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

Monday, 29 October 2012

The Santina Crown... Defying the Prince - Sarah Morgan


Defying the Prince - Sarah Morgan
Mills & Boon Modern Special Releases
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263897654









My rating




From the back cover:

"Santina Princess-To-Be's Sister Serenades High-Society 
It was a night filled with scandal, but pop princess Izzy Jackson really took the crown! Royal and VIP guests were reportedly horrified at the singer and reality TV star’s impromptu performance at her sister’s royal engagement party. 
It was left to Prince Matteo, second in line to the throne, to whisk tipsy starlet Izzy off stage, into his limo and straight to his luxury palazzo, from which the pair are yet to emerge… Rumour has it the proud prince and the footballer’s daughter are working on a charity concert. Will they make sweet music together or split citing irreconcilable artistic differences?"

I don't know what she does but Sarah Morgan's books always have an added something special about them that makes them shine, and this one is no exception.

I could not get enough of the heroine Izzy she's quirky , a little silly even, but also soft and determined. I loved her! And as for the hero, well, he's judgemental, a bit of a snob but oh-so-sexy! What a pair these two characters make, and they bounce off each other perfectly. The banter between them is phenomenal - not many romance authors would be able to do it this good - and the attraction between them is real.

What I liked most about this book is that I could actually 'feel' the feelings between the hero and heroine grow and develop as the story progressed, and the characters were able to grow alongside.

This is a wonderful story that will leave you feeling like you have gone on the journey with the characters. Another plus is that this gives insight into the overall continuity story and adds a bit of progression which some of the previous books haven't done so well in my opinion.

Throughout enjoyable. Recommended.

Xx













The Santina Crown... The Man Behind the Scars - Caitlin Crews


The Man Behind the Scars - Caitlin Crews
Mills & Boon Modern Special Releases
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263897685









My rating




From the back cover:

"Exclusive! Aristocrat Recluse Weds! 
Rafe McFarland, 8th Earl of Pembroke – and 21st century pin-up – has secretly wed ex-model and tabloid darling Angel Tilson! Angel’s long been believed to be in financial difficulty, prompting feverish speculation that her marriage to the tortured billionaire is one of the strictest convenience… Bearing terrible scars from his time in the military, Rafe rarely leaves his remote Scottish estate. And with the terms of this deal negotiated, possibly behind tightly closed bedroom doors, is Rafe demanding repayment – in kind – from his new wife…?"

I don't think I have ever read a book with a beginning quite like this one, it is really surprising and intriguing. We, the reader, know right from the start what the heroine is trying to achieve but then it is such a shock to have her actually come out and say it! As much as I love the Modern/Presents line, one of the most frustrating things about it is that the books so often have motivations misunderstood or kept secret, so this one was a nice refreshing change.

The heroine is extremely honest, and I loved that about her character and she is very interesting throughout the story. Rafe is a great hero; he is tortured and damaged and scarred, both physically and emotionally. His character is the complete opposite to the heroine and her openness, instead the author keeps us wondering about him never really knowing his full story.

Both characters have layers and feel very three dimensional, plus between them there is plenty of chemistry, tension and connection, which leaps off the pages.

Brooding is the theme here, as well as acceptance. It is satisfying story. Enjoyed it!

Xx


Thursday, 25 October 2012

The Santina Crown... The Scandalous Princess - Kate Hewitt


The Scandalous Princess - Kate Hewitt
Mills & Boon Modern Special Releases
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263897647












My rating




From the back cover:

"Pampered Princess Tamed? 
Santina’s Princess Natalia has been spotted on the arm of billionaire Ben Jackson, famous for his ruthless work ethic, devastating good looks and disdain for the spotlight. But Ben had no chance of avoiding the cameras with notorious party-girl Natalia in tow! 
Most surprising of all, Natalia was seen putting in a full day’s work in Ben’s office! Has the legendary socialite swapped couture and cocktails for photocopying? One thing’s for sure, if we could all have a brooding, dynamic boss like the devilishly attractive Ben, work would be a whole lot more exciting…"


Now this is more like it! Exactly what I wanted after a slightly lacklustre start to this Santina Crown Series.

Kate Hewitt is rapidly becoming one of my favourite Modern/Presents authors; her books are so rich with genuine emotion and very compelling stories that push the boundaries. That is certainly the case here.

The heroine of this story is a brilliant character; she has a real and honest vulnerability that is used perfectly in showing her character. Her personality because of, and as a result of, this vulnerability is believable and she is relatable as a character as well has having the important loftiness that is needed with a royalty character.

The hero and heroine work beautifully together and I really felt that they were both able to grow as characters throughout the course of the story alongside their growing feelings for one another.

This is a very touching and beautiful love-story with a wonderful sad-but-hopeful mood. Loved it!

Xx

The Santina Crown... The Sheikh's Heir - Sharon Kendrick


The Sheikh's Heir - Sharon Kendrick
Mills & Boon Modern Special Releases
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263897678












My rating




From the back cover:

"SHEIKH AND JACKSON IT-GIRL IN UNEXPECTED BABY SHOCK! 
Unconfirmed sources report that celebrity wedding planner Ella Jackson is pregnant! Currently single, Miss Jackson caused quite a stir at her sister’s high-profile, royal-studded party last month where she tossed a glass of vintage champagne over Sheikh Hassan Al Abbas following a very public argument. 
What happened in private is anybody’s guess, and certainly the palace haven’t officially confirmed that Miss Jackson was seen leaving the Sheikh’s opulent suite the morning after the party… Could this Cinder-Ella beat her sister to a royal title…and a royal heir?"


An interesting and absorbing book, I especially loved the start as it is really entertaining and a great way of getting the hero and heroine together and it made me like the heroine instantly. 

The hero frustrated me quite a bit with his arrogance, disdain and rudeness, but these kind of heroes are what Sharon Kendrick excels at and, you know, I kinda liked him eventually!

The story sticks to it's theme well and this is an entertaining and well told romance. But, for me, there was something missing, it just didn't live up to both its expectation and potential. To me, continuity series should be more daring and different, but this one, well, it's a perfectly enjoyable Modern, but nothing that hasn't been done before. 

However, it is a well written and enjoyable book so don't let me put you off!

Xx


Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The Santina Crown... The Price of Royal Duty - Penny Jordan


The Price of Royal Duty - Penny Jordan
Mills & Boon Modern Special Releases
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263897630












My rating




From the back cover:

"Runaway Royal's Romp with Rajah! 
Santina's rebellious princess Sophia made a shock exit from her brother's engagement party last night following the surprise announcement of her own arranged marriage. It seems Sophia did not favour the match...instead boldly stowing away on the magnificent Maharajah of Naipur's private jet! 
Staff insiders to the masterful Maharajah  Ashok Achari, aren't denying the pair spent a wild night together before being caught by the press on arrival in Mumbai...Scandal is the last thing the Santina royals need right now - might this maharajah be persuaded into taking Santina's runaway princess as his wife?"

The first in the series and I have to be honest as say that I didn't like it as much as I hoped I would.

Penny Jordan is one of the best Harlequin Mills & Boon writers ever, and I think her writing is fantastic. This book isn't badly written, but I just felt that it is overdone and with a little too much purple prose.

Actions and events in this book are so drawn out and over descriptive that I'd forgotten what was actually going on in certain scenes by the end. It got a little tedious to read, to be honest.

I have a real lack of affection for heroes that don't believe anything a heroine says or presumes something about the heroine and cannot be changed in his thinking by anything - to me, this is incredibly frustrating to read and a poor technique for adding conflict.

The hero and heroine's "issues" (and yes, it deserves the quote marks) are melodramatic beyond belief, by the halfway point in this book I really just felt like telling the characters to get over it!

I feel like I have been really harsh writing this review, but even if you take away all of the above stuff I have talked about, this book still disappointed me. The plot doesn't really do anything new or special that I feel a continuity series should. Also it feels completely cut off from the rest of the series - the characters are isolated and the plot doesn't develop the overall series or the series storyline.

Anyway, moving on...

Xx


Friday, 19 October 2012

When life gives you lemons...



I haven't blogged for a while and the main reason for that is that last week ended up being crazy busy. With a family emergency that resulted in me having to look after the six month old foster baby for five days. To put it lightly I. Was. Exhausted. Both physically and emotionally! But it wasn't just that that caused me to want to stop in the middle of a very crowded street, look up and just  scream as loud as I could...

A what-should-have-been-routine eye test last Monday didn't end with my needing glasses as I thought it would. Oh no, it certainly didn't! Turns out apart from a slight correction issue my eyesight is fine, it's every-bloody-thing else that is wrong.

I left the opticians with a medical referral to my GP, a hospital referral to the eye clinic as I have a nevus in my eye or something (I can't remember what she said as I had stopped listening and started panicking by that point) that needs to be investigated and a very foul mood. Not what you expect at 10am on a Monday morning, that's for sure.

The GP didn't have much better news either, turns out I have high blood pressure and as it is affecting my eyes it needs treating. I was prescribed some medication and told that I needed to go to the hospital THE NEXT DAY to have some blood tests taken to check my liver and kidney functions, or something. Which was doubly annoying as I had planned (and booked travel) to go to the Knitting and Stitching show at Alexandra Palace that day. But off I went, with baby, husband and mother-in-law in toe (Mother-in-law was there for another reason btw!), and got stabbed and jabbed by a nurse with the loudest voice in the world in a curtained off area in the Path lab. Also, my tests had to be fasting so I had not had my usual morning coffee and the baby had cried most of the night! Not a happy bunny.

Wow, this is a long story!

Anyway, like I said I'm now on medication for high blood pressure and I have to go back and see my doctor next week, I am restricted to only two cups of coffee a day and I'm still waiting for my eye clinic referral to come through.

But on the plus side, I did manage to get to the Knitting and Stitching show after the coach company very kindly agreed to swap our tickets to the Sunday. Me and mother-in-law had a great time, spent money as though it was going out of fashion and virtually had to cram all our goodies into the storage areas on the coach! I have so much beautiful fabric to stroke and look at now... don't know what I'm going to do with it yet but it's lovely.

So that is why I haven't been around for a while... How was your week?!

Xx

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The Santina Crown... A series spotlight.



The Santina Crown is this years continuity series from Mills & Boon Modern/Harlequin Presents that brings together eight fabulous authors in a series based around a very scandalous royal family and an even more scandalous family of tabloid-royalty!

Royalty has never been so scandalous!

STOP PRESS - Crown Prince in shock marriage

The tabloid headlines...

When HRH Crown Prince Alessandro of Santina proposes to paparazzi favourite Allegra Jackson it promises to be the social event of the decade - outrages headlines guaranteed!

The Salacious gossip...

Mills & Boon invited you to rub shoulders with royalty, sheikhs and glamorous socialites,
Step into the decadent playground of the world's rich and famous...


***

I've said before that royalty romances aren't really my preferred trope. I've had this set of books for a while but it has taken me a while to find the want to read them. This series, though, does include some of my favourite Modern authors so I'm expecting greatness! 

To find out more information about the series have a look at these links




Friday, 5 October 2012

Book Review... The Reluctant Husband - Lynne Graham


The Reluctant Husband - Lynne Graham
Harlequin Presents
Harlequin, 1998
ISBN: 9780373119714
Reissue - Harlequin Treasury, 2011
eISBN: 9781459262287








My rating




From the back cover:

"She was still his wife!
Frankie thought she'd seen the last of her husband, Santino Vitale—until he breezed back into her life with some earth-shattering news. Their marriage wasn't annulled, and now he intended to claim the wedding night they'd never had!
He had it all worked out. Within three weeks Frankie would have paid her dues and be free to leave Santino, file for divorce and forget all about him forever.
But Santino hadn't reckoned on falling for Frankie all over again—or that now she could be expecting his baby...."



I'm not entirely sure what to make of this book... I liked it, but not all of it. It is certainly classic Lynne Graham in it's style, which is definitely a good thing, however I feel that certain elements needed to be toned down a little.

I find it frustrating when authors include a hero that refuses, point blank, to believe anything the heroine says. The constant accusations of lying get old real fast and this ends up feeling like it is a desperate attempt to get as much conflict into the story as possible.

The heroine had a really interesting background, different and quite daring and it is used nicely, but I couldn't work out why the hero was always angry with her - she's hardly to blame for the crappy life she's had.

The love story between the hero and heroine is nice, but the overall angry atmosphere of the book as a whole overshadowed this a little in my opinion.

This isn't an easy read, but it is a classic angsty story that keeps you interested.

Xx

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Book Review... Revelations of the Night Before - Lynn Raye Harris


Revelations of the Night Before - Lynn Raye Harris
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263891225











My rating




From the back cover:

"Unmasking the enemy 
Valentina D’Angeli is pregnant. And the father…? The man she shared one sensational night with after a masquerade ball. It wasn't until she stole a peek under his mask while he was sleeping that she discovered he was her brother’s sworn enemy – Niccolo Gavretti! 
For this ruthless Italian there’s only one solution to Valentina’s bombshell – put a ring on her finger…no matter how much she refuses. And if he has to take her to bed to make it happen he’ll enjoy every single minute of it!"


As always from this author, this is a book that is full of emotion and tension that will keep you guessing.

The set up is interesting and unique, and the shared past between the hero and heroine only added to the overall enthral of the story.

The heroine is really identifiable and truly the star of the show; she is mature, intelligent, kind and sensible, fits the mould the author created for her perfectly.

I enjoyed the touch of mystery in the story with the fact that you never really knew the full extent of the hero's past actions. It kept me interested and adds an extra layer to an already captivating romance.

This is a wonderful story and I enjoyed going on the journey with the two characters as they got to know one another. The storytelling is flawless with just the right amount of sizzle and sentiments to really get your teeth into.

Loved it.

Xx

Book Review... Never Stay Past Midnight - Mira Lyn Kelly


Never Stay Past Midnight - Mira Lyn Kelly
Mills & Boon RIVA
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263902730












My rating




From the back cover:

"Love-’em-and-leave-’em Levi just got loved-and-left! 
Everything about Elise was so right that night, until at 11.59 p.m. she got out of his bed, got dressed, and left! What the…? 
The tables have turned and Levi realises that he has just met the one woman who leaves him wanting more. But how will he find her again? How can he get her back in his life? And could Hugo the Great Dane be the answer? 
If you like Tilly Bagshawe or Victoria Fox, you’ll love this."


I was looking forward to this book, I have read all of Mira Lyn Kelly's books and enjoyed them and this is the first I picked to read from the newly relaunched RIVA line.

If I had to pick one phrase to describe this book (and indeed all of Mira Lyn Kelly's books) then it would be "twenty-first century", through and through her books are modern and up to date. This author's voice is perfect for her contemporary stories and they very much appeal to me.

Everything about this story feels real; the hero and heroine have real everyday problems and issues that aren't clich├ęd or trite and through the journey they go on you can see them gradually falling in love with one another.

I liked both the hero and heroine, they are well drawn and well matched to one another. The 'black moment' of this story is heart clenching and allowed the hero to really show his dark side. Riveting stuff, I especially liked that the heroine stood up to the hero.

Stripped down this is a very simple story of two damaged people finding love and it reads nicely. (Although, I'll be honest, I hated the epilogue - too much. Ick!)

A fun, steamy, and sweet read.

Xx

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Book Review... Lost in Love - Michelle Reid


Lost in Love - Michelle Reid
Mills & Boon Romance
Mills & Boon, 1994
ISBN: 9780263783520












My rating




From the back cover:

"Four years ago, Guy Frabosa had hurt Marnie so deeply that she vowed never to set eyes on him again and had divorced him in a blaze of pain and anger. He fought her, but she'd had a trump card and had been desperate enough to use it. 
Now Guy held all the cards - Marnie needed his financial help and had little choice but to play by her ex-husband's rules. He demanded her body and soul, but the thought of returning to his side as his wife filled her with a raging hatred - made all the more consuming by her utterly wanton desire for his lovemaking."

This is another one of those urban legend Michelle Reid books that so many people say how good it is. And it is worthy of every piece of that praise. This is such a wonderful, beautiful story.

Both the hero and heroine suffer greatly throughout. Their story is fraught with confusion, bitterness, hurt, passion... you name it. But through it all, I could tell these two characters loved each other deeply. The writing is so powerful, Michelle Reid is truly a master at this.

Guy has to be one of my favourite ever heroes; He isn't afraid to own up to his mistakes, yet also not willing to ever give up on the love he and the heroine had. Sigh!

This book is so romantic, as well as heart breaking. So much has happened between the hero and heroine that it would have been easy for the story to get lost under everything, but Michelle Reid manages to keep the focus on the most important part - the love the still, despite everything, have for one another.

And, the result, is a pretty much perfect story.

Xx

Review... The Husband She Never Knew - Kate Hewitt


The Husband She Never Knew - Kate Hewitt
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263891126












My rating


From the back cover:


"What he wants, he takes! 
Cruelly discarded on her wedding night, Noelle Ducasse buries the shame of being an untouched bride – creating a new, glamorous life to mask the relentless ache of loneliness. Until Ammar returns… 
The image of Noelle’s guileless eyes lingers with Ammar still. Noelle can refuse him all she likes, but this time the ruthless Ammar will not be denied. He’ll spend each moment of each night proving that – no matter how much her mind denies it – she will melt under her husband’s exquisite touch… "


I simply adored Kate Hewitt's 'The Darkest of Secrets' so I was really pleased to discover this book is linked (The two heroes are estranged brothers). I was expecting a dark and emotional read, and that is exactly what I got.

The hero of this book made me ache; everything about him is so gut-wrenchingly sad and he had done things that should make him unforgivable yet I was able too as Kate Hewitt takes us on his journey of redemption. He is the most flawed hero I think I have ever read, and it works.

The hero and heroine are perfect together, they so desperately wanted and needed to be with one another. There is no doubt these are two very damaged characters who had to fight their demons and actually work at being together. 

The story is sad, powerful and emotional. It's different and more slow boiling than a lot of other books, it's not easy to read but that makes it even more gratifying. 

Kate Hewitt pens wonderfully emotional books that touch you deep down. I loved it, good stuff!

Xx

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Harts of the Rodeo... AUSTIN: Second Chance Cowboy - Shelley Galloway



AUSTIN: Second Chance Cowboy - Shelley Galloway
Harlequin American Romance
Harlequin, 2012
ISBN: 9780373754250












My rating




From the back cover:

"No man should look as good as Austin Wright. Especially when that man is a suspect in a string of burglaries. And, Sheriff Dinah Hart can't afford the distraction. Roundup's thieves are growing bolder and Thunder Ranch's prize stallion, Midnight, is still missing, putting the Harts' entire livelihood at risk. Dinah needs to focus, because she's worked too hard to earn the town's respect just to throw it away on a fling.Austin knows he's got a bad reputation. He's been following his father's self-destructive footsteps for far too long. Now he's finally ready to take the first step toward fixing his life, and convincing people, especially Dinah, that he's changed.
But when Austin discovers an unexpected connection to Midnight's disappearance, will Dinah see him for the man he was, or the one he's trying to become?"

Another great book in this mini-series….

From the start this had me hooked, and surprised at the depth of the subject matter.

This book deals with the difficult subject of alcoholism and I think the author does a good job of not making excuses for her hero’s problems and actually having him face up to them throughout the course of the book. So often, especially in my experience of Category Romance, when a character has/had addiction problems it has always been a past event, but this book actually goes through the sobering up process, the meetings, the withdrawal, etc. A nice change, and quite well done.

The heroine is difficult to like; she’s prickly and a little uptight but it does work with her character. Her past or specifically what triggered her change from teenage wild child to respected small town sheriff felt a bit of a let down when it was finally ‘revealed’. I think more could have been made of it to make it more shocking. My opinion obviously, I read so many Presents I'm used to more drama!

At the heart of this story is two flawed characters finding peace with each other and accepting themselves, and the romance is very satisfying to read.

The ongoing plot of the thefts and missing horse from the previous books in this mini-series is resolved but I feel it was done a little too easily; I had though this plot would have carried on into the coming books. But I am eager to see what comes next for this family.

A very 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.

Xx


SYTYCW...




The Harlequin and Mills & Boon joint writing contest is well under way now, with pitches and first chapters submitted and voting has begun. 

I have not entered this year, the MS I wanted to enter just isn't ready it needs some drastic edits and there has been so much else going on that I haven't really given it the devotion it deserves. Not to mention that I missed the first week of all the SYTYCW fun suffering from the worst flu I have ever had...

But that doesn't mean that I haven't been enjoying the competition, especially getting to read some of the entries. There are a LOT of good ones (and some not so good!). 

I have read a few, mainly sticking to my twitter friends entries as it's great to support one another on our writing journey, I'm sure they would do the same if I had entered. But I have read a few others too. 

The voting started today, 1 vote per day until 11th October and here are my favourites that I will definitely be voting for...

Once a Bad Girl - Jane O'Reilly 
Fabulous heroine and a fun and quirky writing style. When the hero and heroine meet there is instant sizzle!

Maid by Day - Jennifer Satterfield
http://www.soyouthinkyoucanwrite.com/manuscripts/maid-by-day/
Great set-up, I desperately want to find out more about the heroine. Well written dialogue.

One Kiss or Two - Jessica Thompson
http://www.soyouthinkyoucanwrite.com/manuscripts/one-kiss-or-two/
Nice set up, lots and lots of chemistry between the hero and heroine! I loved Minty from her first incarnation in last years New Voices, new and improved in this one and still as instantly loveable.

Also enjoyed

The Midwife's Reluctant Family - Joanne Cleary
http://www.soyouthinkyoucanwrite.com/manuscripts/the-midwifes-reluctant-family/

The Divorce Party - Jennifer Drogell
http://www.soyouthinkyoucanwrite.com/manuscripts/the-divorce-party/

Urgent: One Nanny Required - Sophie Rodger
http://www.soyouthinkyoucanwrite.com/manuscripts/urgent-one-nanny-required/


I can't wait to find out which ones get chosen to submit a full story. There are so many of them that its impossible to read them all, as much as I would like to try! It's an achievement in itself just to enter the competition, its not easy to put your work out there for everyone to judge.

Anyway, good luck to all the entrants.

Xx