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Archive for October, 2007

Copyright: 2003

Pages: 320 (paperback edition)

Setting/Type: Americana/Straight Romance

Publisher: St. Martin’s

Series:Grayson Brothers #2

Grade: C

When Kyle Grayson accused his competitor Tom Drake of treachery, he never imagined the man would die in his arms. Wracked with guilt, Kyle marries Tom’s daughter Amelia and vows to resurrect her father’s lumberyard. Though hard and cynical when it comes to love, he is all too aware of his desire for his beautiful wife-sensing her secret longing for his touch, her fear of his passion…and the unspoken secrets weighing down on their marriage.

I wouldn’t have finished this book, hadn’t I been sitting in a train without anything else to read. Nothing’s worse than not having anything to read on a long train ride, that’s why I stumbled through this story about Kyle and Amelia.

I put The Longing on my wishlist thanks to a review over at AAR and its (nowadays) unusual setting. I have a weakness for Americanas, so I am always eager to find out about new authors in this genre and hidden treasures.

To be fair, I do understand what makes this book so special to some readers. Wendy Lindstrom possesses a fine craftsmanship and ability to create characters and describe their lives. For me, it probably was an “it’s not you, it’s me” book.

From the beginning, Amelia, the heroine is put into a situation that makes her utterly dislikable to me, even though I DO (kind of) understand her acting and reasoning. Amelia is a school teacher and restricted to the severest rules of deportment. When Kyle calls on her to tell her about her father’s death, they are discovered and Amelia consequently tricks Kyle into marrying her by telling their “unwanted” visitors about his supposed proposal. Amelia has been ruined in the past and the only future she envisions for herself is a restricted life as school teacher. She desperately wants to marry and be a wife, and, in a way, Kyle’s visit seems to be her last chance.

Since his father’s death Kyle has been responsible for his brothers and mother, and to keep a roof over his beloved ones with a struggling family business. He has denied himself to go to university and now again kind of sacrifices himself in order to protect Amelia. Because he feels guilty and responsible for her father’s death he sooner or later would have offered for Amelia voluntarily, this way, however, the marriage is just another burden to his life.

This is just the description of the very beginning of the story. While it continues, many more facets of guilt come into play and just made me gnashing my teeth.

I know Amelia is in a horrible situation, especially considering a woman’s position in society in the late 1900s. Yet nevertheless, her acting made me dislike her immensely. Kyle was all in all a much more agreeable character, but after a while he got martyrdom qualities and I just couldn’t put up with him anymore.

There’s definitely too much guilt in this story and concerning my reading future I don’t feel very tempted to try Lindstrom’s writing out again.

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Copyright: 2005

Pages: 219 (trade-size paperback edition)

Setting/Type: Contemporary/Straight Erotic Romance

Publisher: Virgin Cheek

Grade: A-

Roma Hanson is having a crisis – a common crisis for a twenty-eight year old woman, but a crisis nonetheless. Her problem? Her ten-year high school reunion is approaching fast, and she’s not ready. It’s shallow, she knows, but she wants to set her old classmates on their ears. She’s got a good job, but she needs the whole package if she’s going to succeed. That would, of course, include an awesome car, a killer body, and a mouthwatering hunk on her arm. An eventful visit to the gym shows her that she may be able to get two birds with one stone. Personal trainer Jake Logan is a spine-tingling, knee-weakening, hunk of burning love. She just has to find a way to convince him to be on her arm when the boasting at the reunion begins!

This is me when I have found a perfect PLAIN erotic romance that reminds me why I truly love this genre. No whips, no kink, just good plain old steamy romance that burns up the sheets.

Roma’s ten year high school reunion is approaching and she wants to take revenge on her former torturer Ellie. In order to achieve that, a splendid body, a gorgeous hunk and an impressive car need to be organized. The latter is probably the easiest, but what to do about her bod and companion? A visit to the gym seems to solve all problems. Besides a number of new friends, Roma fights successfully against her weak mind-body relationship and conquers attractive and sexy gym owner Jake.

I usually don’t go for the revenge plot, but Ms Dean has created such an authentic and funny heroine with Roma, that I could truly emphasize with her. Yes, revenge is indeed sweet, and Roma doesn’t loose her head over her goal. In the end she keeps her heart in the right place and shows with her sometimes clumsiness, cuddliness and sharp whit and mind that there’s something very special and extraordinary in every so-called average woman. Roma was a heroine I could fully and totally identify myself with, and that’s something very special for yours “selective” truly.

And the love scenes. THANK heavens there are authors like this one that make me forget boring boinking, silly shagging and grotesque humping sessions. Jake and Roma are passionate and hot and their love scenes wonderfully erotic and compelling.  Btw., there’s also a lovely secondary romance going on between two of Jake’s employee’s. The story between a man in his late thirties and a twenty-something fitness trainer …. hmmm, what a yummi combination (I do have a thing for May-December romances). They make up a hot pair and deliver an interessting addition to the main plot.

I want more of this author, pretty please :-)

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Copyright: 2000

Pages: 219 (paperback edition)

Setting/Type: Contemporary/Series Romance

Publisher: Harlequin Mills & Boon Sexy Sensation

Grade: B+

When Hallie Bennett was growing up, she wanted to be an archaeologist, a trapeze artist, or possibly even a fairy. Never in her wildest nightmares did she think she’d end up working in a tiny shoe store in London. But it’s only temporary, right?

Software developer, Nick Cooper, is about to close a deal with a wealthy Hong Kong software distributor. But there’s a catch. He invented a wife to ward off the businessman’s amorous daughter and now he and his wife are invited to Hong Kong to socialise and seal the deal. He needs a wife for a week. Someone savvy enough to keep the businessman’s daughter out of his bed, persuasive enough to pull off the pretence, and screwy enough to do it.

But first he has to buy his mother a new pair of shoes…

Oh my, what a fabulous category romance. Where has this author hidden until now? And it’s even a Harlequin Presents edition in America! After some big disappointments I can’t believe that I have found a book in this line that features such a witty and grown- up heroine and a hero that doesn’t have an Oedipus/anal-related Freud mother complex.

After countless of HPs, this on was the first one that made me laugh out loud and gave the corners of my mouth a serious workout! The witty dialogues between Halli and Nick are priceless. Hilariously funny and with a fresh voice, the author turns a not-so-new plot into a real treasure.

I discovered that Kelly Hunter is a fairly new author with only three releases so far (which I have immediately put on my wishlist). This was a real treat, thank you, and earns a solid B+!

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Copyright: 2000

Pages: 305 (trade-size paperback edition)

Setting/Type: Contemporary/Chick Lit

Series: Shopaholic #1

Grade: D-

On the face of it, Rebecca Bloomwood has it all. Confident, single and happily living in des-res Fulham with her best friend Suze, she’s a financial journalist who spends her days writing articles advising other people on the importance of budgeting and prudent investing. Her private life is a different story though; Rebecca manages her own finances in a way that would make most of her readers’ hair curl–for Rebecca is a woman on a mission–she just can’t stop spending.

This, ladies and gentleman, is a seriously dumb book with a brain-dead heroine and a listing of endless escapades about how to spend big money on useless stuff. The heroine, Rebecca Bloomwood, is a 25 year old financial journalist; though how she ever got her job in this branch boggles my mind because there isn’t a person more unsuitable. Problably won it playing Lotto.

The whole book is about how Rebecca tries to save money, doing so by applying the only two obvious options as in a) cutting back and b) making more money. The first one turns out a total disaster, the second one takes off better – but only thanks to Fortuna who probably couldn’t stand the sight of this addlebrained female anymore.

You would think that Rebecca would grow towards the ending of the book, advance in her being and progress at least a little in her quest. Forget it. She’s a blind squirrel that has found a nut and milks it for all that it’s worth.

As a reader I breatheda sigh of relief after the last page because, honestly, never have I met such an unlikable I narrator than shopping addicted Rebecca Bloomwood.

Well, definitely no more Shopaholic books for me, this one was more than enough to rest me a lifetime.

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Copyright: 2006

Pages: 192 (paperback edition)

Setting/Type: Contemporary/Series Romance

Grade: B

When Jason Pollack bought out Beville Holdings, he had plans for its beautiful blond receptionist. But the infamously ruthless tycoon soon discovered that his wealth and power didn’t impress Leah Johanssen. She was the first woman in a long time who didn’t want to chase him down the aisle!

Leah’s refusal of Jason’s advances made him desire her all the more. He’d make her want him; he wouldn’t rest until he had Leah in his bed and at his command!

Ever since discovering a fantastic Miranda Lee keeper in a m-bag full of goodies, I try to read some of her books once in a while. It’s rather difficult to seriously work on her backlist because it’s longer than the Chinese wall.

Forget the title of this book, it’s totally stupid and only partly right. First of all, the heroine, Leah Johanssen, is in no way anyone’s mistress, au contraire, the hero Jason Pollack even stresses that she’s his girlfriend. And there’s also nothing forbidden about the whole liaison, so why in heaven they came up with such an unsuitable title will only the schizophrenic people from the HP editing department ever know.

This was not the best Lee ever but she did create an interesting and entertaining read. Jason is a rather unconventional HP hero. Formerly married to a much older woman out of love, widower and celibate for four!!! years and without any vampy bitch in tow. He has a very decent character, without the typical prejudices towards women, heroes from this Harlequin line usually have.

Leah, compared to Jason, is a rather typical HP heroine, however, she misses some stupid TSTL traits which was really refreshing. She’s a little Miss Goody-Two-Shoes who wants to live on her own, without the support of her father’s money, who has a complex because of some scars on her thigh and spends her Saturdays doing philanthropic work at the children’s wing in a hospital. That said, the end result is still a nice person, one that is for sure a little over the top and sweet, but still likable and entertaining.

Don’t expect anything big, but for a quick read an little brain investment this might be a good choice.

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Copyright: 2006

Pages: 185 (paperback edition)

Setting/Type: Contemporary/Series Romance

Grade: C-

Bryn Dwyer needed a wife — quickly, conveniently and temporarily. But not one of the empty-headed Sydney bimbos he usually had adorning his arm … Hot-headed firebrand Mia Forrester promised a much more exciting time!

Bryn was offering a large amount of money, which Mia seemed happy to accept. But he was unaware of the very good reason why she needed to accept his proposal – and his cash. He was also about to discover that he’d employed an inexperienced virgin to be his new bride!

After the last Debacle with a Melanie Milburne book where I came to the conclusion to give up on her writing, I decided to save my time and not review this one. It’s hugely better than the Debacle, but somehow I lost my taste for this author.

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Copyright: 2006

Pages: 256 (paperback edition)

Setting/Type: Contemporary/Series Romance

Grade: B

Stubborn Irish beauty Rhiannon O’Brannoch rides into Redhawk Jackson’s life, and he knows everything is destined to change. But he has no idea just how much. As if no money, a failing business, a rash of rustling and a dead body aren’t enough, now he has to contend with the one possibility that can truly break his spirit—losing Irish Heaven ranch, the only home he’s ever known and his one heart’s desire.

One look at her uncle’s sizzlingly sensual, broody ranch foreman has Rhiannon melting in her new pink cowboy boots, but Hawk only wants one thing from her…well, okay, two things… to get her off the ranch as soon as possible, and to get her into his bed. Will she insist on keeping her uncle’s legacy for herself, or will she succumb to temptation and give up everything for love?

I discovered Nina Bruhns years ago when I first read one of her erotic romance titles she wrote under the pen name Nikita Black. Totally loving it, I became curious about her category novels and hit jackpot. So far I have only read three of her series stories but each one of them delivered a solid story, good characterization and diverting entertainment. So when I checked the library catalogue and found several of her books I immediately put them on my reading list.

Hard Case Cowboy has a plot premise that is not one of my favorites. A big and integral part of the story is about the hero and heroine’s money problemes and how they struggle to save the ranch one of them is going to inherit. I try to avoid money issues, especially when both characters are concerned, but in case of Bruhns I made an exception, and thank heaven for that!

Rhiannon O’Brannoch is a refreshingly untypical category heroine. 32 and experienced in the ways of the world, she’s missing the purple prose many average females are forcefully “gifted” with. Despite money problems she never looses her joy for life. Her whole being instantly involved me in the story and made me feel comfortable and welcome.

Redhawk Jackson is a harder nut to crack. Too many times life has disappointed him and made him wary towards bubbly Rhiannon. Nevertheless, he is barely able to resist her charms. His quiet but sensual attitude conquers Rhiannon very fast, but it takes some time until he discovers his long lost thought heart.

This was an all around satisfying read and earns a solid B. There are five or six more books from Bruhns in my library and I am really looking forward to reading them… all of them!

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