Reviewed for THC Reviews "3.5 stars" After finishing Southern Exposure, I'm having similar feelings about it as I did with Southern Comfort, the firstReviewed for THC Reviews "3.5 stars" After finishing Southern Exposure, I'm having similar feelings about it as I did with Southern Comfort, the first book of Karen Kelley's Southern series. Once again, I couldn't help feeling that both the characters and plot were somewhat lacking. As with the first one, this book is pretty short for a full-length novel (262 pages), so it seems to me like there would have been plenty of room for more character and plot development if the author had chosen to do that, but for some inexplicable reason she didn't. Southern Exposure basically picks up right where Southern Comfort left off, except the romantic focus shifts from Wade and Fallon in Texas to Fallon's long-lost, presumed-dead sister, Jody, and her love interest, Logan, in New Orleans. Fallon and Jody's uncle remains the villain. He's about to be extradited to New Orleans to stand trial, but he's not going quietly. Sometimes, it felt like the author didn't quite know what to do with the characters, so at times, the plot meandered IMO. She also includes a few too many POV scenes for secondary characters, when I couldn't help thinking that she could have used that space to build her main characters more fully. The first half of the book moves rather slowly, with very little action taking place, then about halfway through, the plot comes to a screeching halt, while Jody takes her best friend, Andrea, for a make-over and clothes shopping spree (the author seems to have a penchant for these as something nearly identical happened in the first book). This little detour had no real bearing on the overarching plot and did nothing to propel things forward. Instead, it just seemed like little more than unnecessary filler. The second half of the book picks up a little, with the uncle escaping no sooner than he's arrived in New Orleans which leads to a little suspense and a happy reunion between the sisters. Again, just like with the first book, the suspense part was pretty predictable, but it was also the part that kept me from dropping the rating any lower.
Jody was a heroine I had a hard time getting a read on from an emotional perspective. When the story opens, she seems like almost a carbon copy of her sister, an alpha female commitment-phobe, who works in law enforcement. She and Logan have a one-night stand right after barely meeting, but she gets angry with him when she finds out he's not actually a stripper but was working on a story for the newspaper. I couldn't have agreed more with Logan that she didn't really have any right to be upset with him for not telling her he was a reporter when she wouldn't even so much as tell him her last name. Not to mention, if she hadn't skipped out on him before the next morning, things might have gotten more real between them. However, Jody's surly side doesn't last long, before she transforms into a more vulnerable woman. She's deeply affected by nearly being killed by her uncle when she was just a child and is also bothered by her psychic visions. This softer side of Jody almost seemed at odds with how she was before. Later on though, she goes right back to being prickly with Logan and not trusting that he won't write the article about her. Because of this back and forth in her personality, Jody's characterization felt uneven to me. Ultimately, I guess she came off as less anti-social than her sister, so for that reason, I liked her a little better, but it was still rather difficult to understand her at times.
As hard as it was for me to connect with Jody, I never felt like I got to know Logan well at all. He's a journalist who is vying for a promotion to assistant editor of the newspaper. In an effort to make that happen he's been writing a series of articles in which he allows the readers to challenge him to work any job for one shift. As a result, he's working as a stripper when he meets Jody, and his next assignment brings him to the police department to learn about being an officer. He's assigned to ride with Jody and his nose for news smells a deeper story with her than what she's letting on. Logan did do some things that proved he had a good heart. For starters, I liked that when he and Jody had their one-night stand, he asked her several times if she was sure she wanted it before actually having sex with her, so I had to give the guy kudos for being cautious for both his own sake and hers. He also doesn't hesitate to risk his life for her, and in the end, it's clear that he cares more for Jody than his job. I can't deny that Logan definitely came off as one of the nice guys, but there just wasn't a whole lot to his character to make him memorable.
As for Logan and Jody's relationship, I can't say that I felt much of a connection between them. Just like with the last book, it starts out with insta-lust and sex right out of the gate, which is definitely not my favorite way to begin a story. Unless the author can make me feel a deep emotional connection between the hero and heroine, I prefer for the romance to build slowly. Neither of these were the case in this story. Jody fully intends for their first encounter to be nothing more than one-time sex, until Logan shows up at her work, and even then she resists the idea of it happening again, even though she's still attracted to him and admits he's the best lover she's ever had. Of course, it does happen again… and again… and again. Considering the sheer frequency and the fact that the love scenes do get a little spicy with some creative uses for chocolate syrup and whipped cream (as well as a couple of sex toys being used in a secondary character love scene), one would think that this would be a really hot, steamy story, but IMHO, despite the little sensuous extras, the love scenes fell horribly flat. They were too short, too lacking in descriptive details, and desperately in need of more expressions of feelings and emotion. The love scenes could have been great, but without those things, especially the emotion, I felt virtually no connection either to or between the characters, so that these scenes were nothing more than just sex.
As I mentioned before, I think the author could have done a lot more to make the story more exciting. Except for one instance in which Jody actually sees a crime in progress and can't ignore it, Logan's ride-alongs with her are pretty dead, because her chief has told her to hang back in order to keep him safe. The secondary romance between Jody's friend, Andrea, and Logan's brother, Kevin, didn't really do much for me. IMO, their scenes weren't integral to the plot and therefore not really necessary. Every time their POV came up, I was thinking how that space could have been better utilized on Logan and Jody. Not to mention, their romance and love scenes were equally as lacking in emotion as the main romance. I did enjoy catching up with Wade and Fallon. Their scenes had more bearing on the overall plot, and I didn't find them to be as distracting.
In the end, Southern Exposure was an OK read for me. It wasn't a bad book, but neither did it reach the heights of greatness. The hero and heroine were likable enough even though I didn't feel like I knew them very well. While the romance didn't do a whole lot for me, I suppose the suspense kept me somewhat intrigued. I've read a lot worse books, and it admittedly wasn't a major chore to finish. There is one more full-length novel in the Southern series, Hell on Wheels, but since the main characters' names aren't familiar to me, I have no idea what the connection between the books is. After two so-so reads in a row from Karen Kelley, I'm somewhat undecided as to whether I'll continue with the series. I'm using it for a reading challenge in which I'm participating, so if I can't find anything else to replace it, I most likely will in a few months. All I can say is we'll see.:-)...more
Reviewed for THC Reviews Unlike some readers, I was satisfied with Sinful, but when it ended, I couldn't help feeling like there was more story to tellReviewed for THC Reviews Unlike some readers, I was satisfied with Sinful, but when it ended, I couldn't help feeling like there was more story to tell. I'm so glad that I already knew this epilogue existed and even more grateful that I was able to get my hands on a copy since the author has dropped out of sight for the last three years. In her introduction to the epilogue, Charlotte Featherstone explains why it wasn't included in the book. It seems that upon turning in the manuscript to her editor, she was over her word count. Honestly, I don't know why this should have made a difference to her editor, since Addicted was approximately fifty pages longer than Sinful even with the epilogue still attached, but she doesn't expound on that. Her editor also thought that having two love scenes in such close proximity to one another would dilute them, therefore she was given a choice to either drop the final love scene in the main part of the story, one that was pivotal to Matthew's growth, and keep the epilogue, or keep that climactic love scene and drop the epilogue. She opted for the latter. If there truly was no other choice, then I'll admit that I believe Ms. Featherstone made the right one, because that last love scene in the book was absolutely necessary. However, I really disagree with the editor on the dilution part. If anything, this final piece of the story only made the entire thing that much stronger, because it shows a true and solid HEA for Matthew and Jane. Many readers were frustrated by the non-traditional HEA in the published version of Sinful, and I really can't blame them. I personally still loved it and was willing to overlook it, but if I'd read it without knowing about this epilogue, I probably would have marked it down a bit on the star rating. I really think the book would have gotten much better ratings, probably a 4+ star average, if this epilogue had been included.
The Sinful: Epilogue was an exquisite HEA ending to Matthew and Jane's story. It's everything I could have hoped for them and more. I love that Matthew's heart is so much lighter now that he's no longer tortured by his past. Jane has brought healing and wholeness to him, and all of the people who tormented him are now out of the picture in one way or another. It's just him, Jane, their children, and their good friends, Lindsay and Anais and their family. Matthew is the perfect doting and protective father, always looking out for his childrens' well-being. Five years later, he and Jane are every bit as passionate and in love as they ever were, and now that Matthew isn't quite as emotionally intense, there is a new playful, weightless, and joyful quality to their interactions that would have seemed nearly implausible at the end of Sinful. This was the ending that really made my heart soar in the way I wanted it to when I finished Sinful, but it didn't quite get there. So, overall the Sinful: Epilogue was perfect in every way. I couldn't have asked for a better finale, and yet, there's still more to come with the A Very Sinful Valentine novella, which I can't wait to read....more
Reviewed for THC Reviews "3.5 stars" I had previously read only one novella by Stephanie Laurens quite a while ago, but I absolutely loved it. ConsequeReviewed for THC Reviews "3.5 stars" I had previously read only one novella by Stephanie Laurens quite a while ago, but I absolutely loved it. Consequently, I've been looking forward to trying one of her full-length novels for a long time. Unfortunately, The Promise in a Kiss left me feeling somewhat disappointed. Even though it's been a while since I read it, I seem to recall that novella being vibrant, sensual, and engaging, but this book was slow, sometimes confusing, and didn't really hold my attention well. IMHO, both the characters and the plot were underdeveloped, leaving me with little to grab hold of for true enjoyment, yet I'll admit that I didn't entirely dislike it. It was an OK read that didn't completely frustrate me like some books have, but not one that I would eagerly recommend or likely read again.
Helena is a wealthy woman in her own right, but over the years has been subject to the whims of her guardian. She longs to be free of him and all powerful men. Therefore, after securing what she believes is her guardian's permission to marry a man of her choosing as long as he meets certain requirements, she goes to London intending to find a man she can wrap around her little finger, so that she can be the one calling the shots. She just didn't count on meeting up with the one man who kissed her in a convent garden seven years ago and whom she has never been able to forget. It seems that Helena's guardian, Fabian, used her for many years by dangling her and her fortune in front of prospective suitors but had never seen fit to allow a marriage. This part of the story was underdeveloped in two ways. First, I didn't really grasp exactly what Fabian was getting out of this game. It seemed to be some sort of political machinations, but the details were never entirely clear to me. The other thing is that Helena was sufficiently off-put by his shenanigans that she wanted nothing to do with any man who was even the slightest bit like him. I wanted to feel sympathy for her, but I never got a good sense of exactly how Fabian's actions had affected her. Without that, it was difficult to understand her coldness and determination to marry a compliant husband. Initially, I had a hard time warming up to Helena, because she could come off as rather manipulative in her actions, during her husband search. I can't say I disagreed with Sebastian when he accused her of being as manipulative as Fabian, just in a slightly different way. Once she finally warms up to the idea of marrying Sebastian, she became easier for me to like.
I had a slightly easier time feeling out Sebastian, but his characterization too, was somewhat lacking. At first, he comes off as nothing more than a ruthlessly charming rogue. Word about town is that he's vowed never to marry, which means his brother will someday succeed him as Duke. What Helena doesn't know though, is that Sebastian's sister-in-law covets the title of Duchess, and Sebastian can't abide the idea of the woman who tricked his brother into marriage and her son succeeding him. Therefore, he has determined to marry and produce his own heir after all, but there is only one woman who has ever intrigued him enough to spend his life with and that's the girl he kissed in the garden. When he spots Helena at a ball, he instantly knows they're meant to be and pulls out all the stops to pursue her. He allows her to believe he's simply helping her find the kind of husband she wants, while engineering his own seduction of her. To be honest, I don't know why Helena resisted him for so long, because Sebastian never seemed to be lording his power over her or truly manipulating her. He honestly cares for her and as far as I could tell, all his actions were meant to gently persuade her into giving him a chance. The author brings Helena into contact with some ladies early on, who tell her of Sebastian's soft spot for damsels in distress and how he has used his influence as a duke to help many a lady out of difficult circumstances. I absolutely loved knowing this about him, but then it didn't really go anywhere. He does eventually help Helena, but I would have like to see more of this side of him. When Helena begins acting distant, Sebastian was very smart and intuitive to discern that something was troubling her and to even have an idea of when and perhaps how it started. I also love that when it came to persuading her to marry him, he gives her space and patiently waits for her to come to him and trust him with her heart. That's why I could never understand why Helena took so long and even late in the story endearingly calls him a “loving tyrant.” Sebastian never seemed tyrannical to me at all. Sure he had some alpha tendencies, but I've read plenty of other romance heroes who I'd much more readily call tyrants than him.
I had mixed feelings about Sebastian and Helena's relationship. The story begins with them sharing a passionate kiss in the garden of the convent where she's staying. Obviously the kiss was special to both of them, as neither of them supposedly forgot it, but the way it was written, I just didn't feel it at the time. Fast-forward seven years and they meet again at a ball, and Sebastian begins his dogged pursuit of Helena. For the first half or so of the book, I honestly couldn't quite fathom what either of them saw in the other, because they're still pretty ill-defined. All I felt between them was a shared physical chemistry, but no particularly deep connection. When they retire to Sebastian's country estate for the Christmas holidays, then I finally started feeling something more between them, maybe because there was a bit more at stake. Helena finds it increasingly difficult to distance herself from Sebastian, but at that point, she's again being manipulated by threats from her guardian, which may mean her having to betray Sebastian. Believing she'll probably never see him again after she does Fabian's bidding, she allows herself to enjoy his seduction. Their love scenes were intense and sensual, one of my favorite parts of the story, but there still seemed to be a lack of trust on Helena's part. I really felt like she should have confided in Sebastian what Fabian was demanding of her and trusted that he would help her, especially since she knew from her conversation with the other ladies that Sebastian was the type of guy who would offer his assistance. He ended up finding out anyway and graciously helping her, and although thankfully, it didn't cause a rift between them, I felt like their connection would have been stronger if she'd gone to him with her troubles first.
The Promise in a Kiss got off to a very slow start. The first half or so of the book was, quite frankly, rather boring to me. Until about halfway through chapter two, I didn't have much of a feel for who the characters were. Even as I started to get to know them a little better, the plot itself plodded along. For nearly the entire first half of the book, the characters don't really do anything except repetitively meet up at an endless string of balls and parties, with the occasional stroll along the Serpentine during the day thrown in for good measure. It was like a dull, tiresome exercise in the interactions of polite society, with little emotion to speak of until Helena gets upset with Sebastian over a bit of high-handedness on his part. IMO, the intrigue portion of the plot could have and should have been woven in sooner to provide a bit more action and a welcome break from the tedium of the balls and parties. The author just barely hints at something being afoot, but it was a little too subtle to be engaging until about a third of a way into the book. When that part of the plot started to pick up, it was better, but I still didn't feel like the “villain” had enough bite. I didn't really sense much menace from him, and in the end, it seems he wasn't truly out to hurt anyone. I also didn't really comprehend the game he and Sebastian had supposedly been playing for years. It almost seemed like little more than an amusement between two bored aristocrats, in which case, it wasn't very compelling. I couldn't help feeling like the stakes should have been higher, both with the suspense and the romantic relationship.
The last thing that bothered me about the book was the writing style. To begin, I detected a fair bit of passive narration, which is likely why I didn't feel as connected to the characters and their burgeoning romance as I would have liked. Also I found the prose to be very uneven. Sometimes, the narration could be too wordy, with a lot of unnecessary qualifying phrases being thrown in, when IMHO, being more straightforward and succinct would have made it easier to feel the emotion of the moment. Other times, it was too short and choppy with mere words or phrases serving as sentences, when again IMHO, they didn't need that extra emphasis. If the author had smoothed out the narration, I think I would have enjoyed the story quite a bit more. Ms. Laurens also engages in a fair bit of head-hopping, which was oftentimes confusing. I would be reading along and then suddenly the POV changed, and I would frequently end up a couple of paragraphs into it before realizing that I was reading a different character's perspective. As an aside many of the characters' surnames and titles were really strange and I'd hazard to guess, difficult for a lot of readers to pronounce. I'd never heard of most of them, and they were so odd, I wondered if the author either chose the most obscure names she could possibly find or perhaps simply made them up. Lastly, there was a huge overabundance of eyebrow arching. Not everyone can even do this, so having both the hero and heroine doing it every few pages or so became an annoyance. Many of these things are rookie mistakes that I wouldn't expect from a seasoned author like Ms. Laurens (they should have been caught by the editor too), which leaves me wondering if she might have written it earlier in her career but didn't get it published until later. I have no idea if my suspicions are correct, but since The Promise in a Kiss precedes the rest of the Cynster books chronologically but was published about seventh in line, it certainly seems plausible.
While I know I've had a lot of criticisms of The Promise in a Kiss, it wasn't a bad book. I liked Sebastian for as well as I got to know him, and although it took me longer to warm up to Helena and I still thought she wasn't a stand out heroine, I liked her well enough. Once they got away from the tedium of the London social whirl, there was some decent action and their connection became much more obvious. There were some good ingredients in this story, and if the author had smoothed out the narrative passages and fleshed out the characters and plot a little better, I could easily see this having keeper status potential, which is why I didn't rate it any lower than I did. So overall, even though several things could have been better, I found it to be a decent read. The Promise in a Kiss is chronologically the first book in Stephanie Lauren's prolific and popular Cynster series, and as I mentioned before, the first full-length novel by her I've read. I liked it well enough, so between that and my earlier positive reading experience with her novella, I'm sure I'll continue with the series at some point....more
Reviewed for THC Reviews "4.5 stars" Maelstrom is a graphic novel adaptation of the second half of Storm Front, the inaugural novel in the Dresden FileReviewed for THC Reviews "4.5 stars" Maelstrom is a graphic novel adaptation of the second half of Storm Front, the inaugural novel in the Dresden Files series. As with the first volume, The Gathering Storm, the book contains four sections, and each section was originally released in comic book format, then collected together into this one hardcover volume. At the end, there is also a bonus preview of the graphic novel adaptation of Fool Moon, which includes an excerpt and concept art.
Once again, I'm not going to review the overall story, because I've already written a review on the full-length novel version of Storm Front, a book that I very much enjoyed. Just like with The Gathering Storm, I thought the adaptation of the story was done extremely well, definitely hitting all the important plot points and staying true to the original source material. Again I would consider this book to be firmly in the adult graphic novel category as there is a fair bit of violence, some of which can get bloody and gory, both male and female nudity is depicted with the important parts strategically covered, and in two frames, a couple is seen in the background in the throes of passion. None of this bothered me, but since graphic novels tend to be popular with teens, I wanted to provide the information for those who might be concerned. My only small complaint is that this time, the illustrations were done by two different artists. I guess overall, I was generally satisfied with both artists' renderings. They each had something unique to offer, but I still have a bit of a preference for Ardian Syaf's work. Where I had a slight issue with it is that I found the switch in styles about halfway through the book a little jarring. I'm not sure why the book publishers did it this way, but I do wish they'd stuck with one artist for the entire series. Otherwise though, I thought it was an excellent graphic novel adaptation that I would definitely recommend....more
Reviewed for THC Reviews The Gathering Storm is a graphic novel adaptation of the first half of Storm Front, the inaugural novel in the Dresden Files sReviewed for THC Reviews The Gathering Storm is a graphic novel adaptation of the first half of Storm Front, the inaugural novel in the Dresden Files series. The book contains four chapters, and each chapter was originally released in comic book format, then collected together into this one hardcover volume. At the end, there is also a bonus comic adaptation of the prequel short story, Restoration of Faith, done by a different artist and story adapter. And at the very back of the book, there are both the line drawings and finished covers for the comic books.
I won't bother critiquing the overall story, because I've already done a review on the full-length novel version of Storm Front, a book that I very much enjoyed. What I will say is that IMHO, The Gathering Storm is an excellent adaptation of the novel into graphic novel form. Even though it's been a while since I read Storm Front, it's all coming back to me, and now in living color.:-) I really like Ardian Syaf's illustrations. I feel like they capture Harry and the other characters, as well as the situations in which they find themselves, quite well. While I've categorized some of the other Dresden Files graphic novels under young adult as well as adult, I would say that The Gathering Storm is firmly in the adult category. It contains some mild to moderate sexuality. Harry is seen naked throughout one scene, although the important parts are strategically covered. There is also a fair bit of violence, including a particularly bloody, gory murder scene.
As for the bonus content, the graphic novelization of Restoration of Faith was done very nicely. When I read the short story, I must have missed that Karrin Murphy was the cop who helped out Harry and his young charge. It was probably because I wasn't yet familiar with the characters who would be playing key roles in the books, so it was nice to get that little blast from the past. I didn't like the art work in this one quite as well. It was done by a different artist, and there was just something about it that didn't quite speak to me in the same way as Ardian Syaf's work on The Gathering Storm did. But overall it was a nice addition to the book. I also enjoyed seeing the original comic book covers at the end.
Overall, I very much enjoyed The Gathering Storm and don't think they could have done any better job of capturing the look and feel of the novel as well as the salient plot points into a comics style format. It was extremely well done, stayed true to the original source material, and is highly recommended by this reader for graphic novel fans....more
Reviewed for THC Reviews The Wedding Bargain is a fun, light-hearted, Regency romp that turned out to be a pretty entertaining read. The hero has a repReviewed for THC Reviews The Wedding Bargain is a fun, light-hearted, Regency romp that turned out to be a pretty entertaining read. The hero has a reputation as “a rake, a rogue, a scoundrel, and a beast.” The heroine has caught his eye, and knowing that he must marry soon to produce an heir, he's determined to do whatever it takes to have her. She has been dubbed the Hellion of Grosvenor Square, and while it's not a title she's entirely earned, she is a very spirited young lady who refuses to marry without love. The two strike up an amusing bargain in which she puts him to the test to determine whether or not he can truly be the hero she craves. She thinks the test she devises based on the Twelve Labors of Hercules will be virtually impossible for him to pass, but she didn't count on his ingenuity or her family and friends meddling to bring them together. It all made for a very amusing story. Prior to this I'd only read one novella by Victoria Alexander that was just OK for me, so I was very pleasantly surprised to enjoy this book.
Pandora's family is a bit eccentric, particularly her father and mother who are experts in Greek antiquities. As their only child, her father has bestowed a sizable income on her and she is also their heir, so she has really felt no pressing need to marry. Her parents have given her a great deal of latitude, and she sometimes pushes the envelope when it comes to flouting society's rules. Because of her slightly scandalous exploits, most of her peers call her the Hellion of Grosvenor Square. Pandora is in her seventh season, when most young ladies would be considered firmly on the shelf spinsters, but she simply thinks of herself as independent. If she ever marries at all, it will only be for love. When she believes Max may be pursuing her best friend with dishonorable intentions, she confronts him, and it leads to a verbal sparring match that she is surprised to find herself enjoying. From there, they share their vision of the ideal mate, but when Max declares that he meets her every desire, she's skeptical, so he dares her to put him to the test. Given Pandora's circumstances and her attitude toward marriage, I think it would have been easy for her to come off as either too cold or too cocky and vain, but thankfully, neither is the case. I thought that she was a pretty well-balanced heroine who was intelligent and competitive without being conceited. I was also pleased to see that she could be empathetic when the situation called for it. I think she really enjoyed matching wits with Max and was sometimes contrary simply because she loved playing the game. Pandora can also be a very stubborn young lady, who has a hard time admitting what's right in front of her face, namely that first, she's attracted to Max, and later, she's fallen in love with him. While perhaps, she skated a bit too close to the edge of annoying me with this trait, I really found it more funny than anything.
Max knows he must marry, but really wants nothing to do with the simpering misses who typically pursue him. He is certain life would be a complete bore with such a biddable wife, so he's looking for someone with more backbone and spirit. He's taken notice of Pandora before, but never quite so much as when she confronts him. He knows in an instant that life with her would never be dull, so he determines then and there to do whatever it takes to win her hand in marriage. After hearing her list of requirements for a husband, he points out that he meets every one. When it becomes apparent that what she's really looking for is a hero, he wants to prove to her that he can be that man. I love how dogged Max is in his pursuit of Pandora. He truly is willing to do just about anything, up to and including making a fool out of himself, to show her that he's the man for her. I found that quite romantic, as actions often speak louder than words. Max is determined to win the game, not just because he's competitive, but because he truly loves Pandora and wants to prove that he can be her hero. In reality, Max was already a war hero, having fought against Napoleon. I was glad to see the author take a step back from all the fun and games and allow the reader to see a bit of this side of him when he tells Pandora a little about his time in the war. I think it helped to build his characterization more, and overall, Max was a very admirable hero. I just wish he'd been a little more forthcoming with his declarations of love.
With The Wedding Bargain being the first in the fairly long Effington Family & Friends series, I was a bit surprised that there weren't many secondary characters with potential for their own books being introduced. There are Effingtons aplenty in the background, but most are a bit older and already attached, like Pandora's parents and aunts. The only Effington we get to meet who doesn't fall into those categories is Pandora's cousin, Gillian, who is a young widow. She becomes the heroine of the next book, The Husband List. Gillian is only in one scene, so I can't say that I got a really good feel for her character, but I do look forward to giving her book a try. The two characters who do play significant supporting roles are Max's best friend, Laurie, and Pandora's best friend, Cynthia. They share a rather sweet, secondary romance that was almost as much fun as Max and Pandora's.
The main thing that bothered me about The Wedding Bargain and that took away the star is that Max and Pandora are both quite stubborn about not revealing their feeling for one another. Even though Pandora comes to realize she wants to marry Max, she refuses to do so without love. Max is doing everything he can to show Pandora how much he loves her, but she still doesn't trust that he does, because he hasn't said the words. Because of this, she holds back from saying them too and keeps trying to sabotage his efforts to win the game. For Max's part, he's afraid to say the words for fear that Pandora doesn't return his affections. It's readily apparent that they both do love each other to distraction, so I didn't find their refusal to say the words until the final pages as gratingly annoying as I might have otherwise. However, their reasoning does get pretty convoluted at times, and occasionally, I found myself rolling my eyes, thinking “Would somebody just say it already?”
Otherwise, The Wedding Bargain was a pretty enjoyable read. It could perhaps be a bit dialog heavy at times, and I picked up on some repetitious words, phrases, and character actions. But these things didn't detract much from my overall satisfaction with the story. Another thing that kept Max and Pandora's refusal to say those three little words from becoming too irritating is that the sexual tension is done quite well. I could really feel their burgeoning attraction for one another, and I also loved their witty bantering. The game itself is quite amusing, adventurous, and creative too, so it kept me reading, wanting to know just how Max pulled off all these seemingly impossible tasks. All in all, it was an entertaining romp that I would recommend to readers who are looking for a historical romance that's lighter and more humorous....more