Sunday, April 29, 2007

Parallel Heat by Deidre Knight

Since I had the next book in the Midnight Warriors Series I picked up the next story immediately after I read PAttraction. In a way it is very good that I did since this story picks up the same day the last book ends. I had never read a romance novel where the succession of events where so entangled with the first book in the series that you were required to read the first to understand the second.

This book was to focus on the story of the Refarian warrior that betrayed Jared and Kelsey in the first book. In the original timeline, Marcus arrives two years after Jared and Kelsey marry but after the events in the first book, the timeline has been altered and he joins the crew the day after the marriage takes place.

Thea is Jared's cousin and also was suppose to be his bride, she is bit wounded by the fact that a mere human was able to melt her King's heart in just a few days. She goes off to a bar with Scott, Jared's second in command, and immediately senses the presence of the other alien, Marcus.

I found the book that was suppose to be about Thea and Marcus revolve mostly around the war that is going on, on the fertility problems of Jared and Kelsey, and on the impending attack by their enemies on US soil.

Yes, there was lot of development of the character of Marcus but it was a bit difficult to understand the attraction between him and Thea, except that they had some shared memories from a separate timeline that was causing them to experience the old Thea and Marcus' feelings.

I found myself skimming through their parts and getting into the story of Scott and his encounter with a blind linguist called Hope. I really hope that Knight can do their story justice. I feel Scott has a story to tell and Hope, being a bit different herself, could just be the woman to bring that story out, but honestly... I'm not sure what to expect of the next book. I have a problem believing that I will pick the next one up, but I think it's the Roswell thing again....

Grade: D

Parallel Attraction by Deidre Knight

I admit that I was not quite anxious to read this book. I put it off for forever. I actually received the next book in the series before bringing myself to read this one. I don't have a particular reason; I was just not ready for aliens in my Paranormal/ Sci-Fi/ Alt.Reality genre. I have read Deidre Knight in the past. You might ask, 'Where? This is her first romance published'. She use to be part of my Roswell Fan Fiction writing group and she was absolutely FABULOUS at that.

Let me get into Parallel Attraction. This book is focused on the relationship between Jared Bennett and Kelsey Wells. Jared is the exiled king of a species called Refarians. They are now considered a rebellious group since their planet has been taken over by their enemies called the Antousians.

When Jared was young his elders took him to Earth where he fell in love with a young girl, but since she was merely a human and he was king, the elders erased all him memory of the time with her. Many years later, in the same hills where he met his young love, he suffers an attack from the US military when he was returning to his camp. Knowing that the information he carried could not fall into the enemy's hand, he bonds with a young woman that was on the ridge and deposits the information in her. Now the information needs to be removed but he is not sure how to do that without harming the human that, for some reason, has become very important to him.

Kelsey is a geologist that spent most of her life camping on those hills; she is searching for some samples when she stumbles on a scene that has her questioning much of her beliefs. The man that can turn into a ball of energy is wounded and although she knows she should be frightened, she's not. She offers to help and feels him melding into her. Now she is involved in a war she had no idea existed and falling in love with an Alien that is sovereign among his people.

The story is complex with two different endings, killers coming back from the future to stop things from happening, jilted lovers, redeemed men.... The writing is soo Dee (which is excellent) but the story itself appears to be taken from the annals of the Roswell/ Timecop/ Terminator archives and that is what really ruined it for me.

I found the similarities too close to Roswell to not find myself rolling my eyes all the time.
Here are some examples for those not familiar with the Roswell TV show:
  • In Roswell - exiled King hiding on Earth falls for an Earthling.
  • In one of the most loved episodes, Max (the alien King) comes back in time to stop the 'End of The World'.
  • Liz (the Earthling) becomes a very important part of the rebellion with her scientific mind (like Kelsey).
  • In PAttraction, the enemy comes back in time in a Mitre that is actually a very powerful weapon against their enemies; In Roswell, the future Max comes to the past in what was called The Granolith, which is also a very powerful weapon against their enemies. These machines both work on the power that is fed to them and both develop to their potential under the human woman's hand,
  • Oh, and lets not forget that the same person (one present - one future) cannot occupy the same space without consuming itself into nothingness.

For those interested in Roswell and learning more about this short lived, fabulous series visit The Crashdown where you can find synopsis of all three seasons of episodes.

I guess if you never experienced Roswell, you could easily love this book, but you should be forewarned that the book leans much into the Sci-Fi realm and might not be everyone's cup of tea.

Grade: C

Lady Of Desire by Gaelen Foley

Jacinda Knight is not planning to marry a man who has been like a brother to her and so she picks up her belongings and runs away, straight into the arms of Billy Blade, the gang leader that helped Damien protect Miranda in Lord of Ice.

We definitely get to know the man we thought to be a thug. It seems the Blade has kept a few secrets from his gang. The most important one being that he is actually the Earl of Rackford. He ran away from a dismal future at a young age, so he can sympathize with the chit of 18 that he digs out of a heap of garbage. He finds her enticing and pure, and something in him calls to her straight forward way as well as her undeniable strength of character.

When he is caught by the Bow Street runners, he has to shed his guise of gang leader and pick up the cloak of Earl. He doesn't mind it so much because he can now compete for the love of the one woman that has touched his soul. But is seems that things don't go as smoothly in his aristocratic life as it did in the rookery and when Jacinda does not immediately accept him he becomes a lost pup. One that Jacinda just cannot bring herself to kick to the curb.

What I liked about this story is the same thing that I disliked. The dramatic change in Blade, from rough ruffian to vulnerable man. Billy just doesn't appear to fit in, and he questions his worth until the very last pages of the book. Even after Jacinda has accepted her fate and has given the scoundrel her heart he still has self esteem issues. I do appreciate though that Foley does not leave any loose ends, extending the book beyond the wedding of our main characters until the resolution of Billy's past. I also appreciate how the relationship between these two develops into a strong friendship before Jacinda admits it is love.

Funny though that I felt the age of the couple through out the book. They were a very young couple and, although Blade had lived a hard life on the streets, he was portrayed as a very young soul. Kudos for Foley that is talented enough to make the distinction between this romance and those of her older brothers.

Grade: B

Lord of Ice by Gaelen Foley

Lord of Ice is the story of Lucien's older brother (by just a few minutes) Damien. Damien is considered a War Hero by all England but his adventures in the army have left him scarred and emotionally unstable. He seeks seclusion from the world because he fears that during one of his nightmares or blackout he might harm someone.

When he learns that a close friend, and fellow soldier, was murdered in his home, he finds a cause that will distract him from his drinking and isolation. Damien was named guardian to his friend's niece, Miranda. He goes off to meet the girl and inform her of her Uncle's death but when he arrives in town he goes in search of a bit of companionship the night before. This leads to an encounter with a beautiful actress whom he promptly kisses, gropes and propositions. She is intrigued but, innocent as she is, refuses and tries to get away from Damien but in the process runs into a group of men who try to abduct her. Damien, the hero that he is, saves her but not before turning into the maniacal death weapon he is frightened of.

If you were wondering about the girl Damien saves... you guessed it, she was Miranda. A fact that leads to a bit of awkwardness the following day when he meets his new ward and realizes that she is not a child as he imagines but a full grown temptress.

Miranda has lived abandoned by her family at this school for young ladies, fending off the lewd advances of the head master who is a bit of a pedophile. She is an illegitimate daughter so her family has not really acknowledged her after the death of her father, but her Uncle Jason was always good to her, until he went to war and was injured. Then she was forgotten at the bottom of a bottle. She has tried to live a good life and has found a passion for Theater, which lead to the encounter with Damien. The incident left her frightened of the man, because the violence of his attack against the men that tried to harm her was very brutal. When she discovers that the head master is making her leave with Damien she protests, since she knows that she is the only person standing between him and the young girls at the school. Needless to say that Damien saves the day once again and thwarts her plan in running off the join the theater.

Damien is a good man but troubled. He struggles with his guilt for desiring his ward, but also struggles with his own personal demons. When he discovers that someone is out to kill Miranda he realizes how much he actually cares for her. He had delegated his duties as ward to the women in the knight clan but when seemingly innocent accidents keep occurring it dawns on Damien that someone needs Miranda out of the way, just like they needed Jason gone. Since no one really is aware that Miranda is an heiress, the threat makes little sense.

Needless to say, Miranda is determined to have Damien and has no qualms in using any method in her arsenal to get him.

When I read Lord of Fire, I knew Damien was a complex man who needed to have his story told, but reading his story I realized that he had more depth than it appeared. He did not want or like the attention he got as a war hero and he definitely didn't want to share himself with anyone. The wounded man Foley delivers is wonderfully crafted and with a strength that makes him deserve better than Miranda who is a bit of a spoiled brat at the beginning of the book. Her love for Damien did redeem her enough for me to keep the A I gave this book in place.

Grade: A

Monday, April 23, 2007

Lord of Fire by Gaelen Foley

I couldn't wait to continue reading more of Foley and when my reading group selected her as the Author of the Month for April, I found the perfect excuse. Lord of Fire is the second book in the Knight Miscellany Series. I think I enjoyed this one alot because I had a good idea what to expect since I had read a bit about the book on Foley's website.

Lucien Knight is the youngest of the twin boys born to the Hawkcliffe Harlot by her most faithful lover. The boys father were part of their lives and left them an inheritance. Lucian was to inherit estates and money while Damien is to be given a title, although not that one of his natural father. Lucien has a close relationship with his brother but the Napoleonic war has torn them apart. After following Damien into the army, Lucien found the deaths and violence too much to handle and decided to trade in his red coat for a position as a spy. Well, it seems that the role of spy is considered dishonorable and this puts more emotional distance between the twins. I mention this because Lucien carries a bit of a chip on his shoulder of being the bad twin and, although his love for Damien is unquestionable, there is a bit of sibling rivalry.

When the book starts we find Lucien pretending to be enamored by the widow Caroline. She has been playing both sides of the Knight twin bed, so to say. She is trying to wiggle out a proposal from the War Hero, Damien while enjoying the bed favors of his brother Lucien. Lucien allows this because he knows Damien is planning on marrying the unfaithful witch and he wants to help Damien, by uncovering the woman's true nature. Anyway, after Damien breaks up with her, Caro follows Lucien to one of his mysterious parties, which he uses as a front to gather information.

Alice Montague is the sister in law of Caro. Her brother Phillip was a good man but was ill used by his wife. He went to war to prove his manliness and returned wounded and dying. Alice promised her brother that she would care for his son, Harry and his Wife. When Alice hears that Caro has gone off with Lucien to his estate for a party instead of returning home to her ill child, she is infuriated and goes off to fetch her. Alice sees a part of life she has never experienced when she finds her way into a party that is as exclusive as it is sinful.

At first Lucien thinks this beauty of a woman is a spy and has her hauled into his room for questioning, but quickly discovers his error, but not before getting a quick taste of what innocence is. He is enamored, although he doesn't really know it. He just knows that he needs to keep her with him, so the next morning he sets out to do just that when he tells her that only one woman can leave, either Caro or Alice. Alice's commitment to Harry has her staying behind so that Caro can return to the sick boy. She is to stay one week in the home of Lucifer. During that week Lucien discovers the wonders of friendship and Alice discovers she is more of a woman than she expected.

This book pulls you in from the first word and although you expect to see this alpha male (he is a spy, you know!), you find a vulnerable man that has never thought he measures up. You find someone that is so alone that, as a reader, you can feel it. Not only has Foley written memorable characters but also storyline that has you NEEDING to turn the page.

Lucien has to decide on going after love or getting the revenge he has yearned for over many years. He had been captured at one point in his career and was tortured for several weeks until he betrayed a friend and got that person killed. He thought the French spy was dead but he is in London preparing to create havoc . Lucien has to decide whether living in the past with his desire for revenge is enough, or can he put that aside and embrace the future Alice offers him.

Foley at her best!

Grade: A

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Rough and Ready by Sandra Hill

When it comes to Sandra Hill's Viking series, grading is a bit skewed. The reason is because the premise is so out there that you really need to stretch your imagination and treat it more as an Alt. Universe type of book. I grade these books on their level of entertainment and on how believable it is in it's absurd alternate reality.

Torolf Magnusson is one of the may children of Magnus, one of the original three brothers that time traveled into modern age America. Torolf is a Navy Seal and he is going to need all his training when he returns to the 11th century at the bequest of his sister to stop Steinolf from destroying his homelands. His fellow Navy Seals go with him and they find themselves housing at a sanctuary for battered woman that is run by Brunhilda Berdottir.

Brunhilda saw her father die at the hands of Steinrolf and although weary at first shelters the rag tag group of men because Torolf has agreed to teach them how to fight so that they can help in the military action against their mutual enemy.

The attraction starts in the midst of all the hectic training and preparing but that soon passes when they defeat the bad guy. Torolf appears ready to give up on Brunhilda, even though I would have thought it a great ending to have him stay and show some loyalty to his people, but in the end he and his men finally get transported into modern time but what is unexpected is that Hilda goes with them by mistake. Now comes the stretch of the imagination... Hilda seems to be very accepting of the change is time. I guess Hill did prepare us for this since she had Torolf explain to Hilda early on that he had time traveled into the past to help defeat the enemy.

If you think the story is over you are very wrong. While in the hospital, Hilda's bloodwork is discovered to be different from modern day humans and a group of crazies target her as an Alien. After escaping the hospital and possible abductions to a scientific lab, she is forced into hiding at Hog Heaven Trailer park, where she meets many interesting characters.

Grade: B

The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt

Heard such rave reviews about this book on my reading group that I just had to get it. I was not disappointed but it was not one that I will remember if I don't blog about it.

Edward de Raaf is the last survivor of his family after small pox ran across his lands when he was a young man. He was left with scars on his body and the title of Earl of Swartingham. He has finally returned to his estate where he plans to marry and fill his nursery so that the halls of his home will ring with laughter once again. All appears to be going as planned, except that he cannot seem to keep hold of his secretaries. So he send his man of affairs to hire one.

The man hires Anna Wren, a widow from the village whose husband left her and her MIL (mother in law) in financial ruin. She is forced to take a position and this one offers the highest wages possible.

When Edward returns to his estate after going to London to get his marriage settlement rolling, he is shocked by his new secretary but accepts the woman since her work up to this point is better than any of his previous employees. During his time at her side he starts yearning for the widow but knows she is a lady and it is impossible to start anything between them since he is engaged. That does not stop his body from getting all heated and out of shape everytime he is near her, so he heads to London for a visit to a brothel.

Anna, who has started to fall for the Earl, discovers his plot to alleviate his needs and convinces a new found friend to get her into the brothel, where she spends two nights in Edward's arms. When he discovers the truth he is absurdly angry but relies on the 'I compromised you' to request the marriage. Well she will not have him under those conditions and refuses him. So the Earl blackmails her into returning to his employ where his campaign for her heart starts.

Delightful tale that grabs you from the first few pages. I was surprised to find how humorous the book was, I really was expecting some serious melodrama, but was happy to find that I was smiling constantly at the Earl's efforts to keep his 'anxiety' under control. The sex was steamy and the story was definitely enjoyable.

Grade: B

Anthology - His Immortal Embrace

This one was my Anthology read for the month of March. I had this one in my TBR pile for forever (at least three years). I bought it for Lynsay Sand's story since, I recall, I was just discovering her vampire series around the time. I was not disappointed in that story although my favorite has to be Howell's tale.

Hannah Howell's The Yearning: Lady Sophie Hay discovers that her ancestor has cursed her line to lose love when in an act of vengeance, Roma cast a curse on her lover's kind. She cursed them to live a life of darkness and to drink blood until one would choose love over wealth. Sophie goes out to seek the MacCordy Laird so that she can try to break the curse and save herself from the fate all her ancestors have lived with, what she didn't realize was that she would have a bigger role to play in breaking the curse. Alpine is on the edge of turning into the beast his forefathers had become when a ray of hope enters his keep. He wants to spare her the life of darkness that is his destiny but finds it more difficult with ever smile she gifts him with. Great short story that didn't feel rushed or abrupt at all. A.

Lynsay Sands' Bitten: Keeran MacKay has been cursed by a vampire that sought vengeance on his family after they killed her mate. He has lived two centuries in darkness, hating who he has become. When he saves Emily from the ship that was taking her to an arranged marriage he never thought she would breath life back into him. When Emily awakens in MacKay's castle she is surprised by the lack of servants that the house has and is upset that the laird is forcing the old couple caring for the place to do so alone. She is put to straight when the housekeeper tells her that everyone fears the MacKay and no one will work for him, Emily is determined to correct this, even if Keeran does not want her interference. In no time at all the house is filled with voices and is getting repaired. Keeran hates the reminder of what he can no longer have but the innocence in Emily is too alluring to deny. I liked this one although Emily's acceptance of the Vampire lure was a bit too easy, but the characters were so well drawn you felt their attraction as well as their suffering, so you were rooting for them all along. Gave this one a B.

Sara Blayne's Stranger in the Night: Worse one in the pack... Georgiana Thornberry is a antiquarian and is summoned away from a very promising excavation by her uncle who doesn't show up in the story at all. Julius is a mystery for most of the story since he barely shows his face until mid way in the book and then delivers a few lines before he is exposed as the boogey man. If you haven't picked up on my complete disdain for this piece, read the review again. There was barely any conversation in the story, mostly it was Georgiana who kept analyzing her life or so much background details that made this short story feel VERY long, then all of a sudden Georgiana is in love with Julius, yet we, the reader, have seen them converse once! Also, the story's point of view kept shifting all over the place. At some points it's told as if it was in the past, then others in the present, sometimes past and present mixed up and had me, the reader, shaking my head and thinking, WTF? On top of that Julius, who has just found acceptance and love wants to throw it away by awaiting the dawn? I thought I would lose it altogether at that point! Gave this one an F.

Kate Huntington's The Awakening was decent writing, unfortunately the plot took a twist down a path I have issues with. Thalia Layton goes to aid her elderly aunt who is very ill. What she finds startles her because the servants of the house flee before sunset and her aunt is eager to have her leave too. The man that has been lover to her aunt is known to be a monster. Adrien Lucerne is not happy to have this young, innocent woman in his home, when he has not feed on a human for 6 mo. Cordelia is dying and her niece is tempting him. This is the issue I have... Adrien is actually the cause of Cordelia's death and he is eyeing her niece as candy? I hate to give spoilers so if you don't want to know, I suggest you...
The kicker was that the night her Aunt dies, Thalia seduces Adrien. They went from her Aunt's grave to her bed. So not cool!! The writing itself was smooth and enticing but honestly, the distasteful nature of the story was too much for me and graded this one a D-

Grade: C

Anthology - Hot Ticket

In following my goals for 2007 I have been reading one anthology per month. I seem to find a draw to this type of book and so I have many in my TBR pile. My Anthology read for the month of February was a bit of a disappointment. The best of the bunch was Deidre Martin's Same Rink, Next Year and that one just got a B.

Lucky Charm by Julia London: In this story we get to know a baseball player that has been in a slump lately and he blames it on a radio talk show host who has been bashing him on the airwaves. Parker Price decides that enough is enough and decides to confront Kelly O'Shay. He heads over to her radio station and they meet, but instead of dislike they find themselves attracted to each other and start seeing each other. Parker's game improves and he thinks Kelly is his source of Good Luck. All in all the story was interesting and well rounded, which I find rare in a short story and yet it still had a rush feel to it. B-

Same Rink, Next Year by Deirdre Martin: This one was the prize of the group and lead me to pick up Martin's latest full length story Chasing Stanley (which was a disappointment). In this story a yearly tradition is broke by the arrival of a snowstorm which causes David Hewson to spend more than one passionate night with the concierge of the hotel his hockey team stays in every year. Tierney O'Connor waits with baited breath every year for the Herds (the hockey team) to arrive at her hotel. The promise of her yearly sexual encounter with the hunky Goalie, has her on tender hooks but this year the team is stranded at the hotel for several days giving the couple time to get to know each other. Although they are reluctant, at first, to break the mystery of their encounters, the promise of more to come has them exploring what could happen. B

You Can't Steal First by Annette Blair: I honestly picked up this book for Annette's story. I know Annette from my reading group and she is a very charming lady, but although her Salem Witch series was one I enjoyed, this story was difficult to get into. We met Tiago in My Favorite Witch. He was a character that begged to tell his story and although we discover that he is this sensitive, lovable person and not the womanizing, panty stealing playboy he portrays himself to be, the relationship he has with Quinn is so complex, it was not something that fit into a short story format. Quinn gave Tiago her virginity when she was just a teenager. She was the rich girl and he was from the other side of the tracks. He disappears on her, while she was thinking they had a future together. She let her father rule her life and when she is forces onto Tiago's Hot-Ticket Express to Spring Training train ride by her closest friends she finally discovers the truth behind what happened all those years ago. C

Can't Catch This by Geri Buckley: This one was the killer of th book. The casual encounter between Lindy Hamilton and Josh Weldon at a football game left me wondering what was it that drew her to him other than his good looks and for someone with such a terrible track record with her other relationships, what did Josh offer that made him different? If at the end of thebok I cannot see that chemistry, that reason for the love they declare for each other, the story has failed. The story takes place mostly at the football games and although Josh keeps saying he has fallen for Lindy, there is just no 'zing' in the encounters. This one just didn't do it for me. D-

Grade: C

Friday, April 13, 2007

She's No Princess by Laura Lee Guhrke

Sir Ian Moore is the older brother of Dylan (whom we met in His Every Kiss) but they cannot be the more opposite. Dylan was always the carefree, artistic type while Ian always strived to meet his father's expectations. He is a diplomat and the career suits him because he never lets his emotions show, he always does what is right and his honor is unquestionable... until he meets Lucia.

Lucia Valenti, not only is the illegitimate daughter of a prince, but also is the daughter of one of the most notorious courtesans in London. She had been unacknowledged by her father for most of her life, although he did school her, but when she is caught with a blacksmith at her school, she is sent off to a convent where not even the nuns could keep her down. Now she embroiled her younger sister in scandal and her father has had enough! He sends her to Ian, so that he can get her married off.

Lucia will not marry for anything other than love and schemes her way into having Ian agree to let her choose her own husband among the list of men he has approved. Ian has no clue as to what is coming over him as he keeps letting Lucia get her way. He is tempted beyond belief and his wall of indifference just keeps getting chipped away by the rebellious Italian!

I loved seeing Ian get all ruffled and out of shape. Guhrke has great talent in painting a picture of the scenes she is describing and I could clearly see Ian all polished and stiff, getting his hair tosseled by Lucia. The book really drew you in from the start but I could not say the ending left you sighing. I felt as if it ended too abruptly.

I feel as if the book was misleading at the end when it came to Ian's feelings about his career. He tells Lucia something at the end that was just not indicated by his actions and his thoughts at the end of the book. It seemed as if the author was in a rush to end the tale with a pretty pink bow. I would have also like to see more interaction between Ian and Lucia, since every time they did spend time together it was a storm waiting to happen.

Grade: B-

The Marriage Bed by Laura Lee Guhrke

The times I have read about John and Viola Hammond's relationship (in both Guilty Pleasure and His Every Kiss) I admit to having developed and affinity to their situation. It seems that Viola despised her husband passionately and John could care less about his wife. I really could not see them ever reconciling yet that is exactly what Guhrke set out to do in this book.

John Hammond has led a life of carelessness but he is finally facing his responsibilities when he finds he needs an heir. John always thought that his title would pass on to his cousin Percy and then his son, but Percy goes ahead and dies of scarlet fever! Now he has to find a way to reconcile with his wife Viola to assure an heir that will secure his viscount title doesn't pass onto his other idiot cousin.

Viola had been hurt by this man in the past when she discovered that he had not married her for love but for the money her dowry brought. She shut him out of the marriage bed then and he sought refuge in other womens arms. He now wants her to forgive his transgressions of the past so that she will allow him to return to that marriage bed to beget the heir he needs. Well, she will have no part of it. Yet, society dictates that if her husband comes to claim her, he has the legal right to take her away, and take her away he does, forcing his presence in her life and unsettling her with her wit and laughter.

What John had not realized was that more than making love to Viola, he missed the love Viola gave him so freely and he is determined to gain access not just to the marriage bed but into the heart of his wife.

On the down side of this one is that Viola was not a very likable character, she caused the riff in her marriage by her stubbornness and her lake of faith in the relationship she was starting to develop with her new husband . Then John went off and didn't fight for her adding fuel to the fire. I had a hard time believing that after so many years of hating her husband Viola just suddenly accepted him and yet Guhrke made the journey of these two back to each other so enticing that I could accept the spontaneous acceptance of Viola's husband back into her life and that alone made it a great book.

Grade: B+

Friday, April 06, 2007

His Every Kiss by Laura Lee Guhrke

The first book I read by Guhrke was Guilty Pleasure and I fell in love with her work. When I picked up this one which takes place among the same characters from that first book, I thought maybe Guhrke might have been a one hit wonder but I kept reading despite the VERY slow start. It picked up after 100 pages.

Dylan Moore was a composer who after suffering an accident (fell off his horse) he can no longer hear music to compose. He is suffering from migraines that block out his muse. He is about to take his life when a destitute violinist interupts him and chastises him for attempting the suicide. To his surprise he finally hears music in her presence but she runs away from him before he discovers who she is... He looks for her over 5 years but has no luck until he runs into her again when he is at a ball and she is a musician playing.

Grace has had her share of being a muse when as a young girl she ran off with a painter destroying her reputation. She eventually married the lout but when his inspiration drained he turned to drink and eventually made her life miserable. She refuses to go through that again but Dylan offers to hire her to be a governess to his daughter Isabel (who he has just met) and in the process also serve as his muse. She wants to refuse but she is down to her last shilling and so her finances don't allow her to be picky so she accepts the position as governess.

When things got difficult, I found that Dylan was too fast to judge. But I think he did a good bit of groveling and his efforts in using his influence to repair her reputation and her relationship with her brother made him deserving of her.

Grade: B-

Chasing Stanley by Deirdre Martin

Wow this one was bad. I kept thinking it would eventually turn better but it never did. It also ended as if everything that happened in the book was not important. These two will sooo end in divorce!

Jason is a new recruit for the New York Blades' Hockey Team (Martin's previous hockey books revolve around this team). He has moved to NY to fulfill his lifelong dream to win the Stanley cup. He has brought from Minnesota his newfoundland dog who is not acclimating well to city life. During one of his walkings he runs into Delilah who appears to be the answer to all his problems.
Delilah has her own business and although it isolates her from humankind her dogs are her life and she prides in the care and training she provides. When she crosses paths with the hockey player and his Newfie, Stanley, she berates him for having the dog out in hot weather, but she quickly realizes that he needs her help more than her words. She agrees to take him on as a client and starts to help him train Stanley.

They fall for each other, obviously, and here is where to book starts to fall apart. Jason and Delilah were too different from the get go. Jason loves to socialize and Delilah is a hermit that lives for her dogs and her dog training business. Through out the book, Delilah was a walking mat for Jason who kept asking for her to change to suit him. She had to leave her business to party with him, even when she was uncomfortable in social situations. He really never did anything for her, it was always about him. Even in the end, when they get back together it's on his terms.

The writing was good but the plot felt like I was watching a train wreck waiting to happen. Jason was brusque and mean at times. I just could not see him ever deserving Delilah. She was not perfect but definitely not deserving of Jason's nastiness. I didn't give it an F because the writing was actually decent and the first bit in which Jason was discovering his feelings was cute.

Grade: D
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