Monday, August 27, 2012

Samurai Game by Christine Feehan

Samurai Game (Ghostwalkers #10)Samurai Game by Christine Feehan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was so sad to finish this book. I love visiting with the GhostWalkers in any capacity, and the arrival of the long lost Thorn (now called Azami) was desperately appreciated. Sam is a sweetheart while clearly maintaining his capable and lethal identity as an enhanced soldier. He is a very calm, together person. I think in some ways, the quiet heart of Team One. From the other books he seemed courtly and down to earth, eminently huggable. It's nice to see more dimensions to him and to see his love story unfold.

Hanging out with Team One again was awesome. And getting to meet the incredibly gifted and advanced Daniel was a real pleasure. He's going to make life very interesting for his parents and the Teams. Also, it was nice seeing Ryland in the field again. I missed seeing him kick some butt. The Team is not just a well-oiled military team, but a close-knit brotherhood/family.

While there is definitely an insta-love vibe between Sam and Thorn, it works for them. I could and do believe in their love. Sam and Azami connect on an intellectual, physical and emotional level. Sam has always kept a part of himself separate from others (despite his tight bonds with the other members of Team One and their wives), and when Azami comes along, she finds her way into the deeper parts of him very quickly. He wants to be her protector, although this lethal woman is more than capable of taking care of herself and others. Sam sees the wounds that Whitney's experiments have left on Azami's psyche and body and it only makes her more beautiful to him, not the broken, unwanted person she fights to leave behind. I loved that Azami is a samurai warrior in every way. I also loved her demure, together, composed demeanor. Despite her calm, she is a very passionate, deep person. She has a lot of strength to survive what she endured from Whitney's heinous experiments, rising like a phoenix from the ashes. The tattoos she wears are very representative of her journey and her psyche. I have to admit, I wish I had gotten to see her go to town with a katana (I'm a martial arts freak, so forgive!), but she proves her lethal skill in many ways, as much as ninja assassin as a samurai (and for a girl who has always thought ninjas were freaking awesome, that worked for me). I liked what I saw of her brothers, and honestly would like to see more.

I am very curious to see where the conspiracy will go next with Whitney and Violet. It looks like there's going to be a game-changer on this front. Azami is going to be a real asset in this arena, with her intel into Whitney, and her resources as a Yoshiie. She probably hates Whitney more than all of the other GhostWalkers combined, and with good reason. Whitney made a huge mistake underestimating her and the other GhostWalker women, not to mention the strong bond between the GhostWalkers. His reckoning is coming, although I don't want to see this series end any time soon.

This book felt too short. I was enjoying it so much, when it ended, I was like, "Oh, no!" I would have been happy with seventy-five more pages, easy. It's like leaving a gathering of your favorite people when these books end, knowing you might not get to spend time together again for a while. I really don't want to wait a year for another installment. It's going to be a long wait. I think I will end up rereading this book to experience more of Sam/Azami's love story and the GhostWalkers yummy goodness.

It's hard to say how I felt about this book, other than loving it and smiling most of the time as I read. The action was hardcore and fierce, and the loving was intense and beautiful, deeply emotional. Despite that satisfaction I felt reading it, I fight a pervasive feeling of sadness because it's over and I don't want to leave this world. I guess I need therapy for my GhostWalkers addiction! That's all I can say right now! Another thumbs up from this die-hard GhostWalkers fan.

*This might be a first draft for this review as my feelings coalesce into something coherent.*

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The Lone Wolfe by Kate Hewitt

The Lone WolfeThe Lone Wolfe by Kate Hewitt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A little different from what I expected. I thought Jacob would be more approachable based on his appearances in the other books.  However, it makes sense to see him so cold, so disconnected from life.  Especially with his fears of hurting others and doing violence as a legacy of his father's abuse and substance abuse. 

The metaphor of a gardener painstakingly and lovingly transforming and rehabilitating a neglected garden to its former glory reflects how Mollie helps Jacob to come to terms with this fears and his isolation and open himself up to her love. With her gentle, loving care, she coaxes him back to an emotional life.  Jacob always was a family man, no question. He loved his brothers and sister deeply, and the only reason he left and abandoned them was to save them.  This sets the pattern for twenty years of running away and isolating himself.  He was out in the cold and while it was for his survival and protection of others, it was to his detriment. When he returns to Wolfestone Manor and becomes involved with Mollie, he is able to put his demons to rest.

For a short book, Hewitt creates a believable emotional journey.  The fact that she does have all the siblings come together at the end as a family is the absolutely crucial element I needed.  It was the resolution of this eight book journey that left me ultimately satisfied, even though I am not 100% sure that Kate Hewitt's writing style reached me as much on an emotional level as I wished.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I would have preferred a deeper connection, since I have wanted to read Jacob's book from the very beginning.  I am sad to see this series end. I grew very attached to the Wolfe family. I can at least be satisfied that they are all happily married and beloved by their spouses and others, with a hopeful future.  When I finished this book, this desire was fulfilled, and that is a good thing!

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Rook by Daniel O'Malley

The RookThe Rook by Daniel O'Malley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was an excellent selection for audiobook. The narrator does a great job of immersing the listener in the world. She brings Myfanwy to life and makes her thoroughly lovable.  I loved experiencing how Myfanwy processes her world as a newly born personality, a complete amnesiac who relies on the extensive note-taking and letters that her prior personality had prepared. Myfanwy is a closet bad*ss, and it was awesome that she kept everyone guessing at her hidden depths. She more than proves the adage, "It's always the quiet ones."

This is an excellent whodonnit as the reader goes through the list of suspects of who would want to kill Myfanwy Thomas and why.  The cast of characters (and their various powers) is wacky and out there enough to make the introduction of each character an adventure in itself. And the mix of espionage with the weird and strange is excellently done. I found myself laughing like crazy as I listened.  Not only did I laugh, but I also had some vocal 'ugh' and 'wow' moments, seeing as how the Chequy deals with some very strange threats to the British Citizenry, and the Chequy itself is pretty darn strange.

This book also reminded me of one of my favorite shows of all time, The Venture Bros., with its cast of quite bizarrely-talented folks and the odd humor.   I eat that show up and so I did with this book!

I hope I can get a copy of this when it comes out in paper to enjoy again in a different format. I think this will definitely go on my favorites list for its mix of quirky humor, bizarre characters, and even more bizarre and dangerous situations that our newly intrepid heroine has to handle.

I would definitely love this to be an ongoing series, and I hope that BBC snaps this up for a potential mini-series.  The British humor is excellent, sometimes wry, sometimes laugh out loud, but always funny.

Highly recommended for readers who like a weird twist on the secret spy agency theme.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lothaire by Kresley Cole

Lothaire (Immortals After Dark, #12)Lothaire by Kresley Cole

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book!  This was worth waiting for, even though it was a long wait for it to come out in paperback.  I can say that the hours spent reading it were truly enjoyable. It's true that I am a huge fan of this series, but it never gets old for me. I do believe this is one of the best paranormal series out there, hands down!  It has a lot of sex, so I wouldn't recommend it to a fantasy fan who doesn't like sex, but I feel that the world-building stands up to muster for a fantasy novel as well.  I think that this story keeps expanding in ways that intrigue and fascinate me. I am happily surprised at all the twists and turns Cole gives this storyline.

Lothaire totally lived up to his potential. He is all that and more.  I think that Cole did a great job of giving this character a romance without compromising who he was.  Lothaire will always be a bad guy.  He is just a bad guy who sometimes does the right thing.  Kind of different and it worked for me!  I have a sick fascination weakness for villainous/antiheroic types, and Lothaire is the top of the list!

Things I loved about Lothaire
*Lothaire stays true to his character. He doesn't become a Stepford Hero just because he finds his true love.  He is always going to be Lothaire, just Lothaire in love.
*He cracks me up. I know he's not trying to be funny. He's just being him, but his way of twisting his words to get around his physiological demand to be truthful, and his sheer arrogance, results in some laugh out loud, snarkalicious comments. I can imagine Ms. Cole cracked herself and her editor up reading as she wrote it. I know she cracked me up.
*I love a wickedly intelligent guy. My Achilles' heel. Lothaire is such a calculating dude. Always working all the angles.  It was interesting to see how others reacted to him.  Many hated him, some were scared witless by him, and some admired him (in a "I hate him" kind of way). No one was 'meh' about him.
*Lothaire actually wants to be faithful to his Bride. 

Things I loved about Elizabeth
*She's very tough considering all that she went through.  (Shudders) I can't imagine having that awful thing taking over my body committing those horrible acts with it.  And then, where she spent five years!  That was so dark!
*She's so down to earth. I love a down to earth heroine.  She's very proud of her humble root, loves her family, and is unshakably loyal.
*She holds her own with Lothaire. Maybe she doesn't have thousands of years of experience or his incredible, immortal strength, but she has a snarky tongue, plenty of intelligence, and a big heart.

Things I loved about this book
*Kresley Cole never tries to sell this as a normal people/functional romance. From the beginning, it's clear that this is not for the faint of heart.  Lothaire is not a kind, loving, good-hearted boy next door. He is the Enemy of Old.  Ellie is not the normal girl next door with a sweet, happy existence.  Her life was tough since she was young, and it turns into a living hell when she's eighteen, and things just get worse.  Despite that, I found it to be a sigh-worthy romance. I don't want a Lothaire of my own, but I sure did like reading about his romance with Ellie!
*Lothaire has met his match in Ellie.  Although he tried to walk all over her, he finds out the hard way that's not going to fly.  Ellie proves to be a dangerous woman in her own right.  If you have read this, you'll find out.
*I didn't find this to be predictable.  I had my ideas about how things would work out, but I was wrong!  In fact, I was thrown a loop a time or two. I love how Cole turns all the endgame goals of Lothaire on their heads.
*Freaking hilarious.  Despite the very dark beginning and dark subject matter, there is much to enjoy and laugh about this book.
*Smoking hot love scenes. I mean, wow! (thinks about the scenes and wipes forehead)
*This world is endlessly fascinating and entertaining.  All the different characters and how their immortal lives intersect.  I like seeing the plots come together and overlap. With each book, I just want more.

Over five hundred pages of fantastic goodness. And when it ended, I was sad.  I want to read it over again, but no time.  Good thing I am planning on an Immortals After Dark series reread early next year!

Thumbs Way Up!!! This is a Goodread For Sure!

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Knight's Possession by Carole Mortimer

Knight's Possession (Harlequin Presents, #877)Knight's Possession by Carole Mortimer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow, this book had a sucker punch!  Laurel seems so normal when it starts, but she's kind of an emotional mess.  I can understand why, and it made me sad that she harbored so much hate in her heart for a person who had only wanted the best for her.  And because of those deep wounds from childhood, she had closed her heart to love and caused herself to be manipulated by the man who she selected to marry just because she didn't think her heart was at risk.

There were some fierce emotional parts in this book.  I was so surprised at just how commitment-phobic Laurel was.  And what really hit me was how Reece was so patient with her even though she threw his freely-given confession of love back in her face in a very hurtful way. 

(Sound of record scratching loudly)

What?  A Harlequin Presents hero freely admits love way before the heroine does? Yes.  He does!  It was refreshing.  Even though I felt bad for Reece, I was glad that he persisted in his love for Laurel.  She had felt unwanted and unnecessary, rejected for so many years. It was good to know she had someone in her corner.

I liked the fact that Reece lives up to the name of the book. He truly is a Knight. And he takes the chance to go after Laurel when the opportunity becomes available.  Also, this pursuit is much like a game of chess.  Calculated moves to capture the queen.  I'm no chess expert, but at least I know that.

For a short book, there's a lot going on in this book. I liked the textures of it.  Not only a good romance, but delving into complicated family relationships. A study in guilt, harbored anger, and the need to forgive and move on.  Laurel is as much a victim as a perpetrator in the family drama, but I love that she does own up to her part in the rift with her mother, and realize that Reece is the man for her and she can't afford to let him go.

Good book!  I'm happy to explore more of Carole Mortimer's backlist.

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Wild Lady by Ann Major

Wild Lady (Western Lovers: Reunited Hearts, #33)Wild Lady by Ann Major
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was glad when I read the afterword and found out this was Ann Major's first book. For a first book, it's actually quite good. If this was a recent entry from an author I had read and been very impressed by, I would have been more disappointed. As it stands, it was pretty good.

Things I didn't Love
*Let's face it, Kit is very immature. She's young, with very little life experience. She's also spoiled. For all that, she is a good person. I think she always did love Ted, but her youth made it hard to express that. She doesn't quite know how to make a relationship work, and it shows.
*Ted is harder to get a handle on for most of the book because the book is from Kit's viewpoint. He annoyed me when he flipped out on Kit and put her out. He didn't give her a chance to defend her, just assumed. He should have been a bit better at relationships for his advanced years over Kit, but clearly he isn't.
*This book relies heavily on misunderstandings, which can be kind of tedious as a source of conflict. As I said, for a first book, I can respect that this was a chosen device for a novice author.
*Phyllis, Ted's sister-in-law was annoying and interfering in Kit and Ted's relationship. I wanted for Ted to tell her to butt out, but he didn't get around to it during the book. That's a shame.

Things I liked
*I did get the feeling that the love between Kit and Ted was real and strong, despite all their fits and starts. I just wish they communicated better.
*I liked that Kit was half-Mexican and half-white, and embraced both parts of heritage.
*I'm always a sucker for books set in Texas.
*Ted's daughter was cute. I wish she was in the book more though.
*Ted was a self-made man.
*Ted was red-headed.

So not a great book, but not a bad one either. It's always interesting to read an author's first book and to see how far they have come.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Protected by the Prince by Annie West

Protected by the Prince: The Weight of the CrownProtected by the Prince: The Weight of the Crown by Annie West

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Annie West couldn't write a bad book if she tried.  Because of that, I have high expectations.  Also, I messed up. I read Prince of Scandal first, and I loved that so much. I am not big on the modern royalty theme, but she made me buy in hook, line and sinker  with that book.  So that's why I didn't like this one as much.  I just didn't connect to Alaric as much as I did with his cousin Raul.  Alaric seemed more, I don't know if callous is the word...   I did feel sympathy for his journey and his losses, but I felt that he didn't show the sensitivity that Tamsin needed.  At the end of the day, I felt that Tamsin was too good for him. 

Maybe it's because Tamsin had some serious self-esteem issues, and she was sort of a
'babe in the woods'. I kind of felt like she was in over her head and he was manipulating her.  That's what was off about this book.

Also, he's too much of a rich playboy type for me.  I'm not saying he wouldn't make a good ruler. I just think that he has some character development he needs to do.  Maybe Tamsin will be good for him, tempering out his tendency to be impulsive and wild in his emotions.  I did like the proposal scene and the ending. That was quite romantic.

For a reader who likes the Cinderella theme, the normal heroine who gets swept off her feet by an experienced, wordly prince, this book will probably be very enjoyable. It's well-written, with good atmosphere, sexual tension and love scenes, a vulnerable, likable heroine, and a nice dose of angst. That's why I gave it four stars even though Alaric didn't quite catch me as a hero.

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Sweet Surrender with the Millionaire by Helen Brooks

Sweet Surrender with the MillionaireSweet Surrender with the Millionaire by Helen Brooks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a really good book. I like how Helen Brooks takes two people who have no intention of getting romantically involved and shows them falling deeply in love.

In the case of Willow, she is recovering from a very toxic marriage, married to a man who abused her mentally, undermining every inch of her confidence in herself. She does not intend to trust any man with her life ever again. On the other hand, Morgan has no problem with sexual involvement with savvy career women who don't want any more emotional entanglement than he does. However, when they meet, the mutual determination to keep things light and to be 'just friends' doesn't work very well. Because the more time they spend together, the more they realize that nothing less than everything will qualify when it comes to each other.

I'll be the first to tell you that I don't usually go for heroes like Morgan, guys who eschew emotional involvement and settle for empty sexual relationships. However, I couldn't help but like him. He was actually a very good guy underneath all the city sophistication. More than anything, he was used to trying to control his life and compartmentalize things. He had his slick city existence, and his quiet country life, and he kept them both separate. Before he knows it, the country life and time spent with Willow (who was not at all likely to go for a light sexual affair) is what he wants more than anything. And when the time comes, he's brave enough to tell her he loves her, even knowing her emotional wounds will make her run in the other direction.

Helen Brooks writes a very romantic story. The writing felt fresh and modern, with characters who seemed relevant today. Despite that, I didn't feel like they were unrelatable. I had plenty of time to see the love develop between them, and their happy ending felt right and genuine. Willow is very down to earth, and despite his image, so is Morgan where it counts. I liked that he was generous with himself in a relationship with Willow even though he knew there wasn't going to be the usual payoff.

A good story about friends turning into lovers. I'd recommend it to people who enjoy this theme.

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Breathless Bride by Fiona Brand

A Breathless Bride (The Pearl House #1)A Breathless Bride by Fiona Brand
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I was disappointed with this one. I love Fiona Brand's Silhouette Intimate Moments series about SAS soldiers in New Zealand, and I was excited to read a new book by her. Unfortunately, I didn't feel the love or the passion in this story.

What went wrong?

Fundamentally, I like a hero who is psycho crazy about the heroine. I want to believe he couldn't live without her. Not that he was merely sexually attracted or fixated on her. In this book, I did not think Constantine ever lost his cool truly. He always stays in control. Even when he does make decisions/moves to bring Sienna back under his control, it doesn't speak of passion so much as manipulation. And even up to the end, he never really trusted her or let go with her. That failed him as a hero to me. I don't mind a manipulative hero when it's out of passion or intense love for the heroine, but I hate when a hero is manipulative out of sense of arrogance, control or just out of a sense of his incredible power. That master of all he surveys thing doesn't work for me at all. I'm was not convinced that Constantine truly loved Sienna when this over. I felt as though he was going through the motions. And worse still, I felt Sienna was always the one at risk, giving of herself, and out of control, while Constantine held all the cards. What Constantine did at the end didn't relieve me of this feeling. It felt like a move of desperation because he couldn't do anything otherwise. I'd have preferred a passionate declaration of crazy love. But that's just me.

I guess it's just a case of too high expectations. This wasn't a bad book. It was pretty good, especially if it had been by an new author, rather than one who had wowed me so much in the past. I just loved Cullen's Bride by her! Others might like this one more than I did.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5.0 stars .

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Secrets in the Marriage Bed by Nalini Singh

Secrets in the Marriage BedSecrets in the Marriage Bed by Nalini Singh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book! I can see Nalini Singh's distinctive voice and brilliance with romantic relationship and character development. I was so sucked into this book, I didn't want to put it down to eat dinner. I loved how neither Caleb nor Vicki was the bad guy. They were both good people, but their family dysfunction had wired them with defense mechanisms that don't make emotional openness easy in a marriage.

I loved how the older hero, younger heroine dynamic (10 year age difference) isn't a mere plot point here. Vicki was attracted to Caleb because his strength and his energy, that he is a man who would take care of her and keep her safe; and Caleb wanted Vicki as his wife because of her beauty and her sweetness, her unique elegance. She represents his image of the perfect wife and the happy family he longed for growing up. But the things that attracted them to each other are part of their emotional angst and defenses against the world. Five years later, a lot of unresolved issues build up, and it was good reading to see those walls come down and the healing begin.

What I loved:
*The sensuality was perfect. Talking about Sexual Healing! Since sex was an issue, I did feel that all the sexy scenes were perfect and fitting for this book. And Ms. Singh definitely writes a hot love scene excellently. You could see how deeply Vicki and Caleb cared for each other and desired each other, despite Vicki's programmed hangups courtesy of her grandmother and mother.
*The characters are real and lovable. I adored Caleb's mix of strength and vulnerability. He truly is an alpha man, in the best ways. Very caring and nurturing to Vicki (and takes a lot of stuff off his family because he feels it's right). He just didn't know how to help Vicki or to get past the wall between them, and his issues with his family didn't help matters. I love how they stand up and fight for each other against others and the world, a united front. The evolution that they go through is organic. As the painful issues of their past are healed, I could see the strengths of both of their personalities shine through to reveal who they are truly meant to be.
*I don't normally reach for a married couple romance, but this one is perfect and maybe I am changing my view on that, since I realize I can read about a couple who have to work on their marriage without it being a lot of painful angst and excess drama. I liked that they fought for each other and their marriage because deep down, they didn't want anyone else or to be apart. They just wanted all of each other.
*This book was about two people who loved each other, even if they couldn't say the words. The love is there and it gives me a high to see love conquer all, as it does in this book.

Definitely going on my favorites list!

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Don't Play Games by Emma Darcy

Don't  Play Games (Harlequin Presents, #823)Don't Play Games by Emma Darcy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oy, this was a good one! I liked Alex a lot. He was a tough man's man, and a highly astute businessman. Pretty savvy with human nature. Most especially, he knows how to treat women with respect. I was a bit worried how things would go, since Kate is married at the beginning of the another man. He's a lousy husband, no question. I was actually hoping he'd get killed off (terrible of me). And what he asks Kate to do for her divorce, well he proves to be a huge slug. Let's just say things develop to my satisfaction.

In swoops Alex with a marriage proposal, knowing the one thing that Kate couldn't turn down. I told you Alex was a good student of human nature. I loved how Alex woos Kate. He shows her the treatment her first husband failed in giving. Slowly building up her trust in him (after five years married to a lower life-form). Of course, there enters the obligatory other woman, but it was well handled. I liked the way things resolved and how they both admit their love for each other.

I haven't necessarily reached for many of Emma Darcy's older books. But since I liked this one so much, that might have to change.

Highlights of this Read

*Hero is very appealing, large, manly, but a sweet guy where it counts
*Kate is a tough woman, honest, and straightforward. I liked how she held her own with her loser first husband and cut her losses when she could.
*Unorthodox first meeting between Alex and Kate works, and it didn't cross my personal ethical boundaries.
*Great chemistry between Alex and Kate--the development of their relationship starts with appealing banter and mutual respect.
*Interesting mother-son dynamic between Alex and his mother
*Excellent declaration of love!

This was a good book. I'd recommend it to fans of older Harlequin Presents books.

Overall rating: 4.5/5.0 stars.

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Leap of Faith by Rachel Elliot

This one was just okay. I found Tessa's tendency to let Marc treat her disrespectfully tedious, especially since she is known for her independence and feisty nature. Not to mention being the only sister surrounded by brothers. She should know how to hold her own. I wanted her to tell him where to stick it, and she never did. Unfortunately, I didn't buy his declaration of love, and I especially didn't like that she went back to him instead of letting him do the pursuing. This guy needed to eat a large helping of 'humble pie.' So at the end of this read, I was just feeling so-so about it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Playing With Fire by Gena Showalter

Playing with Fire (Tales of an Extraordinary Girl, #1)Playing with Fire by Gena Showalter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Belle Jamison is quite the heroine in this superhero-themed paranormal romance. She’s very ordinary, a working stiff like most of us. Sailing from menial job to menial job (keeping none very long), with good intentions. She wants to take care of her ailing dad who sacrificed so much for her. One day, she literally runs into a mad scientist who doses her with a special formula in her mocha latte. A formula that makes her able to harness all the elements: earth, wind, fire, air and water. That puts her on the map for two vying supernatural agencies, one bad and one that works to protect the world from scrims (supernatural criminals). She meets super-sexy PSI agent Rome, and sparks fly, literally. Rome is sexy and lights a fire in Belle’s heart, but she can’t afford to let her libido make decisions for her now. Rome might be hot for her body, but his priorities are elsewhere. Can suddenly super Belle save herself, and maybe even the world?

This was a fun book. I love superheroes, and I liked the idea that Belle started out so normal. She has been fired from most of her jobs, she doesn’t have the best temper, and her luck with men is so-so. But deep down, Belle finds her destiny, and that’s not something you can run from. Along with the fun superhero elements, there is sexy, sizzling romance between Belle and Rome. Rome has some interesting secret powers of his own, and that was fun to discover. I also liked Tanner, the young man who Belle befriends, who turns out to have some abilities of his own. The superpower scenes are exciting, well-written, and often very funny. I could visualize this as a movie very easily.

This is classic Gena Showalter: fun, flirty, hilarious, and sexy paranormal romance, with a kickbutt heroine that you can’t help loving, even in all her snarkiness. I definitely recommend this book to readers who like superheroes, and want a tough (and mouthy) lead female who gets to do a whole lot of the saving and buttkicking herself.

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Master's Mistress by Carole Mortimer

The Master's MistressThe Master's Mistress by Carole Mortimer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What I liked about this book:

*The hero Rogan is American and he is ex-military. He is not a billionaire businessman (so bored with them). He is a man of action (and elusively mysterious). And he has long hair. He's very sexy!
*The heroine Elizabeth is has a doctorate in history and is a professor. She is a bibliophile who likes to snuggle up with a steamy vampire romance in bed to wind down at night. She is an older virgin, and is not a twit about it (who loses her knickers just because the hero looks at her).
*I liked the development of their relationship. It's almost adversarial, but with a good back and forth and lots of banter. It reminds me of the 80s-90s Harlequin American Romances (especially Anne Stuart's) where each day in the book is another opportunity to explore the chemistry between the characters.  While this book is strongly sensual (surprisingly so), there is an intellectual connection between both characters. They have a maturity and they act like adults in their interactions, even though they often trade insults when they aren't trading kisses.
*This is a fast-moving, well-flowing book, a real pleasure to read. 

There is nothing I didn't like about this book except it ended!:

I'd love to read more books with this feel and dynamic. This is why I often reach for the older Harlequins because I love that banter and back and forth, more than the hero buying stuff for the heroine and constantly trying to seduce and conquer the heroine in bed.  In this case, their chemistry was a mutual thing, and Rogan was as much a victim to it as Elizabeth was.

A definite pleasure to read!

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The Girl That Love Forgot by Jennie Lucas

The Girl that Love ForgotThe Girl that Love Forgot by Jennie Lucas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'll be the first to tell you I can't stand womanizers. So I had to get past that off-putting aspect of Stefano's character, and the fact that he set out to cold-bloodedly seduce Annabelle just because she was a 'new woman', one who he hadn't slept with. Ick! I think the execution was well done here, but the message that because Stefano was so good at knowing what women wanted sexually, he was the one who could open Annabelle's heart. I don't think this is necessarily the case. A man who met her emotional needs what was Annabelle needed. It wasn't about sex, as he finds out. Yes, they have explosive chemistry between them, but being 'good in bed' would never be enough for a woman like Annabelle. She had deeper emotional needs that she was starved for fundamentally. I think that Stefano learned along the way that while he had believed that Annabelle was the fearful one, he was too in a different way. He was happy to spend a night with a woman but walk away, but no deeper emotional or intellectual engagement than that. I like the fact that Annabelle challenged him to be about more in his interaction with her. Even as he challenged her to truly live and connect with the world, not just behind the lens of one of her cameras. She wasn't just another conquest. She was 'the one.' Of course, he had to almost lose her to find that out.

A huge strength of this book was the view of life on a Spanish horse-breeding farm. This made Stefano a more likable hero to me. His deep love and knowledge of horses, and his desire to help others and give of himself generously to make their lives better. It was almost incongruous with his callous attitude towards women, in fact. His reasons for being that way with women so didn't necessarily ring true, but the fact that he felt Annabelle was the real coward when he was just as much definitely created a sense of irony in this book.

Annabelle was one of my favorite Wolfes from the beginning, so it was great to see a book solely focused on her. After reading her book, she is still one of my favorites. She was in a state of suspended animation due to her very traumatic past. I loved seeing her grow as a person, come out of her shell, and realize that she was capable of loving and being loved. The only regret I have is that I didn't get to see her interact with her brothers, other than a quick phone call with Jacob. I am hoping that in Jacob's book we will finally see all the siblings together, bonding, since that is one of the reasons I love this series.

I'm kind of sad that I only have one book left in this series, but excited that Jacob's long-awaited book is up next. Stay tuned!

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The Trophy Wife by Janette Kenny

The Trophy WifeThe Trophy Wife by Janette Kenny
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Much better than I expected!

I saw that the main characters had been married already for five years, and I was prepared to read a book full of marital strife. Fortunately, that's not this book. However, this couple did have some issues to work through to keep their marriage on track, and to resolve pain from their unhappy childhoods.

What I liked:

*Even though I don't normally reach for a romance with a couple who's been married this long, it was kind of refreshing. The problem in their marriage is not a lack of love. They are just going through growing pains, and they need to spend time on their marriage when their careers had come between them for far too long. I saw two people who were committed to stay together and truly did love each other, and that made this a touching and emotional read for me.
*Both Leila and Rafael show what a married couple needs to do. They have to make sacrifices for the well-being of their counterpart. This is what love is. I could see this happening with both. They had a mutual commitment, and it was merely a matter of fear (of rejection or not measuring up) that made them seem disconnected from each other. In the end, they realize that their love is stronger than any fears and shortcomings that might temporarily interfere in their bond.
*Although I lack any personal experience with anorexia, I feel that the author's choice to feature a heroine who battled this disease adds depth to her characterization. It gave me something to think about, although I feel that she just scratched the surface of this issue with this book.

I have to give this four stars because it had some deeper levels than I expected, and I was touched by the love that Leila and Rafael shared. I rooted for them to get their loving marriage back on track, and fortunately they were able to do so. This was a good addition to the Wolfes series.

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Ruthless Lover by Sarah Holland

Ruthless Lover by Sarah Holland
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars


If you don't like the vicious "I love you, I hate you" and "I despise you but you set me on fire" go around in a book, avoid this one like the plague. Serena spends most of the book acting like she can't stand Nick. Since his arrogance was off-putting and his double standards about marital fidelity were infuriating, I could see why Serena was putting up barriers against him. On the other hand, he did have that male vitality and strength that makes for a compelling Harlequin Presents hero despite his arrogant ways.

I spent most of this book really disliking Nick. He seemed like a jerk to me. He was so assured of his place in the world, and he was pushy in a way I didn't like. I admit I do love a jealous/possessive hero, but in light of his numerous mistresses, really? Okay the end helped me to be okay with him, but I can't say why, because it's a spoiler.

If the dramatic back and forth in a romance book works for you, this one will do the trick. I do agree there was sizzling tension between Nick and Serena, very well written and culminating in a very sensual love scene.

1.5 hours of reading that were diverting, even if I was annoyed at the characters for a large deal of that time. I have to give this 3.5/5.0 stars because it was a fun read.

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Monday, August 06, 2012

A Spanish Awakening by Kim Lawrence

A Spanish AwakeningA Spanish Awakening by Kim Lawrence
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I squeezed this on in between review reads. I needed a quick, satisfying romance, something I could read even though I wasn't feeling great. It did the trick.

My Thoughts:

Megan was a bit frustrating to me with her self-esteem issues. I understand why she had them, but I think her brain was turned off. I think that Emilio couldn't have been more clear about his feelings unless he hit her over the head with a club and drug her off to his cave. I'm glad he didn't do that. He did take her off to his penthouse and then picked her up and put her in his limo at the end, so close enough. I wanted to say, "Girl, this guy is into you!" I mean, no man goes to those extremes for a woman he doesn't care about. The other thing was her insistence on hanging onto what happened two years ago. Stuff happens, and people say mean things. You have to move on and not put your confidence in with others say about you. Your confidence has to come from within. What I did like was her concrete reasons for remaining a virgin. I am not one of those readers who scoffs at a virgin heroine. I don't find them unrealistic or dated. Nor do I doubt that a woman a certain age can be a virgin. It does happen, more than the media tries to present. What I have a problem with is the neblous-minded accidental virgin so common. Yes, that can happen too, although I think they are overrepresented in the fictional virgin arena. There are more than a few virgins due to a lack of opportunity, and I can go along with that. But at the end of the day, there are some virgins by choice. I like that Megan was one of those. I can see why she made that choice based on her parents' actions and its affects on her upbringing. I also found it realistic when she decided not to be a virgin anymore when she encountered Emilio. He was the man of her dreams, the only man she wanted. He wasn't married anymore, and she went into their encounter with open eyes. So that part was suitable to me as a reader. As I said, my major issue was her self-esteem issues. It didn't ruin the read, but definitely knocked down my rating to a four star.

I liked Emilio. He knew what he wanted and went after it. He was honest enough to realize that his actions two years ago weren't rational and were based on his jealousy and his uncontrollable love for Megan, doomed to be denied since he was married. I loved that he was determined to be faithful to his wife, even if it was a convenient marriage. Fidelity is a huge stickler for me. To have a hero who believes in it is a real plus for me. I think he was very patient with Megan, through her determined actions not to believe he wanted her for her. He sure does know how to show what he feels. Another thing I love in a hero.

End Verdict:

Not a ground-breaker, but a pleasant read. Nice pick-me-up for a Sunday when I wasn't feeling very well and just needed something relaxing to read. I love a good love story and this one had some aspects that appealed to me despite its shortcomings.

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Friday, August 03, 2012

Ruthless Game by Christine Feehan

Ruthless Game (GhostWalkers, #9)Ruthless Game by Christine Feehan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reread from 7/28-8/3/12

My Thoughts:

General Thoughts--

I loved this second book with Team Three! This is one family I would want to have at my back.  Being a sappy person who loves babies and gets jazzed with the inclusion of a pregnancy into the storyline, I was a happy camper with this book. And to think Ms. Feehan was able to successfully integrate this into a high-octane action romance, even better.  The storyline takes the Whitney GhostWalker conspiracy to a different level, and it's kinda twisted with the creation of super-soldiers the hard way.  I'm really glad that Kane and Rose loved each other and were able to get their baby free of that mess.

I adore Sebastian.  His uncanny intelligence and awareness at a young age really worked for me. Reading about him was one of my favorite aspects of this book, along with the camaraderie between the Team Three family.  I know, broken record.

Such a great mix of tough alpha hero and sweet, loving hero.  I love a guy who can kill the bad guys but also deliver his child and take care of the baby's mother so lovingly. Sigh! Kane has so much integrity and that shines through. I can see why Rose didn't want to give him up!

Rose is tough and sweet.  She's a mix of vulnerable and fierce. I loved her protectiveness of her child, but also the fact that she had a soft-hearted love for Kane, despite being raised only for being a soldier.  She's one of my favorite women in this series, but that's saying a lot because I love them all.

I will keep this review short to avoid the Broken Record Syndrome. Anyway, loved my third reread, and super-excited to continue this series.  This brings my epic Summer 2012 reread of the GhostWalkers series to a conclusion. Now I can read the next installment, Samurai Game, and keep my fingers crossed that Ms. Feehan will get to Javier and Rhianna's book sometime soon. That's going to be outrageous!

Addendum to Review for Audiobook--Completed 8/28/11:

Although I really dislike the narrator's voice (the same one as on Predatory Game), especially the manner in which he does the women characters, I couldn't resist checking this out from the library.  I loved Kane and Rose's story the first time, and loved it this time as well. It took me forever to finish because I would listen to this at bedtime. Of course, I'd fall asleep, and the next night I'd have to rewind it to get to the part where I'd fallen asleep.  My prior review of the book stands, but for the audiobook, my rating is slightly lower, because the narrator made some parts sounds cheesy, unfortunately. 

I am a huge fan of Christine Feehan, although I can totally see why she wouldn't work for some readers. She is a bit repetitive in some of the language. That's something I can get past, because pretty much everything else works very well for me in her stories.  I admit I would get really excited as I listened to some parts.  The action was great in this book, so was the interaction between the characters, romantic and otherwise. The parts where Kane helps Rose have the baby and takes care of her just turned me into a molten pile of goo.  When he cries as he holds the baby.... I was sighing like crazy.  That's how I roll!

The book reminded me how excited I am for Javier and Rhianna's story. I hope that Ms. Feehan is working on it even as I write this review.  I adore this series so much, and I will always snap these books up as soon as they come out.  Even a less than satisfactory narrator can't ruin them for me.

Audiobook Rating:  4.25/5.00 stars  My advice is to read these books first. Don't do the audiobook.  You will think they are totally cheesy and that is so not the case when reading them.
Book love rating:  5/5 stars

Original Review Below:

Oh, dear!  My jones for the GhostWalkers is much, much worse after this book.  I love how each of these books is different. It makes sense, since people are unique, and therefore, each relationship would have different nuances to it.  However, you would think when it comes to military men and the women they love, there would be a sameness to these books.  To me, there wasn't. Each couple stands out differently to me. I had really high expectations for Kane and Rose's story. It's such an intriguing idea, since Kane and Rose were paired in "Mad Scientist" Whitney's GhostWalkers breeding program, and last we heard, Rose was pregnant and on the run.  Poor Kane was clearly tortured about his part in that situation. I knew there was going to be some built in angst and tension.  I loved the execution here.  Instead of Kane and Rose being adversaries, at each others' throats, they were a united team.  Pretty much from the beginning, it was clear they would stay together, come hell or high water; the problem was getting through a sea of adversaries to find their safe place together.  But Kane knew something that Rose didn't. He had a team of men and women who would die to protect them and keep their child safe.

If you are a fan of pregnancy and baby storylines in romance, you will love this book. I certainly did.  I especially loved how Ms. Feehan still managed to write a fantastic action-adventure story, but incorporate the heart-melting moments of mother, father, and child bonding.  Kane is such a good daddy.  He even delivered his child, even though he felt that being a rough soldier with no idea about parenting made him the least likely candidate for the job.  All those bonding moments between Rose and Kane,  Kane and the baby, and Rose and the baby, and the three of them, made this book for me. I loved Kane's discussions with his baby, regarding being a good soldier and taking out enemies, and how great Mommy was!  Okay, this is probably not going to work for readers who don't like the whole happy family vibe.  Kane and Rose and their child form a beautiful family, and it's not even in the traditional way that sometimes gets shoved down our throats by the conservative voice of the media.

I loved how Kane and Rose made sense together. It was great how their pairing turned out well for both of them. In a sick and twisted way, that Whitney is quite the matchmaker.  He might have paired the GW couples for his own agenda, but the results turned out fantastic, nine times in a row.  They had an intimacy that wasn't just about physical attraction. Kane is a very caring, gentle, loving man.  He doesn't see himself that way, but I was glad that Rose saw that in him every early on, and it turned out that she choose him as her breeding partner for that reason, along with his formidable warrior prowess.  They are both so loveable, and multi-layered people.  Rose is totally kick-butt, but sweet at the same time. She might be pint-sized, but she is an incredible warrior in her own right.  She totally earned my respect in how she handled herself in numerous dangerous situations her and Kane found themselves in.

As always, Ms. Feehan delivered high-octane, fantastic action sequences.  I loved those parts of the book just as much as the romance and the family moments.  Kane and Rose have more enemies than they can count on one hand. For those who have an interest in the escalating situation with the Mexican drug cartels, I think Ms. Feehan did a great job of integrating that into this story. I wish there were really GWs who could deal with those cartels and teach them what it feels like to deal with someone who won't stand for their bullying and terrorist tactics.

Of course, I was sold on the GhostWalkers books even after Shadow Game, but I was a little apprehensive when the story seguewayed over to a new team. However, I am eating my words. I love the Urban Warfare team. In a way, they are even more bad@$$, because they do their magic in environments that are fraught with obstacles.  I am already loving the members of this team!  Mack wasn't quite as abrasive in this book, and Javier really gets the spotlight.  I am glad that we get to see Rhianna more in this book, and I am telling you, Javier and Rhianna's book is going to be smoking hot. I can already see the formidable chemistry between this pair.

I freaking love this series, and this book has made me love it even more. I was sad when I finished Ruthless Game. I just wanted to keep reading. I even reread a little of it last night when I should have been going to sleep. There are a lot of sigh-worthy moments in this book, and the action is crazy in all the best ways. I loved how Ms. Feehan didn't create conflict by breaking up this wonderful couple, but made the major source of conflict about them adjusting to their family life in a very dangerous world, where the GhostWalkers will always have powerful enemies, but nothing that they can't handle.  None of those forces can prevail against the teams and the families that these unique men and women have formed together, and the powerful bonds of friendship, love, and unity.   I can't say anything more without spoiling, but Ms. Feehan could write these book well into the future, with all the fascinating layers and story threads that are unfolding with each book.  Let's just say that the world better look out for the next generation of GhostWalkers!

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