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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Guest Blogger Kim Howe: American Idol for Writers!

Reality TV has infiltrated the world of fiction writing! Yes, that’s right. Dorchester Publishing and Romantic Times BOOKreviews magazine have teamed up to create the American Title Contest, the fiction writer’s version of American Idol. The contest has crowned two talented writers, Janice Lynn with her hilarious novel, Jane Millionaire, and Gerri Russell with her captivating historical, The Warrior Trainer.

This year, over 250 aspiring writers sent their manuscripts in for consideration. Ten novels, including my romantic suspense One Shot, Two Kills, were given those proverbial golden tickets. The wonderful editor of RT magazine, Liz French, e-mailed or called us to share the exciting news that we were in the top ten of the American Title III Contest!

That’s when the fun started. We prepared excerpts from our novels—our first sentence, short character sketches on our hero and heroine, a story summary, a dialogue scene, and the ever popular love scene. This year, the stories span the full range of contemporary romance, including paranormal, romantic comedies, chick lit, and romantic suspense. The grand prize everyone is shooting for? A publishing contract with Dorchester, including publicity from Romantic Times!

Every month, the excerpts are showcased and critiqued by three judges patterned on American Idol’s Randy, Paula, and infamous Simon. From firsthand experience, I can tell you that Flavia Knightsbridge gives Simon a run for his money on the scathing factor!

Readers of the magazine vote for their favorite submissions. The two contestants with the lowest number of votes are eliminated every round. One Shot, Two Kills has reached the final four! Why not stop by the contest site at http://www.romantictimes.com/news_amtitle.php and vote for your favorite dialogue scene? Hopefully the fiery quips of my sniper heroine will make you smile. :) If you’d like to read the first chapter of the novel, please stop by my website at www.kjhowe.com

Thanks to Sanctuary’s Finest for your warm hospitality. It’s been a pleasure stopping by!


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Guest Blogger Kim Howe: Living or Dead…Get in Print!

Have you been tuckerized? If not, it’s time you found a way to make it happen. A few of you may be scratching your heads, wondering what I’m talking about. Tuckerization is a long-standing literary tradition, but the problem is recognizing it when you see it!

Maybe telling you my story will help explain. My husband is a big fan of speculative fiction. When the World SF convention was in Toronto, he came home with a big smile on his face, telling me he bought me a present—then the kicker—I don’t get to find out what it is until next year. Okay, you don’t do that to little Miss Curiosity. I quizzed him endlessly, but to no avail. He’s a trial lawyer…nothing penetrates his armor!

The year goes by and I eventually forget about the present (I’m sure it was lingering in my subconscious.) One weekend, while up north at my parent’s cottage, he hands me a fantasy novel and recommends I read it. I’m like…wait a minute…I’m Ms. Suspense! But, being the trusting wife, I dig into the novel, Laura Anne Gilman’s STAYING DEAD. I enjoyed it, found the pacing strong, the characters fascinating. Then…in comes an older woman, an interesting villain…and her name is KimAnn Howe! I start laughing and realize what he has done. During an auction to support medical benefits for writers, my husband bought me a Tuckerism.

A "tuckerism" is the use of a friend's name as a character, place, equipment name, or the like in a story. The term is derived from the actions of Wilson "Bob" Tucker, who initiated this practice in SF books. For example, some of the Star Trek™ novels from Pocket Books are alleged to have names of the author's friends for minor characters.

I was so touched by his gesture. And this character—KimAnn Howe—who was supposed to show up in just one novel has turned into a strong presence in five novels! Okay, does that mean technically I’m multi-published?

Would you like to be a character in a novel? To celebrate making the final four of the American Title competition, I’m running a Kill Me Off contest. Just send me an e-mail via my website www.kjhowe.com with the phrase Kill Me Off and your name. The lucky (???) winner will have his/her namesake suffer an untimely demise in my next novel. And, no, you cannot nominate your boss or mother-in-law! J Yes, I know you won’t last five novels, but I promise to make “your death” memorable!

Here’s to Tuckerisms!


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Guest Blogger: Kim Howe

Today, American Title III Contest finalist Kim Howe has a agreed to be a guest blogger here at SF. She's going to tell you all about the American Title contest and about herself and the book she's entered into the contest.

She's agreed to be around most of the afternoon, too, so she can answer any questions you have.

Join us, will you?

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner.

Hero: ??
Heroine: Candace "Cannie" Shapiro
Category: Chick Lit
Page Count: 300+
Grade: C+

At first my eyes wouldn't make sense of the letters. Finally, they unscrambled. Loving a Larger Woman, said the headline, by Bruce Guberman. Bruce Guberman had been my boyfriend for just over three years, until we'd decided to take a break three months ago. And the larger woman, I could only assume, was me.

Cannie Shapiro never wanted to be famous. The smart, sharp, plus-sized pop culture reporter was perfectly content writing about other people's lives on the pages of the Philadelphia Examiner. But the day she opens up a national women's magazine to find out that her ex-boyfriend has been chronicling their ex-sex life is the day her life changes forever.

Loving a larger woman is an act of courage in our world, Bruce has written. And Cannie — who never knew that Bruce saw her as a "larger woman," or thought that loving her was an act of courage — is plunged into misery, and into the most amazing year of her life.

Radiant with wit, bursting with surprises, and written with bite and bittersweet humor, Jennifer Weiner's deliciously readable debut novel reaches beyond Cannie's story and into the heart of every woman. Gut-level real and laugh-out-loud funny, Good in Bed celebrates the courage of the human spirit, and features an unbelievably funny cast of supporting characters, the strangest dog you'll ever encounter, and a heroine you'll never forget.

This story was told through the eyes of Candace "Cannie" Shapiro, who is a larger woman. She decides that she wants a break from her boyfriend of 3 years, Bruce and then 3 months later, she reads a long with everyone else in the nation, his true feelings for her....in an article about loving a larger woman in one of the nation's leading magazines, sister to the likes of Cosmo, Vogue and you know, those kinds of magazines.

This entire book was Cannie's journey to self discovery and to self love, I guess you can say. We read how Cannie handles herself after the break up and it's many stages, we see Cannie come to grips with the disappearance of her father, we see her grow up basically. And let me tell you, for a few parts of the book, it was slow going for me but I just kept right on truckin' through the book because I was too busy trying to figure out who she ended up with at the end of the book, wondering if Bruce was ever going to get his and I just wanted to know how Cannie turned out.

She turns out great, which can be expected in these books, everything worked out for the best for Cannie, her life turns for the better by the end of the book but everything was dealt with, she dealt with everything that came her way and sometimes I wanted to clobber her over the head with a bat to get her to shut up, other times I cried with her because I felt her pain. Jennifer Weiner did a great job of getting the emotions to leap right off the pages in this book, overall I enjoyed this book and know that those of you guys that decide to read this, will like it.

I did.

But Nicole, you might not like this book since she's a fat chick and she does find love.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Tagged: Some Romance Related Questions

I was tagged by Sybil for this one. Because she sez so....

Contemporary, Historical, or Paranormal?
Contemp. I haven't dug historicals for awhile (with a few exceptions) and I'm burned out on paranormals for now.

Hardback or Trade Paperback or Mass Market Paperback?
Mass Market for sure. I'm too cheap to get excited about Hardbacks.

Heyer or Austen?
Austen for sure. I've enjoyed a few Heyer's, but man, nobody beats Austen.

Amazon or Brick and Mortar?
Amazon all the way...

Barnes & Noble or Borders?

Borders. B&N gets on my nerves. They're selection is less and they aren't very nice to the lesser-knowns. Those bastards.

Woodiwiss or Lindsay?
I'm not a huge fan of either. And I can't really answer this fairly as I've only read one or two from each.

First romance novel you ever remember reading?
Let's see. I think It was a Harlequin. Someone's back in town. But I can't remember the exact title or the author. I did enjoy it, though. That I remember.

Alphabetize by author Alphabetize by title or random?
By author. Then by title, unless there are connecting books, then I put those in order.

Keep, Throw Away or Sell?

Always keep. I've thrown away 2 books in my life, and both had been eaten by the dog.

Read with dustjacket or remove it?
It gets on my nerves when the dust-jacket has been removed. I always leave it on.

Sookie Stackhouse or Anita Blake?
C none of the above?

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks?
When tired

“It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time”?
Hmm, either or. I don't care, if the story is good.

Crusie or SEP?
Tie. They're equally good (Syb, read Crusie already!)

Buy or Borrow?
Buy. I have to own it once I've read it, good or bad.

Buying choice: Book Reviews, Recommendation or Browse?
Recommendations or Reviews from people I trust. It's hard for me to step outside of my comfort zone and try a new author if I'm not forcibly pushed there.

Tidy ending or Cliffhanger?
I'm all about the tidy endings. I want everything wrapped up in a nice, neat little bow. I'll make an exception, however, for books I know belong in a series(i.e. JE's Plum's or JDR's In Death's)

Morning reading, Afternoon reading or Nighttime reading?
Always. Morning, noon or night. I'd read 24/7 if I could.

Series or standalone?
I never used to mind series', but I'm over it right now. Give me a good standalone..NOW!

Favorite book of which nobody else has heard?
Always by Jeane Renick. Fabulous book.

Let's see, who to tag? Meh, I'm lazy..all of you out there who've read this and haven't already done it. Yep, all of you. *evil laugh*

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Compromising Positions by Dara Edmondson

Meet Crystal, Patsy and Maureen - three friends in their forties trying to run the obstacle course of mid-life. Crystal thinks she has the perfect marriage until she starts fantasizing about a handsome coworker. But when she suspects her husband is having more than fantasies about another woman, she digs in her heels and fights for what's hers. Patsy discovers her Neanderthal husband Bud having sex with his bowling buddy and wearing women's underwear. When Bud tries to take more than his fair share in the divorce, Patsy sets out to humiliate him into submission. Maureen has enough trouble trying to survive life with her rebellious teenaged daughter Rhianna. When she starts dating the teacher Rhianna has a secret crush on, the fur flies.

Holly Says:

Crystal is your average wife/mother. She's looking for work and raising her family. Her relationship with her husband, Wes, seems just as good as always and other than obsessing about her weight, she's feeling pretty good. She lands her dream job with a local magazine as a food critic and she couldn't be happier. Well, until she meets the sexy photographer assigned to travel with her. Her impure thoughts and silly daydreams seem harmless enough, until she overhears a conversation that makes her suspect her husband is having an affair. Suddenly, her life starts spinning out of control, and having her best friend move in with her unexpectedly is just icing on the cake...and not that non-fat kind, either.

Patsy's been married to Bud for 8 years. She takes a trip to see her brother and decides to drive home early because she's missing her husband. Unfortunately, she walks in at the wrong time. She finds her husband dressed up in her underwear, being pleasured by his best friend...Ralphie. Now she's living with her best friend, trying to figure out how to put her life back together. But then things get worse, because Bud seems to think he's entitled to half of everything, even the stuff she had before she married him. And Ralphie's wife thinks Patsy is having an affair with her husband, which just makes the situation 50 times worse. But she can only take so much, and finally she snaps. Enlisting the help of one of her expert co-workers, Joe, she sets out to get revenge on Bud, and Ralphie.

Maureen, Patsy and Crystal's other best friend, is having issues of her own. Her teenage daughter, Rhianna, has hit the rebellious stage and seems to be fighting Maureen at every turn. They butt heads about everything, from clothes to music to boys. To top it all off, she's lonely as hell. Luck seems to turn for her when she meets Rhianna's English teacher, Ian Fuller, and they hit it off. But what she doesn't know is that Rhianna already has a thing for Mr. Fuller and when she finds out her mother is seeing her teacher, well, all bets are off.

I truly enjoyed watching these three women struggle and grow through everyday life. The characters were believable and winning, and had me rooting for them right from the beginning. When I first started reading, I was dismayed to realize the women were all in their 40's. Not that I have anything against older woman in romance novels, but it's not my preferred reading choice. Before long, however, I was wrapped up in the story and anxious to see how it ended.

Compromising Positions is engaging and heartwarming. I found myself emotionally invested in Crystal's marriage, Patsy's fight for her self-confidence and Maureen's struggle to connect with her daughter. To be honest, I was sorry it ended. I wanted just a bit more from each story, just a bit longer with each character. That doesn't happen often to me these days, so it's something for DE to be proud of.

There was quite a bit of humor wrapped up in the story as well. I found myself laughing out loud more than once. And though I realize it was devastating for Patsy, the image I had in my head of her husband in a peach teddy with his best friend in front of him will have me snickering for a week. Not that it was funny at the time, but looking back on it....you get what I mean.

Though the story itself turned out to be good, and I found myself enjoying it, there were times when I was pulled out of it, because something seemed off. I'm not sure if it was the writing style, or the pacing itself, but I had a hard time focusing on it, especially in the beginning.

There were also a lot of typos and grammatical errors. I need to write up a post about this, because I'm not sure where to assign the blame for this. I know that when writing a blog (which isn't anywhere near the same as writing a book, but I'm working with what I've got here, ok??) I don't notice the typos and such right away. It's not until I go back and re-read my post that I realize how many mistakes I've made. And even after I re-read it several times I still manage to miss a few here and there. But, well, I'm not doing this professionally. And I don't have an editor to read through my stuff before I post it for the public to read, either. I suppose a few don't really bother me (ok, that's a flat out lie, even one bothers me, but I'm anal like that), but this one had more than a few. Not enough that it took me completely out of the story, but enough that I had to re-read several sentences before I understood what was going on. I hate that.

There were a few other things that bothered me, but they're of a more personal nature. For example, the characters had a habit of saying, "Alright? Okay." Who does that? No one says, "Alright? Okay." Without waiting for a response from the other party. Unless their confirming something, which wasn't the case. And Maureen's nickname was Mo, something else I didn't like. But again, these are personal issues and not a reflection of the story. Just my personal pet peeves.

Overall, I enjoyed the characters and storyline very much. I'll definitely be looking for more work from DE in the future.

3.75 out of 5 (mostly for the pacing and typos)

Jazz's Take

Yay! I love doing reviews together, and going second, this way I don't have to do the run down on the book! ha ha, Holly's taken care of that, so now I can jump right in with the juicy stuff. So here it is.

When I first started the book I had a huge "OH PLEASE NO!" moment, lol, but as it turned out it was really okay and I loved the way Dara opened up her story. You were hooked right away.

I enjoyed the dynamics between the girlfriends a lot. I always love close friendships in stories because we get to see and hear what is going on with them and their love life from a different angle. There are the thoughts in their heads, and what they share with their significant other, but what they share with girlfriends? That's always a hoot.

So let me tell you what I thought of each of the girls and their stories.

I never really clicked with Patsy. It's not that I didn't like her, but that she annoyed me. I mean yeah, I felt bad for her situation, even though it was kinda funny, but the way she dealt with it made me mad. She kinda just rolled over at first, doing nothing. I'm sorry but if that was me I would have done SOMETHING to get revenge right off the bat. But hey maybe I'm just spiteful like that. lol.

She moved in Crystal and her family, so you know there is going to be some boundary issues. I know these women are really close and all, but if they were that close wouldn't Patsy have known certain things? Like the fact that Chrystal had just lost a ton of weight and still struggles to keep it off? So why would she then go and purposely make all these fatty foods when Crystal even points out that she has been trying to go the healthy road with her family? It's like she was oblivious to the most obvious things.

And I don't want to sound snobby or anything but unless I was off on what I read, Patsy was in her early 50's. I swear it said she was married to Bud for 10 years and she got married when she was 42, correct me if I'm wrong. And she seemed so loud and obnoxious, and big. I by no means am a small woman. I actually struggle quite a bit with my weight but I just don't like reading about big women that don't care that they are big. I don't know, guess it's just one of my weird quirks. I mean age is always an issue with me and my books and it's not an authors fault by any means. Roz in Black Rose by Nora Roberts was the first older heroine I ever liked. And size goes the same way. I mean look at Night Play, one of Holly's favorite SK books, I could not get over Bride's size! But hey we all have our quirks.

So it was just little things like that bothered me. I also didn't like how uneducated Patsy sounded all the time. I know, I know she wasn't dumb, she had a degree. But she sounded that way! She was always talking with this "I'm so dumb accent". Actually that's a bad way to say it, cause I don't care that she had an accent (although I prefer if an author just says what kind of accent they have instead of writing with the accent. But again a personal preference), it was more just her way of talking or the words she used. Like always using ain't, stuff like that. I don't know. Guess I just wasn't really keen on Patsy and her part of the story.

I loved Maureen (I just hated the nickname Mo, YUCK!)! But I'll tell you now if I were her I would have smacked my daughter upside the head! And Holly I soooo know what your ewww moments were! Don't worry everyone, they ended up fine, but I can't tell you or it will ruin the book. lol. But Maureen was great, her personality and her issues with who she was attracted to had me laughing.

Rhianna, Maureen's daughter, annoyed me a lot. But I think she was supposed to. However I don't think the way her character just changed overnight was believable. And I think she acted a lot younger than her age. I don't really see a 17 year old doing the things she did. Well not all of it.

The only thing with Maureen's story was, I kinda felt it was left undone with one part. There is a major thing that is going on with Maureen in the book and when it comes full circle you're so happy for her. But then it's just done. Nothing else. I would have thought we would have seen more on that part, especially with her new friend, Hema, involved. But whatever I still liked Maureen the most.

Crystal was my favorite. That was until I found something out about her toward the end of the book that made me really cringe. I won't say what it is. But it is something that I am very, very against so it made her really unlikable for me. But I know everyone doesn't have the same beliefs as me so it may not be an issue for everyone.

Crystal and Wes were so great together and the issues she started to have were very believable. I loved watching her struggle with her weight and attraction to a different man, and her fight for a job she wanted and her husband. She was very real, and her feelings toward Patsy staying with her were very realistic. I liked that a lot.

All together? The book was good. I think what I was missing was an emotional attachment. I wasn't very emotionally involved, and I like to cry when characters cry.

I will definitely look forward to more of DE's work in the future. I'll just be looking for more emotion, or a better way of sharing the feelings, because I KNEW how the characters were feeling I just didn't feel it myself.

Grade C+

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Every Boys Got One by Meg Cabot.

Hero: Cal Langdon
Heorine: Jane Harris
Category: Chick Lit
Page Count: 200+
Grade: B+

When cartoonist Jane Harris’s best friend Holly, New York Journal art director, announces that she’s eloping to Italy with longtime doctor boyfriend Mark, and asks Jane to come along as her witness, Jane jumps at the chance, delighted by the prospect of her first ever trip to Europe.

What Jane doesn’t gamble on is Mark’s witness, New York Journal foreign affairs correspondent Cal Langdon. It’s hate at first sight for Jane and Cal, and neither is too happy at the prospect of sharing a villa with one another for a week —not even in the beautiful and picturesque Le Marche countryside.

But when Holly and Mark’s wedding plans hit a major snag that only Jane and Cal can repair, the two find themselves having to put aside their mutual dislike for one another in order to get their best friends on the road to wedded bliss, and end up on a road themselves —one neither of them ever expected....

This was one of those, I hate you but I'm falling for you and I don't want to love you stories that I thought was just so cute. I finished it in one day and just enjoyed the heck out of it. It's a really quick read, with no really steamy love scenes because this story is told through emails, blackberry IMing's and PDA journal entries and travel diary entries.

It's fun, light and just extra cute.

I loved Cal, even when he was a psycho cell phone guy in the airport and a I do not believe in the institution of marriage jerk to Jane, Jane was funny, quirky and just cute all over. She reminded me of me, she remembers all sort of pop culture trivia, like only I would remember when Britney Spears filmed one of her commercials in Italy and talk of the oil problems in Saudi Arabia would bore me to death, much like it did for Jane, the cartoonist though that's where our similiarities stop because she loves cats and I hate them.

But the story moved at a great pace, the characters were fantastic (though it appears we've read about these characters in Meg Cabot's other books, The Boy Next Door and Boy Meets Girl)...Cal is one of John Trent's journalist friends and Jane Harris used to work with her best friend, Holly at the NY Journal with Amy Jenkins and Dolly Vargaz (remember them, Izzy? They're in this book) ...Cal is a pimp too and I love it!

Read this book when you're in the mood for something fun, cute and light, this is the book for you. I'm telling you, I heart Meg Cabot.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Size 14 Is Not Fat Either by Meg Cabot

Object of Her Affection: Cooper Cartwright
Heroine: Heather Wells
Category: Chick Lit
Page Count: 200+
Grade: B+

Former pop star Heather Wells has settled nicely into her new life as assistant dorm director at New York College--a career that does not require her to drape her size 12 body in embarrassingly skimpy outfits. She can even cope (sort of) with her rocker ex-boyfriend's upcoming nuptials, which the press has dubbed The Celebrity Wedding of the Decade. But she's definitely having a hard time dealing with the situation in the dormitory kitchen--where a cheerleader has lost her head on the first day of the semester. (Actually, her head is accounted for--it's her torso that's AWOL.)

Surrounded by hysterical students--with her ex-con father on her doorstep and her ex-love bombarding her with unwanted phone calls--Heather welcomes the opportunity to play detective . . . again. If it gets her mind off her personal problems--and teams her up again with the gorgeous P.I. who owns the brownstone where she lives--it's all good. But the murder trail is leading the average-sized amateur investigator into a shadowy world. And if she doesn't watch her step, Heather will soon be singing her swan song!

Okay seriously? I can't get enough of this series, I'm sucked into the world Meg Cabot has made up for Heather Wells and Cooper Cartwright, yeah they don't get together in the first book and it doesn't seem like they'll get together throuhgout this book but Meg is expertly dangling the hook of hope before me and I have no doubt that they WILL get together, cause though Cooper does not seem like he likes her in both of these books, we, the readers know different...we know that he's got it just as bad for Heather as she's got it for him, he's just very covert about it, instead of coming out and saying that he's got the hots for his brother's ex girlfriend, he does sweet things for her like, saves her from herself and the many enemies that she makes while trying unsuccessfully to stay out of the trouble Cooper told her to stay out of, she should be this TSTL heroine, but she's not...she's just so funny and so damn smart, it makes for great entertainment and reading.

In this book, Heather's dorm is being labeled, Death Dorm because of all the dying students from last semester and really, who could blame them? But, Heather loves her dorms (even if she refuses to call them dorms but to hell with all that, they're DORMS dammit!) and even though she'd like to stay out of everything, she can't help but ask questions and go to parties and unknowingly lead students who have crushes on her on all in the hopes of getting into the party she needs to get into to get to the people she needs to talk to in order to get the answers she needs to solve the crimes Cooper has told her to stay out of, but gosh...she's like Stephanie Plum for the college kids and I'm a fan! She may not be a size 6 hot shot klutz who is bangin' the hottie cop with the adorable dog and the sexily mysterious Bounty Hunter with which she works with from Jersey, but Heather Wells holds her own, she's a lively crackhead that totally cracks me up.

Her personality as seen through these books is very catchy and just fun.

And I just love it!

My favorite character of this book? Gavin McGoren. We saw him as the elevator hopping student from the last book, but he shows up again in this book and has a bigger part in it and I just love him to death, he's so effing cute and funny, good gosh he's funny...and I hope to see more of him!

So many things are happening in this book and the flow is fantastic, the writing superb and just everything is on point and I think you lovely ladies will enjoy it, so make sure you read it!

Good stuff.

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Don't Look Down by Suzanne Enoch

Hero: Richard Addison
Heroine: Samantha Jellicoe
Category: Contemporary
Page Count: 367 pages
Grade: C+(ish)

Samantha Jellicoe is no ordinary thief. At least, not anymore. She promised her significant other, British billionaire Rick Addison, that she'd retire from her life of crime. So no more midnight break-ins...no more scaling estate walls...no more dangling from the ceiling. From here on in, it's intimate dinners with Rick in posh Palm Beach followed by rock-your-world sex.

Who'd have thought that doing the right thing would turn out to be more deadly than her former life of crime? When the first client of her new security business is murdered, Sam is determined to find the killer. Now if only she can manage to stay out of jail, resist her former "associate's" lucrative job offers, and keep Rick from sticking his nose into her business, she might just manage to stay alive. Because trouble isn't just walking -- it's running -- to catch up with her.

My issues with this book were not minimal. To give you an idea I will post two of my emails I sent to the other SF girls while I was reading this....

Email #1:
Okay Holly (and if anyone else read this book you too) I am reading Don't Look Down by Suzanne Enoch and I am not liking it! Well that's not totally true, I like the story/plot I guess but Sam is annoying me (she thinks his Ex's betrayal was bad but she lies to him every page and she did a B and E and isn't telling) and Rick bends over backward and is to pathetic about Sam (comon man get some balls) and Patrica? Ummm annoying Bitch! And Stoney? I just don't like him at all! Sam is trying to go straight and be with the man she supposedly loves but he keeps trying to get her to go back to being a cat! Annoying!

~Turns out Holly hasn't read it yet. lol.~

Email #2:
Can I just tell you all that I am getting ANNOYED as SHIT at Samantha in this book I'm reading? Okay so she's doing her own kind of investigation on a murder her way. Well she keeps letting this guy, her main suspect, kiss her so he will talk more around her and be comfortable, and the book just says stuff like "he lowered his mouth and kissed her, she allowed it but she didn't kiss him back." Same effin thing! Bitch! So you think your man won't care cause you didn't kiss back and it was for the investigation? Bull shit!

~end of emails~

So we get the drift that Sam/Rick annoyed me, in all honesty it was more Sam. This is the second book in a so far three book series. The first book was Flirting with Danger, and if I remember correctly I liked that book but just didn't like the fact that they didn't marry at the end. It was like, oh yay I get to move in with my rich boyfriend. But then I found out that there was another book and was okay with it. You know thinking I'd get some closure on the relationship? NOT! I'm even more frustrated.

Samantha was the best Cat burglar around. She rocked at what she did and got a huge rush out of it. But ever since she literally stumbled into Rick's arms she's decided to go legit. For him she feels it's worth a try.

Rick can tell Samantha is getting antsy with trying to start her new (legit) business in security. And when her first potential client ends up dead it's not a good omen.

Samantha is determined to find out what happened to Kuntz. Who murdered him and why. And when Rick tries to stop her they make a deal. Who can solve the mystery first? Samantha, with any means she chooses to use, or the police, the legit way? Rick is hoping this will show her that the right way to do things is better and just as fast.

As Samantha lies to Rick, if not right to his face then by omitting the whole story, and Rick does any and everything for Samantha, I found myself highly annoyed. Rick has already been married and divorced once. He found his wife and best friend in bed together. So to me when Sam uses her female assets (see email #2) to get what she wants from other men I think of it as betrayal to Rick. And what annoys me even more? Rick sees things doesn't like them but seems to have the mind set that if he presses Sam she'll run and he'd rather keep her.

See I don't like this. Rick is a very strong manly man until he gets all (excuse the vulgar phrase...but) pussy whipped.

And Stoney, he used to be Sam's fence getting her jobs and such, irked me just as much. Even though is is also supposed to be retiered he keeps pushing Sam to go back to do this work. He is supposed to be like a father to her and he is discouraging her relationship with Rick? Why??? Shouldn't he be trying to get her to better her life? Uggg!

Rick loves Sam, and Sam thinks love is a trap. So it goes round and round. I think the relationship is controlled by Sam having sex with Rick to make him forget which he doesn't he just is to whipped to say anything. About Rick making excuses to himself about Sam. And all that other shit.

So okay this review probably doesn't show it but I didn't HATE this book. And call me crazy but I'm probably gonna read the next one, Billionaires prefer Blonds. Actually I've already started it. And surprisingly (not) am already a bit annoyed with it. But I guess I'm asking for it.

So plot wise? Good book. Romance wise? Blah! Sex wise? Pretty good. Overall? Who the heck knows. lol. This review is to odd for words. lol.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

My Fair Temptress by Christina Dood

Miss Caroline Ritter, accomplished flirt, acknowledged beauty, and ruined gentlewoman, offers lessons to any rich, noble lord too inept to attract a wife. Discard your silly affectations and your garish clothing! Learn the art of witty conversation, elegant dancing, equestrian feats and irresistible seduction at the opera! With Miss Ritter's help, you can become the most sought-after aristocrat at the ball!
Send your request to the Distinguished Academy of Gover nesses.

Please, absolutely no devastatingly attractive men with hidden agendas, such as secret missions or vengeful plots against evil villains—specifically not Jude Durant, the earl of Huntington, the most handsome, the most covert, the most dangerous of all the aristocrats in Regency London.

First of all, how can you give flirting lessons? Either you can or can't. She's hired to teach Jude how to flirt. His father wants him married and to produce an heir. Jude for some reason has changed since his older brother was murdered. For one his fashion sense has gone from good to horrible. The first scene we meet him, he's wearing an orange jacked and high heeled boots. Ummmm... okay. Turns out he was dressing horribly because he was working undercover. He wanted to appear foppish. Or course while teaching Jude to flirt, Caroline falls for him.

I admit, I didn't really read this book. I just skimmed most of it. Didn't really hold my interest. There is one scene where Caroline put this woman in her place. You see, a married man drugged Caroline and brought her back to office. There he was caught by his wife and several other people. Caroline is then ruined and kicked out of her home. So the wife just attacks Caroline, calling her names. Caroline finally just shuts the woman up. Yay for her.

Other than that, meh.

Grade: D

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Dream Man by Kelley Vitollo

Hero: David
Heroine: Sadie
Category: Contemporary
Page Count: 10 pages
Grade: C

Sadie has the same dream every night. She dreams of a man with black hair, gorgeous blue eyes, and magical hands. When dream becomes reality and she comes face to face with her dream man, will he be everything she imagined, and more?

Okay I know it's been FOREVER since we've done Kelley's interview here at Sanctuary's Finest and honestly ... I have no idea how this review got pushed to the back. But never the less here it is.

As we know this is Kelley's first published piece of work. So I'm going to break this down into two parts. Writing style and the story itself.

Writing style? I really liked! There weren't many, if any errors in the writing. It wasn't choppy at all, I would not have thought it was a first time author by the writing style at all. Even the flow was good. Now when I say that it doesn't mean I liked the pace of the story in which things happened. BUT I did like the way her words flowed. How her story flowed without seeming jumpy at all. I also liked the descriptions she used. Well for the most part, lol, of course we always have an issue or two here at SF right? So I'll tell you at one point David said that he loved her flavor, or he'd never tire of her flavor? Something but the fact is he said flavor, yuck! lol. Not a choice word of mine.

Okay now the story? A little unbelievable...BUT I think that the story could have been great. I don't really understand why it was so short. It seemed like we got the middle of the story and the rushed version of it. I would have loved to see more of who Sadie was and shared some of her dreams before we were even introduced to David. Then the part that was the story we got should have been stretched a little longer, then I think we could have had quite a bit afterwards. It wasn't the writing style that was fast it was just what actually happened in the few short pages we got was extremely rushed. This story could have been stretched to at least 50 pages. Minimum. But 11? Why would you even do that?

I think Dream Man has great potential and I personally hope Kelley picks it up again at a later date and expands on it cause I'd be very interested in reading a whole lot more of it.

Very good writing though. And I do look forward to more by Kelley in the future. Hopefully something a lot longer. She's got talent.

Dylan's Review:

David ??
Heroine: Sadie Roberts
Category: Contemporary, Paranormal??
Page Count: 10 pages
Grade: D

This story was much too short for my liking. It took me just under 10 minutes to read the entire story and I felt like it wasn't enough time and enough story. I agree with Nicole that it had the potential to be a great book but the character development was non existent and the storyline was totally unbelievable and just, well, to be honest, corny.

Everything happened much too fast and one minute they're meeting for the very first time and the next thing, they're in love and just getting to each other's names? I just can't fathom it...if there had been a little chemistry between the two main characters in the two minutes that they were meeting each other and then falling into bed with each other than maybe I would have been a little more keen on believing the whole I love you thing but there was just not enough time in the entire book to cover any bases so I really didn't believe it, at all.

Am I going to give up on Kelley? Oh no, I think that Kelley has great potential as an author and I'm very much looking forward to reading more of her stuff but this book was much too short to even be considered a story but more as a beginning of a story with all of the good juicy bits cut out from the middle.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Heiress for Hire by Erin McCarthy

Hero: Danny Tucker
Heroine: Amanda Delmar
Category: Contemporary, Paranormal
Page Count: 300 pages
Grade: B+

Chicago socialite Amanda Delmar thought spending the summer in Cuttersville-Ohio's most haunted town-would be a hoot, until dearold-Dad cut her off. Now Amanda has to do the unthinkable and get... A JOB. Her attempts at joining the job market would crack up farmer Danny Tucker, if he weren't so turned on by the skinny, bronzed blonde. Hiring Amanda to babysit his baby girl may not be the smartest thing Danny has ever done. But seeing how she and her couture-clad poodle bring a smile to his shy daughter's face makes it all worthwhile. Now all Danny has to figure out is how to keep Amanda at arm's length, when she has already wriggled her way into his heart.

I don't really know if this is paranormal, but I listed it as such cause there was a tinnie bit of ghost stuff in it. Oh and one more thing before the review, THIS BOOK WAS THE SECOND IN A SERIES AND I DIDN'T KNOW TILL AFTER I WAS FINISHED!!! Kay, 'nuff said, you know how I feel about that.

Sooo.....I really liked this book. Amanda is a very rich, very spoiled, very self absorbed girl that is about to learn a quick lesson of the value of a budget.

Bored out of her mind with her normal life of clubs, shopping and partying in Chicago Amanda decides to follow Boston (who I had no idea who he was, and that's cause his book was BEFORE this book!) to this tiny town called Cuttersville. She rented out a supposedly haunted house for the summer and settled in to be entertained by the small town people. All is going according to plan until she calls her daddy for $200, a girls gotta have a mani, and not everyone takes a credit card in this town, and gets cut off! Tough love is what he's calling it. He says that the $2,000 he gave her last week should hold her over till she can get a job. Little does he know she's already spent it on a must have purse and other necessities.

Danny has always wanted nothing but a family of his own. He's been married and divorced so it's not looking to bright for him. And the attraction he feels towards Amanda is definitely not what he wants, she'll be leaving at the end of the summer and he's looking for long term. What could he possibly offer to a girl that has everything? When his 8 year old daughter that he's never even known about gets dumped on him it just adds one more reason why Amanda is not for him.

Danny is heart broken about having a daughter all this time and never knowing about her, especially since it seems she's been very neglected. As fast as he can he tries to recruit help from his ex wife to shop for his new found daughter and ends up with Amanda. Don't ask how, read the book. lol.

Piper takes to Amanda right away. She's obviously having issues believing Danny won't be abandoning her so if Amanda is the one she wants to stay with when he's working that's who he'll get for his daughter.

It works out for Amanda too. She needs a job badly, and even though she knows she could beg for money to get home and talk to her dad she has some pride and she's making some changes in her life. So if watching Piper, a little girl she's fond of, and getting to watch her hunky dad too is what she has to do for money she's in.

Watching the chemistry grow between Danny and Amanda is great, and seeing Amanda realize there is so much more to herself than the superficial. She definitely grows as a person right in front of us as we read. They are so cute and both bring their share of issues to the table. Danny and Piper and Amanda and Piper is another story all together...OMG I was actually crying at parts. This book isn't very deep, but I wouldn't call it fluff either.

It's a keeper and I definitely suggest all read it. But first go get A Date With The Other Side, the FIRST book!

Oh and it didn't get an A cause Danny was only 26. While I don't mind a heroine that young I like my hero's a little older.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Size 12 Is Not Fat by Meg Cabot.

The Object of Her Affection: Cooper Cartwright
Heroine: Heather Wells
Category: Chick Lit
Page Count: 345 pages
Grade: B+

Or, at least, she did. That was before she left the pop-idol life behind after she gained a dress size or two -- and lost a boyfriend, a recording contract, and her life savings (when Mom took the money and ran off to Argentina). Now that the glamour and glory days of endless mall appearances are in the past, Heather's perfectly happy with her new size 12 shape (the average for the American woman!) and her new job as an assistant dorm director at one of New York's top colleges. That is, until the dead body of a female student from Heather's residence hall is discovered at the bottom of an elevator shaft.

The cops and the college president are ready to chalk the death off as an accident, the result of reckless youthful mischief. But Heather knows teenage girls . . . and girls do not elevator surf. Yet no one wants to listen -- not the police, her colleagues, or the P.I. who owns the brownstone where she lives -- even when more students start turning up dead in equally ordinary and subtly sinister ways. So Heather makes the decision to take on yet another new career: as spunky girl detective!

But her new job comes with few benefits, no cheering crowds, and lots of liabilities, some of them potentially fatal. And nothing ticks off a killer more than a portly ex-pop star who's sticking her nose where it doesn't belong . . .

I.heart.Meg Cabot.

She's such a great writer, I haven't read a book by her that I didn't absolutely love and this book was no different. I enjoyed Heather Wells persistence is trying to find her groove after having been dealt the worst life hand ever handed out.

She's a pop sensation to all the tweeny girls out there but as soon as she turns 18, her life falls apart. Kind of like Britney now, hehe...Getting dropped by her label (who happens to be runned and owned by her fiance's father) Britney Spears Heather Wells comes home to find her boy band fiance', Justin Timberlake Jordan Cartwright getting tender attention from the other tweeny bopper girl singer, Christina Aguilera Tania Trace, but if that wasn't enough to depress anyone, Heather's mother runs off with all of her money and her manager or someone, leaving her flat broke and all alone since her dad is in jail.

Poor girl.

But she just keeps right on trucking along, she finds herself a job, the black sheep of Jordan's family and Jordan's older brother, Cooper, offers her the apartment in his brownstone, free of charge in return of her doing Admin work for him, because he's a hottie Private Investigator. Heather develops a big time crush on Cooper which changes to her being full blown in love with him because he's like her Knight in Shining Armor, the only problem with all that is that Cooper doesn't seem to see her like that, he treats her as a brother would a younger sister...much to Heather's chagrin.

So anyway, Heather finds a job as an Assistant Director at Fischer Hall at New York College. Girls are turning up dead and everyone seems to think that they're just freak accidents, everyone but Heather. So Heather takes it upon herself to investigate these deaths and see what turns up.

It was funny, exciting to see the mystery unfold before me in the book. I hecka enjoyed reading about Heather's world through her eyes and I just loved Heather Wells. She would totally fit in with me and Mulu (my best friend), she's the right amount of funny, ditzy and cute all mixed up to make a great character.

This book was a fun read and I totally recommend it to anyone who wants a good time of a read.

Great job, Meg Cabot!

And THANKS SO MUCH to Mailyn for buying this book for me, I hecka loved it!

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Letter To Romance Authors

Dear Romance Writers,

Hi! I'm a big fan. In the four years since I started dedicating my considerable reading time to your genre, I've pretty much seen it all. I have my favorites, just like anyone else, but lately, something has been bothering me a lot.

You see, as much as I love the books you produce, I have to wonder...Why in the world are all of you writing series books now? Is it really necessary to write a book for every character your first novel introduced? Do you really have to leave me hanging at the end of one book, so I'll buy another?

Hey, I like a good series just as much as the next romance reader, but I haven't seen a good stand-alone book - with no connecting storylines or plots - in so long I'm developing a twitch in my right eye starting to wonder if I didn't just imagine they existed in the first place.

Now, I understand that us romance readers are pretty demanding. If we fall in love with a secondary character in one of your novels, we're going to want to read his/her story, to see him/her get an HEA. But honey, really, you could have stopped at book four. No, really. The world would still spin if you stopped now. I promise.

And while I'm on the subject of series', would you please stop telling me your books stand-alone when they, in fact, go together with another book. As tired as I am of seeing new series' cropping up every damn place, my frustrations there pale in comparison to the burning rage I feel when Jazz complains - for the 500th time - that she accidentally read a serious out of order.

Personally, I don't really care if I read a series in order, but Jazz, well, the poor girl has issues. Could you help her out a little? You know, maybe instead of pretending like your books are stand-alones so they appeal more to people like me, you could say, I don't know, maybe put a little note on the front cover saying "HEY! YOU CAN'T READ ME YET, BECAUSE YOU DIDN'T READ *insert book title here* YET, AND SHE COMES FIRST!!!" or even better, "JAZZ! DON'T READ ME UNTIL YOU READ *insert book title here*" See, that wouldn't bee so hard, would it? (*side note*Nora Roberts is excluded from this paragraph*end side note*)

So, what do you say, Romance Authors, do you think you could give the series' a rest for now? Maybe you could pen just one book that wasn't related to any other, for any reason, and then put that particular pen aside. Permanently. You know, use a fresh pen for each story. You get what I'm saying, right?

And if you just absolutely cannot write one book without connecting it to another, in any way, shape or form, could you maybe, for my sanity Jazz, put a little note on the cover, or right inside the book?

I'd forever be grateful.

Thanks so much,




Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Red Lily by Nora Roberts.

Hero: Harper Ashby
Heroine: Hayley Phillips
Category: Contemporary, Paranormal
Page Count: 287 pages
Grade: B+

A Harper has always lived at Harper House, the centuries-old mansion just outside of Memphis. And for as long as anyone alive remembers, the ghostly Harper Bride has walked the halls, singing lullabies at night...

Hayley Phillips came to Memphis hoping for a new start, for herself and her unborn child. She wasn't looking for a handout from her distant cousin Roz, just a job at her thriving In the Garden nursery. What she found was a home surrounded by beauty and the best friends she's ever had - including Roz's son Harper. To Hayley's delight, her new daughter Lily has really taken to him. To Hayley's chagrin, she has begun to dream about Harper - as much more than a friend...

If Hayley gives in to her desire, she's afraid the foundation she's built with Harper will come tumbling down. Especially since she's begun to suspect that her feelings are no longer completely her own. Flashes of the past and erratic behavior make Hayley believe that the Harper Bride has found a way inside of her mind and body. It's time to put the Bride to rest once and for all, so Hayley can know her own heart again - and whether she's willing to risk it...

Holy goodness, I really enjoyed this book. But for the sake of I'm too lazy to really get into a long winded review on this book, I'm going to take a page out of Holly's book and just tell you, the good, the bad and the ugly about this here book...

The Good: The characters and the friendship. This book was filled to the brim with great characters and great friendships. The friendship between Roz, Stella and Hayley was fantabulous. I loved reading about how much they cared for each other, how they all had each other's back and how they were all quick to let eachother know when they were being dumbasses. The patience Roz and Stella showed with Hayley was what really made me like them because had I been in their places, me and Hayley would have been scrappin' all throughout this book because of her stupid attitude. Gosh she got on my nerves, but beyond her, I also loved the friendship between Harper and David. I loved how well they understood each other, I loved the bond between them and just the way they were with each other. Steady and strong, they both were and I just loved the friendship factor, Nora Roberts writes her best stuff when she's writing about strong friendships and family.

Another good is the overall story. I loved how the romance took a backseat in most of these books but was still there. I loved the bigger story being told, the mystery behind the ghost and I loved watching the crew getting closer and closer to finding out who she was and what happened to her and then righting the wrong. I thought the story about the ghost was most interesting and it definitely had me intrigued from the jump. Good stuff.

The Bad: All the plant talk. I guess it sort of fits in with what they're about, being gardeners and all but all the plant talk was wasted on me because I skimmed most of it not being a plant person myself but hot damn was there a lot of plant talking or what? I could have planted my own garden from the descriptions in this book, but like Mitch, I can't plant a Chia Pet...so I'll leave all the plant business to Roz and Harper.

The Ugly: Hayley. Can the girl get on my nerves or what? With all of her mood swings, her bitchiness and just her I've-got-through-this-on-my-own-and-don't-need-a-man-to=help-me attitude drove me absolutely bonkers! I'm still debating on whether she's a candidate for the TSTL heroine title. She just got on my hot damn nerves and throughout a whole lot of the book, I kept thinking, "Are you sure you love her, Harper?" Because seriously, the girl got on my hot damn nerves.

As a whole, I really enjoyed this book and this series. It was a little slow to pick up but when it did, it took off. Thanks for the pimp, Nicks and Holly, I enjoyed these books a great deal and this book in particular, this story closed out the series on a perfect note, everything was tied up in a neat and tidy bow and I was one happy camper!

Dude, so much for being lazy, it's still one long ass post! lol.

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Demon Angel by Meljean Brook

For two thousand years, Lilith wrought vengeance upon the evil and the damned, gathering souls for her father's armies Below and proving her fealty to her Underworld liege. Bound by a bargain with the devil and forbidden to feel pleasure, she draws upon her dark powers and serpentine grace to lead men into temptation. That is, until she faces her greatest temptation—Heaven's own Sir Hugh Castleford...

Once a knight and now a Guardian, Hugh spent centuries battling demons—and the cursed, blood-drinking nosferatu. His purpose has always been to thwart the demon Lilith, even as he battles his treacherous hunger for her. But when a deadly alliance unleashes a threat to both humans and Guardians in modern-day San Francisco, angel and demon must fight together against unholy evil—and against a desire that has been too long denied...

As I said before, I've been hearing wonderful things about this book in particular and this author in general for quite some time. However, I have to be honest and tell you I probably wouldn't have bought this book if I hadn't of won the contest at The Good, The Bad and The Unread, for two reasons:

1) I thought it was a historical, and I haven't been in the mood for one of those in years. Though the first 2/3 or so of the book is set in the 12th Century, it's actually a contemporary. I didn't realize this until after I started reading it, though.

2) I haven't been in the mood for a paranormal..at all. I just haven't been interested in things that go bump in the night.

Since I'm far too lazy to write up a summary of this myself, I'm borrowing Jane's from Amazon.

Lilith is the daughter of Lucifer who has spent centuries getting men to kill themselves at her suggestion. Hugh Castleford is a knight from the 12th Century who has spent the last two years guarding his liege's wife. Hugh has a bit of a crush on the young lady but is much too honorable to ever act on it. Lilith is busy luring men at the baron's home to their death. Upon seeing the purity of Hugh's soul, Lucifer orders Lilith to obtain it.

Unfortunately, Lilith is also intrigued by Hugh's soul and is so moved by his goodness that she begs Michael, an angel, to transform Hugh to an angel. Thus begins over 800 years of battling between Hugh and Lilith. They love, lust and battle until Hugh becomes disillusioned and chooses to Fall. Before Falling, however, he believes he must perform an act of courage that he had been to weak to do and that is to kill Lilith and release her from her servitude to Lucifer.

The Good: The world building was imaginative, sensual and amazing. I was pleasantly surprised by the way Ms. Brooks drew me into her fierce battle for souls and the fight between good and evil. I was also drawn in by the two lead characters, Lilith and Hugh. Though they came from two different worlds (literally) and were on opposite sides of an eternal battle, their connection to one another came across as not just sexual, but very emotional as well, which made their constant conflict all the more believable.

I also enjoyed the secondary characters (well, most of them..I could have done without Lucifer, personally) and the relationships they had with Lilith and Hugh. Colin, the vampire they both befriended despite themselves, Sir Pup, Lilith's hellhound, Savi, Hugh's roommate and even Auntie, the woman who once took Hugh in, were fabulous characters, and while they played a large part in the overall story, they in no way intruded on the focus of the main story.

The Bad:
There were too many questions left unanswered, I think. Part of the appeal of this book is it really makes you think. Nothing is tied up in a nice, neat little bow, there are questions left unanswered and things you have to figure out on your own. Which was good and bad. I felt there were a few too many things left unexplained. However, because this is the first book of a series, I'm willing to wait for the next book before passing judgment.

The Ugly: The pacing. As much as I enjoyed this book, I had a very hard time with the pacing. It took me three days to read this book, and it's only 400+ pages (which is unheard of for me). The story was very slow moving. At times, the pace would pick up and I'd be sucked in, unable to set it down, and then it would get bogged down again and I'd have a hard time giving it my full attention. I understand that a lot of the information imparted was important for the story and the basis of the world Ms. Brook created, but at times there was Too Much Information. I think, in all honesty, the story could have been 100 pages shorter and been better for it.

Overall, I adored the storyline, the world building and the characters. I can't wait for Demon Moon. I do hope, however, that the pacing will work better than it did in this one.

I think I'm going to give this one a solid:

4 out of 5

despite my issues with the pacing. It was that good.

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A Summer to Remember and The Slightly Sereis by Mary Balogh

Hero: Kit Butler
Heroine: Lauren Edgeworth
Category: Historical
Page Count: 361
Grade: C+

Kit Butler, Viscount Ravensberg, is cool and dangerous—one of London’s most infamous bachelors. Marriage is the last thing on his mind. But Kit’s family has other plans. Desperate to thwart his father’s matchmaking, Kit needs a bride...fast. Enter Miss Lauren Edgeworth.
A year after being abandoned at the altar, Lauren has determined that marriage is not for her. When these two fiercely independent souls meet, sparks fly—and a deal is hatched. Lauren will masquerade as Kit’s intended if he agrees to provide a passionate, adventurous, unforgettable summer. When summer ends, she will break off the engagement, rendering herself unmarriageable and leaving them both free. Everything is going perfectly—until Kit does the unthinkable: He begins to fall in love. A Summer to Remember is not enough for him. But how can he convince Lauren to be his...for better, for worse, for the rest of their lives.
Not even the most devoted gambler would take odds on this match as Mary Balogh surprises and delights yet again in an unexpected love story that will hold you in thrall until the last glorious page is turned.

This was my very first Balogh book and it was....okay. There were parts I really liked and parts that just irked me to no end.

First let me say that it bothered me that Kit was short! Well I don't know that he was necessarily short but it kept being repeated that he wasn't as tall as other men. Normally I'd be able to forget that fact and make my own tall hero in my head but it KEPT BEING STATED OVER AND OVER! Sheesh! But as Holly pointed out he could have just been average and the other men were tall and the heroine of the book was also said to be tall. But still. Ya know?

Also I didn't like that Kit was ALWAYS laughing, either out right or with his eyes. Now this isn't a bad thing for a hero but somethings should have some sort of a serious feel to it. Like when they first have sex? Yup, he had laughing eyes.

And Lauren? ALWAYS so cool and aloof. But the difference with her is we saw the reason why she was like that AND we saw her loosen up during her summer with Kit.

I really did enjoy the romance bloom with the two of these characters. They were just so completely different. And I loved how they were just completely honest with each other....for the most part. Of course they were honest about everything EXCEPT their feelings toward the end of the book.

But hey without that would we have gotten the great scene when Kit came for Lauren? What you want to know what happened? Well go read the book. I'm not spilling all here. lol.

Hero: Aiden Bedwyn
Heroine: Eve Morris
Category: Historical
Page Count: 342
Grade: B+

Like all the Bedwyn men, Aidan has a reputation for cool arrogance. But this proud nobleman also possesses a loyal, passionate heart--and it is this fierce loyalty that has brought Colonel Lord Aidan to Ringwood Manor to honor a dying soldier's request. Having promised to comfort and protect the man's sister, Aidan never expected to find a headstrong, fiercely independent woman who wants no part of his protection…nor did he expect the feelings this beguiling creature would ignite in his guarded heart. And when a relative threatens to turn Eve out of her home, Aidan gallantly makes her an offer she can't refuse: marry him…if only to save her home. And now, as all of London breathlessly awaits the transformation of the new Lady Aidan Bedwyn, the strangest thing happens: With one touch, one searing embrace, Aidan and Eve's “business arrangement” is about to be transformed…into something slightly surprising.

I LOVED Aiden! He was that strong silent type. Mmmm mmmm yummy. lol.

A man of honor he followed through on a dying soldiers request. To protect his sister at all costs!

Aiden had never seen a marriage for himself in his future, since he was a Colonel and was always in danger and moving around. But he had just started to think maybe he could have a family of his own, with a woman that was used to following the drum. No he wouldn't have love, but he'd have companionship and his own family.

All that shattered when he happened upon a soldier about to die, and promised him he'd protect his sister. It ends up being that marriage is the only way to save Eve.

Eve had no intention of taking Aidens offer of help and marriage. But when things get worse and she realizes she holds the fate to more that just her own future she doesn't have much choice. Especially considering her two foster children.

They both decide to enter into a marriage in name only. They will marry which will save Eve from a unhappy fate and then they will part ways. Forever....but as the day draws near that Aiden will leave Eve finds her heart breaking just a little. Thinking it will be the last time she ever sees him she watches him ride away.

But when the Duke of Bewcastle, Aiden's older brother, finds out about this marriage he sets things in motion that will change the type of marriage Aiden and Eve both thought they had entered into.

With a dragon of an Aunt trying to change everything about Eve, and Aiden trying hard not to fall in love with this strong loving woman he married. But of course that isn't in the cards for him.

Oh and Aiden with the foster kids? OMG sooooo heart warming.

Hero: Rannulf Bedwyn
Heroine: Judith Law
Category: Historical
Page Count: 342
Grade: B-

With his laughing eyes and wild, rakish good looks, Lord Rannulf Bedwyn is a hard man to resist. To Judith Law, a woman in need of rescue when her stagecoach overturns, Rannulf is simply her savior, a heroic stranger she will reward with one night of reckless passion before she must become a companion to her wealthy aunt. Imagine Judith's shock when the same stranger turns out to be among England's most eligible bachelors…and when he arrives at Harewood Grange to woo her cousin. Certainly, they had made no vows, no promises, but Rannulf never did forget his uninhibited lover…nor did she forget that one delicious night. And as scandal sets the household abuzz, Rannulf proposes a solution…but when Judith refuses to have him--in love or wedlock--Rannulf has only one choice: to wage a campaign of pure pleasure to capture the heart of the woman who has already won his.

Fist let me just say that I find it hard to believe that as innocent as Judith was Rannulf believed that she was an actress. But that said I guess it just goes to show how good of one she really could have been if she had pursued it. lol.

Okay so for some reason I'm drawing a blank on details in this book and I don't want to put off my review any more.

So I'll just say....there was an annoying younger brother to Judith that was the reason her family was becoming rapidly poor and she was forced to go as a poor relation and stay with her aunt and uncle with their snotty daughter. The only good thing was her grandmother was there and they got along great.

After the one night of passion and deception she allowed herself with Rannulf she never thought she'd see him again. So imagine her surprise when he shows up at her aunts house to call on her cousin. And imagine Rannulfs surprise when the woman he thought was an actress that he became a little obsessed with and that ran out on him was indeed a poor relation staying at the house of the woman his grandmother wanted him to marry.

Try as he may Rannulf cannot resist the pull between him and Judith. But to convince Judith to marry him ends up being a lot harder than he thought.

Hero: Joshua Moore
Heroine: Freyja Bedwyn
Category: Historical
Page Count:374
Grade: B-

Growing up with four unruly brothers has made Freyja Bedwyn far bolder than most society ladies. From feisty manner to long, tumbling hair, Lady Freyja is pure fire, a woman who seeks both adventure and freedom.
Adventure soon finds her on a visit to Bath, when a handsome stranger bursts into Freyja's room and entreats her to hide him. His name is Joshua Moore, Marquess of Hallmere, a man with a hell-raising reputation of his own who is quickly intrigued by the independent beauty. So intrigued, in fact, that he makes her a surprising request: to pose as his fiancée and help thwart his family's matchmaking schemes. For two people determined to be free, it's the perfect plan…until passion blindsides them both. For as Joshua sets out to achieve his complete seduction of Freyja, a woman who has sworn off love is in danger of losing the one thing she never expected to give again: her heart…
From the Paperback edition.

When I read A Summer to Remember Freyja was a big part of it. And I didn't like her, AT ALL! So I was not looking forward to her book at all.

But the chemistry between Joshua and her was sooo funny I definitely changed my opinion on Freyja. And we definitely got more clarification on what happened involving her in ASTR.

The storyline I thought was a little to like ASTR but I guess since the characters were so different (well the heroines were) it worked. Joshua and Kit actually had some similarities, in their characters. Both of them had those "laughing" eyes, yes the part I didn't like in ASTR was the same in this, but not as much. While Joshua did have a tendency to be amused at almost everything, he did have a serious side. Thank God.

What started off as a joke for the two of them. Pretend to be betrothed just so Joshua wouldn't have his grandmother play matchmaker ended up with true feelings blooming. And what was supposed to last one week ended up lasting a month and then more.

Right when they would have broken it off Joshua gets hit with a life changing charge and Freyja decides to stand next to him in this hard time. And what comes next is for you to find out when you read their story.

Hero: Gervase Ashford
Heroine: Morgan Bedwyn
Category: Historical
Page Count: 356
Grade: B+

Young. Ravishing. Exquisitely marriageable. From the moment he spies Lady Morgan Bedwyn across the glittering ballroom, Gervase Ashford, Earl of Rosthorn, knows he has found the perfect instrument of his revenge. But wedlock is not on the mind of the continent's most notorious rake. Nor is it of interest to the fiercely independent Lady Morgan herself...until one night of shocking intimacy erupts in a scandal that could make Gervase's vengeance all the sweeter. There is only one thing standing in his way: Morgan, who has achieved the impossible - she's melted his coolly guarded heart. For Gervase, only the marriage bed will do, but Morgan simply will not have him. Thus begins a sizzling courtship where two wary hearts are about to be undone by the most scandalous passion of all: glorious, all-consuming love.

My favorite of the series is tied between this one and Wulfs story. Both sooo great. But you know I think this one wins by a margin.

I loved how independent and sure of herself Morgan was. She meets Gervase and he is obviously trying to woo her and she plays cool and aloof. She does let her guard down a little with him in her time of need and he is the only one available. But when the cold truth slaps her in her face that she was just a pawn in a revenge plot against her brother she fights back.

Instead of just humiliating Gervase, Morgan decides to accept his marriage proposal make him fall in love with her and then very publicly break their betrothal.

Only she doesn't expect to find such a honorable and lonely man under his mask. And some of her hardest challenges is deciding if she is seeing the real him or another mask.

The only thing that wasn't so great about this book is it was very anti climatic. The book was full of drama and then the end was just blah kinda. But I still loved the book very much!

Hero: Alleyne bedwyn
Heroine: Rachel York
Category: Historical
Page Count: 342
Grade: C+

As the fires of war raged around him, Lord Alleyne Bedwyn was thrown from his horse and left for dead--only to awaken in the bedchamber of a ladies' brothel. Suddenly the dark, handsome diplomat has no memory of who he is or how he got there--yet of one thing he is certain: The angel who nurses him back to health is the woman he vows to make his own. But like him, Rachel York is not who she seems. A lovely young woman caught up in a desperate circumstance, she must devise a scheme to regain her stolen fortune. The dashing soldier she rescued from near-death could be her savior in disguise. There is just one condition: she must pose as his wife--a masquerade that will embroil them in a sinful scandal, where a man and a woman court impropriety with each daring step...with every taboo kiss that can turn passionate strangers into the truest of lovers.

Why did it take me forever and a day to get through this book!!! OMG it wasn't even bad, it had a really good story line and I loved both H & H. Maybe cause I was reading it right before Christmas and my life was crazy but.....never the less lets get on with the review.

So Alleyne is traveling with a very important letter to deliver to the front of the battle lines but on his way back he is shot in the leg.....and his horse knocks him off his back and Alleyne hits his head being knocked out cold.

It is there that Rachel York finds him when she is supposed to be out searching dead bodies for money.

Rachel had been a companion to an elderly woman when she was swept off her feet by a lying thieving man. He took her measly savings and when she had bumped into her old nurse turned whore he pretended to care for even them and stole their entire live savings. Now Rachel was staying in their home with four working women. And they were determined to get what was theirs back.

But when Rachel finds Alleyne she yells that it's her husband and she needs help. He is taken back to the brothel she is staying at and when he awakes he remembers nothing. He knows not who he is or where he is from.

Alleyne needs to pay Rachel back for saving his life and he is also not so excited to venture out into England now knowing if he has any family awaiting him or where they are. So he goes with Rachel to her uncles house pretending to be her husband so she can get her jewels that are her inheritance.

We all know what happens to fake marriages in romance novels. Right? lol. So I am sure I did no justice to this story but go read it and see the journey Rachel and Alleyne take and how he finds himself and his love.

Hero: Wulfric Bedwyn, Duke of Bewcastle
Heroine: Christine Derrick
Category: Historical
Page Count: 365
Grade: B+

All of London is abuzz over the imminent arrival of Wulfric Bedwyn, the reclusive, cold-as-ice Duke of Bewcastle, at the most glittering social event of the season. Some whisper of a tragic love affair. Others say he is so aloof and passionless that not even the greatest beauty could capture his attention. But on this dazzling afternoon, one woman did catch the duke's eye--and she was the only female in the room who wasn't even trying. Christine Derrick is intrigued by the handsome duke…all the more so when he invites her to become his mistress.
What red-blooded woman wouldn't enjoy a tumble in the bedsheets with a consummate lover--with no strings and no questions asked. An infuriating lady with very definite views on men, morals, and marriage, Christine confounds Wulfric at every turn. Yet even as the lone wolf of the Bedwyn clan vows to seduce her any way he can, something strange and wonderful is happening. Now for a man who thought he'd never lose his heart, nothing less than love will do.

With her trademark wit, riveting storytelling, and sizzling sexual sparks, Mary Balogh once again brings together two polar opposites: an irresistible, high-and-mighty aristocrat and the impulsive, pleasure-loving woman who shows him what true passion is all about. A man and a woman so wrong for each other, it can result only in the perfect match.

I really really loved, well liked soooo much it bordered on love, this story! I absolutely am in love with Wulf! I want to cuddle him. haha.

So he is the aristocrat that never breaks any rules and lives but the very high standards of the ton. All the time....Until he finds himself getting a little lonely now that all of his siblings are married off.

He usually loves to be alone but it's kind of different when you choose to be by yourself in a household of people and when your all alone in every house you own and there is not even anyone to try and escape from.

So very uncharacteristically Wulf finds himself accepting an invitation to a house party. Thinking it is a gathering of intellectuals he is shocked and appalled to find himself at a house party hosted to celebrate a chits betrothal!

Not only that but he cannot keep himself from a certain school teacher that is also at the party. Certainly nobody he would have ever rubbed shoulders with but for some reason every time she does something horribly inappropriate he finds himself shocked and very much drawn to her.

In this last book we see a different side of Wulf, we see him as a man not only a Duke. We see how he has always struggled with his roll in life, and what an honorable man he is. And how no matter how cold he seems....he has a heart, it can break and he can definitely love.

Overall Grade for the Series: B

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Black Rose by Nora Roberts...

Hero: Dr. Mitchell Carnegie
Heroine: Ms. Rosalind Harper
Category: Contemporary, Paranormal
Page Count: 291 pages
Grade: B-

Roz is a woman of independent means who thinks love is all in the past-but she's about to be taken by surprise.

Number-one bestselling author Nora Roberts presents the second novel of her In the Garden trilogy, as three women discover the secrets from the past contained within their historic home.

Book #2 was more enjoyable for me than Book #1 was. I'm sure it had to do with me liking Roz more than I liked Stella. She was an older woman who had lived a great life which was sometimes hard, sometimes good. It was great to finally meet people that were mentioned in the first book, like Harper's brothers and Roz's other sons, Mason and Austin. I enjoyed meeting and seeing them interact with their mother, it was a treat.

I loved reading about Mitch and his son and their little weekly date night. He's so cute. What I loved most about Mitch was how honest he was. That may have had to do with the fact that he's no longer unsure of what he wants and he's a lot more mature than most heroes, being almost 50 and all but I really, really liked Mitch. I loved how honest he was about his first marriage and taking his part of the blame in it and owning up to it. I loved how much he wanted to stick up for Roz but let her do it on her own because he knew it was what she wanted.

I loved how he understood Roz and still loved her anyway. She was a complicated woman, a hardheaded woman at times (which sometimes drove me up the wall) but I loved how he stuck by her because she was the one for him. What I loved most about him is that he didn't back down from Harper when Harper went over to his house, itching for a fight. I loved how even though he was pissed at Harper, he let him rant and rave at him and then let him sit and finish watching the game with him.

I loved when he said this line:

"I'll hold your coat, then you can hold mine."

I thought that was the most perfect thing to say to Roz's son after finding out the latest catastrophe that happened. It was so cute and made me fall in love with Mitch for Roz. I got all gooey inside for Mitch after reading that line.

It was fantastic!

Roz was a very strong, capable and admirable heroine. Being that she was older than your average heroine, I guess that was the only way to go but I really liked Roz. She was smart, funny and just great. It did grate on my nerves a bit that she just wouldn't lean on Mitch and her family the way they wanted her to, the way she just HAD to do and handle everything herself. But what I liked about her is that she didn't run away from calling herself an idiot after all was said and done.

The storyline was great, the flow of the book was a bit slow on the pick up but for the most part, this book was a great read. I'm glad I read it and I think most anyone would enjoy this book, if you and finish Blue Dahlia, then I know you'll like this book a whole lot better.

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Never a Lady by Jacquie D'Alessandro

Colin Oliver, Viscount Sutton, left his beloved Cornwall for London to find a bride-some comely, proper, wellborn lady to bear him an heir. Certainly not someone like Madame Alexandra Larchmont. Yes, she's the toast of the ton, and a rare beauty to be sure. But she's also a fortune-teller. And Colin has an excellent reason for keeping a sharp watch on this one . . .

The cards have warned Alexandra for years about a dark-haired stranger who would wreak havoc with her life, so when she sees him at a soiree, her first thought is to run. Unfortunately, she overhears a murder plot, and the only person she can turn to for help is a man she knows she should stay away from, a man who eyes her with an undisguised hunger.

But fate's strange turns are Alexandra's stock in trade. And if love is written in the cards, surely nothing is impossible!

I love Not Quite a Gentlemen so when I heard Colin (the older brother ) was going to have his story I was all excited. Until I started reading.

It wasn't as good as NQaG. Something was missing from this story. Maybe I had high expectations. Don't know. But I wasn't really into Colin and Alex as a couple. The story was just meh. My favorite parts were between Nathan and Colin. The two of them going back and forth. Colin stealing from Nathan's secret candy stash. Funny.

Grade: C-

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I Won! Woot!!!

Author Meljean Brook was recently a guess blogger at The Good, The Bad and The Unread (I'm a total Sybil fangirl, btw) and she was holding a contest. One lucky winner would receive an ARC of Demon Moon, which is being released in June of this year. And I won!


I love free stuff.

Her first novel, Demon Angel, was just released this month and looks fabulous. She's been getting great reviews, too. See Dear Author and The Best Reviews. Even Bam gave her a raving review. High praise indeed.

Buy Demon Angel here.

You can also visit her website and her blog (which I stalk now and then).

Thanks, Meljean! I'm so excited!

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Tuesday, January 9, 2007

I'm soooo excited!!!

Yes it's almost here! Natural Born Charmer is going to be out on February 6th. I am soooo freaking excited. Start collecting your pennies now ladies, lol, cause I'm almost positive it's hardback. But it will so be worth the money.

Have you all read the sneak peek? It was in the front, or back, of the paperback version of Match Me If You Can. Sooo funny. I know I'm gonna love me some Dean, and Blue? She sounds kick ass.

And if you haven't read the Sneak Peek click here to do so. Go on, do it...NOW!!! LOL...

So who else is as excited as me??? Ugg, all this reminds me that I lent my SEP books, all but Match Me If You Can, to a co-worker over a year ago and still have not gotten them back. She got transferred to another store and she said she'd mail them and hasn't! I am so not ever lending books out again.

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I Need Help!

I'm in a terrible reading slump. Horrible, even. I haven't read a new book in almost a month, and the re-reads I've been doing have been few and far between.

I recently picked up a new Iris Johansen book that I read a chapter of and put down. Same with the first book in Nora Roberts Circle trilogy. I just can't get into them. I can't get into anything.

So, I'm coming to you, lovely readers, for some book recommendations. I can't tell you what I'm in the mood for, because to be totally honest, I'm not in the mood for anything.

What have y'all been reading lately? Anything that will get me out of my slump? Something that will peak my interest?

I'm heading to Borders tomorrow to use the gift cert I got for Christmas. Can you give me something good before then? PLEASE?!?!?!

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Friday, January 5, 2007

Just Some Random Things.....

....that have been irritating me lately.

I love reading. I love romance novels. So do the other girls here at SF. That's why we started this blog, because we wanted to share with you our favorite books.

That's all this is. A place to share our love of Romance novels, our opinions of them. And that's all they are. Opinions. Everyone has one. An opinion, I mean. Some people will agree with ours, and others won't. Personally, I don't care one way or the other if you agree with mine or not.

I know what I like. And I won't apologize for it. Nor will I apologize for NOT liking something. There are BILLIONS of people in the world who read. If you don't like my review, go find another. Don't read my bad review - or my good one, for that matter - then whine about it. Either read it and accept it, or read it and move on.

Something else for you to think about. Someday, I'd like to write a book. I'd like to become one of the millions who are contracted by a publishing house and see their own words in print. Sadly, however, I don't have the talent/drive/whatever for it. I realize this. I will never be an author. Why? Because I.Can't.Write. If I can recognize this about myself, why can't other people? Just because you put words on paper doesn't mean they came together to form a good story. Just because you, or an editor, think the story is good, doesn't mean I will. Just so you know.

I'm a critical reader. I figure that's my right, considering it was my money I spent to buy your book. I expect to be entertained, or engaged, or at the very least, amused. If I'm not, I won't buy another of your books. It's that simple.

But here's a tip for you authors out there. I DID buy the book. And just because I didn't like it doesn't mean someone else won't either. There's a saying in showbiz, "Even Bad Press is Good Press". Why? Because it gets your name out there. So next time you want to whine and cry because I said I didn't like your book, remember: I paid for it. And because I did, you'll have money in your pocket. And though I didn't like it, I put your name here, on my blog, where anyone could see it. And other people saw it. And those other people might decide to buy it, just to see if they agree with me, or it's as bad as I say. And who knows, that person might like it. So then they'll review it on their own blog, positively. And then someone else will buy it. Do you see the trend here? I'm helping you, even though I didn't like your book. Why don't you try to be grateful? Even better, why don't you read my review, and see why I didn't like it. Then maybe think for a minute about if I have a valid point. Constructive criticism can be good, you know.

But even more importantly? I'm not going to go away. And neither are the hundreds of other review blogs out there. And if one of us does close down, well, five more will crop up in their place. Just something for you to think about.

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