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Archive for the ‘When Spoilers Attack’ 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 »

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 »

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 »

Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning

Posted by Wanderer on August 9, 2008

LOVE a good highlander romance and thought I’d be in for a treat with this one. It not only has the romance but also some paranormal aspects with the royal court of the fae adding their magic to the mix. There is also some time travel which I thought could make it even more interesting. Little did I know!

First off, the heroine Adrienne is a twit. Her background story is too ridiculous to believe yet I’ll share it with you because I’m that kind of a person 🙂 She’s a 20th century gal who is apparently on the run for the murder of her ex-fiance who is supremely stupidly named Eberhard. Mr ex-fiance was a “beautiful” and rich man who sent Adrienne on all kinds of fancy vacations………alone. Ding, ding, ding – clue #1 that something isn’t right yet she continues to go because her man is so wonderful and thoughtful to give her such extravagant gifts. Well it turns out he was using the twit to smuggle something……I honestly don’t care enough to even try to remember what it was. But she finds out when she comes home early and overhears him laughing at how stupid she was. (Psst….he wasn’t the only one laughing). So from then on she proclaims her HATE of beautiful men and how she’ll never fall victim to one ever again. Yeah, um….ok lady you do that..

Now for the hero – he is known as the Hawk and is renowned because he’s apparently hung like a horse and has the stamina to match (who actually came up with that analogy and knows the stamina of a horse?). Ok back to business…..all the women want him and one goes all psycho after he’s married and tries many times to kill twit. Anyway, so widely known is his prowess in bed that even the Queen of the fae wants to get a piece. This makes the King jealous and he sends his jester….super smoking faery guy Adam to go make the Hawk’s life misera
ble. The king’s plan is for Adam to find a woman that will turn the Hawk down at every turn. The one woman that will be able to say NO to him. Well since he is a magical being, Adam travels to the future and hears twit’s proclamation against beautiful men and decides he’s found the perfect match for the Hawk. So twit gets sent back in time and I’ll skip all the “where am I, how’d I get here” drama and move along to more fascinating (NOT) stuff.

So twit and hung get married by proxy (he sent his friend in his place for the actual ceremony) yet when they’re in each other’s presence she’s all “stay away from me, oh wait but kiss me, oh wait I hate beautiful men get away”. And he’s all “you’re the one, come take a ride and I’ll make you forget the men from your past” blah blah blah

I honestly didn’t care where this was going and I read what has to be the cheesiest line I’ve ever come across in a book. At some point during one of the love scenes twit proclaims “Take me to Valhalla”! Really? That actually got printed? All I can say is take me back to the moment before I decided to read this book. I have officially renamed it: Beyond the Ridiculous Twit!

Posted in C, I Heart Monsters, Reviews, Wanderer, When Spoilers Attack | 3 Comments »

Ransom by Julie Garwood

Posted by Wanderer on August 9, 2008

RANSOM is the story of Brodick Buchanan and Ramsey Sinclair who we first met in The Secret. Ramsey’s is the secondary story but for me, his is too unbelievable. I know, I know this is a romance book where all kinds of things take place but even I couldn’t fall for this one. Basically, he becomes a laird and there’s this girl in his clan, Brigid, that all the highlanders want to marry yet she rejects them all because she loves some mystery man. So on and on it goes with her refusing proposals and refusing to tell Ramsey who she’s holding out for. Only at the end does Ramsey realize he’s the mystery man and all of a sudden it’s all “Yes, I love you too Brigid let’s get married”. No explanation of why all the boys got their kilts in a bunch over her or why she loved Ramsey in the first place or any kind of build up to his realization of his own feelings for her.

So back to Brodick’s story…….we find out that he was named protector of his best friend’s son, Alec. This is basically the equivalent of a godfather or guardian. Alec and Ramsey’s younger brother Michael are playing near a waterfall when they decide to play a prank and switch their plaids. While Michael runs off to find something, Alec is mistakenly kidnapped to be held for ransom against Ramsey. Since no one witnessed the kidnapping, everyone believes Alec fell and drowned in the waterfall. This leads us to Gillian, the book’s heroine. She is held captive in England by the same people that kidnapped Alec because she may know the location of a secret box that holds the key to a murder from the past. Anyway…Gillian escapes with Alec and during their journey he tells her of his protector, the brave and fierce warrior Brodick. To comfort the scared little boy, she says she will be his protector until he returns home. When they finally cross the border into highland territory, they hide out in an old church and Gillian decides to send a message claiming to be Laird Buchanan’s bride and counts on that lie being a big enough draw for Brodick to come meet her. She’s right on all counts! Brodick arrives (in all his fine-ness) where he greets her with a scowl and an intimidating stance yet once Gillian lets the boy come out of hiding and he lays eyes on Alec, he is nearly brought to his knees in shock and unbelief.

The reason I like this story so much is that Brodick is not the typical dominant male character when with Gillian. He’s not all “Do this because I’m the man and I said so”. Also I think Julie Garwood has her humorous moments in most of her books. There’s a part when they’re riding back to the holding and they cross paths with one of the Highland’s priests. This priest knows of Brodick’s rep and will not allow the lady to travel alone with such a heathen. So after being told a slightly altered version of Gillian’s claim to be his bride and some miscommunication between the priest and Gillian regarding her consent to marriage, the priest performs their wedding ceremony. Being English and the ceremony occurring in Gaelic, Gillian has no idea she was just wed. When she finally discovers the truth she can’t help but ask Brodick how she can face telling their children she was wed on the back of a horse. But then all protests are forgotten as he carries her off for their long awaited wedding night.

So yes, you can say this has the romance novel formula down to a tee but the difference is the hero is strong and brave yet vulnerable and open when it counts without being cheesy. The heroine is also very likeable without being annoyingly perfect. I thought the plot was good as well but you’ll have to read the book to get the rest!

Posted in B, Historical Hook-Ups, Reviews, Wanderer, When Spoilers Attack | Leave a Comment »

The Devil You Know by Jenna Black

Posted by Mistress on August 7, 2008

Something is inside Morgan Kingsley and it still makes me somewhat nauseous.I had a heap load of bones to pick with the first book in this series and no intention of enduring this one. But I decided for you, dear readers, to lie down and think of England. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected but it’s earned its place on my never read again list. That said lets get this party started

So “ The devil inside” ended with Morgan’s brother in a catatonic state, Morgan still hosting the mighty demon king, the 3 musketeers saving her boyfriend from evils clutches, and me gagging over all the disgusting torture gives Adam a woody scenes. So you wonder, what’s going on in “The Devil You Know”? Well little miss exorcist is still the Kings host. Surprise surprise her bro wakes up then proceeds to be as unhelpful and whiny as possible. Of course the scary villain with a chumps name (I mean c’mon it’s a lil hard to tremble in fear at the coming of the Dastardly “ Dougal”) is still after Lugh,his kingness, which results in Ms. Morgan trying to outwit some big muckity muck Demon uber hunter.

To add to the fun she moons over her love for Brian incessantly while refusing to make any attempt to be with him. It probably says something about me how many times I wished for irksome Brian’s demise; but I’m only human. Thankfully Adam keeps it in his pants so to speak; so no nasty pain porn. Which resulted in me actually enjoying his presence in this novel.Actually “enjoy” is too strong a word. Let me rephrase; things were more interesting when he’s around. All that said there were some notable improvements: more action in this novel (which was sorely lacking in the last book) and we learn more of Morgan’s past.

This book was OK, better than the first and undeniably shows promise, but not one my favorites.

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Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

Posted by Mistress on August 6, 2008

The winning Twilight formula: Whiny Heroine + Tortured Hero + Unrequited Love + Unfulfilled Sexual Tension = Happy Rabid Fangirls
The not-as-successful Breaking Dawn formula: Whiny Heroine + Tortured Hero + Unrequited Love + Obligatory Sex Scenes That Don’t Do Anything For Ya + Character Deviations + Stupid Plot Contrivances + The Next Coming Of The Messiah = Errm…

Split into three parts, 2/3rds of Breaking Dawn is written from Bella’s point of view. In the first few chapters we immediately see the Bella we love or hate or love to hate (depending on your point of view). Same old Bells. She spends the first chapter whining about her new situation, the upcoming wedding, and Edward’s atrocious treatment of her that one really cannot help but wonder why she’s marrying him. He’s such a horrible fiance; buying her an expensive flame-proof and missile-proof benz that wasn’t out in Europe yet, much less in America, to replace her old clunker when it “conveniently” died days after the engagement, as if he somehow willed her old truck to die with the sheer power of his mind. She was unhappy about a great many other things too, her fabulous wedding gown, her sky’s-the-limit credit card, the ginormous diamond set in her engagement band, ivy-league education etc, etc. Advanced torture, really.

Fast forward to the wedding reception, Jacob makes a surprise appearance, in this part you’ll find the quiet desperation Bella and Jacob have for each other. To be together even. You see, truly, that had Edward not returned (and without Alice’s interference), Bella would be with Jacob, and they would have been happy. After a few blissful minutes in each others arms, Jacob ruins their hallmark moment by obsessing over the newlyweds wedding night. Hijinx ensues then he runs away. After a very verbose description of the wedding (although to be fair, a very beautifully described one), Eddy boy and Bells head on to the most beeyooteeful island in the world for their honeymoon. Once in Isle Esme, Bella morphs into a seduction doyen. After much angst and sexxoring Bella finds herself pregnant within two weeks after their first coupling. Yes, you read that right, she’s preggers with a sparkly undead baby that grows in an exponential rate which naturally ticks me and the rest of the 99.9% of her reading public off. I’m all for world building and fantasy and all that, this is after ahh Stephenie Meyer’s brainchild, but come on..shouldn’t there be some sort of internal consistency or something? When Edward along with 99% of the Cullen clan are mortified by this aberration, Bella contracts Rosalie to play the bodyguard to her Whitney Houston. This is when Sparkly Eddy boy loses much shimmer. By all that is unholy, he practically begs Jakey poo to convince her to abort their baby and then give her a litter of puppies! Puppies!!!!!! Right, ask the man desperately in love with your wife who happens to be her bestfriend and your worst enemy to boot to assist in convincing her to commit adultery against you to save her life. We should all be so lucky.

When she finally gives birth (I’m not even going to get into the whole baby chomping out of her stomach thing) she dies. The end..I wish. Captain Sparkles revives her with his super juice (I’m talking about his venom, not the other *headjerk* juice) and sheer will. Two days of writhing in silence later, Bella is reborn as super Vampirella. It seems that she was born fated to be a vamp. She’s dazzling, her voice rings and shimmers like a bell, she’s has super strength (hurts Edward when she hugs him, even beats Emmet in arm-wrestling! hah!), and, most incredible of all, does not suffer from blood lust. That just pisses me off man, that’s a major cop out in Meyer’s part. What could have been a beautiful and introspective narrative turned into a cinderella story featuring Edward Cullen as the fairy godmother. There is absolutely no character development. Once turned, Bella metamorphosed from rubbish to platinum with no self-discovery or awareness whatsoever. What about the Cullens you may ask? Well, don’t even go there, my condensed opinion is that Edward has turned from Teen Beat heartthrob to poster boy for Depressed Teens, Alice does nothing but bemoan Bella’s wardrobe choices, Emmett spends all his time making inappropriate jokes about his brother and sister-in-law’s sex life, Rosalie is still the same-old blonde bimbo bitch, Jasper glowers a lot and now goes by Jazz (wtf is that?!), Esme worries, and Carlisle is useless. That’s about it.

By this time, Jacob has defected from his La Push pack and unwittingly starts his own brandspanking new renegade pack devoted to saving the Cullen clan from turning into Werewolf happy meals. By his side is puppy Seth Clearwater and his bitch sister Leah. The arrival of the Cullen Messiah so named Renesmee Carlie (an obvious play on Renee-Esme Charlie-Carlisle) mark a new dawn (forgive the unintended pun). Jacob has now all but forgotten his old obsession for Bella in lieu for a better option – the baby. Yes, he imprints on the baby. Shades of pedophilia and necrophilia abound. Beyond that there are many more contrived plot devices and hijinxes that I just gloss over (with glazed eyes) simply because it seemed (in my opinion) to be there to just fill up the required word count. I’m not even going to get into other quibbles (like Charlie’s acceptance of paranormal existence with nary a batted eyelash) because that shit is just going to give me an aneurysm. At it’s best, Breaking Dawn is an easy but painful read. All of this into consideration this book just felt like one really bad fanfic if not a major long-ass epilogue. But hey, everybody in Twilightlandia is happy, Stephenie Meyer is happy (and who wouldn’t be with all the cold hard cash she’s raking in from suckers that, unfortuantely, includes myself), and the rabid fangirls are happy. So all is well in the world.

Posted in F, I Heart Monsters, Reader, Reviews, When Spoilers Attack, YA | 5 Comments »

Stronger Than Magic by Heather Cullman

Posted by Mistress on August 4, 2008

Don’t be fooled by the book’s obscure author, unassuming cover, and multi-genre arc. This one belongs firmly on the keeper shelf. Nobody does tortured heroes like Heather Cullman and I’ve never read a TSTL heroine from her just yet and simple as my requirements are, they are not always easy to come by.

Beware: here be spoilers.

The year was 1315, Alys le Fayre is a beautiful much sought after maiden who got her rocks off pitting her suitors against each other. One such suitor was a hawt knight stud named Lucan de Thistlewood. A Battlefield prodigy, the only thing Lucan loves more than a good and bloody fight is manipulative Alys. However, as much (or as little) as she loves Lucan in her own way, the only thing Alys loves more is riling up the jealousy of her suitors. Obsessive in his quest to win her, one such suitor kills Lucan in a jousting (or something like it) tourney. Unknown to all, Lucan’s father was Aengus, the King Of Faeries who was naturally infuriated by his son’s murder. Other than the unnecessary death of his son, the reason why King Aengus is up in arms about it is because faeries, being fallen angels, have no soul, and as a result of being half faerie, Lucan only has half a soul which naturally bars him entry to heaven. The only way Lucan can complete his soul and gain entry is by loving and being loved back by his soulmate and one true love. As punishment Alys is kept captive by the fairy daddy for the next 500 hundred years (ha ha!) playing matchmaker to humans as practice for when Lucan is reborn. Time it seems have taught Alys humility, compassion, and understanding, but not the true meaning of love. Uh oh.

Fast forward to 1816, Regency England, Alys gets a brandspanking new assignment, the very one she’s been waiting for, her one chance at redemption and the salvation of her mortal soul, to match 32 year old Lucian Warre, Marquess of Thistlewood with his one true love. Given 500 years of matchmaking experience, it should be easy as pie, except it’s not. Lucian’s faerie essence (the non-soul half of his soul) expires in 4 months and things aren’t looking up for Alys. If she doesn’t find him his one true love he will forever be in purgatorio and so will she. If she fails she is doomed to wander the earth as a ghost ad infinitum. Too bad for her, Lucian has a lump of wet coal in place of his heart. Or was it a smelly gym sock? I forget. Anyway, so how can Lucian feel if he’s dead inside??

When her murderous suitor (like her, became a captive to the faeries) is sent to earth to protect Lucian in the battlefields against Napoleon, he takes a bullet and dies. This becomes her ticket into Lucian’s home and heart. She becomes Alys Faire, sister to the deceased Bevis Faire, and ward to stone cold Lucian Warre. Lucian is naturally indebted to the Faire family so he takes Alys on, intent on giving her a proper season and fitting husband.

When we first meet Lucian he is a cold, cold man. Brrr. Heartless, unfeeling and completely unsympathetic. He is utterly repulsed by Alys’ blonde hair and lack of cha chas. No insta-erection for this hero. Heck, he doesn’t even enjoy the sexxoring with his mistress and only does it to clean his pipes. As natural as tea in the morning and brandy in the evening. What a charmer. Alys immediately recognizes this about him and goes about her business by teaching him how to feel. How does one teach a dead man feel, you may ask? Well, by pissing him off, of course! And boy did I have fun reading about her antics. She constantly yells at him, disobeying his every domineering command, pushes all of his buttons and before you know it his cold dead heart starts twitching a little bit. When he starts thinking that there’s something wrong with her upstairs (he catches her talking to Hedley, a faerie only she can see) he decides to show a little sympathy for the grieving and traumatized girl. They become great friends (oh! how I love their nightly ritual of noshing in the kitchen) and although Lucian doesn’t get it from the get go, he starts falling in love with Alys a little bit more every day. Alys on the other hand, has a little bit more self-awareness, she recognizes that she’s in love with Lucian but has long deemed herself unworthy of his love. So she goes about matching him with whomever she can when she realizes that true love is supposed to be selfless and requires sacrifice. No canned awwws for this one.

Heather Cullman is one of the few authors who isn’t afraid to massacre her hero and heroine’s characters and she needn’t be because the utter skill in how she redeems them is simply wonderful. No cookie cutter hero or TSTL heroines in this book.

Oh man, this book totally rocks my socks.

Posted in A-, Historical Harlots, Reader, Reviews, When Spoilers Attack | Leave a Comment »

A Perfect Scoundrel by Heather Cullman

Posted by Mistress on August 4, 2008

The Redemption Of Scum

Jane Wentworth is a shy, mousy, and all around pathetic creature who happens to be in love with Lord Quentin Somerville. Unfortunately, Quentin is besotted with perfection itself, perfection being her step-sister Clarissa. Now if you’ve read “For All Eternity” you know that Quentin is the pus that infects the mucus that cruds up the fungus that feeds on the pond scum. So poor, sad Jane is very unfortunate indeed. Jane and Clarissa have a very good relationship, they truly like each other and I’m utterly grateful for that cos if I read one more book with an evil step-sister I’m going to throw a bitch fit. In Quentin’s pursuit of sunshine, he treats Jane with a modicum of respect which of course leads our heroine to think that this is her time to shine. When Clarissa falls ill one fateful day she makes Jane attend this masqued ball in her costume. Jane of course is both mortified and thrilled by the idea of going as her dazzling step-sister. She goes in pursuit of her first foot popping kiss even if the gentleman in question thinks she’s somebody else. Wonderful.

Unbeknownst to all, Lord Sack of Shit has plotted and schemed with his bestfriend to trap Clarissa into matrimony. See, he whines and whines about how he’s just an untitled second son. No matter that he’s prettier than all of ton-ville. No matter that he’s so rich, he’s convinced that every marriage-minded miss is only after his fortune. He’s a bitter, envious, son of a – err – gun that he’s positive that only Clarissa will do and that the only way she’ll marry him is if she has no choice. Do you see where we’re going now?? What a catch.

At the grand ball Lord Slimebag traps Clarissa-costumed Jane in the garden and makes out with her. Like every unproper lady, Jane doesn’t put up a fight and starts declaring i love you! i love you! like a half wit deb. With his audience in place he unmasks her and that’s when the shit really hits the fan. Long story short, Quentin’s daddy (who controls his purse strings) forces them to marry, but not before he calls her a lying, mercenary bitch. It wasn’t the blissful union she expected. On the happiest day of her life, he (overcome with lust and rage) rapes her then sends her away to his decrepit estate somewhere in the wilds of England-ville. To do what? To wither away in misery of course!

Quentin’s character has been so thoroughly brutalized and mutilated that by the time the author was done with him there was no chance in Hades he could be redeemed. Or can he? dum dum dum dum…

During their estrangement, Jane flourishes and grows a spine. She discovers her excellence in estate management and turns the once floundering town into a prosperous disney-like village. She even sacks his jack-ass thief of an estate manager. So when Quentin comes to take her back to London (under Dear Papa’s strict orders) he’s bitchsmacked to discover that his once meek doormat of a wife is now Queen Supreme in his barely recognizable estate (replete with dancing animals and adoring townfolk). His discovery makes him furious (of course!) How dare she make his estate self-sufficient! How dare she nurse the ill! Jane is none too happy to see the dickwad she married either. However, not long after his return Quentin, with much consternation, realizes what an ingrate scum bag he’s been and begins to walk the straight and narrow into the path of redemption.

Quentin’s repentance was executed pretty well if not too quick. His reformation was truly fun to watch and the courtship of his wife a joy to read. It was infinitely satisfying when he realized that he was utterly useless as a human being and pushed himself to be a real man. Upon realization the he didn’t know jack shit, he rid himself of his lordly airs and prejudice against the unwashed masses. He even asked farmers about things he doesn’t know jack about and got down and dirty (working around town! – get your mind out of the gutter) with the rest of them. He also realizes what a scum bag he was to Jane and works extremely hard to woo and win her over. Admittedly, he doesn’t grovel as long as I would have liked him to. He went from biggest.jack-ass.slime-bag.ever to male mary sue for the masses of all time in almost a split second. I do, however, like the fact that they become friends first and learn to trust each other before jumping right back into the sack. It’s just that, I don’t know, I suppose I would have enjoyed a little more nut-cracking.

Other than the initial nastiness between Quentin and Jane in the beginning of the book there are no big misunderstandings or any other stupid plot devices. The prose flows very easily but it gets a bit dragging in the last couple of chapters. Everyone is so damn nice to each other that I found it overly-saccharine, cloying, and trite. I mean, ok, you love each other, we get it, enough. All that said, this book is on its way to my keeper shelf. It’s rough at the start but if you stick with it, it grows on you. Like a fungal infection.

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