This was an interesting exploration of what it must be like for a man to fall in love with someone who is a lot younger than him and to have to allowThis was an interesting exploration of what it must be like for a man to fall in love with someone who is a lot younger than him and to have to allow her to grow up so they can be together. There is nothing dirty here. While Leon does fall in love with Bea when she is a young teen, he doesn't act on it. In fact, he deliberately stays away from her. When he realizes she knows about his sexual escapades as a younger man, it shames him. He doesn't want her to see that side of him. When she turns eighteen, Leon is eager for them to begin their life together, but what Bea perceives as a betrayal leads to a broken engagement and a three year separation. When Bea turns 21, she is a college graduate and she's ready to take up her role in the company that Leon's father and her father forms together. Leon is back in her life, and he seems to want to have a hands on role that she isn't at all interested in. Not knowing what he did, and believing he was romancing her just to get control of the company. Leon gets kidnapped, and it has a profound effect on his psyche that leads to further problems between them, but also opens the doors to truth-telling so they can have the relationship that they both want.
I liked this book a lot. While Bea is younger, she's not callow or facile. She has a maturity despite her young age. It was interesting that the age gap is presented realistically. Leon is 35 and she's 21, and there is a huge gap in interests between those ages. Bea plays the age card to make Leon back off, but what she doesn't realize is how deeply in love with her he is and can't easily let go of her. I like that Leon does feel a bit of chagrin about the age difference. It seems as though men are cavalier about being with much younger women and it's no big deal. I think it very much is. I liked seeing the evolution in Bea's view of things. She comes to realize how much she means to him when it's almost too late, but fortunately, she listens to some good advice that makes her willing to take a chance on Leo.
This is a good HP, with plenty of passion and intensity, and the drama isn't contrived. Baird has been one of those authors that I have read plenty of, but I tend to take for granted. She's a good writer. ...more
Like all of Maisey Yates' books, she takes the tried and true Harlequin Presents format and gives it an unexpected and welcomed depth. In this book shLike all of Maisey Yates' books, she takes the tried and true Harlequin Presents format and gives it an unexpected and welcomed depth. In this book she's tackled the taboo but alluring subject of step-siblings getting together. And I would say she did a great job with it.
Elle and Apollo seem to have everything to hate about each other, despite the fact that their parents are married. Apollo has set his mind on revenge, and Elle doesn't even know the whole story. All she knows is that Apollo has seemed determined to torment her from day one, and that she is so attracted to him, it scares the life out of her. When they get into an elevator together after a contentious meeting, they give into an angry and fiery passion for each other, and end up with the consequences of a baby on the way.
Apollo still wants revenge, but he also wants to take care of his baby, and he's not against doing both. Elle doesn't trust Apollo, but she wants to do what's best for her baby. They have to put their vitriol aside long enough to do right by their baby. Apollo needs to convince Elle to marry him, but Elle is pretty sure that's a bad idea, at least until Apollo can show that he is a devoted husband, fat chance. That's the rhythm of this novel.
Disguised behind the titillating subject matter is a deep story about relationships and putting the past behind you to embrace a better future. Setting aside what you used to know about a person and learning who they really are and how to best love them. I really appreciated that aspect of this story. One shortcoming is that the book does seem to lose momentum towards the end with the dramatic intensity dipping down, but I did truly love the fact that Apollo shows deep love for Elle, for who she really is. He is faced with losing her and he realizes that she's what he wants, not revenge. I love that realization the hero has about loving the heroine. Elle grows as a person as well. She's very independent and no pushover, and I liked that about her. But she also has some emotional vulnerabilities that have crippled her to some extent. Elle has wanted her father's love and respect for so long, but she's never been able to obtain it. It's surprising that Apollo can give her that unconditional love, but she realizes that for their whole relationship, she was pushing him to show her that very thing.
If a reader is just look for pure taboo titillation, this is not the book for you. If you want a deep story with that alluring forbidden love angle, with some good old enemies to lovers thrown in, then check this book out. It's not my favorite by Maisey Yates, but it's still very good. ...more
Wow! I loved this book. Yates has always been a writer that struck me as having a lot of promise. I feel she nailed it far and away with this book. ShWow! I loved this book. Yates has always been a writer that struck me as having a lot of promise. I feel she nailed it far and away with this book. She has a written a romance between a Very Bad Man and a Hero Who Isn't a Good Girl. Oh she's a virgin, but that doesn't make her a good girl. I like that she flipped that around where virginity doesn't equate with innocence. I love when the heroine is a virgin, but I don't think that having a V card makes a woman more worthy. So yay to Ms. Yates for how she wrote this book with Charity showing some traits that make her less likely to qualify as a Disney Princess. Having said that, she's perfectly sympathetic. Her father was a con artist who raised her with his morals, which are very gray. She always knew deep down that something wasn't right about that life. But she didn't have access to another way of life to establish an alternate or better since of right and wrong so she could reject her father when he comes back and gets her help in pulling a con on Amari. When he runs off, he leaves her holding the bag and dealing with a coldly vengeful Amari who doesn't take kindly to anyone stealing what belongs to him. I loved how Yates sensitively depicts Charity's character evolution and identity crisis. It was excellent writing.
Oh my goodness! I loved that it's pretty obvious that Charity is biracial, if not racially mixed. Kudos again. It's nice to see brown skin as an object of beauty in a mainstream romance that isn't slated just for a multicultural audience.
Rocco Amari is a Class A villainous hero. In his own way, his morals are as flawed as Charity. His treatment of her is on par with an Anne Stuart hero. He is fearlessly cutthroat with Charity, but in a way that shows he's not as cold and lacking in feelings towards her as he would like. From the beginning, something about her gets beneath his armor and he can't dismiss her or deal with her in the way he would typically deal with his enemies. The reader gets a bird's eye view of this hero falling like a ton of bricks for his heroine, even though he can't allow himself to accept it. Amari also goes to an evolution. He realizes that Charity is not a possession, but a flesh and blood woman who he has to love in a deeper, selfless way and not like an expensive acquisition. Oh my goodness, some of his dialogue is priceless. Yates shows that she is a modern writer in how these characters express themselves. I've never heard a hero use some of the terms that Rocco does in this line before.
I could probably go on and on about how much I loved this book, but I won't. I like how Yates plays around with tried and true motifs in this line and breathes new life in them. I normally don't like the mistress storyline at all. The relationship between Amari and Charity doesn't feel like a rich man-mistress scenario, and while Amari seems to hold all the power, it's clear that he's equally vulnerable to Charity. I appreciate that very much. I definitely recommend this book to readers who either are Harlequin Presents fans or modern romance fans who like the billionaire hero or even Anne Stuart villain heroes motif. ...more
I was disappointed with this book. I guess it's my own fault. This cover was so gorgeous, it made me excited to read the book. However, the story is pI was disappointed with this book. I guess it's my own fault. This cover was so gorgeous, it made me excited to read the book. However, the story is pretty ho-hum. It lacks passion, and I don't just mean sexual passion. I thought it would be pretty vibrant because of how they first meet and their instant chemistry, but this foundation isn't built on in a satisfactory way for me. Fundamentally, I didn't get excited about reading this, but I just wanted to get it read.
One thing that was pretty interesting was how malignant Dario's brother was. He was basically stalking Elyse because his father wanted him to marry her, and her father pretty much dangles her like bait in front of him. I think Dario's father was a big, fat jerk, and it bothers me that Dario was so stuck on getting his approval. I know his mother made him promise to reconnect with the guy, but Dario was too emotionally fixated on his father's approval. Poor Elyse comes off as a pawn for most of this book. I love revenge stories, but I prefer when the heroine retains some power over herself, even if it's mentally or emotionally. Elyse seems to fold in on herself. I can see how things were with her. Her parents are so fixated on each other, she is emotionally neglected. That's why I wanted her to have a hero who was crazy about her. I don't think Dario was really. Of course, at the end, they make up and love is declared, but it wasn't fully convincing to me.
I gave this three stars more because I liked the heroine and I do give the cover props. It's probably nothing special to some readers, but I think it's kind of a unique look for this series. This book had some potential, but it wasn't anything particularly memorable. I think I just have such high expectations for Harlequin Presents because I love them so much, and I'm disappointed when they don't live up to those expectations....more
Oh man, I loved the hero in this book. He was scrumptious. He reminded me of Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent from Devil in Winter in that he's a long, leaOh man, I loved the hero in this book. He was scrumptious. He reminded me of Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent from Devil in Winter in that he's a long, lean panther who talks like a panther purrs. He screams "I'm Bad For You, but I'm So Good!" He was delicious. He definitely goes on my lickable hero shelf. I fell hard for him because he is so super-sexy, and because he gave Hattie steadfast love in a way she'd never had before. At one point, he withdraws from her, and Hattie can't deal with that. He does it because it was difficult for him to deal with the fact that she refused to be honest with him. Hattie doesn't know how to deal with him not being in her life the way he's been for over ten years, and that is the impetus for change. That was when he realized she didn't know how. She didn't know what unconditional love was and the concept of being accepted no matter what. She spends most of the book pushing him away emotionally, and being a bit of a brat, so that tiptoes on the edge of being a bit tedious. Crews managed to change the tone soon enough that I was just burned out on it. I think the reveal for why Hattie has behaved the way she has so long was a pit too rapid in its delivery (and it felt a bit lightweight to be honest), and I would have liked better pacing in that regard. I did love the surprise that Nicodemus gets. I was really surprised myself. I like a good twist in a story.
This book is pretty heavy on internal dialogue and that probably wouldn't work for some. But I felt it was well done, and I think the characters are wonderfully complex. I think this is a nice mix of modern cultural awareness but with the old school intensity dynamic that makes many of us Harlequin Presents readers such advocates of the vintage novels. The sensuality is intrinsic and hot and underlined by the fact that these two people really love each other and can't imagine a life without each other.
I'm hoping that I enjoy His for Revenge, about Hattie's brother, as much as I did this book.
Ms. Archer has written another lushly sensual historical romance that entertained me, but also made me think. It was more suspense than action-orienteMs. Archer has written another lushly sensual historical romance that entertained me, but also made me think. It was more suspense than action-oriented outside of the romance, but readers who like espionage fiction will probably enjoy that. I liked the depth she gives her characters with quirks like Marco cursing beautifully in Italian and teaching Bronwyn rude Italian hand gestures, as well as Bronwyn's incredible violin-playing skill. It's worth a read.
So, I was playing around on my Kindle last night when I was trying to get sleepy since I had to get up early this morning, and I started reading thisSo, I was playing around on my Kindle last night when I was trying to get sleepy since I had to get up early this morning, and I started reading this and didn't finish until I was done. That's a good sign indeed.
I love interracial romance, so I try to keep an eye out for good books. However, I don't love interracial erotica, and that can be a double-edged sword, since you don't know how erotic a book will get until you read it. And I miss out on some good writing because I tend to avoid all of it (since I don't know what is and isn't out of my comfort zone).
I'm glad this came up free on Kindle, because I don't think I would have bought it, since it does have an erotic storyline. Despite the fact, it was a good read.
What I liked:
* I loved that Veronica is an independent woman with her own business, and she's very good at her job. * Also that Veronica is a geek. She did calculus problems in her head when Rossi's hotness started distracting her too much. How cool is that? The Doctor Who reference was awesome (although she spelled it Dr. Who). Also the Star Trek "Resistance is futile" quote raised the geek coolness bar a notch more. *I just loved the scene when Rossi nursed Veronica when she had the flu. I think that was crucial for such a short story focused around sexual attraction and assuaging that attraction for someone you work with. While I can't say I felt huge love between the characters, I could see there was a strong love bond developing. *I am a pretty big Harlequin Presents fan, and I perceive this as a Harlequin Presents-type homage, which was cool. It was great to have a black heroine and one who is not dependent on the hero for her livelihood, even though it does have a bit of the sexual harassment theme going on (which I kind of like in these books anyway).
What didn't work for me: *This is a grain of salt thing. I just don't care for erotica. It's not evil or wrong, but it just doesn't work for me on a romantic level. Yes, my hormones can be stimulated by reading hot stuff, I won't lie. However, I don't care for the rough language. If the author is going to use the big naughty words for body parts, I need to feel the love very strongly between the characters. In this case, I didn't. Not that the author isn't a good writer, but the scenarios and the short time period made that impossible. So hearing the naughty words associated with the sex scenes didn't work for me. *Also, some of the sexual scenarios felt more like a titilation factor than romance to me. I especially didn't care for (view spoiler)[ Veronica taking X-rated pictures of herself and putting them in Rossi's presentation booklet, especially one in particular involving a dildo. It felt 'icky' to me. But thank God, no anal sex! I think some readers might find it hot, but not for me. I do have to say that I almost choked in shock and laughter when Veronica's phone went off when she saw Rossi self-pleasuring himself and right at the explosive moment. Hilarious and deeply embarrassing at the same time. Well-written, I must say. (hide spoiler)] *The short length, which I allude to earlier didn't work for me. I didn't feel that the characters were going to stay together for ever when this ended. I can see them having a hot and heavy relationship and maybe falling in love, but that doesn't necessarily equal happy ever after to me. I am a happy ever after girl, not a happy for now. Just a resolution of them dating and going out in public and not just having sex wasn't fulfilling to me.
So Why The Four Stars?:
The writing is very good. It feels polished and the characters are very well-developed for a short, sex-oriented story. While I am just not into the moneyed, hot executive hero type (despite my love of Harlequin Presents) books, Rossi was actually a nice guy and he respected and admired Veronica for the whole person, and not just her physical assets. As I said above, I liked Veronica for the most part although (view spoiler)[ I wasn't down with how she objectified herself near the end to get Rossi's attention. (hide spoiler)] For the short length and the subject matter, this was a good story and it was very sexy. Not really my cup of tea, but well done all the same.
I would recommend this to readers who like the hot stuff and don't mind the language being naughty and a bit of a 'porny' scenario. Not tasteless in the least, so don't get that idea from my review.
It's worth the money if you like short erotic interracial stories built around the office love/sexual harassment scenario....more
This was kinda different. The heroine gets fooled into a bogus marriage by a sociopathic Sicilian, and finds out from his brother that he was alreadyThis was kinda different. The heroine gets fooled into a bogus marriage by a sociopathic Sicilian, and finds out from his brother that he was already married since he was nineteen. It turns out his wife has been sabotaging Debbie and her mom's sandwich business to get revenge. Debbie finds all this out from a coincidence when Luciano buys the bank where she delivers sandwiches through a service contract.
I liked that Debbie really was a working class girl. I can imagine her with an East Enders accent. It was a matter of suspending belief that she truly had gotten fooled into a bogus marriage and it didn't come up. I don't know how easy it is for a foreigner to get married in England when he's already married. I'm guessing you couldn't do that very easily in the United States using your real name. I'll allow that this was possible for the purposes of the story. I feel that Debbie got over being betrayed and made into an involuntary bigamist/adulteress too easily.
I didn't quite get why Debbie was determined to go to the funeral in Sicily when she already knew her so-called husband was a lying sack of you know what, and she took her son. I felt that was extremely naive of her, despite being warned by Luciano. She said she wanted to pay her respects. I think that was just a plot device to get the story moved to Sicily. The rest of the story is Debbie and Luciano owning up to their feelings, and that was sweet. Luciano is such a lovely guy. Considerate and caring, despite the great wrongs perpetrated against him.
I think the best part of this book is that both leads are very likable and kind people who were taken advantage of by the dead bigamist husband and his family. Their characters appealed to me. I think the melodrama about Luciano's Sicilian family is to be expected for a Harlequin Presents book, but I think that the resolution on their threat towards Debbie and her son Stefano was anticlimatic. I would have liked a more dramatic on-screen confrontation, but maybe that's just the dramahound in me.
Deadly Angel was an entertaining read, and it definitely had plenty of tension and emotion to it. When I read Harlequin Presents, those are some of myDeadly Angel was an entertaining read, and it definitely had plenty of tension and emotion to it. When I read Harlequin Presents, those are some of my biggest criteria, so the book scores in that way. However, I couldn't give it high marks because of some issues that were too serious to overlook. Let's discuss those first.
Nick is a bully. He is used to throwing his weight around and using his sinister reputation to get what he wants. I like tough, scary heroes, but I don't like bullies. I thought he was way too physically intimidating with Olivia. He forces her to kiss him and pushes her around in a way that felt uncomfortable to me. He does not rape her, Thank God. However, his behavior was still hard to swallow. I think I would have flung the book against the wall if Olivia hadn't been a courageous woman who didn't bow to his intimidation (any more than she could avoid). I don't quite understand why she fell in love with him though. He wasn't nice to her. He didn't treat her that well. He didn't show her much gentleness. Even with the scary, sexy, cool literary men I love, I need to see and feel that he is a man the heroine could love. I didn't quite feel that with Deadly Angel. Yes, he's sexy if you like a domineering, rough, demanding hero who threatens her constantly.... But all of a sudden, she realizes she is deeply in love with him? Huh? I did appreciate his loyalty to his family and that he worked hard to bring his family business back from the edge of oblivion. Some of his methods, not so much.
Another aspect I struggled with is the almost stereotypical presentation of Sicilians as violent, dangerous people. Maybe I don't know much about Sicilians, but I don't think it's right to label a group of people some way. People have done plenty of that with black people, and I'm not having that. I really dislike movies/books about the Italian/Sicilian mafia, and this book sort of took me too close to that perception. If I was Sicilian, I think I'd be a bit offended. I'd be curious to see what a person of Sicilian ancestry thinks about it. Maybe I am taking it too seriously....
I liked Olivia. I felt for her situation. You can't help if you don't love someone, and what Greg did was not her fault. But she did was right in that she went to him to help him when he was in the hospital and recovering. I didn't quite get her actions towards the end of the book though. Why would she get in the car with that slug? I would have kept on walking and I probably would have started screaming to draw attention to myself. But I guess it gave Nick the chance to be protective....
Anyway, I give some points for dramaticism, emotion, and the fact that this book kept my interest, but I have to subtract points for Nick's brutish nature and the stereotyping of Sicilians. I think 3.5/5.0 stars is a fair rating.
This is an intense book. Jessica had very good reason to resist Carlo the first time around. With the terrible examples at relationships that her pareThis is an intense book. Jessica had very good reason to resist Carlo the first time around. With the terrible examples at relationships that her parents set and her mother's promiscuous behavior, she was deathly afraid of the sexual attraction she felt for Carlo. Besides, she was engaged. Carlo was arrogant as only a young man could be. He thought that he could crook a finger at Jessica and she would drop everything to be with him. But I think that he wouldn't have respected her if she did. I liked that while Carlo does act like a jerk, he isn't a bad person. He acts out of hurt and determination, and the fact that he fell like a ton of bricks for Jessica and never got over her. It's clear that both Jessica and Carlo have damaged family relationships and that makes it hard to trust in future relationships. You can therefore sympathize with both of them.
I love jealous heroes, so I really liked how he was so jealous of her marriage to another man. He didn't even want to call her by her married name. I could tell it was because he had always loved Jessica, even if he didn't realize it.
I liked that although I had read this before, it felt like I was reading it again for the first time. All the emotions were fresh and intense. A nice one to read when you want an HP escape....more
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 PrLynne 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. ...more
Another older Lynne Graham novel that slipped through the cracks for me. I read this one today and it was a nice way to while away some relaxation timAnother older Lynne Graham novel that slipped through the cracks for me. I read this one today and it was a nice way to while away some relaxation time. Graham sets a tone that is emotionally charged and involving. Gianni wasn't exactly my favorite person for most of the book, but I did see how his early childhood set him up for being the less than ideal lover in that he's not able to communicate in a healthy way. He's deeply emotionally locked up and Milly wore herself out practically trying to batter against his walls. She wasn't aware how much progress she'd made before a terrible misunderstanding caused them to separate the first time. Gianni makes a lot of excuses for his behavior, acting as though he's being rational throughout, while he distrusts Faith/Milly's more honest emotional approach. By the end of the book, it was clear that he loved Milly very much even though he wasn't able to accept that fact until it was almost too late.
At times, I didn't like that Milly was so emotionally vulnerable to Gianni and pretty much did what he wanted for the most part. However, it was clear that Milly didn't have any disillusions about who she was and what she valued or wanted for her life. Milly was in a tough situation having lost her memory and found that she had left a lot of pain behind her in her pre-memory loss life.
I made one of my reading resolutions to read more Harlequin Presents book this year than I did last year. My HP reading was at a near all-time low last year because of many things, but I hope to rectify that this time around. This is my 2nd this year and I really liked both of them. Of course, I consider Lynne Graham a very reliable author, which is why I pull her out when I want a sure HP vacation....more
I am on the fence about this book because I didn't like the way the hero treats the heroine for most of the book. He's very mean to her and judgmentalI am on the fence about this book because I didn't like the way the hero treats the heroine for most of the book. He's very mean to her and judgmental and dismissive of her. Mostly because he didn't want to be attracted and drawn to her. He hates her for making him feel vulnerable and that she is the one woman he really ever loved that way. He's self-righteous in that he hasn't lived a very moral life, but wants to give the pretense about it without putting in the effort. It's all about how he appears to the world. While I understand his angst in what happened with his ex, when was that ever Lauren's fault? But he seems to want to make her the scapegoat in the situation. He comes off as a largely selfish hero. On the other hand, I did like Lauren quite a bit. I really wish she wasn't in love with Paulo. I wish she could have fallen for a good guy who loved her and respected her equally. It's almost kind of a scenario where the decent girl gets caught between two rakes and ends up falling for one who isn't really that much more moral than the other. At the end of the day, Paulo and Ryan are both sexual predators, using women as part of their competition and for sexual-gratification, with very little sense of personal honor. I really have a hard time with those kinds of heroes, and Paulo doesn't make me feel any better about it. I think one thing that Paolo is complicit in is hard to forgive. He knew that Lauren's husband was unfaithful to her, and he never called him on it, even if he wouldn't admit it to Lauren. Even their moral failing at Lauren's wedding was arguably more his cause than hers, and his expectation at that time was ridiculous.
The more I think about this, the more I can't say I really liked this book as much as I would have liked to. It has lots of intensity and sort of the ongoing, enduring love theme, but I can't really believe in that love from Paolo's perspective. His resolution at the end was a bit too little too late for my taste.
I feel this book deserves more than 3 stars, but not 4. So I'll go with 3.5 stars. For me, a hero who doesn't seem worthy of the heroine is more or less a deal breaker for me....more
I pulled this one up on my Kindle because I was watching the HBO movie "Bessie" with Queen Latifah (who is the definition of awesome), and I wanted toI pulled this one up on my Kindle because I was watching the HBO movie "Bessie" with Queen Latifah (who is the definition of awesome), and I wanted to read something set at this time, and especially IR. I had downloaded is specifically because of the time setting and the storyline, and this was the perfect time to read it. I wasn't disappointed. This was a very good book.
Disclaimer: I will use the term 'colored' for black people because that is what black people were called at this time. This term is not appropriate to use anymore, but in the context of this story, it's timely.
Harmony sings the blues at the Cotton Club. Music is in her soul and it's her gift, how she pours out her anguish over the loss of her grandmother and her man. Her dreams of escaping a life bound by the restrictions of race and lack of money are given full rein when she sings. When her brother goes missing, she exploits the fact that powerful gangster Vinnie Romano seems captivated with her voice. She asks him to help her find her brother, knowing he'll have a price, and one that she's willing to pay. Set in a time of Prohibition when gang violence is near an all time high, this book delivers on the intensity.
I bought in on the chemistry between Harmony and Vinnie from their first meeting. I like that you initially don't know what Vinnie's motives are. He's a hard man and he keeps his heart buried deep. Coming over from Sicily with nothing, he's earned his status as a Boss with blood. And Vinnie definitely has an intimidating vibe. I like dangerous heroes, although I can't say I'm fond of mobsters. They aren't my cup of tea since I don't like brutality and the ruthless killing for profit and status associated with that kind of business. What hooked me in with Vinnie was his extreme appreciation for Harmony's singing and his love of blues music, a music that was strictly colored music at this time. They actually called them race records. For Vinnie to connect with such soulful music showed that he was deeper than he might have appeared. While at first, you don't get that race isn't an issue with him, you wonder that it can't be if he would connect so deeply with a culture so different from his own. Vinnie made me care about him. As Harmony sees his layers and the lion's heart he has, so did I. I appreciate loyalty and honor, and I don't tend to associate those with mobsters, but Vinnie clearly has those traits. He's a fascinating guy and I could see why Harmony loved him.
Harmony is equally layered. She's tough and independent and fiery passionate, but also sweet and demure. She's an artist and a believer deep in her soul, a dreamer, even in this world where colored people aren't allowed dreams. I loved how determined and fearless she is at the end of this book. That was a really bad and scary situation and she did something that only a lioness would do to save her man. Kudos to her for that.
I remember there is a great movie that I saw a long time ago called "Machine Gun Blues", starring Cynda Williams and Nick Cassavettes, about a colored blues singer who falls in love with an Italian mobster. It has a sad ending (sorry for the spoiler), and I always wished it had ended differently. I would like to thank Ms. Mynx for giving me a happy ending version of that seemingly doomed love affair. There is a time in this book where you aren't sure you'll get a happy ending, and I think I hardly breathed as I read the final pages of the book. The thing about Kindle books is it tells you how much time you have left in the book, and the last 20% was agony for me. But Mynx delivered.
I have a problem with erotica, and I try to avoid it. I just don't like all the 'anything goes' sex. I like to know there will be limits on what kinds of sex acts are depicted in the book. I don't mind steamy vanilla sex and plenty of it (so long as it doesn't take over the story), but I don't like the kinky stuff. A reference during the first love scene had me worried, but that stuff didn't take place on screen in the book, so I heaved a sigh of relief. While I do think this did have a bit more sex than strictly necessary, I can understand how important it was to show the passion and desperation of these two lovers, and how their love comes to the surface past their guarded armor and facades.
I won't say I'm a mafia/mobster romance fan, but I really did like this book. And since I'm a sucker for Early 20th Century romance, and I like reading about the 20s and 30s, it kind of comes with the territory. Prohibition was a very violent period in American history, and there are a lot of untold stories. I loved seeing what it was like a young colored woman and her Sicilian lover, that they did have a chance at a happy ending, even in their world of blood and strife. I learned some historical facts as I read that found very fascinating, such as which states it was legal to marry interracially during this period.
The writing was crisp and very organic and visually-stimulating. I felt like this was a cinematic read, and I would love if someone did make a movie out of this one day. I would definitely go see it! The music aspect was well-conveyed and integral to this story. The editing was pretty good, with only a few errors, mostly near the end.
I'd have to give this 4.5/5.0 stars because this was an intense, passionate and involving book that kept its hooks in me even when I was afraid to keep reading. I really cared about Harmony and Vinnie and I wanted desperately for them to get their happy ending together. I can see why Sienna Mynx is such a popular author. ...more
This was a very angsty read. Gisele got thrown out by Emilio when a sex tape surfaces. He doesn't believe that she's innocent, and cuts her out out ofThis was a very angsty read. Gisele got thrown out by Emilio when a sex tape surfaces. He doesn't believe that she's innocent, and cuts her out out of his life. When it becomes clear that it's Gisele's newly discovered twin sister and Emilio becomes aware of that fact, he decides that he will make amends and get her back. Soon, he realizes that he can't just go back to what things were. Gisele has lost too much in the past to be the same adoring, biddable fiancee he had in the past.
Gisele's heartbreak is tangible. I cried for what she lost. I could understand why she was hard to deal with emotionally by Emilio. He needed to deal with what he'd done and realize it wasn't right and he couldn't expect all that to go away. While Emilio wasn't hateful, what he did was pretty rotten, and I'm glad that was never glossed over. I also appreciate that he had to deal with the consequences of his lack of trust in Gisele and he has to work through a shared heartbreak as well.
Milburne's writing really has evolved and I feel that her later books have a lot of depth, with complex characters. While her heroes can be typical HP arrogant, they aren't hateful about it where you want them to jump off a cliff, like a few of her older male characters I won't mention and some other HP heroes.
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 loOkay, 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 was a very enjoyable read. I honestly adored Zara. She has a sweetness, a genuineness, but also a inner strength that appeals. Her parents treateThis was a very enjoyable read. I honestly adored Zara. She has a sweetness, a genuineness, but also a inner strength that appeals. Her parents treated her terribly, and her self-esteem as a result wasn't great. But despite that, she still stood up for herself and didn't let Vitale control her. More than anything, he became like putty in her hands because he fell in love with her for the unique, good person she was. That's always sighworthy to this reader.
I liked the descriptions and imagery in this book. I could see the characters and the settings very clearly. I also liked the dialogue. I think Ms. Graham did a great job of showing how Roccanti and Zara went from enemies to lovers. Roccanti had some serious emotional issues from a childhood filled with pain and insecurity. Not easy to overcome, but Zara provides him a place of safety, security and love and opens him up to trusting and loving others. I liked seeing how Roccanti realized how wrong he had been about Zara and how fruitless revenge can be. Except in this case, his revenge bore unexpected, bountiful fruit because he met the love of his life and started a family with her.
I read Zara's sister Bee's story first, A Deal at the Altar, and I was insatiably curious about how Zara ends up with Vitale instead of Sergios, and I have to say I liked this one just as much. The only thing I wish is that I had gotten to see the sisters interact more, although I understand why they don't, considering the tumultuous relationships with their connected family and the failure to marry Sergios (since Bee marries him instead). I hope I do see more sister interactions in Tawny's book, A Vow of Obligation.
Lynne Graham delivers on her sexy, passionate, entertaining and emotional romance yet again with this book. I recommend it....more
When The Riccione Pregnancy starts, Zito shows up on the doorstep of Roxane, his estranged wife. Roxane left Zito because she was feeling stifled andWhen The Riccione Pregnancy starts, Zito shows up on the doorstep of Roxane, his estranged wife. Roxane left Zito because she was feeling stifled and strangled by his treatment of her as a porcelain doll. She felt that her sense of identity was being absorbed into that of only one role, his wife. She tried to communicate this to Zito, but he didn’t listen. Her only option in her mind was to leave him.
When this couple reunite, at first it felt tedious. The continual rehashing of why they separated, but never clearing anything up in reality wasn’t to my taste. In all honesty, I didn’t initially understand why Roxane kept pushing Zito away. I am not keen on the theme of estranged married couples, so that’s why I didn’t appreciate this novel initially. However, as the real issues came to light, and both Zito and Roxane did some thinking and listening, I could see the strong bond of love between them. And I could understand Roxane’s issues and why she left him. What I really loved about this story was that Zito truly did love Roxane. He just didn’t know how to show it. He was stuck in his ways because of his culture and what his ideas of loving meant (protecting, guiding, and yes, controlling). He didn’t realize that although Roxane was young, she had her own mind, and she needed to be her own person, even if she did love him and love being his wife. She wasn’t by nature a combative person, so it was hard to stand against his stronger personality and demand what she needed from him. So she started to fade like a flower out of the sun. And she left for her own survival. I came to the conclusion that their year apart was good for them both. Roxane was able to gain experience in being independent, and discover a sense of her own identity as a grown woman, and she was able to see Zito’s love in a new light.
I also liked (view spoiler)[ that Zito get’s Roxane pregnant on purpose. I know that’s wrong in real life, but some reason, I like this theme a lot. Probably because it shows a hero’s desperation to keep the heroine with him by any means. I love a hero that is desperate for the heroine. I like that although Roxane was mad at first, she acknowledged that she also had a responsibility in preventing a pregnancy if she didn’t want to be pregnant, and she was able to see why Zito did it. And the pregnancy had a way of uniting this couple, forcing them to work out their issues. It helped them to see how much they had in common and how much they needed each other in their lives. I would imagine in real life, that doesn’t necessarily keep a marriage together, but it worked in this story. (hide spoiler)]
So overall, I did enjoy this read. Even though I found the recriminations a bit tedious at first, merely a matter of taste--since I prefer books where the couple initiate their relationship at the beginning of the book, not when they get back together after they are/were already lovers/married--they had an important role. I believe that they helped to show why this marriage between two people, who loved each other very much and belonged together, fell apart for that short, painful time. I would recommend this book to Harlequin Presents fans who enjoy lovers reunited, married couple romance, pregnancy, and a steadfast/besotted hero themes in their romances. ...more
This book packs an emotional punch. From page one, I was fiercely involved with the story. I have been an admirer of Sarah Morgan for several years, aThis book packs an emotional punch. From page one, I was fiercely involved with the story. I have been an admirer of Sarah Morgan for several years, and she continues to meet my expectations. In this case, she's exceeded them. Sarah has created a story of a marriage that self-destructed, and the aftermath when this couple gets reunited by a family wedding.
I really liked the fact that the characters' emotional problems aren't solved by their love for each other. In fact, they have to work them them and communicate. Honestly though, that's one of the things I love the most about Sarah's writing. Her consistently strong use of dialogue and communication between the main characters. Communication (or lack of it) was a huge factor in the breakdown of Laurel and Cristiano's marriage, and the only way they could save that marriage. Neither of them is the bad guy. The 'bad guy' is that they hadn't developed a strong bond of communication the first time around.
Cristiano really does let down Laurel, but she could have handled the situation better. And both characters realize their faults and own up to them. But it takes some hard emotional moments and confrontations. Not to mention putting oneself out there for possible hurt, and a willingness to trust someone else.
I loved Cristiano. At first I did think he was being mean to Laurel. However, I could see his meanness was out of a broken heart. Similarly, I really felt for and admired Laurel. My heart was aching for the pain she suffered as a child and the way it had caused her to erect thick emotional walls and self-defense mechanisms that eventually lead to unhealthy emotional behavior as an adult. I tend to be self-protective like she is, so I could see the hallmarks of her behavior. I was so glad that Cristiano was willing to be a man and take her harsh but deserved criticisms on the chin. My respect of him went up a thousand notches just seeing how he truly makes amends to Laurel and is willing to move mountains to win her back. At the same time, I didn't feel like Laurel was being deliberately cruel. She was hurting bad and what Cristiano did (even through ignorance) was devastating to her. In some ways, Laurel had not developed as a mature woman emotionally, and that was a huge part of the reason their marriage self-destructed.
While I don't feel I am qualified as a marriage expert, I stand by the belief that commitment to honest and communication in a marriage is crucial, and I was very appreciative about how the author wrote this book. It's a very meaningful romantic story about an emotional journey between a married couple who loved each other deeply, but didn't understand each other well enough to keep it together the first time. While reunited estranged married couple romance will never be my favorite, I think that Sarah knocked it out of the park with this book. I am growing more stingy about five stars lately, but I can't help but give this book that rating. It's well-deserved. Bravo!
PS: I am glad to say that neither character was unfaithful to each other while they were apart. I absolutely hate that!!!...more
I can totally see why one of my GRs friends has so much love for Polly. She really is a great character. Loving, hardworking, intelligent, strong, andI can totally see why one of my GRs friends has so much love for Polly. She really is a great character. Loving, hardworking, intelligent, strong, and willing to stand up for what's right. And she has a great sense of humor. I loved her loyalty to her employees. Wish more bosses were that way in real life. At first, I didn't think Mr. Doukakis was nearly good enough for her. He was a bit of a jerk to poor Polly. Fortunately, as it should be with any good romance book, I came to like and respect him, to see that he was a Control Freak more than anything. It's interesting how an insecure childhood can shape two different people in two entirely different ways. Honestly though, Polly and Damon aren't that different. They are both goal-oriented, decisive people who get the job done. Who deal with circumstances and fix what's wrong in the best way possible. People who love strong and deep, and believe in doing the right thing. Damon came on hard and tough, like he didn't care, but he also cared about his employees. He just wasn't touchy feely about it like Polly. I have to say I liked his business ethics a lot (except for the hot desk idea. Did not like that at all). So my main issues were with how Damon treated Polly. Damon couldn't see past the outside, the fae, energetic beauty of Polly, to believe that she was just as capable as he was. He was poisoned by his past experience with her and his issues with her father. I was glad that he did work past his preconceived notions to give her the credit she was due. And he fell head over heels for her. I think I might create a new shelf, the "He never even knew what hit him" shelf, because that's what happened to Mr. Doukakis when Polly came into his life.
I liked the fresh, modern feel of this story, without throwing out the things I value in a HP. I like a virgin heroine, and I like that Ms. Morgan wrote one who is identifiably modern without being promiscuous. It wouldn't make sense for her to be that way, but it makes perfect sense for her to be a virgin. And there are a lot of woman out there who might be virgins for similar reasons without being weirdos, as the media tries to present. (off soapbox) I also felt the freshness in the references to such things as You Tube and other social media. Polly knows that the target audience for her advertising campaigns are going to rely heavily on social media. So why not use those technological avenues to advertise to the younger demographics? This felt very relevant, and I never felt like I was lost in a time zone, like I can feel sometimes with category romances. I also liked that although Damon takes over Polly's dad's firm, she isn't just the secretary. She's been running the company for years and not getting credit for it. It puts her on much more equal footing than you see in the usual workplace-set HP. Cheers for that. Even though this couple get their traditional HEA, I can rest happily knowing that Polly will continue being a genius in the workplace, making a name for herself, as she deserves. And she gets the man of her dreams. Works for me.
This review is a rambling fest. I guess that's the mood I'm in. Anyway, I ended up loving this book. it's glad I am that this is my first HP read of the new year. You were right, Lulu!