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.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...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.
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
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. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...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!
This was a pretty good romantic suspense. I liked that the hero wasn't all uber-alpha (I can break things with my teeth and kill all the bad guys withThis was a pretty good romantic suspense. I liked that the hero wasn't all uber-alpha (I can break things with my teeth and kill all the bad guys without breaking a sweat). Dav was a normal guy (although a billionaire) who did the best he could in the dangerous situation that he and Carrie found themselves in. They were both nice people. It could have been a little more exciting as far as the suspense, but it kept me reading. And I liked the secondary characters.
This book was a middle of the road read. I didn't hate or love it. I ended up giving it 3.5/5.0 stars because of its good and not-so-good points.
WhatThis book was a middle of the road read. I didn't hate or love it. I ended up giving it 3.5/5.0 stars because of its good and not-so-good points.
What I liked:
*I love a good hero in pursuit. I have an issue with player heroes, so I was feeling tough towards Alessandro at first, thinking he might view Lily as another conquest. However, he proved himself that his intentions were sincere towards her. There were several moments where he could have pushed her into sexual intimacy and he refrained, knowing she wasn't ready for that. I ended up liking and respecting him a lot for that. I also liked that he was steadfast in his regard for Lily, despite her cold shoulder. I could feel that he truly loved her. Also, I liked that he was self-made with a tough life behind him. He had turned his life around with the guidance of Lily's aunt and her deceased husband. *I loved that Lily was a fully-qualified chef and actually had a job that she put a lot of time and energy in. I also liked that she was a woman of independent means. I think Bianchin managed to show that Alessandro could afford to shower her with material things (because that's just obligatory for an HP hero, isn't it?), even though she didn't need them. (view spoiler)[ It was a bit sneaky how it turns out that he owns the restaurant where she gets hired as an assistant chef and her apartment building. I had to laugh, because his tendency to own everything reminded me of Roarke from the In Death series by JD Robb! (hide spoiler)] *I loved all the food descriptions. What can I say, I'm a foodie?
What I didn't like:
*The fashion descriptions bored me to tears. It's not that I don't like fashion, but getting a list of what Lily wore every time got really old. *Normally I like how HPs will have details about the different locales, but this one didn't do much for me as far as describing Milan. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for it. *I just didn't get very excited about this book. It wasn't badly written. I just think she needed a little more zing in the story, and I don't mean sex. Just more tension and hop in the storyline. The annoyance factor of the continual post-mortems on Lily's failed relationship and her using that to keep Alessandro at bay was an execution issue, not so much that I don't like having the reluctant heroine who is afraid to love again. I liked that she didn't fall into bed with him immediately, so I'm not sure that insta-sex would have solved the lack of sizzle problem for me.
Overall, a decent read. Not one that I will find especially memorable, but I did like the fact that Alessandro is a solid hero who definitely shows he's worthy of love. When you have a heroine who has gone through what Lily did with her ex, you need that kind of hero. So it was a success on that front.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Beauty and the Greek immediately went to the top of my HP to-read pile when I got it in the mail. I liked the idea of the admin assistant who is hopelBeauty and the Greek immediately went to the top of my HP to-read pile when I got it in the mail. I liked the idea of the admin assistant who is hopelessly in love with one brother, and who gets help from the other brother to snare her man, and falls in love with him in the process. I am not a big fan of the 'makeover/Pygmalion' theme, because I believe that people should be loved for who they are. However, I am not adverse to it being handled the way Ms. Lawrence did in this book. In the case of Beth, Theo didn't really pay attention to her because she was his brother's AA, she dressed very prim and proper-like, and she treated him with very noxious disdain. One day, after being talked to very nastily by her (which is usual, but it was just more than he was willing to put up with that day from an employee), he is about to give her a set-down, when he notices that she is crying. This happens to be the day when Theo's brother Andreas proposes to Theo's ex, Ariana, who is a piece of work who cheated on Theo when they were together. In other words, not a woman he'd want his brother to marry. When he realizes that Beth is 'in love' with Andreas, and he sees the potential she has, really quite pretty with beautiful hazel eyes, thick dark hair, and a sexy, slim but curvaceous body that she hides behind grandma suits, he decides that he's going to help her get Andreas' attention.
I liked that this plan allowed Beth and Theo to spend some time together. After being played by Ariana, Theo has closed his heart off to love. His relationships are all with career women with no interest in anything beyond satisfying sex and themselves. Beth stands out because she's honest and real (and appealingly sweet, although that's not his normal type). She's not afraid to tell him off, and he admires her loyalty to his brother. They have a blistering attraction that makes hanging Beth out as bait for his brother inspire some serious jealousy in Theo. As for Beth, she can't reconcile why she would be so attracted to Theo when she's been in love with Andreas.
I really liked Beth. I admired her devotion to her ailing grandmother. Her conservative dress and morals made sense, considering she was raised by an elderly woman who instilled her own values into her young granddaughter. Theo seemed kind of arrogant at first, but he wasn't dismissive and cruel about Beth as much as I was expecting. He was more matter-of-fact, saying that she wasn't going to get Andreas' attention without 'gilding the lily,' since Andreas went for the cheap and available-type girls. Theo really won me over when he ministered to Beth after her loss that she suffered. That gave me a few 'sigh' moments. I loved the first time they made love. It was hot but also tender, and it was just what Beth needed at the time.
This one is hard to rate because the writing seemed a bit disjointed at times. On the other hand, I stayed up really late trying to read it, even though my eyes were practically rolling back in my head, I was so tired. That's a good sign. Moreover, the things that make books by this author appealing were apparent. I thought the ending was very sweet, and Theo turns out to have a very romantic soul. It was more than clear how much Beth had come to mean to him, and I love a hero who can make the gestures that speak louder than words, although he delivered the words beautifully as well. Theo and Beth are such a good couple, and I had a smile on my face when I finished this book. It had the elements that make a good modern romance for this reader. How can I not give this book at least 4.25 stars considering that it left me more than satisfied?...more
Crystal Hubbard has delivered a great story of a woman trying to start a new life, and break free from the prison of fear that her abusive, controllinCrystal Hubbard has delivered a great story of a woman trying to start a new life, and break free from the prison of fear that her abusive, controlling ex-husband held her captive to. For readers who enjoyed movies like "Sleeping with the Enemy" and "Enough", this book will strongly invoke memories of those stories, but Ms. Hubbard has put her own spin on that storyline of an abused ex-wife on the run from her crazy, stalker ex-husband.
Ms. Hubbard teaches me as an aspiring writer how to use language to tell a story. She always stimulates all the five senses when she writes. She beautifully describes colors and imagery, that give this novel a three-dimensional feel. I liked how she uses the language of color to describe how different Cinder's relationship is with Gian to her painful marriage to Sumchai Wyatt. Whereas everything was grays, blacks, and whites with Sumchai, there is a dazzling array of colors, each vibrant with Gian. Her descriptions of food were so scrumptious, I wanted to jump into this story and start eating. And the love scenes are very descriptive and evocative, making me think about sex and how it can express the feelings that a couple has for each other to a degree that I usually don't when I read a romance. Also, I appreciated how she wrote Gian as a hero in an inspiring, appealing way, but also showed that he was just a man, not a superman. In this case, Cinder didn't need a champion in the traditional sense. She needed to find her inner champion, and Gian helped her to do that.
The characters in this story came to life, fully realized. Cinder was a deep person, not perfect. A real woman. It's really easy to cast judgment on abused women, and say, I'd never let a man do that to me. However, it happens more than not that a woman ends up in a relationship that starts out good, and then finds that her life is completely controlled by a man who doesn't know what the meaning of love is. In this book, I could see how Cinder went from point A to point B, and woke up one day realizing exactly the extent of the control and games her husband had over her. Some of his cruel tactics made me so angry, and I couldn't imagine being in that situation. Yet, I didn't feel the need to judge Cinder, because being in love with someone does give them a control over you that allows you to put yourself in situations that can be just as unhealthy as Cinder's, and there is a large component of psychological damage, steadily inflicted that allows a person's will to be weakened to the extent that they feel that this is the norm. There is also that fear and shame of speaking out and telling others what is going on. Fear for oneself, and fear that this person might hurt them as well. As with the slow procession from lover to victim that unfolds with Cinder, we see her slow healing and the psychological breakthroughs that allow Cinder to come back from that edge and reclaim her sense of self, her identity, and control of her life. I think this was written brilliantly, and unlike film media, I could see deeper into the abused wife scenario. I admit that this was a harrowing journey at times, too. You think in your mind, how could someone associate this with love. How could you deliberately hurt your wife that way. It was clear that Cinder's ex-husband was a deeply mentally ill person, but not one that I ever felt sorry for. Not when he truly didn't want to get better. At the end of this story, I was cheering loudly for Cinder, having gone along the way every step with her and seeing how hard she worked for her emotional/mental/physical victory.
Gian was a hero that I just adored. He was a very good man--a lovely mix of oh-so delicious masculinity, stability, honor, sweetness, and gentleness. Not to mention sexiness. I liked how he was a man with a military past that had colored him, but he had some conflicted feelings about the violence he had to commit as a soldier. When he told Cinder why he ran a martial arts dojo, it was a very profound thing. I know I've heard it before that martial arts helps a person to empower oneself on a level that makes it easier for them not to kill someone, but it made even more sense from the vantage point of a man who had to kill people for a living, and was subjected to the violent acts of others. There wasn't anything I didn't love about Gian. He was a fully-realized kind of hero. The one that you can drool over and respect, and think how much you'd admired and be drawn to him in real life. It wasn't that he was perfect, and no man or woman is. He was just perfectly lovable.
I loved the integration of martial arts styles and philosophy in this story. It was clear that Ms. Hubbard did her research, and she built a beautiful story around it. I never felt subjected to 'info-dumping'. Instead I found the facts and descriptions very intriguing. Of course, being a long-time fan of Asian martial arts, in the real world, and in the cinema, that gave me just one more thing to like about this story.
As one of my friends on GRs touched on, I loved the diversity in this story. You have such a beautiful mix of ethnicities, which is how I see the world being. Not one palette, but so many colors, coming together to make an intriguing society, each contributing to the world in which they live. I loved the scenes of Gian's employees at the dojo, Cinder and his mutual friends, and their trash-talking and playing around. Also how they helped each other and stood up for each other. I even liked how things worked out with one employee who really acts like an idiot over the course of this book.
This is my third book by Crystal Hubbard, and my praise for her is well-earned. She is such a good writer, and she delivers a beautiful love story, one that is more than just romance. It's fiction that hits on many cylinders, and gives the reader even more than they expected. Burn is a book I'd highly recommend.
There is something very distinct and elegant about Caitlin Crews' writing that appeals to me. I noticed that in her first book for HP, Pure Princess,There is something very distinct and elegant about Caitlin Crews' writing that appeals to me. I noticed that in her first book for HP, Pure Princess, Bartered Bride, and it was evident here as well. I liked the strength of her heroine in Tristanne. She was afraid, she was wounded emotionally, but she was strong! She approached a very dangerous man and offered to be his mistress, for the sake of her mother. And that's not the end of her troubles, because she's gone from the frying pan to the fire. Nikos Katrakis is not easy to manipulate into a fake arrangement as she planned. He's the kind of man who gets exactly what he wants, and he has plans for her and for revenge on her family. Nevertheless, she ends up falling into his bed and in love with him.
Although I feel that this story could have had more dialogue (it's almost entirely introspective thoughts and description), it was still exciting and intriguing, what a good Harlequin Presents should be. Crews has a great way of writing the exquisite tension between her characters where I was holding my breath in anticipation. Also expectantly waiting to see what will happen next. I didn't believe that Nikos would go through with his ruthless, cold-blooded plan for revenge. When he does, my heart sank. I sorted through my own emotions and wondered if Tristanne could forgive him. I have to say that the scene in which they reunite really threw me. Tristanne shows what love truly is. Instead of plunging the knife that Nikos hands her into his black heart and twisting it, she forgives him. Because she loves him. Because she sees that this man didn't know what love was. And it was her job to teach him.
This story is quite different from Caitlin Crews' first HP novel, and I really liked it for its difference, although the first is still my favorite. I liked the intense emotions and the very admirable, mature, self-sacrificing, but painfully self-aware heroine. I liked the blazing hot passion between Tristanne and Nikos. And I loved how Ms. Crews took the standard self-made, ruthless HP tycoon, and gave me a tortured, hurting man who had been used and hated by everyone who should have loved him. She took this character and put him into the hands of the perfect heroine to show him what it meant to love and to be loved in return. It makes me think of Nature Boy by David Bowie
The Twelve Nights of Christmas is the feel-good kind of romance that a reader can pull off the shelf when they want an easy read that will infuse themThe Twelve Nights of Christmas is the feel-good kind of romance that a reader can pull off the shelf when they want an easy read that will infuse them with Christmas good vibrations. I endorse it with a four star rating.
Well, it's simple. The storyline is easy to follow, the characters are well-developed but surprisingly likeable, and it's a story about rekindled hope when things seem dark. Christmas to me is about hope and I love the idea that a short book can give me that feeling of Christmas with a good story.
What I liked:
Honestly, I liked that while I was prepared to dislike Zio as the hero, it didn't take too long before I realized that I did like him. In fact, I felt kind of sorry for him. He had a bad case of tunnel vision and living inside a box syndrome (enchained by his past). Because of a very rough event (actually quite horrid) as a child, he absolutely abhored Christmas. Now I am like Evie, I absolutely love the holiday, but I can understand how people can attach the day with memories of really bad events that took place around Christmas. I felt a lot of sympathy for him because of that. On top of his less-than-ideal childhood was the betrayal he faced at the hands of another person. That was sort of a case of bringing something on yourself because of the choices you made, but it was still pretty lousy to go through. But I really appreciated was how he showed some fortitude and rose to the occasion in that situation. Even though I didn't like a lot of things about his lifestyle, I feel that Sarah Morgan makes him surprisingly sympathetic. He had some hidden depths that I appreciated, and he was honestly a decent guy considering everything.
I loved Evie. Yes, she is a bit of the too good to be true heroine, but it works for this book. She had some self-esteem issues that would bother some readers, but I don't mind because I think that is true of many woman to be self-conscious about their looks and their appeal to men, especially when they were recently dumped. I think her spunk and her willingness to tell it like it is with Zio saved her from being too much of a Pollyanna. At the beginning, I had trouble understanding why she would have trusted what the sleazy lunkhead Carlos told her about staying in the penthouse. It was a bit of a contrived plot device, but the story get better from there. Most definitely, I have to say that her sweet nature was infectious. She's actually what I enjoyed the most about this book. I loved the scene at the party where she drinks too much champagne (her first experience with it), and charms everyone, including two grumpy Russian billionaires with her heretofore hidden prowess at languages and her stirring rendition of "The Twelve Days of Christmas." The scene where she takes Zio shopping to prepare for a very special event was hilarious and heartwarming. It sort of reminded me of the movie "The Gameplan" with The Rock, which turned out to be one of my favorites even though I generally avoid family movies like that (although sometimes I end up loving them very much). I guess you could say this is a less offensive version of Pretty Woman (I'm sorry, but I found that movie's storyline really offensive, but if you liked it, that's cool for you).
I should add that Evie had a lot more agency and power in this relationship that I am unfortunately used to seeing in some of the Harlequin Presents. She sort of starts out seemingly downtrodden, but it's more because of her particular goals than the fact that she has nothing to offer anyone. I think she could do anything she wanted, honestly. And she's not just eye candy. She's a very clever and deep woman, surprisingly perceptive and very emotionally healthy, considering. I enjoyed her relationship with her grandfather very much, how she values his opinion and genuinely loves him and wants him to be happy with her.
I think this is a good, quick Christmas read for fans of Harlequin Presents and other contemporary romance fans who don't mind some of the more obvious tropes. What I appreciate about Sarah Morgan is that she writes to her audience (without insulting our intelligence) and takes the familiar about this romance subgenre and gives a fresh, enjoyable story with fantastic dialogue and back and forth between her couples. I can't give it five stars because of the things I mentioned above, like some of the implausible aspects, and because I just don't care for womanizing billionaires, honestly. But it's a very respectable four stars, and I'd recommend this book.
Wow! This was a fantastic book! Intense, passionate, well-written. I found both characters complex and compelling. Their bond was so emotionally powerWow! This was a fantastic book! Intense, passionate, well-written. I found both characters complex and compelling. Their bond was so emotionally powerful, I couldn't stop reading about it. And the payoff makes it all worthwhile.
Kelda holds her own against Angelo. She is not a pushover by any means. She was tough. Yes, she allowed Angelo to think the worst of her, but in a way, I liked it, because it was brave and ballsy of her. I really dislike when the heroine in these books is so willing to be walked on just because they are sexually attracted/in love with the hero. Even though Kelda is very susceptible to him, she still has a toughness about it, despite that. She was unwilling to be used or manipulated by this man, merely because she had loved him for so many years. I could feel the turmoil and pain that Kelda suffers, and understand her uncertainty and fears.
Angelo starts out a guy I wanted to hit with a frying pan, hard! But even then, I was like, "There's something to this guy." I loved how LG took me on this journey of discovery with Angelo. I think out of many HP heroes I've read, Angelo suffered a lot for his love of Kelda, and I felt for him and I was glad he won Kelda's heart. He earned it. When he opens up to her, I definitely fell in love with him, so I can see why Kelda did before that.
This was a book that I dived into head first, and I never came out until I was done reading. This is going to be a favorite by Lynne Graham, because she delivered so much in this short read. In that 1.5 hours, I was utterly engaged emotionally, feeling the pangs in my heart as I suffered along with Angelo and Kelda. I also cheered and felt their joy in realizing how deeply they loved and were loved by one another.
No Way to Begin is a weak four stars read. I found the passionate aspects very appealing. I loved that Anton is a possessive, jealous hero (one of myNo Way to Begin is a weak four stars read. I found the passionate aspects very appealing. I loved that Anton is a possessive, jealous hero (one of my favorite types of heroes), and that he fell like a ton of bricks for Nina months before the book takes place. That part of the story reminded me of Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas where Simon falls for Annabelle and indulges in a lighter form of heroine stalking. Yes, the stalker-type hero isn't for everyone, but I like them. Don't judge me! I don't condone real-life stalking at all. I also like that he clearly is willing to do anything to get her, and in his own rough way tries to take care of Nina.
On the other hand, I think some parts were a bit dry. I don't know if it was a mood thing. I have gotten where I love to see a lot of snappy dialogue and back and forth between the couple in a romance book, and so the older books don't seem to have that as much. I think good dialogue builds up and enhances the chemistry and dramatic tension in a romance book. I felt that Nina was a bit too much the fainting/wilting heroine. I do have to acknowledge that for a 20-year-old who is not worldly, that makes sense, but I wished she was a bit more feisty at some times. Yes, she does do the slapping/hitting thing when cornered, but that's not really what I consider feisty. I think I prefer a heroine who is mouthy and can tell the hero off when it's warranted. Not in a fishwife type way, but a don't cross that line with me kind of way--setting boundaries. I do give her props for how she got her mother-in-law told. I wish she had done that a little more with the hero. He was older and a bit on the domineering side and I feel she should have established some boundaries a bit more with him. I guess I have to take into consideration that she felt she was in a rock and a hard place. One part that really annoyed me was when Anton tells Nina she has to give up college. Oh, my blood pressure went through the roof on that. Because, why? His excuse is he wants her with him. It felt more like a 'my wife doesn't need school because I can take care of her and I want her dependent on me and at my beck and call' sort of thing. That attitude always gets my goat. Might not bother another reader at all, though.
So I think four stars is fair, because some things really worked for me:
*I love the blackmail marriage scenario! *Possessive/Jealous/Stalkerific heroes give me shivers in a good way! *The ending was great when they both lay their emotional cards on the table. That alone helped to bump this book up a notch when I was feeling a bit bored. *Although this is a fade to black book, I thought the sexual tension/chemistry parts were off the charts. *Good visuals of Greece, and the use of symbolism and allusions to Greek mythology to draw the contrast between Nina's redhead English looks and Anton's dark Greek looks worked for me. *The reveal on Nina's father's enmity towards Jason, her first beau, and what had gone on with her mother--classic vintage HP drama!
I forgot to add one thing I didn't like:
Anton calls Nina a bitch like four times near the beginning. Hard to describe the situation without spoilers, but I am not fond of verbal abuse, so it didn't work for me.
Overall, a good read. I'll add this to my keeper shelf, although I prefer Michelle Reid's newer books overall.
I recommend it to fans of forced marriage and intense, stalkerific heroes who are magnetic and signficantly older than the heroine. ...more
A very enjoyable read by Ms. Graham. I don't think of lovers reunited stories as my favorite, because they can have some drama elements that are problA very enjoyable read by Ms. Graham. I don't think of lovers reunited stories as my favorite, because they can have some drama elements that are problematic. However, I do like when there is an unrequited or unfulfilled love that never dies between two people. I did feel that between Valente and Caroline. Truth is, they both made mistakes and also some lies and conniving relatives came between them. Valente is pretty dark in some ways, his drive to destroy Caroline's parents' fortunes out of revenge. I liked that Caroline confronted him about that. However, Valente obviously truly loved Caroline, and even though he didn't want to admit it to himself, he never stopped loving her.
I like the descriptions and language in this novel. I think Lynne Graham is an underrated writer in the sense that because people can be snooty about category romance, it's assumed that writers in this genre just crank out books and don't put their artistic skills and talent to use. I don't think that's the case. I feel that when I read one of her books, she believes in what she's writing. Her writing is very vivid and descriptive, bringing all the emotions to life and using the characters' body language to reveal who the characters are and what they are feeling.
While I didn't like the way Valente's ex-lover was handled (I'm tend to be a jealous person, working on that, so I would have been way more bothered about finding his ex-mistress's used robe in his bathroom than Caroline was). Understandably, since she was married for four years, he would have moved on, but that was tacky, and I think he knew it. Maybe subconsciously he wanted to taunt Caroline with it, to let her feel what it was like for him, knowing she had dumped him and married someone more suitable.
Caroline's parents were a hot mess. I liked that while this is a happy ending book, her parents' negative traits weren't glossed over. However, Valente took responsibility for taking care of them because he knew Caroline loved her parents. For someone who supposedly has no pity or heart, Valente was actually a good person and a good husband. You could tell how much he loved Caroline. Caroline had to grow up the hard way. While she had been coddled and sheltered, she learned the hard way the cost of that life and denying her own needs to make her family happy. I liked her a lot.
I give this books a thumbs up. Nothing much I didn't like about it (except for the tacky part with the ex-mistress).
Italian Doctor, Sleigh Bell Bride definitely met my needs for a quick, feel good contemporary romance Christmas read. It had a Cinderella vibe, with sItalian Doctor, Sleigh Bell Bride definitely met my needs for a quick, feel good contemporary romance Christmas read. It had a Cinderella vibe, with struggling single mom Liv; and handsome, sexy, accomplished, and very nice Stefano. That was very cool to see a deserving woman get her Christmas wishes come true. On top of that, this had some elements of the medical profession that I absolutely loved! It was so much fun to see the medicine cases that Liv and Stefano worked on together. Although Ms. Morgan played it safe by having Liv as the nurse and Stefano as the trained surgeon, she also showed how very good Liv was at her job. She was an excellent diagnostician, and had a wonderful touch with her patients. She took her job seriously and was always professional. And I liked the message that nurses were a valuable part of the medical team, often providing essential care that doctors can't and don't. Stefano was also a professional. Even though he was a rich Italian (gotta have that vibe going on), he was a very good doctor, and he took it seriously.
I loved the progression of their relationship. Stefano showed his love, which is a big thing for me. He saw that Liv was under a lot of burdens, trying to raise her son and make ends meet, and putting him first. I loved how he nurtured her, bringing her sense of self back where it needed to be, because she was had very low self esteem after her husband cheated on her and abandoned her. He was also really good with Max. He understood that the little boy needed a male influence, and he wasn't just playing along just to get close to his mother.
I liked that Liv and Stefano conducted their relationship circumspectly. Although Liv and Max were staying with Stefano after their apartment burned down, they weren't carrying on with a young boy in the house, because Liv didn't want for her son to get the wrong idea. I liked that Stefano respected that, and he managed to show Liv that he found her sexy and desired her, but did it in a way that didn't compromise her status as a mom with an impressionable young boy.
Although this story had some of the unrealistic elements of a Harlequin Presents, it also had some more real world aspects that I enjoyed. And the medical elements were the icing on the cake. The dialogue was good, with some great funny bits. And Max was adorable. I loved his last line when Liv and Stefano were being 'mushy'. It was classic! Sarah Morgan has once again written a story that I am adding to my keeper shelf, and showed that she knows her stuff when it comes to medicine. I can't wait to read more Medical Romances.
I could not put this book down. It really drew me in and kept me on the hook--watching the sizzling interactions between this couple. Not only that--II could not put this book down. It really drew me in and kept me on the hook--watching the sizzling interactions between this couple. Not only that--I was drawn in by the well-written dialogue between Lindsay and Alessio. Lindsay and Alessio actually talked most of this book, having very meaningful discussions. Although they were polar opposites when it came to their worldviews and outlooks on relationships, they came to realize that they had the same trust and relationship issues, deep down.
Alessio is one of those heroes that seem tailor-made for the shovel to head treatment. But, he wasn't. His arrogance and hard-hearted personality actually hid a man who had been hurt deeply through the actions of his mother against his father. He is a rake, through and through, but he discovers that he has a heart. In the process of trying to break down Lindsay's defenses and beliefs about true love and relationships, be comes to realize that he likes and appreciates who she is. That she is a good woman who has her reasons for why she behaves the way she does.
I really appreciated how Miss Morgan presented this couple, and how we see them grow. Lindsay learns to let go and to be less of a control freak. To open her heart to experiences and to love. Even though she does give in to Alessio's seduction, it's on her terms and with her eyes open. She's not whiny or weak. She's a strong woman who's rational and in control of her emotions. She's not a soft touch. But, she comes to realize that desire is something that she can feel, because that's part of who we are as humans, and because she's fallen in love with Alessio. Even though Alessio is hard at first, I could see why Lindsay fell for him. That he was a good guy deep down. He learns that he can give his heart to a woman and feel intimacy with her that is not about sex, but about an emotional connection. And I loved the end, how Alessio does make a gesture and show how he loved Lindsay.
I would recommend this book to the Harlequin Presents reader who wants a more modern kind of story that shows a relationship developing between two people who probably shouldn't be attracted to each other and fall in love--because they do have that connection that brings soulmates together. In the end, I did believe that Lindsay and Alessio were two halves of the same heart, helping each other to realize that they don't have to be slaves to their pasts, but that their past shapes them to be people who can love and find freedom to love in their lives.
Once again, I've loved and enjoyed one of Sarah Morgan's books. Overall rating: 4.5/5.0 stars....more