LOL, it seems to me I'll never be getting these posts "on time" anymore. So to remedy that problem? Easy, change the date! Instead of the first of the next month, you can expect my Monthly Reads posts from now on to go up during the third week of the month :) That way, it gives me time to focus on reviews of books I've just read instead of juggling both months together :)
This month, I'm really happy at the number of reviews I've written :) Plus, even though there's only been two editions, the Week-End's Minis feature is working! I got some nice mini-reviews out of it and this means I'll have less to review in this post :) I also think that instead of writing mini-reviews in this post, I'll just stick to my thoughts of the books? I'll just go with the flow and see :)
So let's take a look at what I read in January :)
I've been wanting to read Paradise by Ms Alexander for a long time because Ames really enjoyed that book. However, I haven't had the opportunity to, but stumbled across The Sweetheart of Prosper County and decided to give it a go after reading Alex's review. I really hope that Paradise is better ^_^; The story of The Sweetheart of Prosper County goes along the lines of: every year, Prosper County has a parade and Austin Gray thinks that if she can be the parade's sweetheart, the bane of her existence will stop harassing her and making jokes. So for Christmas, she asks for a rooster and intends to enter it at the fair contest.
Basically, I have mixed feelings about this book. I enjoyed the writing, the style and how time went by flawlessly. I liked how Austin got a rooster LOL. So unusual. Unfortunately, I wish there had been more development... for just about everything ^_^; I didn't really care for Austin very much. I thought she was immature and cared too much about what other people said, especially Dean - the bully. I also think that given how small the community is, some parents should have stepped up and deal with Dean's behavior. It is pretty classic of today's society, letting your kid do anything they want without real consequences and to have the parents buy their way out. There was potential in the relationships, Austin making new friends and her crush, but there just wasn't enough of it. It wasn't developed enough for me to really care :(
2) My One and Only by Kristan Higgins: C+
3) Twice Fallen by Emma Wildes: B
Upcoming Buddy Review.
4) Bride by Mistake by Anne Gracie: B+
5) It Takes a Witch by Heather Blake: B
6) Hidden by Kelley Armstrong: A-
7) Whispers in the Dark by Maya Banks: E
8) Island Heat by Sarah Mayberry: C
9) No One Left to Tell by Karen Rose: A
10) Destiny by Carly Phillips: C
Did you see the cover? I simply fell in love with it and after checking out the blurb, decided to give The Shy Duchess a go :) The story is about Lady Emily Carroll, the daughter of a viscount or an earl who desperately wishes for his daughter to make a good match. Lady Emily Carroll could be the belle of the ton, if only she wasn't so shy. In addition, her shyness is also mistaken for haughtiness, earning her the nickname of "Ice Princess." Nicholas, the Duke of Manning, knows his duty is to marry and have heirs and is therefore looking for a wife. While Lady Emily is beautiful, she is not the one, as she wouldn't fit in his boisterous and scandal-ridden family. However, circumstances throw them together and when they are caught in a compromising situation, both Nicholas and Emily have no choice. Especially since scandal is the last thing Nicholas wants... but sometimes, scandal is inevitable.
I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, I really liked the characters and the romance. Emily and Nicholas were both likable characters that you could cheer for :) The romance was sweet and I liked how it progressed, the fact that they spent time together, got to know each other and fell in love. It was a very natural process. Even though Emily was not Nicholas' choice of bride, he went into the marriage open-minded and gave Emily and their marriage a chance. He found out that Emily was a lovely woman on the shy side who was very eager to please and make him happy, that she wasn't at all haughty or snobbish. As for Emily, she found out that Nicholas was a good man who took his responsibilities seriously and loved his family.
What didn't work for me was the direction the book took. From the blurb, I expected the author to focus on Emily's shyness and the ways she would overcome it. I thought Nicholas would draw her out. Instead, once Emily and Nicholas were married, her shyness was barely mentioned and instead, the focus shifted to some external conflicts that appeared a bit out of nowhere and which I thought were superfluous and a little far-fetched :( In addition, when it came time for me to write this post, I could barely remember what were those conflicts about ^_^; In the end, I really liked Nicholas and Emily... Unfortunately, they weren't enough to keep me totally engaged and in the end, The Shy Duchess turned out to not be a memorable read :(
12) Mad about the Earl by Christina Brooke: B-
After reading No One Left to Tell, I was really in the mood for romantic suspense and therefore picked up Midnight Caller. The main appeal, aside from being RS, was that the hero was from the FBI and I was hoping for a story focused on the investigation.
FBI Special Agent Trevor Rivette of the Violent Crimes Unit has been pursuing a serial killer, who's been exsanguinating his victims, for over a year when he ends up in New Orleans. Trevor can't help but wonder if the end game taking place in New Orleans is a coincidence or a taunt from the killer given Trevor's past. By pure luck, Trevor figures out that Dr. Rain Sommers - psychologist, host of a late-night radio show and daughter of a deceased emerging rock star - might be a target... Or at least, the caller named Dante is a person of interest. In order to catch this killer, Trevor intends to ask for Rain's help to introduce him into the gothic circles... and potentially act as bait.
I thought Midnight Caller started out really well and was quite intriguing. Also, the storyline had some nice twists and surprises :) I also really liked Trevor's character and his background story. His reluctance to come back to New Orleans was totally understandable and I was glad to see him reconnect with his family and that the three siblings are moving forward. However, I didn't like the direction in which the storyline veered. The whole goth scene and vampiric feel of the case just didn't appeal to me. If anything, it turned me off ^_^; The romance also didn't work for me because of the lack of chemistry between the H/H, the fact that I didn't connect with Rain and therefore didn't care for her character and also, the timing and pacing of the romance. Finally, I was quite disappointed with the investigation aspect of Midnight Caller. There was just too much going on and therefore, we didn't have much of a feel of the investigation going on. And while I do believe in gut instinct, the way Trevor figured out that Dante was a person of interest in this case, by just happening to be listening to Rain's radio show? It just seemed a bit too coincidental and far-fetched to me.
That being said, Ms Tentler showed me enough potential in her debut novel that I will most probably give her another try :)
A couple of years back, I went on a Jayne Ann Krentz' binge and ever since, I've been collecting her backlist. Joy seemed like one I would enjoy based on the storyline. A.C. Reyson is celebrating his break-up with Daisy Middlebrook as he realized they didn't suit each other and both escaped from the marriage her parents were hoping for. Then Reyson meets Daisy's older sister, Virginia, and sparks fly. However, both have had bad marriages previously and have decided to take things slowly. Then, Reyson decides to take their relationship to the next level and whisk Virginia away on a Caribbean trip. During this trip, Reyson wins an emerald bracelet during a high stake poker game. He never expected this bracelet to put them in danger...
As you can see by the grade, I didn't enjoy Joy as much as I hoped :( It's unfortunate, because Joy had all the signs of a classic JAK, but it simply didn't deliver. Once again, I thought the beginning of this book was very promising. I liked how Virginia and Reyson were taking things slow, getting to know each other. However, once they went on the trip, the book went downhill. My main issue with Joy was with Reyson. At first, I thought he was very considerate taking things slow... the problem is that it didn't last. He started pressuring Viginia - to have sex, to move in together, etc. It wasn't done meanly or abusively, but I didn't like it nonetheless. He was short-tempered when he didn't get his way and he didn't seem to hear what Virginia was telling him... and that pretty much ruined the book for me. The other thing that didn't work for me was the suspense. I thought it was pretty obvious, not well integrated into the romance and the pacing was bad.
One thing I found interesting though is that Joy was first published in 1988. In the novel, the heroine had a really bad first marriage. Basically, her husband belittled her, made her lose all her confidence, even made her believe she was frigid and everything was her fault, etc. I found it interesting that even 20 years later, we still have heroines like Virginia in our contemporary romances. With all the advancements in technology we've made in 20 years, it seems that women/men relationships have not changed all that much...
If you're a fan of JAK and have not yet read Joy, my advice is just skip it ^_^;
15) A Lady Never Surrenders by Sabrina Jeffries: C+
16) She Tempts the Duke by Lorraine Heath: B+
17) My Wicked Little Lies by Victoria Alexander: B+
Upcoming Buddy Review.
Books bought: + 6
Books read: -17
TBR pile: -11
Woohooo! Double digits negative number in the TBR pile! This was definitively a great start to the year 2012! Obviously, there were some duds, but it was nicely balanced by some great reads :) Overall I'm really happy with how much I've read, how much I bought - although truth be told, I wished this number would be higher... Withdrawal people! LOL - and I'm happy to have gotten back in a good reviewing rhythm. Hopefully, February will be as good :)
P.S. - Last day to vote for this week's WEM! Check out the poll on the sidebar to see what are the choices :)