Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Deserving of His Diamonds? by Melanie Milburne

Deserving of His Diamonds?Deserving of His Diamonds? by Melanie Milburne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a very angsty read. Gisele got thrown out by Emilio when a sex tape surfaces. He doesn't believe that she's innocent, and cuts her out out of his life. When it becomes clear that it's Gisele's newly discovered twin sister and Emilio becomes aware of that fact, he decides that he will make amends and get her back. Soon, he realizes that he can't just go back to what things were. Gisele has lost too much in the past to be the same adoring, biddable fiancee he had in the past.

Gisele's heartbreak is tangible. I cried for what she lost. I could understand why she was hard to deal with emotionally by Emilio. He needed to deal with what he'd done and realize it wasn't right and he couldn't expect all that to go away. While Emilio wasn't hateful, what he did was pretty rotten, and I'm glad that was never glossed over. I also appreciate that he had to deal with the consequences of his lack of trust in Gisele and he has to work through a shared heartbreak as well.

Milburne's writing really has evolved and I feel that her later books have a lot of depth, with complex characters. While her heroes can be typical HP arrogant, they aren't hateful about it where you want them to jump off a cliff, like a few of her older male characters I won't mention and some other HP heroes.

I liked this more than Gisele sister's Sienna's book, Enemies at the Altar, but that was also good.

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Married for Amari's Heir by Maisey Yates

Married for Amari's HeirMarried for Amari's Heir by Maisey Yates
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! I loved this book. Yates has always been a writer that struck me as having a lot of promise. I feel she nailed it far and away with this book. She has a written a romance between a Very Bad Man and a Hero Who Isn't a Good Girl. Oh she's a virgin, but that doesn't make her a good girl. I like that she flipped that around where virginity doesn't equate with innocence. I love when the heroine is a virgin, but I don't think that having a V card makes a woman more worthy. So yay to Ms. Yates for how she wrote this book with Charity showing some traits that make her less likely to qualify as a Disney Princess. Having said that, she's perfectly sympathetic. Her father was a con artist who raised her with his morals, which are very gray. She always knew deep down that something wasn't right about that life. But she didn't have access to another way of life to establish an alternate or better since of right and wrong so she could reject her father when he comes back and gets her help in pulling a con on Amari. When he runs off, he leaves her holding the bag and dealing with a coldly vengeful Amari who doesn't take kindly to anyone stealing what belongs to him. I loved how Yates sensitively depicts Charity's character evolution and identity crisis. It was excellent writing.

Oh my goodness! I loved that it's pretty obvious that Charity is biracial, if not racially mixed. Kudos again. It's nice to see brown skin as an object of beauty in a mainstream romance that isn't slated just for a multicultural audience.

Rocco Amari is a Class A villainous hero. In his own way, his morals are as flawed as Charity. His treatment of her is on par with an Anne Stuart hero. He is fearlessly cutthroat with Charity, but in a way that shows he's not as cold and lacking in feelings towards her as he would like. From the beginning, something about her gets beneath his armor and he can't dismiss her or deal with her in the way he would typically deal with his enemies. The reader gets a bird's eye view of this hero falling like a ton of bricks for his heroine, even though he can't allow himself to accept it. Amari also goes to an evolution. He realizes that Charity is not a possession, but a flesh and blood woman who he has to love in a deeper, selfless way and not like an expensive acquisition. Oh my goodness, some of his dialogue is priceless. Yates shows that she is a modern writer in how these characters express themselves. I've never heard a hero use some of the terms that Rocco does in this line before.

I could probably go on and on about how much I loved this book, but I won't. I like how Yates plays around with tried and true motifs in this line and breathes new life in them. I normally don't like the mistress storyline at all. The relationship between Amari and Charity doesn't feel like a rich man-mistress scenario, and while Amari seems to hold all the power, it's clear that he's equally vulnerable to Charity. I appreciate that very much. I definitely recommend this book to readers who either are Harlequin Presents fans or modern romance fans who like the billionaire hero or even Anne Stuart villain heroes motif.

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Island of the Heart by Sara Craven

Island of the HeartIsland of the Heart by Sara Craven
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a ho-hum read for me. I didn't like the characters all that much. Flynn is a mean jerk for most of the book. I can deal with a jerk hero who seems to be head over heels for the heroine and that's why he's a jerk. In this case, it was hard to believe he was so crazy in love with Sandie. His excuse for how he was treating her was pretty darn lame. Sandie seems very immature. I really didn't like that one point she seemed like she was considering having an affair with Crispin even though she knew he was married. I just can't stomach adultery and while Sandie is young and inexperienced, I disliked that she was even thinking about getting with Crispin for a hot minute. Other than the characters not being likable, there's really not enough substance to this story for my tastes. While music is always an appealing element to a story, the music didn't add that much to it for my tastes. I am a pretty big fan of Sara Craven, but this one left me underwhelmed. It wasn't terrible, just not anything that stood out in this book for me.

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Claimed for Makarov's Baby by Sharon Kendrick

Claimed for Makarov's Baby/Christmas at the Castello (The Bond of Billionaires #1)Claimed for Makarov's Baby/Christmas at the Castello by Sharon Kendrick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Wow, this is one of the rare HP books where I felt like the hero was really slimy. I am judging, but it's how I felt. I mean, this dude was pretty sleazy the way he was living his life. While playboy heroes are part and parcel of HP books, he takes it to the next level. I'm not a big fan of keeping paternity from a father without a very good reason, but in this case, I supported Erin's decision 100%. The way she sees him the last time before she walks out out of his life, when she comes to tell him about the baby, eww! It was perhaps fair that she did question whether her decision was to some extent based on her feelings of being rejected by Makarov. I felt for her that she fell in love with him. I'm not sure there was much to love about him. At the end of the book, I think he had realized that a wife and a child was the life he wanted, but his treatment of Erin through the book wasn't what I desire/expect/appreciate in a hero. He never earns my respect. It's sad, because I do love my Russian heroes, but this guy doesn't make my list by a long shot. I liked Erin. I wish she didn't become such a walking bag of hormones for him though. I did like the tidbits about Russian culture that add a lot of depth to the story. I had just found out about dachas just prior to reading this book, and it shows up here as well. Three stars is a tough rating, but hero fails my Litmus test, so there you have it.

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Proof of Their Sin by Dani Collins

Proof of Their Sin (One Night With Consequences, #1)Proof of Their Sin by Dani Collins
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I am on the fence about this book because I didn't like the way the hero treats the heroine for most of the book. He's very mean to her and judgmental and dismissive of her. Mostly because he didn't want to be attracted and drawn to her. He hates her for making him feel vulnerable and that she is the one woman he really ever loved that way. He's self-righteous in that he hasn't lived a very moral life, but wants to give the pretense about it without putting in the effort. It's all about how he appears to the world. While I understand his angst in what happened with his ex, when was that ever Lauren's fault? But he seems to want to make her the scapegoat in the situation. He comes off as a largely selfish hero. On the other hand, I did like Lauren quite a bit. I really wish she wasn't in love with Paulo. I wish she could have fallen for a good guy who loved her and respected her equally. It's almost kind of a scenario where the decent girl gets caught between two rakes and ends up falling for one who isn't really that much more moral than the other. At the end of the day, Paulo and Ryan are both sexual predators, using women as part of their competition and for sexual-gratification, with very little sense of personal honor. I really have a hard time with those kinds of heroes, and Paulo doesn't make me feel any better about it. I think one thing that Paolo is complicit in is hard to forgive. He knew that Lauren's husband was unfaithful to her, and he never called him on it, even if he wouldn't admit it to Lauren. Even their moral failing at Lauren's wedding was arguably more his cause than hers, and his expectation at that time was ridiculous.

The more I think about this, the more I can't say I really liked this book as much as I would have liked to. It has lots of intensity and sort of the ongoing, enduring love theme, but I can't really believe in that love from Paolo's perspective. His resolution at the end was a bit too little too late for my taste.

I feel this book deserves more than 3 stars, but not 4. So I'll go with 3.5 stars. For me, a hero who doesn't seem worthy of the heroine is more or less a deal breaker for me.

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