Having a Russian hero is always a nice start. But it has to meet other qualifications, and I'd say Theodora Taylor did that very well. The beginning hHaving a Russian hero is always a nice start. But it has to meet other qualifications, and I'd say Theodora Taylor did that very well. The beginning has one of the best openings I've read in a romance for a while. The language is almost lyrical in those scenes. I have to say that Alexei is just about scrumptious. He's fierce and dangerous/lethal-vibed, but he's also a teddy bear deep down. That combination is so irresistible. I liked very much how Alexei was three-dimensional. While part of him really despised Eva, and was determined to hurt her and get revenge, his heart didn't want that, and he'd never truly stopped loving her. He was very sighworthy. There is no question that Eva is the right woman for him, and I felt his pain and unresolved feelings over their breakup deeply, even though I wasn't sure that Eva was 100% to blame as he thought.
Eva was very likable. She is one of those people that you can't help but like if you spend more than five minutes together. I think her parents didn't realize how lucky they are to have her, considering how terrible they acted towards her. I figured she had a good reason for leaving Alexei, but my jaw dropped when it's revealed why she did. For some reason, I wasn't expecting that. You might say, 'well, duh,' but it was a surprise to me. I normally don't like the plot that is a huge aspect of this book, but I can understand why Eva chose to make that decision, and I like how it was dealt with between Eva and Alexei.
Deep down, I will always be a Harlequin Presents geek. I loved that this has many of the HP tropes that I dig, but with a dangerous twist. And with a black heroine! That's just about perfect for me. I liked how Alexei was wining and dining Eva, but he was also wooing her by doing couple stuff. And having South Padre Island as a rendezvous was a bit novel.
So why not five stars? I doesn't quite feel like a fiver to me. I think a large part was the rough sexual language. I am not a big fan of that, honestly. I think the love scenes were very steamy, but I could have done without the big words that seem obligatory in a steamy romance book nowadays. Personal preference. Thankfully, Taylor keeps the love scenes kink-free (wipes brow). I would have regretted if I had never gotten to meet Alexei just because the book was too kinky for me. Also, it could have been a tad longer. I think that for its shorter length, it was a satisfying story, but this easily could have been longer with more depth.
I'm so picky with five star ratings lately. If I wasn't getting so stingy, this could have been a five. But it was darn close.
Overall rating: 4.5/5.0 stars.
Thanks so much to Teneatha for the Kindle Loan!...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
Another really good Sarah Morgan book. This really reminded me of the story of Red Ridinghood and the big Bad Wolf. Selene is sweet as pie and very inAnother really good Sarah Morgan book. This really reminded me of the story of Red Ridinghood and the big Bad Wolf. Selene is sweet as pie and very innocent, with incredible belief in Stefan, based on their chance meeting five years prior. He is the glimmer of hope that she can escape from the figurative and literal prison where her father has kept her and her mother. She sneaks out and meets him and asks for a business loan for her company. To which Stefan agrees, but he also wants to exploit the association to revenge a past insult against his family by her father. Selene believes only the best about Stefan, and when they go to bed together, she is completely willing, excited to experience passion for the first time with a man she views as the only friend she's ever had. But everything backfires when a picture of them ends up in the press and her father finds out about it. Selene realizes that her knight in shining armor is actually the Big Bad Wolf, and her poor innocent heart is broken. Stefan realizes he wronged Selene in his quest for revenge and he wants to make it right.
Selene is such a sweetie! She cracked me up how excited she was with Stefan that first night. I could see how she was putting tiny cracks in Stefan's armor and making the Bad Wolf into her very own adoring Wolf Protector. Stefan was the first to admit he had no conscience, but the truth is that he had turned his conscience off to achieve his goals of success. Selene made him come back to life, but he did it kicking and screaming. He really doesn't want the vulnerability of love, but Selene reached his heart. And when she loses faith in him, it really bothers him. I liked that Stefan has to win back Selene's trust and show him that he was worthy of her faith in him. At the same time, Selene gains a balanced view of him, that he is neither an angel or a demon, but a human being.
As usual, the dialogue is a huge draw to this story. The sometimes inane things that the characters chat about feels realistic. Sometimes you do have strange conversations with people and they know what you're saying, even if it comes out of your mouth in a very bizarre way, because they know you. I think that Selene's parents were less developed, moreso her mother. Her father seems so sinister, and he's clearly an abusive lowlife. But Selene is able to put him into perspective as well . It helps that she has a faithful Wolf to guard her, and she's one Red Ridinghood who can take care of herself, gaining needed independence, that is not compromised but facilitated through her relationship with Stefan....more
I'm really sucked into this series. There is a tremendous meeting of the minds between Castle and Cole-Alves. They almost don't have to talk, but commI'm really sucked into this series. There is a tremendous meeting of the minds between Castle and Cole-Alves. They almost don't have to talk, but communicate via body language. This is probably a good and bad thing, because they both understand their rage and need to punish those who have taken their loved ones away and will do the same to others. Even the secondary characters have an impact on the storyline. I liked the dialogue between the two detectives on the trail of the Punisher and his new ally. One represents the side of the person who is sympathetic to the Punisher, and who thinks he's doing the right thing, the other on the side of the law and true justice. I think they represent the duality of the reader, their thoughts on both sides of the equation.
The artwork is gorgeous. I think the artist is excellent at conveying the sense of purpose and the intensity of the characters on their faces, making up for a lack of dialogue, and also conveying action on the page.
I especially liked the Punisher/Spider-Man/Daredevil crossover. Daredevil is determined to steer Cole-Alves off the path she has taken, when he failed to do so with Castle.
I am going to be sad when I run out of this run of The Punisher. I still don't know if I'm ready to read the more hardcore Garth Ennis version, and I like the dynamic of Cole-Alves....more
The Plague Ships is bonafide horror. Not only does our intrepid hero battle vampires, but he also battles Hessian zombies infected from nasty fungal bThe Plague Ships is bonafide horror. Not only does our intrepid hero battle vampires, but he also battles Hessian zombies infected from nasty fungal blossoms! Baltimore is a relentlessly driven man with a soul full of vengeance and hurt. An act driven out of fear leads to his whole life being destroyed and the subsequent quest for vengeance against all vampires, and in particular one with a vicious scar on his face.
Mignola is an auto-read for me. His imagination is expansive and he plumbs the nightmares and dreams of the collective consciousness, offering up his resulting creations for the reader's enjoyment and consideration. This graphic novel is actually more true horror than his Hellboy stories, which straddle the dark fantasy line as much as horror. But the visions in this novel are right from the darkest depths of horror. The horror is of the more overt kind: vampires, plague and zombies, but also emotional. The endless quest of Baltimore and his non-healing heart wound from the loss of his family through his own well-meaning actions. The fact that he can never go home again, either emotionally or physically.
As much as the writing is a strength, so are the illustrations. They have a clarity and a concreteness, even though they are all almost monotonal (blacks, tans, reds). They convey action beautifully, making this graphic novel as much an action work as a horror work. The dialogue is rather spare, but the pictures give you the whole picture even when there is no narrative.
For readers who enjoy the enigmatic, dark loner on a quest for justice, knowing that he can no longer call any place his home, this is worth reading. I also recommend it to readers who enjoy the more traditional brand of horror, where the monsters aren't human, and where good fights against evil, even though man often struggles against the evil in his own heart.
It doesn't feel like a five star book, but it's definitely close.
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 the first book by these authors that I’ve experienced. This one was on audio at my library, so I took the opportunity to read it.
UnfortunatelyThis is the first book by these authors that I’ve experienced. This one was on audio at my library, so I took the opportunity to read it.
Unfortunately, I don’t think this book was very good. At the most, it was somewhat entertaining, but the writing was just odd and didn't succeed with me. Gideon is a strange character. He never quite comes off as completely competent. Instead, he seems to bumble his way through situations. He is a fast talker and has a way of getting people to tell him what he wants to know, but I didn’t really count that as a significant skill. He's intelligent, but still slow on the uptake at times. I know that as a reader, we often have oversight in a situation that the character lacks, but I like to think that the main character can use the brains the Good Lord gave him. And I hate when the villain continually out-thinks him.
This book has this 'off' feeling that never goes away. I had hoped things would come together, but it stayed weird, and not in a good way, over the course of the book. I would use the term 'half-baked' to describe this book. Ingredients in this novel could have come to a good finished product, but they just don't.
While I don't like paper tiger villains, I felt that the villain was way out of Gideon's league. I didn't get this David and Goliath feeling where you have an unlikely hero who has the odds stacked against him and triumphed. Instead, I felt as though Gideon didn't have a chance against Nodding Crane. I was actually wincing at how inept Gideon was at times. I really hate being so harsh in my criticisms, but it's how I felt. I always hope for the best when I read a book, and this book never got to be better. It's just barely at 2.5 star read.
The saving grace was that I did listen to it on audio. The narrator, well-known actor John Glover, brought this story to life with his clever vocalizations and personifications of the dialogue. This is one of those cases when a good narrator can stave a sinking ship from going down, or mostly. While this book is not a good one, it was at times entertaining because of the narration.
I might seem foolish, but I want to try the next book, since it is also at my library on audio. My hope is that Gideon does get his act together and has learned something from his experience in this book. I'd like to see that Gideon has something to offer as a hero in future books. Maybe the authors have a better grasp on his character for his next outing. I'm holding onto my hopes! ...more
I think Jennie Lucas might give Lynne Graham a run for her money with the sweet, naive heroine theme. Josie is as sweet as they come. She really seemsI think Jennie Lucas might give Lynne Graham a run for her money with the sweet, naive heroine theme. Josie is as sweet as they come. She really seems out of her league with Kasimir. It seems like shooting fish in the barrel. But Kasimir never knew what hit him. Before he knew it, his plans for revenge that involved Josie were flying away like birdies, and he was stone cold in love.
Jennie Lucas understands the appeal of escapist fantasy romance and she delivers it. While most of the readers of this genre won't know what it's like to swept off our feet by a ruthless billionaire, and probably don't want it in real life, Lucas gives us a 2 hour read that allows us to explore the possibilities. That's why I like this series of books so much. It's a different world and I like that I can spend two hours in that world.
Kasimir is a very bad man. Well, at least he was. I mean, he wants to be. But I think deep down, he's a decent fellow who forgot what was important in life. He lost everything, and when you lose everything, you have nothing to lose. Josie teaches him what it means to love and to sacrifice for love. She teaches him what it means to be a genuine person. And she teaches him to follow his heart and love passionately.
I really liked the first book, Dealing Her Final Card, but I think I liked this one even more. It felt more like Princess fantasy. I liked that they are actually married, and she's not just a mistress. And I think the change in Kasimir is more dramatic than in Vladimir. I also think it's because this was not a reunion romance. The feelings between Josie and Kasimir develop on the page before my mesmerized eyes, and I enjoyed every page of it.
Plus the ending was so sweetly romantic, it made me sigh.
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 faI 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.
It is an incredible coincidence that I read two Lynne Graham books within days of each other, and each has a hero named Vito and a heroine who is a reIt is an incredible coincidence that I read two Lynne Graham books within days of each other, and each has a hero named Vito and a heroine who is a redhead and who has a strangely similar family history (with a few differences). Honest to goodness, I didn't do that deliberately. It was just one of those serendipity things.
I know some readers might be annoyed by the fact that the plot is slightly recycled. I wasn't. I think that in a long writing career, that's bound to happen to a prolific writer. I know that in my own writing I work out issues I see in life and that affect me on a deep level. So I'm not dismayed to see this in writers I follow.
Ava doesn't have an abrasive personality, and she probably would be entitled to it, considering her past. She carries a burden of guilt that has stripped that away from her, if she ever had it. It's heartbreaking what she suffered, and when it's revealed what truly happened, it makes it even worse. I think that Vito could have been a more sympathetic hero. I didn't love him, although neither did I hate him. He was kind of 'meh' for me. He was a bit too cold and unemotional (detached) to me. I felt that he loved Ava by the end of the book, but I didn't feel like he deeply needed her the way I like to feel from a hero. I think his attitude about sexuality was a turnoff. He was too much of a womanizer for my tastes. I think that his actions were initially motivated by a desire to get Ava in bed, even if he didn't want to acknowledge it on a deeper level. I'm not saying he didn't grow in his feelings for her, but I don't like when the heroes' feelings start merely as sexual (and his felt a bit lecherous to me).
Also, Vito didn't seem to want to believe the best of Ava. All along, he was willing to think she was everything that the past seemed to dictate, but he didn't consider how much his brother Olly loved and respected Ava and take that seriously enough. Let me put it this way, if my sister has a high opinion of someone, I take it very seriously. I guess that's why I was not 100% satisfied with this book. When it is revealed how badly Ava was wronged, I wanted to feel more remorse and regret for what she went through from Vito.
This story is pretty heavy and dark for a Lynne Graham book, surprisingly so. It really shows a profound degree of familial dysfunction. I kind of liked that, but I think things were wrapped up a bit too smoothly with a bow to balance out the really dark nature of this storyline. While I see love between Vito and Ava, I didn't get enough of a love payoff in this book. It's still a four star read because it was captivating and kept my interest. I was deeply enthralled with Ava's story and I wanted the best for her. I think she's a happy woman as far as the book ended, but I wasn't 100% satisfied. So it's a weak four stars....more
Confession time: I passed this book by based on the blurb. It didn't appeal. I am not super-fond of second chance at love stories, or playboy/womanizeConfession time: I passed this book by based on the blurb. It didn't appeal. I am not super-fond of second chance at love stories, or playboy/womanizer heroes, and I didn't think I would care for this story. It sounded like a lot of the shallow and plastic (to me) romantic comedies out that I avoid like a plague. I am glad my GRs friend wrote such a sterling review that I pulled it off my shelf. It was a very good book.
What did I like:
* I liked how Ms. Blake took the time to show Caleb's viewpoint. I don't think this book would have worked nearly as well just through Ava's viewpoint. I absolutely needed to see his vulnerabilities, and first-hand how Ava had always been in his heart, even if he had erected the callous, carefree armor of a slick womanizer/high finance shark. His soft spots really endeared him to me, and that's saying a lot because I didn't think much of his values, and just merely being dumped wasn't enough to let him get out of jail free for being so slick and materialistic. I don't mean to be judgmental, but those qualities don't shout out to me in a hero. For all that, Caleb ultimately won me over, especially when he came to his senses at the end. I think deep in his heart, he was always in Ava's corner, and that endeared him to me. * Let me say I loved that Ava was pursuing her doctorate in higher education. Danielle was mentally doing a fist pump. I am always campaigning for more HP heroines with higher educations and careers, and Ms. Blake gave me that! In a strange way, it worked for me that Ava was such a book-smart woman but kind of a screw-up in other ways. Her family baggage had set her on a path where she made mistake after mistake. It was realistic. Now, when I read romances, I prefer it to be about the hero and heroine meeting and falling in love with no other partners and no long years lost. Ten years is a huge time period to regret the one that got away. However, in this case, I feel that this time apart might have been necessary to shape Ava and Caleb to better appreciate life together. So, although this in not my ideal scenario, it worked for this book (although I have some pangs about it). * I loved the interactions (non-sexual) between Ava and Caleb. The relationship re-builders such as their snarky back and forth, and their flirting and just hanging out, and how they were there for each other emotionally. Moreso from Caleb's side. But Ava also helped Caleb to see that getting in deep was okay, and feeling something more was the way life should be. Are you really living if you only play life fast and loose? I firmly believe that Ava and only Ava could have taught Caleb this. *Although more time could have been spent on showing Ava with her family, I am glad that the crucial make-up between Ava and her father did occur. I think Ava can heal in some essential ways now.
What I didn't love: *Honestly, the love scenes were a bit of an afterthought for me. I wanted to know that they felt more and it wasn't just sex, and it was hard to feel that way with both scenes, to be honest. When I read romance, I hate to see sex treated casually. It might work for some, but it doesn't work for me. And when I see it in a romance book between the hero and heroine, it puts a bad taste in my mouth. Although the scene on Caleb's car might have seemed hot, deep down, it left me feeling emotionally unsatisfied, especially compared to the emotional and tender first time they made love ten years ago. However, the moments of connection outside of their sexual interactions were winners for me. Such as when they lay on the grass and caught up with each other. I wanted to knock some sense into Caleb at his actions when Ava lay her heart at his feet in his apartment, so that post-coital intimacy was ruined for me. *As much as I liked this book, I felt kind of melancholy after reading it. I felt like so much time had been wasted, and maybe that's what made it a bit of a downer in some ways. I did like the end, so that sort of makes up for what was lost, but not completely. That's probably why I couldn't rate this higher than four stars, along with the love scenes not being as emotional as I liked.
I enjoyed this book a lot. It's a good reunion romance and friends to lovers book. The heroine has a lot of emotional depths, and Caleb's soft heart beneath a callous exterior intrigued this reader. I loved his expanded viewpoint a lot. I would recommend this book with the above reservations....more