Intangible Dream is the kind of Harlequin Presents that old-school fans will enjoy. Despite the lack of descriptive love scenes, there is plenty of pa...moreIntangible Dream is the kind of Harlequin Presents that old-school fans will enjoy. Despite the lack of descriptive love scenes, there is plenty of passion in this novel. And enough true love to make a diehard romantic sigh when they finish the last sentence.
It has a strong, fascinating hero who's pretty much obsessed with the heroine. Readers who love heroes who are stone cold in love with the heroine will find this book very romantic and James irresistible. Wilson maintains the tension of the reader sensing the hero's feelings, although we don't get his point of view. You feel like Gemma has underestimated his feelings for her, even though you don't find out how much until later on. Despite that, he conveys just enough and says enough to make it clear that he's crazy about Gemma. While Gemma puts up quite a fight against falling in love with James and into his plans for her, I could understand her reasons, even though I knew just how crazy James was about her. She was a bit too hurtful at times, although I think it was because she felt like she was a mouse caught in the lion's paws, out of self-defense.
Gemma has a sweet shyness and awkwardness about that I found really appealing. I could definitely see myself in her shoes, especially when I was younger. I am sure I would feel a bit overwhelmed by James' powerful personality, especially if I was youngish and very sheltered by an overprotective father (she's a very sheltered 24-yr-old) . The scenes in which James teases Gemma and draws her out of her shell are really appealing. They have a warmth and made me smile. Some readers don't care for young and innocent heroines, but they don't bother me, especially if their naivety makes sense and feels authentic. While Gemma is definitely naive, she wants to gain some agency in her life, and she has a lot of courage considering. After a life of being in a gilded cage with her dad, she doesn't want to change it to a gold cage as James' trophy wife. When she realizes his love is genuine and that she feels the same, that makes a big difference to her, and it shows in the denouement.
I think this might be one of my favorites by this author so far. I think James is a Class A Stalkerific hero (shows the possessive/jealous/obsessed traits I find a guilty pleasure, but not in a really psycho way that's too disturbing). I also liked Gemma a lot. They make a good couple and they made me root for things to work out for them. I recommend this to fans of the older Harlequin Presents, and for any fan of stalkerific romance novel heroes.
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 it...moreThis 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.(less)
I started a review and my computer decided it wanted to restart before I could save it! Oh well. Here we go again!I've had this ebook for years! Bett...more I started a review and my computer decided it wanted to restart before I could save it! Oh well. Here we go again!I've had this ebook for years! Better late than never.I enjoyed this book. It was a good read. Why not four or more stars?Let me tell you.I am a curious person. I can't help it. I have been known to ask far too many questions. It's wired in me to have a curious mind about the world and about the way it works, why people do the things they do. That tends to be an important part of my analytical process when it comes to books. So when I finished this book, I had big huge question marks in my mind about Chance. I didn't understand the way his mind worked, why he was keeping himself so isolated and separate. I didn't know, even when the book was over. It was like people knew this about him and didn't go there. I think that although this was a major issue for Zora, nothing really seemed to change this. Yes, he declared his love, decided to let her into his insular life, but I didn't get closure on why he was like that. Was it from a past hurt? Was it ever going to change? Would he open up a little more for Zora? I think if I had this understanding, I might have liked this book more than I did.Also, I didn't like the casual nature of their relationship. Tthey hooked up for sex and mainly had separate lives. Not romantic to me. Yes, I know, that's how some modern relationships are. It doesn't work for me. If there's going to be a sexual relationship first, I need it to feel like something more. There was a push/pull here where Zora was slowly pushing at Chance's barriers, but at the same time trying to maintain her autonomy and accept the relationship for what it was, although she wanted more. That was the main tension in this book. It's probably realistic for the development of many relationships, but not what I look for in a romance. I guess I'm still the fairy tale kind of relationship gal. I don't apologize for that. I think it's important for all women to feel that they are worth the wooing and the seeking and that they are a princess to the man they love. I don't want to be a princess, don't get me wrong, but it's good for you to know that you're a princess to the man you love and are in a relationship with!I loved that Zora was a chef and liked to bake. As a foodie, that resonates with me. I also tend to bake when I'm restless, and I should be less shy and take my extras (of which there are often a lot) over to my neighbors. No, I don't have a hunky ex-Marine neighbor, but still. Yes, this is a good love story although a bit nebulous for my tastes. Nicely steamy, with a hero who is quite appealing. I do like the buttoned up hero, but I could have used more unbuttoning besides sexually. I loved the proposal though. This is one of Aliyah Burke's earlier novels, and I can see that she's come into her own and developed a smoother voice and more confident writing. Even so, for being one of her first books, it's evident that she is a talented writer.Overall rating: 3.5/5.0 stars.(less)
I picked this one up immediately after finishing the companion book, The Most Coveted Prize, because I was very intrigued with Alena's older brother,...moreI picked this one up immediately after finishing the companion book, The Most Coveted Prize, because I was very intrigued with Alena's older brother, Vasilii. My instincts about him were correct. He initially comes off as a cold, forbidding, all business type hero. But underneath there is a lot of untapped passions. Laura is the woman to open that door to the intense man that Vasilli keeps tightly leashed.
Sometimes I feel that romance novels just aren't romantic anymore. A sad realization for a die-hard romance novel fan. Like something is missing and the story is just painting by numbers. I don't feel that emotional connection that really makes a romance sing to me. I didn't feel that way with this novel. There was something intensely romantic about this book. I guess it was the fact that Laura and Vasilii seem so lonely and disconnected. You don't expect love to develop between people in their situations, especially together, but it does, so beautifully. The fact that they find each other and realize that they love each other deeply was very appealing.
That is not to say that Vasilii's actions are always ideal. He has the wrong idea about Laura early on, and refuses to change his mind. But slowly and surely, he sees her integrity and honor and the sweet heart of her, and he can't help but fall in love. And honestly, even though he doesn't respect her, he treats her well as an employee. Although he mismanages his sister's development in ways that lead to her situation with Kiryl in the first book, I loved that he was a man who believed in respecting and honoring women. I cheered for him when he refused to allow Laura to be a pawn in his business dealings. He showed how much integrity he had. Even outside of his developing feelings, I could see that he knew that wasn't right to use a woman that way regardless. And even though he pushed her away and hurt Laura when he realized he was falling for her, I could see that she was in his heart. Ultimately, Vasilii was kind of a sweet guy.
I really liked the fact that Laura was a likable, very intelligent, independent woman who was excellent at her job. She understood two difficult languages: Russian and Mandarin Chinese, but also understood the crucial cultural dynamics and facilitated Vasilii's delicate negotiations. I especially liked how she made a connection with the wife of the Chinese businessman, which actually made the deal go through in the end.
This was a lot better than the first book. I think it's because I liked Laura's maturity and composure, and Vasilii has this vibe of being all "still waters run deep". Those are the heroes who really heat things up in books when their iron composure finally melts!
The scene when Vasilii finds out how long Laura has been in love with him, and the significance of the earrings was so sweet. A definitely 'aww' moment!
This is a good one! A lot to like about this book. Overall rating: 4.25/5.0 stars. (less)
This was a lovely little contemporary western romance with a prominent Gothic feel. Stormy Jones has not seen her father since she was five years old....moreThis was a lovely little contemporary western romance with a prominent Gothic feel. Stormy Jones has not seen her father since she was five years old. In fact, she was told he died. She has spent the majority of her life in her mother's women-centered commune, with little to no contact with men. Yet she feels something missing from her life. When Jonathan McBride enters her life, she is blown away by his rugged male appeal, and has a sinking feeling he is just what he was waiting for. He's like the proverbial forbidden fruit, a virile male, and the epitome of what scares her mother and her followers about men.
Jonathan came to Los Angeles to meet his employer's daughter and deliver important news. Her father is sick and wants to see her before he dies. One look at her tells her she's trouble. He saves her life and ends up in her bed. He is sidetracked by an unfortunate attraction to Stormy that leads to a night of passion. He wakes up the next day, determined to put Stormy at a distance. His experience with love in the past taught him that women could only destroy a man. He feels enormous guilt at sleeping with Hugh's daughter, and just wants to forget about it. Unfortunately, Stormy is a hard woman to forget or to push away. Plus, Stormy still needs to see her father, and when she blurts out a confession of her involvement with Jonathan, the conniving old man changes his will to require a marriage between the two at his death. Jonathan doesn't want another wife, but he does want his inheritance from her father, and marriage is the only way to get it now. Stormy feels deep inside that Jonathan is a man capable of love, no matter how hard he pushes her away. And she's carrying his child, so she doesn't want to walk away. The problem is, someone keeps trying to kill her. Stormy refuses to believe it's Jonathan, despite the cloud of rumors about his last wife's death hanging around him.
I really liked this book. It had a lot of emotion and intensity. I liked the Gothic vibe, and I enjoyed the push/pull between Jonathan and Stormy. I love when the hero is hard and rough and wants to push the heroine away, but needs her and the love she shows him. Jonathan was really quite tortured. He'd had a very rough life and it had taught him that loving and trusting others was a dicey proposition. Stormy's innocent hope and vital passion was just what he needed in his life. While he fights his love for her throughout the book, it was enjoyable to see him fall for her.
The western atmosphere was very well done as well. I felt like I was on a cattle ranch in Southwest Texas, where the land is closer to desert than anything else. This book had a lot more suspenseful vibe than I associate with the typical Silhouette Desires, with someone trying to kill Stormy, and Jonathan's dark past. I miss these old vintage Harlequins which are full of lots of drama and intensity. The newer books just don't have that zing.
I am glad I was able to read this book. Definitely worth looking up if you want a good vintage modern western contemporary romance.
Young country maiden, Penelope Fairweather arrives in London to stay with the Radclyffs, her goal to catch a husband. However, Penelope is the...moreSynopsis
Young country maiden, Penelope Fairweather arrives in London to stay with the Radclyffs, her goal to catch a husband. However, Penelope is the most awkward of ducklings. She is a disaster magnet, with no polish, a penchant for saying whatever comes to her mind, and a best friend (Lady Bathsheba) who is a goat. So the dowager Duchess of Blackthorne and her daughter, Anne, Lady Radclyff, have their work cut out for them. It doesn't help that Charles, the present duke, despises Penelope, and wants to send her back to Finnshire. What they don't know is that Penelope has no home to go back to, since her stepmother hates her. Penelope has one chance to have a home, and that's to succeed at finding a husband. If only she could do something right and temper her incautious, enthusiastic ways, so she can have a chance at a home and a family of her own.
The Radclyff women recruit Madame Bellafraunde, a dynamo at styling women of the ton, who just happens to be a man dressed as a woman, to turn Penelope into a stylish young lady who can catch a husband. What ensues is moment after moment of zany scenes, as Penelope struggles to find her feet in a new world. The Duke of Blackthorne slowly finds his feelings change for Penelope, her sweet spirit and generous, authentic nature finding the key to his frozen heart. Now if he could only convince Penelope that he doesn't hate her. There's also the matter of his mean-spirited fianceé, Lady Lydia Snowly.
Penelope is a laugh riot. This is a book for romance readers who really want to enjoy themselves with lots of slapstick-style comedic scenes and absurdity. Penelope is absolutely adorable. Her sweetness and honest spirit makes her a heroine that readers will love. At times, I wondered how she could constantly stumble from disaster to disaster, but it's all in fun. Mixed with the hilarious moments is pathos for Penelope's situation. She lost her true mother at birth, and was never loved by her stepmother. She never felt accepted in her own home. She hasn't had the same opportunities as many, but that doesn't stop her from being a young woman of courage and strength.
Charles, Duke Blackthorne is not very likable for most of the book. He says the most horrible things to Penelope, which makes him seem like a puppy-kicker. I loved that Penelope stood up to him, and demanded his respect. She didn't try to fit into his narrow boxes and narrow world, and over time, he realizes that he loves her for who she is, despite her lack of a verbal filter and penchant for disaster. While I didn't much care for Charles initially, he does come around and redeem himself, and he and Penelope have great chemistry. I wanted him to fall in love with her, just because that would be the last possible thing a lofty duke like himself would ever consider doing.
This novel is populated with quirky characters that kept me laughing and engaged in the story. I love to laugh, and Anya Wylde definitely had me laughing with this book. I couldn't wait to see what zany disaster would occur next. I liked the crazy twist on "My Fair Lady", with a little cross-dressing thrown in.
Penelope is a thoroughly enjoyable novel. It's unashamedly goofy, but it's done so well, this book is infectiously readable as a result. I would recommend this novel to readers who love funny romance stories. Penelope is a heroine that you can't help but love. Charles isn't quite as likable, which is why this isn't a five star read, but I did like how he comes to realize that he can't resist falling in love with Penelope. And it's great to see her get the happy ending she deserves. Definitely recommended!
I loved this book! This was worth waiting for, even though it was a long wait for it to come out in paperback. I can say that the hours spent reading...moreI loved this book! This was worth waiting for, even though it was a long wait for it to come out in paperback. I can say that the hours spent reading it were truly enjoyable. It's true that I am a huge fan of this series, but it never gets old for me. I do believe this is one of the best paranormal series out there, hands down! It has a lot of sex, so I wouldn't recommend it to a fantasy fan who doesn't like sex, but I feel that the world-building stands up to muster for a fantasy novel as well. I think that this story keeps expanding in ways that intrigue and fascinate me. I am happily surprised at all the twists and turns Cole gives this storyline.
Lothaire totally lived up to his potential. He is all that and more. I think that Cole did a great job of giving this character a romance without compromising who he was. Lothaire will always be a bad guy. He is just a bad guy who sometimes does the right thing. Kind of different and it worked for me! I have a sick fascination weakness for villainous/antiheroic types, and Lothaire is the top of the list!
Things I loved about Lothaire *Lothaire stays true to his character. He doesn't become a Stepford Hero just because he finds his true love. He is always going to be Lothaire, just Lothaire in love. *He cracks me up. I know he's not trying to be funny. He's just being him, but his way of twisting his words to get around his physiological demand to be truthful, and his sheer arrogance, results in some laugh out loud, snarkalicious comments. I can imagine Ms. Cole cracked herself and her editor up reading as she wrote it. I know she cracked me up. *I love a wickedly intelligent guy. My Achilles' heel. Lothaire is such a calculating dude. Always working all the angles. It was interesting to see how others reacted to him. Many hated him, some were scared witless by him, and some admired him (in a "I hate him" kind of way). No one was 'meh' about him. *Lothaire actually wants to be faithful to his Bride.
Things I loved about Elizabeth *She's very tough considering all that she went through. (Shudders) I can't imagine having that awful thing taking over my body committing those horrible acts with it. And then, where she spent five years! That was so dark! *She's so down to earth. I love a down to earth heroine. She's very proud of her humble root, loves her family, and is unshakably loyal. *She holds her own with Lothaire. Maybe she doesn't have thousands of years of experience or his incredible, immortal strength, but she has a snarky tongue, plenty of intelligence, and a big heart.
Things I loved about this book *Kresley Cole never tries to sell this as a normal people/functional romance. From the beginning, it's clear that this is not for the faint of heart. Lothaire is not a kind, loving, good-hearted boy next door. He is the Enemy of Old. Ellie is not the normal girl next door with a sweet, happy existence. Her life was tough since she was young, and it turns into a living hell when she's eighteen, and things just get worse. Despite that, I found it to be a sigh-worthy romance. I don't want a Lothaire of my own, but I sure did like reading about his romance with Ellie! *Lothaire has met his match in Ellie. Although he tried to walk all over her, he finds out the hard way that's not going to fly. Ellie proves to be a dangerous woman in her own right. If you have read this, you'll find out. *I didn't find this to be predictable. I had my ideas about how things would work out, but I was wrong! In fact, I was thrown a loop a time or two. I love how Cole turns all the endgame goals of Lothaire on their heads. *Freaking hilarious. Despite the very dark beginning and dark subject matter, there is much to enjoy and laugh about this book. *Smoking hot love scenes. I mean, wow! (thinks about the scenes and wipes forehead) *This world is endlessly fascinating and entertaining. All the different characters and how their immortal lives intersect. I like seeing the plots come together and overlap. With each book, I just want more.
Over five hundred pages of fantastic goodness. And when it ended, I was sad. I want to read it over again, but no time. Good thing I am planning on an Immortals After Dark series reread early next year!
I was disappointed with this one. I love Fiona Brand's Silhouette Intimate Moments series about SAS soldiers in New Zealand, and I was excited to read...moreI was disappointed with this one. I love Fiona Brand's Silhouette Intimate Moments series about SAS soldiers in New Zealand, and I was excited to read a new book by her. Unfortunately, I didn't feel the love or the passion in this story.
What went wrong?
Fundamentally, I like a hero who is psycho crazy about the heroine. I want to believe he couldn't live without her. Not that he was merely sexually attracted or fixated on her. In this book, I did not think Constantine ever lost his cool truly. He always stays in control. Even when he does make decisions/moves to bring Sienna back under his control, it doesn't speak of passion so much as manipulation. And even up to the end, he never really trusted her or let go with her. That failed him as a hero to me. I don't mind a manipulative hero when it's out of passion or intense love for the heroine, but I hate when a hero is manipulative out of sense of arrogance, control or just out of a sense of his incredible power. That master of all he surveys thing doesn't work for me at all. I'm was not convinced that Constantine truly loved Sienna when this over. I felt as though he was going through the motions. And worse still, I felt Sienna was always the one at risk, giving of herself, and out of control, while Constantine held all the cards. What Constantine did at the end didn't relieve me of this feeling. It felt like a move of desperation because he couldn't do anything otherwise. I'd have preferred a passionate declaration of crazy love. But that's just me.
I guess it's just a case of too high expectations. This wasn't a bad book. It was pretty good, especially if it had been by an new author, rather than one who had wowed me so much in the past. I just loved Cullen's Bride by her! Others might like this one more than I did.
Nightsong has languished on my tbr pile for years. I started it but put it down because I wasn't been in a mood to finish it at the time. Yesterday, I...moreNightsong has languished on my tbr pile for years. I started it but put it down because I wasn't been in a mood to finish it at the time. Yesterday, I felt this strong urge to read a western. Those urges come on me, and I felt it best to indulge. My eyes fell on it tucked into the large bookshelf in my room, and I started reading it again. It was the right book for my present mood.
Nightsong has that feel that I enjoy in a historical western. Strong people living their lives, facing adversities, and adhering to their personal sense of honor. Debra is a woman of two worlds: her mother was Indian and her father was white. Both worlds have rejected her to some extent. As a result, Debra has found her own world to live in. When hard-eyed Ethan Tyler comes along, determined to live with her at her homestead, she doesn't like the idea, but she can't make him leave. Before she knows it, they are married. And she falls in love with her husband, a man with torment and dark memories in his eyes. Before they can found a future, Ethan has to face his past. He is a fugitive, having killed the man who killed his wife and young son, and a bounty hunter has come to take him back. Honor dictates that Ethan go back and prove he was right to kill that man. Will this man she has come to love as her husband return to her, or will she be forced go back to living alone, on the edge of two worlds?
I liked the steady narrative, which was light on dialogue and heavy on description. Admittedly, this doesn't always work for me, but it did for this book at this moment in time and space. It showed rather than told who Debra and Ethan were. They are characters in which actions speak louder than words, so it was fitting. Through their interaction in the world around them, with each other, and with other pivotal characters. (view spoiler)[ I especially liked Gray Wolf, Debra's brother who shows up. I wonder if he had a story. I'd read it. (hide spoiler)]
It's an interesting thing how much reading depends on mood, at least for me. At times, this sort of book wouldn't be what I wanted to read. Other times, like yesterday, it was what the doctor ordered. It satisfied my craving for a western, and left me wanting more. That's why I gave it four stars.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This was a very engrossing book. I got sucked in from page one with the intricate descriptions of Aneesa in her Indian wedding finery. And when Aneesa...moreThis was a very engrossing book. I got sucked in from page one with the intricate descriptions of Aneesa in her Indian wedding finery. And when Aneesa and Sebastian meet face to face. Wow! The chemistry between Aneesa and Sebastian is electric, like a taut band that will always draw them back to each other. Sebastian frustrated me at times, but in light of his very tragic family history, it makes sense. When he wasn't frustrating, I wanted to eat him up. He really was a sexy hero. There is something about heroes named Sebastian for this reader. We usually get along very well. I loved that Aneesa stayed genuine with him and true to herself. She was an adorable, very lovable woman that I wanted to hug. I liked how she acknowledged her immaturity and shallowness prior to the bombshell that changes her for the better when this book begins. She shows true maturity and emotional integrity as a woman.
It goes without saying how happy I am to read a Harlequin Presents with a heroine of color. I wish that instead of referring to Aneesa as olive-skinned, she would have just came out and call her brown-skinned. Even with that small issue, I was thrilled to bits with the tidbits about Aneesa's Indian heritage and the glimpses into her family life and culture.
I am loving this Notorious Wolfes series. Each book peels back the many layers into the fascinating emotional dynamics in this troubled family. Each Wolfe is distinct in my mind. I already adore Jacob. I think I will just float away like a happy cloud when I finally get to his book.
Abby Green hasn't disappointed me yet. This is another emotional, intense, very good romance by her that has all that I like about Harlequin Presents, but added depths that make me enjoy every minute of reading the book.
When you marry a person, you marry their family, bad and good. Both Miranda and Marcus take their share of family baggage into their marriage. Miranda...moreWhen you marry a person, you marry their family, bad and good. Both Miranda and Marcus take their share of family baggage into their marriage. Miranda's family is not good ton at all, with some quite shocking scandal in their background, and Marcus' family is full of ugly secrets and betrayal. Honestly, this book has some dark aspects to it. Marcus' brother was a real piece of work. He starts trying to destroy Marcus and Miranda's marriage from the beginning, and Miranda is naive to his schemes, and just lonely enough and unacquainted with her husband to fall into his trap. I didn't particularly like that Marcus and Miranda spend a chunk of time apart for the 1st part of this book, but I understand why this was done, in light of the plot device of St. John's machinations against the newly wedded couple. I hadn't made up my mind about my feelings about Miranda being attracted to and somewhat susceptible to St. John's charms. When the reveal comes at the end, that makes sense as well. And in a way, it made me love Marcus and respect Miranda more. She was just a normal woman, with all the feelings that women feel, and a neglected bride. And Marcus for fighting to overcome his understandable fears and insecurities due to his disastrous first marriage, and St. John's role in destroying it. In light of those aspects of realistically flawed humanity evident and a very tangled web woven around her, and how she does try to be honorable about it, I couldn't really hold what happens against her. Admittedly, I was glad that things didn't go too far, although there were some uncomfortable moments where I yelled at the page, my stomach clenched into a knot.
Overall, I think the elements that challenged me about this book made it a stronger read for me. This book falls into the darker regency category just because of the emotional tangles that exist between Marcus and St. John, and how Miranda gets caught in that trap, but untangles both herself and Marcus from it with the power of her love and loyalty for him, her strong nature tested by a rocky life prior to becoming Marcus' duchess, and her determination to stand by her husband and honor her vows, even if that was harder than she thought it would be.
I'd have to give this book four stars because it packed a punch, and I really did enjoy the journey of strangers coerced into marriage to a couple deeply in love with each other. (less)
Dreams of a Dark Warrior is a story about an undying love that a man had for a woman, a long time ago. Of course, the man is a berserker, a warrior wh...moreDreams of a Dark Warrior is a story about an undying love that a man had for a woman, a long time ago. Of course, the man is a berserker, a warrior who harnesses the spirit of the lean winter bear--angry, fierce, powerful, and possessive; and the woman is an immortal valkyrie. This is a book about the danger and sacrifice of love. Love causes you to give yourself away, and there is no guarantee that you'll get anything back. But that is what love is.
CS Lewis wisely said:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
Regin had to learn that if she truly wanted to have her love endure and last forever, she had to let it go, and expect no guarantees. The man she was always afraid to give herself truly to--her heart, not just her body--refused to take the little she could give. He kept coming back to her, doomed to die, again and again. Until he was reincarnated as Declan Chase. Declan is the one man who seems least deserving of her love, but he is the one man who is strong enough to demand it, to fight for it with every inch of himself, and to dare her to love him. And he is also her enemy.
This was a hard love story to write, I imagine. I could see that, because, for all its excellence, it was hard to read. Kresley Cole had to start at the beginning, and let the pieces come together until the full story was unfolded. You see the golden, shining perfection of Aidan and Regin’s relationship, and you see how she loses that. And then you see her in the modern times and the man who is the reincarnation of her lost love. Reading this, I just didn't see how it would work out. There’s such a gulf between them. Such a war to be won. I looked hard at Declan, and he was so wretched, so lost. My heart wrenched in my chest for him. Having this yawning hole within him that made him do something horrible to feel whole, to cope. And to have lost his family that way, and to have suffered torture by his inhuman enemies. It gave birth to great hatred within him, fostered by an unjust father figure. Seeing Declan as Regin's reincarnated, long, lost lover seems like a losing proposition. But things always happen for a reason. Even really bad things. Because of what Declan went through, he was the one man reborn of Aidan's soul who was strong enough to fight against the curse that bore down on these star-crossed lovers that always intervened to separate them. I love how he always reminded Regin, "Nothing keeps you from me!" It makes my knees week. Ah, Declan, for such a cold, scary man who wanted and needed nothing but vengeance, you turned out to be a real romantic.
Yes, Dreams of a Dark Lover was a strange, dark love story. But it touched me, because although I don't believe in reincarnation, I do believe love never dies. I believe that love does conquer all. Nothing destroys love. It's eternal. That was a very strong message of this story, and I got it, loud and clear.
As you can see, I loved the romance part of this book, but I also found myself riveted with the story elements. The progression of the situation which arises in Pleasure of a Dark Prince, which promises to turn the Lore on its ear. I am a die-hard fan of this series, and that goes without saying. But I feel increasingly invested with this story with each book, because Cole brings it to a new level. She doesn’t keep me at a comfort zone where I know I’ll get a guaranteed good read. She escalates all the things that make these books such a ball to read, and keeps me yearning to see what she’ll come up with next.
PS. That Lothaire is such a scoundrel! I’m in love! (less)
As I had hoped, I liked this one even more than Penelope and Prince Charming. It was hot without having the over eroticism that I found uncomfortable...moreAs I had hoped, I liked this one even more than Penelope and Prince Charming. It was hot without having the over eroticism that I found uncomfortable in the first book. It definitely helped that I became drawn to Grand Duke Alexander in Penelope and Prince Charming. He is a very good villain turned hero, utterly compelling, with a charisma that grabs and doesn't let go. I understood his motivations even then, and I gained a deeper understanding of him in this book. Megan is the perfect heroine for him. She is sweet and innocent, but no pushover. Her love is steadfast, and even though she doesn't always understand everything about Alex, her love for him and the desire to be fully joined with her husband in marriage, is the guiding force that pushes her to break through those quite formidable and rather intimidating barriers between her and her husband. I rooted for their happy ending, because they are one of those couples you really want to see have their happy ever after.
I love the magical aspects of this series, and the fantastic culture of the Nvengarians. They are so dramatic and fascinating. I loved the humorous aspects of their Nvengarians' intensity, how they are loud, proud, emotional people, and very endearing in their over-the-top ways. I think Ms. Ashley crafted these people in a way that feels very authentic, and she gained a fond admirer of these people in me. They stand out in many ways, both in their consistently blue eyes and black hair, and their ethos and their personality traits. It's interesting seeing Megan, who is very English, adapt to a life surrounded by these folk who are so very different. She will have quite a life as the Grand Duchess of Nvengaria.
This is one of those books that you read very quickly because the story draws you in and keeps you hooked. Not just for the romance, but for the whole story, including the cultural aspects and the light fantasy/magical elements. With two leads that are both lovable and compelling, sexy, intense romance, and great humor moments, there is much to recommend this book to readers of historical romance who like their stories nicely steamy, with some well-integrated paranormal elements. Another winner for Jennifer Ashley, who definitely has a master touch with historical romance. This is one of her earlier books, but it's worth looking up if you haven't read it.(less)
Wow. This book really snuck up on me. I wasn't sure at first, because the writing seemed as though a lot had been cut out initially. I didn't think I...moreWow. This book really snuck up on me. I wasn't sure at first, because the writing seemed as though a lot had been cut out initially. I didn't think I was getting the whole picture. I honestly think that this book was not written for the YA market, but it ended up as one because of the younger aged characters. I felt as though the author might have been asked to edit some parts out to make it more 'suitable' for younger readers, and I felt that initially. As CS Lewis has expressed, I think that a good children's book is one that an older person will love just as much, so I don't really agree with writing books 'younger' to make them fit into the YA genre. So that feeling I had when I first started this book sort of threw me. I have read Sarah Rees Brennan before, a short story in The Eternal Kiss: 13 Vampire Tales of Blood and Desire, which I enjoyed immensely. So I knew she was a good writer. And the storyline of two brothers fighting demons and evil humans together called my name, as a huge fan of the Supernatural TV series and the Cal Leandros books by Rob Thurman. I was already excited to read this book. So, the beginning was so barebones, I got a little worried. I shouldn't have worried. This turned out to be an excellent book. So excellent, that I really can't knock it down from five stars despite its shaky start.
Ms. Brennan took a story that seemed all laid out for the reader, and gave it depths and twists that had me truly surprised. I didn't expect what happened at all. I had some ideas, and questions, and then things fell into place. I wondered about Nick, how he was so different from Alan. But I thought that maybe it was a matter of having more of his mother in him. Or maybe he was just wired differently from Alan. I think that humans are so unique, we can't expect each person to react the same way to the same set of circumstances. Even close siblings can be very different. But the twist, it makes sense.
This is an edgy book, and quite dark. I think that Brennan can definitely bring it when it comes to this kind of storyline. I don't assume that female writers don't know how to go there, and writers like Brennan show women writers do have the chops to pull off this kind of book.
That sibling bond is the lynchpin of this story. It takes what you think you know and you find you didn't know as much as you thought. You think that you know what love is capable of, but you don't have a clue. People often find their views of the world shaken by the events that occur, and from that point it's either adapt or die. It's a leap of faith to walk through a dark, twisted path, with no light in the horizon. But what choice do you have? Alan, who's so seemingly frail in need of protection, he will surprise you. Nick, who seems so strong and invulnerable, he has a core of need that shows you that strength sometimes is an illusion, maybe even a fallacy. Because we can't be a lonely, inviolate rock and survive in this world. We need an anchor. We need that tie of emotion to keep us grounded, to keep us healthy, sane, alive. Such is the case with Nick. There's definitely some symbiosis between Alan and Nick.
I'll add this series to my favorites about family and siblings because it captures so much that I love about this theme, and so starkly and beautifully. All the pieces fall into place, and the resultant picture is worthy of more than a second glance. It stands up against scrutiny in all the ways that count.
As far as the fantasy elements, very well done. Magicians equal sorcerers in this book. Magic ties heavily into demonology. The theme is inherently dark, but it's not so dark that it makes for unpalatable reading. But dark enough to be credible. Along with the fantasy are the cautions that humans of any persuasion can appreciate. Power comes at a cost. Do we really want to pay that cost? Really? Power corrupts and destroys. But love can change that prognosis in ways we never thought possible.
Yeah, it's clear that I am a fan of this book. I am highly recommending it to people who love the theme of brothers against the world, fighting the bad guys--real demons, and their own emotional ones.
Lord of Desire was a very good introduction for me to Paula Quinn's work. I found myself drawn into this novel about a young woman who falls in love w...moreLord of Desire was a very good introduction for me to Paula Quinn's work. I found myself drawn into this novel about a young woman who falls in love with a man based on how powerfully he loves another woman. It sounds weird, but this was quite a hook.
Brynna came across Brand and his love Colette, frolicking in a sun-drenched pond. From that moment on, she cannot shake the visions of her black-haired, blue-green eyed merman with his all-consuming joy and passion that spills from him for his lover. Much to her surprise, her merman turns out to be one and the same as her arranged husband. Except now he is a cold-eyed, fierce, frightening Norman warrior, one who vows never to love her. Although Brynna craves a husband that can love her, she is willing to marry him anyway, if it will save her home. However, this strong, determined woman can't help but fight to chip away the glacial ice that coats her husband's heart.
I was captivated with Brand. His mix of icy ferocity and passionate emotion truly intrigued me, and had me falling for him. I liked the descriptions of him, and how clear it was that he was a very good man, one who'd had his heart stomped on by a woman who he loved so deeply that this love destroyed him when she betrayed him. He was very tortured in that he had given so much of himself that nothing but a deep, dark void remained. I could totally see why Brynna fell hard for him. I did too, I must admit.
At first, I was worried that Brynna would be too bratty for me, but she wasn't. She was very spirited and she stood up for herself and for others, which I liked. I loved that she was strong enough to take on her troubled husband (and the spectre of the woman who did him wrong), and to love him deeply, even knowing it could be a losing proposition in the end.
I liked the setting and the storyline, which prominently features a real life historical figure, Duke William of Normandy, otherwise known to us medieval history buffs as William the Conquerer, the man who changed the face of England in 1066. William's character is brought to vivid life as a big, strong, hearty, passionate man. Brand is one of his most trusted warriors, and William himself campaigned for the marriage between Brand and Brynna. He becomes a close friend and ally to Brynna in her battle to win her husband's frozen heart. I have this feeling that Ms. Quinn has a bit of a crush on William the Conqueror. He plays a big role in this book, and his scenes and dialogue are delivered with a loving attention to detail. It was a nice touch for me, since I haven't read any books that showed William as a real man, and a prominent character. I have to say that I liked him very much in this novel.
Although there are elements of intrigue and danger, most of the focus is centered on the developing relationship between Brynna and Brand. The chemistry and passion between them is red-hot, and I felt that powerful intensity that wrapped their hearts together. The love scenes were good and plentiful, although I did feel like some of the word choices were a little purple prosy. I struggle with how love scenes are described in some books. I don't like the raunchy language, but I admit that the purple euphemisms can make me giggle. It makes me wonder if it's better just to keep the descriptions vague if you don't want to go there and be too explicit. I think in this case, the attraction between this couple was so fierce, I probably didn't even need all the descriptions to be satisfied with the love scenes.
One other aspect I liked was how sinister the villain turned out to be. I read a lot of books, and I wish that many more had truly nasty villainesses. This is one for you if you like to see a good female villain. It really struck me that this woman could be so conniving and evil. I wish there was a bit more of a resolution on her final fate, but at least she's out of the picture between Brand and Brynna. And that's all that matters.
I have to say I am glad that I have several of Ms. Quinn's books in my pile. I like her style. She won me over with this tale of a man that is both hot like fire, and cold and fierce like iron is to faeries. I am a sucker for a good medieval romance, and this fit the bill very nicely. Recommended!(less)
This book was so good!! I loved Coburn. What a man!!! You can tell I was a happy reader by the number of exclamation points I've used thus far. Honor...moreThis book was so good!! I loved Coburn. What a man!!! You can tell I was a happy reader by the number of exclamation points I've used thus far. Honor was a good heroine too. Very intense and awesome suspense. Very close to five stars. Rating: 4.5 stars.
There is something very distinct and elegant about Caitlin Crews' writing that appeals to me. I noticed that in her first book for HP, Pure Princess,...moreThere is something very distinct and elegant about Caitlin Crews' writing that appeals to me. I noticed that in her first book for HP, Pure Princess, Bartered Bride, and it was evident here as well. I liked the strength of her heroine in Tristanne. She was afraid, she was wounded emotionally, but she was strong! She approached a very dangerous man and offered to be his mistress, for the sake of her mother. And that's not the end of her troubles, because she's gone from the frying pan to the fire. Nikos Katrakis is not easy to manipulate into a fake arrangement as she planned. He's the kind of man who gets exactly what he wants, and he has plans for her and for revenge on her family. Nevertheless, she ends up falling into his bed and in love with him.
Although I feel that this story could have had more dialogue (it's almost entirely introspective thoughts and description), it was still exciting and intriguing, what a good Harlequin Presents should be. Crews has a great way of writing the exquisite tension between her characters where I was holding my breath in anticipation. Also expectantly waiting to see what will happen next. I didn't believe that Nikos would go through with his ruthless, cold-blooded plan for revenge. When he does, my heart sank. I sorted through my own emotions and wondered if Tristanne could forgive him. I have to say that the scene in which they reunite really threw me. Tristanne shows what love truly is. Instead of plunging the knife that Nikos hands her into his black heart and twisting it, she forgives him. Because she loves him. Because she sees that this man didn't know what love was. And it was her job to teach him.
This story is quite different from Caitlin Crews' first HP novel, and I really liked it for its difference, although the first is still my favorite. I liked the intense emotions and the very admirable, mature, self-sacrificing, but painfully self-aware heroine. I liked the blazing hot passion between Tristanne and Nikos. And I loved how Ms. Crews took the standard self-made, ruthless HP tycoon, and gave me a tortured, hurting man who had been used and hated by everyone who should have loved him. She took this character and put him into the hands of the perfect heroine to show him what it meant to love and to be loved in return. It makes me think of Nature Boy by David Bowie
With Taken for Revenge, Bedded for Pleasure, India Grey gave me what I wanted in a rainy Sunday Harlequin Presents read. There is fiery passion, inten...moreWith Taken for Revenge, Bedded for Pleasure, India Grey gave me what I wanted in a rainy Sunday Harlequin Presents read. There is fiery passion, intense emotions, painful self-discovery, and the union of two lost souls whose families have been enemies for fifty years.
Olivier Moreau appears to be the standard Harlequin Presents hero at first glance: devastatingly handsome and virile, rich, powerful, and utterly ruthless. He was without question a sexy man, but not especially likeable initially. I liked that Ms. Grey peeled away the layers to this cold, manipulative man and allowed me to feel for him, to come to believe he was worthy of being loved by Bella.
Bella is the damaged, lost, rich girl. She never felt like she had anything of value to offer her powerful, politically active, aristocratic family. She was used by her last boyfriend, and he exposed her and the Lawrence family to pubic ridicule in a way that lead to her attempting suicide. Since then, she has been trying to rebuild her life and her sense of purpose, one step at a time.
For Olivier to settle on Bella as the instrument of revenge would presumably cause automatic hatred, if not dislike for him. However, with the manner in which this story unfolds, I didn't feel that way towards him. I wasn't sure how much I liked him, but somehow I could understand his drive for power, when he'd lived under the thumb of the aristocracy and saw how his father, Julien, had been destroyed by the Delacroix family, because of his affair with their matriarch, Genevieve, who is Bella's grandmother. Julien created a painting in which he poured all his love and devotion for a woman who was forbidden to him. He also lost his chance at fame as a painter when he injured his hands in a fire set by a Delacroix, trying to save the painting that was the work of his life. So he was left with nothing. Olivier lost his father before he'd ever known him, growing up with a shell of a man; and his mother left when he was two. Olivier doesn't understand what love is. He only understands power and control. His pursuit of Bella is seemingly driven by revenge, but something about her calls out to him. It only makes seducing her a more pleasurable duty in his mind, but no more than that. Clearly, his behavior is far from honorable initially.
As this book unfolds, there is a very complex tangle of emotions and motivations present in the relatively short 184 pages. I wondered where things were going to go, and it wasn't predictable. Surprisingly early on, Olivier seemed to grow a conscience, and had a self-loathing for his actions that surprised me. I am used to the heroes in these books being so unforgiveably arrogant and blind to the truth, until they receive a last-minute epiphany. In this story, it's more of a gradual, and believeable evolution in Olivier. Instead of thinking Bella is not good enough for him, he knows he's not good enough for her.
Bella has a vulnerability that I found distressing at times. She never quite managed to grow a thick skin, despite what had happened to her. She was a little too honest in expressing her emotions and the allowing of them to show, despite coaching herself otherwise, for my comfort. But maybe this was as her grandmother said. She wasn't meant to be hard and cold, unfeeling, and empty, like she tried to be. As her grandmother told her early on in the book, she was meant for love and life. Perhaps that was what helped Olivier to turn away from the dark path he had dedicated his life to. To choose love and a sense of emotional connection, for once.
This book is rife with evocative imagery and the passion between Olivier and Bella simmers off the page. I loved the descriptions of high class, glitzy London, and even more, the French countryside. It was most enjoyable seeing Olivier out of his big city environment, revealing his French pastoral roots, cooking freshly picked mushrooms with wine and rice, or an herb omelet. I freely admit my love for men who cook.
Although I am admitted fan of this line of books, it's especially rewarding when I read one that has a lot of substance along with a fun, drama-filled read. I thought that Ms. Grey created a very vivid hero in Olivier, a man who I grew to like as I watched him struggle to realize what was truly of value to him. I would feel hesitant to see a fragile flower like Bella, a girl that I couldn't help but like and feel protective towards, end up in the hands of a cold-hearted bastard like the old Olivier. Fortunately, he showed glimpses of who he truly was deep down, encouraging her to be her sweet individual self, and choosing her as the most important thing to him, in ways that weren't necessary to his plan for revenge. So, in the end, I was more than happy that they found their happy ending together.
After reading this book, I'm going to add India Grey to my roster of authors who I can look to for delivering a satisfying, evocative, and satiating read in the Harlequin Presents line. This book proves her mettle. Overall rating: 4.5/5.0 stars.(less)
This book snuck up on me. I wasn't sure I'd like it, although Charlotte Lamb's books are generally very good. It turned out to be a winner. I really l...moreThis book snuck up on me. I wasn't sure I'd like it, although Charlotte Lamb's books are generally very good. It turned out to be a winner. I really liked the heroine, Stacie. She was spunky, smart, and had a very snarky sense of humor. I liked that she had her flaws, which she was aware of. For instance, she knew her temper tended to get her in trouble. I liked that she was realistic about herself. She showed self-respect, in that she wasn't willing to settle for less than she deserved. She'd made a mistake in the past, falling for the wrong man, and it made her wary. She didn't want to get caught in the same trap again. Which was why Nicholas was such a threat to her. I also liked that she was a photographer, in a position that was normally occupied by men, and she had to work hard to get the respect and career opportunities due her. She wasn't afraid of hard work.
Nicholas Kinsella comes off as a bit of a bully initially. As this is one of the older Harlequin Presents, you don't get to see his POV at all. Any conclusions you might draw about him are based on his behavior. He is a powerful man, and he seems to be used to manipulating his power to get what he wants. He doesn't come off as particularly warm, either. What I liked, was how Stacie was able to get this ice-cold man to melt. I felt you could see how she was changing him, and how he was falling in love with her, willing to give up his control and all his plans to have her in his life. By the end of the book, I could see just how deeply he loved Stacie. I was hoping she'd let him into her life and give into her love for him.
I truly enjoyed the adventure element in the climax. I did not expect it, but it helped to make this book for me. It served as a very good catalyst for bring this couple together, and it made me love Stacie even more, for her quick thinking and her selfless actions.
This was a very good book, and I ended up enjoying it a lot. The beginning was a bit slow, so that's why I'd give it 4.5/5.0 stars instead of a full 5 stars. I'm glad I have a bunch of Charlotte Lamb's other books in my tbr pile. Although she's gone now, she's left quite a legacy behind in the great books she's written. (less)
An interesting idea, a ball held every five years, where one can go and meet their 'true love' and marry that night. Rafe feels he has a huge reason t...moreAn interesting idea, a ball held every five years, where one can go and meet their 'true love' and marry that night. Rafe feels he has a huge reason to hate the Cinderella Balls, and Ella and her parents, even though he was once in love with her. Ella feels that this ball is the last chance she has to have the elusive happy ever after that was stolen away from her when Rafe left her. Rafe shows up at the ball and delivers an ultimatum to Ella. Marry him, or don't marry at all. He's seething with a violent mixture of desire, rage, and a love he dare not admit to. He tells himself he marries Ella, out of revenge, but when she tries to give herself to him on their wedding night, he spills the beans and walks away. Ella takes the courageous step of following him to his home in Costa Rica. Once there, the natives are convinced she is the long-prophesized "La Estrella" who will bring peace and prosperity back to the town of Milagro, but Ella has her work cut out for her. She has to convince her husband that her love is true, and that he can trust in her love. But how can he, when he holds Ella responsible for his sister's broken heart.
Rafe is a very intense man. He carries a lot of emotional weight on his shoulders. At times, he's hard to like, but I could see why Ella loved him. Slowly but surely, Ella chips away at the stone around his heart, seeing that he's a man more than capable of loving intensely. That's the problem. He loved Ella, and felt she betrayed him. The truth of what happened five years ago comes out, and Rafe realizes his future is with his Cinderella bride.
This was a good read, but I think the ending was awkward. Ms. Leclaire tried to recap some of the other couples who had attended the Cinderella Ball in the past, and it didn't seem to fit. I would have liked the book better without that ending. Still, it was a good read, and a keeper.(less)
I found myself really clicking with Ms. Mikels' writing style. She has a way of an interesting story. I was drawn into this book, and I felt a connect...moreI found myself really clicking with Ms. Mikels' writing style. She has a way of an interesting story. I was drawn into this book, and I felt a connection with the characters. I was intrigued with what made Max Henderson such a cold, unapproachable man. When I found out, it totally made sense. I could see why he had withdrawn from others. His emotional pain made him unexpectedly tortured. Although he was a businessman-type, he also had a rugged, manly appeal that I liked. I could see why Sam fell for him. I thought that Sam was a good counterpart for him. Determinedly cheerful, yet strong and independent, but not without her own baggage.
Their love story was straightforward, but it had its bumps along the way, as they dealt with their emotional issues, moreso on the part of Max. There was a nice, strong vibe of attraction and an appeal to this story. But it wasn't a dramafest in the bad way. It was nice to see their love grow as they spent time together and realized that there was more between them than patient and caregiver.
Since this is part of a series written by different authors that all ties together, there is a bit of vagueness in the description and the characterization of the supporting characters, and loose ends with the mystery of who killed Max's sister Christina, with little resolution on that front. This didn't bother me, because I knew that going into it, and I was more interested in seeing the relationship between Sam and Max unfold. In the end, I was glad I pulled this one off the shelf for my Clean Off My Category Romance Challenge. It turned out to be a very good read.