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

Friday, 28 September 2012

Book Review... A Husband of Convenience - Jacqueline Baird

A Husband of Convenience - Jacqueline Baird
Harlequin Presents
Harlequin, 1999
ISBN: 9780373120529
Reissue - Harlequin Treasury, 2011
eISBN: 9781459252042

My rating

From the back cover:

"A father for her unborn baby...
Josie's husband, Conan Zarcourt, was tall, dark and handsome. Yet Josie could only look, not touch, because theirs was a marriage in name alone. Conan had stepped in as father to his brother's child—the baby Josie was carrying.
But when an accident left Josie with amnesia she naturally assumed that Conan was her husband, her lover and the father of her baby. And until she remembered the truth, Conan was more than happy to have Josie in his bed...."

Another Treasury book and another classic trope - marriage of convenience - and one that is done very well by Jacqueline Baird.

There is a lot of reality to this story, such as the heroine regretting her mistake of sleeping with her ex and the difficulties two people face learning to live with one another, and that makes this an enjoyable book to read.

The heroine is nicely independent as well as a but prickly - for the most part I liked her.

The star of the show here though is the hero... right for the first he fell hard for the heroine and spent the rest of their time trying to show her despite having so many obstacles. I love this kind of story and hero.

I could have done without the small amnesia part - or have had it introduced earlier in the story - as it was, it felt a little crowbarred in.

Overall this is a well written, classic story with a pretty much perfect hero!


Thursday, 27 September 2012

Book Review... A Tainted Beauty - Sharon Kendrick

A Tainted Beauty - Sharon Kendrick
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263891003

My rating

From the back cover:

"All that glitters...
Merciless businessman Ciro D'Angelo knows an opportunity when he sees it - and Lily Scott's vulnerable sweetness and old-fashioned values are exactly what he needs in a wife. She's the complete opposite to the red-taloned gold-diggers who relentlessly pursue him. 
Isn't gold...
But on their wedding night Ciro realises that Lily isn't quite the pure bride he expected. Does her virtuous facade hide a fortune-hunter as shameless as the rest? It seems their marriage is over before it's begun - yet once you're a D'Angelo wife there's no turning back..."

What a story!

The subject if the book is a little old fashioned but I think it is made the most of and a spectacular romance is told. The start of this book is compelling and really quite beautiful, I was hooked instantly.

Lily is a really well crafted heroine with the perfect mix of sweetness and independence. She and the hero bounce off each other perfectly; lots of sizzling tension, fun dialogue and some genuinely tender moments that made me want to sigh out loud!

I did find it a little difficult to really believe the hero’s reaction to the heroine’s lack of virginity. Too many double standards and judgement in his behaviour for my liking. It’s too much of an outdated idea for today’s world.

However, the author managed to make it work and keeps you intrigued all the way through. I liked it a lot.


Book Review... Wife to a Stranger - Daphne Clair

Wife to a Stranger - Daphne Clair
Harlequin Presents
Harlequin, 1999
ISBN: 9780373186983
Reissue - Harlequin Treasury, 2011
eISBN: 9781459252288

My rating

From the back cover:

"Stranger in her bed
Capri recognized the handsome man in front of her as her husband. She knew his name was Rolfe, but other than that he was a complete stranger to her. In fact, she could remember nothing at all about her life, prior to waking up in the hospital bed. Perhaps all she needed was to get home to New Zealand and her memory would return.
It didn't, despite some shocking revelations about herself and her marriage. One thing she did know: whatever their marital problems might have been, the chemistry between them was as strong as ever. But how could she sleep with a man she barely knew—even if he was her husband?"

I bought this book from the treasury line ages ago and forgot about it! I have liked the few books I have read from this author so I thought I would give this one a go.

I have noticed that a lot of the Presents from the 90s are the amnesia trope. Yes ok, they are clichéd and a bit weak as believable stories, but I admit that I quite like them!

This one was enjoyable, very much so. The author captured my interest with a wonderfully played out story with glimpses into a very troubled past relationship between the hero and heroine, a hero that would can tell is trying all her can to make it work between them, and a heroine that is vulnerable in exactly the right way.

The writing is wonderful; full of depth with a touch of mystery that captivated me from the word go. Then…

The Plot Twist happens. And it ruined the whole book.

I don’t want to say what it is, but it certainly threw me, I wasn’t expecting it at all and it felt a bit like I’d walked slap bang into a wall. It made this book, quite frankly, ridiculous. I felt let down, not to mention that this twist was introduced far too late for it to have any chance of being correctly played out to make it even slightly more believable and the end was rushed and a bit, well, silly.



Book Review... Brittle Bondage - Anne Mather

Brittle Bondage - Anne Mather
Mills & Boon Romance
Mills & Boon, 1994
ISBN: 9780263786149

My rating

From the back cover:

"'I want a divorce, Ben. I've met someone else and we want to get married.'
Rachel's marriage had ended in bitterness and recrimination. Ben had been unfaithful to her and had tried to lie his way out of trouble. Two years later the dust had begun to settle and their only point of contact was their small daughter, Daisy. 
And that was the way Rachel wanted it now that Simon had entered her life. It didn't occur to her that Ben might have other views on the matter."

I have read quite a few of Anne Mather’s books and found them all enjoyable. No difference for this book, I liked it… but I don’t think it quite lived up to its potential.

One thing I have noticed from this author is that her books often have a nice level of maturity in the story and older (than usual) characters. I like that about them.

This is a reunion story; the hero and heroine are separated after a rather bitter end to their marriage. I could tell straight away that the hero was still desperately in love with the heroine and couldn’t bear to let her go. I would really like to have had his POV included. The heroine came across as a bit of a shrew at times, I didn’t always warm to her.

This is a sweet and passionate reunion story with lots of emotion. However with the title ‘Brittle Bondage’ I thought it would be more brooding, more dark even. The story dragged in places and the heroine’s neediness just became frustrating.

Overall though, this is a nice, enjoyable book.


Saturday, 15 September 2012

A nice surprise...

I received some of the new relaunched RIVAs today. I was so excited about this relaunch, I love the RIVA line and have really missed it being available on general sale.

The new covers are, in my opinion, so pretty and really suit this fresh, fun line... See?!

Have a look at the newly relaunched titles available here on on Mills & Boon UK website

So, anyway like I said my RIVAs arrived today and they are every bit as pretty in the physical form. And there I was standing in my kitchen with a cup of coffee idly having a flick through the first pages of them when in 'The Best Mistake of Her Life' by Aimee Carson I came across this....

People, that is MY review!! My words are printed... In an actual book! Can you say, Proud Moment.

It was such a shock, I had no idea it was going to be in there, I was reading the paragraph thinking 'This sounds familiar' and then I realised!!

Such a nice little surprise, I'm really happy to have my review noticed. I don't review books for recognition, or profit; I just like books and like to tell people so.

But, darn, it's nice to get noticed! Thanks Mills & Boon :-)


Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Book Review... The Price of Retribution - Sara Craven

The Price of Retribution - Sara Craven
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263891096

My rating

From the back cover:

"Hell hath no fury...
To Tarn Desmond family is everything. So when merciless tycoon Caspar Brandon all but destroys her sweet sister, Tarn is determined to make this notorious playboy pay...
Caz is intrigued by the pure beauty of the new girl in his office - no one has ever said no to him before, and if anything that's just doubled his ruthless desire for her! 
As Tarn sinks deeper into her deception her resolve falters under Caz's sensual onslaught. She hasn't banked on revenge costing her the ultimate price: her heart...and her body!"

I love the revenge trope… and I love Sara Craven books. This book only needed pages and I was pretty sure I would like it! Add in the fact that this is a reverse revenge plot (heroine wanting revenge against the hero) makes it even better. What a book this is.

The prologue being ‘now’ and the story then recapping what had happened is a neat little trick to really hook you in right from the start.

Sara Craven weaves a tale that is full of emotion, mystery, passion and betrayal. The POV is a little random in places, it had a bit from the hero at the beginning but that dropped off eventually. It didn’t make the story any less enjoyable though.

I was desperate to find out the real story behind what the heroine believed had happened, I couldn’t stop reading and it kept you guessing throughout.

Oh. The love story between the hero and heroine is simply awesome – real, emotional, strained amd the conflict is simply spectacular.

A brilliant, dramatic book… a great example of why Sara Craven is still one of the best Modern/Presents authors out there.

Loved it.


Book Review... Runaway Fiancée - Sally Wentworth

Runaway Fiancee - Sally Wentworth
Mills & Boon Presents
Harlequin Mills & Boon, 1998
ISBN: 9780263807387

My rating

From the back cover:

"Bring Back My Bride!
It should have been the wedding of the year...Instead, his beautiful fiancee was in another country, celebrating her engagement to another man - and she had no memory of ever agreeing to marry Milo Caine!
It had taken him a year to track her down. Now Milo just had to find out why Paige had run away one week before their wedding - and to convince her that he was the man who should be exchanging vows and cutting the cake with her!"

This book certainly starts with a bang, and the heroine is spectacular right from the start. She has such a feisty personality and is written brilliantly throughout. It would have been so easy to have the heroine as the ‘victim’ but the author stayed well away from this – although she had been like that in the past so it was a nice touch to have her finally found her backbone.

I like the hero also; the author didn’t hold him back from acting and reacting badly to towards the heroine, but at the same time he was also a very tender character.

With the amnesia trope there is always the risk of walking down cliché avenue, but here the author doesn’t stick too fiercly to this theme and instead makes it a bit more gritty.

I felt for both the hero and heroine, I wanted them to make their own way after having so mnuch of their lives planned out. The love between the hero and heroine is lovely, sweet and passionate.

This is an emotional book, but also quite fun. I really enjoyed it!


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Book Review... Painted the Other Woman - Julia James

Painted the Other Woman - Julia James
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263891195

My rating

From the back cover:

" Stripped of her glittering façade… 
Athan Teodarkis knows her type well: women for whom designer dresses and priceless jewellery are paid for only in kind. But he’s never been distracted by one – until now. Suspecting his sister’s husband of having an affair with the dangerously beautiful Marisa Milburne, Athan determines to put a stop to it! 
Confident the Teodarkis millions will easily divert this gold-digger’s attentions, Athan has a simple plan: seduce, then discard. But, contrary to what the cynical Athan believes, shy Marisa is no home-wrecker, and her innocence is powerless to resist his vengeful seduction… "

If you want deep, emotional, and dramatic stories then Julia James is the author to look for.

Aside from the too-often inner monologues from the hero and heroine, this is a wonderfully crafted story about revenge and mistakes. It’s classic Julia James with it’s one great big misunderstanding that would only take a couple of words to rectify, yet the fact that it is dragged out and the full truth never coming out until near the end makes this a really tense read.

You never really know how far this author is going to take her theme and I, for one, love this style of romance novels.

The hero and heroine battle against their growing feelings for one another every step of the way and it is very emotional throughout. I really felt like I was there with the characters, feeling what they were feeling, and being drawn totally into the story.

The passion that explodes from all the confusion, misunderstanding and withheld feeling is powerful and intense, and as a result the love between the hero and heroine feels genuine.

The hero grovels for forgiveness for his actions and I liked that the heroine found her strength and stood up to him, great stuff to read!

Intense, powerful and absorbing. A great Modern/Presents.


Book Review... Time to Let Go - Alison Fraser

Time to Let Go - Alison Fraser
Mills & Boon Romance
Mills & Boon, 1990
ISBN: 9780263768930

My rating

From the back cover:

"I'm sure if we had...um...met, I would certainly have remembered you.
The man was unstoppable! First he'd unashamedly assumed that Sara and he must have been on intimate terms, and now - that misunderstanding having been sorted out - he confidently expected she'd make up the numbers on this bedpost yet. If it wasn't for young Scott, Sara would have told Neville Dryden what he could do with his notches.
She'd been in an emotional deep freeze for three years, and she needed a lot more than the warmth of Nevilles careless actor's charm to bring about the thaw..."

This is a book from my oldie pile; I really love these older ones as they are very ‘classic’ in style.

The few books I have read from Alison Fraser, all enjoyable, have included heroines with careers that actually require devotion, and that is the case again in this book with the heroine being a Social Worker – very unusual, and un-glamorous for a romance novel! I really like this as it adds a bit of reality into these books that they are sometimes lacking, if you know what I mean.

Throughout the book, I really didn’t know what to make of the hero; he is both infuriatingly arrogant and completely charming. Even without his POV, I could tell that he had fallen head over heels for the heroine yet couldn’t work up the courage to show her. Oh, sigh!

The heroine’s grief over the loss of her husband felt real and is dealt with well, it was a nice detail that the hero felt like he could never live up to the legacy of the heroines late husband. It was refreshing to read a book where it is the hero who has the insecurities over the development of the relationship.

Alison Fraser has written a poignant, emotional and beautiful book that is about moving on and opening your heart.

A lovely read.


Thursday, 6 September 2012

Book Review... One Night With The Enemy - Abby Green

One Night With The Enemy - Abby Green
Mills & Boon Modern 
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263891010

My rating

From the back cover:

"In Argentina’s breathtaking vineyards… 
Nicolás de Rojas and Madalena Vasquez had a stolen affair amongst the Mendozan vineyards – until Maddie discovered a devastating secret about Nic, and left without another word. 
He will have her once again! 
Now Maddie is back, having inherited her family’s struggling vineyard, and she’s at Nic’s mercy – right where he wants her. He’s one of Argentina’s most successful vintners, and Maddie desperately needs Nic’s help. But will she agree to his condition? One exquisite night with him … to finish what they started eight years ago …"

Abby Green’s books are always fraught with tension and passion and that is exactly the kind of story you get here!

The depth of feeling between the hero and heroine is incredible; intense, emotional, a little dark and sad. Abby has written this book with the perfect blend of love and hate, and I couldn’t get enough of it. She does a brilliant job of weaving in the backstory without distracting from the present, in fact it makes the whole story even more rich.

The Romeo & Juliet theme is done with relish and with the revenge theme added in just makes this even more wonderful. The story keeps you guessing, and hooked throughout.

With eye-popping passion and edge-of-seat tension, this is not to be missed. Exactly the kind of Modern/Presents I like best.

Loved it!


Book Review... Defying Drakon - Carole Mortimer

Defying Drakon - Carole Mortimer
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263890679

My rating

From the back cover:

"Can he turn defiance into desire?
Drakon Lyonedes has it all: power, wealth, sex appeal...and any woman he wants Until the beautiful Gemini Bartholomew steps into his life, that is...
Confronting him over his plan to turn her family home into a hotel, Gemini intrigues Drakon. The problem? "Long-term" just isn't in this infamously arrogant tycoon's vocabulary-and Gemini is a virgin who surely wants more than one night of sizzling, scorching passion...?
She's determined to defy him, but whose willpower will prove the strongest?"

This book sounded like it was going to be a classic Carole Mortimer book… While I can’t fault the writing and storytelling, which is flawless as always from this author, the story itself felt flat. It is a rather ‘tame’ book (and I’m not just talking about heat levels), to me it lacked that spark and intensity that makes the Modern/Presents line so appealing.

I couldn’t warm to the hero at all; he was constantly blowing hot and cold and was distrustful of the heroine to the point of it becoming quite frustrating to read.

The heroine is OK, she stood up for herself and had lots of independence. She, in fact, is what saved this book from being a bit of a disaster, in my opinon.

The story is a bit slow going and, at times, eye-rollingly clichéd (e.g. the hero took the heroine to see the opera, she got all dressed up and then they arrived at the airport to fly to the performance… Pretty Woman already did that!)

An OK read but a little disappointing. Not very original.


Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Book Review... Misbehaving - Sarah Harvey

Misbehaving - Sarah Harvey
Headline, 1999
ISBN: 9780747261766

My rating

From the back cover:

"When Alex Gray finds her boyfriend in bed with her gym instructor, she turns to her best friends, Emma and Serena, for advice. They challenge her to a competition to seduce as many men as they can within two months. But Alex can't seem to find anyone worth her while. That is until she meets Jake."

I read this book about 12 years ago; I got it free from a magazine and remember loving it. My copy got lost somewhere over the years of university, house moves, marriage, etc… I forgot the title but never forgot this book. I finally found it again thanks to the brilliant Smart Bitches, Trashy Books site and their HaBO (Help a Bitch Out) feature and a wonderful commenter who knew the book I described! (My HaBO. N.B. Spoilers!)

When this finally arrived I was so excited about getting to read it again. What I found is that this book is every bit as fund as I remembered it being, as well as sweet and moving… but, boy, does this feel dated! Can you say ‘90s’!!

The central story holds up well, just the details do make you cringe a bit; it brought back some memories of my early adulthood exploits that’s for sure!

The heroine’s journey is both fun and emotional, the author really engages you every step of the way. The characters feel real and believable, and I think any woman would be able to relate to them. The little bit of romance added in is just the cherry on top of a really nice cake. This is classic chick-lit.

A fun, warm, and engaging read – I’ll try not to lose my copy again!

Book Review... Shades of Sin - Sara Wood

Shades of Sin - Sara Wood
Mills & Boon Romance
Mills & Boon, 1993
ISBN: 9780263781762

My rating

From the back cover:

"The rebel is back....
Ruan Gardini had been the local 'bad boy.' Four years ago, his zest for life and love of danger had made Natasha come alive for the first time...
Natasha Trelawyn had been unhappy and withdrawn - until she'd met Ruan. But they'd parted bitter enemies, and she'd started a new life without him...
Now Ruan was back - to claim his revenge. And Natasha hadn't bargained for the power that he, with his darkly smoldering charisma, still possessed! How long could she keep on resisting him when he seemed intent on making her pay in full the price of their shared past?"

This is one of those books that for the first thirty pages or so you have absolutely no idea what is going on yet it is difficult to put down.

The basic theme of this book is revenge, but the plot is much more complicated and intriguing than your usual revenge-style romance. This made for a very up-and-down read; the book manages to be both gripping and frustrating.

I like Sara Wood’s style, very ‘classic’ yet with plenty of passion and depth. The inclusion of the hero’s POV (strange in a book of this time) is a definite plus and helps the plot flow a little more smoothly.

The love story between the hero and heroine is very powerful, with lots of tenderness steming from the hero and heroine being childhood sweethearts, as well as some stormy emotions when they are reunited. I felt that there was so much going on in the story that the actually romance got lost amongst it and the book ended up feeling a little disjointed.

A good read, just not quite there.


Monday, 3 September 2012

Harts of the Rodeo... DUKE: Deputy Cowboy - Roz Denny Fox

DUKE: Deputy Cowboy - Roz Denny Fox
Harlequin American Romance
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780373754212

My rating

From the back cover:

"Deputy sheriff and aspiring rodeo star Dylan "Duke" Adams has his hands full with the recent string of burglaries in Roundup, Montana, especially when the thief strikes at his family's ranch. Duke is trying to focus on the case, but he can't stop thinking about a different thief—the petite blonde who just stole his heart.
Angie Barrington can't stand the rodeo. Though she's seen plenty of abused rodeo animals at her rescue ranch, for Angie it runs even deeper. No matter how kind and compassionate Duke is, at the end of the day he's still a cowboy. Right?
When Duke makes it to the national finals, he finally has a chance to bring prestige—and much-needed money—to Thunder Ranch. But if competing means losing the woman of his dreams, how can he ever win?"

The Harts of the Rodeo mini-series has been really enjoyable so far and I was really looking forward to reading this one.

It is a really well crafted story, with plenty of depth. Although I felt the beginning was a little info-dumpy, but it eventually settled down and ended up being really entertaining.  The author tells a nice story with a very natural love-story between the hero and heroine.

For me what makes this book stand out is the heroine. She has morals, and is an animal lover whom questions the ethics of the Rodeos and the treatment of animals. As a long term animal rights advocate this is something I myself have questioned and researched, so I really identified with this. The part of the story when the heroine finally has enough and walks away after seeing something she doesn't agree with made me want to start cheering!

There is something very sweet, almost innocent, about the hero’s wooing of the heroine and it flows really nicely and draws you in totally to the romance.

Overall, this is a nice instalment to the series which leaves us with a bit of a cliffhanger so you will want to read the next one!

An enjoyable read.

This book is available now from all the usual Harlequin Books stockists, as well as direct from Harlequin, for readers in USA and Canada.
UK & International readers can buy the ebook from the Mills & Boon UK website.

*N.B. ARC provided by Harlequin, with thanks, in exchange for review.