Thursday, March 30, 2006

Reckless Conduct by Susan Napier

Harriet Smith has decided to turn a new leaf and stop being the mousey, dependable, predictable and utterly boring secretary she has been up to now. After the devastating loss of all her family, she takes her inheritance and decides to blow it all on living a fantasy life. She gets a complete makeover and discovers a new attitude that has everyone around her in a tizzy, especially her boss.

Marcus is the only one of them that remembers exactly what happened three months ago on New Years Eve, and it's a night he will not soon forget. The little mousey secretary has gotten under his skin and when she shows up at her new assignment looking like a blonde bombshell it takes a lot of discipline to keep himself from just grabbing what he feels is already his. Now, all he needs to do is make her fall in love with him before she does anything more rash than buy a Porsche on her lunch break.

Very cute, very smooth read. At times I just wanted to kick Harriet in the bum to get her out of a path towards self destruction but Marcus was on top of things and he got the I love yous said before things got out of hand.

Grade: B+

Monday, March 27, 2006

Death Dance by Linda Fairstein

We are back visiting our favorite trio of investigators. Linda Fairstein has created a group of characters that make you feel as if you are coming home every time you visit them in her stories.
For those of you that are not familiar with Alex Cooper and her sidekicks here is the run down:
Alex Cooper
is from the DAs office. In her past you can find tragedy when only hours before getting married her fiancee was killed in a car accident. She has stayed emotionally unavailable for a long time.
Mercer Wallace is a detective and is married to Vicki they have a baby boy that is a year old.
And then we have Mike Chapman who suffered a loss of his own in the last book. His girlfriend, who had won a battle with cancer died in a freak skiing accident. It had taken him awhile to finally accept his feeling for Val when he lost her. Mike grew up the son a cop and 48 hours after his father retired he did of a heart attack. This took Mike from academia to the police academy. Now he is back on duty trying to recuperate from his loss.

The main case our trio is working on is the murder of a dancer at the Metropolitan Opera. She is found dead on a roof ledge and the list of suspects just gets longer by the hour. Seems production is not running smoothly at the Met and everyone wants a piece of the pie. When we finally discover who dun it, it doesn't come as a complete surprise but the explanation is well setup to have us saying "Innnteresting"

There are two other cases that add a little humph to the story. A serial rapist that kills his victims at the park and leaves no DNA evidence finally gets nabbed because he chose to attack a jogger running her dog. When the dog bites the assailant, Alex has the pooch's teeth swabbed for DNA.

The other case really doesn't get resolved and I was curious as to how that was going to pan out. So Fairstein leaves a loose end that will keep us on the look out for their next tale. A Turkish medical resident drugs and rapes two Canadian tourist who were staying at his house. Seems he had a thing for rapping unconscious woman and recording them. Alex gets a judge we had met previously in another of her cases, who is a total prick! He lets the perp out with out bail and within 24 hours he had fled the country and gone back to Turkey. This does not stop him from trying to clear his name by threatening Alex and sending her a charming incendiary letter that burns off some of Alex's hair. Yeah, that's going to work!

I discovered Linda Fairstein last year and I have yet to be disappointed in any of her books. The trio works like a well oiled machine but each have their own quirks. The friendships they share make the books warm and charming, regardless of how many dead bodies pop up!

Grade: B+
Format: Audiobook

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Anthology - Howl

This Anthology is more focused on stories for Halloween, but the themed plot doesn't take from the stories, regardless of when they are read.

Jet Mykles - Leashed: Two For One Deal: Meg Grey is a witch in need of some help so she casts out a guardian spell to attract shifters that might help her but what she ensnares are a werewolf (Rudy) and a feline (Michael). It seems that Meg is the daughter of a very powerful witch and there is a warlock that wants to recruit her into his coven. When Roland steals Meg's power, Michael and Rudy have a way to link them together so that she can use their power as a conduit to regain her own. Very sexy short story but it left the story open ended. Didn't bother me too much though. (B+ )

Raine Weaver - Wolfe's Gate: Scarlett Grier is caught in a storm and when her Miata ends up in a ditch she seeks refuge in an ancient castle owned by Grayson Wolfe. She is definitely attracted to the mysterious man that locks her in a room, for 'her safety'. That night she witnesses several of Gray's 'guests' having a free for all sex party in the yard and she gets turned on but when the morning arrives and she is attacked by one of Gray's guests she hi tails it out of there quickly. When she arrives at her grandmother's house she discovers that she has died and her cousin Lucas has taken over the place. She spends the rest of the day fantasizing of Grayson. That evening she returns to the castle with seduction in mind and it doesn't take much to convince Gray, regardless of the fact that she is human and he is very much a Wolf. The story is really just a quick romp without promises of eternal love. When Scarlett is threatened, Gray saves her from an enemy wolf and she tells him that she is falling in love with him but the tone is so light that it is acceptable and believable, which is nice. (B )

Jeigh Lynn - All Hallow's Moon: This was the flop of the Anthology. I had not read something this bad since I use to read Roswell Fanfiction. The Hernandez family is having their yearly Halloween party and Devon 'Dash' Rigotti (their adopted son) is back from school to attend. When his brother arrives from his residency program, Dash gets all turned on over the scent he carries on him. Seems Alex is best friends with Dash's mate. Jill, who has been invited to this get together gets lost on her way and hits a wolf with her car. Of course she puts the animal in her car and then continues looking around until she finds a cabin of sorts to wait out the storm that comes in. It's there that she discovers the truth of her furry companion and then proceeds to have sex with the unknown mystery man. This story was so unbelievable it had me rolling my eyes before chapter four.I forced myself to finish it in hopes it would improve but there was no salvaging it. (D-)

The Anthology as a whole suffered because of the last story. If you are willing to pick this one up thinking that you are getting two stories instead of three you will not be disappointed because the first two stories were just so good, the book is worth picking up for just those.

Grade: C+
Format: ebook

Friday, March 24, 2006

Everyday, Average Jones by Suzanne Brockmann

Backtracking a bit on my way to reading Suzanne Brockmann's Tall Dark and Dangerous series, I picked up Everyday, Average Jones which is the fourth book in the series and the story of Lt. Harlan "Cowboy" Jones. It's so weird how Brockmann keeps these stories so separate from each other, not giving away anything that happened in the previous books.

The book starts as the Alpha Squad inserts itself on a rescue mission. They are picking up three hostages at a US embassy. One of the hostages is Melody Evans, who has disguised herself as a man to avoid being tortured or abused. When the team has to split up, Harvard and Cowboy team up to take Melody with them to safety. Melody immediately bonds with Cowboy with an underlining of attraction that blooms as soon as they reach safety.

Jump seven months after the fact and we have Alpha Squad getting ready for the FinCOM/SEAL counterterrorist training that is the backdrop to Harvard's romance. Since the team has been relocated to Virginia for a while, Cowboy decides to call up Melody, who lives in Massachusetts, regardless of the fact that she asked him to never contact her again (this after spending 6 nights of pleasure in his arms). He has not been able to get her out of his mind and has spent the time as a lost puppy searching for home, so this assignment gives him the perfect excuse to call her.

Melody has also been remembering Cowboy, but for a whole different reason. She is pregnant. When Cowboy calls she has no idea what to do and tells him to basically stay away, but Cowboy has other plans and shows up in Appleton, MA to find a very large, Melody. Being teh guy that he is, he is determined to do the right thing and marry her but she puts the stop to that idea. Now he has to find a way to convince Melody that he is just your Everyday, Average Guy. Not even in his dreams is this guy average! LOL!

The story was cute and Jones was one of the dreamiest of the team, but he also shows how very young he is. He really didn't want to get married and it was obvious that Melody knew it, so she was in no way going to let him sacrifice himself. But them she was also being pig headed by not wanting him involved in any aspect of her life. That was not going to happen! So the back and forth got on my nerves a bit, but it was still a sweet story.

Grade: B-

Thursday, March 23, 2006

All Night Long by Jayne Ann Krentz

Ever have a story where you are not really sure how to grade it? I was really torn with this one.

Irene Stenson suffered a tragedy in her life when at the age of 15 she finds her parents dead in her house. She had been out with her new best friend, Pamela Web, when she returned to find the grizzly scene. 17 years later she receives an e-mail from Pamela, who is the daughter of a presidential hopeful, telling her that she has information about the night her parents were killed. The incident was ruled a murder-suicide but Irene never believed that. Now Irene is a journalist and ready to confront her past.

When she gets into the small town of Dunsley, she checks into the local lodge that is run by one of the most curious characters she has ever met, Luke Danner.

Luke bought the lodge six months ago and is not really into the lodging business but it gives him the refuge he seeks to write a book away from his wealthy family, who believe that Luke is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after returning from the Marines.

When Irene goes to meet with Pamela, she discovers her dead, supposedly a suicide. Now her reporter instinct kick into high gear, because Irene knows that Pamela did not kill herself and whoever killed her parents, silenced Pamela before she could talk to Irene.

If I look at this story in small chunks I would have to say it was good, but in whole, it didn't do much for me, Irene suffers PTSD and has an issue with the dark but that is never resolved and yet it was discussed thoroughly in the book. Something happened to Luke 6 months prior that has his family all concerned over his mental health, but in truth, when we find out what it is, the incident is really not a big deal. So we are lead to believe that some personal tragedy has befallen him but no such thing. The actual mystery was very good though. The way we don't really know who done it until the very end was great. A well weaved mystery. The romance on the other side left the reader wanting. Each character on it's own was fine, even together, they were fine, but their backgrounds were just not right. It felt like something was missing.

Grade: C+
Format: Audiobook

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Blind Curve by Annie Solomon

Annie Solomon joins the short list of most exciting new author I have read in a while. Pamela Clare was the other one. Blind Curve is a romantic suspense that kept me glued to the story from start to end. There was definitely no pause, no slow spot, and no lag. This one was up there with the likes of Linda Howard and Suzanne Brockmann.

Danny Sinofsky is working a gun trade as an undercover cop but when he arrives at the warehouse something goes very wrong. The guy selling the gun ends up dead and Danny ends up blind. Seems like Danny suffered a stroke after being hit in the head a few days before and the outcome is complete blindness.

Martha Crowe is a mobility instructor and when Danny loses his sight, she is called to help him cope with his new blindness. But someone is out to kill Danny and having failed at the location of his undercover sting they come to his house to finish the job, expecting him to be defenseless. Danny might be blind but Martha isn't and when she walks in on the attempt to Danny's life, she becomes a witness. Great premise, huh? Well it gets better!

Danny and Martha are placed into protective custody but there is not much to protect if someone on the team informs their enemy of their location. Now Danny and Martha are on a race against time, trying to keep in front of the assassins while trying to find out who is the traitor in the department. The race takes them from making deals with a Mob boss to getting the FBI involved.

The narratives in this book keeps you on the edge and just turning the page to find out how these two will pull themselves out of the mess they're in. I had an issue with Danny and Martha's relationship. Martha is an ugly duckling and Danny is the beautiful Jock she just dreamed about when she was in high school. At times it felt as if Danny was just using her. I could not find credible that his feelings for her were actually real and not a response to her being the link between him and the seeing world. As soon as he became blind, Martha was his only real contact to the world he once knew, so I saw their romance more of a refuge from a traumatic experience, like those victims that fall in love with their heroes. The author handled this very nicely in the end, wrapping things up in a way that told me that there was more to this relationship than a certain dependency on both their parts.

Another issue that I found difficult to believe was how he became blind one afternoon and the hospital sent him home just a few hours later? Can't swallow that one! Regardless of these quirks, the book was so engrossing, I could forgive these issues.

Grade: A-

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

Have you ever read a book that was not what you expected? That was actually a little disappointing until the last three chapters? That would be Odd Thomas.

I had high expectations of this book, being a big fan of Koontz. I had not been disappointed in his work for quite a while. The latest one I read was Life Expectancy, which I would consider a keeper if I kept many books for re-reading. My sister loved this one though and after several false starts, I decided to give it a try.

Odd Thomas is a 20 year old that has the peculiarity of being able to see the dead. They roam the world until they either feel ready to move on or they have put to rest any lingering issues that keep them on this realm.

The bulk of the book takes place within two days where Odd discovers that some horrible fate is to befall the people of Pico Mundo, the small town where he lives and works as a fry cook. There is a mysterious man that appears to be surrounded by bodocks (some other worldly shades that premeditate tragedy) and Odd is determined to stop this terrible destiny from happening. Thus begins the strange happenings and the false trails that leads Odd to the event that he had sensed.

The book is strange but that is to be expected from Dean Koontz but it also tended to ramble a bit. If it would have been a book, I would have skimmed through most of it. There are also a lot of lose ends in the book that are obviously picked up in the sequel to this tale, Forever Odd.

I had originally given this book a lower grade but, as I mentioned in the opening, the ending of this book had me in tears. Yes, in tears. This is not something easily achieved and because of the fact that it will be a long time before I forget Odd, I had to increase the grade it received.

Grade: B-
Format: Audiobook

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Deed by Lynsay Sands

I'm not so sure about this one.
This was an alternate selection for my Author of the Month read. Lynsay Sands was chosen as the AOM in my yahoo reading group and I had every intentions of finally sinking my teeth (yes, pun intended) into Quick Bite, the latest installment in Sand's Argeneau series about a vampire family. The thing was that when I went out to look for the darn book in the TBR pile I could not find it. ARG!!! I lent it to my daughter Dre and I could have sworn she brought it back home during her spring break but I tore the house apart and couldn't find it. So, I settled for this one.

Lady Emma has a problem and she has gone off to court to have the King help her. Her husband has not bedded her. After two years of a marriage unconsummated she decided she needed help from the high court. But her husband dies before he can get around to performing "the deed' and leaves the estate in perilous condition with a cousin itching to take over the Duke's duty. The king, aware of the political conspiracies taking place in court, wants a man he can trust taking over the previous lord lands.

Amaury de Aneford, a landless knight who has proven himself true to the king has been given both Emma and her lands. He thinks she must be an old hag if the previous lord couldn't bring himself to bed her but is pleasantly surprised when this assumption proves wrong. There is a race to see the marriage consummated to avoid claims on the land later on and this scene is quite funny. But then we see how Amaury really has no clue as to what a woman might need or how to begin to treat a wife.

Add to the mix the fact that Bertrand, the cousin who aspires to inherit the lands, is trying to kill him and we have a new lord that is up to his neck in chaos.

The book was entertaining but I found that the hero's backward thoughts on woman kind of rubbed me the wrong way. And the heroine's naivete was a bit too much. I think if I was more in a forgiving mood I might have accepted that she was so ignorant of the ways between men and woman but I wasn't really very forgiving. At first I found it funny but then it just added to the grating of my nerves. So in truth I think that this book suffered from my mood and not really of content issues, so I gave it a higher grade than I wanted to give it (C+) because I realize that if I had initially setout to read this story I might have found it more enjoyable,

Grade: B-

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Harvard's Education by Suzanne Brockmann

So I'm reading these out of order... So what! I'm brave I can do this. Ugh! This one was from the library so I had to read it sooner than later and I just couldn't wait for book four in the Tall, Dark and Dangerous series Everyday Average Jones to arrive from my swap. Since the other two books I had read (Prince Joe & Frisco's Kid) from this series were good standalones, I started this book with hopes that the trend continued. It was close enough. There was a blurb about Cowboy (the hero in book four) but not enough to actually spoil the book for me when I get around to reading it.

This one is about the only African American in the Alpha Ten Squad, Senior Chief Daryl "Harvard" Becker. He is part of an initiative to create a FinCom/Seals counter terrorist team in which PJ Richards will take part.

PJ has had to deal with men getting in her way all her life and when she lands a spot among the four FinCom agents to take part of this operative she is ready to deal with everyone questioning her ability to be part of the team. The other three finks (as the Seals call the agents) are all prissy little men but PJ has had to prove her merit too many times to be substandard.

Harvard has to deal with his adverse feelings of having a woman on the team as well as his growing attraction to PJ. But when PJ proves to be able to hold her own against the men and pulls out in front of the leader of the finks, she earns the grudging respect of the Seals. This doesn't make it any easier for Harvard to put aside his protective feelings for her as they go into a combat situation.

I had just one real problem with this one and it was with PJ herself. The chip she carried on her shoulder was so large it made it difficult to relate to her in a more human manner. She always expected to be under minded and she always expected a twist in the men's respect. This just became old and tiresome. Harvard was a complete gentlemen at all times (yes, even when the time came to consummate their relationship) and he never denied his issues with having her on the field, yet when push came to shove, he was able to put those feelings on the back burner in the best interest of the team.

As always Brockmann does not disappoint. This series is well worth picking up. Now I just have to wait for Cowboy's story before moving on to Taylor's.

Grade: B

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Frisco's Kid by Suzanne Brockmann

This one is the third book in the Tall, Dark and Dangerous (TDD) series. The second book is called Forever Blue, but I didn't have that one in the TBR pile so I moved onto this one. I'm happy to report that, although this was part of the TDD series, it was very much a stand alone because there was barely a mention of the other guys in the Alpha Squad team, which was very nice.

During Prince Joe, we hear that Frisco is severely injured in the line of duty and we now encounter Frisco, 5 years after the incident, struggling with his fate and not liking it.

When he is discharged from the VA hospital where he was getting physical therapy Frisco rages at the world and in particular his new neighbor, Mia Summerton. Mia is a high school teacher who wants to dislike Lt. Alan Francisco but when his niece is abandoned on his doorstep by her drunken mother, she just cannot hate the man that shows the small child such compassion.

In this book of self discovery, we fall in love with Frisco, who is brave enough to admit he is not Superman. I admit I have a soft spot for tortured heroes and Frisco fits the bill to a T. All his life he has related being a SEAL with his self worth and now that he can no longer be on active duty he feels he is nothing.

The thing I enjoyed most about this one was that he did not pull himself out of his misery for anyone but himself. He might have had some help recognizing his worth from Mia and Natasha (his niece) but he stopped the pity party for himself, and I love him for that.

Although this was part of the TDD series, it was very much a stand alone because there was barely a mention of the other guys in the Alpha Squad team, which was very nice.

Grade: B+

Monday, March 13, 2006

Beyond Innocence by Emma Holly

For Angie W's TBR challenge, I selected a historical that had been sitting in my TBR pile for over 2 years. (Yeah ME!!)

Title: Beyond Innocence
Author: Emma Holly
Year published: 2001
Why did you get this book? I had heard great things by this author and, at the time, I had never read her.
Do you like the cover? Not at all.
Did you enjoy the book? Yes, I did enjoy this one very much.
Was the author new to you and would you read something by this author again? Emma Holly is not a new author to me but this is the first historical I have read of hers. I love her Upyr series.
Are you keeping it or passing it on? I will eventually trade it, but I need to read the sequel Beyond Seduction before I do.

And now with my thoughts on the book:

Edward Burbrooke, Earl of Greystowe, is determined to marry off his younger
brother Freddie after he is caught on his knees in front of a footman. The incident has already started to run around the gossip mills and marriage should stop it in its tracks. Miss Florence Fairleigh recently lost her father, a vicar, and is in need of gambling off her inheritance at a chance to marry well. The allowance she has been given will not last forever and her only chance to avoid having to find employment is to have a season in London and secure a good marriage.

When Edward's solicitor approaches him with the possible match between Florence and Freddie, it seems too good to be true. That is until Edward develops a strong attraction to the girl that would be his sister in law.

I love the way Edward fights his lust so determinedly without much success. The book is strangely erotic starting with the homosexual encounter of the hero's brother, to the scene where the Edward peeps at Florence while at the modiste. The couple doesn't actually engage in sexual intercourse until the very end but the eroticism and the frustrated passion Edward feels carries the story with no need to complete the act. Holly does a fantastic job showing us the frustrations and changes the characters go through. I was a little shocked at the acceptance given to Freddie's homosexual relationship but Holly didn't make light of it, she instead made the acceptance one of love although somewhat awkward. A very excellent read!


Sunday, March 12, 2006

Anthology - Big Guns Out Of Uniform

I'm not real big on Anthologies but I really am going to try to read on a month since for some reason I seem to collect the damn things. I have way too many of them to keep dismissing them and, well, I'm going to TRY to read more of them.

This anthology has three stories which is nice because it gives the authors more of a book to develop a story, and yet, it seems not everyone can hit it off in a short story format (my biggest gripe when it comes to anthologies)

Sherrilyn Kenyon - BAD to the Bone: Marianne Webernec is on a fantasy vacation where she gets to play the part of her favorite romance heroine. Kyle Foster is part of BAD, a covert government agency that rivals the Navy SEALS. During his latest mission he was shot and his boss sent him to a remote island for some enforced R&R. While playing commando to relieve his boredom, Kyle encounters Marianne and discovers that the other side of the island is a 'Fantasy Camp' where woman go to enact their romance novel fantasies and Kyle wants to help Marianne live hers. Although entertaining, this story was just a little too silly. Kyle wanted a simple relationship and someone that accepted him for himself but Marianne was viewing him as part of her fantasy so, it made no sense that Kyle was happy with Marianne. (C )

Liz Carlyle - Let's Talk About Sex: Delia Sydney is a radio sex therapist who is living above her means after her husband dumps her for another woman. She thinks she is having a bad day until her Volvo breaks down in front of her neighbors drive way. Nick Woodruff is a cop forced on leave after a drug bust has him shooting a suspect. With two weeks to kill Nick offers his services as a mechanic to the neighbor he thought was a snob. Delia turns out to be the less snobbish person he has ever met and, despite himself, what starts out to be a very sexual affair turns into a lot more. These two have great chemistry from the get go and if Nick was not so paranoid about social differences between him and Delia the story would have been even better. Regardless of this, the story just flew off the pages and was a delight! (B )

Nicole Camden - The Nekkid Truth: This was the story that actually made me pick up this title. While reading the first story I kept wondering why I actually wanted to read this piece, since I am no fan of Anthologies. Debbie Valley suffered an accident a few years ago that left her face blind. This is a disorder that causes the person to lose the ability to distinguish faces. It's not that they cannot see certain parts of a face but that after the face leaves, they don't recall what that person looks like. Some people forget names, people with face blindness forget faces. Debbie is a photographer and works with the police taking crime scene photos. Detective Marshall Scott has a thing for Debbie but has been struggling to deal with his feelings of guilt, since his partner was the one that hit Debbie and caused her disability. When all of a sudden Scott gives into his feelings and decides to be with Debbie, it shocks her and throws her life into turmoil since she now has to deal with her own feelings of inadequacy and her fears of not being able to love a man she will not recognize the next time she sees him. Great story but would have enjoyed it even more if it had not been in first person POV. Would have loved to know more of what was going on in Marshall's thoughts. (B+ )

Grade: B-

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Zero Game by Brad Meltzer

This book is definitely non stop action, but at times it feels as if the action is forced, as if the author is relying too much on the guy right behind your shoulder to keep the reader glued to the pages.

Harris Sandler and Matthew Mercer are senior staffers for congressmen and they have involved themselves in a game that is not as benign as they originally thought. They essentially bet on the way congress will vote. No one really knows who is in on the game, you just know who invited you into the game and who you invite.

When the latest bet comes around, Matthew & Harris think they have hit it big and put up their life savings. They need to make sure that the sale of a defunct gold mine gets into the latest bill. When Matthew hands over the money for the bet to a senate page, he has second thoughts and follows the page. This is a bad move because he is murdered because of what he 'could have learned' and as a reader, this murder completely throws you off.

Why? Well first, the blurb on the book reads: "Matthew Mercer and Harris Sandler are best friends who have plum jobs as senior staffers to well-respected congressmen. But after a decade in Washington, idealism has faded to disillusionment, and they're bored. Then one of them finds out about the clandestine Zero Game. It starts out as good fun--a simple wager between friends. But when someone close to them ends up dead, Harris and Matthew realize the game is far more sinister than they ever imagined--and that they're about to be the game's next victims. On the run, they turn to the only person they can trust: a 16-year-old Senate page who can move around the Capitol undetected. As a ruthless killer creeps closer, this idealistic page not only holds the key to saving their lives, but is also determined to redeem them in the process."
So, how is it that a main character gets killed?

Second, up until the point that Matthew gets killed, the story was being read in Matthew's POV. Very disturbing to read a book in the POV of someone being killed. And the whole thing about the Senate page redeeming them... Viv is a very reluctant savior and is dragged most of the way.

Other than that confusing beginning, the rest of the book is a chase to find out who was behind the bet, what is hidden in a gold mine and why is its secret so important that Matt had to die for it. Now, if you don't read the blurb on the book you will not be confused at all and will definitely enjoy the ride Meltzer takes you on.

Grade: B-
Format: Audiobook

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Prince Joe by Suzanne Brockmann

I'm thinking that Brockmann is just plain great at what she does, regardless of the length of the book. This is the other Navy SEAL series that Brockmann writes. I discovered this talented writer when I picked up Flashpoint from the library as an audiobook.
I have read every book after Flashpoint and in truth, sometimes I feel cheated from enjoying them to my fullest because Brockmann usually explores subromances in her full length novels, so if you miss one of the first novels you tend to miss some background of the current romance. Not so with the category romance series (Tall, Dark and Dangerous).

Prince Joe is the first book of the series but it did not lay ground work for the next book, which is a relief since I don't have the next book (I have the one that follows). Anyway... Joe Catalanotto is a dead ringer for Prince Tedric, who is making a US tour and has had an assassination attempt made. Joe is brought to stand in his place until the assassins are found and Veronica St. John is the person who is going to transform this New Jersey boy into royalty.

I like how Brockmann lets the romance build without rushing it but the misunderstandings were getting to the point where they were annoying, Too much of the tension between the couple was based on the misconception each of them had about the other and their own insecurities just fed it. This really took away from a really sweet and romantic story. I loved the scene when Joe visits the sick child at the hospital and then breaks down. It gave him such a human side and made him even more adorable. The secondary characters were also well written and makes you look forward to reading their story.

Grade: B

Friday, March 03, 2006

Sterling Files: Vicious by Sherri L. King

I decided to give the Sterling Files series another chance, so I picked up Vicious' story. His 'gift' is Time chasing. He can slow down time to a point where he can weave around things and appear, to the naked eye, as just being very fast. Enya Merritt, who is of Arabian descent, is in protective custody with a pack of hit men after her. She is a witness for the government against Siren, the other organization that recruits people with 'gifts'. She use to work for them until she realized they were corrupt.

Running away from a couple of hit men she runs smack into Johnny Vicious, who cleans house very smoothly. When the police arrive, she meets John Strada who is a sexy police officer taking over her protection from the FBI, which failed her terribly. Well it seems John has a secret not even he knows, but Enya later discovers. John is Johnny Vicious.

I really enjoyed this installment in the series. A story like this is why I chose not to give up on an Author after a bad read. Everyone has a bad day. I loved the twist King gave the story by making Vicious, John's alter ego (no spoilers here, you figure it out early on in the story).

The story still has cheesy lines like: "I won't stop to ask again, Enya," he whispered. "Are you sure you're ready for this?" but the pace was slower and the romance was built nicely. I had to laugh when John's equipment was described, though. Have you ever noticed that these heroes are always HUGE! Poor John was abnormally huge and it was just too funny.

Girls, bigger is not always better! Don't get me wrong, size DOES matter and whoever says it doesn't is lying through their teeth, but too big can be a problem too. LOL!!

Anyway, not only did this story redeem this series in my eyes but it also made me want to watch out for the next installment which has to be Ryan Murdock's story. Quite an intriguing fellow.

Grade: B
Format: ebook

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Sterling Files: Steele by Sherri L. King

I admit that Sherri L. King is a dastardly temptation for me. I loved her work with the Horde's War series (which is not yet finished) and I have picked up several of her single titles as well with great pleasure (no pun intended). She is very good at her art and her art is writing Erotica.

With that said it pains me to say that she missed her mark with her new series. The story behind the couple appears to be sound but this first installment left me wondering if I was reading King's work or was it some other author with no experience in giving her characters flesh (again... no pun intended).

Brian Steele is part of a government project called Sterling. He was discovered and bought into the program at the age of 13. Everyone involved in the project has some 'special' talent. His is his extraordinary physical strength. He is like a human Superman.

He is sent to recruit Marla Rivers who after being in a coma for a year, wakes up with the ability to control electrical currents. She does not know how to control these new powers and this is where Sterling can help her. That is, if their rival, Siren, will just leave her alone.

Well, within 24 hours she is already in Steele's bed and he's already gaga over her. I mean don't get me wrong, I've seen books that go this fast and honestly, it's a very short story (58 pages in PDF format), but the dialogue was very bad... to the point I found myself cringing.

Even with that, I still liked Brian Steele. He was this huge puppy dog you just wanted to take home to care for. He was all tenderness and sweetness, even when he was knocking heads. Marla... well... she did nothing for me.

I'm not one to kill a series because of one installment. I'll give the next story a try (Sterling Files: Vicious), the hero is like The Flash (super fast).

Grade: C-
Format: ebook

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Lord Ruin by Carolyn Jewel

Picked this one up at the recommendation of my reading buddies on my yahoo group. They kept refering to the hero as the horniest hero they had read so I just had to see what all the hoopla was all about.

The Duke of Cynnsyr carries a reputation for his womanizing ways and proves himself up to his rep when he encounters a woman in his bed while at a weekend party in his friend Aldreth's house.

The woman in question was Anne Sinclair who has captured the heart of Cyn's friend Devon. She had slipped on the stairs earlier in the evening and hurt her ankle. Having been drugged with laudanum she had no idea that Ruan (Cyn's real name) had ruined her. She thought it all a dream until she was brought to her brother in law, Aldreth's study and informed of her lack of virginity. Ruan could either marry her or lose his ambitions for a political future, since he was caught in the throws of a climax while Anne was passed out... quite disturbing actually.

The book held me but I had a love hate relationship with the hero. Ruan falls for his wife early on but it seems that his reaction to his feelings kept getting in the way of our liking him. When he is jealous he becomes hurtful, when Anne is hurt he fails to comfort her, when he has a chance to explain himself he lets it slip by. When a hero says to the woman he loves "I might have done a good deal worse than you. Left to my own devices, I would have."; you know he is just TSTL (too stupid to love).

Anne on the other hand has grown up in the shadows of her sisters (all younger and more beautiful than her) and she fails to give herself the credit and respect she deserves. And yet, she knows what is expected of her as a duchess and tries to fill the position as best she can without giving her heart to a man she can not trust. Her self doubt gets a bit tiresome but Ruan's complete idiocy overshadows her failings.

The secondary characters are very well done and at the very end we get teased with a possible romance between Emily (Anne's youngest sister and the woman who was intended for Cynnsyr) and Devon (Cynnsyr's best friend and the man who was to marry Anne). There was more spice and action in the last few pages between these two characters than in the whole book between Ruan and Anne. A well written sequel with these two characters would bring me back to reading Jewel. Overall the book was entertaining but I think Jewel needed to make Ruan more sensitive. I think that if Ruan was a stern character his mistreatment of Anne would have been more acceptable, but he was just clueless which made him unworthy of Anne.

Grade: C
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