The Scarlet Corset

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Hello world!

Posted by Mistress on October 12, 2009

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JR Ward – BDB 02 – Lover Eternal

Posted by Wanderer on September 21, 2009

The Challenge: Trying to get past page 1. Seriously – I couldn’t get past this page for a week. I’ve since realized it’s probably because the page starts out with dialogue and we all know how much I love the dialogue *end sarcasm*. Now, the challenge is writing my review.

The Setting: My room

The Music: Jay-Z bumpin from the speakers j/k

The Couple: Rhage (aka Hollywood, Hal E. Wood) and Mary Luce

The Surprise: The book was dedicated to me. What, you doubt me? Read ’em and weep people. Read ’em and weep:

Dedicated to: You.

In the beginning, we didn’t hit it off, did we?

See, told ya so. JR Ward obviously had Vishous prognosticate my reaction to book one, Dark Lover.

Within the brotherhood, Rhage is the vampire with the strongest appetites. He’s the best fighter, the quickest to act on his impulses, and the most voracious lover—for inside him burns a ferocious curse cast by the Scribe Virgin. Possessed by this dark side, Rhage fears the times when his inner dragon is unleashed, making him a danger to everyone around him.

Mary Luce, a survivor of many hardships, is unwittingly thrown into the vampire world and reliant on Rhage’s protection. With a life-threatening curse of her own, Mary is not looking for love. Her faith in miracles was lost years ago. But when Rhage’s intense animal attraction turns into something more emotional, he knows that he must make Mary his alone. And while their enemies close in, Mary fights desperately to gain life eternal with the one she loves…

Mary and Rhage’s story starts out pretty good. I found it to be an easier read, once I got past page one, than the first book. We see how hard it’s been for Rhage to live with his beast and we meet Mary who’s had a rough life. She took care of her sick mother and watched helplessly as she faded away into death. Mary also battled leukemia and after two years of remission, may now have a recurrence. I was very interested in these two until everything got repetitive. Here’s a summary:

Mary: I’m plain, why is Hal (aka Rhage) with me?

Rhage: Your voice, it’s so soothing yet it also makes me hot.

Mary: He’s only being nice because Bella told him I’m sick.

Rhage: You’re so beautiful and you make me all tingly in my special places. Wait, even in my non-special places.

Mary: Stop pitying me. You’re way out of my league.

Rhage: But I’m so hard for you. Oh no! I’m also dangerous for you. See how my teal eyes glow for you. My secret beast wants out and will probably eat you.

Mary: Hmm….his teal eyes are glowing but that doesn’t bother me at all because glowing teal eyes are oh so normal. Oh and I’m wet for you, but you’re just being kind to the unattractive girl. See you even pull away from me because I disgust you.

Rhage: I love you! Stay here with me in my room. You’re my girl now and forever.

Mary: What? You don’t even know me, I don’t know you. We may be practically sexin’ it like monkeys but you, Mr. Hottie McNaughty, cannot love me, Ms. Demure Insecure.

Rhage: How can you think me so unworthy? I only want to love and take care of you.

Yada, yada, yada. Shampoo, rinse and repeat a couple dozen times with some breaks for kissing, fondling and feeding (food not blood) because apparently it means a whole lot in the vamp world to feed another. Whatever….moving on.

There was one part that I really liked in the first half. It’s when Rhage is reflecting on the burden the beast has been on him. I really feel for him here:

God, he was tired of being stuck inside his body, managing its demands, trying not to fall into a brutal oblivion. Sure, his stunner of a face and the strength were all fine and good. But he would have traded both to a scrawny, ugly mo’fo, if it would have gotten him some peace. Hell, he couldn’t even remember what serenity was like. He couldn’t even remember who he was.

The disintegration of himself had started up pretty quick. After only a couple of years into the curse, he’d stopped hop-ing for any true relief and simply tried to get by without hurting anyone. That was when he’d started to die on the inside, and now, over a hundred years later, he was mostly numb, nothing more than glossy window dressing and empty charm.

Early on in the book, we meet a young man named John Matthews who Mary befriends despite his stalkerish behavior. She also introduces John to her neighbor Bella, who happens to be a civilian vampire. John is mute but of course Mary, in all her holy goodness, knows sign language. While chatting/signing with John, Mary and Bella discover he is an orphan. He is also wearing a bracelet he made that has symbols he dreamt about. Guess what those symbols are? They’re old school vamp talk and Bella just happens to read OSVT. The following is what she discovers after reading the symbols. It is also the point at which I set the book down and laughed:

Putting her hands on her hips, she stared at the floor. What the hell was she going to do? When she’d searched John’s conscious mind, she’d found nothing about his race, his people, his traditions. The boy didn’t know a thing, had no idea who he really was or what he was going to turn into. And he honestly didn’t know what those symbols meant

She did. They spelled out TEHRROR in the Old Language. A warrior’s name.

Seriously? TEHRROR? Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

*picks book back up and continues reading*

So apparently John Matthews is destined to be one of the Brotherhood. I love how Tohr is with him. Again, Tohr is one of my faves from the books and I can’t wait to read more about him and Wellsie.

There’s also a part where Rhage cheats on Mary. She knows where he’s going (and why) and I see why he did it but after all his sweetness towards her, he lost many points in my book.

After Mary finally admits her feelings for Rhage things go a little smoother. There’s still a lot of repetitiveness but I was less annoyed by then. There’s a part where Rhage realizes that his beast wants to sex it up with Mary too, and she agrees to let him. So they proceed and I won’t lie, that scene was kinda creepy. It had nothing to do with the chains (they had to chain Rhage so the beast wouldn’t hurt Mary) but with the actual thought of some alien-like creature up in there too…CREEPY!


The Lessers are snoozeville for me. I don’t see them as any real threat except to Johnson and Johnson, the makers of baby powder. Have nothing else to say about them.

One of the things I really like about the BDB world is the brotherhood aspect. I like the solidarity they show towards Rhage after his punishment for breaking the Brotherhood’s rules. I LOVE the scene afterwards with Zsadist at Rhage’s bedside chanting or praying for him. I wished for more scenes of the brothers together WITHOUT the slang. That would have made a huge difference for me! I also wanted more interaction between the ladies. When Mary first arrives, Beth is there for a brief second and Wellsie is mainly in scenes with Tohr. At the very least, I would have expected Beth to befriend Mary since she was living there. She could have provided some advice on dealing with the brothers considering she was fairly new to the group as well.

I did get a little bored towards the end with the exception of the scenes with Bella and Phury, then Bella and Zsadist. It really got me interested in learning more about both brothers. I liked Bella because she was upfront, she straight up told Z she was attracted to him and wanted to sleep with him. You.Go.Girl. Very refreshing after all Mary’s wishy-washy ways. We also learned earlier that Bella has a brother named Rehvenge, probably a future member of the brotherhood.

The ending wasn’t unexpected but rather a bit unsatisfying. I seriously thought the path they were taking was heartbreakingly beautiful. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted a happy ending and knew there would be a twist but didn’t think it would be that. Since the rule was Rhage couldn’t go to the new Mary, I thought somehow the new Mary would cross paths with him and they would rebuild their relationship. I actually would have preferred it that way. Anyway……

I still have my issues with JR Ward’s writing (the names, the slang, the caveman talk – see link above for the list in my review of the first book) but I have to admit the little peeks she provides on the other brothers are enough to catch and hold my attention. My faves are still Zsadist and Tohrment. I want to learn more about what happened in Z’s past and I want to see what happens with Tohr, Wellsie and their baby. I also, want to see how they help John Matthews since they pretty much adopted him. I even want to see what’s up with Phury and why the celibacy. Oh yeah, not to mention V and his awesome yet burden laden gift of prognostication.

In short, these books are mind-crack and I have succumbed. Well played, Ms. Ward. Well played. I still need recovery time from each book so I’ll see you in another 3 months when I read the next one.

Final Grade:

Liked the premise of this book but aspects of its execution were WEAK. Enjoyed it enough to continue riding the series/author out at my own leisurely pace. Beyond the hype, this book is fine for a fluffy, generic read and has more of a library rental/swap quality rather than a keeper for my personal bookshelf.

Around The Net:

A Journey of Books: A+
The Romance Reader: 3 Stars
Love Vampires: 5 Stars
Dear Author: B
The Hope Chest Reviews: 4 Stars
Romantic Times: 4 ½ Stars

Posted in Black Dagger Brotherhood, C, Contemporary Couplings, JR Ward, Paranormal Romance, Reviews, Vampires, Wanderer, When Spoilers Attack | 10 Comments »

Audio Books Need Love Too

Posted by Wanderer on September 16, 2009

I recently read a blog post on my phone about audio books but didn’t save the link or my browser history so I have no way to reference it here. Nonetheless, I want to thank that poster for reminding me that audio books need love too! I know several people who have tried audio books and found they didn’t work for them. The reasons vary from audio books being too slow paced, to it being hard to listen to a male narrator attempt a female voice and vice versa. That’s ok, there are several reasons why audio books don’t work for some but I’m here to focus on why I like them. There’s a lot of support for e-books (which I also support) but I figured it’s time to show some support for yet another alternative….the spoken word.

I became a fan of audio books about 3 years ago after a co-worker shared one of his with me. I haven’t looked back since. A good audio book will play like a movie in your mind. It can be a calming yet entertaining companion on a long commute. It can keep the family entertained and peaceful on a road trip. What makes a good audio book? Of course the story has to be interesting but the real thing that can make or break it is the narrator. A great narrator will take you on a journey from chapter to chapter, making each character come to life in their own unique way. After listening to a few audio books you’ll figure out the narrators you like and can then search for books they have recorded. I have found several new authors using this method.

Here is a tiny peek at the variety of audio books and narrators available to you. Please click on the title for more information and to hear a sample from each book:


One for the Money by Janet Evanovich (unfortunately I couldn’t find a sample anywhere online)

This was my very first audio book download and talk about luck of the draw! It was a case of perfect narrator and story material. C.J. Critt (probably my 2nd favorite narrator) does a great job of differentiating the characters and capturing the essence of the book. I listened to most of the Stephanie Plum series and they were a blast. There is a change of narrator in the middle books but after a while, I got used to the new voice.


Naked in Death by J.D. Robb

I started one version of this but the narrator didn’t work for me. Someone mentioned another version by Susan Ericksen and that’s the one I enjoyed. You’ll come across this sometimes where different publishers will put out their own recording. Ms. Ericksen’s narration is a perfect compliment to Ms. Robb’s story.


My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

This was my first audio book with an ensemble cast: Jennie Ikeda, Barbara McCulloh, Richard Poe, Tom Stechschulte, Carol Monda, Julia Gibson and Andy Paris. The change between narrators follows the format of the book where each part changes point of view. I thought the story was interesting until the end where Ms. Picoult shows her penchant for twists. So based on narration alone, I’d recommend this book. As for the novel, I’ll be honest and tell you the ending pissed me off. 🙂


Dead Ringer by Lisa Scottoline

This was my first book by Ms. Scottoline and my first narrated by Barbara Rosenblat, my all time favorite narrator! Ms. Rosenblat brings each character to life with distinct tones and inflections and provides a wonderful listening experience. I think Ms. Scottoline’s books are on the ‘ok’ level but I listened to a lot of them because they were narrated by Ms. Rosenblat. In fact, Ms. Rosenblat is one narrator that I’ve Googled to find what other books she has recorded.


Rain Fall by Barry Eisler

One thing I love is having a book in both electronic and audio format. There are times when I am unable to read but want to continue the story and audio books allow me this freedom. This was the case with Rain Fall. I was reading on my ereader when I was called away for another task. I was able to switch on my ipod and continue the story while working. Jeff Harding’s narration is a perfect accompaniment to Mr. Eisler’s fast-paced plot. When I was reading, I would pause at the Japanese names and phrases trying to pronounce them whereas Mr. Harding delivers them smoothly.


Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

This is the first book in the Southern Vampire series and the narrator is Johanna Parker. Ms. Parker does a decent enough southern accent in her portrayal of Sookie Stackhouse and paired with Ms. Harris’ writing, this is a fun ride that holds the listener’s attention.


Whiskey Sour by J.A. Konrath

This audio book has two narrators, Susie Breck and Dick Hill. Both are excellent at voicing their characters but they also add little things here and there to make it more real. If a character cracks a joke, the other one will have laughter in his/her voice as he/she responds. If one is eating something, you’ll hear the chewing as they speak. However, these added elements don’t always work. I’ve tried Graphic Audio’s production of Alex Archer’s Rogue Angel series but their sound affects are too over the top for me. I don’t need to hear the car door slamming or action music before something big happens. It’s way too distracting.

So if you’re game to try an audio book my advice is to start at your local library. It probably has an ignored audio book section waiting for a friendly visitor or even better, your library could have access to online audio book websites like NetLibrary or OverDrive. These sites offer audio books for download at no cost. This way you can avoid one of the major drawbacks of audio books: the high prices. If you try one through your library and discover it’s not for you, you can simply return it. No harm, no foul. If you find you do enjoy audio books and want a larger selection than what’s available to your library, Audible.com is one of the top places to shop.

Have you tried an audio book? Are you a fan? What are some of your favorites?

Posted in Audio Books, Blog Talk, Opinions, Wanderer | 7 Comments »

Lucy, you got some ‘splainin’ to do!

Posted by Wanderer on August 16, 2009


Short version review of Tessa Dare’s Goddess of the Hunt can be summed up in the lyrics to Vanessa Williams’ “Save the Best for Last”:

All of the nights you came to me
When some silly [boy] had set you free
You wondered how you’d make it through
I wondered what was wrong with you

Cause how could you give your love to someone else
And share your dreams with me
Sometimes the very thing you’re looking for
Is the one thing you can’t see

And now we’re standing face to face
Isn’t this world a crazy place
Just when I thought our chance had passed
You go and save the best for last

Read on for the special extended edition 😉

Ever the bold adventuress, Lucy Waltham has decided to go hunting for a husband. But first she needs some target practice. So she turns to her brother’s best friend, Jeremy Trescott, the Earl of Kendall, to hone her seductive wiles on him before setting her sights on another man. But her practice kisses spark a smoldering passion—one that could send all her plans up in smoke.

Jeremy has an influential title, a vast fortune, and a painful past, full of long-buried secrets. He keeps a safe distance from his own emotions, but to distract Lucy from her reckless scheming, he must give his passions free rein. Their sensual battle of wills is as maddening as it is delicious, but the longer he succeeds in managing the headstrong temptress, the closer Jeremy comes to losing control. When scandal breaks, can he bring himself to abandon Lucy to her ruin? Or will he risk his heart, and claim her for his own?

Where or where should I begin? I guess I should start with the first thing that really caught my attention. Yes, the opening scene is a good one. It drops you right in the middle of something life-changing but the first moment that really hooked me was in chapter two. It occurs when Lucy (a tomboy) comes to breakfast all dolled up to impress Toby, one of her older brother’s best friends, and something happens to one of the heavy opal earrings she’s wearing. I was not expecting that and it got an audible response from me – sort of a combination laugh-gasp-oh response. I’ve had that response in the past, after reading the “the one eating the shrubs” line from Julie Garwood’s The Lion’s Lady. Considering I’m practically a JG fangurl, I knew it was a good sign for this book.

Lucy is convinced she’s in love with Toby and does her best to attract his attention after finding out about his upcoming engagement to another woman. She plots and schemes to come up with a way for him to notice her as a woman and no longer Henry’s little sister, however, her schemes fail every time. In the beginning, I could see past Lucy’s scheming as I saw her more through Jeremy’s eyes and thoughts. She is a young girl with no experience in dating or even friendship for that matter. Her parents died leaving her to the care of her brother who is pretty much clueless to the kind of guidance a girl Lucy’s age needs so with no exposure to any other company, it’s no surprise that her first major crush is on one of Henry’s best friends. Someone who has come to the manor every summer for the past 8 years and the only one who has shown her the slightest bit of kind attention (btw, I loved the idea of where the title of the book comes from). With all that in mind I began to see Lucy’s behavior more as emotional growing pains. We all go through them and we all are different in our reactions to them. However, later in the book there were moments were she seemed to take 1 step towards maturity but then Toby came within hearing distance and she took 2 steps back. Very aggravating considering how much progress she and Jeremy had made, not just in the physical sense, but I thought he was finally reaching her emotionally. Particularly after Lucy witnessed Toby giving Sophia, his future betrothed, a crown of ivory. I felt since that was what started Lucy’s crush in the first place, seeing Toby give the same gift to someone else would surely snap her out of her daze. Unfortunately, it did not.

As for Jeremy, I really liked him from the start. First, because of the way he handled the situation with Lucy coming to his room in the middle of the night for a ridiculous practice session. Secondly, because he was upfront in telling her how foolish her behavior was yet every time her plans went awry, he was there to pick her back up. I liked that he tried to warn Henry and Toby about Lucy but for all his good intentions they only gave him more reasons to be closer to Lucy. As his fondness for Lucy grows, even as she continues her pursuit of Toby, you can’t help but feel for him. Especially when his efforts are thwarted in the name of Toby….literally in the name of Toby (end of wardrobe scene anyone?). Speaking of the wardrobe scene….yes, it is hot and sensual (it is up there with the scene in front of the mirror from Stephanie Laurens’ Devil’s Bride) but for me the part that gave it that extra oomph, what made it more powerful, was Jeremy’s internal dialogue. His desperate need for Lucy to acknowledge it was him and no other that was with her in that precise moment.

Who was he to her, here in the dark? Was he himself, or some stranger, or – most terrible to contemplate and altogether probable – someone else known to them both?

That extra oomph factor can be found throughout the book. It’s hard to explain exactly but there is so much given to us not only in the dialogue between the characters but also in the internal struggles they’re experiencing. I felt all that internal insight made the emotions that much stronger and Ms. Dare’s writing…I found it to be a bit lyrical and poetic. The way she describes things sort of paints an emotional picture for the reader.

I also liked the supporting characters and the relationships they had with the main characters. In fact, I would count Henry as one of my favorites. Yes, he is the fumbling brother that is out of sorts when it comes to what a girl needs but he is still a funny and caring character. From the song he sings in the beginning to some of the comments he makes (something about frozen stones? 😛 ) to the confrontations he has with Jeremy regarding Lucy. The brother/sister relationship between Henry and Lucy felt very real to me. Especially when he cracks on her being considered a ‘lady’ and also in the descriptions of the letters he sends her towards the end. I was glad that Sophia wasn’t made out to be a villain. She isn’t some stuck up, beautiful yet brainless twit, but a sweet and lonely young lady not unlike Lucy. She’s also learning her way in the world and thinks she’s doing the right thing by marrying Toby but still has her doubts throughout the book. I liked that Lucy and Sophia grew to be friends which also helped Lucy to realize what she truly wanted. As for Toby, I thought he was a jerk in the beginning for knowing how Lucy felt about him but being too chicken to let her down easy. But later on when he’s in London talking to Jeremy, he redeemed himself in my eyes. Then we have the ever-wandering Aunt Matilda. She could have become an annoying character but it was actually very sweet to see how they all cared for her and how some of her wandering aided Lucy and Jeremy’s relationship. I loved the part when they’re departing Waltham Manor and Jeremy sees she’s bringing Aunt Matilda with her. That’s actually one of the main things I liked about GotH – the humor. From the Look, to the Book, to the Letter, to their first ‘completed’ love scene, the humor is sprinkled throughout the story and amongst the characters and is definitely one of the reasons I read GotH as fast as I did.

I have to admit, though, that there was an interesting turn in the book for me. For the most part, I was always Team Jeremy. Then after the wedding and they moved to Jeremy’s estate, I found myself gradually going towards Team Lucy. Where before, Jeremy was always upfront with Lucy and told her what’s what, when they got back to his home and all the memories of his past came at him full force, he became the avoidance king. On the other hand, Lucy finally seemed to grow up and care about the well being of others. I even began to feel sorry for her when Jeremy was avoiding her or away on business. I think I truly joined Lucy’s side when he criticized her for not being a ‘lady’. I thought, “Hey dude that’s the Lucy you fell in lust/love with – the one with the adventurous spirit. You can’t expect her to change just because you put a ring on her finger and a title next to her name.” But this time it was seeing Jeremy through Lucy’s eyes and thoughts that reminded me that yes, it’s still the same, caring Jeremy from before but he has some pretty big demons from the past he needs help in defeating. When they finally come together emotionally in the end, it’s a solid and sweet reunion.

So aside from Lucy’s somewhat childish behavior (which I think could have been remedied had the quantity of foolish schemes been cut back a tad) and the over-use of “dusky red lips”, I found GotH to be a fun and fast read. I was also left with one question regarding a minor character, the doctor’s daughter, Henna. When she is first introduced in GotH, I immediately felt she’d have a very interesting tale to tell. I wonder if there are any plans for her book.

Goddess of the Hunt is the first book in Ms. Dare’s trilogy and I eagerly await the next two of the series, Surrender of a Siren coming August 25th and A Lady of Persuasion coming September 29th.

Final Grade:
A very high

Is everything I hoped it would be and not a pinch more. Better than average, it hit the spot like a tall drink on a hot summer’s day. While it didn’t quite dazzle me with unique or transcendent content, in no way is it a stale retelling.

Around The Net:
Monkey Bear Reviews: B
KatieBabs: A-
Dear Author: B+
All About Romance: B
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books: C
Mrs. Giggles: 84
Romantic Times: 4 ½ stars
Romance Novel TV: 5 stars

Posted in B, Historical Hook-Ups, Tessa Dare, Trilogy, Wanderer, When Spoilers Attack | 2 Comments »

So tell me have you ever really, really really ever loved a woman…..

Posted by Wanderer on August 3, 2009


This book started out with a Pride and Prejudiced inspired scene. The heroine, Merriam, overheard the man she liked make a hurtful statement about her at a ball. Unlike Pride and Prejudice, though, Merriam came up with a way to get her revenge and show that man she’s more woman than he could ever handle. Looking back, the main events of this book made me think of a certain website. Merriam’s story totally fits the FML requirements. So I present to you a review of Renee Bernard’s A Lady’s Pleasure, FMyLife style.

Seeking revenge, she discovers how delicious a case of mistaken identity can be….

Merriam Everett has always been regarded as a shy, docile creature. But for one night, Merriam the Mouse has become a temptress who will recklessly take her pleasure with the arrogant earl who once slighted her, and then leave him aching with lust. A fine plan, if Merriam had not just seduced the wrong rogue!

Drake Sotherton left England amid dark speculation and has returned to seek vengeance against Julian Clay, the man he believes murdered his wife. Convinced that the masked beauty who seduced him is Julian’s pawn, Drake tracks her down and proposes that she become his mistress for the Season. Every sensual desire, every secret longing will be explored…and fulfilled.

Merriam: Today I overheard my crush, Julian, tell someone that I’m a whey-faced widow. How will I ever face him or the world ever again? FML

M: Today I went to the masked ball and my plan for revenge on Julian went awry. I was supposed to get him hot and heavy and leave him wanting but instead I had smokin’ hot sex with him. FML

Drake: Today I had sex with an unknown woman at a masked ball. She left before I could get her name and I MUST see her again! How will I find her? FML

M: Today I found out it wasn’t Julian I seduced that night, WHO THE F was it?!?! FML

Ok, so aside from the silliness of the ‘revenge’ scheme I was into this book at the beginning. I didn’t mind the set up as long as the rest delivered. I even had a brief moment where I compared Drake Sotherton to Devil Cynster from Stephanie Laurens’ Devil’s Bride. I liked his friendship with Alex and there was one conversation they had where he bit Alex’s head off but immediately apologized for it. He seemed like a decent guy and I looked forward to reading more about him. I also enjoyed reading about his search for the identity of the mysterious Mrs. Lover Lover from the masked ball.

M: Today the man I seduced at the ball found me and wants me to meet at his house tonight. He got me all hot and heavy….then didn’t finish the job. FML

M: Today I went to his house to tell him I was a respectable woman and I didn’t want what he was offering…..until he started serving it up. I’m afraid I also had seconds and thirds. FML

The author did write some good love scenes, I’ll give her that. The scene in Drake’s house that night was super hot and seductive

“Only what you bare,” he whispered, his breath hot in her ear. “Hurry.”

Read the book and you’ll know what I’m talking about 😉

M: Today I agreed to be his mistress for the season but I’m still afraid of what the public will think so we hide out at his place. FML

M: Today we finally made a public appearance in the park and OMG my former crush, Julian, came up to us which made Drake all jealous. He rushed us home, threw me over his shoulder, carried me upstairs where he proceeded to spank me….and……I kind of liked it. FML?!?!

My good opinion of the book started falling the more I read because I didn’t see any positive growth in Merriam and Drake became too possessive and overbearing. Merriam was semi-assertive in bed but if she wasn’t sexin’ it up with Drake she was back to being Miss Dependent. She never stood up for herself or what she wanted and anytime there was a hint of disagreement, they pushed it aside and went for sex instead.

M: Today an acquaintance that saw us in the park stopped by to tell me about Drake’s sordid past. He is known by all, yes ALL, the ton as the Deadly Duke!!! *gasp* Why am I always the last to know these things? FML

M: Today I attempted to ask Drake about his past yet he distracted me with more good lovin’. Could I possibly be falling for a murderer? FML

D: Today I discovered who Merriam thought she was seducing the first night we met. She was looking for my mortal enemy, Julian. Is she in cahoots with him to bring about my downfall? How can I still want someone I don’t truly trust? FML

By now, you’d think Merriam would want to know more about the man she was sleeping with and falling for yet when opportunity arose, she always backed down. You’d also think Drake would man up and ask Merriam more about her revenge scheme at the ball and what her relationship with Julian was. But both seemed to enjoy living in their little sex bubble and ignored any semblance of truth. There were times, however, when Drake was really good to her. This was my favorite part from the book:

“There is only one person’s opinion that should sway you,” he went on, lifting her hand gently to peel off her glove.

“Oh?” she asked, feigning ignorance, anticipating his reply. Typical man! He would say that his was the only one that counted and then pay her a compliment to soothe her bruised confidence.

“Oh, yes.” Drake moved her palm up to his mouth and flicked his tongue over it before kissing it. “Your own. Yours is the only opinion that matters.”

I wanted his actions to back-up those words but sadly it never happened. He was always too busy fuming behind her back wondering what her true motives were or being super jealous of her attentions.

There was also a mystery subplot about what happened in Drake’s past and why he and Julian were enemies. I figured out who did the crime but was mistaken in my reasoning for it. The whole back and forth of “You did it.” “No, you did it.” “No, you!” got old quick because that’s all we got for most of the book. It wasn’t until the end that we discovered some of the background info on the crime – right before the truth of the murder was revealed. Sorry, that was not enough to keep my interest in that storyline.

Other issues I had with the book were the overuse of words or phrases. “You’re incorrigible.” “Who is incorrigible now?” “And you say I’m incorrigible” (the last one may be of my own making but believe me, incorrigible was used way too much). Next would be the many references to the Deadly Duke. I felt like I needed the little sound effect that plays during Law & Order scene transitions every time it was mentioned. Drake also called Merriam ‘familiar’ in reference to how she got his attention at the ball – Merriam was dressed as a cat and sent a message via the butler to Merlin (who she thought was Julian) that his ‘familiar’ had arrived. It was cute the first couple of times but when it was still used at the end, it was beyond overdone.

My review is titled “So tell me have you ever really, really really ever loved a woman” which is from one of Bryan Adam’s song but this book forgets one major thing:

To really love a woman
To understand her
You gotta know her deep inside
Hear every thought
See every dream
And give her wings when she wants to fly.

The meaning of that last line is what’s missing from this book. Sadly Merriam never wanted to fly and even if she did, Drake wasn’t the type to accept that. This is the first in the Mistress Trilogy with the next book being Alex’s story and the third is Julian’s. While I liked Alex in this book, I probably won’t be reading the rest of the trilogy.

Final Grade:

This book is decent but unfortunately I found parts of it annoying, boring, disturbing, and clichéd. Didn’t float my boat but hey, maybe it just wasn’t for me. So I’ll leave you to make your own judgment call. Proceed with caution, though: I came, I saw, I read and was not amused.

Around The Net:

Romantic Times: 4 Stars
Mrs. Giggles: 73

Posted in C, Historical Hook-Ups, Renee Bernard, Reviews, Wanderer, When Spoilers Attack | 4 Comments »

Whatchamacallit

Posted by Mistress on July 21, 2009


Calling all romance novel readers: I need help remembering the author and title of a book but I only remember the very beginning and the end. The end stuck with me over the years because the conclusion of the chapter made it seem like the heroine died. I remember thinking, no way…..she can’t be dead! I think that was my first shock at a possible non-HEA book. I remember the beginning had the hero losing his first wife during childbirth and due to that initial loss he was afraid of his second wife getting pregnant. Of course she eventually did get pregnant and when she went into labor he stayed in the room with her. I remember the midwife had a fit about this, telling him it wasn’t proper for a man to be there but he fought her on it and was allowed to stay with his wife. I remember there was a lot of blood loss after the baby was delivered and at one point the hero cried over his wife’s unmoving body. She appeared to be dead but in the final chapter (possibly the epilogue) it was revealed that she was still alive. I read this book years ago when I first started reading romance and back then the main authors I read were Julie Garwood and Kathleen Woodiwiss. I am 99.999999% sure it’s not a JG book so is it possibly a KW book? I’m not sure why this book popped back in to my mind recently but it won’t go away til I figure out its name. 😉

Posted in Unsolved Mysteries, Wanderer | 3 Comments »

Family Ties

Posted by Wanderer on July 14, 2009


Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas: The main theme of this book is family. Yes the romance is there along with the HEA but the root of the story is family dynamics. I think most families have certain roles that each person plays. One person may be considered the black sheep who does things on their own terms. Another can be the needy one who somehow always ends up in a bind. On the opposite end is the dependable one who is expected to have all the answers to everyone’s problems. For some reason, someone out there had a sense of humor and decided to grant me that last role. So with my knowledge of what that role entails, this book absolutely hit home with me.

Ella Varner has it all–a successful career as an advice columnist, a handsome boyfriend, and a circle of friends in Austin. When anyone has a problem, Ella knows the answers.

But one night she receives a call that changes everything. And as Ella’s world is turned upside-down, she meets a man who is the opposite of everything she ever wanted . . . a man who will offer her the most irresistible challenge she has ever known . . .

The heroine of this book is Ella Varner (role = dependable) who one day receives a frantic call from her mother asking her to come over and pick up her baby nephew. Ella’s sister Tara (role = needy) dropped her son off with their mother and took off. Their mother is an “all about me” character and knowing the childhood she and her sister had, Ella decides to go and ends up taking care of the baby, Luke. Well this does not sit well with Ella’s boyfriend Dane who has no interest in starting a family and tells her not to come back home with the baby. Say it with me now everyone, “ASSHOLE”! Although, I do have to give credit for being upfront about it. I may not like his stance but I can respect it. So maybe he’s only an ASS 😉 .

So begins Ella’s journey to find out where her sister is and who the baby’s father is. In finding Luke’s father, she is hoping to secure some form of financial and emotional stability for him. One of the possible baby-daddy candidates is handsome, rich, available Jack Travis. When it becomes clear there is no possible way he can be Luke’s father, Jack offers to help Ella in her search. It is during this search that a wonderful and believable romance is built.

One of the things I really like about this book is the amount of conversation between the two main characters. Then we have the added element of Luke. Ella has never taken care of a baby and Jack has some experience since he is an uncle but the two of them navigating the foreign territory of parenting is a wonderful thing to watch. At one point Ella is alone with Luke as he wraps his tiny little hand around her finger:

Living with Dane, I had heard and discussed and pondered any number of injustices in the world. But it hardly seemed that there could be anything worse than an unwanted child. Lowering my head, I pressed my cheek against his pale baby skin, and kissed the fragile curve of his skull. I watched his lashes lower, and his mouth compress like a grumpy old man’s. His hands rested on his chest like tiny pink starfish. I touched one of them with my finger, and his hand closed around it with surprising tightness.

He fell asleep holding my finger. It was an intimacy unlike anything I had ever felt before. And an unfamiliar, sweet pain spread in my chest, as if my heart were cracking open.

That line right there, it has a direct line to my heart. While I have no children of my own, each and every one of my nieces and nephews has made their mark. From tiny hands wrapped around my finger to first smiles and first hugs. There is nothing like it in this world.

Then we have Jack, who is always there to lend a helpful hand to Ella and Luke. Although he is wealthy, Ella insists on paying her own portion of the expenses which is something I love about her character. With that said, even with his money Jack never comes across as overbearing or arrogant – just a hard working, caring and down to earth man. With his help, they soon discover Tara’s whereabouts and have a better idea of who the father is and go to meet with him to get things set in motion for Luke’s future.

Although there is some difficulty due to issues stemming from Ella’s childhood, Jack and Ella grow closer and yes, they end up having some hot sex. Not too much, not too little, just right. I love the way Jack takes charge yet is still gentle:

I chuckled, and Jack pressed his cheek against the soft bounce of my breast. His hot breath rushed against the distended tip. Slowly his mouth opened over the rosy flesh, his tongue circling. Sliding my arms around his neck, I kissed the thick, damp locks of his hair. He lifted his mouth and took the nipple between his fingers, clamping softly while he moved to kiss the other breast, and my hips pressed upward into his weight. In a matter of seconds I was steaming. He browsed over me as if I were some lavish buffet, nibbling and licking and kissing, lifting and turning me to make certain there was nothing he had missed. I lay on my stomach, gripping fistfuls of amber quilt as he took my hips and hoisted them upward.

“This okay?” I heard him whisper.

“Yes,” I panted. “God, yes.”

Another favorite scene is Jack’s proposal which is unique to Ella. I love that kind of stuff! Yes a candlelight dinner or walk on the beach before you propose is great but if you personalize it to your loved one……tres magnifique!

Towards the end there are some iffy parts like when Dane finds out about Ella and Jack he is ok with it because he and Ella always had an open relationship. I found it strange that Ella never knew about this arrangement. Then there is the issue of Tara’s return and wanting Luke back and the brief moment of grief we have over his loss before another traumatic incident occurs. In the end, none of these iffy parts took away from the emotional ride this book invoked in me. The very last word of the book is a beautiful wrap up that confirms what it’s all about……family.

This is the first book I’ve read by Lisa Kleypas but it definitely won’t be my last.

Final Grade:


Around the Net:

Romance Novel TV: 5+ Stars
Smart Bitches Trashy Books: B+
Katiebabs: B+
Bibliophile Musings: A-
Dear Author: B+
Love Romance Passion: 5 Stars
The Book Binge: 4.75 out of 5 Stars

Posted in A-, Contemporary Couplings, Reviews, Wanderer, When Spoilers Attack | Leave a Comment »

It’s a bird, it’s a plane…….

Posted by Wanderer on July 12, 2009

Highland Fling by Katie Fforde: So we start out with meeting Jenny Porter, who recently started a new career as a virtual assistant, and her boyfriend Henry. A virtual assistant (as we are told over and over) is someone who does various tasks for clients that hire her over the internet. Her current assignment is to travel to Scotland to assess an old family-run mill recently purchased by her current client, M.R Grant-Dempsey. With Henry’s disapproval of her new job we, the readers, are already made aware that Henry = ass therefore, Jenny should go to Scotland and hopefully find Mr. Not-An-Ass.

Jenny Porter, a ‘virtual assistant’, spends her life sorting out other people’s problems. But when one of her clients asks her to go to Scotland to do a little hands-on investigation into a woolen mill he has a financial interest in, it doesn’t turn out to be the working holiday she hoped for. For not only does her role at Dalmain House include rather a lot of unexpected tasks – of which the cooking is the least taxing – but she also finds herself charmed into helping run ‘The Homely Haggis’, a mobile burger bar.

But it’s when her abrasive customer, Ross Grant, turns out to be someone she can genuinely talk to, that she really gets confused. And when Jenny finds herself torn between loyalty to her client and letting down the people of Drumossie, her problem-solving skills are stretched to the limit. It’s a pity they don’t seem able to stretch to sorting out her own, increasingly complicated personal life.

On the way to the mill Jenny meets a lady working a booth selling food and drinks who happens to be an in-law of the family who runs the mill (her husband is second son, Ian). She is also extremely pregnant and in need of a trip to the bathroom so asks Jenny to hold down the fort while she steps out. It is then that a customer, a Mr. Ross Grant, approaches and he and Jenny take an instant disliking for one another. That meeting alone was the beginning of the annoyance factor for me because the argument they had was ridiculous. It was just the beginning of a series of similar meetings that raised my own level of annoyance with each encounter. At one point they even started cursing at each other. That actually caught me off guard until I listened further and realized yes, I agreed with Ross when he told Jenny to, “Shut the fuck up”. Bad sign, right?

Another issue I had with the book was how Jenny became the savior of all and solver of everything. Want to save the mill? Jenny’s your gal. Have agoraphobia? Jenny can cure you. Planning a big dinner at the last minute? It’s Super Jenny to the rescue! Seriously, no one can do that…….well, maybe Martha Stewart. I didn’t care for any of the secondary characters (except maybe a little for Ian and his wife) and I definitely didn’t believe in the romance build-up between Jenny and Ross. Also, the mysterious client’s identity wasn’t such a mystery. I realized who he was from the start and I didn’t even have to use my Matlock deductive skills (yes, my mom was a big fan of that show as well as Perry Mason, Murder She Wrote etc…which gave me my mad skills at Clue).

The main reason I pushed through this was that it was an audio book and the narrator, Julie Franklin, did a decent job differentiating the characters. Ultimately, I used the book as background noise while at work. I still got the gist of the story but I never felt a need to give it my complete attention.

This was my first book by Katie Fforde and I’m afraid it didn’t leave a very good impression.

Final Grade:

Barely readable. Only discipline and willpower kept me from shaving my head and running naked for the hills. Great litmus test for my bad ass reader super powers.

Around the Net:

The Romance Reader : 2 stars

Posted in Audio Books, Clipper Audio, Contemporary Couplings, D, Reviews, Wanderer | 2 Comments »

Barbara Elsborg – Something About Polly

Posted by Wanderer on June 24, 2009


The blurb of the book got my attention,
And surprise, surprise its contents are worth a mention.
Let’s just say this ain’t your momma’s Price is Right,
For the next item up for bids is more naughty than nice!

An offer she should refuse

When Polly reluctantly attends a charity auction she doesn’t expect to win, she bids on a sealed offer made by a devilishly handsome marquis. From the look on the auctioneer’s face as he reads out “three wishes”, Polly’s sure he’s lying. The marquis snatches the envelope before she can read it and invites her to take a risk on the contents or accept three wishes. He’s as shocked as her when she accepts his offer of WILD SEX.

An offer she won’t refuse.

If trouble had a name, it would be Adrian, Marquis of Shoreham. Tall, dark and magnetic, and everything Polly wants except he’s lusting after her best friend. Adrian’s one of the pampered elite Polly despises who uses his privileged position to gain every advantage. Polly knows she should walk away and go about her boring, abstinent life. Instead, she finds herself walking towards Adrian on London Bridge, with nothing but wild sex on her mind. An encounter that will lead to —

The offer she never expected.

The book starts with Polly Smith who is being talked into attending a charity auction by her friend Tara. The auction is comprised of two parts:

“The first involved bidding for “donations” given by businessmen and friends of the Duke and Duchess of Bedlingham, which were listed in a catalogue. The second half of the evening would be the auction of more lighthearted, hopefully cheaper items in the form of numbered envelopes donated by those attending.”

Tara is mainly going because she wants to hook up with this guy named Jonno by winning whatever items he has put up for bid. At the auction we meet Adrian, the Marquis of Shoreham, who is attending the auction because his brother Jake and Jake’s fiancé, Daisy, are the hosts. When Daisy approaches and nags him about getting his auction item in, Adrian hurriedly scribbles something on his sheet of paper and hands her the envelope so she can get off his back. By now, Adrian has seen the beautiful Tara and after getting a glimpse of what he thinks is her envelope number, he decides to win her auction thus getting one step closer to having her in his bed. When he misses bidding on Tara’s auction item due to his mistaken glimpse, he decides to bid on Polly’s envelope thinking that helping Tara’s ‘boring sidekick’ would give him a second chance with Tara. By the end of the night Adrian has won Polly’s envelope and Polly takes a shot and ends up winning his. Jake, the auctioneer, opens the envelope to read what his brother donated but upon seeing Adrian’s x-rated offer, Jake covers up and announces to the crowd that Polly has won 3 wishes from the Marquis. Polly sees the look on Jake’s face when he opens the envelope and knows that the offer of 3 wishes is not what was written. Later, she reaches for the envelope to read its true contents just as Adrian grabs her hand to stop her. When the true offer is revealed as “Wild Sex”, Polly and Adrian have an “I dare you” type exchange and thus, the fun begins.

This book is hot, sexy and funny. Yes that’s right, I said…er…typed……funny. I’ve read a few erotica books over the years and I don’t remember any having a natural sense of humor to the dialogue like this one does. There are several instances where Polly will crack a joke and I never felt like it was silly or trying too hard. It just flowed in the conversation and felt right for that moment. In one instance after a hot round of sexy lovin’ Adrian notices Polly’s collection of frog figurines:

“We appear to have an audience,” he said.
“What?” Polly tried to move but he tightened his hold.
“Frogs.”
He leaned up to look at her collection—three shelves of plush toys, windup models and porcelain beauties. Some were tinier than her little finger, the largest as big as her arm.
“You can have a prize from the middle shelf,” she said.
Adrian laughed so hard his cock slid out of her. “Only the middle shelf?”
“Well, I have to give you something to aim for.”

That line about the middle shelf is clever, funny and flows perfectly in that scene.

There are some things that were off for me like how Polly and Tara are BFFs but Polly has no hesitation in admitting (more than once) that her friend is dumb. It just seemed mean and unnecessary to me. Also, early on in the book Polly admits to her expertise as a wallflower yet later on takes Adrian to a pretty spicy dress-up party. How is Ms Wallflower so open and free about dressing up and attending such a party? Then we have Adrian’s super fast transfer of lusty thoughts from Tara to Polly after all his boohooing about how boring she is when he first meets her. Polly also jumps to the wrong conclusion one too many times but in the end, none of these things were major enough to stop me from enjoying the book. The subplot of Polly’s true identity wasn’t a big mystery but the main storyline of Adrian and Polly’s adventure was a good and fun ride.

This book also has something that I’ve never read anywhere else: the heroine using a technique to prolong the hero’s climax during oral sex. I have to say it was nice to read about the hero hanging on the edge for a change. Admittedly, I do not read as much erotica as I do historical or contemporary romances, paranormal or urban fantasy books so while it may not be a breakthrough in literature it is a first for me :). That particular scene in the book shall forever be known as the “Stop ‘n Go BJ”. Go forth and find out the details for yourself :).

Final Grade:

Is everything I hoped it would be and not a pinch more. Better than average, it hit the spot like a tall drink on a hot summer’s day. While it didn’t quite dazzle me with unique or transcendent content, in no way is it a stale retelling.

Buy it Now:

Something About Polly

Around the Net:

Dark Angel reviews : 5 out of 5

Posted in B, Barbara Elsborg, Contemporary Couplings, Ellora's Cave, Erotica, Reviews, Wanderer | 3 Comments »

Movie Mutterings

Posted by Mistress on June 22, 2009

Even for the love of John Cusack, I can’t sit though America’s Sweethearts. Encore on demand, sits there on the resume/restart screen, judging me. I’m feeling like a failure atm, so happy thoughts are needed stat. I’ve watched the Secret, it’s not good to dwell on these things. I need to eff my negative mood in the eye. Shakespeare once said “Focus not on the films that doth sucketh much, better those that rock hard or that shall”, so here goes.

First Let’s to cleanse palate with romantic comedy awesome. Saw ‘The Proposal’ with my best-friend on opening night, and have plans to see it again with my mother and a 3rd time with another pal who needs cheering up. It’s the number one movie in America for a reason people = ).

When high-powered book editor Margaret faces deportation to her native Canada, the quick-thinking exec declares that she’s actually engaged to her unsuspecting put-upon assistant Andrew, who she’s tormented for years. He agrees to participate in the charade, but with a few conditions of his own. synopsis by D-Man2010

Delightful green card scheme, for the win!

Many times watching a movie and I question the casting choices. Often one person could have and others…. anyone else would’ve done it better or pulled it off as well. For example IMO Hillary Swank was the weak link in P.S. I Love You; and I believe many actresses Drew Berrymoore, Amanda Peet, Maggie Gyllenhaal, heck even Zooey Deschanel would have been a better casting choice. Such thoughts didn’t even enter mind in this instance. Sandra and Ryan have great chemistry, and their acting skill and styles make the magic happen. I Can’t think of any other actress who could have pulled this off to my liking = ). “The Proposal” is as great as “Made of Honor” was horrible. So go see it, all hail Sandy!!

Next flick that has me all giddy….

Evil genius Tim Burton is taking on ‘Alice in Wonderland’. woot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes,the kiddies will most likely be scarred by his dark and twisty rendition, but sacrifices must be made lol. And I for one, am over the moon = ). Let’s talk cast. The usual suspects Jhonny Depp and Helana Bonham Carter are down with L&c, as the mad hatter and the queen of hearts. * Channels Emeril* but then BAM!!!! Anne Hathaway as the White Queen. Pretty impressive, eh? but not quite enough to cause this level of fangurl squee… ah yes I forgot to mention Alan Rickman as the Catepillar and Stephen fry as the Cheshire cat. **Squeels, Faints,Dies **

Here’s some image goodness:



Posted in Mistress, Talking Smack(blog post) | 4 Comments »