My favorite of Meredith Duran's. I really enjoyed Lydia and her headstrong, willfully blind tendencies. She is guileless and spends much time feeling...moreMy favorite of Meredith Duran's. I really enjoyed Lydia and her headstrong, willfully blind tendencies. She is guileless and spends much time feeling ashamed because she doesn't really fit in, and as a woman this discounts her in society. Then you have James, the caddish Viscount who cares little for society rules, to a greater degree than Lydia, but is considered stylish and popular, in spite of this. I enjoyed the very direct way this disparity was called out. I also enjoyed how Lydia and James interacted as people, not always adhering to societal standards. Because both of them are a bit rogue, and Lydia in particular is a strong, intelligent woman (not at all stylish in that time), I connected more to this story than to other historical romances.(less)
To me the prequel and this count together as one book... without that prequel I don't think this would have been nearly as good. The main thing that I...moreTo me the prequel and this count together as one book... without that prequel I don't think this would have been nearly as good. The main thing that I loved about this and that makes it stand out from others in this genre, is that Ying Ying makes her own decisions and decides her own course. In contrast to so many historicals where the female lead is set upon and has to be rescued, or some other lame (perhaps more period appropriate) lack of agency. (less)
This was what I have come to expect from Julie James: a fun romance with quite a lot of banter and fun humor, with a touch of suspense. Reads a lot li...moreThis was what I have come to expect from Julie James: a fun romance with quite a lot of banter and fun humor, with a touch of suspense. Reads a lot like a movie, and I think she did write screenplays at one time. So a very scene and event-driven approach, which makes it fun and quick to read. I enjoyed it but it didn't really break new ground for me. I still find I enjoy her first few novels the best - something about the way she writes lawyers really works for me, probably because she was one before she started writing books.(less)
This was just OK for me. Whyborne is a bookish man, a comparative philologist at a suspectedly haunted museum in a questionable New England town. Grif...moreThis was just OK for me. Whyborne is a bookish man, a comparative philologist at a suspectedly haunted museum in a questionable New England town. Griffin is a PI hired to investigate a shady murder, who persistently bugs Whyborne and flirts with him. All in all the town, setting, mystery, and characters were very Sleepy Hollow... I was definitely thinking a bit of Ichabod Crane. :)
However, for a "scary" book it was really not scary. Much of the mystery exposition felt to me like watching Scooby Doo with expositions and info dumps left and right, and a canned horror of occult history. So, chalk the story, mystery and horror elements of this up as pretty much corny.
The characters were a bit better though. Whyborne is hard to like at first with his self-deprecating manner. But as he comes into his own a bit I found I enjoyed him more. His wit saves him from being a bore. Griffin is a man of action and kind... with a little unexpected depth. Christine, Whyborne's Egyptologist colleague and best friend, is a third somewhat enjoyable character, living a feminist existence in a Puritanical American setting and dealing with a lot of misogyny.
The romance itself was not my favorite, it had a bit of the insta-love feel to it. The one redeeming feature was the fact that it was between two men, in an era and setting which had little tolerance for that. I haven't read a lot of period romances between two men, so that was interesting to me. I enjoyed Whyborne and Griffin navigating things together, both in their relationship and in the world.
It was a solid book and were it a TV show, I would feel it served well to introduce the characters, their backstory, and to give a good example of the type of adventurous plot to expect from future installments. As such I may give one more a try to see if my appreciation grows.(less)
I've enjoyed the whole series so far but haven't found any other books by Stuart I like as much. I was bummed to find no resolution in this book for B...moreI've enjoyed the whole series so far but haven't found any other books by Stuart I like as much. I was bummed to find no resolution in this book for Brandon and Emma; anyone know if their story is out somewhere? I couldn't find it.(less)
3.5 stars. More of a return to form for Cole than that last book, which I really disliked. Trehan is an immortal Dacian (vampire), who is blooded by B...more3.5 stars. More of a return to form for Cole than that last book, which I really disliked. Trehan is an immortal Dacian (vampire), who is blooded by Bettina, the sorceress-demon halfling princess of Abaddon, the realm of the Death demons. As a romance, it was decent and I enjoyed Trehan. Bettina had a sense of humor but was pretty immature. The book definitely was more of a fun showcase for Cole's world of the Lore. Trehan has to enter a tournament to the death with some 200 other immortal Loreans to fight for Bettina's hand. One of the hallmarks of this series is how well Cole's characters mesh with the different Lorean rances she has created. I always enjoy Valkyries, perhaps the most, and Lykae and demons. I usually don't like Sorceri, witches, or vampires quite as much. But after quite a while away from the series, I will say I enjoyed returning to this well-drawn world fantastical world. She has quite a good grasp of those details which make world-building feel truly authentic. In the past I think I may have used the word "romp" to describe this series, and it still applies - it's pure entertainment!(less)
The last one of these Jennifer Ashley books I read before losing interest. Cameron is, again, another Mackenzie lord who finds his bride. It's super f...moreThe last one of these Jennifer Ashley books I read before losing interest. Cameron is, again, another Mackenzie lord who finds his bride. It's super formulaic, in my opinion, and I don't feel that any future book will change the formula so I've stopped trying them!(less)
The story of Ian's brother Mac and his failed marriage to Isabella. Again with the meh I felt after the first book. I mean, I finished it, but it cert...moreThe story of Ian's brother Mac and his failed marriage to Isabella. Again with the meh I felt after the first book. I mean, I finished it, but it certainly didn't transport me.(less)
This was OK. A little too mainstream for me, maybe? I did enjoy that one of the main characters, Ian, has OCD and perhaps a bit of autism... and that...moreThis was OK. A little too mainstream for me, maybe? I did enjoy that one of the main characters, Ian, has OCD and perhaps a bit of autism... and that the society of the times did not know how to treat that. I felt like it was a bit too formulaic for me, and not quite psychological enough. For historical romance, I'd say I definitely prefer Sherry Thomas and Courtney Milan.(less)
I wasn't really sure how this book was going to go, I felt like Halle set herself up for a difficult task to write her way out of the situation Ellie...moreI wasn't really sure how this book was going to go, I felt like Halle set herself up for a difficult task to write her way out of the situation Ellie found herself in at the end of book 2. And in the end, although it didn't blow my mind, I feel like Ellie's journey was authentic and she found something in herself I have been waiting for the whole time - a surety of purpose and knowledge of her own heart. Ellie desperately needed to decide something for her own damn self, not because she was scared or wanted anymore. And in this book I saw that growth, saw her step up and make tough calls and face her demons.
I did feel a little jerked around at times, but it's kind of a given with the high stakes action in these books - car chases, shootouts, showdowns, helicopters. There are going to be some fake outs. From the first book this series has felt so much like a great dark action movie, and this book continued that feeling with intensely visual descriptions, very real-feeling action, and gobs of atmosphere. I can totally see these books as movies, but whoever does them needs to be more than a little twisted, no hollywood treatment here.(less)
This book and the novella prequel, On Every Street, really deepened this story and Ellie's voice for me a great deal. I loved the continued twists, pa...moreThis book and the novella prequel, On Every Street, really deepened this story and Ellie's voice for me a great deal. I loved the continued twists, particularly as Ellie, Javier, and Camden continue to sink deeper into the web of... whatever the hell they are in. Is it a love triangle? I guess you could call it that, but it's seriously twisted. More like a triangle of obsession, lust, violence, despair, hope, and drowning. By the end I didn't know what I even wanted to happen anymore. Definitely a gripping read!
And I have Karine Halle to thank for introducing me to the Dead Weather, a group whose song she featured in the first book, and who in one of her blogs she said really conveyed the feeling of these books. I have to agree, after she turned me onto them, I grew to LOVE them, and their songs and sound will now always be linked in my mind to Ellie's voice, and the sweet, rough, demented Western sensibility of these books. What a cool connection, I do enjoy how cinematic Halle makes her books, with vivid scenes, imagery, and soundtracks.
Eagerly awaiting book 3, out next month October 2013.(less)
I loved this beautiful, dark, tortured prequel to Sins and Needles! This is the story of Ellie and Javier, when they met and fell in love, some six ye...moreI loved this beautiful, dark, tortured prequel to Sins and Needles! This is the story of Ellie and Javier, when they met and fell in love, some six years before the events of Sins and Needles. So we kind of know how it turns out (kind of), and we know going into this novella that Ellie is deeply scarred from her time with Javier, but I don't think anything can prepare you for the intensity of this story.
When I enjoyed the most, what I found Halle did better (here, in this book) than any other time I have come across this, was how she openly portrayed how love can turn everything on its head. Right and wrong, black and white, what you want out of life, all of it can be consumed and completely flipped by love. It's so hard usually to put yourself into the shoes of someone who is in love with the wrong person, the bad person, the person who mistreats them or others. It's so easy to stand back from a safe distance and say "She (or he) shouldn't do that, what a bad move". Well, in this book Halle completely immerses us into Ellie's experience of this relationship, and for once, I could actually understand completely how she could make the choices she made. I not only objectively understood how she felt, I felt it with her. The love of a magnetic, charming, powerful man, of someone who is obsessed with her, it is like the light of the sun after an entire life of being thrown away by everyone who she ever loved. Ellie is so, so scarred by her life. She wants, and deserves happiness. It is not her fault that no one ever taught her how to love and be loved. But even though it's not her fault, she has to live with the consequences.
I had some issues with Ellie's voice in Sins and Needles, I had trouble connecting to her, I didn't really like her very much, it was like she was holding something back. This story helped me get into Ellie's head so much more. Understanding her past with Javier definitely opened up so much about her - told me why she was closed off, why she pushed people away and made deliberately bad choices. I find, going into book 3 Shooting Scars that I don't have trouble connecting with Ellie anymore.
What a terrific follow-up to Sins and Needles, for me - I read it after. The whole time with Sins and Needles, I could not really commit to Ellie's relationship with Camden, because I didn't know what had happened with Javier. I was saving my judgment on who she should love, if you will, until I knew more about Javier. I have to say, I still don't know what I think. It's definitely not about who loves her more or anything like that. It's about who Ellie needs to be, to become herself, and how each of them have played and may continue to play a role in that evolution. I think I read somewhere that Karina Halle, when asked "Team Camden or Team Javier?", replied "Team Ellie". I definitely agree. This is Ellie's story, I want Ellie to have an ending she earns and deserves. Even if it is tragic in some way - in fact I don't see how tragedy can be avoided, this is a dark story. This novella definitely made me even more interested to continue with the series!(less)
It's interesting to me that Karina Halle has a degree in filmmaking, because this book really felt like a movie to me. I was overwhelmed by visual imp...moreIt's interesting to me that Karina Halle has a degree in filmmaking, because this book really felt like a movie to me. I was overwhelmed by visual impressions while reading it. Her contribution of a soundtrack, and of songs deeply interwoven into the emotions and plot points of the story, really helped with that overall feeling as well. It was like I was watching a movie in my own head, filled with vibrant characters, dazzling casinos, car chases, vast desert landscapes, evocative music, and wicked sexy scenes!
Ellie is a grifter, raised by grifter parents to be one herself, and she has had a painful checkered past. The only thing she is really good at, is running and hiding, and she doesn't have much experience with handling love from others. Running from yet another scam gone wrong, she finds herself in her hometown ostensibly looking for honest work. It doesn't take long before she has decided on a new scheme, only this one involves her only childhood friend, who has transformed from an awkward, outcast goth, into a hunky musician tattoo artist man - Camden McQueen. As they spend more time together, it becomes clear that each has ulterior motives... and you'll have to read the book to know the rest! :)
I found Ellie and Camden's story to be, as Halle puts it, sweet and rough. She tells the story of their present-day re-aquaintance, interspersed with the story of their once upon a time friendship. As the narrative of one time progresses, so does the other, ultimately spiraling into... something. I enjoyed this narrative trick and found it gave me insight into both of the characters in just the right amounts and pace. Individually and together, I enjoyed getting to know the characters, and my understanding of them and appreciation for them deepened as the story progressed.
One thing I can't quite put my finger on with this book, is a sense of dissatisfaction with Ellie's voice. I can't relate to her quite enough to get inside her head, so it puts me at a remove from her as a 1st person narrator (not a problem I had, on the other hand, with Perry in Darkhouse). This meant I found myself liking Camden better than Ellie by the end of the book. I suspect this makes sense with the overall narrative for these three books, so I'm OK with it. I feel like Ellie has quite a bit more to learn about herself and own up to, for me to feel connected to her. My feeling for Ellie reminds me a little bit of Justine from the Disillusionists series, just in how I was inside her head but found her a little self-deluding and unlikable.
The book does employ something like a love triangle angle. Except, the love story is really between two people and the third is actually a dangerous psycho who's hunting the other two down like dogs. Oh, and one of them is kind of still in love with the psycho. O_O. Bravo to Karina Halle for keeping it interesting. I am definitely intrigued to find out where this storyline goes next.
So, this book was at 3.5 stars for from a plot/character perspective me but I rounded up to 4 for the really satisfying, cinematic scene-setting and soundtrack, and the intriguing hint of eau de psycho we get in the character of Javier.(less)
Although this was cute and sweet, it was not quite on the level of The Governess Affair, which is one of my shining examples of all-time favorite nove...moreAlthough this was cute and sweet, it was not quite on the level of The Governess Affair, which is one of my shining examples of all-time favorite novellas (also written by Milan). She is quite good at building tension quickly and finding just the right fit between her leads, but ultimately I felt the story, perhaps the characters, lacked quite the level of connection I wanted them to have. Perhaps falling back on the idea that they've known each other for years and have all this history together, while it definitely works sometimes, worked instead against this book for me because I wanted to read about more of those important moments between them - not just read about them remembering the moments... I'm sure it's just a matter of personal preference. As always, it was superbly written and Milan continues to be one of my very favorite authors of this genre.(less)
I just loved this short novel! It was on par for me with the best of Carolyn Crane's stories, from a romance perspective. She writes the insides of pe...moreI just loved this short novel! It was on par for me with the best of Carolyn Crane's stories, from a romance perspective. She writes the insides of peoples' heads like very few other authors!
Angel the safecracker is out of the jewel heist business, but got pulled back in for one last job. She has never felt fulfilled by being a thief, but she loves the thrill of safecracking. Cole is a deep undercover agent who needs Angel to crack a safe for him, so he can save lives. Neither knows exactly what is driving the other to do what they do - but they just can't resist each other, in spite of the fact that each thinks the other is up to no good.
I think this is Crane's first foray into the romantic suspense genre - but I'd say she does it quite well! No matter what genre she writes, she does such a great job building realistic characters, I can't help but love them. To me, this short book with its high stakes and huge payoff, is almost on par with Devil's Luck, which is my all time favorite by her! (less)
I am swearing off Megan Hart books for awhile. They are just exhausting. :)
So this is book 3 in the series called "Alex Kennedy" and it is indeed abou...moreI am swearing off Megan Hart books for awhile. They are just exhausting. :)
So this is book 3 in the series called "Alex Kennedy" and it is indeed about... wait for it... Alex Kennedy. If you have read the series thus far you know that in book 1 Tempted, Alex got involved with a married couple - Jamie and Anne, which we heard about from Anne's perspective. In book 2, a novella - Everything Changes, we hear Alex's perspective on the same relationship. So believe me, starting this book I was emotionally sore from what Alex had been through - as of course he was too.
I was a bit surprised to find this book is actually told from the perspective of someone else - Olivia Mackey, a woman who meets Alex and begins something of a flirtation with him. For the most part though, this book is Olivia's story. She is in a place of questing, of building herself - from starting up her own business while working two jobs, to trying to find her place in a faith community while being pulled in two directions by her divorced parents, to being heartsore about the breakup of her only real relationship, which turned out really nastily to be with a gay man (view spoiler)[who screwed around on her - so knowing as she does that Alex likes men too... (hide spoiler)]. She feels disconnected on many levels, and she's not really ready to be in a relationship.
Olivia and Alex clearly really get on well together, and their romance is a natural, lovely thing. They both have doubts and qualms and they work those out in real ways - fighting, silence, discussions. Their relationship builds realistically and of course, we are rooting for them to be together.
What bothered me about the book was my lack of insight into Alex. At this point I can pretty much read him enough to know he's being genuine with Olivia, but I also know how much he was hurt - so I doubted him at times. I really missed his voice, after having it in book two. I also felt like the book waited too long to introduce the subject of book 1 - Jamie and Anne - into this story, and there was not enough time to resolve the emotions that got tangled up with that revelation.
The book ended in a place that doesn't surprise me at this point coming from Megan Hart - a not quite happy ending, but one where real people seem to be committed to getting there. It's realistic, and like I said - not always what I want in a "romance" novel! I'd actually probably characterize this book and Tempted more as chick-lit, because even though there are relationships and a ton of sex, they are mostly about women discovering important truths about themselves - often with the help of the men around them. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
After finishing Tempted, the story of Anne, Jamie, and Alex's three-way romance that held unexpected emotional, somewhat twisted depths - I was left s...moreAfter finishing Tempted, the story of Anne, Jamie, and Alex's three-way romance that held unexpected emotional, somewhat twisted depths - I was left so unsatisfied by knowing only Anne's perspective throughout the book. Sure, Anne as a character I was committed to, and I cared about the resolution she received, but what about Jamie? What about Alex? WHERE WAS THEIR RESOLUTION?!?!
Cue book 2, this book, where we get to hear Alex's side of the story, from inside his own head. And for all the lack of emotion that Alex displayed in Tempted - such a lack of emotion that he clearly was hiding - well, this book really delivered. Yes, indeed, Alex felt a lot. Clearly he is conflicted about Jamie - he fools himself about it, but less than Jamie does. He is not as conflicted about his feelings for Anne, although he refuses to steal his best friend's wife... as we know after finishing the first book.
This is a short little satisfying book. It definitely whetted my appetite for book 3 - Naked where supposedly Alex gets his very own love story, instead of being a pawn in someone else's.
Warning: if you are freaked out by the cover - you probably shouldn't read this. It has some brief M/M action which is physical but completely devoid of emotion... it's definitely part of Alex and it deserves a place in this book. But Megan Hart has a way of writing erotica (is it really erotica? I don't think so) that draws such a clear distinction between love and sex, and you always know which one or two of those is in the room at any given point. Her writing is so very aware of those distinctions. It's a distinctive trait.
Once again, I applaud Megan Hart while at the same time giving her stink eye for making me feel so conflicted!(less)
This book, oh this book. This book was gripping, it was deftly written. This book disappointed me, in some ways. Ultimately I rated it 4 stars because...moreThis book, oh this book. This book was gripping, it was deftly written. This book disappointed me, in some ways. Ultimately I rated it 4 stars because it kind of pissed me off (in a good way - because I cared what happened), and it felt so real. Megan Hart does not write fairy tale or happy go lucky romance/erotica. But I identified with pretty much every character in this book at multiple points.
I think I complained recently about another book I read being too vanilla - not emotionally edgy enough. What I mean by that is, when a book gets under your skin, when you identify with the characters - good and bad - when the emotions skirt the unpleasantly real, the truly uncomfortable - that is emotionally edgy. When a book shows you back something about yourself, like it or not. Megan Hart has this talent, to write a book that can do that. I was uncomfortable at times when reading this book, not because of sexual situations (and there are plenty) but because of emotional situations.
Anne has a troubled past in some ways. Her family, her relationships, they have made her who she is - flaws and all. She doesn't always know what she wants, and she doesn't always thinks she deserves what she wants. Her marriage to James is - by her own admission - the best thing in her life. Yet when James' best friend Alex comes around, when she sees her own husband's responses to him, she starts to get into touch with what she wants again... and it's Alex.
Hart doesn't shy away from the implications in the characters' choices. What happens when a married couple takes another person into their bed? How does that complicate their relationship, how does it strengthen, how does it destroy? She lets us see deep into Anne, past what Anne herself knows of what she wants. Everyone in this story is hiding truth from themselves in some way.
At first I didn't enjoy the interludes with Anne's sisters. They were too stereotypical, I didn't understand her need to confide in them, their relationships. But I was won over by how they supported each other, how they helped each other. And what I learned of Anne's history.
My chief complaint with the book was that I didn't want to focus only on Anne - the narrator - so much. I was deeply interested in the other two parts of the triangle, James and Alex. Although Anne got her resolution (I guess - as much as anyone does), they didn't. And not only that, but I felt like I didn't have enough of their history. I really wanted them to get some resolution as well. (view spoiler)[ not to be all - they should have had sex too! but really... I wanted them to do that, or at least admit their feelings for each other. I felt like James in particular got off too easy. Really, he was the one who brought Alex and Anne together and he never could admit his own feelings for Alex. It just feels unresolved... (hide spoiler)] However, I see there are additional books in this series, and the series is called "Alex Kennedy", so I will be sure to pick those up and see what happens next. I am sure there will be more angst, but hopefully some resolution for Alex as well.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This was a decent short little novella about what happens when two strangers who might never normally speak to each other, get stuck in a hot, dark el...moreThis was a decent short little novella about what happens when two strangers who might never normally speak to each other, get stuck in a hot, dark elevator for hours together. They talk, they bond, things get... a little spicy! It was enjoyable and quick to read. However, it may have just been too straightforward and... earnest for me.
Yes, on the surface these two wouldn't hook up - Caden is a scarred person, both inside and out, from an accident that happened long ago, and he deals with his pain with tattoos, piercings, and lonerism. Makenna is a bushy-tailed young accountant who's all buttoned up and prim on the outside. And so, the premise is pretty good - these two would never hook up, sure, I'll bite. But then once they do start interacting, they pretty much immediately fall for each other, and there is never really any moment where there is any doubt they will be together.
So was it sweet? Yes. Hot? Yes. But edgy, gripping, or fascinating? Nah. If I compare it against two other stand-out novellas about quick-blooming romances, Devil's Luck by Carolyn Crane, and The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan, and while we're on the topic - certainly Here There Be Monsters by Meljean Brook - well, this one just falls way short. Those short works all quickly build strong character portrayals, set up for a gripping conflict, and achingly resolve it - all in about the same amount of pages as this short book. So, for me, even though it's decent, this one suffers by comparison. 2.5 or 3 stars.(less)
Just what I have come to expect from Julie James - a solid contemporary romance with witty banter and solidly funny content (whether it be scenes, com...moreJust what I have come to expect from Julie James - a solid contemporary romance with witty banter and solidly funny content (whether it be scenes, comments, or thoughts... always funny).
This novel is about Cade Morgan - he who prosecuted the "Twitter terrorist" Kyle Rhodes (hero of the last book), and a new character, who happens to be - you guessed it - another lawyer! Actually general counsel for a restaurant and catering company, but a lawyer indeed. I feel kind of lame complaining that James wrote another romance about lawyers - because in the past I actually complained when she didn't! Because her first few books (featuring lawyers) were so fresh, enjoyable, and witty. But I find that these books are becoming all just a tad too much the same for me...
If you're new to James but like a witty enjoyable contemporary romance, this will be great for you. However, I personally prefer Practice Makes Perfect, Something About You, and Just the Sexiest Man Alive! However - it was fun, I did read it in one sitting, and James definitely knows how to deliver on her formula pretty well at this point.
I did find some of the social media references to be a little weird though, and feel sure that over time they will date the book quite a bit. There was this whole weird episode where the character accidentally shared a link over FB and got lots of inquiries from sleazy men, and lots of ribbing from her guy friends over it. I wondered if we were setting up for some kind of social media PSA. But then, nothing... it never came back to haunt her, and in fact it was dropped and Cade never even found out. Another quibble is with Brooke's best friend, Ford. I was intrigued that she has a male best friend, but ultimately it felt like that whole relationship went kind of undelivered on. I think the friend relationships have been handled better in her other books.(less)