Now, let's try to get my December reads list over with :P December was kind of a rough month for me. It started off really well and then, it just lost momentum. Part of it was the holidays and therefore, work parties and general busy-ness associated to it... but another reason was simply that I needed a vacation. As a result, I kind of fell from my bandwagon and didn't log in my reads and books bought ^_^; So this might be an incomplete list, as my memory lately is quite faulty. In any case, I'm going to try to keep it short LOL. However, you know me...
This new fantasy series features Eli Monpress as the main character, a charming, wizard-y thief. Eli's purpose in life is to make a name for himself and that means getting a bounty of 1,000,000 gold standards. In order to reach this goal, he and his gang - a talented swordsman and a demonseed - are wrecking havoc wherever they go. Eli's latest scheme is the kidnapping of the King of Mellinor. Everything just gets more exciting when Miranda Lyonette, a wizard part of the Spirit court whose job is to apprehend Eli. Of course, everything goes off plan when the king's brother show up to steal the throne...
I picked up The Spirit Thief because I was looking for a new fantasy series and I love, love, love thief characters. There's just something enigmatic about them that I find attractive... and Eli Monpress is all that. He's such a fun character - charming, witty and surprising. Another interesting aspect of Eli is his interactions with his companions, Josef the swordsman and Nico the demonseed. There is definitively friendship between the three, but at the same time, they are all pushed by individual ambitions. So it's really a balance of friendship and selfishness... and while Eli can appear very selfish and whiny at times, there are key moments where his true personality and deepness appear.
Another thing that attracted me to this book was the fact that Eli was a wizard. However, a wizard in this world doesn't wield magic through spells. Instead, wizards are able to communicate and control spirits and everything has a spirit. Wood, trees, grass, moss, water, wind and the list goes on. So you can imagine how that can be handy. Anyway, while the concept is interesting, I think I would have preferred regular magic :P
The plot of The Spirit Thief is not bad either. Actually, it's quite interesting. Then again, I enjoy court intrigue and so perhaps that's why. So I enjoyed Eli's scheme to kidnap the king and demand a ransom and all for the purpose of increasing his bounty. I also liked Miranda Lyonette and what she stood for... and really, Eli and Miranda are engaging in quite a dance :P So a lot of positive in this book. However, where I'm hitting a wall is the writing I think. Either the writing or the voice. There is just something about it that stops me from completely getting into the story. Or perhaps it's the pacing? I just know that I wasn't totally engaged by The Spirit Thief, even though I liked many of its elements :(
By the way, ditto for The Spirit Rebellion and The Spirit Eater. I skimmed through most of both books and I doubt if I'll go back and read it properly ^_^; So I guess your enjoyment of this book will depend on your enjoyment of the author's writing style.
Hmmm, I'm not really keeping this short, right?
Harry Morant is the by-blow of an earl who was mistreated by his stepfather as a child, but luckily saved by his great-aunt and later went to war with one of his half-brothers. However, war is now over and Harry decides it's time to settle down. He asks his aunt to find him a wife while he searches for the right property to start his horse business. However, one glance at Lady Nell Freymore and he knows she's the one... Except she refuses to marry him!
Nell Freymore doesn't believe anymore. Her father was always full of promises and hope... and he died in the middle of the road, leaving Nell practically destitute. But one glance at Harry and maybe, maybe he can change her mind. Unfortunately she doesn't have time to find out because Nell is on a mission and needs to return to London to continue her search...
In November, I read The Accidental Wedding by Anne Gracie and really enjoyed it, so looked for her backlist. One of the books I hoped to read was His Captive Lady as Harry and Nell make an appearance in The Accidental Wedding and Harry has quite an interesting past.
Basically, there was a lot I enjoyed in this book. First the characters for their quiet strength and perseverance. I liked their relationship too and their instant attraction for each other. It's not attraction in terms of lust, but more like they fell under the spell of each other. It was all very sweet and even more with Harry's understanding. The whole plot was engaging and I liked that the characters actions were natural, but also understandable. Like there was nothing out of character, just to make the story moves along. Everything flowed well and the intrigue was well incorporated into the the storyline. It was really a pleasant romance; I can't say fluffy, because there was some serious issues, but but it wasn't overbearing and this is kudos to Ms Gracie's writing. Overall, an excellent job. My only complaint is I wanted more interactions between the Renfrew brothers. They share a difficult relationship that stems from their parents and I don't really feel like it was resolved. Plus, Harry and his friends (Luke and Rafe) all went to war together and were known as the Devil Riders - the name of the series. While we do meet Luke and Rafe, I didn't feel their connection. Yes, there is friendship between them, but there is something more that link them, which is why they all went to war together (they didn't meet in war, they enlisted together) and I wanted to see that. I'm not saying that I want a subplot about something that happened to them during war like the Black Cobra Quartet by Stephanie Laurens or the Legend of the Four Soldiers by Elizabeth Hoyt, because I don't. However, I feel there is something in this friendship and it could be expanded.
3) An Indecent Proposition by Emma Wildes: B
4) Alien Tango by Gini Koch: B+
Prudence Merridow is the oldest of five girls who are living under the thumb of their tyrant grandfather. When the man sprained his ankle and is confined to bed for several weeks, Prudence plots their escape to London where they seek the help of their great-uncle. Prudence's hope is for her beautiful sisters to make their debut and potential marry so they could access their inheritance and never return to their grandfather. However, their great-uncle Oswald worry that the girls will overshadow plain Prudence and therefore decides that only Prudence can make her debut and the others will have to wait till Prudence's future is secured. Except, Prudence is already affianced, but has promised to keep the engagement a secret... and thus, she fakes being engaged to the reclusive duke... only to have him and his rake of a cousin show up and foil her plans...
I actually owned this Perfect series a few years ago and tried reading The Perfect Rake and it just didn't work for me. This is why I was so hesitant to buy The Accidental Wedding, but then, I ended up loving it. So I decided to give The Perfect Rake another go... and it turns out my initial impression of this book remains ^_^;
Actually, the book isn't bad at all and there is a lot to enjoy such as the sisters relationship, their love for each other. The plot is quite good and well thought out, although at times it might seem like a lot is going on. Plus, the writing is there. So what's my issue with The Perfect Rake then? The romance. It just didn't work for me, I didn't feel the connection between Prudence and Gideon (the duke's cousin) nor the chemistry. Prudence's engagement just got in the way and it stalled the whole romance. I also thought Gideon's reformation was a bit too quick... and the fact that we kept being reminded that Prudence wasn't as pretty as her sisters was annoying. Finally, the secondary romance involving Charity, the second sister, and Gideon's cousin, was a bit bland ^_^;
After reading The Perfect Rake, I jumped to the fourth book of the series, The Perfect Kiss, because out of the 5 sisters, I liked Grace the best :) Grace has grown into a lovely woman and has no intention to marry a fortune hunter. Instead, she plans to travel to Egypt and discover the world. Her plans are pushed aside temporarily though when her good friend Melly Pettifer is forced to marry Dominic Wolfe against her will.
Dominic Wolfe hated his father and intended to let the family estate go to ruins. However, once he shows up at the estate, he realizes he cannot let that happen for the sake of the tenants whom his father has neglected. Unfortunately, the only way Dominic is going to inherit is if he marries Melly... unless the Pettifers break the contract. Only Melly's father is dying and is adamant that Melly marry Dominic believing the man will fall in love with his daughter and Melly is too shy to stand for herself - that's where Grace comes in.
I chose to read The Perfect Rake, because I really liked Grace character in The Perfect Rake. She was only 12 years old, but full of spirits. While her sisters worried about balls and men, she was more down to earth, a real skeptic and overall, fun :) In The Perfect Kiss, Grace has grown up and I felt she was a bit more subdued. Oh, her strong personality was still there, but it was a bit overshadowed by her doubts about finding happiness like her sisters. As for Dominic, he was a good hero in the rough around the edge kind. He came across a bit at a hard man and I wouldn't say he was mellow inside, but reasonable and who understood what a hard life was.
Overall, I thought The Perfect Kiss was a good read. I liked how Dominic got attached to his estate and the people. I also thought his past was very interesting and would have liked it to be a bit more developed. Where I have a problem is the romance once again. Not the attraction or interactions between Dominic and Grace, but the conflict. The reason why Dominic and Grace could not be together despite their love was that Dominic would then lose the estate. At first, he didn't care... and then, when he was ready to give it up, Grace wouldn't let him. I understood the dilemma and that there were people dependent on the decision, but I felt the selflessness was out of character. Instead, I expected Dominic and Grace to fight and find a solution to allow them to be together. I thought our H/H gave up a bit too easily and the selflessness just dragged down the romance :( In the end, there was a solution and it was actually quite obvious ^_^;
At 17 years old, Kylie McKay was a tennis star on the rise; however, a vicious attack damaged her knee permanently, putting an end to her career. After the attack, as a way to cope, Kylie left Kendall Falls, Florida, and ran all over the way to California... leaving behind a broken-hearted Chase Manning.
Ten years later, Kylie finally returns to Kendall Falls intending to build a tennis center in the memory of her father. However, construction is delayed when a baseball bat covered in blood is found... Perhaps the bat that ended Kylie's career. Things get more complicated when Chase, now a police detective, is assigned to the investigation. It soon becomes that neither Kylie or Chase have let go of their feelings for each other...
I was looking for the upcoming new releases when I stumbled across Ms Lamb True Colors. I thought this was Ms Lamb's debut novel, but I was wrong. However, the surprise came when I found out that True Colors was going to be Ms Lamb's third release with Berkley... I like Berkley as a publisher and thus, am usually aware of the authors associated with it and somehow, not one, but two romance books by Ms Lamb with Berkley have slipped through my radar. Okay... So that's why I picked up Cold Midnight... plus, it sounded like a promising RS book.
Overall, I thought the premise was promising and the case, potential. Unfortunately, the romance got into the way ^_^; Or more specifically, Kylie and Chase's relationship. Is there a difference? So Kylie construction crew unearths the baseball bat that might have been used in Kylie's attack and Chase is assigned to the case. Already, there's a problem because Chase is too close to the case, he cannot remain impartial and detached. Then, he is so not over Kylie. While investigating, he's trying to figure out the new Kylie and is pissed all over again that she abandoned him. I don't know, I felt like he was spending too much time on Kylie instead of on the investigation. He also blamed Kylie for abandoning him behind, which she did. However, in a matter of 2 or 3 months after she left, Kylie realized that she made a mistake and planned to come back to Chase, only to find out that he was getting married and was going to be a father soon. In that situation, I don't think you can put all the blame on Kylie. Sure she did a mistake, but really, she couldn't come back to him... and yes, the situation arise because Kylie broke his heart, but seriously, it doesn't excuse drunk sex. However, I think what annoyed me most in the end was the fact that Chase arrested Quinn. Yes, the clues pointed to Quinn and he had motives, but there were no solid evidences! Chase knew Kylie's reaction to Quinn's arrest wouldn't be favorable to their relationship and yet, he still went ahead with the arrest with the reasoning being that he could build a case for trial... and then, he was angry at Kylie for shying from their relationship. Seriously?!?! You just arrested your girlfriend's half-brother whom she loves and believes is innocent for an attack that changed her life without real, solid evidence... and when she feels guilty about your relationship, you are angry that she's choosing her family over you. Wow.
So yeah, this is why the book didn't work for me. I think that instead of focusing so much on this insane relationship, Ms Lamb could have developed the secondary characters better and make use of her premises and settings better. All this would have made this book more thrilling in my opinion. I mean, the case overall was interesting, but it could have been much better by simply shifting the focus a little. Still, I'm going to try more of Ms Lamb because she definitively showed promise to me :)
Anne Blake and Jake Rivard grew up in the same neighborhood, both raised by their grandparents, and friendship became love. However, all Anne wants is a normal and simple life, while Jake is always looking for the next adventure. Of course, this has never stopped Anne for falling into bed with Jake whenever he is back, although she knows there is no future for the two of them as they want different things out of life. Unknown to Anne though, Jake does not agree and this time is different. This time, Jake has come back with the intent of marrying Anne... He's given her ample time to settle down with someone, to make a life for herself and she hasn't and so they will together.
Silver and Spice was originally written by Ms Green as Jeanne Grant and has been picked up by Carina Press to be re-published. While I usually love free-spirit heroine thawing the stuffy hero theme, the reverse is not always true. I find that heroines can be more stubborn than heroes when it comes to adjusting their lifestyle.
Anyway, Silver and Spice was not totally what I expected it to be. First, from the blurb, I had no idea Anne and Jake knew each other. Then, I felt Anne was too unwilling to try, to simply listen to Jake and think about it. Playing hard to get is a ploy that can work sometimes, but in this case, that's not what was happening. Anne truly believed that she had no future with Jake because they were so different, although she loved him. She didn't even consider it and it was just annoying. Jake could be charming at times, but I didn't get him, I didn't understand him and thought he was a bit under-developed. I loved the fact though he came back to Anne. Overall, I just didn't hit it off with this book and ended up skimming through a lot of it :(
Prudence Kenyon agreed to embark in an affair with Case McCord even though he was very clear from the beginning that he was not interested in marriage because she believed he was the one... and perhaps she could have continued simply living with him as his lover. However, getting pregnant changed the rules. The last thing that Pru wanted was for Case to marry her out of duty, she wanted him to marry her for love... and thus, gave him an ultimatum. Unfortunately, Case thought she was bluffing and Pru walked out.
This is a pretty classic old-school JAK with a hero who's a bit of a jerk and a heroine that loves him despite everything. I thought the book would focus more on the relationship between Pru and Case, him trying to woo her back. LOL, I don't know what I was thinking since it's so not JAK style ^_^; The romance between Case and Pru was resolved quite rapidly, although Case should have grovelled a lot more for Pru to come back. And instead, the story delved in Case's past and his relationship with his family. Overall, the story was good and interesting... but it would have been better if it didn't remind me so strongly of The Golden Chance. There were a lot of similarities between the two books - hero estranged with family, the pregnancy, heroine's belief that hero would have done what's right because of pregnancy, etc. So much that I believe The Family Way is the precursor of The Golden Chance and that dampened my enjoyment of the book a little bit. Also, in the end, The Family Way could not really compare to The Golden Chance given the difference in length and the way the book wrapped everything up a bit too neatly and abruptly.
As a teenager, Heather Strand just couldn't see eye to eye with her father, probably because the two were so similar. As a result, she left Texas at 18 years old and wounded up in California... where she learned all about the family business - hotels. Now that her father has retired, Heather has come back to Tucson to take over the rein of the family business. To this end, Heather proposes a marriage of convenience to Jake Lavender, the man who's become her father's right-hand man. However, Jake is not interested in a marriage of convenience. Instead, he wants a real marriage and somewhere to belong.
Okay, a quick disclaimer. I picked this book up at around mid-December, exactly the time when I started growing restless and also knew that my vacation was coming up and this probably influenced the way I feel about this book. Anyway, I'm a sucker for marriage of convenience and thought it was interesting that for once, it's the man that wants more. I thought Call it Destiny started out really well and was very promising. However, it all went south when Heather found out that her father has already sold the business to Jake. I have to agree with Jake on this count that it was very arrogant of Heather to believe she could just come back and take the rein... Not knowing anything about the difficulties the resort has gone through while she was away. Plus, I don't know, spending so much time away, why would you come back for the family business that you didn't follow, pay attention to? Why not just start something of your own? At the same time, it was bad of Jake and Heather's father to keep the truth from her... I think they should have told Heather and then, Jake would have had more success just wooing her afterward. So anyway, Heather makes a mega scene at her wedding... and then proceed to run into her ex-boyfriend, the one she ran away with. That's where I started losing interest in the book. I personally think that Ms Krentz had enough conflict between the characters to focus on instead of bringing in a villain and external events. It just seems very superfluous... And when finally, Heather falls in love with Jake, it seems just too quick to be believable. Overall, Call it Destiny was just okay... but the last scene was cute :)
Okay, I'm cheating. The synopsis is from Goodreads LOL.
He had married for all the best reasons: They liked and respected each other; they had a lot in common and would be great together in business . . . and in bed; and marriage to Katy Randall would help make people forget just how rough Garrett Coltrane's past has been. But she had married for only one reason: love.
I think that part of the synopsis is wrong though. It's not that Garrett didn't want love, but he didn't consider it the best reason to get married. Garrett and Katy knew each other since Garrett used to be a stable hand in Katy's family. Then, he returned as a self-made man and Garrett and Katy went through a whirlwind courtship. However, after their wedding night, Katy realizes that Garrett doesn't love her and she wants to annul the marriage. Garrett convinces her to stay, see how things go and take a decision after a few months...
I picked this up because I didn't know what to read... but quite frankly, after xxx, I should have picked something else. I think I simply wasn't in the mood for this book and so ended up getting bored and not wanting to finish it ^_^; Sometimes, you need something familiar to get you through a slump... but it was not the case this time. That being said, I might pick up this book again in the future...
Edward Byron, Duke of Clybourne, and Lady Claire Marsden have been engaged ever since Claire has been a little baby, the marriage arranged by their fathers. Edward has ignored the engagement as long as possible, but it is now time for him to settle down. And why bother looking for a new bride when Claire, the daughter of an earl, has been raised all her life to be his duchess? However, Claire does not want to marry Edward... When she was a young girl of 16, Claire reached out to Edward, believing in their love... only to find him in the arms of another woman. At 21 years old, Claire is no longer deluded about their engagement... Unfortunately for Claire, her father doesn't want to hear about her refusal to marry. The only way she'll get out of this marriage is if Edward breaks the engagement...
At the end of 2010, I was on a historical romances binge. I read what is an unusual high number for me and enjoyed quite a few of them. When I picked up At the Duke's Pleasure, I thought it was going to be a perfect fit for me. I love arranged marriage and was looking forward to Edward and Claire getting to know each other which is what was hinted in the blurb. However, I was in for a few surprises. First, there was the fact that Edward was working as some kind of secret agent. I guess authors find this ploy handy to add some intrigue or mysterious element, but it's seriously being over-used and the problem is, authors are not coming up with any original idea. The secret agent is usually looking for a traitor or someone that did him/her wrong for revenge and being so secretive, it leads to misunderstand and ultimately, at the end, someone - usually, the loved one, is going to be in cross-fire/danger. So as soon as you learn about a secret agent, you know half the story already and it takes away from the book.
Then, I thought At the Duke's Pleasure would be about Edward and Claire getting to know each other. Instead, it's more about Claire getting into mischief, hoping it'll be scandalous enough to embarrass Edward and push him to break off the engagement. Unfortunately for Claire, Edward is used to scandal as his family is known to be "mad, bad, and dangerous to know" and therefore, he has a high threshold of tolerance. Instead of embarrassing him, she actually she intrigues him. The whole was supposed to be amusing, but it fell short for me because Claire seemed too childish. I mean, she is 21 years old and the oldest of three, so I expected a certain level of maturity and the way she handled the issue, it didn't show.
Overall, At the Duke's Pleasure was just an okay read for me, especially in comparison to "similar" storyline such as His Sinful Secret by Emma Wildes or Passions of a Wicked Earl by Lorraine Heath.
Cheating again LOL. From Goodreads...
Former Navy SEAL Sax Douchett returns to his home town and is hailed as a local hero. But starting over is difficult when he unearths a long- buried secret that reunites him with a past he's never forgotten. She's Sheriff Kara Conway, a girl who's always held a special place in his heart. But as he cautiously reconnects with Kara and bonds with her young son, another long-held secret in Shelter Bar threatens their second chance at a life together...
I'm not really up-to-date on Ms Ross books, not having read her last few releases. However, The Homecoming had favorable reviews and a strong voucher, Holly :) This book turned out to be a surprise for me, mainly because it is not quite what I expected. Ms Ross' latest releases have been mostly romantic suspense featuring SEALs and army men, a little a la Suzanne Brockmann. The Homecoming though was on the light side of RS and more of a small-town romance.
I really liked the pacing of The Homecoming. Perhaps because that's what I needed :P The relationship between Sax and Kara happened at its own pace and was well developed. I liked that they were attracted to each other, but took things slowly. They each had issues and things to figure out and were in no hurry to jump into a relationship. I also liked Sax' friendship with Kara's son, how Sax was considerate of the boy's feelings.
As for the suspense, it was light, but interesting... except the end when they arrested the villain. That was quite anti-climatic. However, I did like how everything was linked together as well as the balance with the romance. I'm not too sure how I feel about the whole case being made easier by Sax' contacts though... but oh well. Few things that didn't work too much for me. First, the side story involving Kara's mother and deputy. Not too interesting in my opinion. Second, Sax' ghosts - totally superfluous. Sax having ghosts is totally understandable considering what he went through, but have them being apparition? Perhaps if they did something... It felt like Ms Ross included them in the story because she had a plan in the beginning and then got side-tracked by something else and so the ghosts end up doing nothing ^_^;
Overall, The Homecoming was a very enjoyable read, especially if you enjoy small-town romances :)
Tired of waiting for her American fiancé to send for her, Lady Amelia Wellesley decides to surprise him, traveling all the way from England to Texas. Only when she arrives, she discovers that Carson Kitteridge is not the man she thought she knew. Even worst, he has no intention of marrying her and has only proposed in order to get under her skirts!! Unfortunately for Amelia, she cannot return to England unwed, as she would be ruined... luckily for her, Carson's older brother, Boone, is willing to marry her... However, can these two persons coming from such different and contrasting worlds find happiness together?
When I read a book by Ms Goodger, I expect something emotionally poignant. A story that will make my heart ache and my eyes tear. However, it didn't happen with A Christmas Waltz. It was missing that omphf factor, that little something that pull the readers into the story and make them care so much about the characters. Part of the problem is that it was very hard to sympathize with Amelia. Yes, it was unfortunate that she got sweet-talked by Carson and that she fell in love with a man that didn't exist. However, leaving England in pursuit of her fiancé was her decision and therefore, the situation was her own doing ^_^; Also, there was Amelia herself. To me, she came across as immature, spoiled and selfish. It didn't show too much in the beginning of the book, but when she was reunited with her brother and sister-in-law. Not wanting to assume the consequences of her action - the fact that she'd be ruined because of her decisions if she returned to England unmarried. Then, later when she did return to England with Boone, it felt like she didn't think of Boone. Didn't try to understand his discomfort with her obvious wealth or even help him adapt to his new surrounding. Not adjusting to her new situation either - wanting such a grand house, such a big staff, etc. It was a lot of "me, me, me" and that really got on my nerve... Mostly because despite her foolishness, she ended up with a great man. Really unfair. Luckily, what saved the book for me was Boone's character. He's pretty much Amelia's opposite, the strong and silent type, very observant, with a pure heart and so generous. He deserved a lot more than what he got in life. It was very heart-breaking, his childhood and his belief that he was not lovable :( I felt that Boone's character was well-developed and layered and his relationship with Carson was quite interesting.
The rest was pretty decent. The storyline was okay, I liked the setting and the book did have its moments. One that comes to mind is when Carson comes to Amelia and tells her to take care of Boone, that he deserves to be loved. That was very touching. So really, the H/H is what made and broke A Christmas Waltz and while Boone was a great hero, he unfortunately cannot make up completely for Amelia :(
15) Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rache Cohn & David Levithan: B+
16) The Lady Most Likely... by Julia Quinn, Connie Brockway and Eloisa James: B-
Books bought: +24
Books read: -16
TBR pile: +8
So, still here? LOL. I think I still need to work on keeping things short ^_^; But there you have it, my December reads!! LOL, now I can finally move onto full reviews :) I hope that I'll be able to review all I want, but I wouldn't bet on it ^_^; If there's any books you really want me to review, feel free to let me know and I'll prioritize them :)
A quick look at my numbers. I read quite a few more books than I thought, 16. I'm really surprised at the number, because I remember having a few bad days. Days where I really didn't know what to read, picking up books just to put them right down... and while those bad days don't reflect in the number of books read, I think it shows in my grades. Yes, I did read, but nothing came across as awesome and part of the reason might have been my mood when I read those books. I also bought much more books than I thought ^_^; And I know that 24 is not the exact number. In fact, I should have a few more to that number, as I know there are a few category JAK that I did not include in my Hauling Sunday post... However, what is a few more going to change? LOL.
So this is done :) Hopefully, this week-end, I'll be able to wrap-up all the 2010 posts that I wanted to write :)
Have a nice week-end!!