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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Scandal of the Black Rose by Debra Mullins

There is a mysterious society that only London's most select gentlemen may join. And once members, they may never leave it. . . alive.

Anna Rosewood is determined to discover the truth about the death of her twin brother. Following a single clue--the symbol of a black rose crossed with a sword--she dons a mask, infiltrates a secret gathering that only a disreputable woman would attend, and encounters a dashing stranger...

Were it not for a promise to a dying comrade, Roman Devereaux would never have met this enchanting doxy who seems quite naive for her profession. But he is shocked to later discover that the lady is, in fact, the fiance of his cousin--and that she and Roman both seek information about the sinister Black Rose Society. But working together could prove disastrous, for there is no resisting the passionate fire that sears them--or the forbidden desire that could only lad to scandal. . .or far, far worse.

A few years ago I was introduced to romance novels. The first I ever read was a contemp by Julie Garwood. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't enough to make me swoon with delight. Shortly after that, my mother found her historicals...and so my passion was born.

After reading all historicals by JG I could find, I went a little crazy and started picking up historical romance novels as often as possible (which I'll admit was more often that it should have been...ok, ok, I admit it, I went absolutely crazy and spend hundreds of dollars feeding my obsession. *sniff*). It was during this time that I discovered Debra Mullins.

Quite by accident I picked up Three Nights. It was an amazing historical. Not at all predictable - well, ok, so it was a bit predictable, but really, what romance novel isn't? - like so many others. The story was fresh and I fell in love with characters. Yes, even the heroine.

As soon as I finished, I made it my mission - terrible glommer (in case you were wondering, to glom is to horde..or collect an item. In this case, books) that I am - to buy all of her books for my collection. I found an auction of her books on Ebay and ordered them just as fast as my pointy finger could click "buy".

It pains me greatly to report that I found them lacking. They didn't live up to the expectations I'd come to have after reading Three Nights. While they weren't terrible reads, they certainly didn't leave me feeling warm and fuzzy.

Therefore, I have to admit I was reluctant to pick up this newest book. I wasn't sure if Three Nights was a fluke or if she had gotten better as time went on. Unfortunately, this book falls into the former category.

We first meet our heroine, Anna Rosewood, as she sneaks away from her family at Vauxhaul Gardens. Now, while her motives - to search for clues, and possibly gain information, about her twin brother's murder - may seem admirable and courageous, I found the entire situation to be rather...done. How often does some brainless chit in a romance novel sneak away from her family and find herself in a compromising position? Hmm...all the time?


Of course, this is where we meet our dashing hero, none other than former soldier Mr. Roman Deveraux. While Mr. Deveraux - Rome for short - is there to watch out for the younger brother of a friend, he mistakenly assumes our lovely Miss Rosewood is none other than *gasp, brace yourselves* a whore. Why, you ask, would he make such an atrocious assumption? Because she was pretending to be one to ferret out information, of course. Oh, the horror.

After a rather steamy encounter (I quite enjoyed that part, actually) she flees, and he vows he'll find her, one way or another. Oh, did I forget to mention that she was masked? I apologize for my error. Yes, she was masked...and therefore felt rather safe after her - dare I say shocking? - encounter with a complete stranger.

Oh, but wouldn't you know it, our dear Anna's stranger is none other than her intended's cousin. Well, will wonders never cease?

Of course, there was some intrigue involved in the storyline and I'll admit to being unsure of who the actual villain of the piece was until a few chapters from the end (and even then I wasn't completely sure...a rare occurrence for me). That part of the story was rather fascinating. But the excellent plot was overshadowed by our poor heroine constantly fretting over being attracted to her intended's cousin...and our darling hero berating himself for being attracted to a woman that belonged to another man. To make matters worse - you didn't think that was all the drama, did you? - our hero's family suffered a terrible scandal years before. One that practically mirrored his current situation.

While the storyline was good and the hero a dashing man, I found myself mostly bored with the entire thing. It was so bad, I even stopped reading for a bit and just skimmed several chapters...something I absolutely never do. Perhaps I would have enjoyed the story more if the heroine hadn't been one of those 'I can do anything a man can do even though I'm smaller and weaker and basically an idiot' types. You know, the ones who rush off to the worst part of town to buy information from whores and find themselves accosted because of it? Yeah, it was like that...and so I give it a....

2.5 out of 5.

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Monday, February 27, 2006

The Great Debate: Is Romance Porn or Isn't it?

This is a debate that's been going on for decades. Ever since the beginning of the romance genre men and women the world over have been arguing about the same thing:

Is romance Porn or Isn't it?

Dylan says:

Being a romance reader, you hear it all.

"What's going on in your book right now? Are they having wild, hot monkey sex in the middle of the barn?"


"Ewww, you're reading a smutty book, how can you read those horrid books? There's nothing but sex in there, gross!"

You get something along the lines of those sayings, you even get those stunned looks, those horrified looks, the looks of disbelief that you, a woman of worth are reading something as taboo and degrading as a romance novel. And really, can you blame them? We're here to fill you in on why people think romance novels are porn books and why we know you're wrong about them. Let's break it down for you, shall we?

The Covers:

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why romance novels have gotten such a bad rep, or why they've been labeled as "porn books"...I mean, take a good look at what people see when they see a romance novel.

Okay, each of these books have one thing in common. They're all getting down and dirty on the cover. If they're doing that on the cover, can you imagine what they're doing inside the hot damn book? People are easy to judge, they're quick to jump to conclusions about things they really know nothing about. And let's be honest here, before we read our first romance novel, we were thinking the same thing.

There's nothing but dirty sex and bad writing in those things. Why on earth would I want to read something like that? I'd rather be having sex then reading about it.

We've all thought it.

It's alright, you can admit it. We have.

Holly says:

Now, personally, I am not one to judge a book by it's cover. That Nina Bangs book you see above? Yeah, I read that. In public. While sitting alone. And I laughed out loud.

But so many others are. They see the cover of a book and automatically assume it's smut.

I was curious about other people's opinions on romance being porn and found some very interesting views. This one struck me as a bit over the top, but still, does she make a point? How about from a Man's point of view? While I can appreciate that we all have our opinions, I'd like to suggest he try another novel before making a comparison. Jude Deveraux isn't the author I'd like representing the romance genre (A Knight In Shining Armor anyone?).

There are tons of websites making fun of the romance genre, but I found very few that defended it.

I have to be honest and say I've looked at both sides of the debate and put some credence behind the opposing opinions (i.e., that romance is porn). I can see how a man (or even a woman) could consider it such. There are explicit scenes in them. They are very descriptive. Some are even downright raunchy.

But...(yes, of course there's a but...er butt, depending on the context..hehehe)

There's a big difference between straight porn and romance novels. The whole point of a romance novel is....love. There's no such thing as love in porn. It's strictly about sex. Sex, sex and more sex. Sure, there are sex scenes in romance novels, but there are sex scenes in romantic comedies, too and no one would say they're porn.

Take Mr. and Mrs. Smith for example. The movie was basically a romance novel turned movie. And *gasp* there were sex scenes. Maybe they weren't extremely explicit, but they did exsist. Are we saying that movie was porn? I think not.

Grace says:

I started reading romance novels at 14. And it's taken me some time since then, to feel comfortable reading the books I read. Why is that, do you ask? Well..at 14 I couldn't justify spending $20 on a single paperback (hehe, sometimes even now..) so I used to borrow alot of my books from the library if they had it available. I would put a stack of books on hold and pick them up all at once and read to my hearts content. The only thing I dreaded in this process? The part where I actually had to borrow them out.

Each and every time I brought my books to the counter, I felt flushed and embarrassed. At 14 I was bringing covers such as Master of Desire to the table. But what stunned me about the whole experience most, were the reactions I receieved from the librarians who worked there..people who I thought would be most understanding. Boy, was I wrong. Here are some of the reactions I received:

"You'd like to borrow, this?"
"Are you sure you wouldn't like me to find a more appropriate book for you to read?"

and then some not so subtle and nice..

"Does your mother know you're bringing these smutty books home to read?"

and this I overheard from two librarians talking at the counter..
"Girls these days, all they think about is SEX. She's probably only reading it for that." And then she snorted.

How I wish I had the courage to step up at the time and set the ladies straight. I wanted to, oh I really wanted to, but nothing ever came out. And slowly the librarians reactions began to creep into my head, and I started to think, were they right?

One would only need to look as far as some of the titles of books that are released and their explicit front covers to see how these librarians and many many others would come to the conclusion that romance books equate to porn. After all, what would you think if you read these titles off the shelf without knowing anything about them..One Night of Passion, A Well Pleasured Lady, Rules of Passion..wouldn't you think that all there was to these books was sex?

But then I thought about all the wonderful books I've read. Stories which captivated me, characters which took a little piece of my heart, and books which had me staying up all night to finish. I thought about those books like Honor's Splendor by Julie Garwood and Something Wonderful by Judith McNaught which both had a wealth of character development and I just knew..romance books did not equate to porn. These books were about character growth; a journey for both the heroes and heroines and as a reader you were welcomed to this journey to see the H/H meet, to feel the connection that H/H felt for one another, to cheer on their HEA while all other drama erupted around them.

The next time one of the librarians questioned my book choices at the counter, I was firm but polite. I told her: "Yes, my mother knows I read these books. She even comes with me to the book store when I buy these books. And she has no worries because she knows that there's absolutely nothing wrong about reading these." And then I just couldn't help myself, I recommended a Judith McNaught (my latest craze then,) to her and told her to see for herself. LOL.

Now just a few weeks ago, I left one of my books at a friends place..and by the time I returned to pick it up, she had shown it to all our guy mates. Well you could have imagined their reaction to seeing this book cover Night Pleasures. Silly boys that they were, all assumed that I was reading porn. They even referred to my books as "chick porn". I was fully prepared to answer all their questions and defend my love for these books but as it turned out..I didn't have to. I had recommended this book to another friend a few weeks before and she stepped up and defended this book. She set them all straight, telling them that yes..the cover is raunchy, yes, there is sex but does that make it porn? No. And then she went on and on about why anyone in their right mind wouldn't classify it as porn..and her grand finale? She said if anyone still doubted us, that they should read the book for themselves and then compare it to the porn flicks they've seen..and then they'll see that we're right. Gosh, I was so proud of her. LOL.

I think people judge romance books and romance readers simply because they don't know. They don't know what these books are about beyond what they see on the front cover. And I think thats a poor source of judgement. I believe if people who frown upon reading these books gave it a chance and actually read the content, they'd see that they're wrong. They'd see that these aren't "chick porn" books, they're ROMANCE books..and maybe then, romance writers all over will stop being judged and be given the true credit that they deserve.

Isabel Says:

Is Romance Porn?

I will admit, I thought it was. I made fun those book. "Ewww, look at the sex books. Look at the covers" I turned my nose at romance and stuck to Stephen King. Until I picked up The Wedding by Julie Garwood.

I was wrong. Really wrong. So here are my thoughts on the subject.

Porn. What is it? It's sex. Pure sex. I've been told there is a plot, but come on now, it's just sex. We meet the characters and they just go at it. There is no character development, no emotions, no plot. Just sex. Kind of like a one night stand. No emotions, no strings attached. Wham, bam thank you ma'am and move on.

Romance on the other hand is like a long term relationship. Totally different. We meet the characters. We get an insight to who they are, why they do what they do. We watch them grow and change. If the author is good, we'll feel their pain and joy. Yes, there is sex in a romance book. And sometimes it is a bit descriptive. But we're not reading about two people having sex. For the most part we are reading about two people who love each other or are about to realize they love each other. In a romance, sex is what connects the characters, it brings them closer. Which is what sex should do in real life.

It's really easy to get lost in all the hype that surrounds romance novels. It's easy to judge without knowing much about what you're judging so our advice to you is to pick up a romance novel and read it, the entire thing too, and then after you've read it, I'm sure you'll see the error in your previous thoughts, we know that you'll be biting your tongue, because trust us, we've been there and we've done that.

Some authors and books we'd like to recommend are:

Judith McNaught
Julie Garwood
Suzanne Brockmann
Sherrilyn Kenyon
Linda Howard
Jennifer Crusie

In conclusion, a romance novel evolves around two people, it's more than cheesy covers and sappy titles, there's a storyline and characters, lots of characters who you will either come to love by the end of the book or learn to despise with every fiber of your being. A really good romance novel will take you on an emotional rollercoaster and have you thinking about the story and the characters long after you've finished the story. It's more than sex scenes (which are an added bonus yeah, but not the core of the book) and really, the story as a whole is more fulfilling than anything Playboy or Penthouse will ever come up with.

Porn is about sex, but romance, romance is about love.



Sunday, February 26, 2006

Once and Always by Judith McNaught

Across the vast ocean sailed Victoria Seaton, a free-spirited American beauty left suddenly orphaned and alone. Eager to claim her long-lost heritage, she was amazed at the formal elegance of Wakefield, the sumptuous English estate of her distant cousin...the notorious Lord Jason Fielding. Sought after at plays, operas, and balls by London's most fashionable ladies, Jason remained a mystery to Victoria. Bewildered by his arrogant demeanor, yet drawn to his panther-like grace, she came to sense the searingly painful memories that smoldered in the depths of his jade-green eyes.
Unable to resist her spitfire charm, Jason gathered her at last into his powerful arms, ravishing her lips with his kisses, arousing in her a sweet, insistent hunger. Wed in desire, they were enfolded in a fierce, consuming joy, free at last from the past's cruel grasp. Then, in a moment of blinding anguish, Victoria discovered the shocking treachery that lay at the heart of their love...a love she had dreamed would triumph...Once And Always.

I didn't really care for this one. I thought Jason was rather cold when he first married Tory. Yeah he has the tortured past, but it wasn't like other tortured heroe's I love. Every time he thought he upset Tory, he bought her jewerly. Thinking it would soothe her feelings, thinking that's what all women wanted. It's like he didn't know Tory was not like other women.

I did like Tory. She didn't annoy me and felt so bad for her on her wedding night. Poor thing. Also how Andrew's mother and Charles lied to her.

So yeah, I give this one a C+.

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Tell Me Lies by Jennifer Crusie

Maddie was coping pretty well with the adultery, the embezzlement, and the blackmail.Then her old boyfriend came back to town

The Story:
Maddie Faraday's life would be perfect if it weren't for her nosy neighbors, her interfering mother, her unhappy best friend, her worried little girl, her cheating husband, and that guy she lost her virginity to twenty years ago who just showed up on her front porch. But things keep taking a turn for the worse (and worse than that) and pretty soon she's up to her eyes in gossip, blackmail, murder, and brownies, not to mention some flashbacks to a past that's just as steamy in the present.

After being slightly disappointed by Faking It, I decided the best course of action for this next JC book was to have no expectations at all. To just read it without thinking, OH gosh, this is the same author who wrote Bet Me and Welcome To Temptation..and oh gosh, those were FABulous! I wanted to give this a fair go. I tried, I really did. But in my eyes, Tell Me Lies came up short. Very short. I can't exactly pinpoint it to one thing in particular, I can only say that by the end of the 384 pages, I wasn't a completely satisfied reader.

I didn't feel like I could relate or warm up to Maddie Faraday much..and I hated that she tried to cover up the fact that her lying-cheating-good-for-nothing-husband hit her. That made me mad. The secondary characters were just meh and I think the only saving grace for me was CL Sturgis. I loved that he was so frank and forward with his wants and intentions with Maddie and never tried to convince himself otherwise because he was scared. (at the beginning he did try, but I understand that because Maddie was married to someone else) He fought for what was his and kept on fighting until he finally got his HEA. And considering he had been waiting for a very long time, he scored some major points there.

All in all, as much as it pains me to say it..I'm disappointed in Tell Me Lies.


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Thursday, February 23, 2006

P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

Some people wait their whole lives to find their soul mates. But not Holly and Gerry.

Childhood sweethearts, they could finish each other's sentences and even when they fought, they laughed. No one could imagine Holly and Gerry without each other.

Until the unthinkable happens. Gerry's death devastates Holly. But as her 30th birthday looms, Gerry comes back to her. He's left her a bundle of notes, gently guiding Holly into her new life without him, each note signed "P.S. I Love You."

As the notes are gradually opened, and as the year unfolds, Holly is both cheered up and challenged. The man who knows her better than anyone sets out to teach her that life goes on. With some help from her friends, and her noisy and loving family, Holly finds herself laughing, crying, singing, dancing - and being braver than ever before.

Life is for living, she realises - but it always helps if there's an angel watching over you.

My friend Jamie recommended this book to me, after a friend of hers pushed her into reading this. Actually, it was more like: Jamie read one particular section of the book and I demanded to read to know the title of the book so I could get my hands on it. I was gripped by the story even before I knew what hit me.

Here was what Jamie read to me:

PS. I love you. Holly, I know you love me. You don't nee my belongings to remember me by, you don't need to keep them as proof that I existed or still exist in your mind. You don't need to wear my sweater to feel me around you; I'm already here...always wrapping my arms around you.

This story was more about the journey Holly had to trudge through in the months after the recent death of her husband, her love, her best friend. We see how she grieves for the man she had lost, how she tries to put on a brave face for the world to see and we see her at her worst. And then, with the help of Gerry's encouraging letters we have some uplifting moments when Holly tries to embrace her life and continue on without her mate. Even after death, Gerry knew exactly what to say and do to help Holly move on with her life.

My heart hurt for Holly when she was consumed with loneliness while everyone around her seemed to have "moved on" with the rest of the lives. My throat tightened when John (Gerry & Holly's best friend) confronted Holly about locking herself away from the world and expecting it to stop because Gerry was no longer with them. And then my vision blurred when John spoke about his feelings of missing his best friend so openly.

It's not a typical romantic tale with a sure thing happily ever after that many other novels guarantee, but rather this gives us perhaps a more realistic tale containing some poignant moments, some outrageously funny, moments we all wish we never had to experience and also a reminder that a small act of kindness can be remembered and can change someone else's life. PS I Love You may not have the HEA formula attached in the end, but I do think it provides its readers with a sense of contentment. A sense of accomplishment. It wasn't exactly what I had anticipated for it's ending, but like life and something that was preached in this book..not everything turns out exactly the way you plan. So you have to take it as it comes, adjust and finally accept.

I'm so glad Jamie mentioned this book to me, because I really enjoyed it. It was something different, something a touch more realistic and that much more bittersweet. I'm really impressed by Cecilia (I looked her up, and she was only 21 when she published this book!) and I'm definitely looking forward to reading her other books. I've already put myself on her waiting list.

FYI..PS I Love You movie rights have been bought by Warner Brothers so we should probably see this one out on the big screen some time in the future. I can't wait!


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The Unsung Hero by Suzanne Brockmann

Hero: Tom Paoletti
Heroine: Kelly Ashton
Grade: B+
Date: 2/22/06

After a near-fatal head injury, navy SEAL lieutenant Tom Paoletti catches a terrifying glimpse of an international terrorist in his New England hometown. When he calls for help, the navy dismisses the danger as injury-induced imaginings. In a desperate, last-ditch effort to prevent disaster, Tom creates his own makeshift counterterrorist team, assembling his most loyal officers, two elderly war veterans, a couple of misfit teenagers, and Dr. Kelly Ashton -- the sweet "girl next door" who has grown into a remarkable woman. The town's infamous bad boy, Tom has always longed for Kelly. Now he has one final chance for happiness, one last chance to win her heart, and one desperate chance to save the day....

Someone in my book club is buying this series and will be reading it for the first time, I think she is mighty lucky, because I would give my right foot (or wait, maybe my left foot, or maybe just a toe on my left foot, *sigh*) to be able to read this series for the first time. I absolutely LOVE this series, so because my friend picked it up, I'm picked it up too and started a thorough reread of the books, I'm so loving life again right now. This book was fast paced, action packed and the main romance between Tom and Kelly was sweet, even though a few times throughout the book I wanted to smack Tom upside his head and tell him to get on with it, DO HER already! It was great to become reacquainted with characters I have come to love so very much. Suzanne Brockmann does a wonderful job of wrapping you up in the storylines between Kelly and Tom, Joe, Charles and Cybele and then with Mallory and David. Each storyline really took off and only added more goodness to the entire story as a whole.

Suz was the very first author to make me realize how hot, nerds can be. David Sullivan will forever hold a special part of my nerd heart. Loved his storyline with Mallory, they were perfect for eachother. They kinda stole a bit of Tom and Kelly's thunder but that's okay, because we see a lot more of Tom and Kelly throughout the series so I'm not too worried about it.

If you haven't read this series, you have to...I demand it. LOL. Just kidding, but seriously, this is a really great series and I'm loving my reread of this story so very much!

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The Defiant Hero by Suzanne Brockmann

Hero: John "Nils" Nilsson
Heroine: Meg Moore
Grade: B+
Date: 2/22/06

"The United States refuses to negotiate with terrorists." Meg Moore remembered the warning from her job as a translator in a European embassy. Those same words will spell out a death sentence for her daughter and grandmother who have been kidnapped by a lethal group called the Extremists. Meg will do anything to meet their unspeakable demands; anything—even kill—to save her child.

When Navy SEAL Lieutenant, junior grade, John Nilsson is summoned to Washington, D.C., by the FBI to help negotiate a hostage situation, the last person he expects to see holding a foreign ambassador at gunpoint is Meg. He hasn't seen her in years, but he's never forgotten how it feels to hold her in his arms. John could lose his career if he helps her escape. She will lose her life if he doesn't. . . .

I don't remember enjoying John and Meg's story nearly as much the first time (which was so many years ago) as I did this time around. This is the only Troubleshooters book that I haven't done a thorough reread of (I only reread my favorite scenes). So, by reading this entire book yesterday, it was like I was reading it for the first time, because I didn't remember a lot of what happened in the book.


Johnny Nilsson is a stud.

I never paid much attention to him and his story the last time around, because I was so wrapped up in Sam and Alyssa's secondary story. I was dying for them to finally get their own story told, their entire story and not little scraps of a story in between the bigger and main storylines of the books. This time around, I paid a whole lot more attention to John and Meg's story, but throughout the book I found myself obsessing over Sam (my friend Holly will tell you just how much, because after I realized the error of my ways, I called her, crying and whining about it for three whole hours, I'm certifiable, I know it.).

But I really liked all of the stories told in this book. Meg Moore, who is some kind of language specialist working at for the government has her worst nightmare come true, well any mother's worst nightmare really...terrorists kidnap her daughter and her grandmother and hold them hostage, until Meg kidnaps the head of another terrorist group. As a mother, it's hard to say how much you would go through for your child, you would like to think that you would everything in your power to help someone, not trust ANYONE to help you, not even a SEAL, so I shouldn't have been so pissed off at Meg throughout the book because if you put yourself in her shoes, would you have trusted anyone to help you? If it meant the life of your child, would you go against the directions of the kidnappers and trust someone you think you might love?


I would honestly like to think that I would, but I'm not 100% sure. But whatever, this book was the bomb, plenty to love with the grandma (dude I totally forgot her name) and Ralph then Meg and Nils and most definitely...SAM AND ALYSSA!

With all those to die for characters and storylines, what's not to love? Get it, read it and love it!

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Monday, February 20, 2006

Faking It by Jennifer Crusie

She has a history of forgery she's trying to forget. He has a knack for scamming he's trying to resist. But one fateful night, their good intentions go bad, And what they get up to is downright immoral, illegal, and irresistible.

The Story:
Meet the Goodnights, a respectable family who have run a respectable art gallery for generations. There’s Gwen, the matriarch, who sedates herself with Double-Crostics and double vodkas; Eve, the oldest daughter, who has a slight identity problem (she has two); and Nadine, the granddaughter, who’s ready to follow in the family footsteps as soon as she can find a set that isn’t leading off a cliff. Holding everyone together is Matilda, the youngest daughter, who’s inherited the secret locked down in the basement of the Goodnight Gallery, a secret that she’s willing to do almost anything to keep, including breaking into a house in the dead of night to steal back her past.

Meet the Dempseys, or at least meet Davy, a reformed con man who’s just been ripped off for a cool three million by his financial manager, who then gallantly turned it over to Clea Lewis, the most beautiful sociopath Davy ever slept with. Davy wants the money back, but more than that, he’ll do anything to keep Clea from winning, including breaking into her house in the dead of night to steal back his future.

One collision in a closet later, Tilda and Davy reluctantly join forces to combat Clea, suspicious art collectors, a disgruntled heir, and an exasperated hit man, all the while coping with a mutant dachshund, a jukebox stuck in the sixties, questionable sex, a painting of three evil fishermen closing in on a dyspeptic tuna, multiple personalities, miscellaneous Goodnights and Dempseys, and the growing realization that they can’t turn their backs on the people they were meant to be... or the people they were born to love.

After being thoroughly impressed by Welcome to Temptation, I was very excited to read the follow up book on Davy Dempsey. I couldn't wait to see Davy in the spotlight and to see the woman who would match our reformed con man.

Davy was a FAB hero. I knew he would be from his secondary role in WTT, but reading Faking It merely confirmed it. He made me laugh and he made me blush, and I loved how he continually came to Tilda's rescue. First with the paintings and then when he tried to take care of her the way she looked after her family. I loved it.

Tilda was an alright heroine, nothing absolutely fabulous about her for me. Although I did like the fact that she wasn't perfect in every way. I also appreciated her little quirks and habits which made her all the more real and likable. I really liked the the secondary characters - Eve/Louise (Matilda's sister), Nadine and Gwen as they all helped to create a richer tale to be told. It was nice to get to know them. And very nice to see Davy become protective Tilda's family too.

Between Welcome to Temptation and Faking It, WTT is definitely my favourite. I think after reading WTT, my expectations of Faking It was a touch high and when it fell short (only by a very little!) I was disappointed. But nevertheless, Faking It is still a great read. I'm glad I finally got around to reading it.


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The Solomon Sisters Wise Up by Melissa Senate

Grade: B+
Date: 2/19/06

Between the reality of being six weeks pregnant by a guy she's dated for two months and the fantasy of pushing a baby stroller down Columbus Avenue with a wedding ring on her finger were a lot of possibilities for twenty-nine-year old Manhattan publishing peon Sarah Solomon. Will the baby's father run screaming for the nearest subway . . . or pop the question?

"He's going to deny they ever had sex!" bets cynical sister Ally, an uptown lawyer who catches her "perfect" husband cheating . . . and happily retaliates on FindAMate.com.

"He might surprise everyone and propose," offers half sister Zoe, a celebrated relationship guru who critiques dates for a living but would have to rate her own love life a big fat zero.

"Huh?" asks their clueless father, too busy planning his society wedding to trophy wife #3 to notice what's up with his daughters. Until Sarah, Ally and Zoe find themselves suddenly sharing a bedroom in his Park Avenue penthouse . . . . "

And thanks to a little help from each other and some unexpected allies, the Solomon sisters are about to wise up in this heartwarming and hilarious novel by Melissa Senate, author of See Jane Date.

What a pleasant story about family relationships to go with the complicated romantic relationships that we read about in The Solomon Sisters Wise Up. It's about three sisters who wise up about life, love and their family.

Growing up, Abby, Sarah and Zoe didn't have much of a relationship. They all have very different personalities and those personalities always clashed whenever they found themselves in the same room. But when different incidents happen to each of them, they all find themselves under the same roof again, the roof of the father that all of them have NEVER had a relationship with.

It was great fun to read about these sisters with no kind of relationship with eachother, form a bond that cannot be broken. The bond of sisterhood heals all wounds and binds you to other women you know will share your burdens, share your secrets and keep them safe and sound. They'll shelter you from the world when you need it and they'll take care of you when you don't think you can, and most importantly, they'll hold your hand to get you through the toughest situations life hands you.

The story of Abby, Sarah and Zoe was truly great to be apart of and I'm so glad that I picked it out of the box from the office and ran off away with it. I didn't think that I would like it as much as I did, I loved it even more. It was just what I needed to get me out of my reading funk, because not only do I want to read more, I want to read more Melissa Senate.

Of all the sisters, I related more with Sarah because she was the one who struggled with her secret pregnancy and when I read about her story, it sort of struck home because a lot of what she went through, I went through when I was pregnant, but that's where the similarities stop because Sarah got her happy ending and I'm still waiting for mine.

The characters were all relatable and even though the situations each sister were in were cliche'd or typical to read about in these kinds of books, it was still a great read. The story was all over the place because each chapter was told through the eyes of one sister, but I think it worked well and added a bit of spice. It made me want to call each of my sisters and tell them how much I love them and just hug them to death. It was just an all around great read for me and I would totally recommend it!

And just so you know....


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Sunday, February 19, 2006

His Bonnie Bride by Hannah Howell

When Storm Eldon is kidnapped by her family's ancestral enemies, she knows there are rules to be honored by both sides. If her stepmother agrees to the ransom demanded, Storm will not be harmed by Tavis MacLagan, the handsome Highland warrior who holds her captive. But as days of waiting turn into weeks, it begins to be clear that in this contest of wills, no one is fighting fair. Tavis's hands-off policy has changed into an all-out siege of the senses, and Storm realizes she is less interested in guarding her virtue than becoming...HIS BONNIE BRIDE.

This was a re-read for me.

Hannah Howell is probably my absolute most favorite historical romance author. Her stories are fun, fresh and filled with humor. I love the way she writes. I love her heroines. I love her heroes. She's awesome.

His Bonnie Bride is a re-release of one of her older novels, Amber Flame.

Storm Eldon is sassy, courageous and tough. She doesn't take shit from anyone and I love that. She's a lady when she needs to be, a tomboy when it's called for, and she can hold her own with the heir of a Scottish clan.

Tavis MacLagen, though a little dense about his feelings towards women, is sinfully sexy, a warrior and amazing in the sack. Need I say more?

Though I could have done without some of the more raunchy scene involving Storm's evil Step-Mother, I still highly recommend this one.

It's another must read.

5 out of 5

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Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught

The Countess of Havenhurst possessed a rare gentleness and fierce courage to match her exquisite beauty. But her reputation is shattered when she is discovered in the arms of Ian Thornton, a notorious gambler and social outcast.

A dangerously handsome man of secret wealth and mysterious lineage, his voyage to Elizabeth's heart is fraught with intrigue, scandal, and a venomous revenge.

Destined for each other, yet wary of each other's motives, Elizabeth and Ian engage in a dance of suspicion and passion that tests the very soul of their star-crossed love. As a twisting path of secrets takes them from London's drawing rooms to the mysterious Scottish Highlands, Elizabeth must learn the truth: is Ian merely a ruthless fortune hunter at heart?

Holly's Review

Our book club has recently been talking about Judith McNaught and it got me in the mood to do a re-read of one of my all time favorite books.

I love Ian and Elizabeth's story. Right from the very beginning all the way through the very end. I laughed. I cried. I got so pissed I wanted to chuck the book at the wall. And this was my 50th re-read (at least).

Ian is the perfect hero. A bit tortured, a lot alpha and just enough the jealous rake that my little heart soars and my tummy ties itself into knots.

Of course, as with all of her books, there's just a bit too much drama, but it doesn't change the fact that I love it.

If you're in the mood for an amazing historical, this is your book.

5 out of 5

Isabel's Review

So I finally finished Almost Heaven today. It only took me so long because I just couldn't find time to read. Very frustrating. Anyway~~~~

I loved seeing Alex and Jordan again. Usually books just mentions the characters or they have a short scene. Not this book. Very refreshing.

I liked how Elizabeth seemed real despite she was Countess. She wasn't naive as Alex was. I still felt bad for her when the scandal happened. Although, when the investigator told her news of her brother, my brain was yelling, "TALK TO THORNTON!" And when she ran off with Robert and sold her emeralds, I was about ready to throw the book. "TALK TO THORNTON!" my brain was screaming again. Although, Ian should've told her.

Once she saw the news of what was going on back home, she knew what she did was wrong and apologized. I don't blame Ian for wanting the divorce. But I loved how Elizabeth told him she was basically going to haunt him. Loved when he found her back at the cottage. Sigh...

Ian Thornton. I did love him. He did jump to conclusions about Elizabeth but I'm glad he realized his errors when he found out the truth about her. Loved the scene when they were walzting and she asked him if he ever wanted something so bad, he could almost touch it. Sigh...
But my favorite line was when Ian asked her to love him.

The only thing that got on my nerves were the misunderstandings. The notes, Robert missing, Ian finding out Elizabeth was betrothed, etc. One or two I can take, but after a while I'm like, stop messing with them!

I liked this book, but I liked Something Wonderful a little bit more. So I give it a B+.

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Welcome to Tempation by Jennifer Crusie

Welcome to Temptation.Population 2,158. And falling...

Sophie came to Temptation, Ohio, to help her sister make a movie.Now she's making trouble for the town council, love with the mayor, and lemonade for a murderer.

The Story:
All Sophie Dempsey wants to do is help her sister make a video of a washed-up actress and get out of town before they get into trouble. The daughter of generations of con men, Sophie's trying to walk the straight and narrow, but it's, well, difficult.

All Mayor Phineas Tucker wants to do is run Temptation with as little fuss as possible and win his upcoming election without cutting into the time he needs for his real passion: playing pool. The son of generations of mayors, Phin's trying to be an upstanding citizen, but it's, well, boring.

It only takes one look before Sophie knows that Phin's the kind of boy her mother used to warn her about-- a fast-talking town boy-- and Phin knows she's the kind of woman his father told him to stay away from-- the devil's candy.And in no time at all, boredom is the least of their difficulties. Gossip, adultery, and blackmail; pornography, politics, and murder; vehicular abuse of a corpse and slightly perverse but really excellent sex: all hell is breaking loose in Temptation, Ohio, while Sophie and Phin fall deeper and deeper in trouble… and in love.

It's taken me almost six months to finally feel "in the mood" to read this book, but luckily two days ago I decided to dig it out of the box Dylan graciously sent to me (bless her generous heart) and pop it into my bag to take to work. I started reading it on my lunch break and I could not put it down. I was in my office reading and grinning and laughing and trying not to laugh so much or hard, (which obviously didn't work because within minutes my co-workers were in my room asking if the work load had finally driven me mad) and to no avail. Suffice to say I was in a huge rush to get home to continue reading.

And there the grinning and laughing continued. It's been a very long time since I've literally laughed out loud because of a book, but Welcome to Temptation definitely had me laughing hysterically, cheeks and tummy hurting and all. For those that have read it, the part I'm specifically talking about is where Phin and Wes are talking about all the "injuries" and possible causes of death for one particular person. Oh gosh, I laughed soooooooooo hard!

Phin Tucker was an amazing hero. Shockingly gorgeous, down to earth, cocky and quick with his comebacks. I absolutely loved the banter between him and Sophie. And gosh, did the boy know how to make me blush.

I really liked Sophie and felt myself rooting for her the whole time. Her sister Amy though, got on my nerves a little. As did a fair number of the people in town, including Phin's mother, Liz. Although, I did change my mind about her in the end when she finally stood up for Sophie. Hoo-ray!

All in all, WTT was a great read and just the thing to pry me out of my reading slump. And more importantly, it has me very, very eager to read all about Sophie's ex-con brother, Davy Dempsey in Faking It. I can't wait! *grin*


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Heartless by Kat Martin

To escape her life of poverty as a tenant farmer's daughter, Ariel Summers made a bargain with the devil-she would become the Earl of Greville's mistress in exchange for the schooling and refinements of a lady. But she couldn't foresee the earl's untimely death, or her own disturbing attraction to his bastard son and heir, Justin Ross.
Justin Ross never meant to demand payment from the tempting young woman his father had so callously planned to ruin. But her innocent allure provoked his ruthless nature, and he vowed he would have her in his bed.

Seduction was his plan, but Justin never suspected Ariel's innocent passion would awaken emotions he had long believed dead. Now mistrust and betrayal threaten the fragile happiness the two of them have found, and Justin must convince Ariel he isn't the heartless man she believes.

And he will risk his very life to prove his love.

Kat Martin will never compare to Judith McNaught in writing style or character development, but if I'm in the mood for a B-grade romance, she's the one I turn to.

Heartless is the first book in a Victorian-Era trilogy and one of my favorites by her.

The hero, Justin, is jealous, jaded and...well, Heartless. He's never known love from anyone in his life and he's been dumped on by enough women to know they're all just as Heartless as he is and not worth his efforts.

Until he meets Ariel.

While the book captured me and I rather enjoyed his jealous fits and absolute adoration of her, I can't help but wonder if there's such a thing as a smart historical romance heroine with common sense. Things aren't looking good at this point.

The other two that follow this one are:

The Fire Inside
Fanning the Flame

Which I'll be reviewing shortly.

Not must reads, but still pretty good.

3.5 out of 5

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The Fire Inside by Kat Martin

Kassandra "Kitt" Wentworth was no ordinary young woman. Headstrong and rebellious, this daughter of a viscount had no intention of obeying her father, submitting to a husband ... or falling in love. But she never thought a man like Clayton Harcourt would pursue her. As the bastard son of a wealthy duke, Clay was no stranger to scandal. Taking a wife was not his plan, but Kitt's wild spirit drew him like a flame in the darkness, and the gossip swirling around her awakened a desire to tame and protect her. When Clay lays a trap for marriage, Kitt can't help but surrender to the passion he stirs within her. But will a secret from her past keep her from trusting her heart to the magnificent rogue who arouses her most burning desires?

The heroine in this book royally pisses me off. During the first half of the book she showed a lot of promise. She was spunky and had some attitude, which I love. But by the middle of the book she was just down right irritating. And by the end of the book I was hating her.

The hero, Clayton, pretty much saved the book. He was sweet, funny, and sexy as all hell. Plus, I liked that he had a backbone and didn't just bend over for the heroine.

3.0 out of 5 (because of the dumb heroine)

The other 2 books from the series are:

Fanning the Flame

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Isabel's 10 Reading Secrets...

As you know, I love to read. For the longest time, I didn't read romance. The covers, I admit turned me off. Then I got dumped and I stumbled upon The Wedding by Julie Garwood. I read it and fell in love with it. It gave me hope. I figured if I can't have love in real life, I could at least lose myself in the book and live out my fantasies that way.

Here are my 10 Readings Secrets.

1) I'll dog ear my favorite scenes. In a certain mood, I like to go back and read a particular scene. And yes, this is includes love scenes.

2) I have a problem with certain words during a love scene. If it's truly a love scene, I don't like works like "cock", "pussy", or "fuck". Too vulgar for me. If it is a raunchy, dirty sex scene and it calls for those words, than ok.

3) I love tortured heroes. They are my favorite romance book heroes.

4) If I can't stand a book, I won't finish it. I'll put it down and walk away.

5) I hate when authors rush through something. Especially the ending. If I feel the ending is rushed, it just ruins the story for me.

6) If the cover has a bodice ripping cover, I'll be careful not read it at work or public.

7) I don't really care for time travel books except for Karen Marie Moning's books.

8) I like my love scenes not to graphic and not to vague. The love scene is important. If I don't feel the characters connected, than I just won't root for the couple.

9) I have a weakness for a highlanders.

10) If I really love a hero, I'll imagine myself as the leading lady.

My favorite romance authors:

Karen Marie Monning- Read her highlander series. They are really good books. Favorite is To Tame a Highland Warrior. Order is: Beyond the Highland Mist, To Tame a Highlander Warrior, The Highlander's Touch, Kiss of the Highlander, The Dark Highlander, The Immortal Highlander and Spell of the Highlander.

Julie Garwood- Her historical are the best. Favorite is The Wedding

Julia Quinn- The Bridgerton Series. Love this series. She knows how to combine romance with humor. Favorite is The Duke and I and When He Was Wicked. (Yes I know I'm in the minority with WHWW)

Sherrilyn Kenyon- The Dark Hunter Series. Love tortured heroes? She has a whole series of them. Favorite is Night Play. She is having convention in New Orleans in October. I really want to go, but doubt I can swing it.

Honorable mention:
Teresa Medeiros: Favorite is One Night of scandal.

Lisa Kleypas: Dreaming of You. (How I love Derek Craven)

For more Beauty and the Beast screen caps visit here.



Dylan's Spotlight: Sword of Darkness

Book Title: Sword of Darkness
Series: Lords of Avalon
Author: Kinley MacGregor
Hero: Kerrigan
Release Date: March 28, 2006

I haven't been this excited to read a book, since the last Dark Hunter book and excited am I at the prospect that in a little over a month, I'll be able to finally read the long awaited book, Sword of Darkness by Kinley MacGregor. It's funny because I haven't been able to pick up a historical book without cringing, I'm just not that into historicals right now. I'm all about chick lit and contemps at the moment and I can't shake this historical slump I've fallen into.

But you can bet your bottom dollar that I'll be one happy camper as soon as this book comes out. I love reading books from the King Arthur era, Medieval romances are really what makes me melt. I don't care about personal groomings and stuff like that, the Medieval times were a romantic time. My favorite movies are mostly from that time period. And the magic, the passion and the romance is really what sets my heart on fire.

You can read an excerpt here.

The new king of Camelot wears no shining armor: Arthur and his knights have fallen and a new king rules.

In the darkest forest...A scared, forsaken child has become the most powerful --and feared-- man in the world. Ruthless and unrestrained, Kerrigan has long ceased to be human and has become something else entirely.

In the heart of London...An unassuming peasant, Seren dreams of becoming her own woman. All she wants is to leave behind her drudgery and penury. But she never expects that running from her fate will put her in the path of her destiny.

Their worlds are forever changed...Kerrigan’s goal is simple: Barter or kill Seren to claim Arthur's sacred Round Table. But simple it's not, for she is the one person who holds no fear of him, a woman whose honesty sparks something foreign inside him. But in his nether realm, kindness is weakness and a king who harbors any sort of compassion loses his throne.

For countless centuries, Kerrigan has lived alone in the shadows until the day when one woman’s courage forces him into the light that could either be both their salvations, or both their deaths.

Now who wouldn't want to read or see this movie? Between the excerpt and the little tid bits that I've been able to read about what this series is all about, I can tell you that with each passing day, I grow a little more anxious to get my hands on a copy. The thing that totally gets me about this book, is that we know that the Lords of Avalon are the good guys, they're the ones fighting the good fight against....Kerrigan and his evil dark army.

And Kerrigan just happens to be the hero of this book. It is going to be so awesome to read about the bad guy's side of things. To read what made this sexy stud turn evil and then it'll be an added bonus to see him see the light again.

I've read Kinley MacGregors series, The MacAllisters/Brotherhood of the Sword series and I just absolutely love it, so I know that she won't disappoint me with this series, she's got a magical way with words and I can't wait to read how her story set in one of my favorite historical time periods unfold in Sword of Darkness...

Oh gosh, I just cannot wait.

You can read more on the hunky Kerrigan, but clicking here.



Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Nerd Who Loved Me by Vicki Lewis Thompson

She's got the high-kicks...
Lainie Terrell is no ordinary single mother. With feathers in all the right places, she's one of the hottest showgirls in Vegas. Aside from a hot-tempered ex-boyfriend on her sequined tail, Lainie's biggest problem is finding a decent babysitter for her son. Lainie's dilemma is solved when she ropes Harry Ambrewster, the casino's shy-but very smart and cute-accountant, into the task.

He's got the low-down...
Inheriting his chemist father's high I.Q. and sexy good looks, Harry has always been intrigued by Lainie. He isn't thrilled at the prospect of babysitting, but he'll do anything to get near the gal who fuels his craziest fantasies. Then Lainie's dangerous ex comes knocking...

Their option? Run faster than a pair of net stockings...
In disguise and on the lam, Lainie's masquerading as the perfect wife. Harry's doubling as the he-man protector. But with a set-up this hot, who's fooling who? When the lights go down, and the masks come off, a nerd like Harry could be just the right ignition to set a woman like Lainie on fire...

I have to say I enjoyed this one. I didn't know what quite to expect. Can a nerd really be hot? Harry proved to be hot. The shower scene, hot DAMN. Yeah baby, hot is what that scene was.

I liked other than the fact Harry was really smart, he was just an ordinary guy. Normal guy, who had a crush on someone he never thought he could approach. I liked Laine was an approachable girl. She wasn't an air head, she wasn't a biznitch. She was a likeable person who just got involved with the wrong and who would do anything for her son.

And the TITS (temptress in Temporary Suspension). According the book, Harry's mom, a former show girl and her friends came up with the acronym. Then they figured out what it could stand for. I can honestly see myself and my girlfriends doing the exact same thing.

I give this one a B+

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Only With A Highlander by Janet Chapman

She must choose between her destiny...and her desire.

As soon as Pine Creek's new mystery man steps into her art gallery, Winter MacKeage is intrigued. This sexy stranger, Matt Gregor, wants her to do some drawings of his dream house. And with his tiger-gold eyes and masculine charm, he's impossible to resist. But so is Winter's Scottish heritage. As the seventh MacKeage daughter, she must embrace her true magical calling...and deny her mortal desires. Soon Winter is heating up — in Matt's strong arms — and her fiery heart is torn. Can she give up the destiny she was born to fulfill for the only man she's ever truly loved?

This is the 5th book in Janet Chapman's Higlander Series. I was naughty and skipped the 4th book, Tempting The Highlander, because I couldn't find it and I was impatient to read Winter's story.

It wasn't worth it.

First of all, I was completely lost. There were quite a few references to things that happened in Tempting and I kept going around in circles.

Plus, the book was just sort of..blah for me. Not that I didn't enjoy it, because I did. It just didn't grab me and suck me in. It took me quite a bit longer to read this than it should have, I think.

In any case, the storyline was pretty good and the hero was really yummy, but I think I would have enjoyed it quite a bit more if I'd read Tempting first.

I'm giving it a 3.00 out of 5, but I may change this after I read Tempting.

If I ever get around to it, that is.

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Friday, February 10, 2006

Wedding The Highlander by Janet Chapman

A runaway beauty finds love in the brawny arms of a handsome stranger...

Talented surgeon Libby Hart is fleeing to Pine Creek, Maine, when her car spins out of control and crashes into a pond. She is rescued by Michael MacBain, a medieval highlander trapped in the modern world by a wizard's spell. Wounded in love once before by a modern woman, Michael wants nothing to do with Libby, but he can't resist the intense desire she stirs within him. Can this proud warrior pledge his heart to a woman whose secret threatens to change their lives forever?

This is the third book in Janet Chapman's Highlander Series.

Man, I had a really, really hard time getting into this book. Like...forever! I think I started it almost a month ago and just finished it the night before last.

I ended up really enjoying it, but the first..half? didn't really do it for me.

I was so looking forward to Michael's story, too, so I was very disappointed in the way it started out. I think what bothers me the most about this series is that there isn't much character development - or relationship development - throughout the books. Basically they meet and BAM! they're together. There's no preface or build up, it just happens.

Still, it wasn't bad and I'm anxious to read the next two, so I guess I can't complain too much, right?

3.5 out of 5

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Leaving Normal by Stef Ann Holm

Shake it up a little!

At long last Natalie Goodwin's life is running just the way she wants it. Her new florist shop is all set for a grand opening, and her daughter is enjoying her first semester in college. The house is clean, the bills are paid and cooking dinner every night is now an option. Natalie admits she's just a teeny bit lonely, but recent dating experiences have left her convinced that Mr. Right does not live in Boise, Idaho.

But life has a big surprise for Natalie and he lives right across the street! Never in her wildest dreams did she think she could fall for a man nine years her junior, but then she has never met a man like firefighter Tony Cruz. He turns her well-ordered life upside down, and pretty soon things go from simmering to scalding. Just when the sparks begin to turn into a three-alarm blaze Natalie is caught unawares again -- Tony wants her and a child of his own.

A baby? At forty-three? Natalie is definitely all shook up.

Last of my rereads of my Stef Ann Holm collection. I've notices they all take place in a small town. That's cool. Don't mind that. The last books had the same themes. Someone escaping to the small town. In this one, both characters are settled in the town.

Now, I don't mind the younger man/older woman story line. I can understand the leading lady being uncomfortable and self concious about it. "Shouldn't he be with someone his own age." "what does he see in a woman my age?" etc. But don't DWELL on it. I hate that. He's already said he likes you and interested in you. Accept it and just go with the flow.

This one also had a sub plot with Natalie's father. Cute. He has an obession with Target, which I completly understand. Target is the best. I love it there.

I give this one a B-.

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Sunday, February 5, 2006

Island of Dreams by Katherine Stone

For Boston-proper librarian Ana Finch, life has been quiet, certain, safe, until an incident at a wedding changes everything. The headaches begin then, as does the bone-chilling cold. She feels compelled to move from Boston to Denver, even though the Rocky Mountain city is a place she's never been. As if summoned by an unknown force of nature, she finds herself urgently searching for something, an elusive something that promises to be as wonderful and glorious as an impossible dream. Denver architect Pierce Rourke believes in dreams--for others. And in love . . . only for others. The Island, his Island, is proof of his belief. It is there, on rock as white as snow and amid fountains spun from molten glass, that he's created a setting to be used exclusively for weddings, for the celebration of the vows and promises of love. Pierce's work is his passion. He's not looking for anything more. But then there she is, Ana. The dream he never knew. Wonderful. Glorious. Impossible--unless the man who has built a palace for the dreams of others and the woman who has never dared to dream for herself can find, together, a way to triumph over destiny.

Ok...so the story was pretty good. It was actually pretty interesting, or what I could understand of it was. I usually like Katherine Stone, despite her rather flowery prose and overly descripted sentences. But...ugh. I think this one was a bit over the top.

Not a must read, but ok if you're in the mood for...a lot of words.

2.5 out of 5

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Take A Chance on Me by Susan Donovan

They've Got Nothing In Common...

For animal behaviorist Emma Jenkins, romance has been at the bottom of her daily "to do" list since making it through a messy divorce. But everything changes the day six-feet-of-gorgeous Thomas Tobin walks into her office with a quivering Chinese Crested named Hairy, a canine that looks more like an underfed rodent than a dog. Sure Thomas is sending her mixed signals-but that charming smile just sent Emma's dormant sex drive through the roof...

But Animal Attraction-

Thomas isn't looking for a fling. In fact, he wants nothing to do with women. He just wants to know if Hairy witnessed his owner's murder. But something tells him that asking Emma to help him with the case will spell nothing but trouble-trouble in the form of serious temptation.

And the Willingness To Take A Chance On Love

Thomas knows that relying on Emma's expertise-and her soft touch with a weird dog that has somehow become his-may be a crazy way to track a killer. Especially when Emma's down-home warmth makes him want to believe that anything is possible-even true love.

My first Susan Donovan, on the recommendation of one of my dearest friends - and my favorite book pimp - was He Loves Lucy. I absolutely ADORE that book. I loved reading about Lucy's struggle to lose weight, my heart hurt for her when she as forced to put herself on display for the entire world to see. My pulse raced when she lusted after her OH-SO-HOT instructor, Theo. All in all, it was a fabulous book.

Then I read Public Displays of Affection. Which was...WONDERFUL. I loved the hero. I love the heroine. Basically, I loved everything about the entire book.

And Susan Donovan became and automatic buy for me.

Then I started reading Knock Me Off My Feet. Ugh. I was just not captured. I still haven't finished it. So I was a little leary about trying anything else by her. But Take a Chance on Me was sitting on my shelf and I was in the mood, so I picked it up.

We meet Thomas Tobin, hardass undercover-like cop, Rugby player, all around jaded, cynical, I've-Seen-the-worst-and-want-none-of-it type. And he's at the Vet's office with a little hairless dog. That shakes a lot. And yelps and whines. And pees all over the place.

Yeah, not exactly what I had in mind, either. I mean, could there possibly be a more mismatched pair? And it gets better...the little dog - the hairless wonder? - has to wear maxi-pads while potty training, and sweaters to keep warm and...well the list goes on.

So I'm looking at the back of this book and thinking..."Yeah, not really my thing" but decide to try it anyway. I'm sure it'll be a disaster and I'll have to set it aside like I did KMOFMF, but whatever, I might as well say I tried, right?


I couldn't have been more wrong. I loved this book. I abso-freaking-lutely loved it! I loved the Vet, Emma, her young charge, LeeLee, her pops, Becks, and most of all, I loved Thomas and Hairy (that would be the dog).

I laughed out loud. I cried a little. I was a bit shocked (in a good way..hehe). I can't say enough good about it!

An absolute MUST read! Like...yesterday.

5 out of 5

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Something Wonderful by Judith McNaught

The tempestuous marriage of Alexandra Lawrence, an innocent country girl, and Jordan Townsende, the rich and powerful Duke of Hawthorne, is about to face its ultimate test of tender loyalty. Swept into the endlessly fascinating world of London society, free-spirited Alexandra becomes ensnared in a tangled web of jealousy and revenge, stormy pride and overwhelming passion. But behind her husband's cold, arrogant mask, there lives a tender, vital, sensual man...the man Alexandra married. Now, she will fight for his very life...and the rapturous bond they alone can share.

Ok, I was a little cautious about reading this. I had read A Kingdom of Dreams and I hated that book. I mean, hated it with a passion.

I actually loved this book. Oh man, my heart broke for Alex when she found out the kind of man Jordan was. All her illusions shattered, but I was rooting for them to find their way back to each other. Sigh, I will have to buy this book. I bought my copy used and it's kind of battered. So I want a nice new copy.

Alex was sweet and innocent. She wasn't stupid or clingy. Yes, she was naive, but it added to her charm. She wasn't stupid naive. I just wanted to shake Jordan sometimes. He was so cold to her sometimes.

So yes, I loved this book.
Grade: A

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He Loves Lucy by Susan Donovan

Marketing exec Lucy Cunningham is thrilled when her firm lands The Palm Club account. The campaign concept for Miami's hottest fitness club was Lucy's idea: take one fitness-challenged woman, put her in front of TV cameras, and into the hands of the club's top personal trainer, Theo Redmond. And there's a big cash reward for each pound shed. It seems like a brilliant idea-until Lucy gets picked to be the guinea pig. It's obvious she needs to drop the pounds, but the idea of letting it all hang out in front of some Malibu Ken jock has her choking on her Milk Duds before she even begins!

After one meeting, Theo knows Lucy will be his toughest client and one of the most unforgettable women he'll ever meet. Smart-mouthed and stubborn, it's clear she isn't fond of marching to anyone's drumbeat but her own. But she shocks Theo by rising to the challenge like a pro. And he finds his heart in jeopardy long before Lucy starts to slim down and turn heads.

As Lucy sweats her way into a whole new life, things start to heat up between her and Theo. But trust doesn't come easy for either of them. They've both been burned by romance in the past. Now Lucy and Theo are about to discover that appearances can be deceiving-and in the end, true love lies somewhere between pizza and Pilates...

This was a good story. I cheering Lucy on and I was bummed when she had her relaspe. My heart broke when she told the story how she was the slump buster in college. And I cheered for her at her last weigh in.

Grade: B

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Friday, February 3, 2006

Sex, Lies and Online Dating by Rachel Gibson

Lucy Rothschild has come up with a daring way of doing research for her newest mystery novel. Since her female serial killer meets her victims online, Lucy does the same. The men who respond to her e-mails and meet her in the Boise Starbucks provide excellent fodder, as well as verisimilitude. Finally Lucy only needs one more victim. Unbeknownst to her, Quinn McIntyre is actually an undercover detective trying to stop a serial killer. One thing the victims all have in common is that they are part of the online dating scene. As Quinn chats with Lucy, it becomes apparent that she is lying and that she knows way too much about police procedure. Lucy begins to fall for him, and Quinn falls for her, believing all the while that she's the killer. How Lucy's novel reads and how the serial killer's MO are so alike is just one of the fascinating aspects of Gibson's latest delightful page-turner. The others are her truly appealing and convincing characters.

Every so often I read a book and I recongnize the heroine. As myself. In RG's latest book, that's exactly what happened.

Lucy Rothschild is funny, quirky, tough and sarcastic. Basically, me in a nutshell.

She joins an Online Dating service to do research for her latest book. As a mystery writer, she's trying to find the next few victims to kill off in her book.

At the same time, Quinn is undercover looking for a killer. Who just happens to be murdering her victims in the exact same manner as Lucy is killing hers in her book.

The story was great. RG definitely delivered again.

4.5 out of 5

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