This was a very enjoyable reading experience! I especially appreciate how much they just talked to each other and got to know each other at the beginn...moreThis was a very enjoyable reading experience! I especially appreciate how much they just talked to each other and got to know each other at the beginning. I miss that in romances. Constant is a wonderful heroine, and it was great for Kameron to realize how much he didn't deserve her, despite the fact she loved him dearly. The story is quite interesting, but a twisty-turny path to happy ever after. I recommend it.
A life-threatening storm brings Oriel into the world of larger-than-life Blaize. He is the one she runs to for help when her cousin is seriously injur...moreA life-threatening storm brings Oriel into the world of larger-than-life Blaize. He is the one she runs to for help when her cousin is seriously injured when their camping site floods. Forced to stay at his house until she recovers and the storm passes, she realizes she's in way too deep as her feelings for the bossy, yet very attractive man turn into love.
Blaize convinces her to be the governess for his young niece, a good use of her excellent teaching skills, but dangerous because the more time she spends with him, the more she loves him.
Blaize definitely has charisma. I could see a woman falling under his spell. He wasn't always likable, but at the same time, there was something that makes a woman want to let him take care of her. Oriel is a down-to-earth heroine whose very ordinariness makes her relatable. She's got some self-esteem issues because of her unusual height and gawky, angular frame--the fact that her mother never let her live it down that her only child isn't small, blonde, and delicately beautiful like she is. In my mind, I could see Oriel having a gorgeous dark-haired beauty like Angie Harmon (except with blue eyes and pale skin). And a big and tall man like Blaize would probably appreciate having a tall drink of water with legs for days.
This book doesn't have that much going on. Just an intense relationship drama. Donald has definitely written meaner heroes. Instead, Blaize just comes off as a tough, authoritative alpha who is used to getting his way all the time. I enjoyed his sense of being perplexed that the seemingly meek Oriel doesn't roll over for him like all the women he's known. He falls hard for her, and this book is just about Oriel and Blaize coming to terms with their feelings for each other and realizing they are mutual. Readers who enjoy tropical scenery will like the descriptions of the New Zealand island flora.
I would give it four stars because I enjoyed reading about Oriel and Blaize falling in love, and there are pretty good sparks although not a lot of on the page, descriptive love scenes.(less)
A quick and enjoyable read that I pulled out of the pile because I am a sucker for the plain jane, marriage of convenience, and scarred hero themes. C...moreA quick and enjoyable read that I pulled out of the pile because I am a sucker for the plain jane, marriage of convenience, and scarred hero themes. Captain Caine Morleigh is an heir to an earldom who was badly scarred in the Napoleonic Wars. His fiancee' repudiated him after the bandages came off. She even screamed and fainted. That was enough for Caine to know he wouldn't be marrying her. Now Caine needs to find a new bride. This time around, he will choose an unattractive bride, a wallflower desperate for marriage, one who won't mind his unpleasant visage and make few demands on him, happy to be married. His eyes fall on Lady Grace, and he decides she's the one. She's very thin and unprepossessing in appearance. But she has spirit, which he finds out when he asks her to dance and then to marry him. Grace says yes, only to get away from her uncle, who has been mistreating and threatening her. But she is going to make sure that her marriage is to her benefit as well. She wants a real marriage in which her husband respects her and allows her to be true to herself and in which he demands no less than they both deserve in a marriage. Caine comes to realize that his wallflower bride will require a lot more of him than he expected, and give a lot more in return. And that he loves her for it.
I've missed reading Lyn Stone's historical romance books. I'm glad she's writing them again. This book has a trad regency feel, with authentic characters and actions that take me back to that period. Although not G-rated, it is not very explicit in sensuality, but the chemistry, attraction and bond between Caine and Grace is apparent and appealing. I loved Grace's spunk. She wasn't passive or willing to allow herself to be treated as less than she deserved. Her situation with her uncle put her in the position of being a victim but that wasn't natural for her. When she accepts Caine's proposal, she blooms with the freedom and safety he offers, and her real personality comes back to life, and in the process, Caine falls head over heels for her. I was glad that he came to appreciate his bride for the pearl that she was. I liked Caine a lot too. Although his initial plan seemed cold-hearted, he treated Grace kindly and respectfully from the beginning. There was never a question that he was a good guy. He just had some wrong idea about controlling his life by marrying the kind of woman who wouldn't demand too much from him. Fortunately, something in him choose the right woman in the end, and she was exactly what he needed, if not the convenient wife he expected.
Not a ground-breaking book or a foundation-shaker, but a good read. A pleasant love story that kept me reading. Write more please, Ms. Stone. 4 stars!(less)
Okay, I enjoyed this one a lot. I admit I was pretty annoyed at Sergios for most of the book, and highly offended that he expected a wife who would lo...moreOkay, I enjoyed this one a lot. I admit I was pretty annoyed at Sergios for most of the book, and highly offended that he expected a wife who would look the other way at his sexual infidelities but wasn't allowed to have her own. Don't get me wrong. Cheating/marital infidelity is a big, fat, huge, no no for me, across the board. But I despised his double standard. Why was it okay for him to 'get some' outside of his marriage but not his wife? No way, buddy! Surprisingly, I could understand why Beatriz agreed to his terms. She wanted to see her mother cared for and she had already started bonding with Sergios' orphaned nephews and niece. Another aspect that had the steam coming out of my ears was how the hotness of Sergios just made Bee melt like ice cream on a Texas summer day. Will power...gone! I respect that you feel an incredible sexual attraction sometimes, but, ugh, I just wish that it didn't made the heroines in these books act so marshmallowy. On the good side, she fought it longer than some do in these books. A good point in this book was Bee. She was fairly mature and grounded. I think she was a bit on the insecure side, but other than that affecting some of her decisions more than I liked, I liked her and respected her a lot. Even Sergios wasn't a total write-off. Although I wished that his feelings for Bee were a bit more obvious to me as a reader earlier on (other than lust), he was a decent guy, for the most part. Even though he started off way too smug about his attractions (a real turnoff even if he is hot), presumptuous, manipulative, and self-absorbed, I could see a discernible change in him for the better, and I loved how he lays his cards on the table near the end. Let me tell you, though, I was seething, wondering if he really did go there on his wedding night. I am pretty certain that I think I would be driven to physical violence were I some of the women in these books. It's a good thing I am not a Harlequin Presents-caliber heroine!
Final Thoughts: This was an enjoyable read for me. I know many long time Lynne Graham fans have not been happy with her newer books, I felt like this one was more or less on par with some of her older books, although it's not a favorite of mine. I like that this heroine is a bit more mature and not dizzy like she tends to do with her heroines. I liked that she knew her mind and she was an independent thinker, for the most part. The romance was good and at the end, I felt like Sergios had proven worthy of Bee. At any rate, I didn't feel like holding him off from her like a maiden aunt with a rolling pin. I'd give this one a thumbs up and a solid four stars. If you like Harlequin Presents novels, you might like this one. I did.
This book is a storyline about two people who end up starting a marriage under less than ideal circumstances. Arabella is pregnant by a man who lied t...moreThis book is a storyline about two people who end up starting a marriage under less than ideal circumstances. Arabella is pregnant by a man who lied to her, used her, and abandoned her. Leaving her pregnant. She tracks him down to find he has died, and gains an audience with his younger brother. Elliot has fought to find his own path instead of living in his brother's shadow. And he's done a spectacular job. While Rafe lived a dissolute, selfish life, Elliot sought a productive one, full of physical activity and meaning. When a bedraggled, plain young woman comes to his home and claims to be pregnant by his brother, he knows it's upon his honor to do the right thing and marry her, even she did not demand this of him. He is determined to do right by her, and in the process cultivate a decent marriage, raising his brother's child as his own. Haha, the great plans we make! Soon, both Arabella and Elliott realize a comfortable marriage is not enough for either of them.
What I liked:
* I found Elliott to be a good hero, but also quite realistic. I liked that he was troubled by the fact that his wife wasn't carrying his own child, and insecure enough to resent the fact that his brother's child might inherit his title. It was only to be expected, since he's a normal human being, not a saint. I couldn't blame him. We don't always have the most unselfish feelings about things, and I would expect no less of him to struggle with this, in light of the fact that he had never been close to his brother, nor had his brother treated him well as an adult, despite his overtures. In the end, he realizes how much he cares for the child Arabella has, more than he even though possible. I liked how he was there for Arabella, despite his misgivings. I liked that he never even considered betraying his marriage vows, despite the fact that Arabella wasn't his chosen bride. Elliott was a very admirable man and I liked him a lot as a hero. * Arabella came a long way in this book. I could understand her insecurities, uncertainties and misgivings. Going from an overbearing, unloving father, being mistreated by a man who pretended to love her only to get laid, and then dealing with the guilt of a pregnancy out of wedlock and a marriage to that man's brother in order to give her child a family. She had to come to realize she was worthy of love, and that she had the right to demand more. She bloomed beautifully with some security of a good marriage, and that's a good thing. * I liked the development of love between Arabella and Elliott. It made sense that they had to work through a lot of the issues they faced to find love. I could see their feelings change to something more over time in the way they treated and interacted with each other.
What could have been better:
* I felt a bit emotionally detached from this story. I would have liked more of a sizzle in the story, and I'm not talking loving scenes. The love scenes actually were nicely sensuous, but I didn't feel as drawn into this story overall as I would hope. I merely felt an affection for the characters, not a strong pull towards them.
This was a good romance novel. I liked the handling of the theme of the heroine carrying another man's child, specifically the hero's brother. The fact that Arabella had been intimate and taken advantage of by Elliott's brother wasn't minimized as an issue, but neither was it handled in such a way where I felt like I couldn't get past that to believe in them as a couple. Instead, I felt as though Rafe (the dead brother)'s actions might have resulted in something good in the end, two people finding true love together. At least something worthwhile came out of his selfishness, other than his child. Overall, I was satisfied with this story.(less)
This was my first read by Kate Hewitt, and overall I liked it.
What I liked: *I liked that although Ana had some self-esteem issues, she was still a co...moreThis was my first read by Kate Hewitt, and overall I liked it.
What I liked: *I liked that although Ana had some self-esteem issues, she was still a composed, confident woman in other ways. She had her own career, and she was making something out of her life, even if she felt that she would never be desirable to men and have marriage and children. She was a strong, admirable woman. I find it hard to believe that some men didn't find her attractive, but I guess it was the circles she ran in. And I loved that she was willing to wear her mother's wedding gown to make her father happy, even though it didn't suit her. That was a very sweet thing to do. *I liked that she wasn't easily manipulated or fall into any traps that Vittorio might have laid out of desperation. She considered his marriage proposal carefully, and agreed for her own reasons. *I was glad that Ana decided to get some different clothes for her own reasons, and not because Vittorio was browbeating her into it. *Although Vittorio had some arrogant traits I didn't like, like his assumption that Ana would be so desperate to have a marriage proposal that it would be easy as pie to 'woo' her, he was a decent person. He was a little too quick to look at the surface (but he wouldn't be the first or last person with that shortcoming). I thought I would dislike him, but I found that I couldn't. I could see why he had his defense mechanisms of keeping people at an emotional distance. His parents did a real number on him, and I think he should have placed the blame equally on his mother and father. *(view spoiler)[ I really liked that Vittorio came to Ana at the end and apologized and admitted he loved her and his fears and weakness. I could see why Ana loved him in that moment. (hide spoiler)] *There was a poignant edge to this story that appealed to me, even though this story lacked that 'zing' that I wished for. I'm a bit of a sucker for that in books.
What I think could have been better *I felt a bit of a distance from the story when I was reading. It's hard to put my finger on it. It's one of those things that really strikes me when I determine which Harlequin Presents are going to be complete winners and those that aren't. In this case, I liked the idea and some of the execution, but this book lacked the intensity that I like in a good HP novel. It wasn't that the love scenes weren't descriptive. That wasn't my problem. Actually, Ana and Vittorio had good chemistry. I just wanted to be more engaged emotionally in this story.
Considering that there was more that I liked about this than not, I think a four star rating is warranted. I will definitely read more by this author, but I hope that intense element is there in her other stories. With that going for this book, this could have been a knockout. However, this was a pleasant book and a good love story, and I'm glad I read it.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The Portrait was dark, angsty and riveting. At times, I wasn’t sure that I liked Jonas. However, I came to see that his initial cruelty towards Imogen...moreThe Portrait was dark, angsty and riveting. At times, I wasn’t sure that I liked Jonas. However, I came to see that his initial cruelty towards Imogene arose out of his despair, his hopelessness about his life. People are often cruel out of self-defense. He felt a sense of powerlessness about his mental illness, and his dependence on his patrons to keep a roof over his head and to be able to do the one thing that had meaning for him, to pursue his art. As the book progresses, I saw that Jonas was a man who was very much capable of loving Imogene, a man that love could change for the better, merely by giving him hope and by having one person who saw him truly, who would not leave him or give up on him, even through the bad times, That was Imogene.
Imogene saddened me at times. Her lack of self-esteem, and lack of belief in herself. However, it was soon clear why she felt that way. Her father was just awful. He put his one daughter on a pedestal, and barely noticed the other, when he wasn’t putting her down and inflicting emotional cruelty on her. She’d spent most of her life feeling like she was inadequate to her family, feeling her mother’s disgust and hatred. Always below the mark of comparison to her sister, Chloe. When her father sends her to New York City to study art, she is determined to make a good artist out of herself, to make her father proud.
Instead she meets Jonas, a brilliant painter, who treats her cruelly at first, but captivates her and causes her to fall in love with him. Imogene wasn’t a fool. She went into the love affair with Jonas with her eyes open. She had been used by a man before, not measuring up, and she didn’t think that this larger-than-life artist could really love her for who she was. She was wrong. In Imogene, Jonas saw a masterpiece, a hidden beauty. But he also loved her for who she was. For her love and acceptance of him.
I love dark and angsty romance, but I was afraid this was going to be too dark for me. I’m glad to see that I was wrong. I loved the message of hope in this story. Jonas’ mental condition was not an easy fix. Many people with bi-polar disorder don’t fare well, particularly in the past, when they didn’t even have a diagnosis and no good way to treat this mental condition. With this story, I know things won’t be easy for Jonas or Imogene, but they have their love and their commitment to each other to help them through the dark times. Imogene has seen Jonas at his worst, and it didn’t make her run away. She only left because she thought he didn’t love her or that she didn’t matter. But she came back because he was the one for her, her true love. She would stay by his side forever, no matter what, knowing that he truly wanted her. Thankfully, Jonas loves her for who she is, and that’s what she always needed in her life. As this book ends, I felt a sense of hope that made this dark read just my kind of story. I could believe that although life won’t be easy, they will have a happy ending together. And that’s why I love romance novels.
Thanks to Denise for kindly loaning me this book for my Kindle!(less)
This is fairy tale stuff. A normal girl goes to Russia, meets a billionaire, gorgeous prince, and ends up married to him. However, this fairy tale her...moreThis is fairy tale stuff. A normal girl goes to Russia, meets a billionaire, gorgeous prince, and ends up married to him. However, this fairy tale heroine has to work hard for her happy ending. Her fairy tale prince is a prisoner in his self-constructed tower of loneliness. Driven by vengeance, he has closed himself off to love. It will take a courageous, determined heroine to conquer this prince.
Russia sung its siren song to me through this book. I liked the touches that Ms. Harris added to make it realistic. I was fully immersed in this story, with its beautiful accents of Russian language and culture.
I didn't find this book as passionate as I had hoped for a Harlequin Presents, and I don't mean sex. I mean I felt that Alexei held himself too isolated from Paige, and I didn't feel a sense that he was desperate for her. That's something I love in a hero, a hero that is so much in love/captivated with the heroine that all bets are off. I wanted to see more of that feeling from Alexei. When I read a plain jane romance, I want to feel that yes, the hero is the man who finds her irresistible and falls madly in love with her. To me it seems very obvious that a man can fall for a beautiful, glamorous woman that has everything going for her. That's not escapism in its purest form, it's fairly plausible in real life. But for a prince to fall for a normal girl, that gets my romantic heart beating fast. I did feel that Paige felt hard and fast, and that Alexei held all the cards too long, not a preferred scenario for me. Eventually, I came to see that Paige had found the key to Alexei's well-guarded heart and he couldn't stay away from Paige or deny his love any longer, but I guess I didn’t feel it as much as I wanted to. As a positive, I did like that when Alexei finally opens up, he tells her Paige all his painful secrets, revealing himself fully to her.
Although Russians hail from a land of bitter cold, I view them as strong, enduring people of fiery emotions, so I wanted to see more of that emotionalism in Alexei. That was really my issue with this book, why I didn’t rate it higher. I like for a Harlequin Presents to have that zing, and this one was more of a mild buzz, although it was written well.
Still a good book, especially if you like Russian settings and Russian characters. I liked that Ms. Harris worked hard to give it an authentic feel in that regard. And I thought Paige was a good heroine, an everyday kind of girl that I imagine I would like very much if I knew her in real life. I’m so glad she got her happy ending. (less)
After reading my last HP, this one pales in comparison. However, it's a good book.
Some of my thoughts:
*I could totally understand why Alex was unhapp...moreAfter reading my last HP, this one pales in comparison. However, it's a good book.
Some of my thoughts:
*I could totally understand why Alex was unhappy with Gabriel's lying to her about his identity. It's probably a 'duh' comment, but I truly hate when people lie to you. It's usually unnecessary. And it makes a future relationship based on trust very difficult. So, I could see Alex's insecurity in her relationship with Gabriel, although I didn't like it. I felt her struggle not to be 'weak' in her feelings for him. It's hard when you fall head over heels, and you can't be rational about it. I got that, loud and clear. I did like that she fought that insecurity and worked on hanging onto her sense of identity. I didn't agree with every decision she made. But in the light of their relationship, they made sense. *Gabriel is a hero who's arrogant, but not to the point of it being a chokepoint to me. He even admits that he's arrogant, and I like that he comes down off his high horse and works to meet Alex halfway. I also liked that he was man enough to appreciate a woman like Alex who 'keeps it real'. She isn't into makeup, girly clothes, or glamming it up, but Alex loves her for who she is. His only thing is that she doesn't wear tight clothes because he's possessive over her. I'm all for a guy who doesn't try to change a woman to fit his unrealistic view of his perfect woman. Alex was his perfect woman as is. Works for me! *Luke is present in the book, which is good. I think it's such a waste to have a book about parents and you never see the kids. You could see how having a child changed your life in the dynamic with Alex and her son, and how Gabriel had to get up to speed with having a child.
Yeah, I have to say that I'd probably have rated this higher if I hadn't read the book I just finished right before it. That one just blew me away, so in comparison, this one is going to be in the 3.5 star range. A good book that I enjoyed. I liked a lot more than I didn't like, and that's always a good thing.
Annie West couldn't write a bad book if she tried. Because of that, I have high expectations. Also, I messed up. I read Prince of Scandal first, and I...moreAnnie West couldn't write a bad book if she tried. Because of that, I have high expectations. Also, I messed up. I read Prince of Scandal first, and I loved that so much. I am not big on the modern royalty theme, but she made me buy in hook, line and sinker with that book. So that's why I didn't like this one as much. I just didn't connect to Alaric as much as I did with his cousin Raul. Alaric seemed more, I don't know if callous is the word... I did feel sympathy for his journey and his losses, but I felt that he didn't show the sensitivity that Tamsin needed. At the end of the day, I felt that Tamsin was too good for him.
Maybe it's because Tamsin had some serious self-esteem issues, and she was sort of a 'babe in the woods'. I kind of felt like she was in over her head and he was manipulating her. That's what was off about this book.
Also, he's too much of a rich playboy type for me. I'm not saying he wouldn't make a good ruler. I just think that he has some character development he needs to do. Maybe Tamsin will be good for him, tempering out his tendency to be impulsive and wild in his emotions. I did like the proposal scene and the ending. That was quite romantic.
For a reader who likes the Cinderella theme, the normal heroine who gets swept off her feet by an experienced, wordly prince, this book will probably be very enjoyable. It's well-written, with good atmosphere, sexual tension and love scenes, a vulnerable, likable heroine, and a nice dose of angst. That's why I gave it four stars even though Alaric didn't quite catch me as a hero.(less)
This Christmas-themed romance has a thought-provoking level of character development within it. Rachel and Zac are both struggling with some massive e...moreThis Christmas-themed romance has a thought-provoking level of character development within it. Rachel and Zac are both struggling with some massive emotional wounds, and their meeting is the catalyst for a great deal of healing.
Rachel struggles from a childhood of being unloved by her parents, especially her mother. It has made her feel less than adequate to everyone else, always failing in comparison. In fact, her conversations and remembered memories of interactions with her mother made my hair stand on end. It's actually surprising she turned out as well-adjusted as she did. She can't believe a man will love her enough...enough for anything. Yet, she shows a great deal of self-respect. I appreciated that she wasn't willing to settle for less with Zac.
As for Zac, he certainly was a layered character. He seemed like a really decent, straightforward guy, and I believed he was straight shooting. So when he owns up about his intentions, I admit I was shocked. Finding more about his past drew me even deeper into this story. That was dark. While I really don't like commitment-phobic heroes, rationally speaking, I can understand why he had issues with the idea of marriage. At the same time, I didn't want Rachel to be with him on his terms. She deserved better than that. I was glad he realized that at the end too. He came to the understanding that some things are precious, and they are worth holding onto instead of standing back out of fear. I wouldn't have been happy with this story if Brooks hadn't written Zac to make the gesture. It worked out just how it should have.
I really liked this story, more than I thought. It didn't sound like it would have much going on story-wise, but it turned out to be very deep, and I was very emotionally involved with the characters.
Brooks has a way of writing very modern stories, but with characters who have their own distinctive values true to themselves that manage not to be anachronistic or disjointed within the overall storyline. It makes her books resonate with me. Another good Christmas story with hidden depths. Thumbs up!