"You want your reputation as the Enemy of Old to precede you, to make your enemies fear you?" When she jabbed at his chest a
"You want your reputation as the Enemy of Old to precede you, to make your enemies fear you?" When she jabbed at his chest again, his gut clutched with want. "My greatest asset is that I'm forever underestimated--by people like you." She pinned his gaze with her own. "I'm the sucker punch that you never saw coming."
I was a bit worried about reading this one because I didn't like Eric much in the previous books--especially the second one. I was so relieved to findI was a bit worried about reading this one because I didn't like Eric much in the previous books--especially the second one. I was so relieved to find that he was actually one of my favorite characters of the trilogy. He had a believable inner conflict and took strides to finally smooth things over with his siblings.
I've come to realize that in this trilogy characters that seem reasonable and sympathetic in their own book come off as jerks in another sibling's book. It just confirms my impression that their family relationship is very dysfunctional and they would probably be much happier apart. If they weren't partners in the family business then I'm not sure they'd ever trouble themselves to see each other again. The dynamic between them has been my least favorite part of this trilogy.
Dahl still packs a wallop with the heat in this book. The sex scenes were very sexy and it was easy to see what was drawing Eric and Beth together. I wish there had been more scenes building the emotions between them, though. Eric took steps to open himself up to her, but she never did. It was until the very end of the book that she admitted to herself that she was the biggest liar of them all and that she was a hypocrite.
Beth was my least favorite part of this book. I liked her, but I didn't like a lot of her decisions. Just like Tessa, Beth was never honest about the real her and it took something big to make her look in the mirror. I don't know why I enjoyed watching Tessa's growth more than Beth's, but I did. By the end of the book I had very little patience for her BS and I practically growled when Eric was cast as the villain in their last argument.
The connection to the Kendalls was pretty weak and didn't serve a purpose that I could see. Couldn't something else have just as easily served as the inspiration for her to be honest? Other than that, I liked the book. If I wouldn't have been so frustrated by Beth toward the end, this would have ended up being my favorite of the trilogy. ...more
I don’t know quite how I feel about this book. I inhaled it and was greatly entertained, but I also found myself cringing a lot and was more uncomfortI don’t know quite how I feel about this book. I inhaled it and was greatly entertained, but I also found myself cringing a lot and was more uncomfortable with Ana and Christian’s relationship than I have ever been before.
After reading this book I realized what an incredible journey the author took us on. I had quite a few problems with the writing and Ana’s character in the beginning, but the author knows how to tell a hell of a tale, so I was sucked in despite those issues. There was intensity, hot sex, and a believable conflict between them. I liked the first book, but it was the second book that impressed me the most. That was when Ana stepped up and the power disparity between them finally leveled out. I ended the book completely satisfied and feeling like they were finally headed toward a healthy, happy relationship. So I was pretty ticked off to find that this third book seems to have taken their relationship in reverse.
While reading, I alternated between smiling and thrilling over their happiness in their marriage and cringing over the dysfunctional loop they found themselves stuck in. Christian could originally be hard to take with his orders, pushiness, and stalker tendencies, but that was in the first book. It felt natural there because they were struggling to mesh two very different personality types. And they resolved that struggle in the second book and finally started building a real relationship! So when it popped back up here it wasn’t as acceptable. Where Christian once felt like a troubled, dark man, he just came off as scary and disturbed here. Don’t get me wrong, I saw the charm of their relationship in the happy moments, but I also think that Christian was shown as further damaged than the man we met before. It was not a pretty picture.
This whole book felt like a roller coaster. There wasn’t much of a plot beyond them working out their issues—other than the small subplot involving Ana’s old boss. That isn’t a bad thing to my mind. I enjoy character driven stories. But when the relationship is like Ana and Christian’s, it gets exhausting. I wasn’t exaggerating when I said it felt like a roller coaster. There were so many highs and lows in their relationship that it made my head spin. When they were up, they were great. I fell in love with them all over again. But when they were down, it was sad and disturbing. Everything was supposed to be worked out! I know that sounds whiny, but that’s how I feel. Why is Ana stuck apologizing and begging Christian not to be mad every other second? Why is it all about him and Ana has to scramble to try to keep up with his moods? I don’t blame her for deliberately ignoring his issues and doing what she wanted. Just reading it made me feel claustrophobic. It was like they had never made any progress. :( Sure, she could finally touch him, but how is that a comfort when he is back to being so controlling? It made me sad, because Ana was always on edge. Sometimes love just isn’t enough. I actually wish that we could have just ended the book on the hopeful note of book two.
But then there were the great parts that made the read worth it. The end was absolutely fantastic. Huge strides were made in their relationship. There was some heartbreak—and man, I loved those scenes—but it was necessary. (view spoiler)[I loved seeing Ana stick to her guns, and I have to admit that I enjoyed seeing Christian brought so low. He deserved it. (hide spoiler)] The end finally brought back that warm feeling I had toward them. But it doesn’t change the fact that it felt like a retread of the issues they had already worked out. I would have been happier if this final resolution between them had been part of the original resolution they had in book two. It was an awesome end, so I would have hated to miss it, but I would have preferred to remember the Christian of book two.
"I gaze in horror at the red marks all over my breasts. Hickeys! I have hickeys! I am married to one of the most respected businessmen in the United States, and he’s given me goddamn hickeys."
Wow. I’m amazed at how much more I liked this book than I did Fifty Shades of Grey. I mean, I really, really liked it. I honestly can’t tell if the wrWow. I’m amazed at how much more I liked this book than I did Fifty Shades of Grey. I mean, I really, really liked it. I honestly can’t tell if the writing improved or if I was just more prepared for that particular style after reading the first book. Regardless, it didn’t grate on me near as much.
It seems like a single book can make a heck of a difference in a relationship. This book starts shortly after the cliffhanger the first book left us with. Ana has just dumped Christian and they are both suffering for it. We don’t see much of his experience, obviously, but we hear about it later. Ana’s leaving is a catalyst for Christian and he takes a hard look at what is and isn’t necessary to make him happy in life.
Christian is a different man in important ways because of this period of introspection. He’s determined to be with Ana and is willing to go out of his comfort zone to have her. That vulnerability is one of the biggest changes from the first book. He’s still dominant and controlling, but he’s hesitant and always checking up on Ana’s reaction to their relationship and his behavior. He’s not willing to suffer through her leaving him again and he struggles with the anxiety and trust issues that her leaving him caused.
Christian is out of his depth in attempting to forge an equal and long-lasting relationship with Ana. Ana isn’t finding it any easier, being that this is her first relationship, but she finds her footing sooner than he does. I loved that Ana was more confident and unwilling to settle for less than what she wanted. They both struggled to mesh their lives together and found that even if the love was there, they just didn’t know each other well enough to really relax and be confident in the longevity of their relationship.
Ana struggled to accept the change in Christian at face value. She loved it, but the happier she was, the more she started to obsess about it not being enough for him in the long run. I honestly can’t blame her for that worry, though, so I was understanding of her mood swings and fears. I did feel bad for Christian, though, and understood his frustration over her inability to accept what he said as truth. I think it was necessary for her to struggle so much and cause Christian to rise to the occasion to try to prove himself to her, because it gave us the opportunity to delve into Christian’s issues. He is a dark man and he pushes himself to break through his issues for her. The closer he comes to scaring her off, the more he pushes himself. I don’t think he would have come quite so far if Ana had been the same meek girl she was in the first book.
One of the things I loved most about this book was the role reversal. In the first book Christian introduces Ana to his sexual world and pushes her boundaries (with her permission) to the limit. Her determination to please him causes this boundary pushing to backfire on him and leaves him gun-shy of testing this limit again. It is Ana who is the aggressor in experimenting here. She pushes him to try certain things with her again and is interested in experimenting again in the future.
In the first book Christian’s dominance and experience seemed to leave her overwhelmed and frightened. Here, though, she controls it, and that seems to make all of the difference. After seeing that Christian is willing to take steps to please her, she is determined to do the same. They get to know each other and become more comfortable with each other, and what was once sexy and frightening for Ana just becomes flat out sexy. To me, it seemed like Ana validated a lot of Christian’s sexual preferences here. She had her limits, sure, and he never tried to argue them, but she is the one who pushes for the kink, not just to please him, but to please her. It really seems to highlight the fact that her being comfortable with him and on a more even footing has eased a lot of the issues she had with his wants. I guess it just hammers home the difference comfort in a relationship can make.
I spent quite a bit of time breathing fire at certain secondary characters in the book. I am very, very glad that those people got what was coming to them, finally. I did have to shake my head over some of the behavior that Christian exhibited toward these people, though. Good decision making skills seem to be something he occasionally lacks. His lack of empathy seems to be a major issue for him, and it leads him to be unreasonable about certain situations with Ana and yet completely clueless about how jacked up his own actions can be.
I still see some work ahead of them to really solidify their relationship, but I am thrilled with how far they have come. I can’t wait to read the next book! ...more
Wow. I am completely floored by how much I enjoyed this book. I am not much of an Erotica reader, and when I have ended up dabbling in it I've found tWow. I am completely floored by how much I enjoyed this book. I am not much of an Erotica reader, and when I have ended up dabbling in it I've found that I didn't enjoy it much. I don't like sex to be the focus of the book. I want the relationship to be the focus, with some really hot sex helping to build that connection. And I don't like sex scene after sex scene with no character or emotional development. That just bores me. But I don't like when token emotions are written as an excuse for more sex, either. So, I return to Romance because Erotica seems unable to give me what I want. But this... This delivered.
I am not a fan of one night stands and casual hookups, but this author pulled it off. I was completely caught up in the sexual tension between them and their attraction to each other. The sex was hot and frequent, but it never felt out of place or like it dominated their connection to each other. It felt more like a safe excuse for them to use to be together while they slowly grew closer and closer--all the while proclaiming that what they had was casual.
I really liked Hunter and Lacey and how well they fit together, regardless of their surface differences. The age difference, the wealth gap, it all didn't matter when they were together. At times Lacey could be too accepting, and at times Hunter could be too closed off and standoffish, but it all fit together perfectly.
I loved that there was no subplot to take attention away from the main story. It was completely character driven and I loved the nonstop focus on their growing bond together. I was also very relieved that Hunter actually sounded like a regular guy. His dialogue, both in the bedroom and out, had none of that overblown flowery prose that seems to be popular. Consider the over used phrase, "I want to taste your sweet honey." What modern man would ever say that and what modern woman wouldn't laugh at him if he did? Seriously.
I'm really pleased with this read and am eager to try something else by the author. Hopefully I'll have the same success with her other work.
Once again, Dahl has managed to give me a winner. I had a few moments here and there where Tessa grated on me, but I really understood what*4.5 Stars*
Once again, Dahl has managed to give me a winner. I had a few moments here and there where Tessa grated on me, but I really understood what was driving her, so I was able to be patient for the most part. My issues with her caused me to drop my grade a little, but I'll get into that more in a bit.
I know when I pick up a contemporary by Dahl that I'll get humor, well developed characters, and lots of sexy. And boy, does she deliver here. The sexy times were great, although a little less flamboyant than I saw in her last CR trilogy. One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Tessa and Luke are getting hot and heavy and are close to having sex for the first time. Luke ends up backpedaling because of bad information, leaving Tessa pretty ticked. The whole scene was hilarious. I seriously read it twice just so I could laugh through it again.
Tessa was a great main character. She had some pretty serious flaws, but she was very likable and I enjoyed reading her POV. My biggest problem with her was her lies. She didn't do it maliciously, but it was hard feeling sympathy for her when she was digging her own hole. I totally understood why she behaved the way that she did, since the author did an excellent job of setting up the motivation for each brother and showing how much that single event in their childhood defined the rest of their life, but after a while it got old. Lie after lie piled on top of each other to make it work, but it was all crumbling around her. I felt really sorry for her when it fell, but I'm glad that no one let her convince herself that she was in the right. She clearly needed an intervention and it was long overdue.
Luke was such a fabulous hero. I can't even think of a single thing about him I didn't like. He wasn't perfect, he had his flaws as well, but it all combined into a compelling package. The way he silently endured the rumors, no matter how much they bothered him, and the way he was willing to put reach out again and again hoping for a connection, both with Tessa and his partner, had my heart melting. He was sexy and occasionally prickly, but he was so, so sweet and adorable. I felt so bad for him when we finally learned about his marriage, but I could see how it all got to that point. I liked that he was willing to be the one to apologize first, but that he took a stand when he was in the right and wasn't willing to smooth things over anymore. Tessa had to be the one to make things right.
I really liked the way the Donovan family was set up. They seemed like an actual family, with fights and resentments mixed in with the happiness and laughter. They each are slowly realizing that they need more than what they have had in their family roles so far. Each needs to think about themselves and what will make them happy instead of just what they can do for the family. I loved Jamie and Eric, but I thought their brotherly protection got a little smothering and it felt a little overdone. I'm really looking forward to the next books and seeing each brother fall in love. ...more
Boy, was I surprised to open this book and find that we were much earlier in the series timeline than we left off on in Ecstasy In Darkness. It was aBoy, was I surprised to open this book and find that we were much earlier in the series timeline than we left off on in Ecstasy In Darkness. It was a good thing, though. Not only did we get to see an earlier glimpse of Ava and Noelle’s friendship, we also got to see the intriguing backstory between Noelle and Hector. I’ve got to say, even after reading this last book, I had no idea they had that kind of history together.
I really enjoyed Ava and Noelle in Ecstasy In Darkness. They were violent, crazy, and hilarious. We get much less of them together in this one because Ava is on her honeymoon for a large chunk of it. It made me realize that I enjoy the Ava side of the pairing a lot more than the Noelle side. Ava’s more apt to get pissed and then kick some ass, while Noelle’s more apt to bitch and whine and then get violent. It’s okay in small doses, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that she grated on me after a while.
I liked how sneaky and manipulative Noelle was. She always had a plan to improve her situation and didn’t hesitate to throw her money into the occasion to grease the wheels. The main thing that bugged me about her was how whiny she was about people thinking she was an airhead. She went out of her way to play stupid, knowing that it would give her the advantage if people didn’t know how smart and capable she was. If you do this deliberately and never break character when those people are around, then why are you mad when they buy your act and think you’re stupid? Do you want the plan to work or not? It’s as simple as that. So, needless to say, her pity party got old.
There was quite a bit of heat in their relationship. They had a whole “forbidden lovers” thing going for them, which added an awesome layer of tension to the relationship. The back and forth got old, I’ll admit, but I could understand why it was so hard for Hector to attempt getting close to Noelle. It’s not like his experiences to date had inspired any confidence. He was a very tragic character—not just the nature of his power, but his past and what we learned about his brother. Very sad. Poor Hector didn’t even trust contact with himself, let alone contact with another person. His resistance did make it a bit sad to watch Noelle throw herself against that brick wall again and again, but this was slightly redeemed by the fact that the tables were turned and he had to pursue her in the end. That poor girl definitely deserved some effort by that point.
I was very pleased to see that the Schon storyline was left out of this book. I’m a little tired of the skeezy queen and her army of STD-carrying men. I thought it would be easier to take Dallas now that we’re not so focused on the queen and his connection to her, but he actually ended up irritating me. His pursuit of Noelle and his ridiculous vision didn’t really serve a purpose that I could see, other than to lay the foundation for something in a future book. I wish he wouldn’t have been quite so grating. I know that he’s most people’s favorites, but I have a very love/hate relationship with him. He can be a good guy sometimes, but he can also be a real jerk.
A past character in the series pops back up in this one. I’m curious to see where the author will go with that. This isn’t my favorite book in the series, but it carries the characters along nicely and paves the way for some new storylines. Despite finding Noelle a bit annoying, I still smiled when they got together in the end. It was a much deserved HEA.
P.S. There's a virgin hero in there for all you fans of that trope. ;)
"Are you trying to set me up?" he said, nearly choking on the words. "With someone else? While I'm laying my best moves on you?"
"These are your best? Wait, never mind. Don't answer that. I'd just have to feel sorry for you."
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*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?...more
This is why I keep reading Jennifer Ashley, despite not enjoying each book I try. I keep hoping to stumble upon a book that'l*Originally read 10/3/11*
This is why I keep reading Jennifer Ashley, despite not enjoying each book I try. I keep hoping to stumble upon a book that'll knock my socks off, like the first one I read by her. I found that with this book and couldn't be happier. I may not like every Ashley book out there, but when I do find one I like, it's not a tame like--I completely fall in love.
I am completely satisfied with this book. I can't think of a single thing I'd like to change--which is pretty surprising and thrilling. I wasn't sure what to expect from Cameron after seeing him in the previous books. I didn't dislike him, per se, but he came off as a bit of an ass. I didn't have any hard and fast expectations of this book, but I certainly didn't conceive of Cam being like this. He was so utterly sweet and romantic--although I doubt he'd agree. He had some serious baggage from his first marriage--serious baggage--and, oh, my heart broke for him. It made me smile to watch him slowly fall for someone so perfect for him.
There is a brief blackmail subplot in the beginning of the book, but it's clear that it will resolve pretty quickly and that it really only exists to provide an excuse to get Ainsley away from the queen and in Cam's path again. I was glad that it was resolved quickly, because that left us the whole book to focus exclusively on the relationship developing between Ainsley and Cam. It was oh so wonderful to watch Cam fall in love despite himself. He has had so much pain in his life that I don't begrudge him having a hard time getting past his issues. Frankly, I wouldn't have believed it if it had been sooner. But Ashley develops the gradual shift from pure lust to love to trust so naturally that you can't help but believe.
In addition to loving Cam, I absolutely adored Ainsley. She was such a good person. It's no wonder that Cam fixated on her whenever she came within his vicinity. She was such a change from the women he was used to. The ones that he by turns despised and desired. She stood completely opposite of everything that he had came to believe in women. It was to her credit that she had patience and was willing to disregard his distrust and disdain of most women. He never felt that way about her, but he fumbled a few times as he tried to figure out how to approach and entice someone so different from what he was used to.
One of my favorite things about Ainsley is how well she treated Cam's issues. She wasn't willing to let him completely ignore them, but she never got angry and irrational at him when he was unable to get past them. She just let him go and resolved to try again later. That right there made me completely respect her. She never twisted his issues and made them about her. She knew full well what caused them and didn't try to misread the situation and take offense. How can I not love such a rational creature? They're so damn rare in Romance.
As with the other books in the series, Ashley features the full cast of characters without making them seem superfluous or letting them take over the story. She shows just enough to interest the new readers and to please the old readers with an update on how the couples are doing. We are teased a bit with a short scene with Hart and Eleanor together. I am very, very excited to finally get their book. Hart may be cold and harsh at times in the series, but he is a fascinating man, and I can't wait to get into his head. We also get quite a bit of Daniel here. It makes sense, of course, since he's Cam's son. I was just surprised by how completely likable I found him. He didn't make much of an impression on me before, but his determination to manipulate his father into doing what he thought best, and his matter of fact (but sad) acceptance of his mother's flaws has me quite intrigued with him.
This book has me firmly back on the Ashley bandwagon. I can't wait for Hart's book.
*sigh* Can I find a way to un-read this book? Because I would kill to be able to read it and discover the magic of it all over again. It was perfect.*sigh* Can I find a way to un-read this book? Because I would kill to be able to read it and discover the magic of it all over again. It was perfect. *sigh* Perfect.
Last September I was minding my own business when a GR friend urged me to read a book she had loved. I looked and realized that I had put that very same book on my wishlist a while ago but had never bought it. So I took the plunge and grabbed myself a copy. That book was Seven Secrets of Seduction (the first book in this series) and it opened a whole new world to me. I loved it so much that I immediately bought Mallory’s backlist. I have slowly been working my way through them—forcing myself not to rush and read them all in one big gulp.
I have enjoyed her backlist (some more than others), but nothing came quite close to my love of SSoS. I was almost starting to think that nothing would be able to top it in my eyes. How amazing to find out that not only did I love the first book in this series enough to make it one of my favorite books of 2010, but I loved the second book just as much!
So, let’s talk about this book… This book had absolutely killer sexual tension. I am a total sucker for it, and oh, Anne Mallory is awesome at writing it. The tension and the emotion breathed off the pages and sucked me in. I was absolutely dying for them to be able to find a way to touch each other at one point. “Soon” was such torture for me. I loved it!
I also loved the heroine, Charlotte. She was thrust in a situation at the beginning of the book that was just horrible, but she didn’t break. She had her moment of despair when she was alone and then she stood up and did what had to be done. I loved that she walked into that situation with no illusions and took victory away from everyone who had been attempting to manipulate her. She made the choice, not them. I cannot resist a strong heroine.
Roman was another fabulous character. He had a mix of St. Vincent and Derek Craven in him, but was totally unique. He was bold, sexy, and confident and was always plotting. Roman never did anything without thinking many steps ahead. The world was almost like a giant chess game to him.
And when they were together—ah, magic. They were both such strong characters, but we got to see their fears and weaknesses. That vulnerability and the way they couldn’t stay away from each other, even though it would have made the future easier, made their characters have a lot of depth.
This was a very character driven romance. It was all about Roman and Charlotte without too much focus put on outside influences--other than how they affected them and their relationship. It was great because we got to know them so well. Once the characters started falling for each other there was very little angsting over their feelings. They may not have admitted them to each other yet, but they were aware of their own feelings and didn’t waste time irritating me by denying them.
I got to a certain point in the book and realized that Roman was playing a very deep game. I wasn’t sure what exactly he was doing in the background, so that layer of mystery really added a nice feature to the book. I wasn’t sure what his ultimate goal was and the stray little comments he made here and there when talking to his friends had me very unsure of how things were going to end up by the end of the book. And when I found out at the end what his plot had been the whole time—well, I was surprised, but it really made sense when I thought about what he told her in the beginning.
While the emotions between Charlotte and Roman were beautiful, this book wasn’t just excellent because of that. There was some great humor and dialogue between side characters as well. At one point Roman invited Charlotte to a game with his brother. The resulting humor and teasing between certain characters was hilarious.
Speaking of Roman’s brother… Man, Andreas was a jerk. By the end of the book I understood where he was coming from and did like him, but it was touch and go there for a while. He is a very dark, angry man at times and I am intensely curious to see how his romance will develop later this year.
So, in closing…I loved this book. Loved, loved, loved it. If you read Seven Secrets of Seduction and hated it, well…this one probably won’t work for you that well either. But if you enjoyed it or are curious about this book and this author, then I urge you to go pick up this book. And then come back and talk to me about it. ;)
There it was again, that hitch in her voice after he touched her.
The sound made him want to do things to her. Dirty, animalistic things. To bruise her lips with his, muss her perfectly coiffed hair while scraping her on the sheets, blotch her skin with feral color as she lost track of her own name--head tilted back, eyes glazed, unintelligible sounds emerging.
I am so pleased with this final entry in the Lords of Intrigue trilogy! I liked the preceding two, but they were missing the c*4.5 stars to be exact.*
I am so pleased with this final entry in the Lords of Intrigue trilogy! I liked the preceding two, but they were missing the click that I usually have with this author's work. That could very well be because my first tastes of her were with her more recent works, and this trilogy was her debut.
After having quite a bit of back and forth conversation with my friend, Katyana, I've drawn a few parallels in my mind with one of Anne Mallory's other books. It's not that they're similar storylines, but there are some similarities, and differences, I want to draw between the heroes and their behavior toward the heroines.
The book that I'm referring to is Three Nights of Sin. The hero of that book, Gabriel, was very closed off and manipulative. He played his little power games with the heroine and always held himself apart. The hero of this book, Marcus, does exactly that too - although it's to a lesser extent.
I had an extremely hard time with Gabriel's relationship with Marietta. She was so in the dark and rather like a sexual puppet most times. It all felt very uncomfortable to me, and I railed against Marietta's passive attitude and unfounded trust. A dead body could have been in her path and she would have just stepped over it without looking down. That's how oblivious she was.
The big difference in my feelings toward that book and my feelings toward this book is simple. Isabella had an awareness that Marietta never had. Isabella knew that Marcus was playing his games with her, maneuvering her around like a chess piece. She knew that he danced around answering her questions and tried to distract her with her feelings for him. But she consciously chose to play the game with him in the hope that things would play out in her favor. That's all I need, awareness. I never felt like Isabella was a dim victim - as I sometimes did with Marietta - because she had the strength to choose. Marcus could only manipulate her for as long as she chose to let him.
I really loved Isabella's character. What most people would see as pitiable actually opened her up to her biggest strength. I'm referring to her secret love of Marcus, of course. She had the strength to reach out for what she wanted. Even when she was knocked down by embarrassment she was strong enough to pick herself up and try again. Because what she was reaching for mattered too much to her to not give it her all. She was willing to forgive Marcus's occasional jerk moments and his stoic attitude because the potential pay off would be worth a little tweaked pride. Usually I see characters in this position as people to pity, but I just couldn't feel that way about Isabella.
Marcus caught my heart and squeezed it even when he was irritating me. The more I learned about him the sadder I was. His friendship with Isabella has been a rock for him throughout his life. He's known her since she was 7 1/2, and she has always been a bright spot for him. Especially after he was changed by an event when he was 18. That was when Marcus closed himself off from the world. He has existed as an island. He has friends, but he never lets them get too close to his personal life. He trusts them, but he doesn't trust them, not with the deepest parts of himself. There are things about himself and his future that he had hoped to never share with anyone. Things have started to come to a head for him though, and it's the slight vulnerability that it created that really seems to have made Isabella's change of behavior hit him so hard.
I had so much fun watching Marcus pace around the shadows getting edgier and edgier with each new dress Isabella wore, and each new man she was friendly with. It was especially entertaining watching Marcus interact with his friends during this! At times Marcus's attitude became a little tiring, but on the whole I stayed sympathetic rather than frustrated.
I just wanted to make a quick mention of how surprisingly hot some of this book was! The tension and anticipation worked extremely well for me. I've quoted one of the scenes in one of my status updates if anyone cares to have a look.
I knocked down a half star because of the ending. I don't mean the very end, because I actually liked that it was a realistic happy ending. I ended it a little sad for the eventual future, but very hopeful of certain things and very confident in their relationship no matter what happened. But before that there was a section that was resolved way too quickly. I wanted to be a fly on the wall as realizations were made and courage was gathered. I felt a little cheated that it was all so abrupt.
Other than that little thing I enjoyed this book immensely. I cannot wait to read more by my new addiction, Anne Mallory!...more
Catherine and I are talking about Start Me Up by Victoria Dahl today. Since this is a bookJoint review with Sophia originally posted on Fiction Vixen.
Catherine and I are talking about Start Me Up by Victoria Dahl today. Since this is a book chat the following may be considered slightly spoilery. We’ve tried not to reveal anything key that would ruin the book for anybody, but everyone has a different opinion about what a spoiler is so keep that in mind if you decide to read any further.
Lori had always planned to get out of tiny Tumble Creek, Colorado, but when her late dad left her his beloved auto body shop, she’d stayed. Now, according to her crazy best friend, Molly, what Lori needs is some excitement, in the form of hot, no-strings-attached sex…and lots of it.
Quinn Jennings has buildings on the brain—not love and romance. A serious architect, he’s delighted to discover that Lori is willing to skip dating protocols and head straight for the sheets. And aided by the steamy books on Lori’s bedside table, he’s busy indulging both of their wildest fantasies. But when life in Tumble Creek takes a dangerous turn for Lori, Quinn’s protective instincts kick in.
Suddenly he cares. More than either of them ever expected….
Sophia: Start Me Up is the second book in Tumble Creek series by Victoria Dahl. We’ll start this time by talking about the hero, Quinn. I’m not going tip-toe around this. I LOVED QUINN! I have a real fondness for nerdy types in romance. They are always sex gods in disguise. I love that! *ahem* Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, how did you feel about Quinn as the lead in this book?
Catherine: I am right there with you. Quinn was fabulous! He was so sweet and nerdy and then he would morph into the “sex ninja.” It never felt out of place with his characterization either, which I definitely appreciated. I liked how normal he seemed. That’s one of the things I appreciate most about Dahl’s characters. The friends hang out and banter back and forth without seeming like they’re trying to be friends. Know what I mean? They just are friends.
I also really liked that Quinn was Molly’s brother. The falls-for-the-best-friend’s-sibling is a favorite trope of mine anyway, but it also added a nice bit of tension and secrecy in the beginning. Watching Molly bust Lori out was hilarious! Even though Quinn was my favorite character of the two I still enjoyed Lori–although she did grate a tad at the end. What did you think of her?
Sophia: The friends-to-lovers or falls-for-the-best-friend’s-sibling troupe are also a favorites of mine. Mostly because the couple already have a history, they know each other and then we get the excitement of the hero and heroine realizing there is a new layer to their relationship. In Lori and Quinn’s case they went straight for the sexy times and the rest followed but it was believable because they had a friendship first.
I liked Lori for the most part. I liked that she was ready to spread her wings, and fulfill a few fantasies and I thought it was great that she chose her long time friend Quinn to take a walk on the wild side with. Their chemistry was great and since they had a history she trusted him. Lori was fun because she was wanting to be adventurous and live out some romance novel fantasies but her discomfort in letting loose and inner dialogue was quite comical at times. Good thing she had that ‘sex-ninja’ to help her out. *wink*
What bothered me about Lori–and what put a pock mark on this romance for me–was Lori’s treatment of Quinn when it came to their friendship. As I’ve said they had history and it seemed once they took things to the bedroom she dismissed the friendship. At one point she suffers a pretty serious injury and completely shuts him out knowing it would hurt him. I know at that point she was nervous about the romantic feelings that were seeping into their relationship but they were friends before all else and I thought Lori treated Quinn poorly and it bothered me.
Catherine: I, unfortunately, noticed the same thing. That’s what made her grate on me toward the end. I could understand her position about not wanting to start a relationship, but she seemed to forget their friendship at times in her rush to make it clear they weren’t a couple. I knew where she was coming from, but it was like she couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I ended up feeling sorry for Quinn because he was so eager to help her and so hurt by her refusal to let him.
But I can’t say that he was perfect either. There at the end when he tried to decide her future he really took a misstep with me. I was glad she didn’t just roll with it. Because even though some of the stuff he said was true, it really wasn’t his place to say it. She was absolutely right, it’s her life. Who is he to think that he knows best? What do you think?
Sophia: I had the feeling that Quinn went into panic mode with Lori at that point. He realized his feelings for her were the real deal and he felt he had to do something or she was going to slip right through his fingers. Unfortunately what he did was wrong, wrong, wrong. LOL. But I have to say, Lori’s reaction made me feel better about her as a character. Her likability factor went way up when she stood up to him. That was a pivotal point in their relationship where lines were drawn and they would either sink or float. Fortunately the author did not take the easy way out and resolve this stand-off in a few paragraphs, and I found the relationship to be very believable.
I want to switch gears here and talk about the mystery in this book. Although the story was mainly focused around the relationship between Quinn and Lori, there was a bit of a mystery and a villain. I was actually quite sympathetic toward the so-called bad guy and although I suspected him early on, I held out hope for him throughout the story. I have to say I was a little sad in how the mystery played out. What are your thoughts?
Catherine: It made me sad too. I saw it coming as well, but not the why of it all. When I found out the whole story I felt bad for the “bad guy” but I also totally understood Lori’s reaction and ended up being proud that she reacted the way she did. It was so smart and not like the standard Romance heroine’s usually react. Often they’re a bit too sympathetic and forgiving (to the point of stupidity) for my taste. Lori reacted like a rational person would and booked it. I really liked that she struggled with her feelings about the bad guy after all was resolved.
How did you feel about the HFN (Happy For Now) end instead of the standard I-love-you-let’s-get-married HEA (Happily Ever After) ending? I’m really glad that Dahl left it like that. It felt more realistic and hopeful than it would have been would have been otherwise. I noticed that Ben and Molly are still only dating as well. I like the slower, measured pace of the relationships in this trilogy. Do you like that as well or would you prefer a more concrete relationship?
Sophia: Since I read romance almost exclusively I’ve come to expect the full-on HEA ending. I admit at first it felt like a little something was missing not having the whole relationship tied up and a neat little bow. But again, Dahl’s stories have a nice realistic feel to them and it is quite refreshing that she holds true to that even in the end. Plus, who knows, maybe there’s more stories that need to be told in the romantic relationships in Tumble Creek? *crosses fingers*
Catherine: I tend to prefer a concrete HEA in most books, myself. But I actually appreciated the HFN in this trilogy (so far) because they just didn’t feel ready for the HEA yet. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m glad Dahl didn’t just tack one on because it was supposed to be there.
Before we wrap this up I have to mention the sexy factor in this book. Quinn really got into his “research” and was perfectly willing to experiment and see what turned Lori’s crank. That scene behind the restaurant…. *fans self* I also love that we saw them have sex without any games or role-playing. It really helped show me that it wasn’t just the thrill of the experience that was making it so good for them both. I enjoyed the little snips of the erotica we got to see, too. I thought it was a fun touch.
Sophia: The restaurant alley scene was one of the best sex scenes I have read in while. WOW! The heat and passion between Quinn and Lori was so intense. I really liked that not only was Quinn into Lori’s fantasies but he seemed genuinely surprised at his own response to some of the bedroom games they played. It wasn’t overdone, just fun and sexy.
So to wrap up, I really enjoyed this second installment of the Tumble Creek series. Lori and Quinn had great chemistry, I loved their easy humor and I was invested in the romance. The sex was smoking hot and Quinn’s title as ‘sex ninja’ stands. Lori’s dismissal of her friendship with Quinn and her treatment of him at times threw me out of the romance groove and frustrated me but all in all Start Me Up was an enjoyable, entertaining read. 4 hearts.
Catherine: Despite the few minor irritations mentioned, I really enjoyed this book as well. I can’t wait to get to Jane’s story! 4 hearts from me.
Sophia’s Favorite Quote:
“I do feel sort of like a harem girl being called up for the sultan’s latest pleasure.”
Catherine’s Favorite Quote:
“Aaron, listen. Please. I will never sleep with you. And I will never sleep with anyone else in front of you. Nor,” she interrupted when he opened his mouth to speak, “will I sleep with someone you know and then tell you about it. Is that clear enough? Just drop it, all right?”
"But…” He looked confused, not believing even a gay woman wouldn’t want to sleep with Aaron, god of the hot river guides. A deep crease of thought appeared between his eyebrows. “But I thought we were friends.”
”Oh, for God’s sake. I don’t even know what to say to that.”
Book Chat with Catherine and Sophia – Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl
Today Catherine and I are chatting about Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl. Since this is a book chat the following may be considered slightly spoilery. We’ve tried not to reveal anything key that would ruin the book for anybody, but everyone has a different opinion about what a spoiler is so keep that in mind if you decide to read any further.
Molly Jennings is a best selling erotic romance author. The problem is no one in her life knows. She writes under a pen name and because her first sale was based on an encounter she had as a teenager with her brother’s best friend Ben Lawson, and because she feels her family wouldn’t approve of what she does, she has kept her career a secret. When her aunt dies and leaves her home in Colorado to Molly she decides it’s time to head back to her roots and try to get her head clear after breaking up with a controlling boyfriend and maybe get her writing mojo back in the process.
Molly has every intention of reconnecting with her teenager crush Ben Lawson and possibly making that years-ago “almost” encounter a reality. But the minute she arrived in town the rumors and gossip start flying and conservative Police Chief Lawson is right in the thick of it. He’ll do anything to avoid scandal and since Molly won’t even tell him what she does for a living he is hesitant to take the plunge into a more serious relationship with her.
Then there’s the ex-boyfriend Cameron who just doesn’t seem to realize he is the EX-boyfriend. He just won’t get a clue! Cameron has made it his mission to integrate himself into Molly’s life even though she’s made it clear they are over. But when strange things start happening Molly can’t help but suspect that he could have something to do with it.
Sophia: Okay Catherine, let’s start by talking about Molly. What were your impressions and over all feelings about her?
Catherine: Ah, Molly… She’s definitely my kind of girl. She’s in touch with her sexuality and knows what she wants. I loved that she was the aggressor and Ben was the shy guy trying to resist her. It was adorable. I also loved Dahl for giving Molly a friend like Lori. Their interactions together were hilarious. The only real problem with her I had was her attitude toward her job and toward her ex-boyfriend. One I thought she was taking too seriously and the other I didn’t think she took seriously enough.
Sophia: I agree, I really liked that Molly was so comfortable in her sexuality without being over the top and in your face. I found it very refreshing and fun. I think the scene where she’d had too much to drink and was getting frisky with Ben in the squad car was hilarious. (sirens were involved people) I also thought that at first she was being a little ridiculous about hiding her profession from her friends and family. But as the story went on I realized it was more about keeping up with the lie and not as much about what people would think. Sure she was worried about how it could affect Ben, and what her family would say etc, but once the mystery of her profession became a really big deal she seemed more determined than ever to hold on to that little piece of herself that was just hers. I’m not sure what this says about me but I enjoyed watching as her stubbornness battled with the snowball effect of the lie.
You mentioned Ben and his shy guy persona. I really liked that Molly had the advantage when they reconnected after all those years apart. We see so many alpha males spewing tons of arrogance around in the romance genre and I loved that he was a little embarrassed and humbled by what transpired between them years ago. He’s still a sexy stud but he pulled it off without all the posturing. What did you think of Ben?
Catherine: I loved that scene! How mortifying for them both! I laughed when she reflected on it later and concluded that she had used him to masturbate herself. LOL. I never thought that her sexuality was over the top–indeed, it was quite refreshingly upfront–but I did get a little irritated later when she kept distracting him with sex to keep from having to talk and potentially reveal her secret.
I think you’re right about her reasons for hiding her job, but it still wore a little thin for me. I can see why she would hide it from her parents, but from her friends? I guess once she started hiding it she had a hard time being open about it. Speaking of her parents, that scene where she talked to her mom and her mom admitted to being friendly with the ex-boyfriend after they had broken up shocked me. That, added to their reverence for the golden boy, Quinn, left me with a less than positive view of them.
I really liked that Molly had the advantage too. I love darker heroes, but there’s something about the awkward, adorably straight-laced boys that tug at my heart. I loved watching Molly blow into his world and shake it up and laughed at his response to the schoolgirl outfit when she was out playing pool. It was so adorable.
The scene in Molly’s kitchen where she brings up their past was absolutely hilarious. I wish I could quote it so everyone could see the humor, but it’s way too long for this. Regardless, it was an excellent scene and really illustrated their relationship well.
I loved Ben and cracked up at all the jobs he came up with when trying to figure out Molly’s occupation. They were out there, but I can see why he was getting crazy with it. Who is that determined to keep their job a secret if it’s not shameful or illegal? Although I loved him in the beginning, I was less impressed with him toward the end. His first instinct was always to blame the situation on Molly and that did not endear him to me at all. Did that bother you too?
Sophia: I’m glad you brought up the parents and I completely agree with you. I find it frustrating how authors vilify parents in romance so often. It seems the heroine must have either horrible or no parents and it gets old. I want decent parents in romance darn it!
I did get annoyed with Ben for blaming Molly but then again she didn’t give him a lot to cling to in the trust department. I probably would have had less respect for him for trusting her blindly when she was so secretive. I’m all for trusting the one you love but you’ve got the throw a guy a bone here and there.
We can’t really get too into it here without revealing big spoilers, but there was a little plot twist near the end that I sort of saw coming, but not completely, involving Cameron. What I will say is I was surprised at how quickly and easily it all wrapped up. Cameron was a very clever man so this little twist didn’t seem likely to me. It was just too easy. Do you agree?
Catherine: I’ve gotten a little tired of the villainized parents as well. I know it’s an easy way to provide depth, but can we get a little grey to it? I’m tired of them being all bad. I’d like to see issues born of a more complex relationship. Like I’m sure Quinn, the golden boy brother, has with the parents. They were good to him, but resentment must have been there when he saw the sister he loved getting shafted.
You’re right about Ben, I know. It was just hard to read him blaming Molly multiple times for things that weren’t her fault. It’s like he knew he couldn’t trust her in one respect so he refused to trust her in any situation. I got tired of it. But I got really tired of Molly lying as well… So I guess you could say I got tired of them both for being so ridiculous. :)
I was really surprised by how easily it was solved too. I knew that one of the people involved would go down easily (and wow, Ben was completely blind about this situation) but I expected more from Cameron. It almost made it seem a little silly with how easily it wrapped up.
Speaking of Cameron, I’m very glad you brought him up. His character really made me think. Regular stalkers are scary as is, but I think his brand of it is even more horrifying. I can’t imagine anything worse than someone taking over your life. He took her friends, her family, her potential lovers and won them all over. They all turned against her and tried to convince her to get back together with him. *shudder* Horrifying.
Sophia: Yes! Molly said Cameron seduced her boyfriends, family and friends and that is so true. He made her look totally crazy and the more she protested the crazier she looked. I think Cameron was a very effective villain.
Catherine: Before we wrap this up I wanted to touch on one more thing. We’ve both talked about the hilarious situations and Molly being upfront with her sexuality, but I wanted to go a bit more into that. Specifically on how much they added to the story. I think the effortless humor in Dahl’s writing is one of the things that makes me like her so much. Her contemporary books are always so funny without being over the top. And her sex scenes are hot! Those are two things that were particularly well done here. What do you think?
Sophia: Effortless humor, that is exactly it, you nailed it. Sometimes characters seem like they are trying to be funny but Dahl creates characters that just are funny, period. Although her heroes and heroines are not perfect, I feel like I’d like to be friends and hang out with them. I’m just starting the next book in the Tumble Creek Series and I think I like Molly even more in that book. Her friendship with Lori is great and they have such good “friendship” chemistry between them.
Overall I really enjoyed this light, sexy contemporary romance. Molly and Ben were great, the sexy scenes were smoking hot and the mystery and suspense played out well except for a little disappointment in the conclusion. As I said, I’m already starting the next book and I can’t wait to see what happens with Quinn and Lori. I give Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl 4 hearts.
Catherine: I really enjoyed this one as well. The writing, humor, and characters all combined into a very fun book. I got a little frustrated with the characters toward the end and I wish the suspense wouldn’t have resolved so easily, but overall it was a great start to the Tumble Creek trilogy. I give Talk Me Down 3.5 hearts.
Sophia’s Favorite Quote:
“I wouldn’t yell fire at that slime ball if his ass was in flames.”
Catherine’s Favorite Quote:
Lori sat way back in her chair and gave him the once-over. “What in the world’s gotten into Ben Lawson? Jokes? Flirting? Maybe I should sleep with Molly. I think she’s got a magic hooha.”
I think whatever I say about this book won't do it nearly as much justice as I feel it deserves. When you think about the plot*Originally read 9/4/10*
I think whatever I say about this book won't do it nearly as much justice as I feel it deserves. When you think about the plot, it seems like it has been done to death and that it's just a cliche. But this author takes every expected outcome or reaction and twists it in an unexpected manner. When you would normally see a dramatic moment or a villainous character, you don't end up with the expected. It was so refreshing!
Miranda was a simply awesome character. She's a "lowly shop girl" who somehow catches the interest of Viscount Downing. Their first encounters are full of playful banter and hidden innuendos. I loved how Downing skewed things in his favor so that he had an excuse to see her again. As their acquaintance deepens, Miranda cannot help but feel that Downing has cultivated their friendship for another purpose, but she quite rationally thinks it through and decides to risk it anyway. Miranda is an optimist, but she's also very pragmatic and realistic. There were a few moments in the story where I expected her to react with high drama, but she didn't. She took the time to think things through and decide what she was willing to accept and what the motivations of the offender were. I couldn't help but love her for it.
Downing was quite fascinating. When we got further into the story and discovered his hidden motivations, I just wanted to smack him upside his head, and then cuddle him. That man needed love. He was constantly plotting and maneuvering, but he was afraid to trust it when he finally achieved his goal. His dual nature was so sad. He had incredible self loathing, but he desperately wanted someone to see him and love him for who he was. I was so devastated for both him and Miranda toward the end. The anguish and yearning that was shown in that final scene in the bedroom...it killed me.
I loved how there were no villains in this story. Even though there were characters who caused issues and problems for their family, they were still sympathetic. Also, there was a situation involving a woman that I felt was handled extremely well. I was afraid she would turn into a caricature, but the author held true to her determination to make every character feel real and understandable.
At times the writing was quite poetic and lyrical. Downing was the biggest cause of that. He liked to seduce Miranda with his words, and he had quite a compelling turn of phrase. The sexual tension in this book was excellent. The characters don't have sex until far into the book, but I'm glad they didn't. I really enjoyed watching them seduce each other with their conversation and their personalities. It made their final capitulation so much more meaningful and sexy.
This book wasn't dark and angsty, but it wasn't light and irreverent. It felt like a nice balance of all those factors depending on the requirements of the scene. There were times it was humorous and cute, and times it was powerful and sexy, but it was also tortured and dark too. I like that it couldn't be easily typecast.
I cannot wait to try more by this author. I can only hope that I enjoy them as much as I liked this one.
I'm so pleased that I ended up loving this book so much. The first two chapters showed a very unattractive side of the heroine, Marissa, and I actuallI'm so pleased that I ended up loving this book so much. The first two chapters showed a very unattractive side of the heroine, Marissa, and I actually stopped reading to go clean something! I was so nervous that this book would be the one that broke my lucky streak with this author. I have enjoyed every book that I have read by this author, and I believe I've read them all barring the novellas, and I live in fear of breaking that pattern. But I got some reassurance that the book didn't disappoint, so I picked it back up and quickly found myself sucked in.
Marissa begins the story at a disadvantage with the reader. She comes off as extremely spoiled, thoughtless, and selfish. I also originally thought she was rather stupid, but I can excuse that because of the liquor involved in the scene. But she comes off as whiny and immature. She wants her way and doesn't understand why everything has to change. Well, she does understand, but she would rather just ignore it.
I was afraid that I would dislike her for a while, but she actually grew on me pretty quickly. She quickly realizes that there are more people impacted by her actions than just herself and decides to suck it up and deal. Unfortunately for her, she has to deal with Jude, who is not at all her type. Marissa is attracted to the pretty boys. She likes the pretty, thin, graceful, rather effeminate men who dress well and look nice on her arm. Jude is large, and muscular, and not pretty at all. She has to learn to see past all her preconceptions and learn where the true value of a person lies and the difference between lust and love.
The author made a bold choice starting the book out where she did. I really appreciated getting to see a character make a genuine mistake and have to deal with the consequences. Marissa was vain and way too caught up in appearances, but she was still a nice person. She slowly learned to value Jude for his true self. Her lust was much more easily engaged than her heart. Speaking of lust; I am so pleased to actually see a female character lusting after men. She didn't let her hormones rule her, but she appreciated a pretty man and a nice show of leg. She knew there was pleasure to be had, and she wanted to embrace it. It was nice to see a female finding many men attractive and not only being blind to it all until the hero came along.
Jude was such an excellent hero. He was self confident, and he knew who he was. He was also an excellent judge of character. He had Marissa pegged shortly after meeting her. He didn't want to change her though; he wanted to revel in her enjoyment of pleasure and please them both. He was extremely hard to insult. Most of the time he just shrugged off irritating comments thrown his way, but when a comment from Marissa found its mark, it had impeccable aim. I loved watching Jude discover more about himself, but I was so sorry for him too. It's hard caring about someone who's quick to lash out because she won't admit, or doesn't recognize, her true feelings.
Their relationship was a lot of fun to watch develop. They actually seemed like they became quite good friends. I value that quite highly in my romances. This book had some pretty hot moments. Jude had quite a way with foreplay, and he could sure draw out the tension between them.
I liked getting to see Marissa's friends and family. I wonder if this will turn into a loosely connected series like her other historicals did. I see potential between her friend and another character after that awkward moment toward the end. I'd also really like to learn more about Aidan and see him overcome his crankiness. I hope we get to see more about them!...more
The stars were in alignment for this book. I sat down with it and just expected to read for an hour or so before bed. But that ended up turning into rThe stars were in alignment for this book. I sat down with it and just expected to read for an hour or so before bed. But that ended up turning into reading until 4:30 am! (luckily I had a holiday the next day) Reckless was just perfect for my mood. Everything just seemed so right about it. There was humor, romance, a little angst, and some sexy scenes. *sigh* Perfect for my mood.
While I enjoyed the first book, Ruthless, I also saw a lot of flaws. I hadn't felt an urgent need to try out the next two books, even though I had already bought them. But then one of my friends, Quinn, started posting all these excellent quotes in her status updates. (I am a total sucker for quotes) So I just had to start this book!
Reckless felt a lot smoother than Ruthless. I've only read four so far, but I've noticed the trend. That doesn't mean that Adrian is a saint. He's nowhere near that. He plays with the heroine and manipulates her to get what he wants out of her. He also is a weenie and runs at the slightest sign of emotion.
I actually think that his actions after they developed an attachment were what bumped him up in my eyes. He played his games and acted like an ass, and she wouldn't take it. Charlotte had some quite brilliant scenes where she shoved Adrian's behavior back down his throat. I loved it. But while Adrian played the game, he played it for a reason. And he knew what he was doing and he did it quite deliberately. But then he'd get his way and discover he didn't want it that way after all. I loved that he would make himself play his game, but then he would come back because he just couldn't resist, even if he didn't like what that meant in the long run. He just felt more open than any of the other heroes I've read by the author. (I don't mean open verbally, I mean internally)
Charlotte felt like she meshed well with Adrian. There's a scene in a coach where Charlotte shoves Adrian's BS back down his throat. I really felt she came into her own strength then. She let him play his game, but she won in the end. It felt like a sweet, sweet victory for me. ^_^ I really liked that she didn't have a drama fit over her relationship with Adrian. I do wish that she had been more open during some of the sex scenes though. I'm not the biggest fan of heroines who say no but really mean yes and just want to be talked into it. I got that vibe from her sometimes. It was pretty easy for me to shrug off, though.
I just liked how practical Charlotte was. I also liked that she wasn't concerned with society's opinion and that she didn't base her actions around what they would think. Even though she was naive and a bit starry eyed she still came across as strong. I could see her vulnerability, but she never let her emotions control her to the point that she debased herself for anyone.
I felt that the author did a much better job with the ending of this book. It didn't feel abbreviated like Ruthless did. I love me some comeuppance, and I felt that I got quite a satisfying portion of it in this book.
Here's hoping that I like the third book as much!...more
This is such a great book! I decided to reread it to make sure I remembered everything before I started the next book in the*Originally Read 7/11/10*
This is such a great book! I decided to reread it to make sure I remembered everything before I started the next book in the series. It was so nice rediscovering the intricacies of the Mackenzie family.
Ian Mackenzie is mad and everyone knows it. He spent a good chunk of his life in an asylum before his oldest brother, Hart, had him released. Ian knows he's not like everyone else. The social and facial cues that most people notice are a mystery to him. He doesn't understand subtlety, things have to be stated plainly for him to grasp.
Ian decides he wants Beth pretty soon after he meets her. Because she's respectable he knows that means marriage, and he's perfectly fine with that. Beth is drawn to him, but she is a little gun shy of marriage. But Ian's a determined man, and he'll make sure he gets what he wants in the end.
Ian was a fascinating character. His time at the asylum did more harm than good for him. With his perfect recall he can never escape the trap of those memories. I like that even though he was tormented, he wasn't a pitiful character. You couldn't help but see the strength in him. He didn't dwell on what he was lacking, although he was very aware that he was different from everyone else. He just focused on the things that gave him pleasure and ignored what people thought of him.
Beth was a special woman. She desired Ian, and was very upfront about that fact, but she was also able to look deeper into him and see someone that was worth loving. I liked that her first husband wasn't painted as a bad man. They had a loving relationship and Beth cherished those memories. I liked that Beth didn't feel shame about her origins. She was a very levelheaded, pragmatic person, and that was exactly what Ian needed.
The secondary characters in this book were just as interesting as the protagonists. We got a look at Mac and his separated wife, Isabella, as well as Hart, and Cameron and his son, Daniel. All of these characters have a tormented past in one way or another. It seems as though the Mackenzies can't have anything easy.
I'm glad that Ian had that confrontation with Hart. I was glad he decided to stand up for himself. I can see a glimmer of softness in Hart, but he's a very complicated man. I think when we finally get to his book it will be a complex tale. Everything we learn about him in this book makes him quite...unique to most romance heroes. I hope he doesn't get watered down for his own book.
One thing that was a surprise about this book (although it was a pleasant surprise) was how sexy it was. Ian was a very erotic man, and Beth was more than happy to bask in his attention. Every sexual situation practically sizzled. Ian was a blunt man, whether he was approaching a woman or warning someone off from said woman. I loved that characteristic.
All in all this was a fabulous book. If you're looking for a historical that's a bit different I would strongly recommend this one!...more
**spoiler alert** These protagonists were pretty unique. The hero is an assassin and the heroine is a con artist. Both are totally fine with their cho**spoiler alert** These protagonists were pretty unique. The hero is an assassin and the heroine is a con artist. Both are totally fine with their choices and don't wish to change. That right there is a rare quality. Usually if a character like that is written they secretly hate themselves for what they do or are forced into it and at the first opportunity they'll change their ways. That is not the case with Kyra and Reyes, thank God.
Kyra is on the run. She pissed off a very dangerous man and now he wants her dead. She's making her way through the US biding her time until she can get a hold of a friend. Along the way she can't resist conning the suckers in the towns she stops in. Not only does she want to earn money to pay her way, she finds what she does fun. What makes her so good at her con is that in the beginning she's honestly a bad player. It's only when she decides the time is right that she uses her "gift" to increase her skill.
Along the way she meets up with a guy, Rey, who helps her out of a tight spot. One thing leads to another and she winds up enjoying a very hot night of sex. She parts ways and doesn't give their meeting another thought. Unfortunately for her, things are not what they seem. Reyes is on her tail and plans to stay there until he gets what he wants.
I liked the details we learn about Kyra's talent. Until I read this book I never would have thought of that sort of talent as a bad thing. I didn't think about the fact that she couldn't pick and choose who she took from. Anyone who touched her gave up something. What a lonely life that would turn into. Also, when you think of "best" skills you usually think of that as a good thing, or at least I do. I never thought that someone's best talent could be something so horrifying.
Reyes was an interesting character. He had a lot of issues, not the least of which were due to his past.
***SPOILERS*** At one point he thinks about how close he's gotten to Kyra and realizes that he'll have to change how he plans to kill her. He'll now have to kiss her one last time and then snap her neck so it's quick and painless. ***END SPOILERS***
Now, that's totally in keeping with his character, but I found it a bit disturbing. The thing that made the romance work for me is that they both were messed up. If Reyes would have been paired with someone else who was sweeter or nicer I wouldn't have been able to see how it would work out. Fortunately for Reyes, Kyra has as many issues as he does.
The sex was hot, and I liked the insight into both their characters. The glimpses of their pasts and the little quirks that made them tick were nice. I appreciated that they weren't static characters. I require a bit more depth than that to really get into the story.
There were a few things that bothered me, although it was easy for me to ignore them and concentrate on what I liked about the story.
***SPOILERS*** Kyra trusted Reyes a little bit too easily. I can see it happening, but I wish she would have suspected a little before he ended up telling her. Also, when we find out that Kyra had Mia's cell phone number the whole time I was a little pissed. Why didn't you try her from a payphone earlier? It just seemed illogical. Also, why exactly did Kyra's talent stop working on Reyes? Yes, it makes it easier for the romance to work, but no explanation was given for it. It just ended up looking way too convenient. ***End SPOILERS***
The author did a good job creating interesting secondary characters. I'm intrigued by Foster's actions in this book and want to understand what's driving him. I can't wait to get my hands on Skin Tight. ...more
There are some books that I've enjoyed so much that I've read and reread them again and again through the years. This is one of them.
It's not a perfecThere are some books that I've enjoyed so much that I've read and reread them again and again through the years. This is one of them.
It's not a perfect book by any means. Indeed, the ending is way too rushed and I longed for Evie to stand up for herself against her family, but it has a magic that makes me love it regardless.
There are a lot of rakes running around historical romance, but even after reading widely in the genre, Saint still sticks out in my mind. He is absolutely perfect. He starts the book as a complete jerk. He makes no bones about the fact that he has no interest in the heroine beyond his attraction to her. He's rude and wicked and doesn't care who he insults. But somehow he has this spark underneath it all that draws Evie and the reader in despite it.
His naughtiness is absolutely delicious and when he eventually starts to change his ways and fall for Evie it absolutely wonderful to watch. The sexual tension was delightful and I adored reading about a hero who acted that way just because, without any hidden tortured reason.
Evie was also a great character. My heart broke for her when she realized that her friends didn't see her true strength any more than her family did. Throughout the book Evie is constantly trying to prove to herself that she can accomplish something worthwhile. That she is useful as more than just a marriageable woman. Saint's careless disregard of her goals is what leads them to cross swords and it's absolutely wonderful when they finally do.
There's a part where Evie takes charge and makes Saint listen to her that is really the moment when the book turns excellent. Evie proves how strong and daring she really is and we start to see the vulnerability that Saint usually hides behind his cynicism. This is when they both finally start to see the person behind the persona and from that moment on their relationship was magic to watch.
Even though I understood Evie's loyalty to her family, I needed something more--some scene showing why Evie thought her brother was a good man--to make me understand her actions. Because I found myself incredibly frustrated on her behalf. She brings up the many ways she could rebel and make her brother look bad, but she never does. I just couldn't understand why she didn't. Because really, her brother was a complete jerk.
This book is very character driven. There are no real outside distractions to take away from watching Evie and Saint change and fall in love. It was awesome because they were absolutely perfect together. It'll be a while until the next reread, but I'm already looking forward to it. :) ...more