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

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... The Stats

So yesterday I blogged about the end of my 365 books in 365 days challenge. Today is my chance to geek out and share a bunch of stats that I kept a record of throughout the challenge.


Fastest time reading one book - 1 hour 40 minutes
Longest time reading one book - 8 days (a whole week of babysitting!)

Most number of books ahead of schedule - 12
Most number of books behind schedule - 33 (I read like mad to catch up!)

Total number of different authors - 185


Own-Copy - 190
ebook - 105
Library-copy - 70


1 Star - 4
1.5 stars - 1
2 stars - 22
2.5 stars - 14
3 stars - 78
3.5 stars - 39
4 stars - 160
4.5 stars - 38
5 stars - 9

Average rating - 3.59 stars

Most read authors


Mills & Boon - 275
Harlequin - 70
Silhouette - 17
Entangled Publishing - 1
Wild Rose Press - 1
Carina Press - 1

Category Lines (for Mills & Boon/Harlequin/Silhouette books)

If you have managed to get to the end of this geektastic blog post, then I applaud you!


Monday, 19 March 2012

365 books in 365 days Challenge .... The End!

Well, I did it.

On the 19th March 2011 I decided to set myself the challenge of reading 365 books in 365 days and document it in the form of reviews on this blog.

Yesterday, Sunday 18th March, I read my 365th book.

I would love to say that it has been easy and/or fun however at times it hasn't, but I was determined to complete it and I am so proud that I have done so!

Along with the reviews, I have also kept a track of some figures and stats, in a note pad that my husband colloquially named my serial-killer book, which I will post about later.

I would like to thank anyone who has read this blog, whether it was once, twice, or everything.

Out of the books I read 14 of them were sent to me by the authors. A huge thank you to the following authors for that -

Heidi Rice
Sarah Morgan
Liz Fielding
Wendy S. Marcus
Kate Walker
Nicola Marsh
Lucy King
Maisey Yates
Samantha Hunter
AJ Nuest

All of the books I read for this challenge were new reads, I had not read them before. Naturally along the way there have been some casualties, or DNF's, which I did not include in the challenge.

These were -

The Rancher's Reunion - Tessa Radcliffe (Inspirational is not my thing)
Fallen - Michelle Hauf (Paranormal is not my thing either!)
The Italian Millionaire's Virgin Wife - Diana Hamilton (Heroine came accross as though she was a child!)
Return Match - Penny Jordan (hero and heroine were first cousins - couldn't read it!)
Temporary Measures - Leigh Michaels (hero and heroine were third cousins - again couldn't read it!)
Cheap Thrills - Tiffany Wild (just didn't enjoy it!)

I think out of 365 books to only DNF 6 books is pretty good going!

I will continue to read (of course!) and review books, although I am going to have a little break from it all!

Once again thank you to all of you who have follow me along this very crazy challenge.

Happy reading.


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

Gold Ring of Betrayal - Michelle Reid
Harlequin Presents
Harlequin, 1997
ISBN: 9780373119172
Reissue - Harlequin Treasury, 2011
eISBN: 9781459269408

My rating

From the back cover:

"They've never stopped being married... 
Nicolas Santino doesn't accept that Lia is his daughter. He believes Sara, his wife, cheated on him with another man, and Lia is the result of that betrayal. 
So Sara and Nicolas are separated - until the silence between them is forcibly broken: Lia has been kidnapped! Nicolas knows he is the only one who can secure the little girl's safe return, but it means he must go back to Sara - and find that, even after three long years, she still wears his ring ..."

So, this is it... the 365th book. Which I read bang on the 365th day... I made it!

The heroine Sara and the hero Nicolas see each other for the first time in three years when he arrives to help Sara through the kidnapping of her daughter. Sara knows that Nicolas hates her as he believes that she cheated on him, although she desperately wants him to believe that she is innocent right now all she cares about is getting her precious baby back in her arms. Once Sara was a shy and nervous girl whose spirit and confidence was crushed under the dominance of the Sicilian life she married into, but Nicolas's cruel betrayal of not believing in her has changed her. Now she is hard and determined to fight for herself and especially for her daughter. But one thing that is still the same is the desire between Sara and Nicolas, and after Sara's daughter is found they go back to Sicily where Nicolas asks her to try again with their marriage and put all the betrayals behind them. Sara tries her best, but eventually realises that she can't live her life with Nicolas still believing that she could ever betray him.

This is a true classic when it comes to both Michelle Reid's books and Harlequin Presents. There is so much to this book - angst, hate, betrayal, passion, fear, love, forgiveness, sadness, etc - and it is all woven together perfectly. The hero and heroine's story is intense and it plays out wonderfully, at times this book is impossible to put down. So often in books where there is a supposed betrayal I find the reluctance of a certain character to believe in the other very frustrating, but in this book I could understand exactly why the hero felt this way. Even though the POV from the hero is rather sporadic I was still able to sympathise with him, as well as rooting for the heroine. That is all down to Michelle Reid's powerful writing.

This book is drama with a capital D, and totally absorbing. Highly recommended.

I really hope you have enjoyed reading my reviews of all these 365 books, it has certainly been and interesting challenge. I will be posting a summary blog post all about this later on.
Thank you to everyone who has followed/read my blog over the last 365 days!


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #364

Girl Behind the Scandalous Reputation - Michelle Conder
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263890631

My rating

From the back cover:

"Red Carpet Confession!
Getting falsely arrested feels like a scene from a bad movie for rising star Lily Wild – especially when she discovers the conditions of her release: round-the-clock surveillance by world-class lawyer Tristan Garrett. Ignoring her attraction to the sinfully sexy man who crushed her youthful heart is getting harder by the minute!
Lily belongs to Tristan now, and when he says jump she’d better ask how high! With a reputation founded on control, he’s determined not to lose his head over this little minx again. But he blazes white-hot every time he looks at her, and it’s burning away his couldn’t-care-less façade!"

This is the debut novel from Michelle Conder, I love reading new authors so I was looking forward to reading this one. 1 book to go...

The hero Tristan is begged by his sister to try and get the heroine Lily freed from where she is being held after she was arrested for apparently smuggling drugs into the country. Tristan agrees but is less than happy about it as not only does he detest drug users, and he is certain Lily is one, but also has never approved of Lily and her wild ways. Lily is thankful that Tristan has been able to free her until he informs her that the condition of her release is that she has to remain in his custody. Lily has never been able to forget the passionate encounter she and Tristan had when she was a teenager, nor has she forgotten his scorn when he later accused her of doing drugs. She tries her best to convince Tristan that she is innocent of everything he has accused her of but nothing gets through to him. One thing that is certain though is that there is a deep seated desire between them and it is not long before the passion between them explodes.

I really enjoyed this book, it is a brilliant debut. The story is very fresh and totally twenty-first century in style. The hero and heroine bounce off each other perfectly and there are plenty of heated exchanges between them. I love that the heroine is so feisty and independent, her backstory is different, interesting and little daring and used throughout the story perfectly. I could have done without her being a virgin as this felt a little clichéy. The hero acts like a jerk at times, but this does work within the story.
The sexual tension between the hero and heroine positively crackles throughout the entire book, and the romance develops at a nice pace.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable book. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.


Sunday, 18 March 2012

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #363

The Legend of de Marco - Abby Green
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263890600

My rating

From the back cover:

"Rocco de Marco. Legendary financier and billionaire. The most important man in the room. And he’d just witnessed her filching canapés from the buffet…
If waitress Gracie O’Brien’s first meeting with Rocco is memorable, the second is unforgettable. For when he finds her breaking into his office he doesn’t believe her innocence – so he’ll keep her close until he finds the truth.
Yet it’s impossible for Rocco to stay angry with the sparky redhead – she’s making him feel emotions Rocco thought he’d buried for ever… And the sexual tension between them is reaching explosion point!"

In my opinion Abby Green writes some of the best Mediterranean heroes around, so I have been looking forward to reading this book.

The hero Rocco spots the heroine Gracie at a business function and is immediately captivated by her, but he has no idea who she is and she disappears before he has a chance to find out. A couple of weeks later and a chance meeting leads Gracie to Rocco's office after her brother goes missing. Rocco sees red when he discovers that his captivating Gracie is related to the man who has stolen a lot of money from his company, and he can't get the thought that she is involved out of his head. He tells Gracie that until her brother makes contact then she is not to leave his sight, she tries to make him believe she is innocent but also refuses to believe the worst in her brother. While the animosity between them heats up so does the desire each of them feel and Rocco begins to realise that Gracie is different to any woman he has ever met, but his difficult past as left him unable to trust easily. And his lack of trust in her only ends up hurting Gracie, as she has fallen head first for Rocco.

This is such a powerful and moving story, I couldn't put it down. It hooked me in right from the start - I loved the how the hero and heroine first meet, that opening scene is so evocatively written. The relationship that develops between the hero and heroine literally has it all; angst, betrayal, passion, pain, etc. It creates such a wonderful intense mood, that combined with the very dark childhood each of them experienced makes this a very compelling story,.

There is plenty of passion and emotion packed into this book, and it is wonderfully written. I enjoyed this book a lot.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #362

Redemption of a Hollywood Starlet - Kimberly Lang
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263893038

My rating

From the back cover:

"The Marshalls… A rich, powerful family that mixes business, politics…and pleasure. If the US had a royal family this would be it!
The tabloids just couldn’t get enough of A-List couple hotshot producer Finn Marshall and Hollywood wild-child Caitlyn Reese. Then Caitlyn fled the glaring lights of Tinseltown, leaving an indelible mark on the Walk of Fame – and an empty seat on the back of Finn’s motorbike.
Now Cait is back! She’s still got the X-factor, and Finn is struggling to banish his X-rated thoughts! Because one thing is for sure…he isn’t just interested in a quick Hollywood retake… To interest him, it’ll have to be a full-budget epic remake…"

This is the third and final book in Kimberly Lang's 'The Marshalls' mini-series. I really enjoyed the first two books ('The Privileged and the Damned' & 'The Power and the Glory') so I have been looking forward to this book.

The heroine Caitlyn has just been cast in the hero Finn's latest movie however he is not at all happy about it. Cait and Finn were once Hollywood's hottest couple mostly knows for their wild antics, however their relationship, along with Cait's reputation, crashed and burned after one too many scandalous incidents. Cait has spent the last few years out of the limelight and rebuilding her career, but Finn is still bitter about the way Cait up and left him and refuses to believe that Cait's wild child days are over. It is clear that the desire between them is still as fierce as ever and despite all the on set politics and publicity stunts it is not long before Finn and Cait are acting on the passion. But with all the public and private history between them, as well as Cait wanting to relaunch her movie career, all they can ever have is a temporary fling. Even if their feelings for one another are much more than either of them are ready for.

I loved the subject and setting of this book and I think it is really well portrayed. The movie set setting is a great backdrop to the very intense nature of the hero and heroine's relationship, and there is a lot of honesty about some of the less exciting and less nice parts of the Hollywood lifestyle. The history between the hero and heroine is full of angst and well used without unnecessary lengthy flashbacks, this helped to cement all the tension between them.
I found the heroine's rather unpredictable mood swings and her habit of blaming the hero a little frustrating to read. But overall they worked great as a couple and there is some fantastic fun and sweet moments in their relationship.

Plenty of passion and a well written, engaging story.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #361

Deserving of his Diamonds - Melanie Milburne
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263890624

My rating

From the back cover:

"His not-so-perfect fiancée… 
Emilio Andreoni’s goal is perfection: a corporate king and Italy’s most eligible bachelor, he craves only one more thing to complete his phenomenally successful life – the perfect woman! Once he thought that woman was shy Gisele Carter – until her scandalous goings-on became headline news and he called off their seemingly perfect engagement. 
But now Emilio is faced with proof of Gisele’s innocence! He’s determined to win back the only woman who ever truly satisfied him, but first he must persuade Gisele she’s worthy of wearing his diamonds again… "

4 books to go...!

The hero Emilio has just discovered that the reason he kicked the heroine Gisele out of his life two years ago was wrong. In fact it has just been revealed that Gisele has a twin sister she has never met or known about after they were separated at birth. Emilio knows that he needs to apologise for all that he accused her of, but when he goes to see her Gisele is not at all pleased to see him. Gisele doesn't want Emilio's empty apologies, he broke her heart when he refused to believe that she was innocent and the trauma she had to deal with, alone, when her precious baby died has left her harder. Emilio knows the minute he sees Gisele again that he wants to win her back so they can have the life together they had planned but she doesn't want anything to do with him. However Emilio convinces her to spend a month with him in return for her financial security and he hopes to seduce her into once again falling in love with him.

This is a very powerful story and a nice twist on the reconciliation/revenge theme. The plot is well thought out and gripping right from the start, and full of plenty of emotion. The heroine's journey is particularly poignant - she went through so much and came through the other side still sad but strong, and refused to give in to the hero like she had done in the past.
I could have done without the blackmail+offer-of-money part of the story, as plot elements go this felt a little lazy.

But this is a roller coaster of emotion and passion, and a very absorbing read.


Thursday, 15 March 2012

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #360

One Night in Paradise - Maisey Yates
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263890693

My rating

From the back cover:

"All her most exotic fantasies are about to bubble over into reality! 
Clara Davis knows the moment yes slips from her lips that she’s in way over her head. Just how is she supposed to pretend to be her boss’s fiancée on his luxury honeymoon? 
Zack Parsons’s Don’t date the staff rule has prevented him from ever seeing beyond Clara’s baker’s apron. But now he’s looking at her in a completely different, rather more tempting light. Giving in to one night of wickedness should be enough to satisfy their new-found cravings… 
Shouldn’t it?"

This is the fabulous Maisey Yates's latest.

The hero Zack has just been jilted but his best friend Clara, the heroine, notices he is a long way from being heartbroken. Zack confides in her that it had never been a love match, which he doesn't realise hurts Clara. Clara has had feelings for Zack for a while and finally begins to realise that her comfortable friendship with him is only making it more difficult to move on. However she promises to travel to Thailand, on what should have been Zack's honeymoon, to help him secure an important business deal. When they arrive and Zack tells her that they need to pretend to be a couple he doesn't understand Clara's angry, almost hurt reaction. But the beautiful surroundings and their time together makes them both realise that underneath their friendship is much more, including a fierce desire for one another. They indulge in their passion for one night, but the need doesn't go away when they are back in the read world. And the more time Clara has to spend pretending, the more her heart breaks.

This is a really beautiful book, definitely one of my favourites from Maisey Yates. I have always been a fan of the friends-to-lovers theme, and it is done perfectly in this book. There is some great dialogue between the hero and heroine, they bounce of each other brilliantly and the chemistry between them positively crackles.
The surroundings are vividly portrayed and really intoxicating, the perfect backdrop to the relationship. Both the hero and heroine have well thought out, 'real' issues and they are dealt with well. The writing flows beautifully, it's full of passion and fun as well as plenty of emotion and angst - I felt every one of the heroine's tiny heart breaks.

I also felt that there was more to be told about the hero's former bride-to-be, and I'm pleased that Maisey confirmed that she has her own story (will be out later in the year, called 'A Game of Vows')!

Really, really enjoyable. Recommended.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #359

The Nurse's Not-So-Secret Scandal - Wendy S. Marcus
Mills & Boon Medical Romance 
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263891645 (Paperback 2-in-1 edition)
eISBN: 9781408973295 (individual ebook edition)

N.B. The cover image is from the individual ebook edition

My rating

From the back cover:

"Between family nightmares and a series of lousy guys, nurse Roxie Morano’s life is a disaster zone. But enigmatic (and gorgeous!) new colleague Ryan ‘Fig’ Figelstein is ignoring her hazard warnings – instead, he’s signalling his attraction! Now Roxie’s bulletproof heart is at risk…but dare she dream Fig will stick around when he discovers all her secrets?"

The lovely Wendy S. Marcus very kindly sent me a copy of this, her latest release, in exchange for a review. Thank you so much, Wendy.

The heroine Roxie is only just managing to hold her life together when she meets the hero Fig. Hoping for a hot and heavy fling to take away some of her stress but she is left frustrated and angry when Fig stands her up then later accuses her of steal hospital drugs. However things go from bad to worse for Roxie when a sex-tape of her is put up on the internet and her mentally ill hoarder mother sets fire to their home. The only one who sticks by her is Fig. Fig is not without his own problems - a serious childhood illness that has left it's mark in more ways than one, a manipulative mother, and his own control issues - but they each find solace in each other, wanting nothing more than a casual thing. Until everything becomes much more complicated between them.

This was not what I was expecting, at all. I have never really been into books from Medical Romance line, but it appears that I have been reading the wrong ones, or perhaps it's simply that Wendy S. Marcus has taken everything about this line and turned it on it's head. I suspect it's the latter.
This story has so much spark, and it is very, very fresh. One thing that stands out for me, apart from the love-scenes (more on that in a moment), is that a lot of issues are dealt with in this book, and they are dealt with very well. To cram sex-scandals, blackmail, hoarding, mental illnesses, germaphobia, a touch of racism, and the actual romance into one [category length] book and make it work is quite impressive.
I was totally surprised by the heat level in this book, especially for the Medical line, during some of the love-scenes my eyebrows were raised so high I'm surprised they're not stuck!
The heroine is fabulous; so forward and gutsy and as far away as you can get from a lot of the dainty, pearly-white heroines you often find in romance novels. I adored her, she is the ultimate modern day heroine.

The story is gritty and believable, full of passion, heat, honesty, and real in every sense. Quite simply, I loved it.
If you like Sex and the City and ER combine the two and you will get this author's style, and that can only be a good thing!

This is my first Wendy S. Marcus book, and it will not be my last!



Wednesday, 14 March 2012

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #358

The Soldier's Secret Daughter - Cindy Dees
Mills & Boon Intrigue
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263895124

My rating

From the back cover:

"'I hated you, but I still wanted you.'
Dashing spy Jagger lived in a world of danger. Not even a sweet brown-eyed siren could be trusted, especially when he had to bring down her employer. Somehow Emily broke through his defences – and set him up for two years of captivity. Or so he thought. 
Emily hadn’t expected a cryptic message to lead her to rescue the man who’d disappeared after their night of passion. Nor had she known that he’d been held prisoner and believed she was responsible. Despite the suspicion, they must work together to stop the threat against them…and protect their precious daughter."

I bought this recently from the M&B website, I hate the cover and title!

The hero Jagger is sent to try and infiltrate a shipping company suspected of being a front for an international terrorist organisation. He spots the heroine Emily about to enter the building, knowing that she is an employee Jagger charms her into thinking he also works there and that he is interested in her. Emily falls hook, line, and sinker and with no idea that he is simply using her she gives in to temptation and spends the night with him. But she wakes up alone, feeling every bit a used as she was, only Jagger didn't walk out on her, he was abducted. Two years later Emily receives a strange email leading her to discovering Jagger in captivity in a shipping container. She helps him escape but Jagger refuses to trust her, thinking that she is in cahoots with those responsible for kidnapping him. He realises her innocence when they are forced to go into hiding and she nurses him through a serious injury. Emily reveals to him that their one night together resulted in a baby girl and Jagger is desperate to meet her, feeling like with Emily and their daughter around he finally has something to live for. But he is also determined to bring down the terrorists and Emily can't stand the thought of losing Jagger when she has only just found him again.

OK, what to say about this book... Well, it's exciting that's for sure. But it is way too over complicated, especially crammed into a 50-60k word book. I really liked all the action and tension in the book, and love that the author has tried something very different, but there is something that doesn't quite work and I'm not even sure what that is. The secret baby plot is unnecessary, it's almost forced in and isn't even mentioned until over half-way in. There is enough story without it.
The terrorist's are German - you're thinking Die Hard, right?! I know I am. The Iron Curtain fell a long time ago, I don't want to be reading lines such as "you Stasi SOB". Move on...

Anyway, good suspense, action, and passion. Not so good details.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #357

A Marriage Betrayed - Emma Darcy
Harlequin Presents
Harlequin, 1999
ISBN: 9780373120697
Reissue - Harlequin Treasury, 2011
eISBN: 9781459252219

My rating

From the back cover:

"He was driven by vengeance... 
Adopted but now alone, Kristy went in search of her natural family. When Armand Dutournier burst into her life, accusing her of betrayals she had not committed, Kristy could only wonder - did she have a perfect double? Could she possibly have a twin? 
Armand was her only lead to the family she yearned for, but his passionate drive for vengeance - and the powerful attraction between them--made accepting his proposition of a temporary intimacy highly dangerous!"

Another ebook from the Treasury line.

The heroine Kristy is on her way to Geneva to find out the truth about her birth family, and decides to honour her recently passed adoptive parents by spending a night in Paris in the same hotel they spent their honeymoon in. However when she arrives, Kristy gets the impression that she is not welcome and notices people acting very strangely around her. She is confronted by Armand, the hero, whom acts as though he knows her and hates her. Eventually they both realise that Kristy has been mistaken for someone else, and Armand tells her that she has a twin sister. But her twin has been missing for two years after she left without a word, leaving her marriage to Armand as well as their children behind. Kristy has always felt that a part of her was missing and knows in her heart that the twin she will never know is dead. But she grabs with both hands Armand's offer to get to know his children. She is also determined to find out exactly what drove her sister away, but one thing Kristy doesn't know how to deal with is her growing feelings for Armand.

This is an interesting story, and enjoyable as it is a little different. The heroine is a great character, really well thought out. I especially liked her need to know about what she has always felt was missing in her life. The inner connection (psychic link or whatever it is called) is something that is fascinating and the author uses it well but, perhaps, this is an over ambitious element to deal with in category fiction as it ends up feeling a little forced.
I feel that the story should have taken place over a longer stretch of time - a LOT happens in this book outside of the usual romance novel elements, and it only takes place over two days, which seems ridiculously short and the story suffers because of it.

However, I enjoyed this book. The romance is lovely and it has an interesting plot.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #356

The Wedding Gift - Sandra Steffen
Mills & Boon Cherish
Harlequin Mills & Boon, 2011
ISBN: 9780263888799

My rating

From the back cover:

"A second-chance love...
A small miracle kept nurse Madeline from completely unravelling. When a tragic accident claimed her fiance, at least his heart could be used to save another life. Seeking closure, she went in search of the man who had received this gift. What she found - exasperating, irresistible architect Riley - opened a whole new world to her.
Not since the transplant had Riley felt as alive as when Madeline waltzed into town. Soon she had the bachelor wrapped around her finger. Had Riley been given his very special second chance to wed this once-in-a-lifetime woman?"

I have had this book on my Kindle for ages and honestly I forgot I even had it!

The heroine Madeline has tracked down the hero Riley, wanting to see if he is doing well. Riley is the man who received her late fiancé's heart donation after a tragic accident, something that Madeline has never quite gotten over. Although she had only planned to see from a distance that he OK, she ends up needing to meet him. Riley thinks that Madeline, as a nurse, was hired by his worried mother to check up on him, he ignores all of Madeline's denials and tells her leave. However, when they meet again Riley feels a strange connection to her and begins to think that a relationship, albeit a casual and temporary one, with her may be just what he needs to get him out of his recent funk. Madeline also finds herself drawn to Riley, and spending time with him makes her feel happy for the first time in a long time. But Riley still doesn't know the real reason she is there, and Madeline doesn't know how to tell him the truth.

This is a very sweet, simple, and easy to read romance. The relationship between the hero and heroine built gradually and felt very real. The characters were able to deal with their issues as their relationship progressed, and this is satisfying to read. I could see the conflict coming a mile off, and it played out a little too predictable for me. The flowery 'magical' elements included by the author are, in my opinion, frustrating as they make the book feel a little silly. And, the ending is very poor - it is way too cheesy as well as rushed.

But, this is a sweet and enjoyable story.


Tuesday, 13 March 2012

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #355

Playing the Greek's Game - Sharon Kendrick
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263890686

My rating

From the back cover:

"In trouble with the boss...
Few dare to defy global hotel magnate Zac Constantinides - he's the boss and everyone knows it! So when his London interior designer turns out to have dug her gold-digging claws into his brother; Zac's solution is to transfer her... to New York!
Emma may have more skeletons in her closet than most, but Zac's brother isn't one of them. The temptation to take her impossibly arrogant boss down a peg or three is too much to resist! So whilst she's with him in New York she'll play the role he's given her - and be every bit as bad as he thinks she is..."

This is Sharon Kendrick's latest. The guy on this cover kinda scares me... his eyes follow you around and he also slightly reminds me of Pete Campbell from MadMen!  

The hero Zak is under the impression that the heroine Emma and his brother are in a relationship, he doesn't want his brother to be at the mercy of an uncrupulous woman and after looking into Emma's past he decides to take action. Emma is upset that not only had Zak dredged up her unhappy past as the widow of a rock star, but he is also accusing her of being a gold digger. Zak transfers Emma to New York with the hope of removing her from his brother's temptation and finds himself inexplicably drawn the free-spirited woman she appears to be. But even as the mutual desire between them increases, he holds himself away thinking that she is forbidden to him. When Emma finally tells him he was wrong about her and his brother's relationship, there is no stopping them from finally giving in to the passion . Only the passion quickly becomes much deeper and while Emma can't help but hope for a future, Zak knows he has to end it. 

What a scorcher of a book! I really loved this from start to finish. Everything about this book has a very twenty-first century edge to it and this makes the whole story feel very fresh. It's a little bit different but still contains all those traditional Modern/Presents elements you would want. The dialogue between the hero and heroine is snappy and drenched with chemistry, it made this book sparkle. 
As expected from Sharon Kendrick, the storytelling is wonderful and hooks you straight in. I loved the contrast between the traditional hero and the free-spirited heroine - it really works. 

Plenty of unpredictability, sizzling chemistry, and brilliant characters. Oh, plus with a vegetarian heroine this book is immediately in my good books (pun intended).

One teeny moan - and this doesn't affect the overall enjoyment of the story - there are a few editing/spelling/typo mistakes in the book, I didn't make a note of all of them as I am not that pedantic but two that stick in my mind are; Saks Fifth Avenue is spelt as "Sacs" (my dirty mind gives that a totally different meaning!) and the hero's name is spelt as "Zac" on the back cover blurb but it is actually "Zak". There are a few others but nothing major, as you can see, but could have been easily rectified. 



365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #354

The Infamous Italian's Secret Baby - Carole Mortimer
Mills& Boon Modern
Harlequin Mills & Boon, 2009
ISBN: 9780263874457

My rating

From the back cover:

"One night 
Infamous Italian millionaire Gabriel Danti was renowned for his prowess in the bedroom - and Bella Scott was unable to resist the overwhelming temptation of the night he was offering... 
One baby 
Five years on, Bella is living alone, carving out a life for herself and her little boy. She never thought she'd see Gabriel again! 
One marriage 
Physically, Gabriel has changed. His dark, dangerous looks are marred by scars that are the result of an accident. But his desire for Bella hasn't waned - he wants her more than ever now that he knows he has a son..."

Another recent Modern purchase.

The heroine Bella meets the hero Gabriel, a word famous racing car driver, at a party held at his home. Neither of them are in a party mood and they spend time together alone, ending with them spending an unforgettable night together. Five years later and Bella is shocked to meet Gabriel again, but more worried about the fact that she never told him that their one night resulted in her son. Bella had waited and waited for Gabriel to be in contact but it never happened leaving her hurt, whereas Gabriel was physically hurt and spent a long time recovering after a serious crash. Gabriel is furious when he discovers the truth and confronts Bella. Bella knows that she had no good reason for keeping father and son apart, and agrees to marry Gabriel, whom makes it clear that he expects their marriage to be real in every respect. There is no doubt that something started between them all those years back and the desire is still there, but with all that has happened Bella is afraid to open her heart.

I really enjoyed this book. It is well written with a solid plot. I think, perhaps, the book started in the wrong place - instead of the rather length prologue, I feel it would have been better if the past events were revealed gradually throughout the story. But I liked reading how the relationship between the hero and heroine slowly developed. I do think that the reason for the secret baby being a, er, secret is a little flimsy - this needed a bit more thought in my opinion.

The writing is smooth and the story is enjoyable.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #353

His Untamed Innocent - Sara Craven
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin Mills & Boon, 2010
ISBN: 9780263878141

My rating

From the back cover:

"A dark desire… 
Jake Radley-Smith is pleasantly surprised to find a strange female in his company apartment – wearing a bath towel! He isn’t interested in Marin’s sob story…he’s late for a house party and she’ll be perfect as his ready-made date! 
Marin’s completely bewildered… She thought pretending to be a loving couple would be easy, but the chemistry between her and Jake is explosive! She’s also left in no doubt that what Jake wants, he gets…and it seems he wants her – badly. How can she, inexperienced and nervous, handle his lethal brand of dark desire?"

I found this in the Kindle store recently and immediately bought it - it's relatively recent Sara Craven that I haven't read!

The hero Jake arrives home to find the heroine Marin in his apartment wearing only a towel. Marin's stepsister is Jake's PA and thinking that Jake would be out of town for a while offered Marin the apartment to stay in after Marin had returned home suddenly. Although he is blatantly annoyed to find Marin in his home he does see a way out of a current dilemma so he asks her to come to a party with him in order to deter the unwelcome advances of an ex. Marin agrees but didn't expect that one party would turn into a weekend away having to pretend to be Jake's partner. Their closeness soon turns deeper and more intense and they give in to their desire for one another. But Marin's hopes that something may be starting between her and Jake are dashed when she is humiliated by Jake's cruel ex. Marin leaves without a word but Jake manages to track her down a month later and they discover that their one night together has resulted in pregnancy. At Jake's insistence, they marry but Marin is confused over her feelings for Jake, which makes her pull away from him making them both unhappy.

This is exactly the kind of book that shows what Sara Craven does best, and I really enjoyed it. There is a lot of emotion and angst throughout the story as well as good use of external conflict. The heroine does act a little irrational at times and that is a little frustrating to read, but I felt that her character went on a journey and was able to grow as the story progressed. I adored the hero, I really wish that his POV had been included it would have made this book even more enjoyable.
What I like about this is that the plot isn't overly complicated, and it flows well. I'm not usually a fan of the jealous-other-woman trope, but in this book the author makes her so dastardly bitchy that it ends up working!

Really liked this one.


Monday, 12 March 2012

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #352

The Sabbides Secret Baby - Jacqueline Baird
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin Mills & Boon, 2010
ISBN: 9780263878356

My rating

From the back cover:

"Discarded for breaking his rules...
Naive Phoebe Brown fell for Mediterranean magnate Jed Sabbides after he wined, dined and bedded her with a fervour that made her feel cherished. But when Phoebe happily announced she was pregnant Jed was appalled. Didn't she understand - she was only a pleasing distraction? Sadly Phoebe lost the man she loved, and her baby...
Claimed for having his child! 
So it is with disbelief that, years later, Jed discovers Phoebe has a little boy...who looks just like him!"

I bought this very recently from the Kindle store. I had an urge to read a bunch of Modern's!

The story begins with the heroine Phoebe eagerly waiting for the hero Jed to return after his recent business trip. Phoebe has just discovered she is pregnant and although it wasn't planned she is really happy about it. However Jed's reaction is far from pleased, and Phoebe is left heart-broken when their relationship crumbles and she miscarries. Five years later Jed is surprised to see Phoebe again at function, she is looking well and he wants to talk to her. But her skittishness around him arouses his suspicions, he tracks her down and is shocked to discover she is the mother of a four year old boy and Jed is certain that he is the father. He confronts Phoebe about it and insists that he wants to be a part of his son's life, but Phoebe doesn't let him bully her into anything. She has become a lot more strong and assertive since Jed broke her heart and won't let him do it again. Jed convinces Phoebe to come to his home in Greece so he can get to know his son as well as getting to know Phoebe again. He quickly realises that she has always meant more to him than anything, but he knows the way he treated her in the past gives her every right not to trust him again.

I really enjoyed this book, it kept me interested all the way through. There is a lot of emotion in the hero and heroine's relationship, the use of the prologue really helped to cement this. Yes, the secret baby theme is very predictable but, you know, it is a solid and full-of-conflict plot and it is done very well here.
The bitchy-other-woman part of the story, which was forgotten about after a little while, was unnecessary though, this was one cliché too far.

This is well written and dependably enjoyable.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #351

A Vow of Obligation - Lynne Graham
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263890662

My rating

From the back cover:

"From making his bed...
On a mission to steal Navarre Cazier's laptop to save a fellow chambermaid's reputation, Tawny Blake is caught red-handed! Blushing brighter than her flame-coloured hair, she's sure she'll be fired. Then Cazier presents her with a shocking proposition...
To lying in it!
The infamous billionaire needs to stop the prying media digging into his scandalous past, and Tawny is the perfect diversion. The seduction of society beauties has always come effortlessly to Navarre, yet getting feisty Tawny to wear his ring, even if just in public, could be his greatest challenge yet!"

Lynne Graham is one of the authors I have read the most of in this challenge, and certainly one of my all time favourite M&B authors. So even though her last book was not for me, I will always read her new releases!

The heroine Tawny rather foolishly believes her friend's tales that one of the guests of the hotel she works at has indecent pictures of her, and convinces Tawny to try and steal it so she can delete them. But Tawny is caught by Navarre, the hero, and then discovers that what her friend told her was a lie. Although she tries to protect her innocence she knows that Navarre doesn't believe her. Navarre is not sure what to think of Tawny, but he knows he can't risk letting her out of his sight while she potentially knows damaging information about him. Seeing the chance to solve a current problem, he agrees not to report her if she will act as his fiancée for a while to deflect unwanted attention from his personal life. Tawny reluctantly agrees, but their mutual desire for one another soon turns into blazing desire that neither of them want to deny. However things end badly when Tawny's heart is broken by Navarre's lack of trust in her despite what happened between them. And, her later discovery that she is pregnant only makes things worse.

This is a difficult review to write as I found the book a little up and down. It starts off very poorly, I was frowning in frustration to be honest, but it picked up and started to be really enjoyable with a nice witty feel, only then it plummeted down again with the [unnecessary] unexpected pregnancy plot. It ended quite good though!
The heroine is nicely portrayed, with some fun little quirks and a believable personality - she is definitely the best thing about this book. The hero is frustratingly domineering, but it does work within the story.
The opening scene in this book is what almost put me off  - we are led to believe something that isn't very appealing, when it turns out not to be the case I breathed a sigh of relief, but the actual truth makes the opening scene, on reflection, even more distasteful. I know I am being very evasive, but I don't like giving too many spoilers away.

Overall, this isn't a bad book at all and very enjoyable at times!


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #350

The Sheriff and the Baby - C.C. Coburn
Harlequin American Romance
Harlequin, 2010
ISBN: 9780373753130

My rating

From the back cover:

"When Sheriff Matt O'Malley rescues a pregnant woman after a car accident and helps deliver her baby, he quickly begins to feel protective of her - of "both" of them. Matt is increasingly drawn to Beth Ford and her daughter, Sarah - although he's noticed that Beth isn't your average new mom. 
For one thing, she's obviously hiding something. Like her real name... 
Beth's falling for Matt, too, and she loves the large, boisterous O'Malley clan. She can't let herself trust him, though. The last time she trusted a cop she almost ended up dead - and now she's on the run. But Spruce Lake, Colorado, is starting to feel like home to Beth...and the O'Malleys are definitely starting to feel like family."

After the last book I read was an all-guns-blazing Presents, I thought I would calm down with a more gentle American Romance one! 15 books to go...

The hero Matt comes to the rescue of the heroine Beth when she crashes her car during heavy snowfall. When he realises she is in labour he quickly gets her to the hospital and ends up supporting her through the birth of her daughter. This is bitter-sweet for Matt as it brings back painful memories of his wife and unborn child's death, but he also feels an almost unbelievable connection to Beth and her little girl. Beth is thankful for Matt's help but wary when she finds out he is the Sheriff of the small town she has been hiding out in. When he starts asking questions she is forced to lie and what is worse is that he knows it. When Beth falls ill and Matt once again comes to her aid they end up spending time together getting to know one another and caring for Beth's baby as though they were a family. When their feelings for one another deepen, Beth knows she will have to come clean about everything, but that still will not take away the threat against her and her baby.

This is a good story, if you look past some of the gaping plot holes, and the actual romance part is very pleasing. The suspense-style part of the story doesn't quite work in my opinion. Up until this point the pace of the book is very gentle and almost soothing, then the 'action' is suddenly thrust upon you - it feels very clunky and out of place. I think there was enough story there without needing the action/suspense scenes.
I did enjoy reading how the hero and heroine slowly grew to love one another, and especially liked how the hero gradually let go of his pain.
I don't like the structure of this book; the POV changes a lot using scene breaks (mid-scene), sometimes it changes after only a few lines, and this made it feel very fractured , difficult to read, and spoilt the flow of the story. Plus the inclusion of POV from a few secondary characters takes focus away from the central relationship and doesn't, in my opinion, add anything to the story.

However, the romance and relationship between the hero and heroine is really lovely.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #349

Mistress of the Groom - Susan Napier
Harlequin Presents
Harlequin, 1997
ISBN: 9780373119189
Reissue - Harlequin Treasury, 2011
eISBN: 9781459269415

My rating

From the back cover:

"Have you heard the latest? 
Don't tell anyone but... 
The groom was having an affair - with his bride's best friend Jane had been desperate to stop the wedding. She'd had to prevent her best friend from making the biggest mistake of her life.... Marrying Ryan Blair would have been disastrous. He was too rich, too powerful, too hot to handle.
There was only one solution: to stand up in church and declare that she, Jane Sherwood, respectable businesswoman, was having a secret torrid affair with Ryan. It had worked. The wedding was finished. But now Ryan was determined to make Jane pay for his wrecked marriage - by making her his mistress for real"

I bought this book a while back after the fabulous Abby Green recommend it on twitter as one of her favourite Presents.

The story begins with the heroine Jane confronting the hero Ryan at a business event, which, after his mocking, leads to her punching him in the face. Jane is desperately trying to make ends meet and keep her life together after Ryan's two-year long campaign of hate against her that has stripped her of her business, her possessions, her home, and her reputation. Jane knows that, in a way, she deserves his revenge after stopping his wedding to her best friend three years ago by lying that they had been having an affair. But she had done it to protect her best friend, although she can't tell Ryan that. Even though she appears to have lost everything, Ryan still continues to push his revenge against her, which results in one very passionate night in each others arms after a night of sparing. Jane begins to realise that her feelings for Ryan are dangerously closer to love than hate, and this scares her so she attempts to run away. But Ryan tracks her down forcing her to confront what is going on between them as well as forcing Jane to rely on him when she injured.

Wow, what a book! The story has so much going, so many elements you would want from a Presents that it should be a bit of a convoluted mess, but Susan Napier's superb writing makes it work brilliantly. The heroine is a fantastically crafted character - she has every reason to just give up and wail at her total misfortune but she doesn't, she keeps fighting and I loved her for that. This is exactly the kind of heroine I love reading. And the hero... I don't really know what to say about him, other than he is ALPHA (yes, capital letter worthy) to the last, but also caring and gentle and tremendously appealing.
What is so spectacular about this book is that the author keeps you guessing throughout the whole story, and weaves everything together in such a way that I could not stop reading.
There isn't a lot of love-scenes in this book, but, boy, does one of them make up for it! The passion between the characters literally saturates every page, so you don't miss out on chemistry just because there is not much actual sex.

If you like revenge themed Presents - this is not to be missed.


Wednesday, 7 March 2012

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #348

A Touch of Persuasion - Janice Maynard
Harlequin Desire
Harlequin, 2012
ISBN: 9780373731596

My rating

From the back cover:

"Six years ago, Olivia Delgado was abandoned by the man she loved - a man who had never existed. Billionaire adventurer Kieran Wolff had used an alias, made love to her, then disappeared. Now he's returned, insisting on not only meeting her daughter - his daughter - but on seducing Olivia back into his bed!  
Passion still simmers between them, threatening her good sense. Can he be trusted this time, or is Kieran still a Wolff in sheep's clothing?"

I bought this recently from the Harlequin ebook store.

The hero Kieran turns up on the heroine Olivia's doorstep after discovering, quite by accident, that he has a daughter. He is furious with Olivia for keeping this from him, but Olivia refuses to back down to his anger and demands. Olivia had been devastated when Kieran had up and disappeared on her six years ago, and her later discovery that he had given her a false name and not told the truth about himself made her decide to go it alone with her pregnancy. Kieran wants to get to know his daughter, as well as the chance to have Olivia - the woman he has never forgotten - back in his arms again. Olivia reluctantly agrees to a weekend with Kieran and his family, but knows that Kieran's wanderlust lifestyle will only end up hurting her daughter. She also knows that however much desire there still is between them, she can't let Kieran in her heart again.

I quite enjoyed this book, there is a nice casual flow to the writing and the story itself is interesting. But, boy, did the hero get on my nerves... he was the one in the wrong. He gave a false name then skedaddled, the heroine had every right not to tell him, in my opinion. His constant demands for visitation/custody but also unwillingness to change his lifestyle are incredibly frustrating - these are huge plot holes and very easily avoided, it was very frustrating to read this kind of thing, it let's down the rest of the story.

But, there is plenty of passion and tension, plus a believable love-story. A good book.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #347

Wanted by Her Lost Love - Maya Banks
Harlequin Desire
Harlequin, 2011
ISBN: 9780373731329

My rating

From the back cover:

"Despite his fiancée’s chilling betrayal, developer Ryan Beardsley provided for Kelly Christian when he sent her packing. So he’s livid to find her working in a dingy Houston diner, desperate and pregnant. 
Regardless of whether the baby is his - or his brother’s - Ryan demands that Kelly return to New York with him. Now. For the baby’s sake. Or maybe because the woman’s as irresistible as ever."

This is the second book in Maya Bank's 'Pregnancy and Passion' mini series. I loved the first book (review) so I was looking forward to this one...

The hero Ryan finds the heroine Kelly working at a run down diner, after searching for her for a while, and is  surprised to see she is heavily pregnant. His initial anger towards her is replaced with concern when he sees that she is obviously not well. Kelly doesn't know what to think about Ryan turning up and pretending to be concerned about her, she has never forgotten her hurt and heartbreak when he refused to believe her against his brother's lies. But she knows that she has reached the end of her rope and needs to stay healthy for her baby so she takes the help Ryan offers her. Ryan doesn't want to forgive Kelly for her supposed betrayal. but he can't deny that he needs her as much as she needs his help. He takes her away, in order to help her relax and regain her strength, and they both promise to try and put the past between them. But Ryan's lack of faith in her slowly eats away at Kelly and she soon realises that as much as she loves him she simply can't live the rest of her life knowing that he thinks the worst of her.

I can't say how much I enjoyed this book, it was firing on all cylinders right from the start. The book follows on nicely from the first book in this mini-series (Enticed by His Forgotten Lover) but it stands along fine. What I liked about this is that it had an altogether different mood from the first book. There is a lot of angst and genuinely tear-jerking moments in this book, as well as plenty of passion and a believable love between the hero and heroine. The heroine really is the star of the show here; she goes through so much - her health problems (which, by the way, are very nicely handled by the author) and her heartbreak - yet she is able to grow as the story progresses and eventually realise that she deserves more than the way she has been treated. Simply fabulous!
My only teeny moan about this book is that I feel everything was tied up and forgiven a little too neatly.

A beautifully written story, very compelling, and almost Presents worthy in it's emotion and angst levels! I loved it.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #346

Her Sister's Baby - Alison Fraser
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin Mills & Boon, 2000
ISBN: 9780263820393
Reissue - Mills & Boon Modern Backlist, 2011
eISBN: 9781408939529

My rating

From the back cover:

"When Dray Carlisle turned up unexpectedly, Cass knew there must be trouble afoot. She hadn't seen Dray for three years, after their brief but intensely passionate affair had ended. 
However, Cass wasn't prepared for Dray's news: her younger sister, from whom she'd become estranged, had died in childbirth. Cass couldn't turn her back on her newborn niece...and that meant Dray - and the irresistible sexual attraction between them - would also be part of her life once more...."

This is on the backlist reissued ebooks you can find on the M&B UK website - I have also seen them on Amazon UK, Waterstones, and WHSmith.

The heroine Cass is surprised to find the her Dray waiting for her when she arrives home one night. But her surprise turns to grief when he informs her that her sister recently died during childbirth. Cass had barely seen her sister in the last three years after their relationship became strained following her sister's marriage to Dray's brother. Having to deal with the grief over her sister's death and seeing Dray again reminds Cass of the brief but doomed relationship she and Dray had, as well as the pain and humiliation she felt when it ended. She tries to stay away from Dray and his family as much as she can, but when her grief stricken brother-in-law asks her to take baby Ellie away with her, thinking that he is not the father, Cass is forced into spending more time with Dray. Cass is confused by Dray's scorn towards her, but it's clear that the desire is still between them but Cass knows that there isn't a future for them.

I really enjoyed this book, it pulled me in right from the start. Don't be mislead by the title and blurb, it is a lot more than what it is made out to be. The past story between the hero and heroine is nicely portrayed, although the segues into flashback scenes felt a little clunky, but once there I really got a grip of all the past betrayal between them. There is plenty of chemistry between them, and what was particularly interesting about this book is that they didn't consummate too early, this helped to build the tension throughout the whole book. The writing is descriptive and has a nice pace, I would have liked a bit more POV from the hero though. I did like that in this book we had a Doctor heroine - this rarely appears outside of the Medical line, and it was a nice refreshing change to have a Modern/Presents heroine with a professional and important career.
My only complaint is that I couldn't understand the motivation behind the heroine's sister's actions, they were destructive and malicious and it isn't really explained why - this made the story feel a little incomplete.

Nevertheless a very enjoyable book.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #345

Cowboy to the Rescue - Trish Milburn
Harlequin American Romance
Harlequin, 2012
ISBN: 9780373754007

My rating

From the back cover:

"Ryan Teague was always a bit of a loner. Before his traumatic tour in Iraq, keeping to himself was a choice; now, well, it's a necessity. Ryan feels he's too damaged, too scarred to be around the people he loves most. And a relationship? Out of the question. What woman wants a broken man? 
All that changes when Ryan meets the new ranch chef. Gorgeous, funny and a helluva cook, Brooke Vincent charms everyone at Vista Hills, especially Ryan. He recognizes something else in Brooke, too—behind that warm, easygoing demeanor, Brooke is hiding some scars of her own. Suddenly, all Ryan can think about is making sure no one hurts her again. 
Brooke and Ryan help each other begin to heal. But just as their trust grows into something more, Brooke's past threatens to ruin it all.…"

It's been a while since I endulged my pnechant for cowboy's! Oh, and only 20 more books to go...

The heroine Brooke gets a job as a cook for a ranch resort in Texas hoping she will finally be ale to make a new life for herself and put her fear behind her. She meets the hero Ryan, the resort owner's son, on her first day and there is an immediate connection between them. Ryan is surprised by his reaction to Brooke, he hasn't felt anything quite so strong since he returned from the military after he was serious injured during a traumatic incident while on duty in Iraq. They both sense the sadness and loneliness in each other and even though they try to avoid eacth other they begin to grow closer and closer. Even though Ryan feels a lot more for Brooke than just desire, he doesn't know if his fragile mental state can cope with opening up to her, as well as his feeling that Brooke is also keeping secrets.

I really enjoyed this book, although I have to be honest and say that the ending with the sort-of suspense storyline kinda spoilt it a bit. I loved the way the author gradually built up the relationship between the hero and heroine - it felt very natural and incredibly romantic. The hero and hero both had issues, and these were handled and dealt with well both as individual characters and together. The surroundings are described beautifully and the whole story has a wonderful flow.

Overall, this is a wonderful real-feel romance... but not a great ending.