Friday, June 30, 2006

The Alibi by Sandra Brown

Sandra Brown never disappoints. You never know what she will pull out of the hat.
Hammond Cross falls for the major suspect in the most sensational murder trial of the decade. When Lute Pettijohn is found dead all the evidence points to Dr. Alex Ladd who spent the evening of the murder in bed with Hammond Cross, County Solicitor and future District Attorney.

Fast paced and surprises coming at you from all angles, you never know who actually killed Lute until the last chapter of the book.

Grade: A
Format: Audiobook

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Back to the Bedroom by Janet Evanovich

I want to say that Evanovich is wonderful and one of the most talented writers out there. I can't.
One of the funniest series I have read is the Stephanie Plum books but I have not read anything else she has written that can hold a candle to her work on this series.
How is this possible? Usually the author of a great series can be credited many more wonderful tales yet Evanovich seems to stagnate when penning other characters.

So is the case in Back to the Bedroom. I think this one is a reissue of a previously printed book so maybe we can say that it's her beginner work.

Since I don't have time right now I'll just say that this one was entertaining yet too bland.

Grade: C+
Format: Audiobook

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Small Town Girl by LaVyrle Spencer

Continuing on the line for Author of the Month I gave this other title a try. It was very different from Morning Glory but it was just as entertaining.

Will give more details later.

Grade: B+
Format: Audiobook

Friday, June 23, 2006

Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas

Last month I had the pleasure of reading the first book in this series called Then Came You. I knew that this month's TBR challenge was to read "a book that was recommended by someone you "know" (another blogger, author, friend, family member) or got a lot of buzz and that's why you bought it but it's still on your TBR pile" (wow, what a mouthful!). I also knew I wanted to read Derek Craven's story but since it's the second in a series, and I'm a stickler for the order of my books in a series, I picked up the first book last month.

Title: Dreaming of You

Author: Lisa Kleypas

Year published: 1994

Why did you get this book? I love the books that I have read by Kleypas and everyone has something to say about the hero in this book. So, after hearing everyone tell me I HAD to read this one... I did!

Do you like the cover? No really. There is a newer cover that is nicer and although this one was not as bad as the first book in the series, it still was not my favorite.

Did you enjoy the book? Yes, I did.

Was the author new to you and would you read something by this author again? Not new to me. One of my favorite authors, and with many more titles in her backlist I can delve into.

Are you keeping it or passing it on? Already gone!

Anything else? Derek was not the most tortured hero I have read or the most flawed. Although I did enjoy the tale, I honestly think I would have forgotten Derek if it was not for the scar that was left on his face during the first chapter and the way he refused to allow himself anything of value.

Derek is the owner of a very notorious Gaming hell in London. He was raised by prostitutes and he struggled to survive on the streets. He was an ambitious scamp and has become one of the wealthiest men in London. He has tried to improve himself by hiring tutors that have helped him drop his cockney accent.

When the book starts we find him being attacked by two men who slice his face open. Lucky for him Sara Fielding was at hand to shoot one of his attackers and scare the other one away before further harm is done to him.

Sara is researching the gambling world in hopes to gain some accuracy for her next novel. She is most known for her gritty realistic tales, like "Mathilda", which portrays the life of a woman turned into the streets. When she stumbles onto the attack on Craven she doesn't think but reacts, saving Derek's life in the process.

After some wheedling, Derek agrees to allow Sara to come to the club and interview his workers. What he never suspected was that she would gain their trust and admiration while she stole his heart.

I loved that Kleypas was able to portray a truly innocent nature, without her being naive. Sara lives her life through her books and believes it's time to walk out of her pages, but she still holds an air of being pure and untouchable, which is why Derek believes he can never have her.

I greatly enjoyed this book, not just because I thought Derek deserved a break but because the secondary characters were so wonderful. From Derek's butler (his man of affairs really) to the woman that sold their 'wares' at the club.

After Sara returned to the country, Derek's suffering was tangible and when the prostitute comes to tell Sara about Derek going to her bed because she looked a bit like Sara... it was heart wrenching and when at the end he cries in front of what is left of his club, after finding out Sara is not dead. These are the scenes that will stick to me...

Grade: B+

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Her Officer and Gentleman by Karen Hawkins

This one is the sequel to Hawkins' Her Master and Commander. This tells the story Christian Llevanth, Viscount Westerville. He is the twin brother of the Tristan who we met in Hawkins' earlier novel. Now that Tristan is happily married, although without fortune, Christian feels he can pursue the goal that has kept him fighting for life all these years, revenge.

As children, Tristan and Christian were abandoned by their father and their mother was falsely accused of being a traitor to the crown. Christian has searched for year to find the person that supplied the false information against his mother. It eventually caused her death since she became ill in prison and died before she was given a trial.

He has followed clues after clues until he ends up at the door of the Duke of Massingale. He now has to find a way to get through the doors of the reclusive Duke in hopes to find the proof he needs of the Duke's involvement in his mother's downfall. He believes the key can be found in Lady Elizabeth, the Duke's granddaughter.

Elizabeth has spent her life in the country caring for her cantankerous grandfather and ensconced in the library with her nose buried in a book. When her grandfather becomes ill and asks her to go to London for a season, she has difficulties refusing him. But just because she is going to town for the season does not mean she has to find herself a husband. To discourage any potential suitors she pretends to have a horrible stutter. The plot appeared to be working until Viscount Westerville strolls into her life and sees beyond her verbally challenged vocabulary.

Unfortunately for Christian's plan, she is not the only one affected and with a conscious called Reeves, he finds himself confessing to his plans in short order. With the little time he has spent with Elizabeth he is not surprised to have her agree to help him but things are easier said than done when these two find themselves entangled by more than the mystery of who framed Christian's mother.

Having been caught by a large group of people in a VERY compromising position in the billiard room, Christian has found his way into the house of the Duke. What he didn't expect was to like the darn man so much. Now he finds himself in the moral dilemma as to honor the vow to his dead mother or to grasp at the chance for happiness life has given him.

Loved the verbal sparing between Christian and Reeves. That butler was just too much! What disappointed me was that Hawkins didn't delve into Christian's past. We never really got details on how Christian became a highwayman. At least not in the details we got for Tristan's past. I would have like to know more of his past since it might have added weight to his guilt at possibly betraying his mother's memory by falling in love with the granddaughter of her accuser.

Grade: B-

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Splendid by Julia Quinn

This story was the first book that Julia Quinn wrote and is the first of the Blydon trilogy.

Emma Dunster is an American heiress who has no interest in marriage. All Emma wants is to get over the season she was forced to have and get back to Boston and manage her father's shipping company. The girl does not lack charm, beauty and a huge dowry which makes her a prim candidate to all those seeking a wife.

Alexander Ridgely, Duke of Ashbourne has vowed to never marry, but his family is ruthless in their endeavors to get him hitched. When a house maid saves his nephew from being crushed by a hackney he finds himself enchanted by the wench. After a searing kiss, he returns the maid to the Blydon household where he thinks she works. That evening he goes to a ball thrown in Emma's honor in hopes of seeing the housemaid that he kissed. We can safely say he is bit surprised to find the housemaid as the guest of honor.

Thus starts a truly fun friendship between these two very frank (and funny) characters. Alex finds himself attending all the festivities of the season and Emma finds herself falling for the duke even though she knows that to marry him she would have to renounce her life back in Boston.

Alex also finds himself caving in when it comes to his vow of bachelorhood, especially since Emma has money up the wazzo so he does not fear she would marry him for his fortune. Also, she has no interest in titles but instead wishes to return to Boston to manage her father's business. So, if she would accept him, he feels confident it would be for him and not for the things he represented.

There are a few misunderstandings on the way to the altar, like when Emma proposes and says she did it because she needed money (to help her cousin). I think Alex's reaction was a bit harsh but I liked that it didn't take chapters upon chapters to resolve. Although the book was entertaining until the end, I think we could have skipped the last 50 pages or so and still enjoyed the book just as much. Anyway, this one was a treat!

Grade: A-

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Turnabout by Elizabeth Jewell

I have realized that there are only 11 days until the end of the month and although I have read a vast amount of books this month, I really haven't reviewed many at all.

At this point I'm really just playing catch-up with the blog, so I'll start with the shortest book of the month.

I had never read Elizabeth Jewell and I think this book is a bad example of her work since it was so short (27 pages). I have read fan fiction longer than that, sh*t, I've WRITTEN fan fiction longer than that.

Anyway, the story is about a married couple that go out to an Irish pub to celebrate St. Patty's day. Fee is not really into the whole pub'ing scenario and just wants to call it a night but her hubby, Mal gives her a hard time. They argue in front of the bartender and she wishes that Mal could walk in her shoes for once. The wish was granted.

The next morning Fee wakes up in Mal's body and vice versa.

The concept was interesting but, as I said before, the story was just way too short. We didn't really get to feel anything for the couple as they invented creative ways to pleasure themselves as they waited for the pub to open and get some answers to their dilemma.

This story was equivalent to pimpin' my reading time for a quick fix. Slam, Bam, Thank you 'mam. I think I need to give Jewell's longer stories a try.

Grade: C
Format: ebook

Saturday, June 17, 2006

A Rose at Midnight by Jacqueline Navin

Magnus Eddington, the Earl of Rutherford, has recieved a death sentence from his doctors. With just about a year to live and little to show for his efforts at living he sets out to buy himself a wife that might provide him an heir.

After interviewing a few potential wives, Caroline Wembley applies for the position. Caroline is desperate for funds to help her mother and very ill brother. Her family was left destitute after her immoral father died. Besides the fact that Wembley (the father) was a pervert and a disgusting human being, he was also a baron which makes her a great candidate for the position of wife to an Earl.

Magnus is taken quite quickly with Caroline. He finds her quick wit as attractive as her other attributes which she has displayed in the only pretty gown she had.

I really loved this one. I could not give it a perfect score because the Earl had moments in which he was just a complete ass. The fact that he could not take time to give Caro a chance to explain why she needed money and Caro was also to blame since she just took everything he tolled out.
Yet the love story was sweet and unhurried.

The Magnus was flawed and desperate. He was so vulnerable in his illness and his emotions were so fraile after years of debauchery and idle pursuits. He never learned to trust, always shielding his heart from anyone that could get close enough to hurt him. His only refuge was his brother and there was betrayal there as well.

I'm a sucker for wounded heroes, both emotionally as well as physically and the Earl fit the bill.

Grade: A-

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Dirty Blonde by Lisa Scottoline

I love Scottoline's courtroom suspense since it usually focuses on women as the main character.
In this book the main character is Cate Fante, who was recently appointed federal judge. She has been assigned to preside over a celebrity case where Mr Simone (a reknown producer) is accused of stealing the idea to his most recent hit from local lawyer who had pitched the idea to him.

Although Cate would like to rule in favor of Mr. Marz (the local lawyer), since it's clear that the ideas and storylines to the show had been stolen, the law is clear and she has to rule against him. This sets off a chainof events that finds Simone murdered and Marz killed, supposedly by his own hand with the same pistol that had killed Simone. Seems like an open and shut case except, one detective believes Cate did the killing or better said, hired an assasin to do the dirty work.

It seems our lady judge has one big ghost in her closet. She likes to go to seedy bars and pick up men for one night stands. She doesn't do it on a regular basis but the fact that the men are from the lowest spectrum of society could lead to ruination. And almost does.

When the truth somes out, after Russo (the detective) leaks it to the press, her life turns inside out. She finds herself running from a madman intent on killing her, trying to save her job and in her spare time, she is looking for the real killer since she is fairly certain that Marz had nothing to do with the murder of the producer and he was setup to take the fall because of the lawsuit he loss.

Although the book set a decent pace it seemed as if all the characters had been brushed over. We never get attached to anyone, not even Cate. Even though Scottoline gives us a glimpse into Cate's past nothing really explains her behavior or makes us believe that she really wants to be a judge. I was a bit disappointed in this book because Scottoline is an author of higher caliber than the work put out in this book. In the last chapter of the book we discover what happened to Cate's last one-night stand and it seemed as if the author put it there as a last attempt to tie a loose end and decided to use a shock me mentality which failed completely.

If you are looking for a quick, entertaining read... pick this one up, but if you are expecting the usual quality of Lisa Scotoline's books, skip it.

Grade: C
Format: Audiobook

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer

Picked this one up at the recommendation of a friend on my yahoo group.
LaVyrle Spencer was the Author of the Month for June and since I had never read her work I needed some guidance on what to select. At first I thought I would not have the chance to read this book so I got Small Town Girl in Audio book but this one came just in time and with everyone singing it's glory, I had to give it a chance. I don't regret it.

Will Parker has been out of Huntsville Prison for just a few months but he has live in a type of prison all his life. A bastard at birth, and abandoned shortly after, he has lived with the constant taunts and abuse typical of children of his status back in the 1940's. He went from foster home to foster home until he dropped out of school and ran away. Unfortunately his life didn't get any easier from there and after a betrayal from someone considered a friend, he spent 5 years in prison for a murder that in truth, was really an unfortunate accident.

Elly Dinsmore lives in a self imposed prison as well. Also a bastard at birth, she was raised in the home of her grandparents who were religious zealots. They locked her and her mother in the house for years, submitting them to shameful penances that scarred her emotions, if not her skin. When she finally was released from her 'prison' it was to go to a school full of bullies and heartless taunts that labeled her as crazy. She finally gave up on schooling and would escape to the woods where she would commune with nature. This was where she met her husband, Glendon.

Elly finds herself widowed with two young boys and pregnant with a third child. She realizes that she can not care for her property and decides to place an ad in the local newspaper for a husband.

Will was not very welcomed in Whitney but he was tired of roaming from town to town. He knew his gig was up when after just four days working at the local sawmill, the foreman, Harley Overmire, finds out about his criminal record and runs him off. Will is a sad sight at this point, malnourished, tired and dirty, he finds Elly's ad and goes up to the house to apply for the position.

This book was not your typical romance. It was more... real. More sweet and touching than any other I had read in a long time. There is not a lot of plot twists and turns but just a day to day recount of a couple that is getting to know each other, finding out they love one another in spite of their past, having to deal with life. What is so poignant about this book is how these two find a way to trust when no one has given them any reason to trust.

It kills you to hear their thoughts. Words stuck in their chest because they are like frightened kids who have had their hands smacked too many times to risk reaching out again.

The secondary characters are just as real as Elly and Will. Laura Marsh who you think will be all haughty and reproachful turns out to be so supportive and good. Gladys, the librarian who befriends Will from the first, puts aside her own fears because she sees Will needs her more than she needs to guard her feelings. And then there is Lula Peak who deserves her fate like no other.

Spencer has a talent to be admired creating characters that just jump out of the page. The pace is not what I was used to, since it was slower but it was so rich in descriptions and the characters had such depth, it will stay with me for some time.

Grade: B+
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