I had forgotten I had scheduled a Retro Review for today until my calendar popped up yesterday. All my reminder said for the book title was TBD, I searched my kindle looking for TBD and then I realized that TBD (To Be Determined) meant when I scheduled the review I hadn’t decided on a book. So I started thinking and I came up with two possibilities a western or a J. D. Robb. Both I enjoy reading and re-reading so I decided that instead of flipping a coin I would ask some totally unbiased people. I raised a very scientifically worded, unambiguous question on twitter and tallied the results. I had 100% +/- 3% variance on J. D. Robb. Thank you @JoannaMikalis and @smexys_sidekick for your opinions. The western I will review another time.
Publisher: Berkley Books Publish Date: 1995 How I got this book: Purchased
Eve Dallas is a New York police lieutenant using her instincts to hunt for a ruthless killer. And she’s going against every warning telling her not to get involved with Roarke, an Irish billionaire—and a suspect in Eve’s murder investigation. But passion and seduction have rules of their own. This blurb came from the author’s website here.
Naked In Death is book one of probably the longest running series I have read except for the Nancy Drew or The Hardy Boys series. It took me a while to pick this one up in fact I think probably four or five of them had been released before I decided to give the series a try. I am so glad that I took a chance because I have had hours of laughter, tension, tears, and sexytimes as I read, re-read and listen to this series during long drives. The In Death series is set in a futuristic Earth primarily based in New York City.
Eve is such a complex character with her passion for the law, by the book behavior and insistence on standing for the dead since they cannot stand for themselves. She didn’t care what that person did in life, their stature in society, who they knew or were related to. Any speculation that she treated a murder victim differently based on their stature resulted in an immediate increase in her temper. Eve’s very stubbornness, while serving her well as she progressed through the ranks, was also her downfall when it came to taking care of herself or playing the political game. Eve lives for her job so she doesn’t have a social life or any clue how to deal with a guy who isn’t a co-worker, a witness or a suspect. This makes it even more entertaining when she encounters Roarke.
I hope you will forgive me as I pause for a moment to pay mental homage to Roarke. He happens to be my personal favorite romantic hero that I have ever read. Eve first encounters Roarke’s name in the appointment book of one of her murder victims a Sharon DeBlass whose occupation was a licensed companion (legalized prostitute, very high end) and who happened to be the granddaughter of Senator DeBlass a very influential, very conservative, and very used to throwing his political weight around man. Roarke was one of the last few meetings that the victim had written in her appointment book. That combined with the extreme lack of information available to Eve during her background search ensured he was one of Eve’s suspects.
Their first encounter at Sharon’s funeral happens to strike sparks. Roarke can’t believe that he didn’t spot Eve as a cop instead of an attractive woman and Eve can’t believe how arrogant Roarke is. Roarke does discover Eve’s weakness when he offers her real coffee on the flight back into NYC. Her reaction to the coffee leads to the very first gift he gives her. Their relationship grows as the twists and turns into what appears to be a serial murder investigation become more complex. Eve also has to deal with political pressure coming from Senator DeBlass and from the Chief of Police outside her precinct. As Eve and Roarke start to spend time together things keep happening to place Roarke at the top of the suspect list and therefore discredit her investigation based on her personal behavior.
I loved the interaction that Eve and Roarke had with each other. I was also introduced to several key reoccurring characters in this series. Those supporting characters also continue to change and grow as Eve and Roarke change and grow. They help to solidify the setting and how complex people really are. I was also not let down by the mystery of determining who the murderer was. The answer to that question was really complex but I could mentally go back and trace the threads as Eve was closing the case. I highly recommend that if you enjoy romance, mystery, strong characters, and a vivid world that you give the In Death series a try. Make sure you start with Naked In Death so you don’t miss anything. In fact I think since I have just re-read this one I need to start re-reading the series again *grin*.
Thanks to Has_bookpushers I had to give this a try and I am so glad that I did. I was laughing and really enjoying their interactions as well as how H...moreThanks to Has_bookpushers I had to give this a try and I am so glad that I did. I was laughing and really enjoying their interactions as well as how Haley developed a backbone. I have to say her family was just UGH except for her grandmother. I also liked the hero's growth from a spoiled jerk to women to someone who realized that he was actually in love with his neighbor.
Two things bothered me enough to bring the rating down a star. One Haley never mentioned her friends again from GNO and two that Jason was such an @ss the first time they had actual intercourse that he couldn't tell if she was enjoying it or not. Yes he did grovel satisfactorily which saved it and he got royally chewed out by his father.
I did like how it was clear to see what Haley expected Jason to do to make amends and what Jason expected Haley to do SO he could make amends were totally different. I liked how that highlighted the differences between how women's brains tend to work and how men's brains tend to work. (less)
Thank you so much MinnChica for recommending this book to me. I absolutely loved it! It dealt with some really serious subject matter but not in a way...moreThank you so much MinnChica for recommending this book to me. I absolutely loved it! It dealt with some really serious subject matter but not in a way that made me feel depressed or think that Lynn was diluting the severity of the issues.
So many things I liked. The Cam's patience but also that he had lines that could not be crossed. How he grew along with Avery as the story progressed. Avery's painful growth and healing. How she discovered that she could have a normal and be happy. How she learned what a family really was. How she learned what friends really were. How she learned to be independent and not hate herself for once being a traumatized fourteen year old who trusted her parents.
Publisher: Pocket Star Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: Purchased
By the king’s edict, Alec Kincaid, mightiest of the Scottish lairds, must take an English bride. And Jaime the youngest daughter of Baron Jamison, is his choice. From his first glimpse of the proud and beautiful English lady, Alec felt a burning hunger stir within him. This was a woman worthy of his fearless warrior’s spirit. And he aches to touch her, tame her, possess her…forever. But with the wedding vows, Jamie pledges her own secret oath: She will never surrender her love to this Highland barbarian. He was everything her heart warned her against — an arrogant, brooding scoundrel whose rough good looks and seductive embrace fire her blood. But when strange accidents begin to threaten Jamie’s life and an old rumor that Alec killed his first wife spreads anew, something far more dangerous than desire threatens to conquer he senses. This blurb came from Goodreads.
The Bride is one of the first two adult romances I ever read and they started me on the path I haven’t left yet. I can still picture seeing the pinkish cover on my parents’ bookshelf with this beautiful girl in the perfect white dress. I was curious so I picked it up and started reading and I couldn’t stop. The start of the book with a funeral and the thoughts of the murderer set it up perfectly. Then jumping straight from that to the rather dysfunctional Jamison family I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next. As events continued to unfold I was introduced to what I later found to be trademark Ms Garwood skills. Her heroines had character, they were spunky, determined to get their own way, yet still soft and feminine. They refused to settle for what society dictated they should and in refusing they were able to make a positive change for their family and others around them. They were able to soften the toughest, gruffest, most uncivilized men and yet allow them to still be men, not emasculated former men. They never depended on being rescued by someone else but they never felt threatened by accepting help either. Their heroes knew that they had found a partner who could and would take care of home and hearth while the men-folk were away fighting.
Jamie didn’t fit into any stereotype that I knew of at the time. She could ride a horse, shoot a bow and arrow, was known as a healer and practically held her father’s estate together. She was always willing to help yet when her future husband told her to wear white for their wedding she showed up in black and I died laughing. Along their journey to the Highlands both Jamie and I were introduced to Scottish culture and how beautiful the unspoiled wilderness could be. Yet hidden in that same beauty were roving bands of marauders and deadly feuds between different clans. I thought I could hold a grudge, boy was I wrong. “She started three wars the first week.” The amazing thing was that she, Jamie, did not intend to start any of them, she was just trying to find her place as the wife of the laird. Along the way she had to deal with wild beasts, the murderer, the direct politics of that era, mistrust and a need to feel valued.
Alec and his people also had to make adjustments as Jamie started incorporating some English ways into their well-established life. It was a lot of fun to see Alec deal with realizing that Jamie didn’t fit into what he thought was the typical Englishwoman mold. She kept surprising him with her ideas, resourcefulness and refusal to let anyone walk all over her. Every time Alec thought he had Jamie figured out, she would present him with yet another facet of her personality.
I have found that The Bride is one of those historical romances whose magic continues to live on every time I re-read it. As a result Ms Garwood has provided me with the standard for which I measure all other historical romances.
I liked this one better then the first because I never fell out of liking the hero. I think part of the reason I like these stories is the family inte...moreI liked this one better then the first because I never fell out of liking the hero. I think part of the reason I like these stories is the family interaction. They are hilarious! I look forward to the next one and hope that Mathewson decides to write some of the backstory about the aunts and uncles.(less)
Publisher: Avon Publish Date: Jun 26th How we got this book: ARC from the author
She’s a mortal with dark powers…
After a tragic accident scarred her body and destroyed her dreams, Leila never imagined that the worst was still to come: terrifying powers that let her channel electricity and learn a person’s darkest secrets through a single touch. Leila is doomed to a life of solitude…until creatures of the night kidnap her, forcing her to reach out with a telepathic distress call to the world’s most infamous vampire…
He’s the Prince of Night…
Vlad Tepesh inspired the greatest vampire legend of all—but whatever you do, don’t call him Dracula. Vlad’s ability to control fire makes him one of the most feared vampires in existence, but his enemies have found a new weapon against him – a beautiful mortal with powers to match his own. When Vlad and Leila meet, however, passion ignites between them, threatening to consume them both. It will take everything that they are to stop an enemy intent on bringing them down in flames. This blurb came from the author’s website here.
E: I have been a Jeaniene Frost fan from the very first Cat and Bones book so I was really excited to find out that she was going to start doing some spin-offs set in the same world with a few of the characters who played significant contributing roles in the main storyline. One of the characters that always fascinated me was Vlad, not only did he provide the inspiration for the legend of Dracula but I loved that he could play with fire which was typically a surefire way to kill a vampire. Ms Frost has been providing teases and snippets like usual on the lead up to publication so when she kindly offered to send this ARC I was beyond happy. It was great going back to the Night Huntress world and learning more about the very complex world of the vampires.
MinnChica: I too have been a huge Cat and Bones fan, and love the secondary characters just as much. After reading the first two spin-off books, I knew that we would be in for something extra special with Vlad. I’m happy to say that this book was so great, it was everything I expected to see from Vlad – some snark, a lot of violence, and a romance that would be an interesting journey from start to finish. I adored all things about Vlad, and Leila was the kind of heroine that I thought would be a wonderful match for Vlad.
E: Leila was a great heroine. She didn’t let Vlad get any with anything even in their initial bargain. One of my favorite parts is how Vlad could act as a safe discharge for Leila’s electricity build up. In fact he almost seemed to enjoy it *waggles eyebrows*. He needed a very strong heroine who had been tested by life because of his rather obvious other then human mentality. He did not shy away from violence as he tried to find the mastermind behind the attempts on his life. Yet for all of his other he displayed loyalty towards those who worked for him and even Leila as time passed.
MinnChica: Yes, I loved that Vlad was so… willing to be there for Leila when she needed to blow off some steam. *wink wink* I love that you brought up Vlad’s somewhat jaded outlook on life. Because although he walked on the page as a hardened Vampire with little regard for human life, he allowed Leila to open his eyes and his heart to human ways, human emotions. He even allows many of his vampire and human underlings into more than just his home, he lets them further into his life.
E: Yes, Leila’s presence had such an impact on more then just Vlad. It was great to see the two of them and the changes in those around them made it seem much more of a complete world instead of a couple mostly in a bubble. Watching them grow to trust and depend on each other was also really sweet. They have come so far and yet they have so much more to go before I think the power in their relationship balances out. Leila seems like she is going to continue to push Vlad and make him become part of the world once more.
MinnChica: Yes, I can’t wait to see where their relationship takes them next, especially as the mystery surrounding Vlad’s past comes to light. I love the way that Frost didn’t shy away from making this book gritty. Although I’m not one for my romance books being left in limbo, I was glad to see where it ended. Although Vlad and Leila haven’t made any kind of commitment, I’m already completely invested in their relationship. I also have to say that the mystery surrounding the death threats against Vlad were so well done, I was constantly left wondering who it was, how it was all being done, and what would happen next. I have to say, I’m very anxious to see how it all wraps up!
E: Like MinnChica I usually get impatient when my romance doesn’t have more of a commitment at the end of the book but given the vast extremes between the two I would have felt cheated with “I love you”s at this point. I also didn’t know who was behind the death threats so I was just as surprised as the characters with their discovery. I can’t wait to see what happens next and how Vlad and Leila continue to grow in their relationship. I really enjoyed Once Burned and felt it lived up to my anticipation. I give Once Burned a B+
MinnChica: All in all I adored the first installment of the Vlad story. I loved his heroine and all that Leila was able to bring to the table for Vlad. She gave him certain strengths that he never imagined he would need. The secondary characters in this story were great as well, and I hope we can see more of them in books to come. Frost didn’t shy away from the blood and violence, and I for one was glad to see that. I can’t wait for the next chapter in Vlad’s story! I give Once Burned a B+(less)
Oh my fellow Bookpushers were so right about this book. It reinvigorated my love for Nora Roberts' new work. The way Brooks worked so slowly and patie...moreOh my fellow Bookpushers were so right about this book. It reinvigorated my love for Nora Roberts' new work. The way Brooks worked so slowly and patiently on Elizabeth. How very smart and determined Elizabeth was. Brooks' family and their quirks, heck the entire town's oddities. The way Ms Roberts ties up every single lose thread without making it seem coincidental. Everything just flows and the attention paid to the little details made this story a joy to read. I was never jarred from the world even as things varied from tense to humorous to sweet and back to tense but was sucked deeper and deeper. There are so many different facets that I enjoyed, from the discussions Brooks and Elizabeth had, watching Elizabeth learn that she has a sense of humor, seeing her juggle the social interaction that people general require.
I am going to stop babbling and just say go buy/borrow this from the library and read it now!(less)
Publisher: Ace Books Publish Date: 2000 How I got this book: Purchased
All the creatures of forest, field and riverbank knew the baby was special. She was the princess Briar-Rose, cursed by the evil fairy Pernicia on her name-day. But Katriona stole her away to the small village where Kat lives with her aunt, and they raise the princess as if she were their own. No other human, not even Rosie herself, knows her true identity. But Pernicia is looking for her, and two village fairies and all the animals in the realm may not be enough to save her. This blurb came from the author’s website here.
In my opinion, fantasy is based on fairy tales or myths and legends depending on how you like to phrase them. As many civilizations as have existed different stories some about what/who came before, others intended as a teaching or a warning tool. Those stories change from civilization to civilization and as time passes. In fact some of the stories become “watered down” from their older versions as the need for those lessons/warnings disappears. Here in the US most people are familiar with Han Christian Andersen, Andrew Lang and his series of colored fairy tale books like The Yellow Fairy Book, or Walt Disney’s versions. Growing up I spent a lot of time seeking out and reading as many different variations of fairy tales, myths and legends as I could find. One of my favorite tales happens to be Sleeping Beauty. I have enjoyed all of the different variations I have found including Disney’s movie (my favorite of their animated movies) so when I heard that Robin McKinley was coming out with a retelling I had to get it. Over the past 12 years I have worn out two MMPB copies of Spindle’s End.
The basic story is the same, King and Queen have a little girl, the country rejoices, a party is thrown in her honor, an evil witch/fairy visits and gifts a curse, the child is hidden, the evil witch/fairy finds her and arranges for the curse to happen, after a series of events good manages to triumph over evil. What makes this version special is the world-building, the characters and their personalities, and the twists that are added. Even though I knew Spindle’s End would have a happy ending I was still swept along the journey towards that ending and wondered how that happy ending would look.
I have found that Ms McKinley always pays attention to the details. After she has described something I can almost see, smell, and taste it as I continue to read which makes it really easy for me to suspend disbelief. Nothing is mentioned or included that doesn’t have a purpose even if it seems like it is just part of the scenery. I really enjoy being able to just sit back and read knowing that nothing will jar me out of the world she has created. Ms McKinley puts the same amount of detail into her characters, human or otherwise, primary or supporting cast. They are all three-dimensional and how they interact with each other directly relates to their respective viewpoints of the world. The different animals still retained a sense of otherness combined with their various traits.
I enjoyed watching the slow unfolding of an understanding between Katriona and Barder along with their eventual family. The initial meeting between Rosie and Peony and their mutual awkwardness that turned into best friends was a great thing to see. I also really enjoyed how time passed for everyone except for Narl, who while a mystery to the entire town was also a key member of the town. The rest of the villagers were rooted in the very ordinary and filled all niches you find in a small mainly self-contained group of people. They provided the grounding, which made magic, fairies, and everything associated with them seem part of everyday life. The twists that were also caused in part by the characters are what pushed this beyond just a retelling into a really good retelling. Those twists are major spoilers so I am not going to discuss what they are just that they fit perfectly and ensured that I was satisfied with the happy ending.
The combination of Ms McKinley’s world-building, characters, their interactions with each other and some really neat twists have provided me with a well fleshed out fairy tale that each time I re-read provides me with hours of entertainment.
Publisher: Berkley Publish Date: Out now How we got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
Gabe, Jace, and Ash: three of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the country. They’re accustomed to getting anything they want. Anything at all. For Gabe, it’s making one particular fantasy come true with a woman who was forbidden fruit. Now she’s ripe for the picking…
When Gabe Hamilton saw Mia Crestwell walk into the ballroom for his hotel’s grand opening, he knew he was going to hell for what he had planned. After all, Mia is his best friend’s little sister. Except she’s not so little anymore. And Gabe has waited a long time to act on his desires.
Gabe has starred in Mia’s fantasies more than once, ever since she was a teenager with a huge crush on her brother’s best friend. So what if Gabe’s fourteen years older? Mia knows he’s way out of her league, but her attraction has only grown stronger with time. She’s an adult now, and there’s no reason not to act on her most secret desires.
As Gabe pulls her into his provocative world, she realizes there’s a lot she doesn’t know about him or how exacting his demands can be. Their relationship is intense and obsessive, but as they cross the line from secret sexual odyssey to something deeper, their affair runs the risk of being exposed—and vulnerable to a betrayal far more intimate than either expected. This blurb came from Goodreads.
Has: When I heard that Maya Banks had a new erotic series based on three billionaire friends finding the love of their lives, I was quite excited. Because this trope is pretty crackish for me even though I feel this premise has gotten tired. But I am a sucker for the domineering billionaire hero trope. So when we had the chance to review Rush – I was quite excited, however, I have mixed feelings after reading the book. And primarily it is over the hero Gabe, who I disliked immensely. I don’t mind alphahole heroes, because I love it when they redeem themselves or if they fall head over heels over their heroines. But I didn’t really get that with Gabe because I just found him too cold, and remote for me to warm up to. He was a pure and utter ass to Mia, who was much younger than he was and I felt she was railroaded into some situations without being consulted even though in the beginning of their relationship they signed a contract where he would state what he would do.
E: Maya Banks has given me several entertaining reads over the years. Unfortunately I found myself disappointed with the first book of her new series. I have avoided a lot of the billionaire friends finding their “One” stories so I was not worried about trope burnout. However, Rush was saved from falling into the DNF category by the promise of another reader, that there was a good groveling scene towards the end of the book. To me, except for the very last scene, Gabe was never the hero type. I understood that Mia had a crush on him for years. I understood that he was 14 years older and “knew” what he was doing. But his behavior was that of an abuser and Mia’s was that of an abused woman. The story started off innocuously enough although I knew there would be repercussions for hiding everything from Mia’s older brother Jace. The contract I have seen before not just in erotica but in standard categories that also feature the older much wealthier hero so that was not really an issue. I enjoyed the fact that Mia read the contract and made changes to it. However, the contract was certainly written in his favor and did not seem to have an escape clause for Mia especially since she would be receiving a salary for her job as his personal assistant, a job that seemed likely to end if they ended their relationship. My real problem was the execution of the contract.
Has: I so totally agree with you about the unequal dynamics in their relationship. I think this is what really bothered me so much about their romance and most especially with Gabe. While I understand he’s a domineering guy with control issues. I felt it was unfair that Mia was not given a choice or was explained to what she was expected to do. It was like she had to dance to his whim and desires even though he proclaimed he would care and take her welfare at heart. But there was an incident at towards the end of the book, which didn’t work for me because he ignored his responsibilities to her. Even though it gave him an epiphany on his true feelings and this felt clumsily executed and it definitely did not endear Gabe to me.
I also felt Mia was way too forgiving and accepted his reasons too easily. And when she did started to get a backbone towards him – it was because he rejected her, This was not a great subtext for me especially towards their relationship because it proved how unequal it was. The grovelling scenes also didn’t work that well but helped to redeem the book, and Gabe from domineering and unfeeling arse to alphahole in my eyes. But it was still not enough to make me like him as a character or redeem the romance fully – I also felt that transition was too awkward and sudden.
E: Yes I agree it was unfair towards Mia. To me a line from another book spells out what this sort of relationship should be, “[trust] not just something you do, it’s something we earn. Let us earn it…” Gabe promised to go slow, explain things to her and give her the choice to participate in a particular activity or not. He repeatedly failed to do that and even admitted and chastised himself for failing to do so after each occasion but his behavior never changed. At the start of the relationship they agreed to be faithful to the other and Gabe ensured that no other man had a chance to pay Mia attention. Yet at a certain formal event he went and danced with his father’s date who was obviously trying to establish a very personal relationship with Gabe. His reaction after Mia left was to lose his temper and decide to discipline her for refusing to tolerate his disrespectful behavior. Mia after standing up enough to leave went ahead and let Gabe do what he wanted without requiring him to do more than explain his actions.
The scene Has referenced above while allowing Gabe to start to realize his feelings I felt was absolutely horrible. Mia was in an extremely vulnerable position that he had to convince her to trust him and he failed miserably in his responsibility to protect her. Yes he apologized and tried to make things right but a violation of trust on that level to me was unforgivable. Then when he decided to end things with her when her brother found out about their relationship I was even madder and more disgusted with his behavior. Yes he did do a very good groveling scene at the end which, given his background was an impressive gesture but I still did not get the sense that his character had been redeemed.
Has: I totally agree, and I wished there was more to expand on this because it was rushed and sudden. However, I did enjoy the other elements in the book, such as the glimpses of the other heroes, Ash and Jace who will feature in the sequels in this trilogy. I really like the look of Ash because he has a great sense of humour but also looks like he’s intense and kinky in the bedroom, and I’ve lamented with Lou about non-fun like heroes with this premise, and his book looks promising. I also got a feeling I will enjoy their stories much more than Gabe and Mia’s book, which the execution and characterisation just didn’t work for me. Despite it having all the ingredients that I usually enjoy for a crackfilled romance.
Overall, I really wanted to like RUSH, but it just didn’t live up to its promise which was due to Gabe’s assiness. I don’t mind alphaholes because I think they can be the best type of heroes, especially when they redeem themselves or fall hard for their heroines. But in this case, Gabe’s journey in the book was selfish and uncaring and even though he realised his actions, he never stopped or rectified it. I also think this is a book, which you either love or hate because of the factors we raise – but for me, even though he tries to make up for his alphaholeness, it was just too late.
I give Rush a D+
E: Even though I was dissatisfied with Mia and Gabe’s relationship I did enjoy the glimpses I had of the supporting characters. I found myself really intrigued by Ash and Jace. They both had a good sense of humor, a way of misjudging women and certainly showed promise in the hero department. Like Has, I think Ash has some hidden depths that could be very interesting when they start to appear. I was also proud of everything they did to try to make Mia happy after things ended with Gabe. I am glad that Banks provided a good groveling scene but by that point I was unable to believe that Gabe not just meant but would change his behavior to match his words.