It is an incredible coincidence that I read two Lynne Graham books within days of each other, and each has a hero named Vito and a heroine who is a reIt is an incredible coincidence that I read two Lynne Graham books within days of each other, and each has a hero named Vito and a heroine who is a redhead and who has a strangely similar family history (with a few differences). Honest to goodness, I didn't do that deliberately. It was just one of those serendipity things.
I know some readers might be annoyed by the fact that the plot is slightly recycled. I wasn't. I think that in a long writing career, that's bound to happen to a prolific writer. I know that in my own writing I work out issues I see in life and that affect me on a deep level. So I'm not dismayed to see this in writers I follow.
Ava doesn't have an abrasive personality, and she probably would be entitled to it, considering her past. She carries a burden of guilt that has stripped that away from her, if she ever had it. It's heartbreaking what she suffered, and when it's revealed what truly happened, it makes it even worse. I think that Vito could have been a more sympathetic hero. I didn't love him, although neither did I hate him. He was kind of 'meh' for me. He was a bit too cold and unemotional (detached) to me. I felt that he loved Ava by the end of the book, but I didn't feel like he deeply needed her the way I like to feel from a hero. I think his attitude about sexuality was a turnoff. He was too much of a womanizer for my tastes. I think that his actions were initially motivated by a desire to get Ava in bed, even if he didn't want to acknowledge it on a deeper level. I'm not saying he didn't grow in his feelings for her, but I don't like when the heroes' feelings start merely as sexual (and his felt a bit lecherous to me).
Also, Vito didn't seem to want to believe the best of Ava. All along, he was willing to think she was everything that the past seemed to dictate, but he didn't consider how much his brother Olly loved and respected Ava and take that seriously enough. Let me put it this way, if my sister has a high opinion of someone, I take it very seriously. I guess that's why I was not 100% satisfied with this book. When it is revealed how badly Ava was wronged, I wanted to feel more remorse and regret for what she went through from Vito.
This story is pretty heavy and dark for a Lynne Graham book, surprisingly so. It really shows a profound degree of familial dysfunction. I kind of liked that, but I think things were wrapped up a bit too smoothly with a bow to balance out the really dark nature of this storyline. While I see love between Vito and Ava, I didn't get enough of a love payoff in this book. It's still a four star read because it was captivating and kept my interest. I was deeply enthralled with Ava's story and I wanted the best for her. I think she's a happy woman as far as the book ended, but I wasn't 100% satisfied. So it's a weak four stars....more
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'sLeopard'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.
This is my first audiobook of a Diana Palmer book, and overall, I liked it. I didn't care for the way the narrator voiced the females. He sounded tooThis is my first audiobook of a Diana Palmer book, and overall, I liked it. I didn't care for the way the narrator voiced the females. He sounded too falsetto for my tastes. I think I enjoyed this more than other reviewers, although I agree that there were a lot of random conversations and less focus on the romance than I would have liked.
Diana Palmer is a long-time favorite of mine. She's a sweet lady and I will always read her books.
A quick and enjoyable read that I pulled out of the pile because I am a sucker for the plain jane, marriage of convenience, and scarred hero themes. CA quick and enjoyable read that I pulled out of the pile because I am a sucker for the plain jane, marriage of convenience, and scarred hero themes. Captain Caine Morleigh is an heir to an earldom who was badly scarred in the Napoleonic Wars. His fiancee' repudiated him after the bandages came off. She even screamed and fainted. That was enough for Caine to know he wouldn't be marrying her. Now Caine needs to find a new bride. This time around, he will choose an unattractive bride, a wallflower desperate for marriage, one who won't mind his unpleasant visage and make few demands on him, happy to be married. His eyes fall on Lady Grace, and he decides she's the one. She's very thin and unprepossessing in appearance. But she has spirit, which he finds out when he asks her to dance and then to marry him. Grace says yes, only to get away from her uncle, who has been mistreating and threatening her. But she is going to make sure that her marriage is to her benefit as well. She wants a real marriage in which her husband respects her and allows her to be true to herself and in which he demands no less than they both deserve in a marriage. Caine comes to realize that his wallflower bride will require a lot more of him than he expected, and give a lot more in return. And that he loves her for it.
I've missed reading Lyn Stone's historical romance books. I'm glad she's writing them again. This book has a trad regency feel, with authentic characters and actions that take me back to that period. Although not G-rated, it is not very explicit in sensuality, but the chemistry, attraction and bond between Caine and Grace is apparent and appealing. I loved Grace's spunk. She wasn't passive or willing to allow herself to be treated as less than she deserved. Her situation with her uncle put her in the position of being a victim but that wasn't natural for her. When she accepts Caine's proposal, she blooms with the freedom and safety he offers, and her real personality comes back to life, and in the process, Caine falls head over heels for her. I was glad that he came to appreciate his bride for the pearl that she was. I liked Caine a lot too. Although his initial plan seemed cold-hearted, he treated Grace kindly and respectfully from the beginning. There was never a question that he was a good guy. He just had some wrong idea about controlling his life by marrying the kind of woman who wouldn't demand too much from him. Fortunately, something in him choose the right woman in the end, and she was exactly what he needed, if not the convenient wife he expected.
Not a ground-breaking book or a foundation-shaker, but a good read. A pleasant love story that kept me reading. Write more please, Ms. Stone. 4 stars!...more
This book is another excellent addition to Clare's excellent romantic suspense series. Very timely, with a balanced view of the current situation regaThis book is another excellent addition to Clare's excellent romantic suspense series. Very timely, with a balanced view of the current situation regarding Jihadist terrorism going on in the world today. Spicy and emotional.
This book turns out to be deliriously romantic by the end. I definitely didn't expect that, although some of my trusted HP Buddies have raved about itThis book turns out to be deliriously romantic by the end. I definitely didn't expect that, although some of my trusted HP Buddies have raved about it, so I should have thought there would be some winning element here. It's ground that has been covered before: the boss and his secretary. In this case, Helen is a single mother who is is also the bread-winner for her small family of a three-year-old daughter and a sister who is just about to go to college. She has no time or inclination for romance, especially after her disastrous marriage to an abusive jerk her sister Tina refers to only as 'Pig.' She wants to keep her head down and have her safe, well-organized life.
When Ross Maclean, the owner's son, takes over the position as the head of the London office of their company, that dream bites the dust. Ross needs a secretary who can work the hours that suit his own needs. At first he plays along, but he's intrigued why she must leave precisely at 5 pm everyday. When she explains her situation, he seems angry. Helen thinks it's because she allows him to think she's an unwed mother. How wrong she is.
The tension in this story builds slowly. There are a few misunderstandings (not annoyingly so, but because both characters aren't anxious to unshield well-guarded hearts). The fact that we don't have much of a hero POV assists in us feeling like Helen, on a precipice, completely unsure about Ross' intentions. What his endgame is. Ross has a cold, calculating demeanor that makes him feel unpredictable. He plays his cards very close to his chest. While I love a demonstrative hero, I think this layout worked well for the book, leading to a beautifully surprisingly conclusion.
At the end, you realize just how desperately in love Ross is, and the reveal is rapturously romantic. Although I do have to say he showed his love in many other ways. I for one, loved how he bonded almost instantly with Tansy. It's because I am a sucker for men who love children. I also liked how he gets along so well with Helen's sister, after she realizes he's not a jerk like her sister's ex.
There is a little bit of "Other Woman" drama, but it's not overdone. Just enough to prick Helen into realizing that she does love Ross and doesn't want to share him or allow his love to go elsewhere.
Overall, this was a lovely surprise for me. A book with some very effective romantic elements, and one that takes the often overused boss/employee relationship theme and creates a distinctive and satisfying romance story. A vulnerable heroine and a tough hero, but done in a way that doesn't seem like gross mismatch, but a meant to be love story. As such, I'd give this one: 4.25/5.0 stars....more
This book called to me because I love unrequited love stories. I also like the idea of the heroine working for the hero and having a buttoned up/no-noThis book called to me because I love unrequited love stories. I also like the idea of the heroine working for the hero and having a buttoned up/no-nonsense demeanor but still getting under his skin. I have to say I was very satisfied by this book. Deb Marlowe is going on my reading list now for sure. Her sense of time and place is excellent, but so much life and feeling in her writing, her characters.
Chloe found her way into my heart. I liked everything about her. I can see a little of myself in her, that determination to fix herself so that she could handle anything that comes her way. Her situation in this book called to me deeply. Her fear and loneliness. Her loving heart, and her keen mind to match. Her struggle to face and defeat her fears and climb out of that box she had created for safety, but had grown too big for, so that it was just constricting her overall growth as a person. I really loved her, cheering her strengths and feeling for her vulnerabilities. I wanted her to get her man, and I love that her strategy did exactly that. Not only did she get her man, she let him realize for himself that she was the right woman for him. What a savvy, lovable heroine!
I found Braedon absolutely lickable, warts and all. Big, vital, strong-minded, wounded, afraid to love. What a complex mix that made for a hero I fell head over heels for. Even when he frustrated me with his stubborn determination to cling to old thought patterns that no longer would keep him safe and certainly didn't bring happiness. I felt for him and understood why. His family would make anyone afraid to love and open one's heart. Deep down though, he was a man truly worthy of loving. Even if he didn't think so. Like us all, he faced some real challenges that he had to overcome in his relationships with others, including a young boy who enters his life and raises some old demons. But like a well-made sword, he comes out of the fire even stronger as the impurities are burned away.
As I said earlier, I loved the main storylines, but also the plot threads about Braedon being a collecter of ancient weaponry. It made sense on a deep, symbolic level that a man with his emotional wounds would build himself a citadel of safety full of sharp, protective weapons. In the process, he realizes that when a man walls himself in, he builds a prison as well as a fortress. Whereas, if he allows himself to trust and to love those who prove worthy, he is much more safe in the long run, even if that requires a step of faith and going out into the danger zone of the unknown frontiers of emotion. What a beautiful, meaning-filled message. I am trying to be more strict about five star reviews, but when a book touches me this way, I have to give it the highest rating.
People regularly put down Harlequin books. To each their own. For myself, some of the best and most meaningful books I have read have been written by authors in the Harlequin imprints. They might not be long or have the dubious honor of freedom from the "Harlequin title stigma", but they are hidden treasures all the same. This is one of those books. Definitely recommend it!...more