot more tawdry in my view than it had the potential to be. It was also a saving grace that Spencer clearly did fall in love Allison as well, instead of just being on the make. If not, I think I might have used this book as a hockey puck based on how he was acting at the beginning.
I think the fact that I enjoyed this book despite having very little respect for most of the characters is a sign of good writing by the author. If I just go with the flow, I can think of this as a fun, grown up version of The Parent Trap with a little bit of Love Potion No. 9 thrown in. A good oldie by this very popular and talented author.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(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.