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Copyright: 2004

Pages: 299 (paperback edition)

Setting/Type: Americana/Straight Romance

Publisher: Mills & Boon Historical Romance

Author Website: didn’t find anything, what a shame

Grade: B-

North Carolina, 1884: Caleb Pitt, solitary lighthouse keeper, once believed love was eternal as the sea, for Alanna Patterson promised him for ever. But, despite her vow, she left him to drown in disgrace. now, years later, she’s reappeared in his life, beautiful as ever … and just as seductive.

The passion Alanna shared with Caleb has always burned in her memory, and now, faced with marrying another, she has returned to discover if Caleb still holds any smouldering feelings for her. Is it time to put tragedy behind them and find lasting love?

When I discovered that the libraries here in Glasgow are literally stuffed with all kinds of Mills & Boon goodies I mobilized my email buddies and asked for good historical recommendations. The Lightkeeper’s Woman was the first one in this mini-project.

Forget the blurb, it’s simply stupid, especially the second part.  …and now, faced with marrying another, she has returned to discover if Caleb still holds any smouldering feelings for her. GAG GAG, BLEARGH. Blurbs like that are a sure reason for me not to touch such books, thankfully there are people out there who are more resistant than yours truly.
First of all, big HUGE brownie points for the setting and the hero’s occupation. A lightkeeper *sigh*, I know in reality a lightkeeper’s job is far from romantic as part of the story reveals all too clearly, but oh my, all my girly hormones are melting in delight :-)

If it was for the hero and the plot idea I would have given the story a straight A, but Alanna, a heroine that sometimes flirts too much with not being likable, made me mark this book as B-. The reasons why I didn’t feel too close with her are totally subjective, and in some points – I admit – rather silly. I guess for many other readers this story could still be a real jackpot book.

First of all, I have bad connotations with the name Alanna. Who ever invented it is not my favorite pal. Secondly, Alanna used to be a spoiled woman who could spend whole days pouting because of some fashion issues. I have come upon a number of heroines who cleaned up nicely after such an idle past , Alanna only convinced me partly. Mainly, I think because her behaviour turned into (sometimes) such saint and angelic dimensions that I could only blink in incredulity.

Admittedly in the two years she separated from the hero, lost her father to suicide and all her worldly possessions to creditors she changed a lot, but a healthy dose of egoism and consideration for herself would have made her more believable.

Still, Mary Burton is a delightful new discovery and I will definitely read more from her work. Hopefully she has some other books with an interesting setting like this one!

Do you have a blog? Enjoy erotic romance?

Like a little humor with your hot guy?

Well, this is the contest for you!

November 27th, Samhain Publishing is releasing my first Red Hot Romance, “Test Me!”. To celebrate my heroes acting like happy bunnies, I’ve arranged for a special contest featuring another favorite character, Happy Bunny, hopping all over the blogsphere!

I know it’s a very revealing cover, but damn, I really like it – it’s so wonderfully sensual :-)

 

Here’s The Game:

1. Copy and paste this post on your website, blog, MySpace, or wherever you wish, including a link to this “Test Me!” Excerpt. (For HTML Code, click HERE!)

2. Once you’ve completed #1, email laideebug @ Gmail.com (no spaces) with the subject line that reads: “Happy Bunny Blog Contest”. Include a link to your site and you are entered.

That’s it! But you could totally make Dee’s day if you win by reviewing “Test Me!” at your earliest convenience, too!

Here’s what you could win!

The Grand Prize:

• An e-Book ARC of “Test Me!”
• A Happy Bunny sling bag
• A Happy Bunny magnet game
• Happy Bunny Post-it notes
• Happy Bunny To-Do List
• Set of Happy Bunny mini-pens

And to fill your bag with things to be thankful for, a special gift from my good buddies Maya Banks and Amy Knupp!

• A copy of “For Her Pleasure” by Maya Banks
• A backlist choice from Superromance author Amy Knupp

Oh, but it doesn’t stop there! There’s more!

Three extra winners will win an e-copy of “Test Me!” as well as two surprise e-Book prize selections from the following list:

• A backlist book of the winner’s choice from Ann Wesley Hardin.
• An e-copy of “La Bella Luna” from Bobbie Cole.
• A backlist book of the winner’s choice from Heather Rae Scott.
• An e-copy of “Brazen” and an e-copy of her upcoming Christmas novella, Love Me, Still(goes out to winner 12/18/07) from Maya Banks
• An e-copy of “Calleye’s Justice” from Donica Covey

So help Happy Bunny hop all over the world! Post on your blog. Enter! Win!

All winners will be announced December 1st, 2007 on Dee’s blog, http://www.deetenorio.com/Blog!

Copyright: 2002

Running Time: 2h, 20min (2 CDs)

Setting/Type: 1920s – 1930s/Mystery

Series: Lord Peter Wimsey #1

Producer: BBC Radio 4

Author Website: www.sayers.org.uk (website of the Dorothy L Sayers Society; the design’s a wee bit weak, don’t cha think?)

Grade: B

Ian Carmichael is Lord Peter Wimsey, with Patricia Routledge as his mother, in this BBC radio 4 full-cast dramatisation. Dorothy L. Sayers’ first Lord Peter Wimsey tale introduces many of the author’s best-known characters. Wimsey’s mother, the Dowager Duchess of Denver, rings her son with news of ‘such a quaint thing’. She has heard through a friend that Mr Thipps, a respectable Battersea architect, found a dead man in his bath – wearing nothing but a gold prince-nez. Lord Wimsey makes his way straight over to Mr Thipps, and a good look at the body raises a number of interesting questions. Why would such an apparantly well-groomed man have filthy black toenails, flea bites and the scent of carbolic soap lingering on his corpse? Then comes the disappearance of oil millionaire Sir Reuben Levy, last seen on the Battersea Park Road. With his beard shaved he would look very similar to the man found in the bath – but is Sir Levy really dead?

Many thanks to Rosario’s Top 100 Ballot without I would have never discovered Dorothy L Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey series. In 2002 BBC Radio 4 adapted Sayers novels into full-cast radio dramas and brought them out as affordable audio CDs. When I browsed the Glasgow libraries for editions of Sayers’s work I stumbled upon those plays and decided to give them a try.

When I first heard the voices of Lord Peter Wimsey and his butler Banter I nearly sprayed my morning coffee all over my fellow train rider sitting just opposite of me. Wonderful, simply wonderful. Lord Peter sounds like a more “Oxford English” version of Pierce Brosnan (and I love that actor) and Banter is so stiff and posh you really need to check if there’s a stick hidden in his bottom. But the crème de la crème of the cast is Lord Peter’s mother, the Dowager Duchess of Denver. Nobody, but nobody can say “Oh, dear” in quite such a voice and pronunciation as she. If for nothing else, the voices alone really made my day.

But not to be left out, the mystery of the story was pretty convincing too. I am kind of an old-fashioned girl when it comes to anything remotely connected with murder. Growing up with countless times of reading (and re-reading) Agatha Christie novels, I favor murders without too much blood and gruel and nasty details involved. And I would like to have a strong motive, not just a jealous lover or a freaked-out killer … well, maybe with the exception of Karen Rose, this woman is just too good.

And all this Sayers delivered. A naked corps in the bathroom of a well-established architect (quite shoking considering the story plays in the 1920s) and NO flash pointing in the direction of the culprit. Several possible murders are established, well combined with lots of clues and brain storming on Lord Peter’s side.

All in all, it was a perfect story that accompagnied me on my way to work, was with me while I spent some money for a new winter coat (it only cost 30 pounds and I simply couldn’t resist) and finally delivered a satisfying ending when I took the train back home. :-)

#2 in the series, I cooooooooooooooome!

Copyright: 2006

Pages: 432 (paperback edition)

Setting/Type: Contemporary/Straight Romance

Publisher: Mira

Author Website: www.StefAnnHolm.com (Love, love, love this site. Beautiful and distinctive design and lots of information.)

Grade: B+

Single-mother Lucy Carpenter hopes she has made the right decision moving her two sons to Red Duck, Idaho. The upscale ski community should provide ample opportunity for her to work as a personal chef, although rival chef Raul is sabotaging her attempts. He seems to have cornered the cuisine market, so Lucy must carve out her own and turns to the town’s Lothario for help. Everyone loves ex-professional baseball player and present-day Little League coach Drew Tolman. All the women are attracted to him, and Lucy is no exception, despite her postdivorce hesitation. But nothing stops her from using Drew to stir up business, while he just wants to stir her. Holm returns to her home state of Idaho with fresh, likable characters who will have readers rooting for the happy ending and relishing every step along the way.

Oh my, what a wonderful read this book was, a real treat. Lucy Gets Her Life Back is a traditional contemporary as they are not often published these days (or I am missing all of them *humpf*). No suspense plot, no wacky characters that kiss goodbye any resemblance of reality and no instant gratuitous sex between the main characters that is totally unbelievable.

Lucy Carpenter is a strong woman who desperately tries to keep her beloved sons’s world together, despite her cheating husband’s two year absence, money problems and her 16 years old son’s occasional journey to marijuana-land. She hopes to accomplish that in Red Duck, Idaho which prides itself on being a small but well visited and beloved holiday hideaway for Hollywood and wannabe starlets.

Drew Tolman is a former professional baseball player turned little league coach now. After years or drinking himself nearly to death he now has been dry for nearly a decade, the only “problem” remaining is his 17 years old daughter. Until her 14th birthday he refused to acknowledge her, then some years ago, after cleaning up, reality hit with a healthy dose of remorse and self-contempt. Now that he has finally found to himself, his daughter doesn’t want to have anything to do with him anymore.

Lucy is an easy to love heroine. Despite being deeply hurt, she remains strong and doesn’t loose faith in life. She struggles and money is tight but she doesn’t get bitter or wallows in self-pity. Drew, however, is more difficult to warm up to. The more the author tells about his story the more I felt challenged by his personality. Usually I avoid “alcoholic” stories like crazy, it’s not a plot that appeals to me, but in this case I can really mark down a big exception. Drew’s past with his daughter leaves to be desired and the story between those two touched me deeply, especially because the reader gets to know his daughter through her journal and later on through her appearance in Red Duck. The interaction between those two was very touching and I was close to seriously needing a tissue.

Lucy’s and Drew’s lovestory develops slowly and is certainly not the main focus of the story. I would rather say that the book is equally divided between both main characters getting their life back in order, and, as a consequence of their growth and development, find together in the end.

And besides SEP I dub Stef Ann Holm as new queen of secondary romances. It was as much touching and entertaining as the main story and a wonderful addition to Lucy’s and Drew’s story.

Lucy Gets Her Life Back is a very slow story and without any remotely action related scenes. What made me give this story a B+ instead of a straight A was actually the lack about Lucy’s professional growth. I read about her struggles and fights to become established as a personal chef and how in the end she found a niche for herself in Red Duck, but I was kind of missing the filling in between. And, on Holm’s website I discovered that the author enjoys to cook herself, and  I would have LOVED to read more about the cooking, the experimenting and consequently the sensuality of cooking when connected with a love story.

Anyway, this book was totally splendid and I am looking forward to more treats from this author.

Copyright: 2004

Pages: 302 (trade-size paperback edition)

Setting/Type: Contemporary/Straight Erotic Romance

Publisher: Signet

Author Website: www.LuAnnMcLane.com (ermm, the book pages leave a lot to be desired, a link to Amazon simply isn’t enough)

Grade: C

Stories of America’s other favorite pastime… (wink wink, nudge nudge, COUGH) <- this comment was added by yours truly, simply couldn’t resist.

It’s “Sex and the Small Town” in three fun and flirty stories… You’ll find both down-home dreams and big-time passion in Sander’s City. The town’s love affair with baseball sparks some scorching affairs off the field. And the men are fair game…

It’s “Sex and the Small Town” in three fun and flirty stories… You’ll find both down-home dreams and big-time passion in Sander’s City. The town’s love affair with baseball sparks some scorching affairs off the field. And the men are fair game…

In “Hot August Night,” Erin O’Shea is a high school principal with sports on her mind. The school’s lack of a baseball coach coincides with her lack of a man. Luckily, bad-boy former pro Michael Manning is ready and willing to fill both positions.

“Heat Wave” finds Josey Cooper, a recently divorced drama teacher, rounding the bases with Chase Mitchell, the sexy manager of the Sander’s City Flyers who is playing for keeps…

Skin-tight pants are hard to resist – especially when they’re on a starting pitcher. In “Hotshot,” sensible schoolteacher Halley Forrester finds herself loosening up with Reese Taylor, who’s an all-star in more ways than one…

I have finished a book, wouldn’t you believe it – YEAH – and it was for pleasure, not for money. Albeit, the money is fantastic, so I won’t bemoan it *g*. In the end, the pleasure part wasn’t that great, even though the book contained three stories about “America’s other favorite pasttime”. It took me two weeks to arrive at the last page, because – surprise, surprise – the stories were rather underwhelming, and after a chapter I felt my brain cells shrinking back into the farthest part of my thinking organ.

To be fair, I am a picky erotic romance reader, and these days, after years of reading in the genre, it takes more than an average good story. And good, the story is, in a way. We have three heroines that don’t suffer from TSTL (a big plus, IMO), three sexy men, a lot of America’s other favorite pasttime, and ….. plots so thin it made me nearly weep.

I think, I either need a very good plot combined with great characters and/or hot sex scenes (the big ideal), or, if one of those points isn’t perfect, at least one part that is outstanding and extraordinarily convincing. Like i.e. a hot story, with no plot and not overly developed characters, but mind-blowing sex scenes. I have come upon such books once in a while, but they are rare. In case of Hot Night pretty much everything is average, so when the h/h finally jump into bed with each other, it’s just another anticlimax instead of a conclusion to lots of sexual tension.

I would love for erotic romance writers to take more time developing their characters. To see them grow on each other and for me as a reader to consequently feel the buildup of passion and tension between the h/h.

Well, I’ll keep on wishing … that’s surely no sin. I have another book of this author on my TBR pile, perhaps this one will be more convincing.

I am still alive

I have been working my ass off during the last days, doing about a dozen editorial reviews. Pewhh, hard work, but I earned some good money I can use towards travelling and a digital camera (when I actually find some time buying one).

You wouldn’t believe it, but I didn’t read one book since the beginning of last week. I am kind of trying to get into Hot Summer Nights by McLane but I actually can’t read more than a few pages a day because the stories are so bland. After that one, alas, I am going to indulge myself with a Stef Ann Holm, LUVVV her, one of my best discoveries this year!

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.