This was a pretty good historical romance, a story of reunited lovers, with plenty of steamy romance. However, I never felt that zing, that sense of c...moreThis was a pretty good historical romance, a story of reunited lovers, with plenty of steamy romance. However, I never felt that zing, that sense of connection with the characters and that compulsion to keep reading. I felt like it was fine to pick this book up when I had a free moment, and to put it down when I had more important things to do.
I'm not a big fan of lovers reunited stories, but I liked that Heath and Julia are older and wiser, and have lived their lives, and know very well that what they have together is very good and it's worth committing to this time around.
There were some fun moments, especially with the salacious sketch of Heath that falls into the wrong hands. I really liked when Heath realized that he wasn't going to let Julia get away from him this time, no matter what. I love a hero in pursuit! I wasn't that into the whole "Boscastle Antics" aspect of the story. It reminds me unfavorably of how there is a tendency to wink and nod at a family in a series, and to draw readership for the later stories by reminding the reader of how crazy the family is. Of course, I love series books. No question. I just think that the author's job is to make a storyline so compelling that we can't help but race for the next book. I'm not that intrigued with the other Boscastle rogues at this point. I'll keep reading because I like this author a lot. But it's not an urgency for me right now.
This is a solid B read for me. A nice past-time with plenty of sexual tension between Julia and Heath that I'm sure many readers will really enjoy.
Although Laurel seemed intolerant initially, I really liked this romance book. It's very meaningful, and Laurel and James truly love each other. I app...moreAlthough Laurel seemed intolerant initially, I really liked this romance book. It's very meaningful, and Laurel and James truly love each other. I appreciated the vantage point of Laurel and James, during this period in history. This series reminds me of Jo Beverley's Company of Rogues in a good way.
I loved this book for the chemistry and obvious love between Elizabeth and Garik. Garik is eminently lickable. The mystery wasn't quite as well plotte...moreI loved this book for the chemistry and obvious love between Elizabeth and Garik. Garik is eminently lickable. The mystery wasn't quite as well plotted, but it was still good. I liked the small-town atmosphere of Virtue Falls.
This is comic book history. It really is. Frank Miller tells an epic love story that a few sad people who have never heard of Daredevil and Elektra wi...moreThis is comic book history. It really is. Frank Miller tells an epic love story that a few sad people who have never heard of Daredevil and Elektra will never know. It starts with two idealistic college students who meet and fall in love, and ends with them on opposite sides of the law.
I don't think I am exaggerating by saying that Elektra is one of the most lethal women ever written on paper. She is an accomplished assassin who uses her pointed sais to end the lives of those who either become her target, or get on her bad side (although she is not a psychopathic killer who murders at will). Like Daredevil, her entire body is a weapon. Elektra has renounced the law after the death of her father, so she sees nothing wrong in working for the highest bidder. This puts her in extreme contradiction to Matt Murdock/Daredevil, who believes in the law and supporting it even to his detriment (while he is a masked avenger, his work is to uphold the law). As such, Daredevil has sworn to bring her to justice.
What I liked about this book, among many things is that Elektra and Daredevil are like moons that continually encounter each other as they follow their individual gravitational paths. While their romance is doomed, it's clear that they cannot forget or disavow each other completely. In fact, they save each others lives more than a few times in this book. While they are enemies, their hearts are never parted from each other. It's romantic in the deepest sense.
The artwork was really good. I was especially impressed with the motion and energy of such athletic and graceful characters as Elektra and Daredevil. Elektra herself was extremely visually stunning. She is so iconic in her complete look in this graphic novel, I can see no need to change her look that much even so many years later (although it was done in the two movie incarnations, which I liked to varying degrees). Honestly, I liked her artwork in this better than in Elektra: Assassin, which looked muddy to me. When I started painting last year, Elektra was one of the first characters I attempted, because her look strikes me so profoundly.
The emotional landscape of the characters was very clearly portrayed through the artwork and narrative. Elektra's desolation at her father's death and the fact that Matt is everything she wants but cannot have, that he has moved on. Matt's determination to follow his hard path, despite the fact that his heart wants something else. And the end of their tumultuous love affair, it's brutal and abrupt, and Miller is unapologetic about it. And Matt is not ready to move on from Elektra, despite confirmation that she is denied to him in every way.
Some episodes in this volume were a bit more cartoonish than others. The character of Turk, a two-bit thug that is continually humiliated in his encounters with Daredevil, is clearly played for laughs. Matt's friend and partner, Foggy, is almost always drawn rather goofily, but even he has some very serious moments. I honestly didn't like Matt's girfriend, Heather, at all. Her personality seems very dated to me. Even though Elektra is a ruthless killer, I think she's a much better love interest for Matt. There is a deadly seriousness to the stories that feature Kingpin and Bullseye, two major adversaries to Daredevil. The first a methodical career criminal who veers more towards sociopathy, the latter a complete psychopath with some serious malignantly narcissistic tendencies. Kingpin has a vibrancy and a power, a charisma that comes off the pages at the reader. I don't like him, but at the same time, I liked looking at him and reading his dialogue. I can't stand Bullseye for reasons apparent and some I can't get into.
In my opinion, this is a groundbreaking series of comic books. Miller has given us the comic book antiheroine we always longed for, but assumptions about gender held many back from delivering. Even twenty plus years later, I think that Elektra will always stand out. She touches on the inner ninja that every girl secretly wants to be, even when we have been told that girls don't do that. This wannabe ninja is cheering!
Overall rating: 4.25/5.0 stars--Not quite 4.5 stars, but better than 4. (less)
Lynne Graham excels in getting the reader's juices flowing, particularly in her older books. I pulled this one off the pile as part of my Harlequin Pr...moreLynne Graham excels in getting the reader's juices flowing, particularly in her older books. I pulled this one off the pile as part of my Harlequin Presents Binge because I knew I'd get something cathartic. I wasn't disappointed.
I liked the fact that Vito is quite sympathetic. He is actually a nice guy, although he does tend to want things his way. He did and said things the wrong way to Ashley, but He had no idea about how traumatic her upbringing was. So I can't really hold that against him.
Even though Ashley was hard to get along with, I liked that about her. I get tired of the heroine who is the hero's dumpbucket, there to be kicked around except for in bed. Ashley isn't shy about standing up for herself or telling Vito what for. Her aggressiveness about certain topics is 100% linked to her past, and I think that if she had felt free to open up, I don't think they would have broken up in the first place.
I think Ashley is definitely one of Graham's most tortured heroines, despite her flaws. Frankly, her homelife sucked, and the abandonment she faced by her family was lousy. Because of her parents highly dysfunctional marriage and her father's abuse (both mental/emotional and at times physical), she has a low opinion of marriage and any sort of commitment, and she was raised to disdain anything feminine. I like to think that Vito could have been the family she lacked, if he had been given full disclosure on her past. Instead, he thought the worst of her instead of digging to the deeper issues beneath her posturing. He took her aversion to commitment and marriage as a sign of a moral failing in her, instead of a sign of emotional scars. They missed out on three years together as a result.
While Ashley is still argumentative and abrasive, she genuinely loved Vito and was heartbroken about their breakup and a loss she suffers shortly thereafter. She has the time to revisit her past strong opinions about marriage and family, realizing a lot of them weren't her own. But now Vito has cast her in the role of heartless jade, although he never got over her. I like that Vito still went after her, even though he thought the worst of her and knew she could hurt him. It showed that his love for her hadn't died. And this time, he wasn't going to settle for a non-committed sexual relationship. He wanted marriage, as he had before, and he wasn't afraid to blackmail to get it this time around.
There is a lot of tension, both sexual and relationship, and plenty of drama in this book. I don't know if I ever read this back in the day. I didn't own it, and I think I would have remembered if it had read it. The feels like Classic Lynne Graham and is worth having in the collection of serious fans of hers. (less)
The Informationist has one of the most daring and distinctive heroines I've personally read about. Vanessa Michael Monroe is practically a force of na...moreThe Informationist has one of the most daring and distinctive heroines I've personally read about. Vanessa Michael Monroe is practically a force of nature. Her personality is hard to pin down, even if you know her very well, which few people do. And she makes a very bad enemy. While some characters might go to Africa to run away from their past or to define a new life for themselves, Monroe is the opposite. She was born in Africa and raised there. Although she is Caucasian American descent, Africa flows in her veins and helped to make her who she was, and not all in good ways.
Monroe doesn't let fear define her, instead she walks in defiance of it. Being afraid is not her problem. It's the rage and anger she keeps under lock and key. She struggles against demons from her past that simmer in her blood and make her heart beat fast with the tribal beat of war. Control is a way of life when she knows just what she's capable of. Yet, she is unafraid to go into dangerous places when others would shirk such a responsibility. When Emily Burbank's adoptive father contacts her to find out what happened to his daughter in Africa four years ago, she is going to have to go back to the place she was born and face her ugly past.
I love to read about heroines who are tough and resourceful. Who can kick butt just like the action heroes. Monroe is definitely one of those kinds of heroines. I like that she is very adaptable and clever about thinking through situations. While she has other weapons, she uses the one between her ears very well. Her personality is really abrasive and she's not what I would consider a typical "likable" heroine. And yet, there is something about her that resonates with me. I like that she is such a survivor. I mean, who could go through what she did and still be 100% sane and free of scars? She actually is quite sane, although I think deep down, she fears what lurks in the abyss she keeps locked away inside. She's sort of the opposite of Kurtz in The Heart of Darkness. She's been there and she walked away. It holds no appeal for her.
I liked the complex relationship that Monroe has with Francisco. I didn't expect it, yet when it happened, I thought, "Of course." I knew that Monroe would have to come full circle and get closure about Africa in order to heal. That process was ugly and painful, but necessary. I also liked her relationship with Miles. Each encounter helped to shape her in different ways, as relationship with others should do.
While I didn't like everything about the narrative, I did like how the author builds tension and unfolds the story, and keeps me guessing what's going to happen next. While one could easily draw conclusions about what happened in Equatorial Guinea, it's different from what I thought, and complicated. I think this is a book that lends itself well to audio, because some of the written facts about Emily's disappearance and the various places she went/the stonewalling she encounters, and Monroe's search in those places might be a bit dry on paper. I also think that some of the action scenes could have been more suspenseful and intensely written. There was a sense of risk, but it was a bit muted at times. As far as the narrator, I liked her voice a lot. She captures who Michael aka Monroe very well.
This is one of those books that doesn't build up one's faith in humanity. Corruption runs so deep and twisted in this world, and some places are built on this foundation. And while some of us who are lucky to live in a more lawful country, those same individuals go to other places in the world and make things worse in their conquest for power and money because they can get away with that in some places in the world, where life is cheap. Like some of my other thriller/suspense/action hero favorites, Monroe is there to teach them a lesson, but in her case, that lesson is a costly one for her as well.
I couldn't imagine living the life that Vanessa Michael Monroe has lived. One of the things I love about fiction is that I can go on a journey with a distinctive heroine like Monroe and see life through her lenses. I can feel her pain and her anger and experience the victories and defeats she has, and it helps me to understand that life is a complicated thing, but we can make it through things we never imagined possible.
This book might not work for everyone, but I found it interesting and thought-provoking. It felt unique and Monroe is an unforgettable heroine. She's kind of lawless in some ways, but deep down, she has a code that she won't stray from. She's a complicated women. Readers who enjoy this kind of heroine or a reader looking for something different might enjoy The Informationist.(less)
Since the hero in this book, Vladimir shows up as a peripheral character in the last Jennie Lucas book I read, A Night of Living Dangerously, I decide...moreSince the hero in this book, Vladimir shows up as a peripheral character in the last Jennie Lucas book I read, A Night of Living Dangerously, I decided to reach for this one. It also happens that the hero is Russian (and I swoon over Russian heroes). Talking about drama, wow!
Man, this book was sizzling. The whole scenario and the dialogue and action was crazy. I couldn't believe the bet that Bree makes. I completely understand why. I loved that she isn't the typical, sweet, butter wouldn't melt in her mouth heroine. She has a history of being a card shark and con artist from childhood, but decides to go straight when she falls in love with Vladimir. Even though he abandons her and turns his back on her.
Their reunion is titillating, to say the least. There are some pretty outrageous moments in this book. A couple of scenes are just all kinds of inappropriate, but I couldn't tear my eyes away from the page. It works for the book, and I like that the author wasn't afraid to go there.
I liked the descriptions and imagery of St. Petersburg. I wanted to be there, feel the cold on my skin and experience the over the top luxury with my own eyes. The Hawaii scenes were good, but since I am a contrarian who'd rather be walking around in a snow-covered vista than on a beach, I liked St. Petersburg more. Plus, it's Russia. Enough said.
Vladimir could throw money at Bree like nobody's business. He really doesn't get that she didn't want his money. That she loved him and wanted to protect her sister. That she had changed and wanted to do the right thing, but she was between a rock and a hard place. Vladimir is the real deal. He's really ruthless, ambitious and cutthroat (in the boardroom). He doesn't change over night. A broken heart made a fundamentally decent young man into a shark, and it takes time for reunited love to change him back. I felt that his character was very three-dimensional and I liked that. Bree was also well-developed. Towards the end, she had me worried. I really thought she was going to go through with something that was just so wrong, even if she was doing it for the right reasons.
This was another book I couldn't put down. I give it a thumbs up on the drama and the sizzling romance. Lots of romantic tension and also tension in hoping that the characters get a clue and eventually own up to their love for each other and doing what's right out of love. I thought this was a very good book.(less)
I gobbled this book down. Seriously! I was so drawn into this story. The heroine's personality and the psychology of her character was tremendously fa...moreI gobbled this book down. Seriously! I was so drawn into this story. The heroine's personality and the psychology of her character was tremendously fascinating. I think Milburne nailed Natalie. Natalie was a ball of rage, and with good reason. She is a realistic product of toxic parents who have forced an innocent child to shoulder blame for something that never should have been her responsibility. And as the author showed, this damage doesn't just disappear overnight. Instead, a hurt child like Natalie takes that into her adulthood and every relationship she has as a grown woman. I literally hurt for Natalie.
Some readers would be turned off by her comments to Angelo, which were often abusive. But to me, I could see them for what they were, a cry for help. Natalie felt trapped by her family obligations and how they had damaged and poisoned her life and her very self-esteem. She wanted to break free, but that wasn't as easy as it seemed. Honestly, I think she probably needs therapy, and I personally feel that an encounter with Jesus Christ would do a lot of good for her. He would take away those burdens and the anger and pain she carries. It hurt to see her truly hating life and having trouble even enjoying one day in her life. I was just glad she hadn't taken the suicidal route. I think she felt obligated to live because of what had happened to her when she was young. So in real life, I would have expected something more interventionist for Natalie than just a love connection with the hero. Most of the time, that isn't going to fix what is broken, although being loved unconditionally is an important ingredient. But in the context of this story, I liked how the author dealt with her issues. Angelo has truly impressed me. He make a few miss-steps along the way, but overall he showed tremendous patience, even though Natalie did things that were hurtful to him. I liked how he didn't give up on her, but kept showing her that she mattered to him and he wanted a life with her. Considering how hurt Natalie was and how damaged her family was, and his ignorance of that, I think Angelo did a great job of connecting to her. Other than one thing he does shortly after they get married, I found him to be a real hero. Just the man for this very wounded woman. Maybe not truly realistic, but still I felt the power of their connection and how it put Natalie on the track to healing.
Man, this book blew me away. I found it very enthralling and emotionally involvinhg. It also involved me intellectually as I assembled the puzzles of Natalie's tormented psyche and came up with a picture of a woman who had been wronged so utterly by her parents. They had failed her in huge ways, and that kind of damage just sets an adult up for a lot of dysfunctional relationships as they get older.
I don't normally read Harlequin Presents for a look at 'real life.' I'll be honest. But I love angst and passion and I love seeing hurting people find happiness, healing and love. And Ms. Milburne definitely delivers.
This book won't be for everyone. But I was very impressed. I just pimped it to my sister, who doesn't read a lot of Harlequin Presents. I can't wait to see what she thinks of it.
Spring Showers returns to Whispering Cypress River, Louisiana, after a ten-year absence. She left to pursue a career in the big city when thin...moreSynopsis
Spring Showers returns to Whispering Cypress River, Louisiana, after a ten-year absence. She left to pursue a career in the big city when things didn't work out with her childhood sweetheart. She buys the old campgrounds on the river, where some of her happiest memories occurred, determined to fix it up and open it to the public again.
The man she once loved, Hackett Woods has never left, and all this time, he has regretted disappointing her and ruining their chance at a life together. He is determined to make things right with Spring, to win her trust back. They strike a bargain for Hackett to do the restoration work on the property, but Spring is determined to keep the barriers between them and deny any chance for a romantic relationship again. However, the love they felt is still there and stronger than ever.
Not everyone is happy that Spring is back. Spring has a dangerous stalker determined that she won't settle back happily in Whispering Cypress. The path to true love for these reunited lovers is complicated, and they deal with their past hurts, reconcile their lives to their faith in God, and help a troubled young woman with a complicated relationship with Hackett, along the way.
Whispering Cypress was a tough read for me. The writer clearly had good intentions to write a novel about a woman's reunion with her former love and her determination to live a life of faith in Jesus despite all the obstacles she faced. However, the end result was convoluted and rambling. Too many ideas and no clear destination in mind made for unsatisfactory reading. The characters lack depth and realism. Not because of their faith in Jesus, but because of actions that don't make sense in light of the storyline. In addition, the author tackles heavy subjects like alcoholism, adultery, promiscuity and unwed pregnancy, but seems to shy away from writing with clarity and honesty about the actions of the characters that get them into tight moral dilemmas and result in unpleasant results they have to confront. Understandably, Christian fiction has certain standards to maintain as far as content, but I feel that the author could have kept the overall story content clean but still clarify the situations faced by the characters. If there was a motivation on the author's behalf to avoid depicting the darker aspects of human nature, it didn't make sense to introduce them in the first place.
Unfortunately, this novel had promise that strong editing and a more thorough revision process could have refined into a good book. On one hand, it was free of editing and grammar errors. However, the story meandered on with the frequent introduction of conflicts that lacked intensity, and I felt that there was an overall dearth of cohesion and vision to this novella. Continuity errors that a good, thorough review during the editing process should have caught were present, leading to some confusing moments as I read.
I liked the message about faith and personal integrity, and I liked the main characters. I believed in their love for each other. They were good people. However, the villain was too underdeveloped, and seemed more like a stereotypical and one-dimensional antagonist along the lines of Snidely Whiplash than a realistic human character with a lack of moral compass.
Whispering Cypress was ultimately a disappointing read. It has a good message, but lacked in the execution. Because I liked the main characters and the message, I was able to give this two and ½ stars, but the writing quality wasn't very good, so I couldn't rate it any higher than that, unfortunately.
This book is another excellent addition to Clare's excellent romantic suspense series. Very timely, with a balanced view of the current situation rega...moreThis book is another excellent addition to Clare's excellent romantic suspense series. Very timely, with a balanced view of the current situation regarding Jihadist terrorism going on in the world today. Spicy and emotional.