Leanne Banks has taken a few risks with this book, namely in the heroine, Calista. She's kind of...mercenary in the beginning. I had a hard time warmi...moreLeanne Banks has taken a few risks with this book, namely in the heroine, Calista. She's kind of...mercenary in the beginning. I had a hard time warming up to her at first, knowing she was marrying Leo for revenge. This is a well-used hook and for a reason - it is immediate conflict and it can really set off fireworks. The difference? Well, I'm used to reading about high-powered men being the ones exacting revenge, AND I'm used to them not making any bones about it - the heroine is well aware of what's going on. With Secrets of the Playboy's Bride, Calista has a plan to seduce Leo with the ultimate goal of marriage- he's going to pay for hurting her family. But Leo has NO idea that he's being lied to. That's where this is risky.
Of course, that also means that there's lots of room for character arc and to see both their feelings shift as they change and grow. Calista begins to forget about all the reasons why she'd wanted to marry him in the first place, and just as she's falling in love with him, he finds out the truth. From a conflict perspective, it really works. Then there's the fact that she's doing it for her sisters - and they adopt an adorable puppy. All things that help soften Calista and make us realize that boy oh boy, realizing she's in love with Leo is going to hit her RIGHT between the eyes!
As an aside - why is it that we excuse that hook with heroes but we find it so hard to accept in heroines? Hmmm. That bears some thinking about.
It was a fast-paced ride that kept me turning the pages - I loved the section in Japan and was a little disappointed we didn't get to go to India!
The one place that stopped me up, though, was the wedding night, when Leo realizes that she is not a virgin, though she definitely implied that was the case. She hadn't thought he would know whether she was a virgin or not. Um...I'm pretty sure he'd know. I found it hard to believe that one point. It was far more believable in the next scene where she admitted she'd made a mistake. She knows she let him believe that and admits it. She confesses about an earlier relationship. I just had a really hard time believing she honestly thought he wouldn't be able to tell.
Lots of passion between the pages (and the sheets!) and loved the reunion with his family at the end - especially the epilogue and how he and his brother agree to take the next adventure together. Awesome.
It's always really fun to read a debut and see what the different lines are buying, and Nikki's story is an emotional, modern type story, very city li...moreIt's always really fun to read a debut and see what the different lines are buying, and Nikki's story is an emotional, modern type story, very city lights and glamour but with a really nice earthiness to it thanks to the gardening aspect. The hero and heroine have past history, but in so many ways they are complete opposites! Ava might have lost her mother at a young age, but she had her father and brother to give her family security. Daniel, however, not only lost his mother but had a horrible childhood thanks to his father. Ava's family kind of became his family, until one awkward, devastating night changed everything. Ava's a mother earth, nurturing kind, while Daniel's only motivation is climbing the corporate ladder to prove he's a success.
Now Ava is at Daniel's mercy...she has to become presenter of a TV show rather than staying behind the scenes, and if she doesn't, she'll be in breach of contract. Dan's job's on the line too, but convincing Ava to do it is the least of his worries. Pressure from above means using tactics he doesn't like...and keeping it from Ava. It means pairing her with a screen-partner with a womanizing reputation (and let me say, he was one of my favourite characters in the book. Love it when things are so not what they seem). It means having feelings for her but not acting on them. For Ava, it means still loving Daniel even when things go wrong. Then it means being very, very angry with him when the truth behind it all comes out.
It all culminates in an awards show surprise that adds that touch of fantasy and glamour and a lot of Romance. I don't want to say more and be too spoilery if you haven't read it, but we all know that when a man has to choose between whatever his goal was and love, and he does it publicly, it's something (remember Notting Hill and the press conference? Grand gesture!).
December naturally calls for a holiday story and so I snagged Thayne's The Cowboy's Christmas Miracle off my TBR.
WHY did it take me so long to read so...moreDecember naturally calls for a holiday story and so I snagged Thayne's The Cowboy's Christmas Miracle off my TBR.
WHY did it take me so long to read something by this author? I wish I'd done it sooner. I really really loved this book. Maybe not everyone would - I know my neighbour doesn't enjoy romances with kids in them for example. But here's my list of what I loved:
A strong heroine who has faced adversity but hasn't let it make her bitter - she's a hard worker and a good woman. Jenna's kindness and patience are definite virtues. A sexy, aspirational hero who is a bit grumpy at first but boy, when those kids win him over, he's irresistible. Speaking of kids - loved them. All of them. Even the sullen Hayden. I knew there had to be a scene where something changed for him and when it came I was wiping my eyes. Brilliant move for Christmas Eve. It made me hungry. Yummy food. I love books with food. Realistic dialogue. Sometimes it had me laughing out loud, but anyone who has raised a family will recognize certain conversations! :-) Fantastic sexual tension. Even though it was a sex-scene-free story, the ST was tight and breathless and believable. Take all those good things and wrap them up with a Christmas bow and I closed the back cover with a sigh, looked at my dh and said, "That was PERFECTION." In the end, I was a happy reader, and as a writer I was thinking to myself, now that's the kind of book I want to write!
DAMAGED is Pamela Callow's debut for MIRA and she's launched her career with a fabulous, chilling tale!
Damaged's heroine, Kate Lange, is a lawyer tryi...moreDAMAGED is Pamela Callow's debut for MIRA and she's launched her career with a fabulous, chilling tale!
Damaged's heroine, Kate Lange, is a lawyer trying to earn her stripes at Halifax's premiere law firm. After months of working family law cases, her big break comes when she's assigned to a litigation case for TransTissue, a company who processes cadaveric tissue for medical procedures. When teen Lisa McAdam is found murdered, Kate's world is turned upside down and she finds herself in the sights of a serial killer.
There's not a lot of romance here, but there IS a lot of what if. Ethan Drake is a detective and Kate's ex. We're never quite sure how he's going to fit into things, but we know there is unfinished business between them. Then there's the managing partner at the law firm, Randall Barrett. There's a connection there, too, and the tension of whether or not will they explore it is always present when they're in the room together.
I read this book pretty much in one go - all but 50 pages of it yesterday. I was turning pages at a fast rate getting towards the end - just as I should be with a thriller as things rise to a fever pitch. What really impressed me was the depth of character development. It's been a while since I read a thriller, but sometimes because they are plot heavy character is sacrificed for that. Not here. These characters are human and we like them or hate them as the case may be. There is a lot of medical and police procedure too, but for the most part Callow weaves it into the narrative seamlessly so it doesn't read in an instructional sort of way.
A really solid debut with a satisfying ending that left just enough questions to make the reader NEED to get the next book in the series (which is Indefensible and out in 2011).
What happened to Lisa's mother, the judge? What happened to Kate and her sister when they were younger? What will happen between Kate and Randall? This is HUGE once you've read the teaser for Indefensible! Will Finn be back?
Well done Pam! Can't wait for the next book! (less)
My daughter received this book as a gift and I enjoy reading her YA. This is a beautiful story! Anna is one of the best characters I've read in a long...moreMy daughter received this book as a gift and I enjoy reading her YA. This is a beautiful story! Anna is one of the best characters I've read in a long time. She was brought up privileged but has no sense of entitlement; she's generous, friendly, humble... it is impossible not to love her and the servants agree. Everyone loves Anna - even Rupert. Muriel is deliciously drawn as the villain and Ollie is enchanting. I laughed in a few places and I cried in others. And I even doubted the happy ending at times, especially at the ball. I kept thinking...but this can't be it. It MUST end differently!
And it did. The last few pages seemed to rush a bit, but this is easily my favourite read of the year. I couldn't stop turning the pages!
Rather than label this YA, I think it's more what I'd call "sweet" romance and/or fiction for readers 12-90. :-)
This is the TOR debut for the writing duo of Taylor Keating. I can honestly say that it is different from anything I have ever read before - blending...moreThis is the TOR debut for the writing duo of Taylor Keating. I can honestly say that it is different from anything I have ever read before - blending the paranormal elements of Fae and Guardians with a post-apocalyptic world and the setting of INSIDE a video game.
River is a wonderful heroine - strong and kickass but with a feminine side too - is that the Fae element coming out? She's the game's designer, and goes inside the game to test/develop it. She has a sidekick while inside, but this time the sidekick is Hawk, placed in the game by the Dark Lord/Soul Man - who is after River and is holding Hawk's soul captive. To complicate matters, there's a whole military/conspiracy element on the OUTSIDE. The Soul Man/Dark Lord has to be defeated - or else he claims River and Hawk's souls forever and uses River's magic to get himself out of the prison he's in - and if he does that, look out world. The stakes are far higher than a simple game.
If you're reading this and thinking this isn't for you, think again. Add me to the list of people who have said this is not their usual reading fare but came out loving it. It's a fantastic story, complicated and sexy and funny by turns, and with a twist at the end that I didn't see coming at all. It's also the first in a series by this writing team - I can't wait to see what trouble they throw River and Hawk into next.
An enchanting duo of holiday stories featuring two sisters, Gwen and Gill. In Meier's Baby Beneath the Christmas Tree, we meet young single mum Gwen,...moreAn enchanting duo of holiday stories featuring two sisters, Gwen and Gill. In Meier's Baby Beneath the Christmas Tree, we meet young single mum Gwen, hot hero Drew and his teenage son, Brody. Instantly likeable characters and a unique, whimsical setting made this a page-turning, enjoyable read. Wallace's debut Magic Under the Mistletoe blends a gorgeous Boston setting, a driven heroine (Gwen's sister Gill) and a hard-headed hero (Oliver) in a heart-warming read. If this is how Barbara Wallace begins her career, she's got great things ahead of her.(less)