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Archive for the ‘Contemporary Couplings’ Category

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 »

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.
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 »

Letters From Home by Rhonda Nelson

Posted by Mistress on May 14, 2009

Your eyes aren’t deceiving you; I really did read a Harlequin Blaze book. Been engrossed in a crap load of Urban Fantasy lately( not that Im complaining) and got a little overwhelemed. So I looked for something light and sweet. This book caught me with it’s: hawt military dude, small town setting, and driftwood animals.

Subject: Levi McPherson, Army Ranger.

Current status: Active duty.

Mission: Locate a sexy, unidentified correspondent. Conduct very private negotiations!

Obstacle: Natalie Rowland, longtime star of his X-rated dreams…

Levi McPherson’s tour of duty has an unexpected benefit: anonymous red-hot love letters! Someone he knows is mailing the rugged soldier her very explicit fantasies. And he’s loving every word.

On an unexpected leave home, he discovers his sexy secret admirer—Natalie Rowland, the longtime star of his own X-rated dreams!
But he’s not letting Natalie know her cover’s blown…yet. That way, the exquisite pleasure of fulfilling each and every one of her naughty ideas is all his—and hers….

Natalie has problems. Is it her overprotective father or best friend Adam who lost his leg in combat? No, she’s about to be unmasked as a penpal hussy and wants to crawl in a hole and die. She’s been anonymously writting her best friend’s brother for months. She didn’t mean to let it go so far, but after seeing the man inside, she couldn’t stop herself. If this is all of him that she can have, she’ll take it. In typical romance fashion theres a slip up, now it’s only a matter of time before Levi knows her identity and the chips fall.

Levi McPherson has been deployed in Iraq for 10 months. It’s been a hard tour and the letters he receives from his friends & family give him the strength to keep going. The highlight being the anonymous letters he’s been receiving from a girl in his hometown. Her letters trigger all types of appetites, she tells him of home, her fantasies, her longing and never sign her letters. He nicknames her Ms. X and their correspondence has grown to something he wants to explore. He has leave coming up and he’s determined to find ms X and make the steamy letters a reality.

Natalie and Levi have been crushing on each other since their teens. Noble Levi always kept Nat at a distance because he believed, she and Adam were more than just friends. He distanced himself to avoid poaching on his brother’s territory. Nat knew she never stood a chance with Levi, since he always acted as though she were contagious. Now they’re back in the same town, with the mystery letter business unveiling their desires, but there are fresh complications. They’re both equally in love with and committed to very different lives. Where Levi needs the globe trotting soldier lifestyle, Natalie has put down strong roots in all aspects of the small town community and her drift wood art gallery.

Nat and Levi make a OK couple. Her letters ( well the snippets of them) were full of TMI. Sweet? Yes. Sexy? Definitely. But all in all, just a breathe away from creepy stalker. Everything went too smoothly. The plot conflicts came to a head with a “squeak” instead of a satisfying “boom”. Overall this story wasn’t very exciting, but I didn’t expect fireworks so I’m pretty content. My favorite character was Adam, whose book ‘The Soldier” is coming soon. His determination to not let his injury define him and the playful/competitive interaction with his love interest, makes me all giddy. And on a crass note, I have plain ole fashioned curiosity about how Nelson will handle the love scenes.

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. But more library rental/swap quality, rather than a keeper on my personal bookshelf.

Around The Net:

Nada…well there was a Harriet Klausner summary pretending to be a review, but I’ll spare you. If any of you guys have reviewed this book please link to it in your comment and I’ll edit it in.

Posted in C, Contemporary Couplings, Mistress | Leave a Comment »

Julie James – Practice Makes Perfect

Posted by Wanderer on May 10, 2009

It feels like it’s been ages since I read a contemporary romance so for anyone else looking for a great one to jump back in with, look no further. PMP is about Payton Kendall and J.D. Jameson, both hot shot lawyers at the same firm. They’ve worked there for 8 years and have always been in competition with each other but now a chance at making partner has them upping their game. This leads to pranks being played on the opponent which are done in fun yet somehow end up going a lot further than intended.

Book description: When it comes to the laws of attraction, there are no rules The battle between the sexes is about to make these two lawyers hot under the collar. Opposites collide when two lawyers try to make partner at the same firm. Payton Kendall is a feminist to the bone. Cocky J.D. Jameson was born privileged. But when they’re asked to join forces on a major case, they gain a newfound awareness of each other’s personal assets. The partnership spot will be offered to only one of them, though. The competition heats up. Sparks fly. Let the games begin.

There isn’t much about this book that I didn’t enjoy. The characters were well developed, the pranks were funny and the growth of the character’s feelings from beginning to end was believable. I liked the secondary characters as well, from the best friends to the secretaries to the brief moments we saw of the h/h’s parents. The interaction between all of them was right on. I liked the revelation at the end of how the h/h’s feud began 8 years prior. That kind of stuff absolutely happens in real life (I can speak from experience although I don’t think I’ve ever gone quite as long before things were cleared up). I also loved the moment when the secretary realized what was going on. Been there done that too. The only thing I didn’t like and felt was unnecessary was when Payton overheard something that J.D. had told their boss years ago and this causes conflict between the two. I guess I can see why that was done because at the end we see the resolution of that but maybe that same resolution could have come about without the secret reveal being thrown in? But that is just a minor detail that in no way takes away from the enjoyment of this book.

This is the first book I’ve read by Julie James and after completing it I googled her name and was surprised to find this is only her 2nd novel. I have added her 1st book, Just the Sexiest Man Alive, to my TBR pile and added her to my authors-to-watch list. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that PMP is being sent out to Hollywood producers because as I was reading it I kept thinking how it would make a great romantic comedy. The author’s blog even has a few candidates listed for the main characters. I like a couple of the people already listed but here are my picks:

Payton: Christina Applegate

JD: Josh Duhamel

When all is said and done, for me, PMP was near….well….perfect. I was only left with one question: What does J.D stand for? 🙂

Final Grade:

Around The Net:

The Book Binge: 4.5 out of 5

Tracy’s Place: 5 out of 5

Manic Readers: 3.5 out of 5

All About Romance: B

The Book Smugglers: 8

Babbling About Books and More: A

Posted in A-, Contemporary Couplings, Julie James, Practice Makes Perfect, Wanderer | 4 Comments »

Isn’t It Romantic? by Ronda Thompson

Posted by Mistress on February 17, 2009

With Mistress tackling Historical Romance and Wanderer doing Time Travel Romance for their Pilates of the Page I decided to give Contemporary Romance one more go. I was never that big on the genre and I confess Becky Bloomwood finished me off. I’ve been putting off finding the right book for this exercise for a while now and would have continued to do so had I not encountered Ronda Thompson’s Isn’t It Romantic at a garage sale today. I started reading the book as soon as I got home lest I lose my nerve and let it get buried under my mountainous TBR pile in the study. Isn’t It Romantic? Isn’t the first R. Thompson book I own, that privilege belongs to her most recent novel Confessions of a Werewolf Supermodel, but it is the first one I actually got around to reading. So let’s get down to business shall we. First, the blurb:

They’ve never met, but Katrine Summerville and Trey Westmoreland are sworn enemies. Katrine is a romance writer who, after being abandoned at the age of five, and widowed and pregnant at eighteen, doesn’t believe in happily-ever-after.

Trey is a hard-nosed newspaper literary review columnist who carries the bitter taste of a failed marriage around with him along with a resentment toward romance novels, which he believes give women a warped expectation of love.

A case of mistaken identity, a night of ill-fated attraction, and their steamy moment captured on film catapults them into four weeks of nationally publicized Hell.

Kat is a likable heroine. She isn’t annoying, whiny, or in constant need of rescue. She doesn’t bumble around like an idiot nor does she dwell on her past like it’s the present. She isn’t perfection personified either and has enough self-awareness to recognize when she is in the wrong. Trey doesn’t stand out as much as Kat does but successfully holds his own in their interactions. Unlike many other books, the secondary characters do not detract from the story nor did they annoy me. I even enjoyed the interaction the characters have with Kat’s daughter and Lord knows how I feel about children in romances.

Within the first chapter I suspected that I was going to enjoy this book very much. Initially I was worried that it would have a strong start but would have no follow through but I couldn’t be more wrong. The plot isn’t that much different from the movie “How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days” but I enjoyed reading Isn’t It Romantic? significantly more. The dialogue between the characters sparkles. The tongue in cheek allusions that skewer fun at the romance genre – especially the historical kind – sets this book apart from similar novels. Heck, I lost myself enough to laugh out loud several times. I startled my sleeping dog awake which I never ever do for the peace I get from him are few and far in between. This book isn’t only a straight up love story but a wildly entertaining comedy as well. It’s probably one of the funniest books I’ve read in years, if not ever. I’ve been reading romance since, well, I grew out of my beloved Archie Comics (ok, I haven’t quite grown out of them yet) and of the many different reactions I have when reading these books, this one evoked the best of them all, my laughter.

Grade: A-


Posted in Contemporary Couplings, Pilates of the Page, Reader, Reviews | 6 Comments »

Small Town, USA

Posted by Mistress on January 16, 2009

I’m the definitive city girl. I don’t know anyone in my neighborhood by name; who hasn’t lived there for more than 15 years, not even my neighbors. I direct murderous thoughts at tourists during the Holiday season when their gawking slows me down. Nature is not my friend, though I like to pretend. One Summer, a friend and I decided to explore Prospect Park every weekend. We planned to follow the different routes till we’d been to every landmark and area. Our venture lasted all of 3 hours, when we broke for lunch at a pinic table, that I discovered 15 mins later was infested with ants… EVIL RED BITING ANTS.

The jewel on the clichéd NYC gurl crown is my hobby of surrounding myself with people, then talking to no one. I shit you not, I’m one of those freaks who will stay at a crowded café for hours reading, studying human behavior, or blogging. I enjoy few things more than the prattle of life flowing around me nonstop; with no need/expectation for me to engage in it. It’s my meditation and never fails to entertain. It’s very hard to picture myself anywhere else, this level of anonymity is addictive.

So it boggles the mind, why I lurve small town contemporaries so much. I ❤ tales about a city girl forced to move to a small bum fuck town for whatever complicated circumstances. I’m even willing overlook usual annoyances like secret babies, cowboys, single mothers, and series about brothers. Bring on the cheesy town names Temptation, Texas; Justice, Tennessee; West Bubble Fuck, North Carolina; or Scandal, Maryland. The struggle to find their place in the fishbowl/create their own business, pie competitions/recipes, the square dances, and costume parades; (though I normally wouldn’t give a fig) tell me more I’m fascinated. Oh and I can’t forget the hunky down home boys who got away. Can there ever be too many naughty small town sheriffs or mayors? Nunh uh says I.

I’m coming our of the contemporary niche closet, I dig small town romance. They’re the book equivalent of watching a Sandra Bullock movie.

Here are some of my favorites:

Nobody’s baby but Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Physics professor Dr. Jane Darlington spends her 34th birthday in tears. She wants a baby, but not a husband. Where can she find an average or, preferably, stupid man? She decides that Cal Bonner, legendary quarterback for the Chicago Stars is perfect. Jane sets her plan into action and after some trail and error she succeeds. But the results are more than she bargained for when Cal discovers her duplicity. How can a football player with an interfering family and a nerdy professor who has never known family love ever fall in love? With lots of honesty, understanding and a whole lot of humor. Don’t miss this one! It’s filled with engaging characters, laughs galore and a feel-good ending.- Review

Truly Madly Yours by Rachel Gibson

Delaney Shaw plans to get in and out of her hometown in the time it takes to attend her stepfather Henry’s funeral, read the will, and refill the tank of her Miata. Even the pleas of her mother and the tension of an unfinished fling with Henry’s bastard son, Nick Allegrezza, can’t keep her in Truly, Idaho. But Henry had other plans in mind: Nick and Delaney’s inheritance is contingent on her staying in Truly for a year, and him having no “sexual relationship” with Delaney. What’s a girl to do? Delaney digs in, starts up a hair salon and prepares to grit her teeth for as long as it takes.
Small-town life is everything that Delaney fears it to be: high school rivalries and old rumors about Delaney and Nick resurrect themselves with predictable immediacy. Gossip nears the truth as the sexual sparks fly between Nick and Delaney. Nick’s reputation as a ladies man hasn’t changed, either, and Delaney reminds herself that he can love her and leave her just as brutally as he did 10 years ago. But when the two find themselves in close proximity, all their best intentions fly out the window and intense passion consumes them. – Review

Pretty Bad by Shirley Jump

Madison Worth may be your average over-the-hill, overpaid top model, but she is not a diva. The cake throwing incident at the New York Fall Fashion Show? Completely justified. It wasn’t her fault Kate Moss’ face got in the way. But the fallout has her deep in social Siberia – literally – on a dairy farm in Podunk, Massachusetts. Why? To get a job of course! As spokesmodel for the Cheese Pleese Company. (Talk about eating humble pie.) And her new boss, Jack Pleeseman, leaves a lot – six-foot two inches worth – to be desired…Rugged and tanned in a deliciously hard-earned way, not to mention runway gorgeous, Jack Pleeseman wants to overhaul his 160-year-old family business. After some lengthy research in the pages of the “Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue”, he’s found the ideal candidate for a spokesmodel. But after running his eyes up her 20-story legs, what he finds is a beautiful, tall, spoiled rich girl in a need of a major attitude adjustment. A farm could be just the charm school to set her straight. Trouble is, the cocks are crowing, the cows are mooing, and sexy Jack can’t help from wooing…

Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

It wasn’t every day a guy saw a headless beaver marching down the side of a road, not even in Chicago Stars quarterback Dean Robillard’s larger-than-life world. He slammed on the brakes of his brand-new Aston Martin Vanquish and pulled over in front of her.
The beaver marched right past, her big, flat tail bouncing in the gravel, and her small, sharp nose stuck up in the air. Way up. The beaver looked highly pissed . . .
She was definitely a girl beaver because her beaver head was missing, revealing sweaty, dark hair pulled into a scraggly ponytail. He’d been praying for a little distraction from his own depressing company, so he threw open the door and stepped out onto the shoulder of the Colorado road . . .
Funny, sexy, and touching—Natural Born Charmer is the unforgettable love story of a golden boy who might be losing his luster and a spirited woman who’s learned never to depend on anyone but herself.

Do they make your heart smile also? Or do I need help and a firm slap? Am I missing any other feel good Small town contemporaries, on your list? Suggestions are always appreciated.

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

Nice by Jen Sacks

Posted by Mistress on January 4, 2009

I adore John Cusack. I really really do. His physical similarities to one of the characters in Richelle Mead’s Succubus series is one of the reasons why I started reading the books (although I do now based on it’s own merit) and Grosse Pointe Blank is one of the the top three Cusack movies I like best. Nice by Jen Sacks (1999) reminded me of that GPB magic. I was sooo sure that it was my “THE BOOK” find of 2008. With a blurb like this, it HAD to be:

First there was Clay–it just sort of happened.
Then there was Pete–he was becoming way too attached.
Ben, well, he totally had it coming.
And then there was Sam…

Grace is nice to a fault. She never picks fights, and doesn’t like to criticize or hurt people’s feelings. Problem is, the men in her life never seem to take a hint. And she just can’t bear to tell them outright when she isn’t interested. So she kills them. A clean break–no messy emotions, no heated arguments. But someone is onto her. His name is Sam, and he and Grace, with one very dangerous thing in common, make a killer couple. It’s a match made in heaven-as long as they can both survive the relationship…

Awesome, yes?

The premise is quirky and uncommon and has ginormous potential to be a great read. Unfortunately, it never really took off from there. It was like being served flat tap water when you order Pellegrino with a twist of lemon. No matter how much I wanted to, I just couldn’t get into the story. Maybe it was the length of the novel; the machine-gun type of prose didn’t really work. It has 55 very short chapters which volleys between Grace’s and Sam’s point of view. The characterization of both narrators just seemed so lacking that they ended up unsympathetic to me. I really couldn’t be induced to care. One might reason that it’s hard to relate to murderers but it really isn’t (hard), actually, at least for me. The rapid interval between narrators was also pretty jarring; before I could really get into the heroine’s (or hero’s for that matter) perspective I would be jolted out of it by the switcheroo. Maybe it would have worked better if it were told from a third person perspective. I don’t know, the prose just didn’t flow.

It wasn’t bad really, it was, to put it concisely, meh.

*edit* Heard this book was optioned into a movie. Hopefully it translates better on film than it did on paper.

Posted in C, Contemporary Couplings, Reader, Reviews | 5 Comments »

Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination by Helen Fielding

Posted by Mistress on August 11, 2008

This book surprised me. Usually for me reading Brit chick lit results in eye clawing and mental shrieking. What can I say the phrases used and the regurgitated spunky yet clueless inner monologues irk the depths of my soul. I didn’t have those issues with Olivia Joules and the overactive imagination. So pigs must be flying in hell That doesn’t mean I like this book though. Olivia annoyed the shit outta me. She is another in the long line of too stupid to live heroines who taint my reading life. We discerning booksluts ought to rise up and cull them from the literary herd braveheart style.
In a commercial break from my murderous rant lets get back to the review at hand. Olivia J-O-U-L-E- S (like the unit of energy not the shiny baubles will be from here on out referred to as OJ the orange of juice not the former football playing murder suspect.) is a failing journalist seemingly plagued by attention deficit disorder and paranoid schizophrenia.
Her situation translated: Poor me, my career is stagnant because I keep handing in articles about the stupid shit I make up instead of my assignment
My response to her situation translated: Cry me a river bitch
Anyways things kick off when she’s subtly demoted from news to the style section of whatever newspaper she works for and is sent to some skin cream launch in Miami. Enter mysterious French Arabic dude who wants to make sweet jihad all over her zexy body. He supposedly makes slug skin cream and movies. She instantly decides he’s Osama bin Laden ( <-her words not mine) but then decides he’s just an al-Qaeda operative so she’s game for tongue wrestling. Stuff is blown up and * shock & awe* our jet setting sheik has dropped it like its hot flying the coop. So now OJ and 4 out of 5 doctors agree slug cream dude is a terrorist . So it makes perfect sense that she follows him to LA then accepts an invitation to his resort in (tropical place). C’mon look at that face of course she can trust him. So what if she doesn’t know him from adam and if he continues to lie about being a director? At least he’s stopped lying about being french. Now Ladies, that’s nothing to shake a stick at. All the while during OJ’s travel awkward and clumsy hijinks ensue. I guess they are supposed to funny but they just cement how much I loathe her. Pop quiz time kiddies: You just accepted a strange man and possible terrorist’s invitation to go diving at his private tropical resort. En route after some travel issues you find 5 kilos of cocaine in your carry on luggage ( btw why is coke always mentioned in 5 kilo bundles in film and novels? Why not 3? Or 8?). what do you do? Well if your OJ you flush it down the the porta-potty toilet and continue on with you to your death wish destination. Ha ha ha ha…. What a bunch of giggles. This is my stop, time to get of this ride. After 3 failed attempts to finish the remaining 1/2 of this bunk; it’s time to throw in the towel. I can’t bring myself to read anymore . Someones obviously gonna it eaten by sharks at some point coming…if only it could be her. If any of you fine folks out there in the e-world possess the perseverance to complete this book; please drop a comment with your take on it. Did it make you laugh? Cry? Tremble with rage and annoyance? Edit: found anothers blogger’s review for this & died laughing. Check it out it’s brilliant

Posted in Contemporary Couplings, D, Mistress, Reviews | Leave a Comment »