Review of 1st Reread completed May 18th, 2013 on Kindle Version
I have finally gotten the time to start my reread of Ice Storm. It’s taking me forever...more Review of 1st Reread completed May 18th, 2013 on Kindle Version
I have finally gotten the time to start my reread of Ice Storm. It’s taking me forever to get through this Ice series reread, but I am enjoying it immensely. It’s nice to be able to savor the writing of my favorite author this way. I usually read books faster than I would like the first time, and you miss the nuances when you do that.
I loved how I was kept guessing on Killian. Is he really the cold-hearted murderer his reputation suggests? Then why the acts of unselfish chivalry when he thinks no one is paying attention?
Once again, it struck me how much Killian truly loved Isobel. He was a man on a mission and he had to complete it, and his love for her was inconvenient and unadvised, but he couldn’t make that go away. Even though he did leave her life, she never left his heart, and for someone who apparently could care less about Isobel, he sure did keep track of her over the following eighteen years.
There is something about a hero who is so lethal and capable like Killian. Gives me happy shivers. I liked that Isobel knew her stuff as well. She was realistic for a woman who had been an intelligence operative for many of her adult years. Yet I also liked that it troubled her, what she had to do in her job as a Committee operative. While Killian seems to wear his heart on his sleeve less, he too is an honorable man in an elemental way. Not afraid to get his hands dirty to do his part to make the world a better place. I think that out of the Ice series so far, they are the most perfect match. Two soulmates, even if they don’t believe in the concept. For a dark concept, this book is rather blissfully romantic. Although don't expect the overt heart and flowers. That ain't Stuart's style and I'm glad she doesn't write that way and does it so well. I know when I read one of her books, she will surprise me with a romance that challenges the norm but truly gives me what I want in a romance novel.
I enjoyed catching up with the other Committee operatives: Bastien, Peter (who has an extended POV), and of course, my darling Reno. Happy to see these lethal men blissfully conquered by love, and waiting to see Reno get his own Cupid's Arrow to the heart, although there are signs already. The excitement level is rising to finally reread Reno’s book after something like four years. And of course, Mahmoud was both hilarious and a source of organic pathos, a child who is the symptom of a flawed, war and turmoil damaged world. How fitting that his surrogate parents would be two world-weary, dangerous spies. I cherish this book and this series.
Killian is a Saber. A sharp, deadly weapon made for efficient use.
Guy Pearce as Killian
Ruth Wilson as Isobel Lambert
***Original Review Below****
Anne Stuart does not disappoint. This book has all the things I love about Anne's books. And it has more. The characters are heroes on the edge, both the hero and the heroine. They live in the black heart of night, but fight for good the best way they know how. As much as I love Anne's heroes, Killian really sunk into me. His battle to do what must be done, and the fact that he never really got over Isobel in eighteen years. Isobel is convincing as a cool, competent leader for a covert organization. She suffers when she sends men out to their death, but she does it because it's the right thing to do. You want these two people to find peace. You want them to be together. In the hands of a master like Anne Stuart, you get what you want and more. (less)
Unlawful Contact is another example of Pamela's Clare's ability to write top notch romantic suspense that satisfies both the heavy-duty romance fan wh...moreUnlawful Contact is another example of Pamela's Clare's ability to write top notch romantic suspense that satisfies both the heavy-duty romance fan who wants a true love story and the analytical reader who looks for realism in her fiction. In this case, her story is about Sophie and Marc aka Hunt, who met in high school, parted for twelve years, and came back together in a very explosive fashion.
Incidentally, I couldn't help but think about Arrested Development as I read this, since that is a very hilarious recurring joke on the show since Bluth Sr. is in prison.
There's a scene near the end of the book where I laughed out loud because it was such a reminder of this.
Okay, back on point!
I can't say I'm a fan of underage sex, fuddy duddy that I am. However, I think that Pamela Clare made their teenage encounter very romantic, and I felt the lasting and powerful bond they formed and why it was so meaningful. I'm glad she did show this, because it makes their later interactions and relationship have an added depth.
Sophie is both a sweet, caring person, but also tough and incisive as a character. Clare shows the integrity that journalists have and seem to largely lack in the public image we get from the media. I am glad that I had friends who strongly recommended that I read Extreme Exposure despite my dislike of journalists and politicians because Clare has caused me to re-evaluate my negative closed-mindedness of journalists by showing what they do, how seriously they take it, and how many sacrifices and risks that are involved in making sure that the news is fairly reported. I can't say I view the news media favorably over all still, but I am sure there are plenty of true believers with integrity in the industry.
Certainly, I've not walked Sophie's life journey, but I felt like I grew to know her and love her with each page I read. I can see why Hunt never forgot her or got over her. I can understand her willingness to trust and believe in Marc, and her determination to help him, even though she was torn after he kidnapped her.
As for Hunt, Oh my!!! I loved him. He is very tortured and his life pretty much sucked. It's sad to say that the best years of his life were when he was a military sniper in Afghanistan, and the short night he spent with Sophie. The burden of guilt he carried made me want to cry for him. Even though he is shown in a violent way early in the book, I knew that wasn't truly who he was. I knew that while prison turns many people into the basic, most animalistic parts of their natures, Marc managed to maintain that core of dignity despite six hard, hellish years inside. I loved him for that. I am afraid of prison, let's be honest. (Only my sister is more afraid of prison, which is strange since we are fairly upstanding citizens). I can't imagine how horrible it would be to have a life sentence, especially as ex-law enforcement. The reveal near the end made my jaw drop, that Marc would be willing to do that! Of course, I already adored him, but my adoration quotient when up even more.
The storyline was intense and really disturbing that such an injustice would occur and would go on so long. I was freaking angry about it. I did a huge amount of yelling at the book near the end. My sister's cat was looking at me like I was crazy, in fact. I wanted blood. I could see why Marc was willing to take the risk to break out of jail. I couldn't blame him. Let me just say, a girl couldn't have a better older brother!
Ms. Clare captures the reality of the wrongs that are inherent in a man-made system of justice. It breaks my heart to know that women/girls can be abused in such a way by people in the system. I'm not much of an Old Testament justice kinda girl, but I really wanted to see these guys get sentenced to castration for what they did!
The love scenes were hot, hot, hot, and I do mean hot. I love that Clare can write such hot love scenes without going over the line into kinky/ick factor. You could see that poor Marc was 1)making up for lost time (since he was celibate 7 years), 2)taking the opportunity to get his true girl, 3)living a short amount of life he could before they put him back into the pen. The love scenes showed the intensity of the feelings between Marc and Sophie and cemented my feeling that they had loved each other for that long time apart, even if it was an embryonic sort of love. It touched my romantic soul. That's a good thing.
I read this book slowly and savored it. I have gotten into a bad habit of reading fast because of deadlines, and I appreciated the opportunity of allowing a book to sink in and to digest the words, allow the scenes in the book to play on the movie screen of my head. This was a great book to do that with.
Excellent from beginning to end. Each book in the I-Team series tops the preceding, which is something! I definitely recommend it to romantic suspense fans and fans of misunderstood/bad reputation but true blue heroes and heroines who are truly likable.
In preparation of the November release of Striking Distance, The Pamela Clare Fan Group will be hosting a group read of the series, starting with this book! If you haven't yet read Pamela Clare's I-Team series, you're missing out on some truly fantastic stories.
I can't help but think I've read this one before. Yes, One can argue that many of Diana Palmer's books are similar, but I feel like I remember a few s...moreI can't help but think I've read this one before. Yes, One can argue that many of Diana Palmer's books are similar, but I feel like I remember a few scenes almost exactly. Although this is a bit dated, the emotional aspects are timeless, and I love the pining angst. The usual push and pull between the hero and the heroine. The humor that makes her books pop. The hero that is awkward with women, and never got over the heroine. They both have something to lose in the high stakes game of love.
This one isn't a favorite, but it was still good enough for a fan of hers. I'd give it four stars.
Abby Green has written a sizzling and emotional story about revenge tied up in a relationship built on unrequited lust turned to love. Caleb Cameron h...moreAbby Green has written a sizzling and emotional story about revenge tied up in a relationship built on unrequited lust turned to love. Caleb Cameron has Maggie all wrong. He thinks that her bid to seduce him was a coldhearted action designed to cheat Caleb in the favor of Maggie's stepfather. The truth is Maggie had to act on a genuine attraction she had to Caleb or her mother would suffer the consequences. In the end, it backfires, and their tryst is unconsummated with ugly words said before they parted. And many months later, Maggie has to protect her widowed mother from the consequences of her unscrupulous deceased husband's actions, and Caleb's revenge. Caleb will take everything, including her mother's house (from her first husband), if Maggie doesn't agree to be his mistress for two months. Maggie still has feelings for Caleb, but it hurts that he believes so poorly of her. However, she has to go through with their business for pleasure arrangement, and keep her heart locked away in the process. When it's over, will either walk away heart whole?
Maggie is a very sympathetic heroine. Her situation with her mother is tough, and she does tend to act as a sacrificial lamb, which may annoy some readers. I can identify with her need to look after her very vulnerable mother. I couldn't blame her for the choices she made, especially in light of the fact that she still loved Caleb, and wanted a real relationship with him. But now that's not a possibility. Maggie is a nice mix of emotional integrity, independent practicality and iron resiliency.
Caleb isn't really a bonafide jerk. He does come off as callous at times, and almost willfully determined to believe the worst of Maggie. He's fairly emotionally brutal towards Maggie initially (although I think it was more of a deliberate act to protect himself). That aspect is standard Harlequin Presents fare, but I think Ms. Green layers this story with deep emotion and poignant writing. You actually see Maggie and Caleb getting to know each other and fall in love, and see that while their relationship seems sexual, it's much more than that. I think his gesture near the end is very satisfying, and it has particular resonance for earlier moments in the story.
This is a satisfying quick contemporary romance read, and one of the Harlequin Presents books that very much captures the feel of the line, but also has deeper, powerful emotion that drives the story to a fulfilling conclusion.(less)
Melanie Milburne is starting to win me over as an author. This is another book by her that I enjoyed and which also had a lot of character depth and e...moreMelanie Milburne is starting to win me over as an author. This is another book by her that I enjoyed and which also had a lot of character depth and emotional content that made it a deeper and meaningful read. Readers who long for a heroine who has made mistakes and wasn't always a nice person, would appreciate Gemma. Gemma was a mean girl growing up. She was sharp-tongued and bitter-spirited, lashing out because of her guilt, loneliness, and just plain feeling unloved for who she was. I really respected her for owning up to her past mistakes, and I felt that her journey was realistic and just plain heart-wrenching. Despite her mean acts as a teen, she didn't deserve what happened to her. She was betrayed by a person who should have been there for her, and that escalated into an even worse situation. But at the end, she was still able to forgive that persona and own up to her own wrongs. I respect her madly.
Andreas was a good guy. He started out wanting revenge against Gemma for the past, but he treats her very well from the beginning, even though he wants to get her back for her cruel rejection and the lie she told. He showed a lot of depth, and wasn't just the run of the mill Italian billionaire who can have any women he wants. I think he never stopped loving Gemma, and that love continued to motivate his actions towards her. He was the right man to give her heart to, and he proves it again and again.
This is one of those books you don't want to put down when you start reading it. Love that with Harlequin Presents books, because they are books you can finish in two hours if you are able to. When you get one that makes you want to dive in, and you're sad when it's over, it just feeds the desire to read more. Of course, I had to find and read more Harlequin Presents this weekend as a result.
I'm giving this 4.5/5.0 stars because this really was an excellent book. Definitely recommend it!(less)
This one's hard to rate. I really liked it, but I was a bit disappointed with a couple of aspects.
First of all, the good:
*Oh, my. Was Quinn delicious...moreThis one's hard to rate. I really liked it, but I was a bit disappointed with a couple of aspects.
First of all, the good:
*Oh, my. Was Quinn delicious or what? Yes he was. I adored him. He was a sweetie, and I loved how he had been so in love with Regan since he was a young boy. He grew up to be a major hottie, alright.
*The concept was very cool. I liked the idea of the SDF, who does things outside of the law to help protect their country. I loved the whole aspect of them being gearheads and using their car know-how to do their job. How they had shady pasts, and they use those to their advantage.
*I was not into cars until I saw Gone in 60 Seconds. For some reason, that activated my appreciation for hot rods. And then there was Vin Diesel and that luscious GTO in XXX. Enough said! I don't want to drive them, but yes, I can see the appeal of a guy who drives them very well. I really liked the car stunts parts!
*The romance aspects were a double-edged sword for me. I really liked that we get two romances in one. I will talk about the negatives a little later. As far as positives, both couples were likeable with great chemistry, and I rooted for their happy ending.
*Pretty good (as in really nasty) villain. Boy, was he a piece of work. I liked Christian, who is deep cover, and he is in a very scary little situation, but handles it with calm and grace. His story should be interesting.
What I was underwhelmed about:
*I didn't like the climax. I thought it was anti-climactic. Some pivotal moments seem to take place off-screen. I thought that there was a good build-up to a really high octane finish, and that didn't come to fruition. I could understand Regan's actions, but it felt a little ditzy in how it came across. I would have liked her to show a little more finesse in saving her man than she did.
*I felt the rapid progression of the romances to be kind of unbelieveable. I could buy that Regan and Quinn had enough history for things to more fairly quickly, but Nikki and Kid, not so much. Also what are the statistical probabilities that two sisters will meet the loves of their life, hook up, have fantastic sex, all in the same night? Pretty unlikely.
*I would have liked to see more action. Yes, I am an action movie junkie. I think there was the potential to have a fantastic book that read like the Fast and the Furious-type movies, but it didn't quite hit my satiety center here.
*I think the details of the SDF agency could be more fleshed out. As it was, there were tantalizing bits here, but it was like getting one of those tiny spoons-full of really good ice cream and not being able to get more in the end! I guesss I have to keep reading to find out more about the SDF and the men who work there.
So, I guess that's why I couldn't give this four stars. I liked it a lot, but I wanted it to be more. Having said that, I am looking forward to continuing this series. I adore Kid, and I cannot wait to read his book. And Christian has that 'I am a bad man, or at least pretending to be a bad man' thing about him that is calling my name.
I picked this one up because I love ugly duckling stories, and I was intrigued by the fact that the ugly duckling of the Roses, as they were called, w...moreI picked this one up because I love ugly duckling stories, and I was intrigued by the fact that the ugly duckling of the Roses, as they were called, was the one Rose that St. John Worth wanted. I didn't realize that they had a turbulent history until I started the book. Ardith thought St. John's proposal five years ago was a joke that he had planned with two of his drunk cronies. It broke her young, insecure, love-struck heart. At that point, she abandoned any attempt at a season and fled to her Aunt Sibley, an independent spinster who raised her to be the same. Five years lady, she is a woman of consequence, with an independent life as Aunt Sibley's heir. She is content running her estate, raising horses, and taking care of the tenants and the country folk who are in need of medicine but don't trust the local doctor. She's managed very well to avoid St. John and any other suitors. However, when she leaves her sister's house, who has just given birth to her third daughter, she ends up caught in a bad snowstorm, and is forced to see shelter at St. John's house. Unfortunately, he is there. From that point on, she'll find him very hard to avoid.
I ended up loving this book. It just had that certain something that kept me turning the pages. There is built in angst and pathos for Ardith's situation. She is tall, dark, lanky, strong-featured, and not feminine enough compared to her older, prettier, blond, perfect sisters. She has given up on the idea of marriage because she feels she lacks those qualities that a man would want in a bride. St. John's cruel trick was the final factor that convinced her of that fact. And then, there is the fact that she has come to treasure her independence. Her father doesn't know what to do with her. He's not even allowed through the gate of her estate, nor is St. John. She has total autonomy. However, St. John's renewed presence in her life makes her second guess her determination not to wed, and that he was just playing a trick on her.
I really loved and felt for Ardith. She was very insecure about her charms as a woman, and it was clear why as I saw how her family treated her. As if there was something wrong with her and she'd never measure up. Even her father made jokes about her not being pretty or womanly, although he admired her pluck. I liked that she was a capable woman. She was very skilled at healing, running an estate, and was a much admired and respected horse-breeder. When she showed her doubts at her lack of beauty or social charm, I didn't find it annoying, because it wasn't in a self-pitying way. She had made the most of what she had, and she had determined to have a good life, even if she wasn't going to be some man's beloved, beautiful society wife. The secret hurt that she'd experienced from St. John felt very real to me. Even more so because it was a misunderstanding, but her low self-esteem, caused by the way her family treated her, made it worse.
St. John was a dear from the beginning. I felt bad for him, because he truly loved Ardith. Even five years later, he was very much in love with her, but stayed away out of respect for her. When he got his chance to woo her, his chance at finally having her as his bride, he didn't let the opportunity pass him by. He wasn't afraid to use whatever means available in his arsenal. I loved how he stood up for her with Ardith's overbearing, but very thick-headed father. He even fell out of sorts with him because he wasn't going to back down, and was willing to defend Ardith, even if it put him in her father's bad graces. I appreciated the fact that St. John loved Ardith for who she was. He wanted her in his life, and was willing to make compromises to make sure she was happy in their life together. Even so, he was no pushover. He showed determination and a sense of grace and honor in his pursuit of Ardith. He was very patient, even when Ardith was stubborn to trust in him. He understood the uphill battle to win back her trust and was in it for the long hall. He was a really good man. A man any woman would be glad to have as her beloved husband. I was cheering for him to win Ardith's heart back into his keeping.
Another aspect I enjoyed was the humor. I love the way that a good trad regency brings in the funny aspects of the speech and the everyday interactions of the characters. Ms. Savery captured the feel of the period very well. She used a few phrases that were new to me, but I forgot to write them down to look them up, but they made me feel she had done her research on this period, going way beyond just window-dressing. Poor Ardith's hands were full managing her sisters' issues, since her father was pressing for a grandson, even willing to bribe the first couple who gave him one. Her sisters (except the one who just gave birth) fled to Ardith for protection when their marriages were under strain from their father's edict, and it was funny seeing how Ardith's loyal gatekeeper showed no respect for title or rank in turning away both Ardith's dad, St. John (who won him over with his devotion to Ardith), and her sisters' spouses. This book was laugh-out loud funny in more than a few scenes. Ardith's dad was not an intelligent man. And he was so set in his ways. He just had no clue how to deal with a stubborn, independent daughter like Ardith.
This book was a nice breath of fresh air. An impulse buy from the clearance rack that more than paid for its spot on my keeper shelf. I am usually lured in fairly easy by the plain Jane theme, especially when the hero is smitten and wooing the plain Jane, so that got my attention. But the good writing and engaging story and characters kept my interest. I'd definitely recommend this one.(less)
This was pretty good but not great. I liked Lee Wilkinson's descriptive writing. I felt like I was within the story, seeing everything in technicolor....moreThis was pretty good but not great. I liked Lee Wilkinson's descriptive writing. I felt like I was within the story, seeing everything in technicolor. I liked how I slowly saw more and more of Jared as a person. Although from the beginning, I could tell he was crazy about Perdita. I find a hero who is crazy in love a sure fire way to elevate a book to a higher level. Can't help it. It's my 'button'. In this case, this is the strong point of this book. Again, not that it's bad. I just felt that Perdita was a bit harder to identify with. I mean I can understand that she took a lot on faith from people who she thought were trustworthy, but she didn't listen to what her heart and gut was telling her about the man she loved, and she cost them three long years. That was like a pain in my gut. I hate wasted potential, you know? What I love is Jared still loved her so much, and waited for her. He could have moved on physically and emotionally, and who would blame him? But he doesn't. That makes me sigh.
So, yeah, I was a bit annoyed at Perdita, and even more, the person who engineered the destruction of her brief marriage to Jared. I have to take points off for that. But Jared, oh my darling, I add points for you.
So I end up with a 3.5/5.0 star book. *Sighs some more about Jared.*(less)
This book has been on my tbr pile so long, I finally decided I'd get it over and read it. I guess my instincts that made me put off reading it were co...moreThis book has been on my tbr pile so long, I finally decided I'd get it over and read it. I guess my instincts that made me put off reading it were correct. I was pretty underwhelmed from the beginning. It wasn't the fault of the hero Antonio, although he was pretty arrogant and kind of chauvinistic. It was Gina who got on my nerves. Although she considered herself mature and sophisticated, she didn't act the part. For a good-looking, rich, educated, blue-eyed blonde, who in her own words had lots of boyfriends and her share of lovers, she was awfully insecure. It became an enormous issue in her relationship with Antonio, almost destroying their marriage. She simply didn't have the capacity to trust him, despite the fact that he had never lied to her or treated her badly.
I don't DNF books that often, so I pushed through. I liked the reconciliation scene, that Gina swallowed her pride and apologized, but it was sad that she had to have confirmation that Antonio had not lied to her. I wish she had followed her heart and believed in him.
This was not a horrible book. It was just mediocre, and I don't really like to spend my time on books that are so-so, and rather underwhelming. At any rate, it's definitely not a keeper. Good news is that's one more book out of my tbr pile, and an empty space in my collection for a future keeper.(less)
Penny Jordan was one of my all time favorite HP authors for many years. But something happened. I guess her books lost that emotional depth that attra...morePenny Jordan was one of my all time favorite HP authors for many years. But something happened. I guess her books lost that emotional depth that attracted me. I have liked some of her recent reads, but I haven't loved any. But this book is the first in a long time that I felt that pull from. I admit she's not for everyone. She has the very angst-ridden, emotionally-tortured heroines who live in their pasts way too much. If you like Penny Jordan, then you're prepared for that going in.
There was something about this book that appealed to me. I think at lot of it was the luscious descriptions of Spain. They added beautifully to the atmosphere in this book. I think that although I didn't like the way that Vidal was holding a misconception against Felicity, he was a decent guy, and he was as misunderstood by Felicity as she was by him. The love affair between Felicity's parents was very tragic and it added to the angst component in this book. It made me hope that things would turn out okay between Vidal and Felicity. They were both decent folks and were caught in a situation that started way before they could assume personal culpability, and they deserved to fall in love and be happy in a way that Felicity's parents couldn't be.
The passion and love scenes were very well-done. Yes, there was a lot of the tortured inner dialogue and longing aspects in this story, but they didn't bother me (actually I like that, depending on the execution). I felt the fire and the longing intensity between this couple, so I was hoping that nature would take its course and it did.
This is going to be one of those 'feeling' ratings/reviews. To sum up, there was little I didn't like about this book. No reason to rate it poorly, even if it wasn't five stars. The book felt right. It met my inner qualifications for a good Harlequin Presents read. So four stars it is.(less)
This book packs an emotional punch. From page one, I was fiercely involved with the story. I have been an admirer of Sarah Morgan for several years, a...moreThis book packs an emotional punch. From page one, I was fiercely involved with the story. I have been an admirer of Sarah Morgan for several years, and she continues to meet my expectations. In this case, she's exceeded them. Sarah has created a story of a marriage that self-destructed, and the aftermath when this couple gets reunited by a family wedding.
I really liked the fact that the characters' emotional problems aren't solved by their love for each other. In fact, they have to work them them and communicate. Honestly though, that's one of the things I love the most about Sarah's writing. Her consistently strong use of dialogue and communication between the main characters. Communication (or lack of it) was a huge factor in the breakdown of Laurel and Cristiano's marriage, and the only way they could save that marriage. Neither of them is the bad guy. The 'bad guy' is that they hadn't developed a strong bond of communication the first time around.
Cristiano really does let down Laurel, but she could have handled the situation better. And both characters realize their faults and own up to them. But it takes some hard emotional moments and confrontations. Not to mention putting oneself out there for possible hurt, and a willingness to trust someone else.
I loved Cristiano. At first I did think he was being mean to Laurel. However, I could see his meanness was out of a broken heart. Similarly, I really felt for and admired Laurel. My heart was aching for the pain she suffered as a child and the way it had caused her to erect thick emotional walls and self-defense mechanisms that eventually lead to unhealthy emotional behavior as an adult. I tend to be self-protective like she is, so I could see the hallmarks of her behavior. I was so glad that Cristiano was willing to be a man and take her harsh but deserved criticisms on the chin. My respect of him went up a thousand notches just seeing how he truly makes amends to Laurel and is willing to move mountains to win her back. At the same time, I didn't feel like Laurel was being deliberately cruel. She was hurting bad and what Cristiano did (even through ignorance) was devastating to her. In some ways, Laurel had not developed as a mature woman emotionally, and that was a huge part of the reason their marriage self-destructed.
While I don't feel I am qualified as a marriage expert, I stand by the belief that commitment to honest and communication in a marriage is crucial, and I was very appreciative about how the author wrote this book. It's a very meaningful romantic story about an emotional journey between a married couple who loved each other deeply, but didn't understand each other well enough to keep it together the first time. While reunited estranged married couple romance will never be my favorite, I think that Sarah knocked it out of the park with this book. I am growing more stingy about five stars lately, but I can't help but give this book that rating. It's well-deserved. Bravo!
PS: I am glad to say that neither character was unfaithful to each other while they were apart. I absolutely hate that!!!(less)
Confession time: I passed this book by based on the blurb. It didn't appeal. I am not super-fond of second chance at love stories, or playboy/womanize...moreConfession time: I passed this book by based on the blurb. It didn't appeal. I am not super-fond of second chance at love stories, or playboy/womanizer heroes, and I didn't think I would care for this story. It sounded like a lot of the shallow and plastic (to me) romantic comedies out that I avoid like a plague. I am glad my GRs friend wrote such a sterling review that I pulled it off my shelf. It was a very good book.
What did I like:
* I liked how Ms. Blake took the time to show Caleb's viewpoint. I don't think this book would have worked nearly as well just through Ava's viewpoint. I absolutely needed to see his vulnerabilities, and first-hand how Ava had always been in his heart, even if he had erected the callous, carefree armor of a slick womanizer/high finance shark. His soft spots really endeared him to me, and that's saying a lot because I didn't think much of his values, and just merely being dumped wasn't enough to let him get out of jail free for being so slick and materialistic. I don't mean to be judgmental, but those qualities don't shout out to me in a hero. For all that, Caleb ultimately won me over, especially when he came to his senses at the end. I think deep in his heart, he was always in Ava's corner, and that endeared him to me. * Let me say I loved that Ava was pursuing her doctorate in higher education. Danielle was mentally doing a fist pump. I am always campaigning for more HP heroines with higher educations and careers, and Ms. Blake gave me that! In a strange way, it worked for me that Ava was such a book-smart woman but kind of a screw-up in other ways. Her family baggage had set her on a path where she made mistake after mistake. It was realistic. Now, when I read romances, I prefer it to be about the hero and heroine meeting and falling in love with no other partners and no long years lost. Ten years is a huge time period to regret the one that got away. However, in this case, I feel that this time apart might have been necessary to shape Ava and Caleb to better appreciate life together. So, although this in not my ideal scenario, it worked for this book (although I have some pangs about it). * I loved the interactions (non-sexual) between Ava and Caleb. The relationship re-builders such as their snarky back and forth, and their flirting and just hanging out, and how they were there for each other emotionally. Moreso from Caleb's side. But Ava also helped Caleb to see that getting in deep was okay, and feeling something more was the way life should be. Are you really living if you only play life fast and loose? I firmly believe that Ava and only Ava could have taught Caleb this. *Although more time could have been spent on showing Ava with her family, I am glad that the crucial make-up between Ava and her father did occur. I think Ava can heal in some essential ways now.
What I didn't love: *Honestly, the love scenes were a bit of an afterthought for me. I wanted to know that they felt more and it wasn't just sex, and it was hard to feel that way with both scenes, to be honest. When I read romance, I hate to see sex treated casually. It might work for some, but it doesn't work for me. And when I see it in a romance book between the hero and heroine, it puts a bad taste in my mouth. Although the scene on Caleb's car might have seemed hot, deep down, it left me feeling emotionally unsatisfied, especially compared to the emotional and tender first time they made love ten years ago. However, the moments of connection outside of their sexual interactions were winners for me. Such as when they lay on the grass and caught up with each other. I wanted to knock some sense into Caleb at his actions when Ava lay her heart at his feet in his apartment, so that post-coital intimacy was ruined for me. *As much as I liked this book, I felt kind of melancholy after reading it. I felt like so much time had been wasted, and maybe that's what made it a bit of a downer in some ways. I did like the end, so that sort of makes up for what was lost, but not completely. That's probably why I couldn't rate this higher than four stars, along with the love scenes not being as emotional as I liked.
I enjoyed this book a lot. It's a good reunion romance and friends to lovers book. The heroine has a lot of emotional depths, and Caleb's soft heart beneath a callous exterior intrigued this reader. I loved his expanded viewpoint a lot. I would recommend this book with the above reservations.(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.
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.
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!
Quite morose in tone, however I was drawn into this family drama of a novel that travels smoothly between the early 20th century and the last decade o...moreQuite morose in tone, however I was drawn into this family drama of a novel that travels smoothly between the early 20th century and the last decade of that same century. Very emotionally involving, although certain characters were hard to feel sympathy for. Recommended to readers who are interested in the WW1 years and the 1920s.
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.