Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Monday, November 26, 2007

Intimate Danger by Amy J. Fetzer


Title: Intimate Danger
Author: Amy J. Fetzer

Type: Labeled Contemporary Romance; I’d call it Romantic Suspense/Military
Series: No
Publisher: Brava

Why: I’ve been reading every new Fetzer title since someone recommended Naked Truth in 2006.

Comments: Intimate Danger is Fetzer’s best work since Naked Truth. About Naked Truth, I wrote “…in Naked Truth, Fetzer gave us a hero and heroine drawn with such depth the reader knew them; and felt just as overcome as they did when sex and emotion converged with surprising poignancy.” Ditto here. Mike and Clancy fall in love, not just adrenaline-inspired lust. Their connection is more emotional, more intellectual than physical. It is palpable to the reader, goose bump palpable. And it starts long before they become sexually intimate. It’s believable too. There are plenty of mini-breaks in the action that many authors would fill with a tumble. Fetzer chooses to let the emotional intimacy, the trust to build first. When they finally do come together, the experience is deeper, more meaningful. Hot, yes. But far more intense than it would be otherwise.

Combined with the story’s break-neck pace, realistic action and elusive mystery, the romance made for a thrill-ride read. NOT a book to read if you’re busy entertaining holiday company. Sigh. I couldn’t wait for everyone to leave so I could get back into this book.

One criticism. There are a number of secondary characters to help further the plot. Not overpowering or distracting. But not interesting either. There are none with the color or vibrancy of a Janzen extra, for example. Some even border on stereotypes. Not enough to hurt the story, but honestly, if Fetzer had extended her characterization skills to all of her players, Intimate Danger would have been flawless for me. As Fetzer’s contemporaries are unconnected, other readers may not see this as a problem. Additionally, there is just enough to these folks, to their interaction, to help flesh out Mike and Clancy.

Ok, two criticisms. The second stems from one unresolved thread in the mystery or conflict. Fetzer addresses it, briefly, but it was far from satisfying. As it was THE conflict for Clancy, it seemed too light a treatment of it in the book’s conclusion. Again, others may not see it that way.

To end on a positive note, I can’t say enough about the romance. Again. Unexpected, exquisite detail and depth. A connection the reader feels. Needed that.

To Save You Some Time: Fetzer’s next release is Come As You Are, due December, 2007.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Rest Falls Away by Colleen Gleason

Title: The Rest Falls Away
Author: Colleen Gleason

Type: Historical Paranormal
Series: Yes; this is the first book in the The Gardella Vampire Chronicles.

Publisher: Signet Eclipse

Why: Blogger buzz around the time of its release put it on my TBR list. Just getting to it.


Beneath the glitter of dazzling 19th-century London Society lurks a bloodthirsty evil...

Vampires have always lived among them, quietly attacking unsuspecting debutantes and dandified lords as well as hackney drivers and Bond Street milliners. If not for the vampire slayers of the Gardella family, these immortal creatures would have long taken over the world.

In every generation, a Gardella is called to accept the family legacy, and this time, Victoria Gardella Grantworth is chosen, on the eve of her debut, to carry the stake. But as she moves between the crush of ballrooms and dangerous, moonlit streets, Victoria's heart is torn between London's most eligible bachelor, the Marquess of Rockley, and her enigmatic ally, Sebastian Vioget.

And when she comes face to face with the most powerful vampire in history, Victoria must ultimately make the choice between duty and love.

Comments: This was a near miss for me. I nearly put it down as a DNF because it was so slow to start. I loved the premise, recalled the reviewer buzz and, with every turn of the page, craned my neck, squinting ahead, searching. Solid characterization of Victoria, the series’ protagonist never materialized, but the array of men in her life finally managed to pique my curiosity. So I kept reading.

The book starts with a dual coming out for Victoria. First, she accepts an inherited role as vampire hunter. A leap for me as Gleason provided little in the way of backstory and nothing of Victoria’s emotional motivation. Next, and I do mean literally next, like the very next evening, Victoria enjoys her society debut, her scripted plunge into the marriage mart. And again, there is little word of her personal expectations here. I was left with no sense of who she is, forced to just sit back and watch her go obligingly through the motions.

Much, much later, Gleason assembles the men in Victoria’s life: Max, another vampire hunter, the Marquess of Rockley, ideal husband material, and Sebastion, a mystery player in the vampire wars. Gleason does a wonderful job of hooking readers here. I wanted to know which Victoria would choose and was pleasantly surprised when Gleason stuck to role playing—pairing Victoria with Rockley in a marriage expected of her. Granted, I didn’t easily buy the idea that she was in love with him, but I appreciated the first hint of emotional conflict for Victoria.

She was mired in it for the remainder of the book and, as the reader, so was I. Gleason saves the book at this point. Drawing readers into the danger, adding flesh to each of these characters, binding them to one another. From here, it was an exciting and fast read—even though I knew it would not include a satisfying “end.” At least not in the traditional sense. No HEA, but plenty of speculation and great tension-building between Victoria and her men. Enough to convince the reader to pick up the next installment.

Gleason’s press materials include her own comments on motivation. She is a fan of Buffy and the chick from Alias. I couldn’t sum up The Rest Falls Away any better. Not wholly original, but well marketed, or contrived, to fit today’s fiction trends. Right down to her gorgeous book covers. Without going back to find the original blogger buzz, I’d hazard a guess that Gleason’s premise was the real hook. And the subsequent lack of buzz or emulation reflects her failure to establish her place in this arena through voice and characterization. At least in the first book.

Anyone have any comments on her second book, Rises The Night? Are we drawn deeper? Or left sitting in the audience?

To Save You Some Time: The second in this series, Rises The Night is available now. The third, The Bleeding Dusk, is due February 5, 2008.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Captain Lacey Regency Mystery Series by Ashley Gardner

Title: The Captain Lacey Regency Mystery Series (6 books in all)
Author: Ashley Gardner

Type: Mystery
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime

Why: I found this series by accident last year, nabbing the fifth book from my library’s paperback swap shelf. Loved it and have been meaning to read the remaining titles. When I hit this last reading slump, I reached for book one, hoping it would capture my interest. It did and then some. Thank God.

What Does It For Me: Captain Lacey. He is the ultimate hero. Even though these are not romances, he easily captures the reader’s attention and interest. Gardner in no way paints him as romantic hero. She provides little in the way of physical description. I know he is taller than average and that he has a bad leg (war injury) that makes him reliant upon a walking stick. That’s it for appearance. Still, I was more than half in love with him by the last installment.

The rest of his character emerges through Gardner’s storytelling. Or rather, through Lacey’s narration. Lacey himself tells us of his past—his life in the military, his wife’s desertion, the events that destroyed a powerful friendship, and more. In some instances, the reader learns things about Lacey that remain unknown to his present acquaintances. It feels very intimate and renders a loyalty to him that makes the reading experience more personal. We feel his melancholy, rally behind his determination and laugh at his astute, biting observations of regency society. He really is rough around the edges, but highly, highly likeable.

His cast is also likeable. Again, through Lacey, we get to know each of them. As he sees them, yes, but with the sense that we have come to know them as well as he does. All interesting, all unique and all from the many different layers of England’s class system. Gardner is wonderfully adept at bringing all walks of life together through the experiences of a single character, a character that can walk London’s seedier streets or attend the opera on the arm of a viscountess with equal confidence.

I’d actually liken this series to Robb’s In Death series. In voice, cadence or rhythm, and ensemble cast. Under Captain Lacey’s POV, the prose is clipped and the pace brisk. Both mirror Lacey’s military bearing. And both remind me of Robb’s police procedurals. We get methodical, linear thinking from a central character, complex criminal cases that can only be solved by that character’s diligence, and a host of regulars lending assistance at every turn. Additionally, as the reader, I experience the same easy slide into the rhythm of speech with each book I pick up. It is instantly recognizable and comfortingly familiar.

I just can’t say enough about this series.

To Save You Some Time: There are six books in all:

The Hanover Square Affair (2003)
A Regimental Murder (2004)
The Glass House (2004)
The Sudbury School Murders (2005)
A Body In Berkeley Square (2005)
A Convent Garden Mystery (2006)

Gardner’s website offers no mention of the series’ fate and her blog (under penname Ashley Gardner) left off suddenly after October 10, 2006. I don’t imagine there will be more Lacey mysteries. They are definitely worth finding and reading however.

Next, I’ll be moving onto Jennifer Ashley, another penname for Gardner. I’ll read The Queen’s Handmaiden first, then have a look at what looks to be some paranormal titles, a Highlander tale and some older historical romances.

I also see that she writes erotic romance as Allyson James. Coming in August 2008, Private Places, an erotic collection of historical tales by Robin Schone, Claudia Dane, Shiloh Walker, and Allyson James.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

REVIEW- Sexiest Man Alive by Diana Holquist

Title: Sexiest Man Alive.
Author: Diana Holquist.
Publisher: Grand Central (former Warner).

BLURB: Shy No More Worksheet
Name: Jasmine Burns


Imagine the person who intimidates you. Naked.
I'm intimidated by Josh Toby, the world's biggest movie star. Who has to imagine him naked? I've seen it on a forty-foot screen.

Breathe deep.
Did I mention he's Josh Toby? As his costume designer, I'm supposed to dress him. And undress him. Oh, and my psychic sister Amy, who has never been wrong, named him my One True Love. Breathing is completely out of the question.

Ask for what you want.
What I want is for him to stop being so...irresistible! I want not to fall in love with a man who's stalked by the paparazzi, whose washboard abs could cut glass, and whose movie star girlfriend is the most stunning creature ever.

Believe you can do what needs to be done. Then do it.
So, all I have to do is believe I can resist Josh Toby. Resist those deep violet eyes, those strong, muscular arms, and the way he makes me feel like the only woman on earth. Couldn't be easier. Yeah right...

I read this book because I kept seeing decent reviews and I was expecting a fun, quirky storyline. Well, I got that, but what I didn't get was a hero I found... heroic. He was a touch on the feminine side. Why do I say this do you ask? Let me site some examples.

Example 1: He's a movie star, the press thinks he's dating Cleo Chan, but really that's a ruse. Anyway, he talks Jasmine into dressing up for Halloween and she finally reluctantly agrees. The catch is, she'll dress up as him, Josh Toby, but as his character Mitch Tank and he'd dress up as Cleo Chan.

"What?" he asked. His eyes lit up to match the spark in hers.

"I'll be you." She paused as she considered the implications of what she was about to say, then rushed ahead recklessly before she lost her nerve. She could do it. she could make the costume with her eyes closed. She could transform this man into whomever she liked. "And you be your girlfriend, Cleo. That's my final offer. Take it or leave it."

But instead of looking horrified, he grinned. "Ooooh, yes! Very wicked, Jas. i'll have to back you into corners more often. I'm in. Definitely in."


Okay... what hero in a romance novel talks like that? Does that not sound a little on the gay side? Or at least bisexual or metrosexual to you? Gah.

Example 2: They did the Halloween thing and are now at a restaurant eating. He asks her if she has a boyfriend. She lies and says yes. He asks what his name is...

"His name is Josh also. Coincidence." Not.
"So, what's he like? C'mon. Spill. What kind of man can penetrate the defenses of the elusive Jasmine Burns?"


Any of you dated a guy who talks like that? A guy who says, "spill"?

While the storyline and premise of the book were fun and quirky, the hero was just too feminine in spots for me to enjoy his character 100%. Now for me, the "Sexiest Man Alive" is a man of few words, and when he does speak, they're masculine... words that make you shiver.

Anyway, that's my take on this book. It's impossible to give it a grade, but if you don't mind a hero who isn't necessarily macho, then you''ll love this book. As it is, I did like the story and the premise and most of the characters, sans the blips where the hero was less than macho in my eyes. *shrug*


Grade of the storyline alone: B.
Grade of the story as a whole: Probably a D.

The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt

Title: The Serpent Prince
Author: Elizabeth Hoyt

Copyright: 2007
Publisher: Forever

Type: Historical Romance
Series: Yes; third behind The Raven Prince, and The Leopard Prince

Why: I jumped on the bandwagon when blogger buzz elevated The Raven Prince to a must-read. I enjoyed that one so much that Hoyt’s Prince series became a must-buy.

To Save You Some Time: The Serpent Prince wraps up Hoyt’s Princes Trilogy. Next up is To Taste Temptation (May, 2008), book one in The Legend Of The Four Soldiers.

Also note, Hoyt writes contemporary romance as Julia Harper. Harper’s first book, Hot, will release in January 2008.

WHEN THE DEVIL MEETS AN ANGEL...Country bred Lucy Craddock-Hayes is content with her quiet life. Until the day she trips over an unconscious man-a naked unconscious man-and loses her innocence forever.

HE CAN TAKE HER TO HEAVEN...Viscount Simon Iddesleigh was nearly beaten to death by his enemies. Now he's hell-bent on vengeance. But as Lucy nurses him back to health, her honesty startles his jaded sensibilities-even as it ignites a desire that threatens to consume them both.

OR TO HELL...Charmed by Simon's sly wit, urbane manners, and even his red-heeled shoes, Lucy falls hard and fast for him. Yet as his honor keeps him from ravishing her, his revenge sends his attackers to her door. As Simon wages war on his foes, Lucy wages her own war for his soul using the only weapon she has-her love...

Power To Distract: Plenty. I’d forgotten how well Hoyt captivates. I’d also forgotten the emotional depth of her stories. It was this emotion that yanked me from reality into the story.

Heroine: Lucy is Hoyt’s third independent-minded heroine living her life out in relative obscurity. Unlike the first two however, Lucy bears no extra burden of responsibility save the running of her father’s household. She lives the life expected of her station, while patiently awaiting a marriage proposal from a vicar who has been courting her for three years.

Simon, of course, is the catalyst for change and watching Lucy’s reaction was both refreshing and entertaining. She doesn’t bloom under his attention. Hoyt’s story is not that clichéd. With Simon, Lucy simply enjoys being herself and being appreciated for herself. And no, she hasn’t been hiding her true self. It’s just that everyone else in her world is oblivious—in that single-minded, self-absorbed way. I felt a personal connection to Lucy on this point, hence my emotional and sensory reaction when Simon really sees her. And when she sees him, not a man she has ever envisioned for herself but one she cannot deny now that he is before her.

Hoyt gives the appearance of simply sitting back and letting these two characters fall into an awareness of each other; letting them fall in love without interference from her. It felt seamless, natural. Meant to be.

Hero: When Simon awakes to find Lucy hovering, he has that Ah, there you are moment and kicks off the whole fated to be together thing. Granted, his initial reaction to Lucy is fueled by lust, but the reader feels the rush nonetheless. It is erotic and heartwarming at the same time.

Unlike Lucy, his character is wrought with personal conflict. His blinding desire for revenge is in fact the only true conflict in the story. Hoyt does not however, use the conflict to unreasonably delay or prevent their marriage. Instead, she uses it to test the power of their love for one another. Classic and well done.

Story: Like my last emotional read, Caine’s Reckoning by Sarah McCarty, Hoyt’s The Serpent Prince is devoted primarily to the development of Simon and Lucy’s relationship. Like McCarty, Hoyt allows readers time for the emotional experience, without the clutter of too much action and intrigue. I appreciated the time and space; grateful for the chance to simply feel Simon and Lucy’s giddiness, their fear of being hurt, their hope against hope.

Emotional read. And excellent.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Caine's Reckoning by Sarah McCarty

Quick Note: I'm flat out stealing (with slight modification) Rosario's format in an effort to return to regular review posts. The blank page, trying to find overall message, an angle, etc. Too much work given the limited time I now have. Hopefully this template will automate the process for me a bit.

Title: Caine’s Reckoning
Author: Sarah McCarty

Copyright: 2007
Publisher: Spice

Type: Western Historical


The Hell's Eight is the only family he's ever needed, until he meets the only woman he's ever wanted . . . Caine Allen is a hardened Texas Ranger, definitely not the marrying kind. But when he rescues a kidnapped woman and returns her to town, the preacher calls in a favor. One Caine's honor won't let him refuse. From the moment he beds Desi, Caine knows turmoil will follow. Desi might have the face of a temptress, but she also has a will of iron and while she needs his protection, she's determined that no man will control her again. They establish an uneasy bond, but it isn't enough for Caine. He wants all Desi has to offer. He wants her screams, her moans, her demands . . . everything. Yet there's still a bounty on Desi's head, and keeping her sexually satisfied is proving easier than keeping her alive.

Why: Sarah McCarty became an auto-buy author for me after one title—Promises Linger.

Power To Distract: In spades.

Let me explain this ‘measure’ briefly. For nearly two years now, my family and I have been mired in major life change stuff—the kind you either face once in a lifetime or at the very least every few years. Still in the thick of it, I’m weary and more than a little restless. I no longer enjoy my leisure time online or my time reading for pleasure. At least not as much as I did before. As a result, I find myself categorizing books by their power to distract me from my own reality. Tough to do right now. The few that succeed do so either through emotion or voice. Ms. McCarty’s Caine’s Reckoning scored with emotion.

Not surprising since McCarty’s characterization has always demanded emotional involvement. These are not mere acquaintances constructed to entertain. Rather, they are individuals with enough presence to step from the pages and accompany readers through their daily chores.

Heroine: Desi is spitfire and spunk wrapped in heart-wrenching vulnerability. Perfect for the time period, perfect given her experiences. I’ll admit however, that I harbored some doubt at first about Caine’s—or anyone else’s for that matter—ability to draw her out of defense mode and into the business of living. She felt that broken to me.

Thankfully, she is safely entrusted to Caine—under marriage—early on. I’m a sucker for this in historicals. I feel utter relief when the heroine is willingly or even unwillingly ensconced in a marriage to the hero and can settle back to enjoy the sparks guaranteed to follow. McCarty did not disappoint. There were sparks aplenty.

Hero: I’ll echo everyone else’s comments here. Caine IS the McCarty hero. The alpha defined not by his abs (although this fabulous cover suggests otherwise), but rather by his charm and humor. And patience. McCarty captures the romance of the alpha hero like no other. There is nothing more romantic than a hero who’s every expression; every mannerism demonstrates his desire to cherish the heroine.

Like Desi, Caine has endured hardship and suffered cruelty. And like Desi, he refuses to be rendered powerless by it. Instead, he chooses perseverance. It is an apt depiction of his strength and an added benefit for Desi as he has enough to spare for her. Despite the emotional turmoil in this story, readers can hold to Caine’s strength, clutching it as the promise of their HEA.

Defying circumstance, Caine also chooses family—albeit a makeshift one. It is here, through his and Desi’s interaction with these secondary characters, that readers find the side-splitting humor in this book. Some laugh-out-loud moments to assuage the emotional demands made elsewhere.

Story: Much of Caine’s Reckoning is in the development of Caine and Desi’s relationship. I’ve come to expect such a focus on character from McCarty that I hardly notice the presence or lack of external forces. Hers is a story about emotional growth. For me, it was the beginning, middle and end. Beautifully executed.

There are external threats, a villain and promise of more to come in the Hell’s Eight series. None so overpowering though, that they overshadow or detract from Caine and Desi’s journey to self and mutual trust.

Loved it. Was grateful for the emotional provocation. Happy for the satisfying read.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

HAVE YOU SEEN THIS BOOK? * CATCH IT IF YOU CAN CONTEST *




My first NY Western Historical series is released from SPICE last Thursday. It's a super-hot, fast-paced romance with a strong heroine, a hero to die for, and a happily ever after that will touch your heart. Like my Promise series, Hell's Eight probably is not what a reader thinks of when they think Western Historical, but each of these stories is a slice of life rich with emotion, spiced with passion, and filled with moments I hope will make your heart twist. The men of Hell's Eight are unpredictable and fascinating. They're definitely a law unto themselves, as wild as the West in which they live. Determined, and single-minded, they've planned for every contingency that could complicate their goals except for the one they never saw coming: the extraordinary women that will capture their hearts.

Read an excerpt.

Sounds good eh? Well, it is. Unfortunately, all the attention seems to have made our hero and heroine shy. (For those waiting on their copy, SPICE has taken steps to make sure Caine's Reckoning will be available ASAP for everyone but in the meantime we can amuse ourselves with a contest.) While they were briefly spotted in the UK, and there was a rumor that they stopped over in Germany, no trace of their passing remains. Several ladies identified Desi and Caine as a very happy couple shopping in Wisconsin, and there was a confirmed sighting in the couple's home stomping grounds of Texas, but as before, nothing remains of their visit. Word is the shelf where they rested is bare. So, the Hell's Eight is sending out a search party of readers and offering a reward for proof of their safety. And because the Hell's Eight are a results oriented bunch, entries do not only have to be of a sighting, but can also consist of a lure: a reason why you think Desi and Caine should come to a book shelf near you. One that will tempt them to show themselves. A third option is to put this gif on your site and link to this page and then email me with the link to the site and the statement that you are 18 or older.


Catch It If You Can



Entries should be through the contact form on this sight. Please put Caine in the subject line. 5 winners will be chosen from all entries. Entrants must be 18 and over and should state so in the subject of the email to be eligible. Three winners will be chosen at random from all the entrants. Winners will have a choice of either an autographed copy of Caine's Reckoning or a $15 (us) Gift certificate to Amazon.com the contest ends 11/27/07 at 12 am Eastern time

That's it.


To enter email with either indicate the place of sighting and any pertinent descriptive information *we like descriptives *, Offer a tempting lure as to why Caine should stop by a store shelf near you, or post the Catch it if you can gif on your website, link to this page, and provide a link to where the gif is.

Remember to put:


  1. Caine and Desi in the subject line.
  2. State you are 18 and over (You must be 18 or over to enter)
  3. Your name, email, and address.
  4. Where you saw the book and how it looked (g) or why you want to see the the book or where you posted the gif.

Contest closes November 27 th, 12 midnight, EST US.

Good luck!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Viscount in Her Bedroom by Gayle Callen

The Viscount in Her BedroomPerhaps I was so disinclined to give In My Wildest Fantasies a better review because I read this book on its heels. I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this book. This is the third in a series (I freely admit I only read the first one, and each can be read as a stand alone, although they are about 3 sisters).

Firstly, there is always talk about covers, and very rarely do we see a blond hero on the cover (unless it's Fabio, LOL). I liked this guy on sight.

Here's the blurb, courtesy of Gayle Callen's web site: Louisa Shelby's carefree life of elegant balls and beautiful frocks ended when her father died, leaving her penniless. With no hope of securing a proper marriage, the vivacious young miss accepts a position as a companion to an elderly viscountess. But temptation in a most unexpected guise awaits Louisa in the dowager's home...

Once, Simon Wade was London's most eligible bachelor and most able seducer. But a tragic accident forced him into seclusion, away from prying eyes and questions. He thought he'd never again experience the tender touch of a beautiful woman. But while he yearns to hold the enchanting Louisa and taste the intoxicating nectar of her kiss, he will accept no woman's pity.

Louisa never desired a man the way she burns for Simon. And now her chance at happiness may rest in her ability to convince the stubborn viscount that her passion is real...and her love is true.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What did I like? All the main characters are truly likeable. There is no huge villain - the main conflict is Simon's blindness. I liked the way Simon's family rallied around him (with the exception of his mother, who comes back later to provide the impetus for the resolution of the story). I liked the way Simon wasn't wallowing in self-pity. He was slowly trying to put his life back together. And he was open to the changes that Louisa proposed for him - to please her, to please his family, but mostly so that he could improve his quality of life.

I also enjoyed the night-time talks between Simon and Louisa. While they were rife with sexual tension, they also served to bring them closer as friends; they got to know one another, they shared confidences. They served to dispel any misgivings Simon may have had over the one contrived setup - that of Louisa's "perceived reputation" among the men in the ton.

I enjoyed the Wade family dynamics. Lady Wade obviously loves her grandchildren, and that feeling is obviously returned in spades, along with a healthy dose of well-earned respect. I liked the give and take and teasing, but evident love that shone through among the three Wade siblings - untempered, only strengthened, by Simon's accident.

I also enjoyed getting a glimpse, although shortlived, of the three Shelby sisters together with their extended families. They also share a closeness and love together.

What didn't I like? Not much. I probably could have done without Louisa's setup reputation, however its purpose was clear, and it did move the story to its conclusion.

All in all, this was a heartwarming, touching story, filled with love and humor. I also remember really enjoying the first book - The Lord Next Door. For you series sluts out there, the 2nd book is The Duke in Disguise. I can't recommend it, as I haven't read it, but I'm sure I'll pick it up at some point. I also enjoyed Callen's Spies and Lovers trilogy.

In My Wildest Fantasies by Julianne MacLean

In My Wildest FantasiesTough book to review. Parts I loved, parts seemed so uncharacteristic for MacLean. Something just didn't sit right for me with this book. It definitely was not up to par with the American Heiress series, and that I'm very sorry to say.


The blurb, courtesy of JulianneMacLean.com: Four years ago, a mesmerizing stranger pulled Lady Rebecca Newland from her runaway coach, galloping to her rescue in a fog-shrouded forest. Though she was just seventeen, Rebecca felt an irresistible desire for the mysterious man and swore that she would someday be his bride. But now she is betrothed to another man whom she detests - and Devon Sinclair, the future Duke of Pembroke and her hero, lies tantalizingly beyond her reach...


Haunted by an unspeakable past, Devon has no intention of taking a wife, not even the enticing Rebecca. But then his father rules that Devon must wed by Christmas or forfeit his rightful inheritance. Now, with his fortune at stake, Devon sets out to lure Rebecca to his bed… where the most unexpected secrets and lies stand in the way of their scandalous, explosive passion.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Rebecca seems to enchant Devon at first, and this part I enjoyed - his aspect of the story; falling head-first, while not wanting to acknowledge what he was feeling was love.

What bothered me was Rebecca. There was no acknowledgement on her part, really, of a girlish fantasy turned into an adult love. It was all about "I've loved you since I first saw you." Blah blah blah. I've come to expect more from MacLean as an author. Portrait of a Lover was a hugely in-depth, beautifully written, emotional book. This is not of the same caliber. And that disappoints. OTOH, MacLean does write her heroes with depth and character and great emotion. Would that the heroine had the same here.

The back story of Rebecca's father and her neighbor seemed anti-climactic to me - the resolution made me think "All this just for that?" It hardly seemed worth the effort it took to get there.

The last note I want to make - the entire story takes place over approximately one to two weeks time. At least I think it does. I couldn't be bothered to go back and check. That seems really fast for a girlish fantasy to turn into an adult love (perhaps that's why it was never mentioned), and for a man to fall head over heels into an ever-lasting love. Guess that's why divorce wasn't allowed back then.

It's not like me to feel so unenthusiastic toward an historical; perhaps it was just my mood at the time, and a reread would make me more inclined to be more favorable. But frankly, I'm not leaning toward a reread. The book's most redeeming feature to me is the trailer video, available for viewing on MacLean's web site. On a bright note - the 2nd book, featuring Devon's brother, looks to be far more interesting.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

A Passion for Him by Sylvia Day

A Passion for HimBlurb (courtesy of SylviaDay.com): Miss Amelia Benbridge is ready to leave behind a past filled with heartbreak for a sensible marriage. Until temptation itself comes calling, with an invitation to seduction…

SHE LOVED AND LOST HIM ONCE…
Amelia Benbridge and the Earl of Ware are the most anticipated match of the Season. Lord Ware is handsome, wealthy, and kind, and he understands that her love will always belong to her childhood sweetheart, Colin. When Colin died, Amelia believed she would never feel such passion again. But her primal reaction to the brooding stranger who approaches her at a masquerade, coaxing her into a moonlit minuet and a single, sensual kiss, proves otherwise…

Colin Mitchell knew a pairing between a peer’s daughter and a gypsy stable boy was impossible. Amelia’s mistaken belief in his demise afforded him the opportunity to return to her as a man of means. But time has slipped through his fingers. She is preparing to wed another and danger prevents him from revealing the truth. Colin can only bid her a secret farewell, but he underestimates her determination to unmask her phantom admirer. A forbidden kiss leads to her ardent pursuit and a soul-scorching affair. Amelia is perfectly attuned to his every desire, every thought–and hungry for stability he can’t offer her. For deception lies at the heart of their love, waiting to drive them apart once again…

What I liked: Where this book shines is the romance between the H&H. The emotion between Colin and Amelia is so real and heartfelt. Even when Amelia thought he was someone else (although I must admit, the name Reynaldo Montoya did nothing for me...), their interactions were fabulous. I loved that Colin couldn't contain himself, and said "I love you" first, and often. I was thrilled when, during their confrontation about Colin's identity, he threw out - "Whose name do you think you screamed at the height of orgasm?" I kept waiting for Day to reveal that during the actual love scene and when she didn't, I was disappointed. So I was very relieved to see it revealed the morning after.

I liked that there were many flashbacks of their early life together, and what drew them together when they were children, and that these scenes were consistent with those from A Passion for the Game.

I did like many of the secondary characters, including Simon, who had more of a backbone in this book. And although I liked Ware, I can hope that the few glimpses that we had of his more alpha side will come through as this series continues. He was a terrificly supportive friend for Amelia, but his character seemed a bit lost, as if he wasn't sure if he should be strong and manly or the supportive friend. Understandable, given his history with her, but he was just a bit too unfocused for me, and that made him seem a bit too wishy-washy. He did seem to pull it together as the book progressed, though, and find the center for his character. Seems to be the same problem that Simon suffered from in A Passion for the Game. Simon figured it out in this book (quite nicely, I might add), and one can assume that the more forceful glimpses that we saw of Ware are his true nature, and the softer side will only come out with his one true love in his own book.

And, I liked the cover. Brava is doing an amazing job with the covers for this series. Isn't he just yummy? I also liked that there was very minimal use of my least favorite word (the one from The Stranger I Married, that prompted this post about the "c" word), which seems to be one of Sylvia Day's more favorite words. Thank you, Sylvia!! It made reading the love scenes far more pleasureable for me, I must say.

What I didn't like: The intrigue was a bit confusing, and while I understood it on the large scale, on the smaller scale it was difficult to grasp each bit player's piece in the puzzle. I found myself glossing over many of the scenes that included the less imprtant villainous secondary characters, drawn instead to the main romance between Colin and Amelia.

Amelia just knows there is something about this man, and she constantly thinks of Colin while she is with him. So why was she so surprised when he revealed himself to her? And so unwilling to forgive? He tried to tell her, after all. She was the one who said no - not to tell her.
Very few things not to like, and many things to like. The romance gets better with each book Day writes. And although the intrigue in this series is very convoluted, there is obviously a point to it. I assume it is going to be revealed eventually as the series continues.
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