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

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Book Review... Wicked Caprice - Anne Mather

Wicked Caprice - Anne Mather
Harlequin Presents
Harlequin, 1996
ISBN: 9780373118694
Reissue - Harlequin Treasury, 2011
eISBN: 9781459268784

My rating

From the back cover:

"Temptress--or tormentor? 
Was Isobel Herriot a marriage-breaker? Patrick Shannon's sister certainly believed her husband was having a torrid affair with Isobel. But when Patrick paid a visit to Isobel's Cotswold craft shop he couldn't be so sure.
How could he reconcile the fact that someone so reserved could also be promiscuous? Or that someone who played down her generous curves could also arouse him to uncontrollable passion? Patrick wasn't interested in a relationship that he couldn't control, but Isobel was beginning to torment him in the wickedest of ways...."

I bought this book a while back but never really felt inclined to read it, I'm not a massive fan of the title! But I really enjoyed reading this one.

The relationship between the hero and heroine is built really well by the author, there is plenty of passion and angst, with a little bit of misunderstanding thrown in.

The hero was particularly well crafted - he was at war with his feelings towards the heroine and this is portrayed beautifully. The heroine has a great mix of feistiness and naivety that makes her very relatable, I also liked that she made sure to assert her independence.

The author set up the initial meeting between the hero and heroine and the eventual betrayal perfectly, both the hero and heroine were at fault, which made this book much less one sided than a lot of other books with the revenge style plot.

I could have done without the last-minute scene with the hero's bitchy sister, and also the other woman part - why is it that some authors resort to throwing in unnecessary clichés when they already have a good enough story?!

But overall this is a well written story, with a wonderful love-story that has plenty of passion and emotion.


Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Writing on Wednesday... What's in a name?

From the title of this blog post you probably think that I'm talking about names for characters, but I'm not.

In actual fact I'm talking about my name. Or more precisely my pen name, my nom de plume, my pseudonym, my alter ego, etc.

I don't have one at the moment, and recently I have begun to think that perhaps I a) would like one, and b) probably should have one. At the moment I tend to just use my initials online as I value my online privacy, but going forwards especially if (WHEN, not if!) I get published I'm going to need to promote myself, and I kinda need a name for that!

I actually like my name, or my first name anyway, but I also have the problem that there is already a writer/journalist out there with the same name, and my maiden name is the shared with a County and Western singer in America - not that I have a problem with sharing after all it is unlikely that a name could ever be truly unique.

But how do you go about choosing a pen name, or deciding if you should have one?

Is it a bit like that game you used to play in high school where you would determine your porn star name by the name of your first pet then your mothers maiden name, or was it your street name?

Or is it a chance to finally call yourself that name you were desperate to be called as a child, 'cause no doubt you thought your parents choice for your name was rubbish?

Perhaps you may pay homage to your favourite fictional character? Or honour a relative?

Maybe you keep your first name, or last, or use your middle name, go back to your maiden name...?

I'm quite confused, there is just so much to think about, and I constantly worry that I will chose the wrong one - what if I grow to hate it?

And then there is also the question of, well why not keep your own name? After all it is your own work.

I would love to know how you went about choosing your own pen name, or if you decided not to bother and why?

Help me! I'm a girl with no name...


Book Review... Getting Away With It - Julie Cohen

Getting Away With It - Julie Cohen
Headline Review, 2010
ISBN: 9780755350612

My rating

From the back cover:

"Liza Haven couldn’t wait to escape the small village where she grew up with her perfect identical twin sister, Lee. Her life in LA as a stunt woman is reckless, fast and free – and that’s just the way she likes it. But when a near-fatal mistake drives her home, she finds Lee gone and everyone in the village mistaking her for her twin sister. Liza has to deal with her ailing mother, the family ice cream business, and Lee’s dangerously attractive boyfriend. Liza’s always been the bad twin, but as she struggles to keep up the masquerade and puzzle out where her sister has gone, she realises it’s not so simple. She’s spent her whole life getting away with it – is it finally time to face up to who she really is and where she really belongs?"

I have read a few of Julie Cohen's Mills & Boon books in the past, but not any of her more mainstream stuff.  I was recommended to read her latest 'The Summer of Living Dangerously' and I saw this one at the same time so I thought I would give it a go.

Let me tell you... This will definitely not be my last of hers, I loved it!

I was really intrigued by how the author would make the whole 'twin-switch' idea work, it had potential to be very cliché ridden, but it wasn't at all. Instead this was a slick, fun, and emotional read.

What I particularly liked about this book is that the heroine isn't very loveable, or in fact likeable, especially at the beginning. She is ballsy, prickly and brittle, but also vulnerable and she has rare moments of showing that she does care.

Julie Cohen doesn't hold anything back; her characters behave badly, the fishbowl-ness that is village life is captured perfectly, and the difficulties of caring for a relative are also explored all in glorious and honest detail that is woven into a compelling story.

A wonderful read from start to finish.


Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Book Review... Lucy in the Sky - Paige Toon

Lucy in the Sky - Paige Toon
Pocket Books, 2007
ISBN: 9781847390431

My rating

From the back cover:

"Settling down for a 24-hour flight to Australia, Lucy finds a text message on her phone - not from her boyfriend James, as she fondly hopes, but from a woman claiming to have slept with him four times in the past month. Trapped on the plane, she questions everything about her relationship with James. She finally calls him and he reassures her: it was only his mates playing a silly joke. James is a lawyer, persuasive and gorgeous and Lucy adores him. So why, at the wedding in Sydney of her best friend Molly, does she have niggling doubts, and find herself attracted to Molly's brother-in-law Nathan? The sooner she gets back to her regular life in London, the flat she shares with James, her job in PR, the better. Nathan is a happy-go-lucky surfer boy, with no prospects, no place to live, an almost-girlfriend in tow. And the other side of the world...Lucy - a girl caught between two distant continents - and two very different men..."

I was expecting a lot more from this book. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it but it was also quite frustrating. The blurb of this book made me think that the majority of the book would take place whilst the heroine was on the flight and her having to deal with all her conflicting emotions while stuck there. But instead this takes up no more than 10-20 pages, and the rest of the book jumps about. A lot.

The pacing of this book is a little odd, and the author's style doesn't quite appeal to me. It was too long winded, sort-of like 'I did this then I did that, then I went here. She said this, I said that and he said this, then I did this...' well, you get the idea!

It was never quite established whether or not the heroine's boyfriend did cheat on her - lots of accusations sure, all of which he denied, the consensus is that he did but I felt I needed a little bit of closure here.

I did enjoy the way that the author slowly built up the relationship between the heroine and Nathan, there is a beautiful friendship there not just a love story. One last moan and that is I feel the characters should have been older - the heroine is only 24.

I will look to read other books by this author as I feel that this is probably not the best example of her writing. It is OK though.


Book Review... Lizzy Harrison Loses Control - Pippa Wright

Lizzy Harrison Loses Control - Pippa Wright
Pan Publishing, 2011
ISBN: 9780330521710

My rating

From the back cover:

"'Have you ever noticed that the modern romantic heroine can be, not to put too fine a point on it, a bit useless?' 
Lizzy Harrison has everything under control Lizzy Harrison isn't a romantic heroine. Not even close. She doesn't have a cat, owns no more shoes than the average person, and is in no way hopelessly scatty and disorganised. In fact her life is in perfect order, and that's just how she likes it. Okay, so she hasn't met the right man yet, but she really doesn't have the time what with her busy job in PR and her packed schedule of improving activities. Her diary is planned months in advance and she's determined that nothing spontaneous will force its way into her life...hasn't she? But when her best friend Lulu questions her need for control, Lizzy starts to wonder if she needs to let go a little. So when she's thrown into the arms of her boss' number one client, notorious comedian (and love-rat) Randy Jones, she reluctantly relaxes her hold on routine. Lizzy Harrison is about to find out that losing control could win her more than she had ever imagined. "

This book was one of those recommendations you get on Amazon after buying something. I was a little sceptical, but it didn't take long before I was hooked in.

The subject is interesting, fun, and quite honest. I felt for the heroine, at first, being pushed into becoming the pretend girlfriend for a disastrous celebrity client for a PR stunt, something she really didn't want to do. But then she went and ruined all my respect by actually getting involved with him, although I suppose that was the whole point and, probably, quite true to life.

But what pissed me off most was that even though the character admitted to her weakness about becoming involved with him, the author then had to make her turn into a blind fool and have her ignore everything she, as a supposedly intelligent women, already knew about this guy. Very frustrating as I kept thinking why bother spending all that time making out that she was smart, aware, the 'anti-chick-lit-heroine' and then go and turn her into a heroine that is 100 times worse than the 'chick-lit-heroine' she had mocked previously.

I'm not entirely sure what the author was trying to do with the Russell Brand/cross-dressing Eddie Izzard style character of Randy-the celebrity- although it was certainly intriguing and different. But the fact that he was a heroin (and other drug) addict, and slept with many other women during the time he was involved with the heroine, was very distasteful especially that there was no mention by the author about the heroine's health - you don't have to be too obvious but a little mention of safe sex here would have been a good thing.

Overall though, this is an enjoyable read, it certainly kept me reading despite my moans!


Friday, 25 May 2012

Book Review... The Valentine Child - Jacqueline Baird

The Valentine Child - Jacqueline Baird
Harlequin Presents
Harlequin, 1996
ISBN: 9780373117956
Reissue - Harlequin Treasury, 2011
eISBN: 9781459276123

My rating

From the back cover:

"Would Valentine play Cupid?
When Zoë's baby arrived on February 14, it seemed only natural to call him Valentine! But as far as Zoë was concerned, Valentine had been the only romance in her brief marriage to Justin Gifford. And since Justin had harshly declared that he never wanted to see her again, she hadn't had the chance to tell him that he had a son.... But then the unthinkable happened: Valentine became desperately ill and Zoë knew that she would do anything to save him—even if that meant seducing her own husband!"

Another book from the Treasury line. I have been enjoying reading older books recently, some of the more recent ones have been a little disappointing.

This book turned out to be so much more enjoyable than I expected. The title and blurb really don't do it justice. This is a 'secret baby' book, but that's not the entire focus of the book, which makes it very interesting.

I really enjoyed reading the hero and heroine's early relationship - how it built and how it, eventually, crumbled. Both the characters make mistakes in the relationship, and I appreciated that the author didn't attempt to sugar coat them.

Communication, or more accurately, lack of communication is the 'theme' of this book. The hero and heroine are so afraid to talk to one another, and the author does a great job of showing how this slowly festered and snowballed into a complete lack of trust, which eventually destroys their relationship, and it is still present when they eventually re-connect. Very emotional reading.

The secret baby part of the story is handled well, and interesting as it is not the main source of conflict in the book.

Absorbing and emotional.


Book Review... Dark Apollo - Sara Craven

Dark Apollo - Sara Craven
Harlequin Presents
Harlequin, 1996
ISBN: 9780373117864
Reissue - Harlequin Treasury, 2011
eISBN: 9781459276017

My rating

From the back cover:

Nic Xandreou thought Katie was a gold digger out to trap his brother into marriage. Camilla knew her sister better and was determined to champion her cause even if it meant a visit to Xandreou's stronghold on the island of Karthos. 
Camilla Dryden had always been the sensible one in her family, but she had walked into the lion's den, not realizing the risk she was running. Nic Xandreou wasn't accustomed to hearing the word no. Especially from a woman. 
He was a dangerously sexy man used to women who were sweet, docile and silent! Camilla was anything but. She seemed to enjoy their war of words as much as he. And, as Nic was eager to prove, there was one place they'd be sure to agree—the bedroom!"

I am a big fan of Sara Craven (you probably know this by now), and I bought this book from the Treasury line a while ago looking forward to reading it, but forgot I even had it!

One of the things that I like about her books, and that I think she does quite well, is that the general direction of the book leads you to think one thing and then it twists into something quite different. That is certainly the case with this book.

The hero and heroine just 'click' from the word go here, and the whole story plays out rather beautifully. The hero is so deliciously alpha, yet he falls for the heroine hard and fast and the reader could see it. The way that they meet is a bit of a cliché but, you know, sometimes that's a good thing - like an old, comfortable pair of socks!

This book benefited from not having a lot love scenes, but this doesn't mean there isn't plenty of passion. The sexual tension between the hero and heroine is rife and builds and builds so that by the time the hero and heroine finally got together it was explosive.

The heroine is feisty, independent and well written - definitely one of the better Sara Craven heroines. Loved the hero but I would have liked to have been able to have his POV included.

A very enjoyable read.


Book Review... The Price of a Bride - Michelle Reid

The Price of a Bride - Michelle Reid
Harlequin Presents
Harlequin, 1999
ISBN: 9780373120338
Reissue - Harlequin Treasury, 2011
eISBN: 9781459251854

My rating

From the back cover:

"Forced to marry! 
When Mia Frazier agreed to her father's demand to marry Greek millionaire Alexander Doumas, she knew both men stood to gain from the deal—Alex would win back his family's island, and Mia's father would get the grandson and heir he so desperately longed for. But what about Mia? 
 She had her own reason for agreeing to be Alex's wife—which was not financial gain, as Alex cynically believed. But how could the truth stay hidden, when she shared such intense passion with her new husband…and was now carrying his child?"

This is another one of those talked about 'classic' Harlequin Presents, so I knew I had to read it. And... A Classic it most certainly is!

The angst levels in this book are seriously sky high, I didn't have a clue where Michelle Reid was going to take me next, it kept me reading that's for sure.

Yes, this book is a little, well OK a lot, over dramatic but somehow it works. It keeps you guessing and feeling like you are holding your breath as you turn the page.

The hero acts appallingly at times, and I actually had a difficult time getting into this book at the beginning, but Michelle Reid is a master at somehow pulling this back from the brink. The heroine also acts badly, so the two characters kind of level each other out.

They certainly don't make Presents like this anymore! You couldn't ask for more to be crammed into this book - it has blackmail, betrayal, abuse, secrets, passion, pregnancies, etc.

It should be a headache of a read, at it is! But it is also unputdownable!

Like I said, a Classic.


Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Book Review... The Secrets She Carried - Lynne Graham

The Secrets She Carried - Lynne Graham
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263890860

My rating

From the back cover:

"Erin Turner and Cristophe Donakis set the bed sheets alight during their scorching affair. But Erin's hopes of a diamond ring turned to ash when he unceremoniously kicked her out of his bed and onto the cold London streets.
Years later, Erin's world is rocked again when she meets her newest business client. She knows it's him the moment his designer aftershave hits her senses...
Cristophe is going to make Erin pay back what he believes she stole - in whatever way he demands... But little does he know that Erin's about to drop two very important bombshells!"

I'll be honest, after some of Lynne Graham's more recent offerings I was a little, shall we say hesitant about reading this. But she is one of the best Modern/Presents authors though, so I will always read her newest books!

After a rather shaky start, this one actually turned out OK. It's no angst-tastic, rollercoaster-of-emotions, Lynne-Graham-book of old, but it is quite charming eventually.

The beginning wasn't great, the hero seemed like a complete arsehole at first, and it was one of those books that made me grit my teeth in anger whilst reading. But it soon settled down, and it was quite enjoyable. The hero and heroine worked well together.

One thing I particularly liked was that the children behaved badly, and that really knocked the hero for six! Very honest writing, in my opinion, I'm not sure if I have ever read a Presents where the child throws themselves on the floor in a tantrum or won't stop jumping off and on things in excitement!

Not a bad book at all, although don't take things too seriously when reading it, there are a few 'holes' in the plot!


Book Review...The Rebel Rancher - Donna Alward

The Rebel Rancher - Donna Alward
Harlequin Romance
Harlequin, 2012
ISBN: 9780373178131

My rating

From the back cover:

"Unlocking the rebel's heart 
With his break-your-heart smile, rodeo star and rebel Ty Diamond has a reputation that should have Clara Ferguson running scared-not straight into his arms! 
Ty knows he needs to take it easy with Clara-her past has left her with a bruised heart and she's determined never to rely on a man again. But Ty isn't all he seems-and his gentle side shakes Clara's resolute independence to breaking point..."

First of all, a huge thank you to Donna Alward for sending me a copy of this book.

I don't read a lot of the Harlequin Romance line (I'm more of an angst-loving Presents reader!), but I do like the line and I know that Donna Alward writes some of the best. She also writes brilliant cowboy stories,  you should all know by know how I can't resist a cowboy, and this one is no exception.

A Rebel Rancher is sweet to it's very core. Full of heart wrenching reality, as well as heart warming hope, all wrapped into a wonderful journey that the hero and heroine go on.

The relationship is built beautifully, and even though this is a 'sweet' romance there is a lot of spark between the hero and heroine, as well as a very moving love story. I couldn't put the book down!

Donna Alward writes characters that you can believe in and relate to, as well as giving them enough pain that you are as desperate as they are to find their HEA.

My only complaint is that the ending felt a little rushed, in my opinion. But, oh, the epiliogue is lovely!

A beautiful read from start to finish.


Monday, 21 May 2012

Birthdays, Shoes, Sharks, and Sore Feet...

Last Thursday was my 28th birthday...

If I ignore for a moment the realisation that it is only 2 more years until the dreaded three-OH, it was a great birthday!

On the actual day I didn't really celebrate much, my husband bought me a couple of small gifts and I got some money from my parents and my mother-in-law, which is always appreciated!

For my birthday treat, on Saturday, husband and I got on the train and spent the day in London. I adore London, living only an hour away we do try to go as often as we can but with trains being quite expensive at the moment it is sometimes not possible.

Also both husband and I were conscious of the fact that as we get nearer and nearer to the Olympics then it is only going to get more difficult to go to London without it being super busy!

So we planned a day of culture and shopping...

First up we went to the Design Museum to see the Christian Louboutin exhibition... Oh it was AMAZING! Such beautiful shoes, each like an individual piece of art just sitting there displayed for my viewing pleasure. I can't tell you how much I just wanted to reach out and touch, and hold, and caress, these exquisite creations... unfortunately the 'Do Not Touch' rule was in place so I couldn't! The fetish room and the work room areas of the exhibition are so interesting. Couldn't take photographs either so I can't show you any that I took, however here is a few links and images I found online...

Design Museum info
The Guardian write-up
The Style Examiner write-up

I'm sorry if these images are a bit randomly placed, I'm having some problems with blogger and getting images in!

After that we went to the Tate Modern to see the new Damien Hirst exhibition. Something that I was beyond excited about, I have adored Damien Hirst's work for years.

No photography was allowed again but my husband did manage to get a couple of sneaky shots on his iPhone, the quality isn't great though!

I was astounded how big this exhibit was, there is so much work there, almost too much, it took a long time to actually settle in!

Some of my favourite pieces include (naturally) the shark in formaldehyde - The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living-, Pharmacy, In and Out of Love with the live butterflies, and all the spot paintings!

The whole thing was simply mind boggling, too see so much of his work is really a once in a life time thing since most of it is privately owned.

Here are some links-

Tate Modern info
The Guardian write-up & Video tour

Oh, and this is incredibly popular, it was so busy, so definitely consider booking tickets, as we did!

Now as you can imagine after all of that my feet were very sore from all the walking and wandering. We had planned to do a lot of shopping after that, but once we had been to the exhibitions and hopped over to Whole Foods for some food we didn't actually have much time left.
We only managed a quick visit to Selfridge's and with the Central line being closed we had a long, difficult, sweaty, and packed (MANY, MANY, MANY loud West Ham fans!) tube trip back to Liverpool Street and we only just managed to get our train back!

I spent most of Sunday with sore feet and stiff legs from the trip! But it was worth it, I had brilliant birthday weekend!

Let me leave you with a picture of my husband coping a feel outside Tate Modern...!


Thursday, 10 May 2012

Book Review... This Is A Love Story - Jessica Thompson

This Is A Love Story - Jessica Thompson
Coronet, 2012
ISBN: 9781444734218

My rating

From the back cover:

"This is a love story. Boy meets girl and girl falls for boy - that much is true. But when Sienna meets Nick it's not the way it happens in love stories. It's because of a squirrel on water skis... She sees Nick's dangerous brown eyes and thinks, 
Who will be there to catch Siena when she falls? She is so fragile. She has so many secrets, and he is not that serious. Funny and sad, this is the story of two people destined never to come together in the great love affair they crave more than anything else."

When I saw this book sitting on the new arrivals shelf at my local library, I immediatly grabbed it, the cover is just beautiful and it drew me to it like the moth to the flame!

This is a very absorbing and entertaining read, as well as emotional and deeply moving. However, it's not perfect and my main feeling whilst reading was annoyance.

The characters come across as a lot younger than they are, especially the hero, whom acted as though he was 21 not late 20's and 30's. Staying on the age theme, this book takes place over a period of five years, but I couldn't see any sign of the characters growing up at all. They acted exactly the same at the beginning all the way through to just before the ending.

The hero's POV didn't quite work, it seemed too similar to the heroines. And, I wish the author didn't write. So. Many. Sentences. Like. This. ...Like I said, annoying!

I almost gave up on this book around one third of the way through - the characters were getting on my nerves with their, at times, frustratingly immature actions and the pace of the book was SLOW!

But I'm glad I ploughed on, as it was really enjoyable by the end. The ending by the way is spectacular, so emotional that I was almost in tears.

The love the hero and heroine felt for each other felt genuine, and was full of ups and downs, just like any relationship, although I did on occasion feel like shouting at the two of them to just bloody tell each other!

So, yeah, not a perfect book, it's a bit of an effort but in the end very moving and emotional.


Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Book Review... Babies in Waiting - Rosie Fiore

Babies in Waiting - Rosie Fiore
Quercus, 2012
ISBN: 9780857389589

My rating

From the back cover:

"Meet Louise, 38, Toni, 26, and Gemma, 18. 
They are all expecting babies in September. And they are all discovering that impending motherhood is more than a little overwhelming. Finding their way onto an online forum, they discover fellowship, friendship, way too much information - and ultimately one another. 
Meeting in real life, they set out to face the highs, lows, secrets and revelations of pregnancy and the first months of motherhood together. But one of the women is keeping a secret that will test their friendship to its very core..."

I got this book out from the library after seeing it reviewed on the Novelicious Website (link).

I have to say that although I found the beginning a bit shaky I ended up really enjoying this book. It has a nice mix of the fun moments of the kind you would want and expect from 'chick lit' as well as some brutal honesty.

The three heroines are really well portrayed by the author, and their personalities opinions and experiences are nicely woven together. I got a little frustrated with the 18 year old Gemma, I feel that she came across more 16 than 18, a little too immature for my liking, but it did suit her spoilt-rich-girl background.

These three women all make mistakes along the way and the author isn't afraid to make them pay for them/ I particularly enjoyed Louise's story, especially her finding new love despite her difficult situation.

The changing of narrative style between each heroine is an interesting tool, at first it felt a little jarring, but once I got used to it it really helped to keep each story separate in my mind.

I really enjoy reading 'journey' stories and that is certainly what these three women go on. Both together and individually.

This is a lovely book, I liked it.


Book Review... Frenemies - Megan Crane

Frenemies - Megan Crane
Quercus, 2008
ISBN: 9781847242389

My rating

From the back cover:

"Gus Curtis has been avoiding growing up for a long time. But she’s almost thirty and official adulthood is just around the corner. So she’s come up with a plan and it’s all going to be fine. Until she walks in on her perfect boyfriend lip-locked with her oldest friend and her carefully planned world collapses like badly cooked souffle. 
Determined to win back her man, Gus drinks far too much, indulges in some ad hoc karaoke and loses what’s left of her dignity in a series of public slanging matches. Before long, her loyal friends have had enough and she’s finding consolation in the arms of the one boy she really should have stayed away from…"

I have read a lot of Megan Crane's Harlequin Presents (written as Caitlin Crews) but this is my first mainstream novel of hers.

I am so glad I picked it up as I really enjoyed it. The intricacies and complexities often found in the relationship between women are captured and used perfectly by the author. She doesn't shy away from making her characters behave badly at times, and her heroine manages to be both likeable and un-likeable all at the same time.

The story is full of ups and downs, which perfectly relates to the theme of 'growing up' in this book. Plus it has a nice mixture of fun and grittiness. One of my favourites scenes is where Gus, dressed in her blueberry bridesmaid dress for a party, realises that what sounds like a laugh doesn't actually work in reality and her silly actions are only hindering her want to be taken seriously!

The almost-a-love-story running through the book is nicely executed and enough to keep me (a die hard romance fan) pleased, and I love how the ending was left nicely open.

Any woman will be able to relate to the themes in this book and Megan Crane writes as though she is your oldest friend telling you about her latest adventure.

Really enjoyable.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Book Review... The Darkest of Secrets - Kate Hewitt

The Darkest of Secrets - Kate Hewitt
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263890723

My rating

From the back cover:

"The high price of buried secrets
Khalis Tannous has spent years ruthlessly eradicating every hint of corruption and scandal from his life – even shunning his own family.When Grace Turner arrives at Khalis’s private Mediterranean island to view his family’s stolen collection of priceless art, even he isn’t blind to her beauty. 
Yet he recognises the shadows in her eyes – she too has her secrets. Grace can foresee the cost of giving in to temptation, but is helpless to resist Khalis’s slow, determined seduction. But will she risk everything she has for a night in his bed?"

I almost didn't read this book... but I am so glad I did as this book is simply brilliant.

The hero has to be one of the best heroes I have read in a very long time! He is so open and loving towards the heroine, and not at all cruel and domineering. I can't tell you how great it is to read a hero who is not just interested in some casual brief fling with the heroine (or any other woman that croses his path!).

This is certainly a risky book, some readers probably won't like the heroines past actions, but I applaud Kate Hewitt for doing something different. I liked that she didn't resort to having her heroine make excuses for her behaviour, instead she owned up to her faults and accepted the consequences.

I tire of reading about lily-white heroines, we're none of us perfect, so for me this book was very refreshing.

This book is packed full of angst and emotion, centred around a beautiful and engaging love story that almost had me in tears, of both joy and sadness.

The writing is flawless and evocative, I was especially drawn to the depth to which the author describes the heroine relating to the myth of 'Leda and the Swan'. This book sucks you in wholly and doesn't rush towards and unnecessarily 'perfect' ending.

I loved it.


Book Review... The Dark Side of Desire - Julia James

The Dark Side of Desire - Julia James
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263890778

My rating

From the back cover:

"Offered by her father… 
English rose Flavia Lassiter has never been comfortable in her father’s glitzy world. Summoned to yet another of his ostentatiously lavish parties, she has one order: to be ‘nice’ to a wealthy investor. Her body may be on offer, but she shields her heart behind an icy shell. 
Taken by the billionaire! 
Leon Maranz emanates a dark power that sends shivers through her body – threatening to shatter her frosty façade. To let the self-made billionaire bed her would be to do her unscrupulous father’s bidding. But to turn Leon down would be to deny her body’s deepest desires…"

The blurb of this book makes it sound remarkably similar to James's book 'Purchased for Revenge'. And while it is a little similar in terms of style, the story is different.

I'll be honest and say that at times I found this frustrating to read. The angst in this story is through the roof, and there is so much inner monologuing. It got really annoying after a while. The word here is Drama!

What I did like about this book though is the simplicity of the love that grows between the hero and heroine. The hero in this book is brilliant - he falls for the heroine hard and isn't afraid to say so. Makes a nice change from the usual badly behaved/revenge focused Julia James's hero.

Has a few problems, but this is an absorbing read. Don't be put off by the blurb!


Book Review... Baby's First Homecoming - Cathy McDavid

Baby's First Homecoming - Cathy McDavid
Harlequin American Romance
Harlequin, 2012
ISBN: 9780373754014

My rating

From the back cover:

"Giving away her baby for adoption was the second biggest mistake of Sierra Powell's life. But after a miraculous turn of events, she is reunited with her toddler son and they return to Arizona. Too bad Sierra's first mistake is waiting for her there—Clay Duvall, a much too charming cowboy. And onetime love of her life. 
Clay is not about to let go of the opportunity to raise his flesh and blood. He proposes co-parenting—meaning Sierra and Jamie have to move close to him. Real close, as in onto his property. As far as Sierra's concerned, he has no say in her son's life; Clay was the one who walked out on their relationship. 
Will the sparks between Clay and Sierra set off the formerly feuding Powell and Duvall clans…or will they rekindle an old passion?"

I bought this book a while back with the intention of reading it during my 365books challenge, but never actually got round to it.

This is a nice and sweet romance and exactly what I like, and want, from the American Romance line. But it's not perfect, there are a few elements to this book that just don't work.

I feel that the hero didn't make up for what he had done - sleeping with the heroine then running back to his ex and marrying her, never once thinking about what effect this had on the heroine. It didn't seem like he was actually sorry for the hurt he caused her, nor do I think he was actually 'over' his ex wife. I don't usually mind books where there has been other relationships that intrude on the central one, but there has to be enough reason and, for want of a better phrase, grovelling to make me accept it.

This book explores the difficult subjects of adoption (from the birth parents side), depression, and separation anxiety. I think the author handles them well, I especially liked the inclusion of counselling rather than relying on the whole 'love solves everything' idea.

Overall this is a nice read with an interesting theme.