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

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Review... The Italian's Runaway Bride - Jacqueline Baird

The Italian's Runaway Bride - Jacqueline Baird
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin Mills & Boon, 2001
ISBN: 9780263825558
Reissue - Mills & Boon Modern Backlist, 2011
eISBN: 9781408940228

My rating

From the back cover:

"Gianfranco asked Kelly to marry him, after her holiday affair with him left her pregnant! But, once married, Gianfranco was often away on business, and his family made Kelly's life a misery. Then she heard that Gianfranco didn't want her at all - he just wanted their baby.
Kelly had no choice but to run away. However, one thing was certain. Gianfranco would find her - but why? Because he wanted to reclaim his bride or his child?"

My immediate impression on starting this book is that it starts in the wrong place. The title and blurb clearly tell us what is going to happen but it is not until 70% in that the actual event took place and it skipped to three years later. I feel it would have been better to have started at this point and have the past explored and revealed throughout the course of the story. As it was, I was reading with a sense of impending doom and frustration as I knew what was going to happen but not when/how.

Because of this, I never really engaged with the story and the plot felt, to me, a little flat. There is plenty of emotion in the book, but the author never really delves deep enough into this to make it a really well thought out story. 

Also, the book makes over-use of two very frustrating elements - the evil other woman character and a hero that doesn't believe a thing the heroine says. Add into that a rather whiny 'victim' heroine, it became a little tedious. 

This could have been such a great book; the plot is there, the emotion is there, but the execution lets it down. Kept me interested but left me slightly disappointed.


Thursday, 15 November 2012

The Santina Crown... Playing the Royal Game - Carol Marinelli

Playing the Royal Game - Carol Marinelli
Mills & Boon Modern Special Releases
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263897708

My rating

From the back cover:

"The Santina-Jackson Royal Fairytale: Fact or Fiction? 
Falling in love with a prince might be every girl’s dream, but is Allegra Jackson’s royal fairy-tale really all it seems? Allegra’s headline-grabbing family have hardly prepared her for a life of public duty and sinfully delicious Prince Alessandro of Santina has always seemed virtually allergic to the idea of settling down – changing women so fast the paparazzi can barely keep up! 
So why, out of all the beautiful socialites his name’s been linked with, did the heir to the throne pick ordinary Allegra? The royal rumour-mill is in overdrive, asking if this shock engagement really is a love-match…or a desperate arrangement with scandalous consequences."

A couple of the previous books in this continuity series hinted at something that is not as it seems about the engagement between the Allegra and Alex (the event that started it all!) and that really whetted my appetite, I was very much looking forward to reading their story.

But, I also have a nagging feeling that this might be an accidental pregnancy story, there is nothing wrong with that of course but I knew that the series deserved something 'more'. I'm so glad I was wrong, in fact the plot of this book completely surprised me. 

Carol Marinelli has written such a deep and provoking story that had me hooked all the way through. The emotion and almost desperation that saturates the pages when the hero and heroine first meet really set the tone of the whole story. The hero and heroine got themselves into something rather misguided only realising what a mistake it had been once they had become deeper and deeper involved. The story had a snowballing effect that is rather compelling to read. 

The relationship that grows out of this comedy of errors is fraught with pain and restraint and is very moving. These characters belong together, you can see this right from the start, but everything is so difficult for them. The execution is flawless. My only complaint is that I wasn't too keen on the inclusion of POV from other characters, it felt almost jarring when it switched away from what was a deeply absorbing love-story and the inclusion of this didn't further the story at all, if anything it actually ruined the pace in my opinion.

When focused on the hero and heroine the writing is evocative and emotional with prose that feels as though it is floating.

Wonderful, and an enjoyable end to this continuity that if I'm honest had a rather shaky start!


Tuesday, 13 November 2012

The Santina Crown... The Girl Nobody Wanted - Lynn Raye Harris

The Girl Nobody Wanted - Lynn Raye Harris
Mills & Boon Modern Special Releases
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263897661

My rating

From the back cover:

"Jilted Bride Stranded with a Notorious Playboy 
Anna Constantinides, publicly humiliated when her long-time fiancé announced his engagement to someone else, might have thought things couldn't get any worse… Until her private jet crash-landed on an uninhabited island, leaving her stranded with billionaire hotel magnate Leo Jackson! 
Renowned playboy Leo’s reputation is legendary and, if the smouldering looks they were fighting to contain when rescued are anything to go by, there can only be one question on everybody’s lips: just how long did it take wickedly sexy Leo to undress buttoned-up heiress Anna…?!"

This is a really enjoyable story but not always an easy read, which makes it an intriguing book. 

The hero and heroine are, at times, quite annoying - the hero for his arrogance and the heroine for her neediness. However, to me, this makes the book feel more real. Nobody is perfect and these characters certainly aren't. 

The premise is interesting and really well thought out, I enjoyed reading how the uptight heroine finally decided to rebel just once then had to face the consequence of her actions - honest writing. 

Both the hero and heroine have to learn to live with each other and to accept themselves and I think there is a lot of character growth explored in this book, especially from the heroine.

This is a passionate story with two flawed characters and an against-all-odds love story that is very satisfying to read. I loved it!


Saturday, 3 November 2012

The Santina Crown... Princess From The Shadows - Maisey Yates

Princess From The Shadows - Maisey Yates
Mills & Boon Modern Special Releases
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263897692

My rating

From the back cover:

"Santina Secret Baby Scandal! 
Santina’s royal palace officials were tight-lipped about claims that Prince Rodriguez Anguiano was jilted by his fiancée. But it seems the prince did not leave Santina empty-handed after all – he’s taking with him one reluctant bride! 
Princess Carlotta Santina has been living out of the spotlight and under a cloud ever since a certain event. Now, finally fulfilling her role of dutiful royal, she’s arriving at Rodriguez’s Spanish palace in preparation for their forthcoming nuptials… Perhaps the prince should get some new advisors because he’s about to discover that his blushing bride comes with an unexpected bonus"

The hero of this book is an out and out rogue/playboy right to the core. I didn't think I would like him- I didn't want to like him in fact -but I couldn't help it, I did! And that is mainly down to the strength of the writing, in particular the characterisation.

This is a story that is wholly centred around it's characters and really gives us, the reader, a chance to feel everything they are feeling and experience their journey with them. Both the hero and heroine have "issues" but through the course of the story they actually deal with them together and that is very satisfying to read. 

Maisey Yates's voice is modern and forward-thinking and that shines through in this book. Stripped down this is a marriage of convenience trope, but Maisey doesn't stick too rigidly to her theme and therefore the story didn't feel weighed down by lots of unnecessary external conflict and clichés,. 

The relationship and love between the hero and heroine develops beautifully and the characters are able to grow and move on in a believable way. There is plenty of passion involved too! 

Really enjoyable.


Friday, 2 November 2012

Harts of the Rodeo... BEAU: Cowboy Protector - Marin Thomas + Author Interview and GIVEAWAY!

BEAU: Cowboy Protector - Marin Thomas
Harlequin American Romance
Harlequin, 2012
ISBN: 9780373754298

My rating

From the back cover:

"Beau Adams can't stop thinking about Sierra Byrne. Her feisty spirit and ample curves dominate his thoughts, while he should be focused on getting himself and Midnight, the Harts' prized stallion, to the National Finals Rodeo. When Beau and Sierra's electric connection finally leads to a steamy night together, Beau hopes it's the beginning of something more.
As much as Sierra wants to be with Beau, anything long-term is out of the question. A recently diagnosed eye disease will soon leave her blind, and she can't ask a rising rodeo star like Beau to take on that responsibility. Though she tries to pretend their tryst was just another item on her bucket list, Sierra's true feelings run a lot deeper. Will she let her affliction steal not only her sight, but her dreams of happiness, as well?"

Everything about this book feels real. From the relationship between the hero and heroine, the setting and situation, right down to the issues that the characters face.

I think Marin Thomas handled the heroine's sight problems, and her coming to terms with her eventual loss of sight, well. It is done with honesty and sensitivity, I particularly liked that this wasn't kept as a secret, especially not from the hero, instead it was actually acknowledge and dealt with instead of angst about. To have had it a secret, I feel, would have over dramatised the situation and overloaded with story with more conflict than was necessary.

Beau, as a hero, is pretty darn wonderful. He tries and tries to woo the heroine and that made my heart melt, and I loved that the heroine constantly surprised him.

The actions, and reactions, of the heroine are exactly what should have happened. She doesn't handle it well at times, does some rather silly things as well as having moments of feeling sorry for herself. Very gripping to read.

Overall, I found this a hard hitting read, which has a beautiful relationship blossom from what the characters are going through. The story is well written and full of tenderness, honesty and hope.

Really enjoyable.

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

Interview with Marin Thomas

About the book... 

Where did you get your inspiration for this book from?

First, let me say how excited I am to be at Everyday Is The Same—thanks for having me today, RLA!

The inspiration was handed to me by the editors. J Beau: Cowboy Protector is book #5 in the Harts of the Rodeo—Born to Ride continuity by various authors. The editors at American Romance created a bible for this series and gave each author a short synopsis of their individual book as well as their hero and heroine. We were given a framework to start with, then it was up to us to take the ball and run with it.

Describe your heroine in 3 words... 

Stubborn. Creative. Prideful.

Describe your hero in 3 words... 

Determined. Searching. Protective.

What do you think comes next for your hero & heroine? 

A baby of course--American Romance is all about family!

What was the biggest challenge writing this book? 

Creating a sympathetic heroine who was facing a life-changing medical diagnosis. Sierra had to be strong yet human and I wanted the reader to see glimpses of her vulnerabilities without having her come off as a martyr.

What was it like being involved in a multi author series? 

Fun! It's a great way to get to know other authors. The brainstorming sessions were amazing and I especially enjoyed that part of the creative process.

What do you think of the whole series? 

Love it! I love the idea of a famous stallion saving the livelihood of a ranching family and I love that there's plenty of "family" squabbles and drama. The Harts became a real family to me and I enjoyed the chance to delve deeply into my hero's relationship with his twin brother. After reading all the stories I was convinced the hero and heroine in each book were perfectly matched and truly belonged together.

About you... 

Being English I am naturally obsessed with all things American, especially cowboy's, that's why I love the American Romance line so much! But I have two questions... Where have all the cowboys gone?! And are they really like the ones in your books?

The traditional cowboy hasn't disappeared, but I think the traditional rodeo cowboy is changing. Nowadays young men and women fly all over the country to attend rodeo schools where they hone their skills with the help of modern technology. Many of today's rodeo cowboys and cowgirls don't work on ranches but hold down professional jobs during the week.

Much has been said on the topic and relevance of romance novels, what do you like most about the genre, and what is your response to the criticism about it? 

I believe romance novels are inspiring and restore our faith in humanity. After reading a romance novel the reader should feel optimistic and believe that everyone, no matter the hand life has dealt them, is entitled to their very own Happy Ever After.

For those who believe they offer nothing of value to a reader I dare them to say that out loud at the annual RWA Readers for Life Literacy Autographing J

Do you believe in the Happily Ever Afters we love to read about in romance novels? 

Yes, but I also believe that everyone must travel their own path to Happy Ever After. Some folks get there on their first try while others are forced to take a detour or two or three until they meet their perfect mate. J

What's next for you? 

After the final book in my Rodeo Rebels series, No Ordinary Cowboy (April 2013) I'm kicking off a new six-book series called The Cash Brothers. Six crazy and wild brothers all named after country western singers by their mother. The first book, The Cowboy Next Door will be out July 2013.

What is your favourite and least favourite part about being a writer? 

My favorite part about being a writer is when readers contact me and tell me that I've touched their heart with one of my books. I write romance because I love the genre, but I also write because it's my way of giving back to others. I'm not a doctor who can cure the sick or a lawyer who fights for the poor. I can't even volunteer at the Humane Society because I'd end up crying all day and bringing every dog and cat home with me. But I can offer my stories and hope that they give readers a few hours of enjoyment or escape from their busy, crazy lives.

My least favorite part about being a writer is sitting at a desk for long periods. I kid you not. The poor toes on my right foot are numb most of the day now because I sit for long periods of time. I need to invest in a work station where I can stand up and type—better yet, walk on a treadmill while I'm writing!

Anything else you would like to say... 

You can find out more about my books at Happy Ever After…The Cowboy Way. I give away free copies of my books every month—to find out where sign up for my Newsletter.

And I love to hear from readers. You'll find me on FB Twitter Pinterest and Goodreads and if you like cowboys as much as I do, drop by my blog All My Heroes are Cowboys where I've always got something to say about the guys who wear wranglers and Stetsons.


A huge thank you to Marin, for not only agreeing to appear on my blog but also for allowing me to be a part of the tour for this wonderful mini-series. The interview is great, with some really candid and interesting answers. 

Marin has also, very kindly, agreed to give a copy of this wonderful book away to one very lucky reader (US, Canada & UK only). All you have to do is leave a comment on this post before Saturday 10th November 2012 along with your answer to this question...

“What is your favorite trait in a cowboy hero?”

Tight Jeans... 'nuff said!

The best answer will be chosen by Marin and I will update this post accordingly. Don't forget to check back!   In the meantime, thanks for stopping by my blog and thanks again to Marin and the Harlequin American Romance team.