I am working my way through the Anne Stuart's Out-of-Print Gems collection on my Kindle, and it's wonderful to spend time with my favorite author of all time. I already read The Soldier And The Baby and chose this one next. I remembered not loving it the first time I read it. I don't know why, it just didn't stick with me.
I think that listening to a book the second time adds to the experience. I would admit that the robotic voice of Kindle Text to Speech in itself isn't a dramatic aid, but hearing the words of an author spoken out loud employs the auditory senses. Anne Stuart's writing feels good to the ears. She is a spare writer, but she is a master at creating imagery with a minimum of words. And atmosphere. This book seethes with Gothic atmosphere, and it's a perfect fusion of "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Phantom of the Opera." Except Megan is neither the unearthly beauty and pure-hearted goodness of Belle nor the sheltered innocent, and easily victimized Christine Daae. Regardless, this story still works. Megan is a mature woman in her twenties who is wearied from taking care of her immature father who had done something very bad with this construction company, involving the architectural designs of reclusive Ethan Winslow. He manipulates his daughter into going to plead with Winslow to save his skin. Megan knows her dad is manipulating her, but it's a set habit to take care of her dad. Ethan Winslow's world is a dark place with a shadow lover, and a small-minded, vicious town fed into a frenzy by a religious fanatic preacher. Megan knows Ethan is no good for her, in the end, but she is drawn to him in a way that she cannot deny. His lonely heart cries out to hers.
Readers who enjoy that vibe of Beauty and the Beast and Phantom of the Opera with a tortured, disfigured, lion with a thorn in his paw recluse will find themselves drawn to the story for that reason. However, Stuart adds her own stamp to the novel with the Gothic elements and the suspense and tension of Megan being initially imprisoned in Ethan's house and surrounded by strange phenomena and even stranger people.
Despite the short nature of this story, Stuart deals with serious themes of prejudice, the danger of intolerance and mob mentality and violence, and the misuse of religion (not faith or belief in God, which is a very different thing). Ethan is a very angry, vengeful man. He has reason to feel that way, but loving Megan opens a possibility for him to have a real life outside of the prison of the strange house he designed and the prison of his mind and past.
I hate prejudice and bigotry and my heart went out to Ethan for being despised for something that he had no control over. The small-minded meanness with its ugly results of the townspeople was infuriating and sad that they could see no other way to be, and that they felt justified in their hatred of Ethan for no reason (although he did taunt them some).
This story was very romantic. It touches on the fantasy of the shadow lover who is both dangerous and alluring, and the appeal of being in a world of their own making. Their sensual encounters are well-written and passionate, drawing me into the story as I listened, and I could vividly see the story unfolding in my mind.
The characters are sketches in some ways. You can assume more about their personalities than Stuart reveals. I don't mind though. I am easily able to fill in the blanks based on their descriptions, actions and mannerisms. I liked Megan more this time. I can appreciate her personality more now at my age. I respect her independence and her intrinsic sense of right and wrong, and that she's not an innocent girl. She knows what she wants and is mature enough to know what she's sacrificing to have it. And even though I stubbornly wanted Ethan to go after her, I think she showed a lot of bravery to go after the man she wanted, especially with the fact that he would never be the Prince Charming one expects in the fairy tales. He's her Dark Prince, and that's better, in my book.
While this won't ever be a favorite of mine by Ms. Stuart (too many contenders for that), rereading has upped my rating for this novel. I can appreciate it in a way that I didn't before. I think that it has a lot to say about society and the petty mean-spiritedness that people are capable of, and its costly effects to all involved. The atmosphere is fantastic, dark and sinister and Gothic. But also enticing and seductive. The dark can be both depending on the person, their frame of reference. I know for me it is definitely both. I love the night, the velvet of the dark sky, the cooler breeze, and the quiet and settled feel of the nighttime. I feel a sense of peace communing with nature in the dark. But sometimes, the dark inspires fears of the unknown. The things that go bump in the night. Both are evident in this novel. Ethan will always be a creature of the night, but Megan is fine with that. they can create their own world in the night, where their love is inviolate.
This was a comfort reread that I completed on my Kindle Text-to-Speech between May 21 and June 8th, 2014.
Anne Stuart is my all time favorite author. H...moreThis was a comfort reread that I completed on my Kindle Text-to-Speech between May 21 and June 8th, 2014.
Anne Stuart is my all time favorite author. Her skill with writing romance is evident in her category Harlequin books as much as her mainstream books that she writes now. She has a way of combining romance with edgy danger and suspense to make the kind of book that a romance fan who loves action, thrillers or suspense can enjoy for equal components. She shows the knowledge of key elements to a scintillating romance story: A compelling hero, a likable and identifiable heroine, a scenario that allows tension to grow and culminate into a lifetime love, and plenty of moments of enjoyable, sigh-worthy scenes between said hero and heroine along the way.
Reilly is the kind of guy you'd want to be stranded in the jungle alongside (if you want that at all). He's the strong silent type, and beneath the rough edges, he is a decent person with a firm moral compass. He's also sexy and strong and appealing in that luscious romance novel hero way. He's got more than enough bad boy appeal (or otherwise this wouldn't be an Anne Stuart book). I pretty much hate being hot and sweaty and dirty, so a jungle doesn't sound fun to me, but I love reading books where the hero and heroine slog together through a jungle because they are so much fun.
Carlie is one of my favorite Stuart heroines. She's actually rather innocent (courtesy of spending nine years in a convent), but also has plenty of emotional scars from the tragedy of her past. She's soft but also strong, and not a pushover that makes a dominant hero like Reilly seem like a bully when he acts all gruff and grumpy. She's taken a lot of licks in her life, but she keeps on ticking.
The chemistry between Reilly and Carlie is electric as it can only be in an Anne Stuart book. Even though the love scenes aren't that descriptive, they feel steamy to me. Because Stuart is so good at building tension. You can feel their attraction (reluctant at first) and the slow slide into love that makes it clear that neither will be able to walk away when they get back to safety. I had a happy, sappy smile of satisfied romance lover when I finished the book, even though I've read this at least twice before now (probably more).
Timothy, the baby is an integral character. He reveals the vulnerabilities of both characters, and personalizes Reilly as a man who is tough as nails but also can be gentle and caring with an orphaned child.
The scenario is exciting and fun, although more energy is focused on the romance since this is a shorter-length category romance. There is more than enough atmosphere present to buy the sense of risk of being in a war-torn country south of the border.
Although this is from the 90s, it doesn't feel dated, but moreso classic. One of those tried and true romances from that period that I consider a sure thing when I need an escapist romantic pick-me-up.
I am biased in the sense that I am a diehard Anne Stuart fan, but this is definitely one of my all-time favorites by her. Recommended!
I'd really rather give this one 4.5 stars, because it was an excellent book. Although a young adult book, it is definitely sophisticated enough for an...moreI'd really rather give this one 4.5 stars, because it was an excellent book. Although a young adult book, it is definitely sophisticated enough for an adult to enjoy it (I don't consider myself sophisticated, but I still think a person who is would like it). I liked that the suspense builds. There are no cheap thrills or shock value scares. Instead, the author takes his time and builds up the menace so that you spend your time trying to prepare yourself for the scare. Even still, you won't hear someone yelling 'boo.' Instead the moment of dread will come and you will think, whoa, "I'm glad I'm not in Tom's shoes right now." I do love stories where a character comes into their destiny, and this is one of them. Tom wasn't really sure that he wanted to be a spook after all. But he didn't have any other trade in mind, and he definitely didn't like farming. But it turned out his destiny was waiting for him as the seventh son of the seventh son. He was apprenticed to train as the next Spook, which is a person who rids the towns of evil, supernatural creatures. It is a job that is looked down on by others, and promises to bring the bearer a lonely life. But at the time, Tom figures it's better than farming, and his mother doesn't really give him much of a choice. Let's just say she had his destiny determined long before he was born. You get to see Tom struggle with his role as the Spook's Apprentice, several times, deciding to quit but having his mind changed in various ways. He makes some mistakes along the way, but learns from them, so there is also a good coming of age story in this book.
I like that there is definitely good and evil in this book. But there are also humans who could go either way. Yes there are bad witches, but there are some that are benign. There is one character that is likely to be in-between, and she has a very pivotal role. I believe that she will have a very important place in Tom's life as he matures. Perhaps there will be a romantic future for Tom and Alice when they get older.
The parts with the witches really did unnerve me. They are horrible creatures who kill and eat people and use their bones for dark magic. It was refreshing to read a book that actually had bad witches for once. I was very proud of young Tom for facing off on not one, but two witches that were out for his blood and his bones, and saving a young child that was likely to be one of their victims.
The author really did a great job of setting a sinister tone. It wasn't over the top, but very subtle and building. His use of words drew a very vivid image, where I felt as though I was standing there and the witch was crawling out of the grave to get me.
Another thing I liked was that this story was not predictable. You don't know how it's going to end. You don't know the way in which the witch will manifest herself. She could have possessed any one of the people in the house during the climax moments of this story.
Tom was a sympathetic, likable narrator. He was realistic for his age, but I truly did admire his bravery although he was scared when a rational person would have been scared. He was often left to deal with situations that would have been challenging for a grown-up, much less a boy of twelve. He risked his life to do the right thing, and that was very admirable to me.
There are questions that I would still like answers to, but reading the next books in the series, will definitely give insight into the enigmatic Spook, and Tom's mother, who has gifts that are still somewhat mysterious at this point.
If you want to read a young adult book that has the appeal of giving a good, sustained scare instead of a series of shock value, short-lived scares, I think you would enjoy this one. A cool bonus with this book is pages of Tom's journal, a map of the areas in the book, and the key to the codes used by a Spook in his trade.(less)
1st Reread completed between June 30th and July 17th on Kindle Text-to-Speech.
I read this years ago in the print version from Loveswept, and I still h...more1st Reread completed between June 30th and July 17th on Kindle Text-to-Speech.
I read this years ago in the print version from Loveswept, and I still have this copy. This was one of my favorites, and it's an excellent example of the stranded/marooned/survival romance theme.
Sterling and Deidre are stranded on a deserted island in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle. Sterling saves Deidre's life by towing her on the shore and giving her mouth-to-mouth. Sterling is a rough and ready ex-soldier who is experienced in survival and is also aspiring to be a ninja. In this book, ninja principles are a lofty goal for a person, kind of like the bushido principles/Way of the Samurai. Sterling is very attracted to Deidre from the beginning, wages a constant battle between his lusty desires and the higher principles of his calling. Deidre has been very sheltered, living in the shadow of her parent's unattainable aspirations for her, and hiding in books and working in a librarian. Her experience on the island is the first time she's truly loved. As to be expected, living in primal nature brings out the most basic and elemental natures in a person and also hones them into true survivors. In the case of these two people, they find a powerful and intense love that will make an unbreakable bond between them, despite the secrets that Sterling keeps.
I really appreciated the tidbits on survival on an island. Enough to feel realistic. And something that many books don't address but all women under a certain age have to think about every month. The solution was pretty ingenious.
Let me say, if a woman doesn't like a man with, shall we say, bossy tendencies, Sterling would not be the man to be stranded with. However, this man knows his stuff, and he would definitely keep you alive and well.
Rupprecht (who goes by Mallory Rush these days) definitely knows how to write sexual tension. I mean, wow! The buildup between this couple is explosive, and when they do the deed, it's a satisfying payoff. She also deals with the emotional consequences of being stranded with another person, the bonds that form and the fact that it changes you. It's not like you can just go back to a normal life when you are rescued. You are changed too much. When Sterling's obligations come to light, Deidre has to face the pain of knowing that their life on the island can't continue exactly the way she wanted. But she has to believe in the true love between them and trust that a man like Sterling (his name tells you all you need to know) is honor bound to do the right thing, no matter how hard it is.
Although the Text-to-Speech is robotic sounding, it was still an enjoyable experience to listen to this book as I waited to fall asleep at night. I could vividly picture what their life was like on the island, and the passage about the ghost ship was very eerie.
This book stands up to a reread. While there are a few dated aspects, overall, it's still a fantastic book, and definitely a keeper for me.(less)
The Lost World is a classic work of action/adventure that has a lively feel that made for a very fun read. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, best known for his...moreThe Lost World is a classic work of action/adventure that has a lively feel that made for a very fun read. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, best known for his Sherlock Holmes stories, has a way of writing an engaging tale. For readers who fear reading books published prior to the later 20th century out of the desire to avoid dry, stale language, I would offer up this book. Although it shows the sentiments, good and bad, for the period in which it was written, the writing tone could easily be as modern as a work published in the recent years. It doesn't have much of a dated feel to this reader, except in one way that I will address later. Mr. Doyle takes the scientific debates of the later Victorian, early Edwardian period, and gives us vivid characters to speak for the different viewpoints, making what could be a dry discussion of evolutionary biology and the various proponents or antagonists therein, and instead crafting a diverting read.
Challenger is by far the most hilarious character in this story. He is completely pompous and arrogant, assured that he knows everything, and of his utter superiority in every way. He is oblivious to the idea that anything should shake his massive self-confidence. Although he is right a lot of the time, sometimes he's very, very wrong (or his way of analyzing and approaching things is just skewed), not that he lets that bother him much. Mr. Doyle created an iconic figure here, so it doesn't surprise me that he wrote other stories about Challenger. He's too good a character to let go of.
Summerlee is mostly a foil for the more vibrant, and sometimes often obnoxious Challenger. He doesn't come off quite as vivid as either Challenger or Roxton, but he adds to the scope and detail of this story with his acerbic, strong, but not bull-like in the way of Challenger, personality. He turns out to be a very valuable member of the exhibition, both for his counterpart role as the voice of reason to the more bombastic Challenger, but also for his scientific knowledge and rationality in the face of very eye-raising events in the Lost World.
Goodness, I did love this character. I have seen and encountered those in popular media who exhibit the Great White Hunter stereotype, but Roxton didn't strike me that way at all. He's an alpha male in all the good ways. He wasn't one-dimensional, only driven by the hunt and sport (as I feared), although those were important things to him. He's a man's man, but he's also a thinker and a doer. He is a man who lives life to the fullest, and doesn't let fear or 'can't dos' stand in the way. He is a lot more compassionate and crusading that I expected. I thought he would be self-serving and superior. That's not him at all. Roxton is another iconic, larger-than-life character, that no doubt fueled many of the adventurer types that have populated later literature and cinema/television stories in this genre. In his own way, Roxton is also a foil for Challenger. Challenger is convinced of his self-importance, and ever ready to take credit for what he does. Roxton likes the thrill and the challenge. He claims his trophies, but it's not about the right to brag. It's about the doing for him. His very apt, if "school of hard knocks" wisdom saves the day many a time on this journey.
Malone is the point of view of this novel. We see everything through his eyes, and his wry observations make for some very humorous moments. Doyle also uses Malone to convey the wonder of the Lost World. He describes both the dangerous and fearsome aspects of the lost world, and the rare and eye-opening beauty in a way that pulls me into the narrative head first. Malone and Roxton seem to be contrasted in ways in that Malone is a bit more of the thinker, who wishes he was the doer. He has quite a case of hero worship for Roxton, but Malone proves to be very valuable on this expedition, both as a source of information, and by his own feats that save and protect the various members on the expedition. He turns out to be a character that one should not underestimate or dismiss.
You take the good with the bad:
When it comes to older books and stories, one prepares to see some rather disappointing exhibitions of racism come into play. As a reader of classic and pulp literature, I have had it hit me very badly with some authors, and others where I was surprised at how enlightened their attitudes seemed. For the most part, this wasn't as bad as it could have been in that sense. However, it did bother me and made me wince how the one Negro character was referred to as 'our faithful' and as though he was an unintelligent object or possession pretty much every time. I found it very patronizing and offensive. His speech was very stereotyped (poor English and using the word 'Massa'), and showing slavish devotion to his white 'betters'. He was even referred to as being as intelligent as a horse. You could take that in the manner in which it was intended (which I did), as the man being less intelligent than white men, or you could take that as Doyle believing horses are smart cookies. Out of this whole book (which I had mainly favorable reactions to), this aspect left a bad taste in my mouth. It seemed as though the views of the South American natives were more enlightented than the black man. Yeah, that smarts. Also there is a tone that speaks of the inherent superiority of the white man and Europeans. I'm not beating up Doyle. I'm telling it like it is and how it affected me as a reader of color. I realize that these were the prevalent thoughts of the time. But this is not something that makes me a happy camper. Thus, it dulls the shining light of this story somewhat for this reader.
On the good side....:
The science, botany and zoology, exhibited in this story seemed quite knowledgeable, showing that Doyle did attempt to do his homework. I am no dinosaur expert, but I did recognize many of the older names for dinosaurs which probably came into common knowledge around the period in which this was written. This story also conveys a detail about the South American rainforests and tropical environs that made for a seemingly credible read. I felt like I was along for the journey, but immensely glad that I was just reading this book on my Kindle when it came to encountering vicious carnivorous species and the rather vile apemen.
The Lost World is a piece of classic literature that no respectable adventure fan should go without reading. If you enjoy movies like Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider, or any other of the many treasure hunting/lost world expedition movies and tv shows, then take a little time to explore one of the forefronts in this genre of literature. I give it a thumbs up.
This is definitely a book to read if a reader likes pirate/swashbuckling novels. The setting, characters, scenes, and dialogue took me back to the 17t...moreThis is definitely a book to read if a reader likes pirate/swashbuckling novels. The setting, characters, scenes, and dialogue took me back to the 17th century in a time of political turmoil and wild seas and locales where the wars between countries play out in a very personal matter. And Peter Blood, the main character is one that claims your affection and doesn't let go. I sometimes find reading on the Kindle a chore, but with this story, I got so sucked in, that before I knew it, it was ending. And I had a smile on my face as I read the last sentence.
Captain Blood is not a predictable read, at least for me. I literally didn't know what was going to happen from one scene to the next. I loved reading about Peter rely on his wits and face each obstacle with courage and determination, always working towards the end goal, even when it didn't seem in sight. He is a charismatic character who kept me captivated, through his quick thinking, and his powerful manner of expressing himself. Although Captain Blood is a pirate, he is very much a man of honor, for his profession. He is, in my opinion, the preferred antihero. One who doesn't let go of his sense of honor, even if it doesn't necessarily follow the established rules. And because of that, I rooted for him.
The one part that didn't sit right with me as I read, was how a distinction was made between Peter Blood and the English captives sold into slavery and the negro slaves. As though they were too good to be slaves when the negroes weren't. I realize that it was the ideas of race at the time, but that doesn't make it right. Slavery to me is wrong, period. It doesn't make it more wrong when the enslaved is a white man versus a black man. I wouldn't presume to call the author a racist. I think he was painting a realistic picture for the times, and I can't fault him for it. I personally find the idea of racial superiority offensive, and it can slap me in the face even in the context of a historical work. Overall it was a pebble in my shoe as I read, but not so much I couldn't read the book.
Otherwise, I enjoyed this novel. I've always had a yen for pirate stories, and it's great to go back and read a classic in the genre. Rafael Sabatini is an author who writes this type of story well, so I'll be back to read more of his books.(less)
I knew I was going to love Graham’s story when I was introduced to him in his brother’s book, The Cobra and the Concubine. He was angry and isolated,...moreI knew I was going to love Graham’s story when I was introduced to him in his brother’s book, The Cobra and the Concubine. He was angry and isolated, but he had an inner sadness that called to me. I have been excited to read this book for a while, but I put it off. I’m so glad I finally read it. It was a wonderful book, and it made me cry.
Graham was everything I hoped for, and more. I love him dearly! He’s fierce and deadly, tough and masculine, but sweet and gentle. His loneliness and anguish called out to me, and made me want to soothe him. His inner battle with despair and rage at his past, and the progression to peace and contentment was not an easy thing to read about. Like Jillian, I suffered, longing to see this man gain some inner tranquility. However, his journey was realistic. The wounds that a man like Graham carried would not be easily lanced and healed. It was a struggle for him, and for Jillian, and Ms. Vanak illustrated this process beautifully. I liked how she wrote Graham going full circle, back to the desert that had created the man he was. The Khamsin men say that the desert will strip a man bare of all pretense, leaving only the essential man, and some are driven crazy in the process. Jillian watched as the civilized English duke that she knew and married became a fierce, cold desert warrior. She railed at the gulf that separated them, and as Graham's friend Ramses had told her, she would need all her strength to save Graham and to bring him back across that void and into her loving embrace.
The passion and love between Jillian and Graham was thrilling. I loved their tender moments together just as much if not more, the way their hearts reached out to each other. They were like two lost souls who found each other, even though their circumstances and the fate that binds them were not ideal. In a way, it felt like their destinies were to love each other, so that their wounds (caused by the same man) could be healed. I loved how Graham encouraged Jillian to emerge from the gray cocoon her father had imprisoned her in. He admired her intelligence, finding it attractive. He coaxed her to be free and to embrace her wild inner spirit. Jillian had to tame the wild animal within Graham that had been terribly abused, teach him to open up and to love and to trust. I loved that they were both virgins, and had the rare privilege to explore passion for the first time together. Both of them were nervous their first time, but felt a connection, a powerful attraction that drew them together. The love scenes were enthralling, enticing and fiery—-the way good love scenes should be.
This book was a success on so many levels. The courtship of Jillian and Graham, the resolution of Graham and Jillian’s pasts, the beautiful and sometimes harsh depiction of life for the Bedouin in Arabia. The majestic and treacherous nature of the desert. This is what I long for in historical romance. Ms. Vanak wrote a fantastic book here. It has definitely earned its five star rating and a spot on my keeper shelf. I treasure the time I spent reading Graham and Jillian’s deep, emotional, beautiful love story.
Here are the actors I pictured as Graham and Jillian:
Come To Me is a book that asks a reader, "Do you believe in soulmates? In a soul-deep connection in life that leaves you searching until you find the...moreCome To Me is a book that asks a reader, "Do you believe in soulmates? In a soul-deep connection in life that leaves you searching until you find the one who makes you whole?" I won't ask you to answer that question, but instead, I will talk about this book.
Come To Me is a quick, but very satisfying read. It's about a man who has had empty, meaningless sexual encounter after sexual encounter. He's searched for something to fill that void inside of himself, in the beds of the wrong women. One day, he hears the voice of a seductive angel on the phone when he calls to complain of an issue with his condo building. A connection is made that very first time he talks to her. He does his player bit, trying to get her to go out with him, unsuccessful, although his mysterious "Jasmine" does flirt back with him. After leaving one last strenous, but unsatisfying bout in a just another woman's bed, he calls her to complain about a car parked in his space, and finally breaks through, getting her to agree with a date. He wants a date so bad that he's willing to fly across the country to see her. From there, it's just the fulfillment of what seems like his destiny.
This is a very romantic book. I am the first to say that I don't really care for modern romance that much, with the uncommitted sex, and the question of whether sexual chemistry leads to love. But I think Ms. Thompson managed to take these sort of premises and really write a story that touched me. Reading this story, I felt a strong connection between Baron and Jasmine that extended far out of the bedroom. I liked that a significant portion of this book was spent with them getting to know each other in ways that didn't involve the physical. Even though they had only talked on the phone for six months, and were just now meeting, I could feel that there was a strong bond between them. The love scenes themselves were romantic and emotional. I liked that Baron was the first one who was willing and able to admit that this was it for him, that he had found his soulmate. It didn't take Jasmine much longer to realize that he was 'the one'. I found the uncertainty about who was going to uproot her/his life to be with the other to be very realistic, and the conclusion they came to, showed their mutual love and regard for each other.
This is my first time reading Ms. Thompson, although I have talked to her and enjoyed our discourse--due to our mutual interest in interracial romance stories. I can say objectively that she has something to offer as a romance writer. She really does know how to pen a story that will make you sigh and feel the romance and the possibilities of love between a man and a woman. If you're looking for a shorter but satisfying read that will remind a jaded romance novel palate of why this genre is your reading material of choice, I recommend Come to Me.(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've been excited to read this book for over a year, since I read Dangerous Bet: Troy's Revenge. It was clear that Fancy and Maxwell had some exciting...moreI've been excited to read this book for over a year, since I read Dangerous Bet: Troy's Revenge. It was clear that Fancy and Maxwell had some exciting chemistry and wonderful tension building up between them in that book.
Finally, I did read this book, and I wasn't disappointed. Marie Rochelle writes scintillating interactions between her couples very well. The dialogue really furthers the storytelling, showing the fiery chemistry between Fancy and Maxwell. This book is the quintessential battle between the sexes. Fancy and Maxwell play a game of chaser versus chasee. Their dynamic reminded me of a game of chess. Each player tries to make a move that will win them the game, but protect their queen (their hearts).
Initially, Fancy was doing the pursuing, until Maxwell decided that he wanted to be caught, and he thought Fancy had moved on. Fancy has been in love with Maxwell for a while now. He came into the Tycoon Club (where she worked) with his friends Troy and Cole pretty regularly, and she tried to ask him out a couple of times, only to be rebuffed. She gave up on there being something more between them. However, she needs the position he's advertising for, as his assistant and cook. Fancy's determined to keep things professional between them, and to hide her feelings for Maxwell. However, Maxwell sees Fancy and considers all the possibilities. She's completely sexy, and he likes her--she's spunky and intelligent, and a great employee. He's not sure what he wants from her--he just wants her. But, his past makes him believe a wife and a family are not in the cards for him. At the same time, his attraction to Fancy makes it impossible not to pursue her and claim her as his own. For those who enjoy a jealous hero, it was kind of cute how Maxwell was jealous of his friend Cole's relationship with Fancy, who was very good friends with Cole.
This was a light (but not in a bad way), fun, and sexy read. I loved the back and forth between Fancy and Maxwell. They were both strong people, and neither wants to let the other win, although their feelings betray themselves into each others' arms. Additionally, it was great to catch up with Headley and Troy from Dangerous Bet: Troy's Revenge, who are very happily married, with a baby on the way, and more than willing to do some matchmaking between Fancy and Maxwell.
I do feel that the editing could be better. I hate to harp on that, because I've noticed that can be an issue with smaller presses. It didn't really hurt my enjoyment of this book, but I feel I should mention that there were issues here, for full disclosure. Editing problems aside, this was a great story. I enjoyed spending a Saturday watching Fancy and Maxwell's courtship unfold. For those readers who like the Diana Palmer-esque heroes and that kind of dynamic in a story (albeit with a pretty fiesty, independent heroine), you'd probably like Maxwell. He does have some of those traits.
I truly enjoyed this book. Thus the five star rating!
PS. I emailed Ms. Rochelle about Cole's story, and she kindly emailed me back almost immediately to tell me that his story came out in July. It's called Cole's Surrender, currently available through Red Rose Publishing. I'm looking forward to seeing Cole surrender to young, sweet Lauren. :)(less)
Finally, I've started this series. I am smacking my head and asking what took me so long. Navy SEALs, interracial. Am I crazy? Well, I have rectified...moreFinally, I've started this series. I am smacking my head and asking what took me so long. Navy SEALs, interracial. Am I crazy? Well, I have rectified my mistake, and I am a happy camper.
This was a really good book. Aliyah Burke is an excellent writer. Her voice is authentic and polished to the eyes, making for an enjoyable reading experience. Her characters are real life and likable, flaws and all. I loved Dezarae. She was unique and interesting. Her ethnicity was a part of who she was, but she was in no way a stereotype. I liked that she was normal-sized with muscles from the physical work she did, and she was sexy with it. I loved her independence and the fact that she was good at doing something she loved--restoring cars. I've never been into cars, but movies like Gone in 60 Seconds, XXX, and the Fast and the Furious movies have pricked my interest. I recognized the Shelby from Gone in 60 Seconds, which was awesome. I seriously love a heroine who has her own life going on, but at the same time, she's open and warm. Dezarae opened her heart and her life to Ross in two huge ways: she saved his life, and she gave his daughter a safe, warm home. How could you not love her? Another thing I loved about this book was how many male friends she had (and no, not in dirty-minded way). I like to see women having male friends and being able to fit into that world easily because of their mutual interests. They respected her for her personality and her car savvy. They accepted her for who she was and she was happy in her own skin. People do want to be around you when you are confident and outgoing, so it makes total sense. It makes me wonder if I need to get into this kind of hobby so I meet more guys (I'm kidding, mostly)! Too bad I don't have a bit of mechanical car sense other than how not to get ripped off by car mechanics! Anyway, Dezarae had wonderful texture and I loved her as a heroine. I would have loved to understand why she had trouble believing Ross really loved her. I'm guessing it had something to do with her failed relationship with Jack, but this isn't explained. Maybe the fear of loss from her father dying...
Ross was not only deliciously hot, he was a genuinely nice guy. He cracked me up with his possessive jealousy. I like that in a hero, and I like that he wasn't too irrational about it. He had to deal with the fact that his woman was the kind of woman that men liked being around, even on a platonic basis. For all of that, he didn't try to change her or mold her to fit his preconceived notions. He really found her sexy for who she was. I think he was a very good dad, and I liked seeing him with his daughter Charmane (and I feel her part added significantly to the book, and she wasn't just a plot point), and how natural it felt for them as a family with Dezarae. He did have some insecurities about being low on the totem pole in his Team, but he wasn't aggravating about it. Towards the end, he was tripping out some, but I forgive him!
As far as romance rating, I rate this high. It's very steamy and that was great. Burke writes great love scenes: hot and sensual without being a turnoff because of the raunch factor. The steam shows the feelings and the growing love between Dezarae and Ross. You could see although there was intense chemistry between them from the beginning, they don't jump right into bed, which was great. They give their feelings time to be real and not just about sex. And when they do get intimate, it's so much better!
I can tell that Burke does have some real-life understanding of the military. She writes a sexy, credible Navy SEAL hottie hero, but it feels realistic and deals with the hard realities of that life. I loved the friendship between Ross and his Team, and how they open up ranks around his new-found love. Although I haven't read the first two books, seeing the couples from those makes me eager to read them very soon. Of course, I will make sure I get all the books in this series (I think I have most of them already), because I definitely want to read more of SEAL Team Megalodon and the women they love.
I guess I'll have to give this five stars, 'cause I really liked it a lot!(less)