Friday, July 10, 2009

Review: Bending the Rules by Susan Andersen

Where is everyone?!? I know some are busy preparing for the RWA, but still... very, very quiet on blogland for the past few days... perhaps everyone is getting ready for their vacation?

Lately, I found myself being addicted to Bejeweled again on Facebook. I really don't know why, but I like it. I like that it's so short, one minute. It brings back memories too, since I used to play so much when I was in college. My only complaint is that the scores keep being erased after a week. So annoying!! I think it should be kept somewhere: all-time best score. Ah well. Only problem is that I'm really addicted to it ^_^; Spends way too much time playing... just ask Ames ^_^; It's cutting in my reading and blogging time, so I must stop... or at least reduced... on the hand, it's free LOL :P

*Okay, I just wasted 20 minutes again, playing... See what I mean?!?

I probably should get on with the review if I wished to have it done before tomorrow ^_^;

Bending the Rules by Susan Andersen
published by HQN Books in July 2009

He Could Be Her Fantasy Man
Tall, dark and intense, Detective Jason de Sanges excites all kinds of fantasies in Poppy Calloway. But when she discovers the hot cop has a cold heart for kids at-risk, all bets are off. Free-spirited Poppy suggests the three teens caught spray-painting a Seattle neighborhood be given art-related community service. By-the-book Jason thinks they should pay, not be rewarded!

If He’d Just Bend A Little

With the men in his family always in the slammer, Jase was raised in foster care. He knows what it takes to walk the line: following the rules. And his number one self-imposed rule? Avoiding his hunger for sexy, irresistible Poppy, who challenges him on everything. Especially that number one rule...

Genre: contemporary romance
Series: The Sisterhood Diaries trilogy, Book #2

The Story: Ava, Jane and Poppy are three childhood best friends who inherited an old mansion from their older lady friend. The previous year, they had to deal with a robbery and in the process, met Detective Jason de Sanges... Let just say their meeting didn't go too well, since de Sanges was given the case when Ava pulled some strings with the mayor and captain to get the best detective on the case. Still, it didn't stop the sparks flying between de Sanges and Poppy - especially since Jase looks exactly like Poppy's teenage fantasy, the Sheik :P
Poppy and Jason meet again in Bending the Rules when they are both present at the Merchant' Association meeting which has been called to decide the fate of 3 teenagers who were caught tagging the buildings and businesses in the neighborhood. Poppy suggests that the teenagers clean off their tags and paint a murale over it under her supervision as a way to teach them responsibilities and consequences as well as giving back to the community. Jason is dead set against it because he considers it reward to the teens, not punishment... and he knows that you need a strong grip to handle teens in order for them not to walk the wrong path.

In the end, Poppy gets what she wants, working with the three teens... with Jase. Heat and attraction flare, Poppy and Jase get to know each other. However, everything gets more complicated when one of the teens witnesses a robbery related to Jase's case... and the thief wants to eliminate the witness...

My Opinion: I like Susan Andersen books. Not all of them, but most of them and I'm glad to report that Bending the Rules was fun and enjoyable :) It wasn't a wowzer, but it was fun and I think better than the first installment in this series, Cutting Loose.

I have to admit that I didn't remember Poppy and Jason very well ^_^; When I started reading, I was actually wondering which one Poppy was - the rich girl (Ava) or the other (Poppy)... and I had a vague memory of Jason. However, once I could place them back, I had no problem enjoying the rest of the story :)

I like Poppy and Jason's characters. Basically, we're back to one of my favorite theme where Poppy is the happy-go-lucky heroine and Jason, the stuffy shirt. Poppy is an artist, designs greeting cards, draws boards (the ones that announce menus and specials) and teaches to unpriviledged kids. She's used to struggling and has only recently stopped struggling for money when she sold her greeting card design to Shoebox. I liked her character because she's a happy woman. She sees the good side of everything, willing to give people second chances. She has a heart of gold, but she's not someone one can use, take advantage of - she has a strong backbone. I liked the discipline she exhibited with the teenagers :) As for Jason, he's a little bit stuffy. Not rich/aloof stuffy, but more like he has a lot of self-control and discipline. This is mainly due to the fact that all the men of his family has been small-time criminals and law offenders and he's determined not to walk in their footsteps... As a result, I think it made Jason a little rigid in his convictions, but still, he's a good and yummy man :P

Poppy and Jason's relationship was an interesting one. It wasn't one where Poppy thawed out Jason... it was more like tug of war :) Both start out not really liking each other, but sparks and heat win out. I liked that they cleared out most of their misunderstandings and got to know each other before they fell into bed together. I liked their arguments and how one drove the other crazy :) In any case, I quite enjoyed the tug of war :)

The whole book was quite interesting. I enjoyed the Poppy's interactions with the teenagers. I also liked that the three teens that Poppy had to supervise were so different from each other - coming from different backgrounds. Ms Andersen did a good job not emphasizing too much on them. The added storyline of one of Poppy's protege was interesting... a bit superfluous perhaps, but it showed how much Poppy cared and how involved she is. One of my favorite elements in this book though was Jane, Ava and Poppy's interactions together. It's always fun to see best friends interact with each other - the memories, the past they share and how loyal they are. I really felt the connection between these 3 grown women.

Overall, I think that the book was well balanced and enjoyable. I especially liked Poppy and Jason and I think they stole the show as it should be. Readers are given a little bit of insight on Ava and probably her hero... very light sequel-baiting that works :) Can't wait to read her story :) If you're looking for something fun and quick, this might be it :)

My Grade: B


  1. K, I obviously didn't remember much either, til I read your review. But I remember liking Cutting Loose. Putting this on my list. Thanks!

  2. Great review Nath.
    Already have it & I'm glad I read your review. I like that theme too.
    Especially when the stuffed shirt loosens up.

  3. have it on order, but do I need to read Cutting Loose first?

  4. I don't remember details of Cutting Loose but I do recall that I enjoyed reading it which is more than I can say for Bending the Rules. Can't put my finger on what but something was off when I read this book -- either my mood was out of it or it was just too simple for me.

  5. I don't think I've read something by Susan Anderson yet. Maybe I should try this one but then I would want to read the other one first. Which means: two more books. Oh noes! lol

    Anyway, I actually wanted to comment on Bejeweled. Bad little time sucker, isn't it? The only good thing for me there is, as much as I can be crazy about playing just one game and ending up with "where did the time go?" I know it'll fade with time. Though how much time that'll be for me is always the question. ;)

  6. I have both Cutting Loose and this one but I was planning reading this one first. Do you think it would matter if I don't read CL first to see where these characters meet or does it not make a difference?

  7. Lori - I'm glad I'm not the only one who doesn't remember much, LOL :P Hope you enjoy Bending the Rules :P

    Mary - Thanks Mary :) I love this theme, but then, in Bending the Rules, the hero doesn't completely thaw out... but still, close enough :P

    (psst, Kristie is right, you need a blog :P It's unfair that you know everything that is happening to us and we're not aware of what's happening to you :P)

    Kris - Hey Kris... Not really, I think that Cutting Loose give you some insight, but Ms Andersen did a good job at not linking the two books too much. I think you won't have any trouble following the story :)

    Tabitha - Awww, sorry you didn't like this one :( See, I thought that Cutting Loose was somewhat meh, but I like Ms Andersen.

    Sometimes, simplicity in a plot is nice. Authors nowadays tend to put too much in their books ^_^; Do you plan to read Ava's story?

    Taja - LOL, well if you're a serial reader, yes, you would need to :P Otherwise, I think this stand alone quite well on its own.

    Susan Andersen had some oldies that were stand alone: Exposure, On Thin Ice and Obsessed, although those are more romantic suspense... Just For Kicks is a good one and it's loosely connected to Skintight, but could be a stand alone ;P

    All of her books are slight connected to each other, but again, you don't really need to read the first on. Although of course, it's up to you :)

    Kristie - I thought the plot in this one was more interesting than CL. I say you don't really need to read CL first.

  8. Looks like a solid read, nath -- great review, I'm adding to my contemp/rom list.

    It seems as if summer/work/real life has everyone going haywire (besides the RWA)... at least I know I'm going haywire! Reading, though - can't let that go south.

  9. LOl about having my own blog. It's one think to react to creative people - quite another to be amusing & informative on my own. Besides, unless I can come up with a really good site name it ain't happening.

  10. Simplicity in a plot is nice and I have enjoyed books with simple plotlines. Some reason, BTR just didn't cut it with me though. But I like Susan Anderson's writing so one meh book wouldn't stop me from continuing her books. Yes, I do plan on reading Ava's story. I'm kinda intrigued to find out if her hero is the same man who had a a brief appearance in BTR!

  11. Great review!

    I'm really enjoying that cover art. Very compelling.

  12. Hilcia - I thought it was :D Hope you enjoy it :D Hope you'll find more time to blog as well :D but yeah, reading is the most important LOL :P

    Mary - I'm sure people will be interested... hey all I'm doing is say what's happening in my life and what I thought of the books I read... LOL, you have a son and tennis, I'm sure you'd have some fun stuff to tell :D

    Tabitha - I think I know what you mean... I did feel like something was slightly off... but not enough to detract my enjoyment.

    I hope her hero will be the guy who made a brief appearance... Lots of groveling in sight, LOL :P

    Kate - Thanks :D and yes, it is a very nice cover :D

  13. This sounds cute. Good to know that I don't have to read the first in the series first. :)

  14. Tracy - LOL, I liked it :D No guarantee that you will though :D and yes, I think that Ms Andersen usually does a good job at connecting her books, but not excessively... so they can be read as stand-alones.

  15. This one is right up my ally. I am glad to see you enjoyed it! I haven't read the Cutting Loose. Do you think that will be a problem?

  16. Jill - I hope you enjoy it, Jill :)

    I think you won't have any trouble following the story without having read Cutting Loose :D

  17. Nath,

    Do you get Susan Anderson's newsletter? I just received one of her newsletter today saying that there's NOT going to be a story on Ava as decided by HQN! How can a trilogy not have the 3rd book?!

    She said readers can email her editor for thoughts and comments. I'm getting my email ready, ha.

  18. Tabitha - Hey Tabitha!! I got to the newsletter and I was just shocked!! I mean, seriously? I think that out of the three, Ava was the most interesting character... so for her not to get a story... Seriously? LOL, i guess Ms Andersen should have done more sequel baiting ^_^;

  19. I agree! I was looking forward to Ava's story since the first book! How can the publishing cut her out after the little bait we got with the club scene?! OMG. That is just so wrong.

  20. Tabitha - Totally agree with you!! I want to know what happens to Ava!

    I guess the books in this trilogy didn't sell very well, but still. I think it would have helped if the release dates were closer to each other.