I wanted to read for a little bit before I went to bed last night, so I opened this up. I had heard great things about this series from Sophia. She lo...moreI wanted to read for a little bit before I went to bed last night, so I opened this up. I had heard great things about this series from Sophia. She loved how the whole family was so important to the series and since I enjoy the same, I was eager to give it a try. well, unfortunately for me, I really got into the book. I say unfortunately because I had to go to work in the morning and I ended up staying up way too late because I wanted to read it all. I may be cursing myself today, but it was worth it. ;)
I loved the family dynamics and the fact that we got a glimpse at each couple. The family provided a comfy sense of fullness to the surroundings and helped me see--without having the author shove it down my throat--how connected the hero is to his family and why it would have been so hard for him to leave them. I also liked seeing the various reactions to Keri coming back into Joe's life. Having someone still resent her made it feel more authentic than if she had been welcomed by all with open arms. Especially after Joe's life crashed so completely after she left.
Speaking of Joe's life crashing, I was surprised to see how badly he took her leaving. I felt that he was a bit too casual about his past problem, but after having Kevin talk about it more seriously and seeing it handled at the end, I came to realize that it was more a symptom of Joe's character than of the author not handling the issue well.
Joe and Keri's reunion was pretty simple. Neither of were resentful or surprised to find themselves so attracted to each other after so long. The only real issue they had was the same one that originally drove them apart. Keri wants to have her life and her career, and Joe still wants to stay near his family. I liked that the issue was so simple--even though it was difficult for them both to compromise on.
This was a simple, fun read, and the only real problem I had with the book was how manufactured I found Keri's reasons for leaving Joe. I find it unrealistic that they wouldn't have even talked about the issue before she decided to dump him for his own good. (less)
Eh. This one started off well, but it didn't last. I was very pleased by how much I was enjoying the book but then the relationship started to get a v...moreEh. This one started off well, but it didn't last. I was very pleased by how much I was enjoying the book but then the relationship started to get a vibe to it that I didn't like. After that I kept losing interest, especially once the relationship delved into cutesy territory.
*This is a joint review that was originally posted on Fiction Vixen*
Today Amy and I (Catherine) are talking about The Duke’s Perfect Wife. We both are...more*This is a joint review that was originally posted on Fiction Vixen*
Today Amy and I (Catherine) are talking about The Duke’s Perfect Wife. We both are such big fans of this series that we couldn’t resist doing a joint review for you guys. This is a conversational review, so we might reveal more than a regular review would, but spoilers will be kept to a minimum.
Lady Eleanor Ramsay is the only one who knows the truth about Hart Mackenzie. Once his fiancee, she is the sole woman to whom he could ever pour out his heart.
Hart has it all--a dukedom, wealth, power, influence, whatever he desires. Every woman wants him--his seductive skills are legendary. But Hart has sacrificed much to keep his brothers safe, first from their brutal father, and then from the world. He's also suffered loss--his wife, his infant son, and the woman he loved with all his heart though he realized it too late.
Now, Eleanor has reappeared on Hart's doorstep, with scandalous nude photographs of Hart taken long ago. Intrigued by the challenge in her blue eyes--and aroused by her charming, no-nonsense determination--Hart wonders if his young love has come to ruin him . . . or save him.
Catherine: Well, this book has been a long time coming, hasn’t it? It seems like we have been waiting to read about Hart forever. Ashley set the bar high when she first introduced Hart in The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie. He was such a hard, cold man; completely unlike the typical Romance hero. I found myself as intrigued by him as I was repelled. I wasn’t ever sure what was driving him, but I was excited to find out. Imagine my surprise to find how playful and flirty he could be!
Amy: Hart is implied as a hard, cold man, commanding, driven from grief and loss but we learn when he is with Eleanor, his compassionate, tender and teasing side surfaces and we begin to see what he once was with her and how he can be that man again.
"You have always been so afraid you'd become like him, and he made you fear that. But you're not a bit like him at all. You have a temper, yes, but you're generous and strong and protective. Your father was none of that."
Let’s talk about Eleanor a bit. I loved the fact that she was so caring, so giving. Could care less what people thought about her. How she never stopped loving Hart. How she was clever in making her way back into his life.
"He'd been devilishly handsome, teasing and tender, and he'd courted her with a verve that had left her breathless. She'd fallen in love with him quickly, and she wasn't sure she'd ever fallen out of love with him."
How she drove Hart crazy when she would be on a roll in conversation and would not shut up. (Loved how flustered he was when she was on a roll!)
"And stop giving me that innocent look. You're not innocent at all. I know you."
"Yes, I'm afraid you know me a bit too well. Makes talking to you dashed difficult sometimes."
Eleanor had a little smile on her face, making a joke of it, and Hart couldn't breathe. She always did this, walked into a room and took the air out of it.
Catherine: I loved that about her, too! As much as he frustrated her with his bossy ways, she drove him crazy with her nonstop, steamroller style of talking to him. As to the never giving up her love for him, well...that was both a positive and a negative for me.
Given how cold Hart was, I was surprised to see the level of teasing that went on from his brothers and how well he took it.
"For God's sake!" Hart sprang to his feet.
Everyone at the table stopped and stared at him, including Ian. "Do I have to be made a mockery of in my own house?"
Mac leaned back in his chair, his hands behind his head. "Would you prefer we made a mockery of you in the street? In Hyde Park, maybe? In the middle of Pall Mall? The card room at your club?"
He didn’t seem like that guy to me before. He was always there for his brothers, yes, but I never got that friendly vibe. Even his protective gestures felt cold. I guess this Hart was a revelation to me. That is particularly true for his relationship with Ian. I didn't know what to expect from Hart regarding Ian, but it definitely wasn't what we saw. I loved the surprise of seeing how Hart's world was dominated by his determination to make things better for Ian. I felt like a light bulb went on because it cast so much of his previous behavior in a different light, like his initial behavior toward Beth.
Amy: I ADORE Ian and the lengths he went to out of love for his brother and his desire for Hart to have happiness.
A hand reached out of a dark passage and landed on Hart's shoulder. Eyes the color of Mackenzie single-malt regarded Hart in the dim light of Reeve's lantern. Hart looked back at Ian Mackenzie, face smudged and bearing lines of exhaustion. Ian put both hands on Hart's shoulder, and his fingers dug through Hart's coat.
"I found you," Ian said, his voice low and fierce. "I found you." He put his arms around Hart, and Hart for a moment sank into the strength that was his youngest brother. "I always find you," Ian whispered.
I loved how protective of Ian he was as well and it did make more sense how he treated Beth once we knew why.
So what about the photographs? Didn’t you love how determined Eleanor was to capture the Hart she knew by capturing him in her own photographs?
"What are you afraid of, Hart? You're a beautiful man with a beautiful body, and I wish to photograph it. It's the same as when my father finds the perfect specimen of a mushroom. Nothing for it but he must record it for posterity. Or at least for his own enjoyment. Besides, he often eats the mushroom."
Catherine: The bits about the photographs were wonderful. I loved how wicked and out of character they were for the man that I believed Hart to be. I would never have taken him for the subject, only the photographer. I loved how Eleanor had no shame about claiming them for her own and adding them to her memory book. I was, however, unhappy with the way things developed with the memory book. I don’t want to say anymore about it so I don’t spoil anything, but it was a large gripe for me.
Well, I think we’re about done talking about this, but there’s one more thing that I have to discuss. I really like Eleanor and Hart together, but I've got to be honest and say that however good their relationship was when taken on its own, it was a huge disappointment for me when I consider it as Hart's story. I still enjoyed the book, but I felt that the author took the easy way out with her characterization of him. There was heavy build up about the mystery of Hart and his past with Eleanor. I felt that the reason for their split was mundane and the easy way they got back together made me confused over why they had ever been apart. There was lovely emotion there, sure--I particularly liked Hart's longing for her and the way it would practically consume him--but it lacked the intensity that I expected for them. That's my main complaint of the story--the lack of intensity.
Eleanor had a line that I loved:
Breathing hurt. Hart had said her name like that on the day in the summerhouse in Scotland when he'd laid her down and kissed her in the sunshine. He'd told her that he wanted her and exactly how he'd wanted her. Eleanor had laughed, pleased with her power. Eleanor Ramsay, bringing the great Hart Mackenzie to his knees.
Foolish, foolish Eleanor. She'd never had power over Hart, and that very day, he'd proved it.
He was proving it again. He kissed down to her décolletage, his breath heating her bare skin, his hair like rough silk. She found her unbound hand coming up to stroke his hair--she hadn't told it to do that.
He would unmake her. Again.
And I really wanted more of that. Did you feel the lack of that too?
The image I had of Hart in the first book was what has dominated the way I viewed his character throughout the series. He was hard and cold, and slightly scary. The way he played people and the dominant and dismissive way he treated his past lover had me wondering how Ashley would follow through with him. He was, quite simply, not standard hero material, and I liked that. Although I am not a BDSM fan, I was disappointed to see what I saw as a huge part of his sexual preference dismissed as simply a need to have his partner have total trust in him. Sure...that's all it was. /sarcasm.
Amy: Yes! We were led to believe that he had this serious taboo kink but it was mild in manner even in the time period.
"Aye, you've got a fire in you, lass, that is true. A temper." The delicious Highland accent broadened as more whiskey went into him. "And a fire of another kind. I've not forgotten that."
"Surrender. That was what Hart Mackenzie always wanted, she realized. For others to surrender to him, to let him be their master. Not because he wanted to punish them, or to have his own way, but for their own good, because he wanted to take care of them. Those who didn't understand that dashed themselves to bits on him."
Catherine: One last thing, I swear! I was surprised to see the importance Hart’s political aspirations played in the storyline and was quite shocked by a certain event that occurred around page 182 (of the ARC). Do you know what I’m talking about? But that’s not my ultimate question. What I really want to know is what did you think of the last quarter of the book? It felt a little out of place for me, like the plot got away from the author. Am I alone in this?
Amy: Lol, with our love for the Mackenzie brothers, we could dissect this book for days! Yes I agree and was shocked at the prominent role politics played to Hart’s life. I also believe that the last quarter of the book felt a little disjointed. I’m not sure what I expected, but I had hoped for a grander, more significant moment towards the end in seeing Hart face his demons and what we got left me a little deflated.
Catherine’s Final Thoughts: Although it wasn’t quite what I was hoping for, I still thought it was a good read overall. I’m eager to see what comes next in this series. The Duke’s Perfect Wife gets a B- from me.
Amy’s Final Thoughts: I naturally had overly high expectations for The Duke’s Perfect Wife and while it didn’t quite reach the level I had hoped, it was still another great read from Jennifer Ashley. I am happy she is continuing the series and we will see more of the brothers! The Duke’s Perfect Wife gets a B- from me.(less)
This was a fun read. It had a light suspense plot running through the background, but overall its tone was light and fun. Thanks, Tammy, for the rec!
T...moreThis was a fun read. It had a light suspense plot running through the background, but overall its tone was light and fun. Thanks, Tammy, for the rec!
The hero and heroine of the book used to be childhood friends, but then things went a little far on prom night and their friendship ended. The hero, Matt, was completely uncomfortable with introducing sex into their relationship (although the heroine was all for it) and decided to deal with the issue by ignoring it. Unfortunately, that meant that he ignored the heroine, Carly, too, so it's no stretch to see that it spelled the end of their friendship.
Years later Carly is back in town and back to square one with Matt in no time at all. She's still pissed at him, which is demonstrated by hilariously childish snipes and outbursts, but he insists that they are still friends. Their interactions together made me laugh. Carly was childish and resentful, but it worked because the book had such a lighthearted tone to it. I thought it was hilarious how they kept repeating the same kiss-and-run pattern again and again.
There were quite a few times that I winced over Matt's obliviousness. He was determined to keep Carly in the friend zone and uncomfortable anytime sexual attraction came into the mix, leading him to be harshly honest with her. I didn't blame him at all for his stance, but his delivery and the casual way it beat down Carly's ego was ouch-worthy.
I liked the way everything resolved, but I needed more time spent in Matt's pov to be completely convinced of his turn around in regards to his feelings toward Carly.
"Listen, I know what I saw, and what I saw was hot." Sandra made a big production out of pretending to fan herself with her hand. "I practically melted where I stood."
"Give it a rest, Sandra, will you please?" Carly asked tiredly.
"Then you went and kicked him. Honey, men in general don't like that. Not unless they're kinky, that is. Is the that hunky sheriff kinky? 'Cause I want him if he is."
I knew going into this book that the romance would not be a central feature, because that was the case with Deadly Dreams. But I didn’t exp...more*2.5 Stars*
I knew going into this book that the romance would not be a central feature, because that was the case with Deadly Dreams. But I didn’t expect it to be even more lacking than it was the last time. I was really looking forward to getting to know the Mindhunters boss, Adam Raiker, and watching him fall in love. But I ended the book feeling like I still didn’t know him very well and that he never had much of a romance.
The suspense aspect of the book was really well done. It wasn’t as fast paced and action filled as I personally prefer, but I imagine it reflects actual police work and crime solving more accurately. It was filled with procedure and small details that aren’t exactly exciting, but are very necessary. Reports are filed nightly and the investigators’ actions are always checked by what they are and are not given permission to do by the Assistant Director. Adam is able to get around this more often than Jaid and the other partner are, but even he has to be very careful about what he does, so as not to give the Assistant Director an excuse to kick him off the case.
I thought I knew who the killer was quite a few times, but something else would always crop up to change my mind and make me guess someone else. I did guess who the killer was, but I had moved past that person and on to a new one, so I suppose it doesn’t count. I liked the grisly nature of the case and trying to solve it alongside the characters, but at times I felt a little bored. But that was because of the focus on the procedural process instead of the action. I think if you’re more of a fan of that than I am then you won’t have the same problem.
I was disappointed in the lack of romance in the last book, but I liked that the author showed us the characters’ world outside of the case. I felt that those details were lacking in this book. We saw Jaid call her kid a few times and try to juggle babysitting, but those details felt hollow and lacking any real depth. I never felt I got to know Jaid or Adam very well, which is a shame because I would think that a man who could survive so many assassination attempts, and still get up every morning without fear, is a very fascinating man indeed. And this is a second-chance-romance where one side was very unwilling to break up. Where is the emotion? Where is tension? There was none, and I was a tad bitter over the lack.
I was more forgiving of the lack of romance in the last book, Deadly Dreams, but since this one had even less than that, I feel I have the right to gripe. Why is this billed as a Romantic Suspense if no time is spent developing the characters or the romance? I’ve heard Romance referred to as an emotional voyeur’s paradise, and I can’t say I’d argue that description. I want to know this hero and heroine inside and out and feel invested in their relationship. I want to understand why they are behaving in certain ways without it having to be spelled out to me. I want development and tension and intensity. I just want a Romance, people! And I want all that while still having a banging suspense plot. It’s why I picked up a book in the genre, after all.
The lack of character depth made me feel a bit like I was watching a movie instead of reading a book. I go into a movie knowing that I am not going to get any personal insight into a character—unless they’re narrating it, of course. I know that the only depth I’ll get is the kind that I am shown through their actions and other characters’ comments about them. But that’s okay, because I knew that going in. It’s all about expectations. I expect more than that when I read a book. Especially when I don’t have any vocal inflections or facial expressions to analyze, like I would in a movie. I just have these words that are supposed to suck me in and make me a part of the world. You can’t just say
He hadn't made a move since that was less than circumspect. But there was a renewed awareness between them. A current that snapped and sparked to life at the oddest moments. She'd intercepted a couple odd looks from Shepherd lately, as if he, too, had picked up on it.
and leave it at that. Why didn’t you show me these glances? How come another character has picked up on it when I have seen nothing to indicate this? I need to be shown, not just told.
I think that the author does a good job with the suspense aspect of the book and that the Suspense genre is really where the book belongs, not the Romantic Suspense one. I can’t see myself picking up any more books by this author, though, because I look for more of a focus on the romance than Brant seems to prefer to write.
"You didn't lose me, Adam. You pushed me away. There's a difference between the tragedies that befall us and the ones we bring on ourselves."
You know something’s wrong when you’re 39 pages from the end and you seriously contemplate DNF’ing the book because you just wish it was over. The her...moreYou know something’s wrong when you’re 39 pages from the end and you seriously contemplate DNF’ing the book because you just wish it was over. The heroine was already killing the book for me, but then the last 100 or so pages were drawn out for no reason. It was so frustrating!
The book was pretty cute in the beginning. The heroine and hero were childhood sweethearts, but Connor abandoned her to fight for the English and Mairi never forgave him. They’re forced into each other’s company when Mairi and her brother are temporarily left behind in England while their family traveled home. I was anticipating some lovely frenemy sparring and was eager to see the charm that was so apparent in the last book in the series, Seduced by a Highlander. Unfortunately, I didn’t get that.
The more I got to know the heroine, the less I liked her—especially when I found out that although the hero did leave her to go to fight for England, it wasn’t as black and white as she would have liked to imagine, and she was hardly a victim. The hero asked her to go with him! He wrote to her again and again asking for her to join him, telling her that he was going to build a house for them. He didn’t callously abandon her. He wanted to marry her and was only leaving for England because it was a family duty that he was obligated by honor to fulfill! She claimed that he gave up too easily—even though it was four years later before he admitted defeat—and that he wasn’t sincere because he didn’t beg her. She criticized him for expecting her to be willing to leave her home and blamed him for choosing England over her. All I can say to that is what was she doing if not choosing Scotland over him?
In addition to that, her bloodthirsty attitude toward getting rid of the Protestants really rubbed me the wrong way. I know that the tension between the Catholics and the Protestants was real, but it made the heroine hard to like. It’s not that I don’t like historically accurate religious attitudes in my romances—I loved Flowers from the Storm after all—it’s that I was extremely turned off by heroine’s genuine bewilderment over the hero’s tolerance toward the Protestants. After talking to the hero about his remorse over the Protestant massacres she did eventually agree that wiping out whole shires of people was wrong, but I wouldn’t be lying if I said that she ever really learned any tolerance. She was always freaking out on the hero and accusing him of betraying Scotland.
The hero is the only thing that kept me from rating this as an F. He was practically a saint with how patient and forgiving he was of Mairi’s spaz attacks. She would make wild accusations and fly off the handle constantly, but he always ended up forgiving her for doubting his devotion. Mairi was the only one keeping them apart. The minute Connor saw Mairi again he was desperate for another chance. He had finally given up hope three years before and had moved on, but nothing could keep him from trying again now that she was close enough for him to make her listen.
A driving force for this plot—beyond Mairi being Catholic and disliking the Protestants—was her determination to fight. I didn’t mind her desire to battle, but I did dislike the modern attitude she was given. At one point she said
"Mayhap I would mind being a lass less if I spent more time around a man who was at least aware of his knuckles when he tripped over them."
Connor and Mairi finally get back together and admit their love and their desire to stay together, but that was page 235 and I was baffled over what the author was going to do with the next 116 pages. As it turns out, there was a whole lot of nothing and the extra pages existed for no other reason than to throw ridiculous roadblocks in their path to keep the relationship from being resolved. At that point my patience was spent and it was a chore to finish. I just wanted it to be over.
”How did I ever survive ye, woman? Do ye remember that time when we were babes—ye were barely five summers old, I think. I had snatched the doll ye had been playing with and ye chased me and then began to cry when ye couldn’t catch me.”
Och, damn him to Hades, why was he bringing up their childhood? “If ye dinna’ mind, Connor, I would prefer not—“
“Feeling terrible fer what I had done, I walked back to ye and handed ye yer treasured doll. Ye took it gently, kissed its head and then whirled it around yer shoulder and smashed it into my face.”
“I never struck ye with a doll,” she insisted, refusing to drift off into the past with him. “You are a liar and have always been one.”
“I lost two teeth.”
“So? Ye grew more, didna’ ye? I was sent to bed with no supper because of ye.”
Who named this book? Seriously, who? It has nothing to do with the storyline. At all. The same goes for the cover. It’s like someone just picked it at...moreWho named this book? Seriously, who? It has nothing to do with the storyline. At all. The same goes for the cover. It’s like someone just picked it at random. Ignoring the weird title and cover, this book turned out to be rather excellent. It was completely different than I assumed it would be. I can’t think of another time that Enoch has created a heroine quite like this. I loved it.
Diane was an awesome heroine. I think some readers might not like her because of how cold and manipulative she could seem, but I loved her. She was a woman who had been knocked down in life, only to pull herself up and take control. I loved that we weren’t just told how capable she was, we saw it in every page. No matter what was thrown at her, she took it in stride. It drove Oliver mad how rarely he was able to come out on top in their battles. If he tried to embarrass her or manipulate her, she was always ready to turn the tables on him and come out on top in the situation. At times she came off as a little too bitter but I was too caught up in watching Oliver and Diane’s relationship power struggle to care.
I thought Oliver was a great match for Diane. They were both willing to do whatever it took to win and had no qualms about walking over other people on their way to success. This is not a rare quality in an Enoch hero, but I can’t think of when I’ve ever seen her do such a like pairing with the heroine. The mercenary natures of the characters could have grated if left in less capable hands. The author always keeps us firmly on the side of the protagonists, even when we’re fully aware of the wrongs they are committing. Case in point being the way Diane acquired Adam House.
Oliver and Diane had a past together that didn’t end well. Diane and Oliver have both changed from the people they were at that time, but it’s hard for both of them to forgive and forget that time.
”I am sorry,” he said, trying to keep his voice low and measured. “You were looking for hope, and I was looking for a bit of fun, and when I realized I’d began to care for you far more than I was willing to acknowledge, I ran. Like a scalded dog, I believe you said. I apologize. It’s not nearly enough to say the words, or to confess that leaving you in Vienna stands as the greatest regret of my life, but there you have it.”
That’s pretty much their past in a nutshell. Oliver hightailed it out of there with no word and Diane was left to face the financial mess her husband had left her in. Only now she had to deal with a broken heart on top of it. There was no excuse for his actions, but Enoch did an excellent job of showing us his mindset, so it was easy to see why he felt he needed to run. Diane doesn’t make it easy for him to prove himself to her, but he’s nothing if not determined. Even Diane eventually can’t deny how much he’s changed. He was right in saying he would have been a crap husband to her if they had married then. He just hadn’t grown enough.
Despite the different tone to this book, Enoch’s characteristic writing style is still there. The dialogue is snappy and you can feel the tension between the two leads. Unlikely situations occasionally crop up but, as with all other Enoch books, the characters approach them straight on and keep the book from veering toward the silly end of things. We were introduced to quite a few intriguing side characters who always managed to steer clear of the dreaded sequel bait role. I’m particularly interested in Greaves and Jenny.
If this is what I can expect from the other books in this new series, I’ll be on them like white on rice. I can’t wait to see what the next book brings.
”It’s not about what I owe you, Diane. It’s about what you’re worth to me now.”
Ah, a “second chance” Romance. I have been in the mood for one of those lately. I enjoy the sense of depth and connection in the hero and heroine’s re...moreAh, a “second chance” Romance. I have been in the mood for one of those lately. I enjoy the sense of depth and connection in the hero and heroine’s relationship when they have a past, so that was definitely a plus with Liam and Guiliana (aka Jules). This was my first book in the Three Kisses series, but I never felt lost. The author did a good job of making the book able to stand on its own. Although I didn’t need to read the first two books to read this one, I had my appetite whetted enough to want to backtrack and check out the other two stories. I’m curious to see the sisters’ romances unfold—and to see Jules and Liam snarking at each other. ;)
The relationship between Jules and Liam felt a little back and forth. It bounced between humor, angst, and coolness. It took me a bit to really sink into it because I was having a hard time getting a handle on the characters and their feelings. One moment Jules would be sniping at Liam, but then in the next she’d be laughing with him and reminiscing about some good memory they had together. Liam was the same. He’d jump from finally gaining ground in his pursuit of Jules to closing himself off and acting coldly. At times it felt a bit like they’d take one step forward and three steps back. It was frustrating, but once I got further into the book and saw deeper into their pasts I understood them better and had more patience (even though I still wasn’t always happy).
Learning about their past as a couple and getting a glimpse of their individual past issues with their families really helped iron out the inconsistencies I had with the characters. The only complaint I have about that is that it took quite a while for all to be revealed, so it was a while before I had a well rounded view of them. But when I learned all there was to know about their past… I felt so bad for them. The author did a really good job showing the emotion in a scene toward the end where Liam hears Jules talking to someone else through the window.
Don’t tell her. Liam’s heart rate spiked. Don’t say it out loud. Please don’t make me hear it.
It hurt just reading it. His internal pain and thoughts in that scene were what really sold him for me. I liked him before and was rooting for them to get together, but there was no way I could read that scene and remain unmoved. And that goes for both of them, not just Liam.
While revealing Jules and Liam’s past, the author used flashbacks. Normally flashbacks do not work very well for me. I always end up feeling like I’ve been shorted development of the relationship in the present while the author develops the relationship in the past. That wasn’t the case here. The author used a light hand with the flashbacks and ended up adding to the romance instead of overwhelming it.
In addition to Jules and Liam’s romance, we were also treated to a lovely secondary romance. Kohl and Grace were scene stealers and for a while there I was impatient to get through the main characters’ relationship issues so I could get back to them. I really wish they would have had a book of their own so I could have enjoyed them more. They were great as it is, so I can only imagine how much more I would have loved them together if I had been able to really sink into their characters.
One thing that I really wish was addressed in the book was the particulars of their break up 10 years ago. I never felt any closure with this because I couldn’t understand why they didn’t completely sever all ties. I needed some reason for this and I didn’t see one. Because of that I was left feeling that it existed strictly for use as a plot device. I also felt that in the beginning of the book Jules came off a little more immature and petulant than I think the author was going for. It went away eventually, but it made it a little hard for me to get into her character.
Although I had some issues with this book, I still enjoyed it overall. I’m going to keep my eye out for this author in the future.
”The kind that will kill you while you lie in bed.” She could see it now. “You heard them. They say that I have a nasty temper and hold a grudge for eternity. And you know me. Think! I might even do it without realizing it. I’ll just rise up in the middle of the night and…and smother you with my pillow.”
They were all staring at her as if she’d gone mad. So? The idea of being that close to Liam again made her mad.
Allie stepped forward. “Guiliana.” Her voice was kind. “Nobody said you had to actually sleep with Liam.”
Mortification rushed over her. “I knew that,” she mumbled.
When I picked this book up I was under the mistaken impression that it was a mystery. I knew it would have comedy in, but I honestly thought it would...moreWhen I picked this book up I was under the mistaken impression that it was a mystery. I knew it would have comedy in, but I honestly thought it would be a funny mystery like the Stephanie Plum books. It turns out, this book is Chick-Lit. Now, if you’re a Chick-Lit lover then that’s great, but I am most definitely not. The mystery did finally crop up around page 200, but it was too late to win me over. Especially when it wasn’t even a serious mystery.
The setup for Darla and her gang was humorous, but I don’t think I found it as funny as I should have. I had a hard time liking most of the characters and found myself feeling sorry for Bob. I really don’t think pity was what the author was going for, but it was what I felt. Poor Bob was stuck cleaning up the messes of two women who didn’t care about him the way he deserved. I felt so bad for him because he spent his whole life caring for those women, and they did nothing but undervalue him and cheat on him.
I liked Debbie Sue and Edwina for the most part, but their over the top Southern-ness really started to grate on me. I know they were in Texas, but come on. Plus, Edwina was constantly “on” and snarky. It was exhausting and irritating because I just wanted her to stop and act normal for a minute. But no, it was constant jokes and zaniness and running around calling her best friend “Dippity-do”. It seems like when a book tries so hard to be zany and funny that it has the opposite effect on me and turns me off instead.
I found myself irritated by Roxie’s characterization in the book. She was so bitchy and so mean that it made the characters who felt loyal to her look like fools. If the author had given her some depth, some small trait of hidden niceness, then I could have understood how the characters could find it difficult to give up on her entirely. But there wasn’t anything like that. She was practically a caricature with her over the top divaness and how vicious she was. It made me respect the characters that put up with her less. Especially Bob.
The mystery finally made an appearance around page 200, but it still wasn’t the focus I thought it would be. There was no real investigating or intriguing clues found. Edwina and Debbie Sue just fell into the answer for the mystery and the villain helpfully spilled his/her guts. It was just disappointing all around. Plus, when I read the back of the book and thought it was a mystery I thought that the investigators would be the main characters. But it turns out that even though there were sections from their POVs, they weren’t the focus of the book. It was Darla and her crazy life and comeback that was.
I guess my main point for this review was that I thought this book was something that it wasn’t and I couldn’t help but be critical because it wasn’t. Those unmet expectations can be a killer. If you’re interested in this book and do like Chick-Lit then there’s a good chance you won’t be disappointed like I was.
“Ed, I don’t want you embarrassing us.”
“How could it embarrass us if I’m the one singing?”
“Because I’m the one who’ll have to beat the shit out of you and that will embarrass me.
I just finished this book and I am still grinning like a fool. I am not a fan of contemporary books normally, but Janzen has slipped beneat...more*4.5 Stars*
I just finished this book and I am still grinning like a fool. I am not a fan of contemporary books normally, but Janzen has slipped beneath my guard and is making a liar out of me. Obviously I can't say that I dislike contemporaries anymore because I just love this series! It is so sexy and so fast paced and just so fun that I can't resist it.
When you open this book you will be in for a wild ride. Once the action (and the attraction) starts it just won't stop. Even though these books take place over a short amount of time I never feel like anything is lacking in the romance. The author has been smart and made the main characters second-chance-romances so you feel the connection and attraction even though they don't have weeks and months to get to know each other before hooking up. Also, some of the future romances have been slowly built up as secondary romances through these books so we'll have history with them as well when we finally get to read their wild ride.
I really loved that the author showed us so many clips of Christian and Kat's past together. It really helped make their feelings authentic and I could totally understand how Superman (aka Christian) let everything get so out of control. The time that Kat got drunk and tried to seduce him in the elevator was a good example of this. I also thought it was adorable and sexy that he tried to be cool but totally broke down and spilled all his feelings for her the minute he got back in a *ahem* familiar situation.
Christian and Kat were so perfect together. They were from two completely different worlds and were complete opposites in some respects (she's a slob and he's a neat freak), but they couldn't resist each other when they got within a hundred yards of each other.
The dialogue and the humor were perfect. These books make me smile and laugh and they are completely sexy as well. The attraction was as irresistible to me as it was to the characters. Their attraction popped and that car scene was very hot.
The setup is secondary to the romance instead of the other way around, but that's how I prefer it. The mystery and murders were just a vehicle to put the characters together so I could enjoy them. :)
Kat's mom is completely psycho and I didn't like that Kat softened toward her at the end, or that Kat couldn't man up with her at times, but that was really my only complaint. Other than that I loved it! How can I not love a second-chance-romance where the guy has been calling the girl Bad Luck Dekker for the last thirteen years?(less)
It’s Always Been You felt quite different than most, if not all, of Victoria Dahl’s other works. It has such an air of sadness to it. It wasn’t exactl...moreIt’s Always Been You felt quite different than most, if not all, of Victoria Dahl’s other works. It has such an air of sadness to it. It wasn’t exactly agnsty, but there was a lingering sense of melancholy as I read. Perhaps it was just me, unable to see a way for them to forgive each other and forgive themselves, but I really don’t think so. I don’t expect all of her book books to have hilarious scenes, but there’s usually a sense of fun somewhere, even in relationships with issues. I really missed that aspect of her writing style. I think it would have helped add a little levity to a relationship that at times left me feeling glum and hopeless.
I enjoy second-chance-romances and stories where the characters were childhood lovers or friends, but sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. It’s takes a fine balance to write a believable reason for the characters to have parted, yet still make it seem possible to overcome. I’m left feeling a little lost, even though I enjoyed the book. I’m just not sure I feel satisfied with how it all resolved. I can see that they love each other, especially on Aidan’s part, but a lot of things have happened in the past ten years. At times I felt the driving force in their relationship really was nostalgia, just as Kate occasionally suspected.
Kate never allowed Aidan to see what she had been through and the woman she had become, and Aidan didn’t want to let her know the man he was before he saw her again because he was ashamed and frightened of her reaction. There wasn’t enough truth in their relationship to really satisfy me. All was revealed eventually, but too close to the end for my comfort they were still so angry and hurt that at times they hated each other, even while they were still desperately in love. I was completely convinced of the sentiment and their emotional intensity together, but I needed more time watching them work through their issues. So much time was spent drawing out them coming together, while balancing lies and omissions, that I wanted more of a focus on the resolution.
Dahl did a great job of creating characters and situations that didn’t have any clear cut right or wrong answer. Both of them were wrong at times and could have done things differently, but it’s hard to blame them for any of it. I could see both sides of the story clearly, and I think that’s why I ended up so sad instead of taking a side and being angry. How could Aidan not be angry that she didn’t fight and that she didn’t try to come to him for help? And how could she not be angry that he found it so easy to replace her again and again while she was trapped in misery? Sure, both were fooled and lied to, but that’s cold comfort for ten years worth of hurt and blame.
I had a hard time really sinking into this story. I found the emotion of it moving, but I became frustrated by the lies and wished the characters would have just sat down and talked. There wasn’t enough of that. They were always hiding from each other and it was hard to feel completely sympathetic after a while.
”Goddamn you,” he ground out between clenched teeth. “If I’d known you were alive, I would never have done any of it.”
He expected anger, outrage in response. The calm that came over her body frightened him.
Pale as the white silk wallpaper that glowed behind her, she nodded and dropped the hand from her mouth. “That is something between us then. If I had known I was still alive, I’d have done things differently too.”
I have to be upfront and say that I am not this book’s target audience. I didn’t know this until I started r...moreReview originally posted at Fiction Vixen.
I have to be upfront and say that I am not this book’s target audience. I didn’t know this until I started reading, but within the first 16 pages it was glaringly apparent. I hate reading about cheaters. If I hear a book has infidelity I’ve learned to just skip it. Otherwise I usually spend the whole book pissed off. It is a rare day when I believe in the relationship after they’ve cheated on one another. It has happened a time or two though, I have to admit, but those I liked despite myself. On the other hand, I am nuts for second chance romance stories. I love watching people work out their problems after they’ve grown wiser. I love knowing that two people love each other enough to put themselves out there even though they know they’ve already been burned once.
I struggled through finishing this book. To be honest, the only reason I read the whole way through was because I have a little OCD problem where I’m compelled to finish. It drives me insane to not have resolution! I spend way too much time wondering what happened and if the book got better. It’s better for me just to grit my teeth and finish it. Yes, I know I’m weird.
My biggest problem with this book was Charlotte. I thought they were both pretty shabby people, but because of how the plot of the book was set up my ire was focused on her. Because Philip was trying to win Charlotte back he was much nicer than she was. He just took whatever she threw at him and kept trying. It actually made me feel really bad for him, even after I learned about their past together. He was like that dumb little puppy that kept trailing behind someone even though it had already been kicked multiple times. You just want to save it from itself, you know?
I’m pretty sure that I was supposed to be on Charlotte’s side. I think I was supposed to look at her behavior and think Yeah! Girl Power! but I didn’t. Philip’s wrong (and it was a really bad thing to do) did not excuse her behavior in my eyes. I can see how she got to that point, but that doesn’t mean I like her and want to read about her. Maybe if I had gotten to know her before her antics came into play? I might have ended up more sympathetic. As it was, it was really hard to like her when I spent most of the book disgusted by her behavior.
Charlotte used men. She was very upfront about using her looks and seductive presence to manipulate men. She flat out reveled in her power over them. Whenever she was in a tough spot she turned on the seduction and tried to control people with it. It was very off putting for me. I don’t like modern girls who use their sexuality as a weapon, why would I like it in a historical? I find it pretty shady, and it really makes me sad for the character. Her behavior to men everywhere makes her just as bad and manipulative as Philip was.
Her constantly turning on the sex kitten routine made her look pretty slutty because she did it to everyone. The book opens with Philip coming and peeling her out of some guy's lap. Her insolent sex kitten act when he did so was not a good introduction for me. Then he tries to take her to their country estate and when they stop at an inn she runs in first. When he catches up to her she’s offering to strip for all the men in the place and even starts to before he stops her. This all happened by page 18, by the way. I’m sorry, but debasing yourself because you think it’ll hurt your husband is the dumbest thing ever. I’m sure it happens, but I don’t want to read about it!
Philip is really no better than Charlotte. I had more sympathy for him, and I finished the book pitying him, but he was the one who screwed his own life up. He was screwed over in the past, there’s no denying it. But his revenge was a really, really jerk thing to do. It was also illogical because he trapped himself too! I’m not surprised by the current plots he cooked up—although those are pretty dumb too. I really think he needs to hire someone to come up with some plans that actually have a chance of succeeding!
I can see why he was constantly scheming though. When he was upfront it still didn’t work! Charlotte was just so back and forth about him that it made my head spin. She would do the exact same things that he did—like try to make her jealous—but then when she found out, it was just more proof of him being a controller. Even though she did the EXACT SAME THING! I just really think these people would have been better off apart. There was one “big reveal” about Charlotte that I think was supposed to make me grateful and relieved by the truth. (I can’t specify because of spoilers!) It didn’t work. I just shook my head over it.
One thing that really bothered me is the way Charlotte behaved. She went around cursing constantly in public and making insulting obscene gestures toward Philip. I just find it hard to believe that a squire’s daughter and a duke’s wife would run around comparing his head to a “horse’s testicles” in public. At the end there was a slight mention of the “stodgy” members of the ton and the “self-righteous matrons” making her feel like an outcast for her behavior. I honestly think that she would be a pariah everywhere, not just with the sticklers. Especially when all of society knows she’s estranged from her husband, so being nice to her won’t win them any points with him. Maybe there were duchesses running around like that, I could be wrong.
Ignoring the characters and the plot… I see a lot of potential for the author. She had a smooth rhythm to her writing. Pages turned quickly for me, even when I was irritated. She also had quite a few funny one-liners. One of my favorites was on page 95:
"You must not stalk around the room--"
"Stalk?" His brow wrinkled.
"--as if you were a lion and everyone else is your prey."
"Do you really think I stalk? I must say, that is quite a stroke to my ego. I assume I appear quite dangerous when I do it?"
There isn’t a very strong period feel at all, the setting felt kind of tacked on with no real depth. I believe people refer to those as “Wallpaper Historical.” But I’m okay with that! Not every book has to be like that. I enjoy a lot of books that would fall into that category.
After starting this book, I was almost positive that I wouldn't like it. The heroine, Ellie, seemed like a bitter ex-wife who was trying to play at be...moreAfter starting this book, I was almost positive that I wouldn't like it. The heroine, Ellie, seemed like a bitter ex-wife who was trying to play at being a martyr-mom. Everything she did was for her kids. She lived and breathed solely to be there for them and never thought of herself. Her whole life was for them and she was critical of her ex for not being as dedicated as she was. She apparently hadn't even been able to shave in two weeks because the time she'd waste on that was precious time she could have been spending on her kids. *excuse me while I take a moment to gag* Right then and there, it's a good bet that I'm already on the ex's side. I just met her and even I couldn't stand her!
But I soon saw that the author set her up like that very deliberately. This was a woman who had suffered in life and who was overcompensating for something quite tragic. She and her ex, Tucker, split up after the loss of one of their sons, and they both reacted to it in very different ways. Their changes in behavior were sad indications of the loss they had suffered and the emotional upheaval that it caused. Not only did they lose a son, they lost each other. Their attitudes didn't always make them likable (mostly Ellie), but it did make their slow change feel more authentic for being so hard won.
Ellie and Tucker have both disliked each other since their divorce. They blame each other for certain things and they both suffer from feelings of guilt and inadequacy that they can't seem to deal with, beyond turning it into anger at each other. They've been divorced for three years and have avoided speaking to each other entirely for the last year. Their kids have become very unhappy and they can feel that the point of no return is coming. They decide to take drastic measures and run away.
Ellie and Tucker, along with their current love interests, mount a search for the kids, but at first they can't seem to do anything but fight and play the blame game. This made their relationship feel more real, but it's constant nature occasionally made me grit my teeth. Their journey to find their kids finally forced them into each other's company long enough to admit that they're not over each other. They finally had to deal with all the messed up emotions they've been hiding inside. It was a painful process, but it unfolded well.
One of the things that always makes me nervous about second-chance-romances is fearing that the author will take the characters too far. I love that trope, but I want to be able to feel good about them getting together. I need to believe that they can recover from the wrongs they have dealt each other. That means walking a fine line when writing their reasons for breaking up and the way they've treated each other since. I'm happy to say that Anderson nailed this. The reader could sympathize with both of them over their reasons for breaking up, but it was also apparent that they really belonged together. They needed time and distance to get over some genuinely heartbreaking things, but in the end the only one that made them truly happy was each other.
The book focuses around the search for their missing children and takes place over a relatively short period of time. The pacing was well done and I never felt like things were going too quickly to be believable. The only thing that bothered me, other than a few irritants now and again, was the fact that the kids ran away and put their parents through that and never really had any internalization of how wrong they were to behave that way. It's like the fact that Ellie and Tucker got back together cancelled out the punishment that I think they deserved. I think their complaints were completely valid, but that was a crappy thing of them to do.
I waited a while to review this book after I had finished it. I just had to take a step back to be able to look at it with a little more distance. My...moreI waited a while to review this book after I had finished it. I just had to take a step back to be able to look at it with a little more distance. My opinion was seesawing, and I couldn't come up with a grade. Hopefully I'll be able to make sense as I write this.
The emotions and tempestuous relationship were really well depicted between Libby and Jaxon, and that's really the factor that made this book so hard to rate for me. I was very, very uncomfortable with the power disparity between Jaxon and Libby in the beginning of the book. He had some serious rage going on. I'm not saying I blame him for being so angry, but it's really hard for me to cheer for a hero who flips between wanting to literally kill the heroine and still being attracted to her. That's why I'm so conflicted! The love/hate relationship felt authentic, but I just didn't like it.
Things got better for me when the heroine remembered her past. She just seemed like less of a victim. It was really uncomfortable for me to watch her be in that situation--where everyone hates her--and not know why because she can't remember anything. It just makes the other characters seem like bullies for tormenting her while she's so afraid.
Jaxon took quite a while for me to warm up to. I'm not even sure I ever really did. I found him compelling, but I never really liked him. It wasn't so bad in the beginning--even though he didn't track her down with friendly intentions--but the more I saw him playing hot and cold with poor, confused Libby the more angry I got. Especially when he saw some evidence that made him question his initial assumptions. I'd think he'd start to see reason only to watch him go right back to being an ass. It was really frustrating.
I was very, very pleased about Libby's attitude when she regained her memory. I was much less pleased about the eventual reunion between her and Jaxon though. I wasn't convinced that they should be together yet. It also just seemed way too easy for him after his treatment of her in the beginning. Especially after I saw the flashbacks to their original relationship and realized that it wasn't all that great to begin with. Why were they together again?
But, for all that I was uncomfortable, I still couldn't put the book down. Man, it was readable. The atmosphere, the characters, everything...they just popped. I loved the idea of the division they worked in. I liked getting to see secondary characters who were so impacted by the events. It really helped the story feel like an actual world instead of a vacuum. Also, even though I didn't like the relationship, it was really well written. That's why it felt so uncomfortable. It all just felt a bit too real for me to be able to relax and go with it.
I plan to pick up the second book because I really liked the author's style, but here's hoping that the relationship is easier to read about.(less)
I asked my GR friends to provide me books they loved as part of a personal pick it for me challenge. This one was provided to me by AH.
I wavered over...moreI asked my GR friends to provide me books they loved as part of a personal pick it for me challenge. This one was provided to me by AH.
I wavered over my grade for this for a while. For most of the book I was pretty confident that I'd grade it four stars. But toward the end, something happened, a finally! moment of admission, that made me so happy I wondered if I should bump my grade up. I had to figure out if I could really justify (to myself) adding another star just because I was thrilled that the heroine had finally been brutally honest with herself and us, the readers. I finally decided that no, it was a great moment, but it was still just a strong four star read to me.
The beginning of this book was written in an extremely odd, distancing manner. I strongly felt that I was being told the story by Elena instead of watching Elena's story unfold. Luckily the style switched as soon as the prologue was over. I don't know if I could have gotten as into the story as I did if it had continued in the same style.
This book was...fascinating and frustrating and repulsive all at once. It's a combination you wouldn't think would work together, but this author managed to pull it off. You'll see what I mean by each description as I continue.
The otherness that the werewolves displayed in this book is not a characteristic I'm used to seeing in the books I read. A lot of the time vampires and werewolves and other supernatural creatures are portrayed as regular people with special abilities. Very rarely do you see an animal, more monster than human, peeking through their eyes. Sometimes I enjoy that style, but sometimes it can be frustrating. How can they be so much more than regular humans and not feel the slightest bit superior? I really find that unbelievable, especially the really old ones. I find the attitude displayed here more believable, even though it was kind of off putting at times.
The biological facts about werewolves we learned were very interesting. I wonder why the werewolf trait is inherited that way? I wasn't really impressed with the werewolf view of women. Sex or dinner, and possibly both. Nice. If I was Elena I wouldn't want to stick around with them either. I was curious about how Clay overcame his inbred disdain toward humans and women enough to get to know Elena well enough to fall in love with her. Did she pick up on his snobbery when she first met him?
It was very frustrating to have to so few facts about their past relationship. I felt like I was stumbling around in the dark and couldn't catch my bearings. Anytime Clay tried to talk with Elena and explain his actions she shut him down. She freely admitted (to herself at least) that she didn't ever want to understand his point of view. She didn't want to forgive and forget.
Elena was a complex character. She was so frustrating, but I found her fascinating too. I didn't like her a lot of the time, but I was compelled to read about her until I understood what made her tick. I was really surprised about her attitude toward her body. Well, I was surprised about a lot of her views, but her view of the use of her body was especially startling considering her childhood. The pragmatic ability to use her body as currency and not be upset by it is one I'm just not very used to. Also, her rationalizing and her lack of guilt over cheating on her boyfriend was pretty distasteful to me. I'm not a fan of cheating, and even though I liked Elena better with Clay I still felt horrible for Philip. Even though I was extremely turned off by Elena's cheating, and it is cheating, I was hooked by the strong writing and the compelling story being told.
Elena's most irritating habit was her ability to rationalize anything she didn't want to face. She avoided issues she didn't want to face, and the ones she couldn't avoid she rationalized. If I was frustrated by her, I don't know how the other people in the story avoided shaking sense into her. But, just when I was about to give up on Elena as a hopeless case something big happened. An event so harsh that Elena finally was honest with herself, and us, and admitted her true feelings about everything. They didn't just revolve around Clay and Philip, it also involved her view of herself as a human and her using her werewolf status as an excuse to avoid her true self. It was awesome! Finally I got to see a raw, unfiltered view into the core of Elena. It's not always a nice place, but it's a place I'd like to spend more time in. If you read the book and get frustrated, hold out hope! There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Before I finish this review I have to discuss Clay a little. He was one of my favorite characters. Just like Elena he wasn't a perfect character. He did something extremely wrong to Elena, and while he wants forgiveness, I can't help but feel he's ultimately satisfied with what he has wrought. The fact that Clay was more wolf than human was an interesting take. His actions and reasoning skills definitely fit the bill for more animal instinct than human rational. I felt so bad for him though. Elena left and he just thought it was another one of their breaks. He has a singular ability to ignore the truth if he doesn't want to hear it. When I saw the presents my heart broke for him.
I do, however, wonder how Clay was able to attract human Elena. He does not resemble any human male, and he has a really hard time faking it. Did she never sense anything different about him? Once again it would help if we were able to get more specific information about their past relationship...
One last thing: I thought the ending with Philip was a cop out. I didn't like that Elena never had to deal with any real blame. She hated Clay for hiding the truth from her, but she never seemed to realize that she was doing the same thing. It was really irritating.
I recommend this book if you're looking for something different than the usual fare. I'd also recommend it if you like a little more monster than man.
This is the second book I've read by this author. Luckily it wasn't the first one I read! The book was a complete disappointment for me. It started ou...moreThis is the second book I've read by this author. Luckily it wasn't the first one I read! The book was a complete disappointment for me. It started out promising which is what makes the ultimate decline all the more hard to take.
I was pretty excited by the premise of this book. I love, love, love second chance romances. I love seeing two people try to work out their issues enough to be together despite being burned once before. I don't love all second chance romance stories--some people are just better off apart--but I am drawn to the idea of them. So it was with regret that I concluded that this story just wasn't for me.
It wasn't the actual writing or even the storyline that made this one hard to read. It was the characters and their behavior. So I think opinions on this will vary widely. It all depends on if you like Madeline and Gabriel.
I really, really didn't like Madeline. At first she wasn't so bad, but the more I came to know her the more arrogant and spoiled she seemed. She had a lame father, I get that. I GET IT! But that didn't seem like a very good excuse for her to be the way she was. I didn't understand how Gabriel supposedly fell so in love with her when she was so managing and arrogant. She seemed to want a man who would be nothing more than arm candy. Gabriel couldn't stand it, so how did he see past it enough to fall in love with her in the beginning? No real explanation was ever made for why these people fell for each other. It seemed to be presented as animal magnetism and nothing else.
What was the deal with Gabriel and Madeline both being so hung up on her breaking her word when she broke their engagement? What if he had been a cheater or a beater? Would she have agonized over her stupid honor so much then? I doubt it. But because he's the hero I'm supposed to feel bad that she didn't go through with a marriage she didn't want anymore just because she said she'd marry him? I didn't. I just found it irritating.
Also, I didn't really understand why Madeline was cast in the wrong for the breakup. Gabriel chose to participate in an activity that he knew she hated. I don't care if he thought her loathing of it was unreasonable or not. They're her feelings regardless. The fact that he ignored her feelings and did what he wanted made him the one that needed to apologize, not her. I'm irritated that it was presented the other way around.
I was extremely irritated by the way everyone "Your Grace"-ed Madeline. She was not a duchess yet!!! She kept referring to herself as the duchess and everyone else kept calling her it too, but she WAS NOT A DUCHESS. Argh! Extremely irritating. Her father, the duke, wasn't even dead. Never have I seen it where the heirs are called by their future title before they actually inherit.
I was lucky I had read That Scandalous Evening first. I really enjoyed it and have high hopes for my future with this author. I've heard that the connected book, One Kiss From You, featuring Madeline's companion cousin, is a better read so I'll probably give it a try.(less)
This book was nothing like I expected it to be. From the hints we received in Ian's book, it seemed like Isabella and Mac had much stronger feelings than I felt were portrayed here. Call me crazy, but when you're fed up enough to leave someone (even if you love them) there are strong emotions there. Even though we were told of their pain, I didn't feel it.
There were a few times that I did feel their pain. The author did a good job of involving my emotions in an event that eventually led to Isabella leaving Mac. Anytime it was brought up I felt their emotions. I wish I would have felt as in tune through the rest of the book.
I found it very unsatisfying that Isabella seemed to float through most of the book in a calm friendish manner with Mac. It just seemed so at odds with the way their relationship was portrayed in the first book. There seemed to be no passion to her feelings. I expected bitter and angry (on both sides), not indecisive and pleasant. I could understand why Mac tried to be cheerful, it's usually easier to win someone over that way.
I felt that it took too long to get to the reveal of why they separated. If I could have felt that anguish in the beginning I think I would have understood the characters better.
Truthfully, the few flashbacks we saw were the most vivid part of Mac and Isabella's relationship for me. At those moments I saw a real relationship. Even though they were on the rocks, I could feel their intensity. I think that was what was missing in the book for me, intensity.
I liked getting a glimpse of all the brothers again. Hart was in this one for only a short time, but Cameron had a bigger role. I'm interested in seeing how his story will develop.
Ian was a great character in this book. I loved him in the last book, and it hasn't faded in this one. He was such a rock for Isabella through their marriage. Getting to see him and Beth was great.
I really liked the snippets from the newspapers chronicling Isabella and Mac's marriage. It was a glimpse of the past that I appreciated.
I found the subplot involving the forger to be rather lame. It seemed like a weak excuse to throw Mac and Isabella together. I wish it had been better developed and seemed more genuine.
I read Ian's book right before I read this one so I would be fresh in their world and remember all the details. I think that this one suffered because of that. Also, because the first book was so sexy I went into this expecting more of the same. While the world saw them as scandalous, I saw their sexual relationship as tame and rather average.
My love of this series hasn't dimmed. I look forward to reading about Cameron and Hart. (less)
**spoiler alert** I think this book would have been better suited to someone who is way more into food than I am. It seemed like every other sentence...more**spoiler alert** I think this book would have been better suited to someone who is way more into food than I am. It seemed like every other sentence was rhapsodizing about the awesomeness of Verity's food in excruciating detail. I understand that she's a cook, but by the time I was half way through I felt I was being hammered over the head with the fact that nobody has the magic to cook like Verity. She's special and unique and the angels sing when she cooks. I get it already! Move on!
The plot and motivations of these characters seemed really thin to me. The characters never really got to know each other very well. In all the flashbacks it's just that night of sex. Even if it's the best sex of your life how did you fall in love that night? You hardly spoke to him/her! Maybe you fell in love with his/her body or his/her sexy skills, but I truly doubt you fell in love with the person he/she is. That goes for both of the protagonists.
Also, Verity kept her identity a secret for so long that they hardly had any time to get to know each other. Their current relationship seemed to be based on no more than lust and covetousness of the creator of such awesome food. Yes, that's right. Stuart starts fantasizing about Verity when he has no clue who she is (or what she looks like) all based on her ability to make him taste food again. Right...
***SPOILERS*** Also, their first real interaction together was rather absurd. She decides that as the lowly servant she is, she will use her employer's private bath. Not only will she do that, she will get herself off right there where anyone could find her. Yep, that seems like a rational thing to do. So into that scene walks Stuart. He's mighty turned on, but the agony, he's betraying his fiance! The whole book was kind of like that. A mix of absurd, lust, and melodrama. It just confused me and wore me out. Not a combination I enjoy when I finish a book.
I wish there had been more time spent on Lizzy and Will. I actually liked them. I would have liked to have gotten to know them more though. I also thought that a little more time spent on Michael would have been nice. I wish there weren't so many lies throughout this book. Lies about why she met Stuart in the first place, lies about why she can't stay, lies about her identity (omission counts!), lies about Michael, etc.
I think the biggest cop-out of the story was at the end. All of a sudden Verity has this mysterious background that no one knew about. The Duchess wasn't evil and heartless like we all thought, no, she was misunderstood and always trying to do her best for Verity! Also, suddenly the reasons why Verity and Stuart couldn't marry ceased to be important, although it was never explained why. All those dire things that would come to pass didn't suddenly disappear you know. ***END SPOILERS***
The reason I gave this two stars instead of one was the writing skill. This author really seems to be a great writer, I just wish she would write about characters I liked more. (less)
Reading this felt like a blast from the past. I always loved the books that spent time on the characters as kids and then showed them when they were o...moreReading this felt like a blast from the past. I always loved the books that spent time on the characters as kids and then showed them when they were older. This style doesn't always work for me, but this author has a way with it and I always enjoy it. The last couple books I've read by this author haven't been in this style (which isn't a bad thing) but I really enjoyed revisiting it.
Getting to know Lil and Cooper when they were young made a nice start to the novel. There wasn't a huge chunk of the book spent in this period which kept it short and sweet.
The beginning of this novel was great and the end was great, but the middle dragged a bit. It's like the book lost steam for a bit before it finally got back on track. I liked all the information we had about the refuge and the wildlife there. I love how most of this author's characters have such different careers. It's nice to get a peek into the intricacies of some of the jobs.
I didn't really enjoy the secondary romance. I felt we only got a shallow view and not really enough to be interesting.
I think my biggest problem with this book was Lil. I thought she was beating a dead horse with the way she held on to her grudge. I'm going to rant at fictional Lil here for a bit... So, Cooper has told you why he broke up with you years ago. It may be a harsh reason, but I think it's a pretty good one all things considered. You keep him dancing on a string because you just can't believe him 100 percent. But you keep sleeping with him and you keep expecting him to bend over backwards for you. You seem bitter and like you need to get over yourself. There, I feel better now.
Even with those irritating details, I really enjoyed this book. I look forward to reading the next one she puts out. (less)
I was pretty underwhelmed by this book. The description made it sound interesting, but the characters were kind of a let down for me.
Janet Begay is a...moreI was pretty underwhelmed by this book. The description made it sound interesting, but the characters were kind of a let down for me.
Janet Begay is a Stormwalker. She can ride a storm and draw power from it, but usually she ends up with the short end of the stick. She's helpless to resist the power of the storm and usually ends up sick and exhausted after it passes. She doesn't like that aspect much, but she's learning to deal.
Janet heads to Magellan with the excuse of helping the police chief search for his missing daughter. Janet is committed to finding the missing girl, Amy, but also has a more pressing motive for arriving in town. Magellan is home to a vortex that Janet's mother wants unlocked. She plans to use Janet as her tool and make her a willing slave. Janet knows that the time has finally come to stop her mother once and for all.
Janet has some trouble with Sheriff Nash, Amy's fiance, and one of the suspects in her disappearance. Nash basically goes on a power trip and locks her in jail and won't believe her when she says something bad from the magical world is headed her way. For some reason everyone seemed okay with the fact that Janet was held in jail without being arrested or in-processed. They were still okay when Janet was busted out of jail and taken back to her hotel. What?
The guy responsible for the jail bust is Mick, Janet's ex. They've been apart for years (at Janet's instigation) but they've never really gotten over each other. Janet's an extreme pushover where Mick is concerned. She's very willing to just give up trying get her way and will let him do whatever he wants. She also very easily decides to resume having sex with him - only to help draw off the power of course! I wanted to like Mick, but because I was stuck in Janet's head I never got to know him well enough.
Janet didn't know anything about him when they first got together and she still didn't know anything about him when she finally left him for being too secretive and smothering. She didn't even know his last name and he would disappear on her and then show back up like nothing happened. She put up with that for six months before she finally got it together enough to leave him. She just seemed like the biggest idiot to me. She also seemed extremely young in all her thoughts. I'm not referring to the flashbacks either. Her internal whining and insecurity reminded me of an extremely immature teenager with her first boyfriend. It was very off putting.
I also couldn't help but think she was the most dense individual in the world for not figuring out what Mick was hiding. Now I don't blame her for not knowing why he first integrated himself with her, but I do think it was blatantly obvious what Mick was in addition to a fire wielder. When the author drops so many blatant hints again and again it doesn't make her protagonist look like the sharpest tack in the box when she doesn't figure it out. It just makes her look stupid.
I wish I would have liked this book more, but I just couldn't make myself enjoy it. I doubt I'll be picking up anything else in this series.(less)
It took a lot for me to finally suck it up and read this book. I bought it because I had seen rave reviews for it on various review sights. Once I got...moreIt took a lot for me to finally suck it up and read this book. I bought it because I had seen rave reviews for it on various review sights. Once I got it I couldn't seem to force myself to read. Even though everyone said it was good, I couldn't get over the fact that these people were bitter and angry and cheated on each other. I like to read romance for the warm, uplifting feelings it inspires as I watch two people fall in love. I like to believe that they'll stay together despite the odds. I don't have a problem watching them have huge problems and break ups before they make a real commitment, but for some reason once they're married I have a whole different set of standards for them. Weird, huh?
Even though I'm not the biggest fan of Gigi and Cam, I still think that the book is well written. I liked the supporting characters, especially Gigi's mom and the duke, and thought that the story flowed well. At first I liked the flashback chapters, but after a while I was tired of it. I was ready to have more time focused on the main protagonists. I really feel that not enough time was spent developing their current relationship. Added to the flashbacks was a secondary romance. Now I liked Gigi's mom and the duke, but there was a lot of page time devoted to them considering they weren't the main characters. I feel like this book was split up into thirds. One third was devoted to Gigi and Cam in the past, another third was devoted to Gigi's mother and her reclusive duke, and the last third was left for Gigi and Cam to repair their relationship and become a functioning couple again. That short amount of time was really not enough to devote to two people who are supposed to be the main characters.
I didn't really understand why Gigi's actions necessitated 10 years of separation. I know Cam was upset, but that was a bit over the top. I think their encounters with each other throughout those 10 years were supposed to be touching and heart wrenching but they came off as silly. Go after each other if you really want to make it work! I don't blame Gigi for that because she had already tried multiple times in the beginning to apologize and he became petty and cruel to drive her off. I wouldn't try again either.
The person I had the most sympathy for in the story was Gigi's suitor. While Cam and Gigi indulged in their love/hate relationship he was left to wander in the wings looking trusting and dim. Poor guy. Not only did Gigi cheat on him, she also didn't trust him enough to tell him what was really going on. What kind of love was that supposed to be?
I ended this book with a lot of doubt as to the strength of Gigi and Cam's commitment. I'll definitely read more of this author's work though. I liked her writing, but I really hope she lays off on the flashbacks. (less)