I write book reviews, I also write books, and occasionally I write about myself!

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #344

Rancher's Perfect Baby Rescue - Linda Conrad
Harlequin Romantic Suspense
Harlequin, 2012
ISBN: 9780373277629

My rating

From the back cover:

"Susannah Paul had been grateful to the Devotees for helping her when she was pregnant and alone. But when her baby was born with a minor defect, she discovered the horrible truth about Cold Plains. And she ran. Desperate and exhausted, she found refuge at the Pierce ranch…and a savior in surly Nathan Pierce. 
Nathan had plenty of reasons to distrust the Devotees…and Susannah had been one of them. But as the delicate beauty insinuated herself into his life and his heart, Nathan realized she was different. And very much in danger. Soon nothing mattered more than protecting Susannah and her child from the evil closing in around them."

I'm getting very near to the end of my challenge now!

The heroine Susannah finds shelter in a barn, exhausted after spending all of the day on the run with her two week old baby. She is found by the hero Nathan, whose family owns the ranch she stumbled into, and she reveals to him that she has run away from the town of Cold Plains that has been taken over by a cult called the Devotees, after fearing for her baby's welfare as she was born with a large birthmark. Although initially wary of any that has been involved with the Devotees, Nathan takes Susannah and baby Melody in until they can regain their strength. Nathan has also heard the rumours about the Devotees not allowing anyone not 'perfect' and after his ex-wife got involved with them then ended up murdered he knows Susannah is in danger. He keeps them safe as much as he can as well as trying to help 'deprogram' Susannah from the cult's way of thinking, and he slowly begins to fall for the lost but beautiful woman she is. Susannah has never felt like she belongs as much as she does with Nathan, but she knows that the Devotees are looking for her and the only way to keep her and Melody safe is to leave.

This is the second book in the 'Perfect, Wyoming' mini series, and follows on nicely from the first book (Special Agent's Perfect Cover). But it did feel slightly flat and the suspense part didn't really move forward. The heroine, at times, is frustratingly weak, yes she had had a bad life and had a lot of people walk over her, but she needed a backbone, stat! The issue raised about her having to prostitute herself in the past was not dealt with at all - she said it, then it was forgotten about - I couldn't understand this at all, it's too much of a big thing to just throw in. The hero saves this book, he was just wonderful!

Overall, not a bad book but I was left asking a lot of questions.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #343

Back in the Lion's Den - Elizabeth Power
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263890426

My rating

From the back cover:

"Imprisoned with the past…
Conan Ryder storms into gym instructor Sienna’s life, interrupting her workout and raising her heart-rate through the roof! He demands his little niece comes with him to visit his sick mother, but Sienna won’t release her child into the hands of her estranged in-laws alone. 
With trepidation she re-enters the lion’s den…
The luxurious home in the South of France is a gilded prison under Conan’s accusing gaze. Blaming Sienna for his late brother’s demise, he plans his revenge… But when his dark game of seduction is turned on its head – who’s using who?"

Is it me or does the woman on this cover have seemingly giant boobs...!

The hero Conan goes to visit the heroine Sienna with a request that she allows her daughter to visit his mother. Sienna and her daughter Daisy have not seen Conan and his mother since just after the death of her husband (Conan's brother), they had never approved of her and she was glad to get away from them. However, she agrees to take Daisy to see her grandmother but once there she tries to avoid both Conan and his mother allowing Daisy time to get to know them as well as taking herself out of the firing line. Conan is surprised by the changes in Sienna, and soon realises that he doesn't like her spending time alone and he can't seem to stay away. They both feel the desire between them and it is not long before they are acting on it. But with so much distrust from the past between them Sienna knows that she is likely to end up heartbroken again.

I was expecting a lot more from this book. I always find Elizabeth Power's books full of emotion, but there was something missing in this one. The plot is interesting and the writing is flawless - these are good things! But, I found it difficult to relate to each character, they seemed a little contradictory. E.g. The hero threatens on more than one occasion that he will consider suing for custody, then later he tells her he can't have a relationship with her, or any other woman with a child, as he won't raise another man's child... Doesn't make sense right?! Also, the heroine is one minute insisting on how much she loved her late husband and then the next she's revealing that he was a wife beater... Very confusing and a little frustrating to read. These are easy mistakes to correct, so very annoying from the readers persepective.

But, there is lots of tension and chemistry throughout the book, and it flows well. Enjoyable, but not great.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #342

Deceived - Sara Craven 
Harlequin Presents
Harlequin, 1997
ISBN: 9780373119011
Reissue - Harlequin Treasury, 2011
eISBN: 9781459269194

My rating

From the back cover:

"The prodigal lover... 
Lydie had grown up too close to Marius Benedict to remain immune to her stepcousin's fatal charm. But Marius had merely seduced and abandoned her, leaving town under a cloud of scandal. Five long years and, no doubt, a dozen meaningless affairs later, Marius had walked back into her life, looking for all the world as if he owned it! The trouble was, he did. 
As far as Marius was concerned, it was Lydie who was the deceiver. He had been away a long time—just long enough to have planned his revenge on Lydie Benedict down to the first quiver of her lips.... 
Forbidden!—when passion knows no reason..."

This is another book from the Harlequin Treasury line, since it is a Sara Craven I couldn't resist!

The heroine Lydie is stunned when the hero Marius turns up after five years away, she had given up hope of ever seeing him again after he had left in the wake of scandal, breaking Lydie's heart in the process. She knows that Marius is back to claim his rightful place as his uncle's (Lydie's stepfather) heir, and she tries to avoid him. But Marius doesn't give her the chance and she realises that he has also come back to get revenge on her - for something she didn't do. Lydie is devastated when she discovers that her avaricious mother is solely responsible for everything that happened five years ago, but knows Marius will never believe her. Marius tells her that they will be married, purely for convenience and pleasure, and Lydie doesn't know what else to do other than go along with it. It is clear that the passion and desire between them is still there, but Marius's dislike of her breaks Lydie's heart more and more.

This is very typical of a lot of Sara Craven's books (in fact her most recent book 'The End of Her Innocence' is very similar in plot to this one) but as usual from this author it is solid and well written. It is a little info dumpy at the beginning and on occasions the writing is a little old fashioned - I do wish she wouldn't use "on the contrary" so often - but it works, and is pleasant to read.
There is plenty of mystery and chemistry between the hero and heroine that kept me reading. However, I feel the heroine lost her way as bit as the story progressed and she came across as a bit of a martyr. This book would be greatly improved by including the hero's POV but, hey, you can't have it all!

This is very much a 'classic' style romance, but very enjoyable.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #341

For Lust or Money - Kate Hoffmann
Mills & Boon Blaze
Harlequin Mills & Boon, 2008
ISBN: 9780263867244 (2-in-1 edition)
eISBN: 9781408900291 (singular ebook edition)

My rating

From the back cover:

"Temptation is timeless! 
Lottery-winning cameraman Zach Haas has always wanted to make movies. And with his newfound wealth, his dream is finally within reach. Now all he needs is the inspiration. Yet when he meets actress Kelly Castelle, he’s more than inspired – he’s aching with desire…but she’s ten years older than him! 
Nevertheless, Kelly is more than happy to embark on a wild, reckless fling with the sexy younger man. However, as their smouldering affair deepens, could the passion they share be powerful enough to stand the test of time?"

This is another purchase from the kindle store sale. I have read quite a few of Kate Hoffmann's Blaze's in the past and I like her style so I thought I would give this one a go.

The heroine Kelly is a struggling actress and arrives on the set of a TV show to film a segment on younger man/older woman relationships. She catches the eye of cameraman Zach, the hero, whom finds Kelly totally alluring. She gorgeous and also modest, but the fact that it's life imitating art with Zach being ten years younger makes Kelly wary. Knowing that, perhaps, she is a little too old for such casual relationships doesn't stop Kelly from responding to Zach's attentions. Zach starts out not wanting anything serious, not only does he have a lot going on in his life at the moment but he has been burned by love in the past. However, their hot and heavy fling quickly turns into much more but neither of them know if they are read to give up the things they would need to in order to be together, and their age difference is sometimes too obvious to ignore.

I was expecting a bit more from this book, but it ended up feeling a little flat. I was intrigued by the idea of the age difference relationship, and in general I have nothing against older woman/younger man ones but in this book the hero at twenty-four is just far too young to be believable (in my opinion anyway).
As expected from a Blaze there is plenty of steaminess, but after the first love scene everything, including the plot, seemed to lose it's way and it dragged towards to the end.

Overall not a bad story, but not quite all it could be.


Monday, 27 February 2012

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #340

Baby & the Beast - Laura Wright
Silhouette Desire
Silhouette Books, 2002
ISBN: 9780373764822
Reissue - Mills & Boon Desire, 2011
eISBN: 9781408942505

My rating

From the back cover:

"Caught in a raging snowstorm, imminent mother-to-be Isabella Spencer had never imagined that Michael Wulf, the sensual hero of her teenage fantasies, would come to her rescue. Now Isabella was ensconced in his high-tech mansion, secretly craving the touch of this reclusive millionaire who'd long ago closed off his heart.
Opening his home to his childhood friend - now an alluring woman - was dangerous enough. And when Bella gave birth to an adorable baby girl, Michael found himself yearning to play the part of father...and Bella's passionate husband! 
Was it possible for this lone wolf to shed his solitary ways and open himself up to love?"

I bought this recently from the Mills & Boon website - there is a bunch of backlist books from most lines reissued in ebook form on there! (Also available, as far as I could determine, on Amazon and other UK ebook stores).

The heroine Isabella is travelling back to her home town hoping to make a new life for herself and her baby when her car breaks down in a snowstorm. She is rescued by the hero Michael, whom takes her to his home to recover. Michael has never forgotten the love and shelter Isabella and her father gave him as a teenager when they took him in after he had run away from the children's home he had been living in. Looking after Bella is a way for him to finally repay the debt he believes he owes them, but he wasn't expecting to be snowed in with her, or that he would have to deliver her baby when Bella goes into labour. And he definitely wasn't expecting to find the grown up Bella so alluring. Bella has always been a little bit in love with Michael, and she is really proud that he has made such a success out of himself, but she fears that he hides himself away too much, afraid to open his heart after the trauma of his childhood. She wants him to open up to her, but Michael can't and fears that he is growing too attached to Bella and her little girl, wishing that they belonged to him, so his only way of dealing is to push her away.

This is a very quick and easy read, but enjoyable all the same. There is a lot of emoiton written into the story, from both the hero and heroine's individual backgrounds, and their developing relationship. The book has a nice flow and the love between the characters built slowing, and that made it feel very real. The hero is a wonderful character, so well developed he is open and warm yet also complex, he definitely deserves his happy ending. My only complaint is that the 'black moment' came from Michael overhearing a couple of bitchy women gossiping about him - for me, it felt a little too trivial to make an impact.
This book is a much gentler style of Desire than some of the more recent ones, and I actually prefer this type (the older ones).

A very pleasing book, well written with a genuine-feeling love story.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #339

Tabloid Affair, Secretly Pregnant - Mira Lyn Kelly
Mills & Boon Modern Heat
Harlequin Mills & Boon, 2010
ISBN: 9780263877496

My rating

From the back cover:

"The scandalous headlines are only the beginning 
Payton hasnt seen Nate Evans in years not since he used to hang out with her brother at high school. But now she and Nate are guests at the same wedding when the notorious millionaire offers her a wild proposal a sexy, scandalous and irresistible affair! 
Nates outrageous proposition was supposed to stay only paper thin; it was merely a ploy to distract the tabloids from another, all-too-real scandal. But neither expected such a very public affair to prove so very hot in private Or to have such lasting consequences..."

Another Modern! I'm on a bit of a roll at the moment, it's the kindle sale's fault!

The hero Nate has been out of the society limelight for a while dealing with a rather difficult situation that he would like to keep private. When he sees the heroine Payton, whom he knew when they were younger, he asks her out thinking he can both deflect the attention away from where he has been by having a high profile relationship with heiress Payton, as well as finally being able to act on the desire between them. Payton has secretly desired Nate for a long time and it is not long before they are taking their pretend relationship to a much more passionate level. However, Payton is not used to short-term affairs and she begins to fall for Nate, so when Nate realises things are getting too real between them he breaks things off. Payton is left heartbroken but tries to move on with her life, but that becomes difficult when she discovers she is pregnant - something that brings back bad reminders for Nate.

I really enjoyed this story. I like Mira Lyn Kelly's voice and style of writing, there is a lot of edge to her storytelling that makes her books feel very fresh. The plot is absorbing and well thought out - I liked the society setting and the fact that this felt realistic. The heroine is really well crafted, there is a lot of sadness in her but she also manages to be independent.
The interactions between the hero and heroine really lights up the pages, and there is plenty of chemistry throughout the whole book.

A fun, interesting, and emotional read.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #338

Shameful Secret, Shotgun Wedding - Sharon Kendrick
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin Mills & Boon, 2010
ISBN: 9780263878448

My rating

From the back cover:

"His pregnant mistress 
When renowned international playboy Giancarlo Vellutini invites shop assistant Cassie Summers to join him for dinner, how can she refuse? After all, she is an ordinary girl from Cornwall, and chances like this don't come round very often! 
Throwing caution to the wind, before she knows it unworldly Cassie is completely at Giancarlo's mercy. She finds herself agreeing to be his mistress for Christmas...But will an unexpected gift make this temporary festive arrangement last a lifetime?"

Another book I found cheap in the kindle store!

The hero Giancarlo sees the heroine Cassie working in a busy department store, finding her totally captivating he asks her to have dinner with him. Cassie is a little surprised by the offer, Giancarlo is so much more than anyone she has ever met, at first she declines his offer but then changes her mind. They end up spending the night together and Giancarlo is overwhelmed by both Cassie's innocence and her spirit. He asks her to spend a couple of weeks with him, making it clear that it is only a short term affair that he is offering, and Cassie agrees. The time they spend together is full of passion and they become close, but by the end Cassie realises that she doesn't belong in Giancarlo's world and their eventual parting is less than amicable. A few weeks later and Cassie is still thinking about Giancarlo and worried about what his reaction will be when she has to contact him to tell him that she is pregnant.

While this is a tried and tested plot, the execution of this book is pretty much perfect. I am a big fan of Sharon Kendrick, and I love it when she write the more gentle hero. The hero in this book manages to be that, as well as having all the alpha traits you would want. There is a lot of emotion and passion in all of the hero and heroine's interactions. and the whole story has a wonderful flow. The relationship actually develops over the story - by that I mean we, the readers, actually get to 'see' how the characters get to know one another and fall in love (rather than a book where the timeline jumps a lot).

This is a nice, yet passionate, read. I enjoyed it.


Thursday, 23 February 2012

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #337

Mistress, Mother... Wife? - Maggie Cox
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin Mills & Boon, 2011
ISBN: 9780263886276

My rating

From the back cover:

"Willing mistress... 
Drawn to his dark aura, hotel worker Anna Bailey stepped out of her shell and cast aside her usual shyness for a night with magnificent Italian Dante Romano... But five years later her only reminder of Dante is her adorable daughter, Tia. 
Dutiful bride...? 
Dante's fought hard to get where he is today - but nothing compares to discovering he's the father of a child. Marrying Anna is the only option he sees to right the wrongs of the past...so he'll see her at the altar, willing or not..."

Weird how the last two books I read have titles in the same structure [something-comma-something-dot-dot-dot-something]. Must be a theme!

The hero Dante and the heroine Anna meet when Dante is staying at the hotel Anna works at. Dante is grieving after the death of his mother and re-evaluating they way he leads his life. Anna recognises the his sadness and approaches him. They end up spending a passionate and unforgettable night together, but Dante disappears the next day. Five years later, Anna has just learned the her employers are in financial trouble and she may lose her job, which will mean she will have difficulty providing for her daughter. Her worry is made even worse when the person coming consult about the future of the hotel turns out to be Dante. Coming back to the hotel reminds Dante of the feelings he experiences in Anna's arms, but was not expecting to find her still there. He realises that he feels the needs to apologise for the way he left her but his attempts to talk to Anna do not get very far. Anna doesn't know how to tell him that her daughter is his, and is especially worried about what his reaction might be.

This is very much a slow burning story, but I enjoyed it. One thing that is common in Maggie Cox's books is that there is always an aura of sadness about them, and that is the case here but it is not as all consuming as some of her other books.
I really enjoyed the opening scene, reading how and why the characters meet and connect. After that the story drags a little, but I found it interesting and honest.

This is a soft, almost sombre read, but one that is likeable.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #336

Stranded, Seduced... Pregnant - Kim Lawrence
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin Mills & Boon, 2010
ISBN: 9780263878653

My rating

From the back cover:

"From pure - to pregnant! 
Lovely Neve Macleod's life is shrouded by scandal. The tabloids delight in branding her a scarlet widow, but in reality her marriage was for convenience. She's still a virgin, and a caring single stepmother - but no one wants to hear the truth...
That is until she finds herself stranded and snowbound with brooding tycoon Severo Constanza - an unlikely saviour. As the magnificent Italian comes to her rescue he knows nothing of her salacious past - just that she's pure at present!"

I bought this one, along with a few other Modern's, recently as they were on sale in the Kindle store.

The heroine Neve is trying to build a relationship with her teenage stepdaughter and ignore all the public scandal about her and her late husband's marriage. But her stepdaughter seems determined to hate her, and she ends up running off in the middle of a blizzard taking Neve's car with here. Neve impulsively jumps in the nearest car to go after her, and that turns out to be the hero Severo's car. Severo and Neve end up being stranded due to the snow and take shelter in a nearby empty house. Even though Severo thinks that Neve's actions were stupid and irresponsible, he can't help but be drawn to her seemingly innocent nature. While they are stranded, Neve and Severo end up acting on the desire between them but after they are rescues and Severo finds out exactly who Neve is he thinks she is a gold digger and wants nothing else to do with her. Neve goes back to her life and tries to forget all about Severo, their brief affair, and her humiliation but when she discovers she is pregnant she had to work up the courage to see him again.

I had a difficult time deciding what to rate this book; I liked it, but there are certain elements of it that I found quite frustrating. The plot itself is interesting and kept me reading. But the heroine at times acts childish and whines, a lot. Plus she lets the overly dominant hero boss her around so much - I really don't like heroines like this.

However, I did like the story. It's an OK read.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #335

Girl on a Diamond Pedestal - Maisey Yates
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263890525

My rating

From the back cover:

"Never been kissed. 
Noelle was once the girl who had everything. Until the piano prodigy fell from grace. Destitute and desperate, she’s forced to accept billionaire Ethan Grey’s convenient proposal. 
Ethan wants revenge – all he needs is Noelle’s signature on the marriage certificate. Yet his carefully composed façade cracks in the face of her innocent attempts at seduction. 
Noelle’s only ever felt love and excitement whilst at her beloved piano – yet now her traitorous body craves the white-hot passion ignited by Ethan’s skilled touch. But will he ever see her as more than a means to an end?"

I have been looking forward to reading this latest book from Maisey Yates - out on general sale here in the UK in March or available now on the M&B UK website now. I simply adore the cover a title!

The heroine Noelle's life is on hold; her music career appears to be over, her child stardom has faded, her controlling mother has left along with all of Noelle's money, and now she is about to lose her home. She meets the hero Ethan when he comes to look at her house, he asks her to come to his office the nest day and  she is shocked when he asks her to marry him. Ethan is looking for revenge on his playboy father wanting to take the family business from him but he can only do it if he is married. And marrying Noelle will be poetic justice considering his father had a very public extra-marital affair with Noelle's mother. Noelle agrees, not really knowing what else to do, and as they begin to make their (pretend) relationship known to society they also get to know one another. One thing Ethan wasn't counting on is Noelle being the complete opposite of what he was expecting, and not only does he want to help the lost, unconfirmed girl that she is, he also fiercely desires her. Noelle knows that whatever she and Ethan have between them, it is only temporary, but she wants to have everything he will give her and hopes that she won't lose her heart in the bargain.

Another really enjoyable book from Maisey Yates. The plot is enjoyable and well executed, and both characters are engaging. I especially liked the way the heroine was 'drawn', her traits that could come across as a little shallow and whiny actually fit what she would be like with her background. As the story progressed the heroine was 'finding herself', and I found that really enjoyable to read. The hero is a good character if a little arrogant, but it works.
My only complaint is that the revenge theme did feel a little flat, and I didn't like the fact that the heroine was being punished for things she had no control over. However the hero makes up for it with a nice bit of grovelling.

Overall, this is a solid and pleasing read.


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Where I work...

I grew up in an area where there are a lot of well off families, and large houses. My family was not one of them and we lived in a small three bedroom house and since there were four of us we didn't have the much coveted spare room/study that some of my school friends used to talk about. Ever since I have been an adult I have wanted, eventually, to have my very own study! When my husband and I first started looking to buy a house we were living in a modern [read: small] two bedroom flat, and the spare room doubled as a study but since it was stuffed full of books/DVD's/CD's/crap there was no room for a desk, so my one desire was to have a dedicated room that I could work in (at the time I was studying and had to keep all my text books in a cardboard box!). The house we bought, and still live, in has three bedrooms, but the third bedroom would only suit someone of borrower-size so I set my sights on that as my study! In fact it was the very first room that I decorated, and I love it!

So here it is -

Sorry, blurry photo. It was a bright day!

Sitting in front of the window is something I really like about this room. My big wall planner is this years attempt at not having to buy a diary! I like working on a laptop as I can move it easily, although this one is nearly 4 years old now, but I like it as it is a wide screen one and has a lovely big screen, it works (touch wood!) so I am loathe to replace it!

My bookcases are my favourite part of the room, I love just sitting looking at them! We have a lot of books! We have recently had a clear out, a couple of weeks prior to this photo there were stacks on the floor as well!

Any writer (and most people!) probably has a bit of an addiction to notepads and I certainly have, as well as a bit of an admitted klepto problem with post-it note pads - where I used to work they gave us packs to use at work, but they would often make their way home with me! I stack them up on the windowsill as 1, I don't know where else to put them and 2, They are within easy reach if I suddenly need them!

There are more notepads of the larger variety as well as many, many, many pens (you can never have enough!) under my desk. Note the ridiculously large Reese's mug that my husband bought but couldn't drink  anything out of because it is so big!

This box is something that I found in my parents loft when I was packing to go away to university, and my dad told me it was something he had made when he was at school, I asked if I could have it. He put a padlock latch on for me so I could keep stuff secure and I have had it with me ever since, it's a little more scratched and worn now. I keep a lot of craft stuff in it, it also doubles up as a great foot rest when I'm sitting at my desk!

My Coldplay Whatever it Takes mug is one of my favourite mugs, and it is the only mug I use when I'm at my desk! I am a creature of habit. By the way, I liked Coldplay before they commercialised the crap out of them!!

Both my husband and I are art/coffee table book lovers, we have tons of them! Damn heavy and awkward size things, but I am obsessed with them, plus they are very inspiring!

I try to aim to spend at least 3 hours everyday in my study writing or working, usually in the morning after my husband has left for work. I will often do casual writing (such as reviews, research, idea scribbles) with pen and paper sitting on the sofa in the evenings. As much as I would like to say that I write everyday, it would be a lie. But although I may not get any words down I always try to do something - be it a bit of research, or a read through etc. And always in my study! This works for me, I have high distraction levels so I find it near  impossible to work where other things are going on.

I know I am lucky to have my own space to work, I would be upset if I had to lose it (you know if 'baby' happens) but I would deal with it! The kitchen table - when I have one again - would become my new best friend until I could have my daydreamed-about garden office built!

Hope you liked the peak at my working space. 

Where (and when) do you work?


Tuesday, 21 February 2012

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #334

The Secret She Can't Hide - India Grey
Harlequin Presents
Harlequin, 2011
ISBN: 9780373129973

N.B. The UK title of this book is 'Her Last Night of Innocence'.

My rating

From the back cover:

"World-famous racing driver Cristiano Maresca "always" spent the night before a race in the arms of a beautiful woman... 
One night three years ago that woman was Kate Edwards, and her time with Cristiano awakened her to unimaginable pleasure. But the following day the untamable Cristiano had a near-fatal crash...and then Kate discovered she was expecting his baby.... 
Now Monte Carlo is set to celebrate Cristiano's return to the track. Shivering with nerves, Kate braves the paparazzi to find the man who set her body aflame--and tell him her scandalous secret.... Italy's most notorious playboy has a love child"

For some random reason the last two books I have read both have heroes called Cristiano. Odd!

The heroine Kate hears that racing driver Cristiano, the hero, is about to return after a long recuperation following a very bad crash a few years back, and she knows that now is the time to tell him that their glorious night together resulted in their son. However when she finally gets the courage to approach him Cristiano doesn't know who she is, so she decides not to bother. Cristiano has no memory of Kate but senses something between them so, desperate to regain parts of his lost memory, he goes to her and asks her to spend some time away with him. When they are together, Kate is reminded of just how close they became in that one night they had together and tries to help Cristiano remember, but she can't quite work up the nerve to tell him about their son. However, when she has to leave after an emergency back home Cristiano finds out the truth quite by accident. Following her back to England, Cristiano wants to get to know his son, as well as work out if the passion between Kate and he can give them a future together.

Wow, this is a gorgeous book, I loved it. There really is something special about India Grey that makes her books so wonderful. They dazzle. And dazzle, this book does.
My heart broke at times for the hero and heroine - they so desperately wanted to be together but so many things conspired against them. The passion and emotion in their relationship is intense and written with such heart. I literally couldn't put this book down, it has everything; sorrow, joy, passion, anger etc. And, it is brilliant.

I can't recommend it (and India Grey's other books) enough.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #333

One Night in Rome - Cathy Williams
Harlequin Presents
Harlequin, 2011
ISBN: 9780373130368

N.B. The UK title of this book is 'The Italian's One-Night Love-Child' - I much prefer the NA title!!

My rating

From the back cover:

"After seeing Bethany Maguire's captivating curves in a tantalizing silk dress, Cristiano De Angelis indulges in one night of passion with this beauty. A string of society heiresses have graced his bed—what difference will one more make? Except virgin Bethany is no socialite. She was just house-sitting a glamorous apartment when she gave in to temptation and tried on one of the owner's designer dresses! 
She doesn't belong in Cristiano's jet-set life, and when she discovers she's pregnant she flees. But their night of sizzling Italian passion has had an unexpected result—this famously guarded billionaire won't let her go that easily!"

I went on a bit of a Harlequin ebook story spree this past weekend!

The heroine Bethany and the hero Cristiano meet when Cristiano comes by the apartment that Bethany is house sitting. Cristiano thinks that she is the owner and Bethany doesn't correct him, hoping that he will leave once he has done the task he came there for. However Cristiano asks her out to dinner instead, which then leads to a whirlwind affair when Cristiano, totally entranced by Bethany, whisks her away on holiday for a couple of weeks. It all ends when Bethany runs out on him and he finds out that she isn't the person he thought she was. Months later he has finally tracked her down only to have his plans for telling her exactly what he thinks of her ruined when he discovers she is pregnant. When he insists they marry, Bethany refuses as she won't marry for anything but love. Instead she moves to London to be nearer to Cristiano where they slowly begin to get to know one another, properly this time.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book! I really liked the lead in and how the characters first meet - yes, it's a little silly, but it is also quite quirky and charming, as well as different. The heroine is a good character, I especially enjoyed the fact that she stood up for herself and didn't let the hero railroad her into anything. Plus her habit of telling little white lies to try and save face was quite fun! The hero is your standard Presents alpha-male, but he is solidly written.

The whole book was quite sweet and fun, but still with plenty of passion. Enjoyable.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #332

Enticed by His Forgotten Lover - Maya Banks
Harlequin Desire 
Harlequin, 2011
ISBN: 9780373731206

N.B. This is a North American release.

My rating

From the back cover:

"'Have we met?' 
Answer: a right hook Because Bryony Morgan pulls no punches. Even when she's very pregnant and facing down the father of her unborn child. She fell for wealthy hotelier Rafael de Luca when he courted her for her beachfront real estate. Then he disappeared. Now, she's in New York for answers--and she won't accept a brush-off. 
But selective amnesia after a crash has Rafael puzzled. How could he ever forget a combustible beauty like Bryony? Solution: return to the island where they met, and relive the unforgettable nights in question--until he remembers everything..."

I bought this book recently, I have read some of Maya Banks's non category books and while the more racier ones are not really my cup of tea I do like her style, and I like the Desire line, so...

The hero Rafe is trying to go about his life business as usual without any of his business associates realising that his recent plane crash has left him with amnesia for the preceding months. During a business gathering he is approached by the heroine Bryony, and left stunned when her response to his query whether he knows her or not is a punch to the face. Bryony is upset to learn about Rafe's condition, especially that the time he has lost is the time he spent with her. Rafe doesn't know what to think of Bryony's assertions that they had fallen in love with one another, but he wants to believe her. In hope of regaining his memory, Rafe asks Bryony to take him back to her home, the place they had supposedly fallen in love. Although nothing seems to trigger his memory, Rafe begins to realise that Bryony is very special and he wants to have a future with her and their child regardless of what went on before. But he also can't shake the feeling that something bad is going to happen.

I was surprised by how much I liked this story. The amnesia trope is something I wanted to roll my eyes at, but I have to say that this is done very well. I couldn't get enough of the really fun writing style that Maya Bank's has, it has a nice casual style and the dialogue, especially the heroine's, made me smile. This reminded me a little of the older Desire books that are much more down to earth than some of the more recent Desire's have been.
The pace and flow of the story is perfect, and the conflict is weaved in very subtly, as I was reading I felt that something wash going to come crashing down at any minute, and that made it very compelling reading.
The reasons behind the characters actions are well explained, with plenty of drama (in a good way).

This book manages to be both intense and heart warming, I really liked it! I look forward to reading the other books in this mini-series.


Monday, 20 February 2012

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #331

Special Agent's Perfect Cover - Marie Ferrarella
Harlequin Romantic Suspense
Harlequin, 2011
ISBN: 9780373277582

N.B. This is a North American release.

My rating

From the back cover:

"'What have they done to you?' 
Cold Plains, Wyoming, should be a ghost town. Then why are its once-decaying streets gleaming? And why are there only beautiful, smiling Stepford-like wives in those streets? Hawk Bledsoe wants to know…because the woman who broke his heart seems to be one of them. 
Carly Finn is stunned to see Hawk return to town as an FBI agent tracking a serial killer. Hawk doesn't know why she once ended their romance so cruelly—or how much Carly sacrificed for him. But now the two must risk their lives to expose the town's monstrous secret. And danger only revives the desire both try their hardest to resist…."

I have read a lot of Marie Ferrarella's books in the past, but not in this challenge, and I like her style so I thought I would give this one a go.

The hero Hawk is assigned to investigate the murders of five women who all have the small Wyoming town of Cold Plains in common. Unfortunately for Hawk he is also originally from there, and hasn't been back since he left ten years ago. When he arrives, he is shocked to see the town completely changed, with it's inhabitants seemingly brainwashed. Even more surprising for Hawk is that Carly, the heroine, is still living there and seems to be one of the brainwashed. Carly is just as shocked to see Hawk back in town, she has never forgotten him and the love they used to share, or her heartbreak when she had to end their relationship. Carly is desperate to get out of town, she knows that is has been taken over by a cult-like group, but she can't leave her sister, whom has become totally involved. As Hawk investigates, not that he gets anywhere, he also keeps an eye on Carly and pretty soon he has worked out that she is pretending to be involved and they are acting on the passion and love that still between them, despite the fact that this puts both of them in even more danger.

This is the first book in the mini-series 'Perfect, Wyoming' about a town taken over by a cult called the 'Devotees' (think 'The Movementarians' from the Simpsons episode Joy of Sect!). I love cult story lines, so when I found these books I immediately bought them!
Uh, overall this isn't a bad story, and it is a nice introduction to the series. The hero and heroine work well together, and the UST between them plus the issues from their past relationship are both portrayed well and adds to the overall tense moments. The scene where the heroine removes a bullet from the hero is just really stupid, and annoyed me somewhat to be honest! What bothered me most about this book is that the hero didn't seem to actually do much investigating, or it wasn't 'shown' anyway, and this left the story feeling a little hollow.

But, I enjoyed this book. There is some good suspense parts, and the relationship is well written and believable.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #330

Undone by His Touch - Annie West
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263890594

My rating

From the back cover:

"Revealed in the darkness... 
Cast into a world of black, Declan Carstairs is a man in torment. Consumed by guilt, he sees no way out of the darkness his world has become. Only one thing drives him - finding the woman who caused his brother's death, and the accident that took his sight. 
Housekeeper Chloe Daniels refuses to pity her devastatingly gorgeous boss, but treating him as the strong, capable man he is soon proves dangerous. As Chloe falls deeper under Declan's spell, awakened by his touch, she forgets all about the secret she keeps that may destroy them both…"

This is Annie West's latest book - out in April - and I have been looking forward to reading it.

The hero Declan is still haunted by reminders of his brother's suicide and his own climbing fall, which left him injured and blind. He meets his housekeeper Chloe, the heroine, for the first time when she returns after a sabbatical. Chloe is initially nervous about returning after a difficult experience with Declan's brother, but with him now gone she feels more comfortable. Declan feels surprisingly content around Chloe, she doesn't treat him differently due to his blindness, and they become friends. But Declan also begins to feel much more for Chloe, including a fierce desire for her that Chloe reciprocates. Just as Declan begins to look to a future with Chloe in it, he discovers that she is the woman he believes drove his brother to suicide.

I very much enjoyed this book. Annie West always does something a little different to her books to really make them stand out, and this book is no exception. The hero's blindness is used to it's full potential, his heightened other senses are very vividly described. There is also plenty of emotion and feelings given from his POV, which really makes the book a bit of a roller-coaster ride of emotion.
The plot is interesting and very well written, and in my opinion, it is also quite refreshingly unpredictable.

Definitely worth a read.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #329

Marriage on the Rebound - Michelle Reid
Harlequin Presents
Harlequin, 1998
ISBN: 9780373119738
Reissue - Harlequin Treasury, 2011
eISBN: 9781459262300

My rating

From the back cover:

"Instant bridegroom...
Shaan had been jilted! She'd been left at the altar by Piers Danvers...but Rafe Danvers was waiting to step right into his half brother's shoes. Older, darker, stronger and the head of the Danvers business empire, it was Rafe who had persuaded Piers to abandon Shaan. Now, with the same ruthless determination, Rafe insisted that she become his bride instead. 
 Dazed, Shaan accepted his proposal, but she was also confused: until this moment, Rafe had acted as if he despised her. Suddenly he wanted to proclaim her to the world as his wife and, behind closed doors, to have her in his bed!"

Another one from the Treasury line.

It is the heroine Shaan's wedding day, but instead of being newly married she is in emotional termoil after he would-be- brother-in-law Rafe, the hero, tells her that her fiance has left with other woman. Not really knowing what to do, Shaan let's Rafe take her away from all the confusion, but she is shocked out of her reverie when Rafe asks her to marry him instead. Shaan has always thought that Rafe disapproved of her, but he makes a good case for them both marrying in order to save face and for companionship. After they marry, Rafe takes Shaan to Hong Kong, their getting to know one another is tumultuous at best with neither of them knowing what the other one feels. However, there is an undeniable attraction between them and they act on it. Even though it seems like they are both in love with other people, Shaan and Rafe grow closer and closer, but Shaan fears that their fragile relationship won't survive once they are back to their real lives.

I expected to like this book, but not as much as I actually did! This is a brilliant book - one of the best of Michelle Reid's books that I have read. Every thing in this book is very subtle, and it totally works. I adored the hero, I knew straight away that there was something else behind his alpha male veneer - the little glimpses of his POV that Michelle Reid adds in really whet your appetite and leave you wanting to read on to find out more.
Even though elements of this story are a little over the top and clichéd, I think that the love story between the hero and heroine is believable. There is so much emotion and intensity to this story, and it is perfectly executed.

Very, very good.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #328

Forsaking All Others - Susanne McCarthy
Harlequin Presents
Harlequin, 1996
ISBN: 9780373118502
Reissue - Harlequin Treasury, 2011
eISBN: 9781459276826

My rating

From the back cover:

"In name only... 
'You're the woman who stood at the altar with my cousin not more than a few hours ago, vowing to forsake all others. You didn't manage to keep it up very long, did you?' 
Leo Ratcliffe had kissed his cousin's new bride and discovered that whatever reasons Maddy had for marrying, love didn't enter into it. Even on her wedding day she had wanted another man—Leo! But he hadn't given Maddy a chance to reveal the truth—that she was marrying his cousin only to forget Leo's own impending marriage.... 
Now Maddy was widowed and Leo was still single. But instead of the love affair she had dreamed about, all he was offering was a marriage of convenience: sexual satisfaction and heartbreak guaranteed!"

Another book from the Treasury line. I don't think I have read any books by Susanne McCarthy before.

The heroine Maddy sees the hero Leo for the first time in a few years when she returns to her former marital home after he husband's death. Maddy knows that her husband's family, especially his cousin Leo, never approved of her marriage or her eventually separations and she expects that Leo will not make things easy for her, but all Maddy wants is for her son's inheritance to be preserved. Learning that Leo is co-trustee with her makes her worried, and she is stunned when he asks her to marry him. Maddy thinks he is only asking in order to get some form of revenge against her, and his actions only seem to confirm this fact. Maddy refuses at first, she has always been in love with Leo and her heartbreaks at his very obvious dislike of her. But eventually she has to agree, and Leo quickly shows her exactly what he wants from her and even though she shares the desire between them, Maddy knows he will never love her.

This is an interesting and well executed plot, I enjoyed it. There is a lot of chemistry between the hero and heroine - this is well used through the entire book. This is very much 'classic' in style - the hero is a little too dominant, but it works. The back story between the hero and heroine is well detailed and adds to the conflict, but it is too info-dumpy at first.

Overall though, this is a nice easy story with a good flow and plenty of emotion.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #237

Forbidden to His Touch - Natasha Tate
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263890419

My rating

From the back cover:

"Trapped by desire for the one woman he can't touch... 
Rafael Chaves is a man tortured by his gut-wrenching past and tempted by a future he dares not even dream about. Knowing he'll never deserve the only woman he's ever wanted, Rafael will make sure she stays as far away from him as possible. 
But when Sophia Turino, daughter of the man who raised him from the gutter, stands before him seven years later she's even harder to resist... confident, successful, and as intoxicatingly beautiful as ever. It's time for Rafael to obliterate his darkly powerful infatuation..."

This is Natasha Tate's third book, I really liked both of her previous books so I was looking forward to reading this one.

The heroine Sophia and the hero Rafael haven't seen one another in seven years, ever since Sophia left her father's vineyard in order to live her own life. Rafael has never really forgiven Sophia for leaving, it hurt both her father - the man whom had taken Raf in as a child - and it hurt him. He had always wanted Sophia but never allowed himself to give in to his need for her. Sophia is nervous about returning, not only does she have to bury her father but also see Raf again. Their initial meeting is fraught with tension and Sophia quickly returns to her seemingly safe life only for Raf to come see her not long after, telling her that she must come back to help him run the vineyard. Sophia refuses to let Raf bully her into anything and manages to assert herself back at the vineyard. But Raf stays away from her, afraid that she will make him lose his precious control, and this only ends up hurting Sophia. Especially when after a night of blistering passion between them Raf retreats even further away from her.

Wow, what a roller coaster of a book! This is a wonderful story of forbidden love and all the emotions that go with it, and it is very intense to read. There is so much tension - sexual, animosity, misunderstanding, etc - between the hero and heroine, I really couldn't see how they would ever get their happy ending, which in my opinion makes it even more special when it does happen. Natasha Tate has written such a beautifully dark story, and it is absolutely flawless. The hero is tortured, extremely tortured, and this is done brilliant. I felt this was very much his story, and I couldn't help but fall for him.
The Californian wine country setting is beautifully described, the author paints a vivid picture that really sets the tone of the whole story.

The book is fast paced, and draws you in from the start as well as being jam-packed with emotion and passion. Thoroughly recommended.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #326

Return of the Moralis Wife - Jacqueline Baird
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263890570

My rating

From the back cover:

"A virgin to sweeten the deal 
Infamous playboy Orion Moralis believes in lust, not marriage - until with one innocent sigh the daughter of a business rival turns his world on its head. Selina Taylor is achingly pure, and as he captures her lips Orion knows he must possess her! But their marriage is short-lived... 
Six years since Selina was discarded like a used plaything she's older - and definitely wiser when it comes to sexy, powerful men. But trapped on Orion's luxury yacht she finds memories of the past return to haunt her... With the bad comes the oh-so-good - and soon she can't resist the sensual pull between them..."

This is the latest offering from Jacqueline Baird - out in April here in the UK.

The hero Rion sees the heroine Selina, his ex-wife, for the first time in sex years when he arrives to attend her grandfather's funeral. He immediately realise that he still fiercely desires her, and with his knowledge of what is in her grandfather's will Rion decides to finally get his revenge on her betrayal. Selina is surprised and a little perturbed by Rion's arrival, she hasn't seen him since he threw her out of his life and still remembers her heartbreak at both the end of their marriage and the discover of the true reason he married her. Rion blackmails Selina into spending a two week holiday with him on his yacht, for his pleasure. At first Selina tries to fight against the desire that is still between them, but eventually gives into her last chance to be with Rion. Rion is surprised by the changes in Selina and his ruthless revenge scheme quickly turns into much more, but Selina has her own life now and refused to give Rion her heart again.

When I started reading this book I wasn't enjoying it - it seemed to have a few too many unappealing elements - but I ended up quite liking it. The heroine makes this book worthwhile. She starts off being a bit of the wounded party, but really grows into a strong and intelligent woman. She was also very honest and forward thinking, I particularly liked her attitude when faced with the possibility of the short-term affair with the hero, thinking why shouldn't she enjoy it! The hero learned his lesson in the end and there was a nice bit of grovelling.

Overall, this is a well written book. I enjoyed it.


Friday, 17 February 2012

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #325

Matchmaking Baby - Cathy Gillen Thacker
Harlequin American Romance
Harlequin, 1996
ISBN: 9780373166138
Reissue - Harlequin Treasury, 2011
eISBN: 9781459274723

My rating

From the back cover:

"A Baby On Her Doorstep 
The towheaded toddler in the pretty pink stroller came with a blankie, a teddy and a note. Unfortunately, she didn't come with instructions. Like who she was or who her parents were. 
As concierge of Bride's Bay, Joanie Griffin assumed little Emily was a guest's child who needed baby-sitting. But the baby arrived at the worst time - just when her former flame showed up, two years and three months after their breakup. 
Now she'd never get rid of Steve Lantz. Because when Joanie picked up the blue-eyed baby, she called her "Mommy" - and Steve assumed he was "Daddy""

This is another book that is from the Harlequin Treasury line (I bought a lot of them, yes!), I bought this one as it was recommended by a user on Goodreads.

The hero Steve arrives at the hotel resort where the heroine Joanie works to give a speech as part of a conference, but he is also there to try and win Joanie back. Joanie is not willing to listen to Steve, he broke her heart when she found another woman in his bed, but he is persistent in trying to get her to talk to, and believe, him. When a baby is abandoned outside Joanie's room, Steve jumps to the wrong conclusion believing that the baby is Joanie's and his, despite Joanie's almost constant denials. Joanie has no choice but to care for baby Emily while searching for whoever left her, and with Steve helping with the baby and their proximity, it brings them closer and closer. Steve desperately wants to be with Joanie again and hopes their new found closeness will make her trust, and love, him again.

This is a very sweet and charming story that I really enjoyed reading. I believed in the love between the hero and heroine, and it was so refreshing to have a hero being the one who is so open about his feelings. Their relationship has real growth within the story, and it was really satisfying to read how the two of them slowly worked through their issues.
As for the abandoned baby part of the plot - well, it is a little far-fetched (I mean, surely if a baby was abandoned, Police and Social Services would come storming over!) but, it is a charming little touch and quite enjoyable.

An endearing and very romantic read.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #324

A Deal at the Altar - Lynne Graham 
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263890563

My rating

From the back cover:

"Her indecent proposal! 
Having pulled himself up from the streets of Athens, Sergios Demonides thought he had seen it all. Then Beatriz Blake walked into his office and asked him for a marriage of convenience! 
Independent, proud and unadorned, Beatriz is a far cry from the usual glamorous women who grace his bed. But Sergios doesn't need another trophy - he needs a mother for his late cousin's children. 
The overlooked Blake heiress and the ruthless billionaire strike a deal. But she doesn't read the small print - that sees them sharing a bed!"

This is the latest from Lynne Graham (out in April) and a follow on from her last book - Roccanti's Marriage Revenge.

The heroine Beatriz is forced into approaching the her Sergios about a marriage of convenience - her sister had originally meant to marry him - otherwise her father will stop all his financial support for Beatriz's disabled mother. At first Sergios is uninteresting in Bee, as she is nothing like his usual type of woman, but he realised that she is exactly the kind of woman he needs to help him raise his late cousin's three children. Sergios expects to be able to marry Bee and continue with his life as usual and also expects her to do as he says, but he soon realises that Bee is far from amenable. Bee doesn't like the situation she is in but knows it is best for her mother as well as the three children she has become a mother to. When circumstance forces Sergios and Bee to be closer than they expected, Sergios begins to see that he is wildly attracted to Bee and she means so much more to him than he first thought. But Bee is determined to keep her heart, knowing that Sergios doesn't ever plan on losing his freedom.

I was so hoping that I would like this book, but... oh, I really didn't. And that is mainly down to one fact - the hero had a mistress (yuk, hate that word!) all the way through the book. Regardless of the fact that it was revealed eventually that he hadn't actually been with her since marrying the heroine, that his future cheating was almost glorified throughout the book was really, really unappealing. This kind of thing is not, and never will be, something that appeals to the 'romantic fantasy' that we read romance novels for.
Needless to say, I didn't like the hero. I wanted to like the heroine, and I did - she was very fiery and independent up to a point, but I found her overlooking the whole mistress thing, as well as the fact that she gave up her job, and let the hero give her a 'make over' a little hard to swallow.

Throughout reading this book my mind kept saying "no, no, no, no..."! Not for me, is this book! YMMV.