4 star review

Review – The Trouble with Misteltoe by Jill Shalvis

The Trouble with Misteltoe

If she has her way . . .

Willa Davis is wrangling puppies when Keane Winters stalks into her pet shop with frustration in his chocolate-brown eyes and a pink bedazzled cat carrier in his hand. He needs a kitty sitter, stat. But the last thing Willa needs is to rescue a guy who doesn’t even remember her . . .

He’ll get nothing but coal in his stocking.

Saddled with his great-aunt’s Feline from Hell, Keane is desperate to leave her in someone else’s capable hands. But in spite of the fact that he’s sure he’s never seen the drop-dead-gorgeous pet shop owner before, she seems to be mad at him . . .

Unless he tempers “naughty” with a special kind of nice . . .

Willa can’t deny that Keane’s changed since high school: he’s less arrogant, for one thing—but can she trust him not to break her heart again? It’s time to throw a coin in the fountain, make a Christmas wish—and let the mistletoe do its work . . .

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Edelweiss, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.

I was hooked with the debut in this series and have not been waiting patiently at all to get my hands on this book after reading the teaser. So I loudly squeed and did the butt wiggle dance in my chair when I got this handed to me. (Don’t judge, the butt wiggle chair dance is a real and valid thing.)

I’ll admit that it is a little odd to read a Christmas book in the summer, but I am giving that a pass because of the whole wanting it immediately thing.

This series so far is pretty fantastic. I am not always down for contemporary, but these characters really work for me. Just a messed up group of mostly adults hanging out, making family of friendships, and often having a ridiculously good time. You really can’t go wrong with hot drunk guys doing karaoke.

Willa is such a mixed up sweetie pie, taking care of pets and people and her friends, but not really taking such great care of herself. And mostly she’s just out there and open and upfront, maybe not so much with herself, but she’s a clear read for almost everyone else including the reader. Keane on the other hand is pretty opaque and who he is, his past, and his motivations dribble out through the story. It takes a little more to get him. And then there’s the cat, I am a fan of the plot pet, and this one is just a delightfully supercilious and vicious cat.

Delight with the secondary characters aside, the focus is clearly on the main characters. The secondary characters make up part of the tapestry of who they are, but the story focuses on their individual character growth and how they develop their relationship…which is hella bumpy at times. But it worked, because their struggles in coming together as a couple made sense in the context of their personal histories. And they were sweet together, and when they hurt, I hurt. And when they finally resolved things all I could do is grin.

As for the relations (as opposed to the relationship) they have mad heat, and are by turns awkward, and hot, and make-up, and hilarious. Cat care indeed :grin:. Plus, we have condom love, and I love that kind of love.

So I am really digging hanging out with these people, and it is probably only psychosis if I actually ADMIT that I refuse to admit they are imaginary. So I am going to be all stoked waiting for the next book to find out what hapens next, and to hang out with the gang as the mute friend in the corner. Because that is what it feels like, being there and hanging with the gang. It is really good stuff.

(I have one quibble, one little point of being irked, and this one won’t make a lick of sense unless you have read the previous book, but I simpy must get it off my chest. I wanted to see Jake getting enfolded into the group and hanging around so I could feel secure he would be getting his own hapily ever after. There, whooo, I got it off my chest.)

The Trouble with Mistletoe (Heartbreaker Bay, #2)

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4 star review, Miscellaneous

Book Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer Lunar Chronicles 2 (audio)

 

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Here is another multi-faceted installment in Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles and it is just as entertaining as the first. Similar in structure to Cinder, Scarlet covers the ongoing story-lines of Lihn Cinder, Emperor Kaito, Lunar Queen Levana, and seamlessly introduces Scarlet Benoit, Wolf (Ze’ev) and Thorne to the mix. Each chapter in the novel flips between the primary story-lines showing how they are beginning to intertwine and overlap as the overall plot takes shape.

Scarlet is Meyer’s take on Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf, with just enough similarity to make the connection, but not so much as to alter the overall path of the series. Some commonalities include the Wolf (of course), a missing grandmother and the red hooded girl. This tale picks up around the same time Cinder ends, with the newsreels of Cinder’s fall down the stairs at the coronation.  

Scarlet Benoit lives in the rural town of Rieux, France with her grandmother Michelle Benoit, retired military pilot turned farmer. We learn early on that Michelle has been missing for approximately 2 weeks and that local law enforcement has closed the case due to lack of evidence. Scarlet is certain that her grandmother was taken unwillingly, primarily because of their close relationship and the fact that Michelle’s ID chip was left behind. Those chips are only removed when you want to fall off the grid or if you want to ensure that someone isn’t found. Scar won’t rest until her grandmother is found, and she will do everything in her power to succeed.  

Wolf is a little rough around the edges and gives off a predatory vibe that causes most people to take wide leave of him. Wolf starts off as a pretty shady creeper out to harm Scarlet, but he turns into something so much more. Originally, Scarlet met Wolf in passing during her produce deliveries, but she ran into him again at her home. After recovering from the shock of finding a stranger on her farm, Scar and Wolf create a tentative agreement to find Grandmere Michelle Benoit and take down a Lunar organization called LSO. Can she trust a man like Wolf? She knows nothing about him or his past, but she is putting her life in his paws..I mean hands…or do I?

Catching up with the Cinder-Crew worked in well considering that Scarlet isn’t truly a sequel to the first installment, but rather a parallel timeline that slightly overlaps where we left off in book 1. Scarlet isn’t the only who meets a new man, Cinder stumbles across a guy too….while she was breaking out of prison. The discovery of her Lunar heritage and the events surrounding the coronation landed her in jail until Levana could deal with her, as dictated by an older Earthen/Lunar agreement which prevents the harboring of Lunars on earth. With the help of fellow inmate, Carswell Thorne and Dr. Erland, Cinder begins a journey to find answers about her past.

So many things happened book 2 that I couldn’t summarize every aspect without rewriting an entire novel, but one major event was an act of world-war treacherously ordered by Queen Levana in the middle of the night. To take her stand against Cinder, Kai and the perceived injustices of the Commonwealth, the Lunar Queen uses an army of super-soldiers to slaughter thousands of Earthens on each continent. Kai offers to make the ultimate sacrifice to end the world-wide siege, and nearly breaks Cinder’s heart in the process.  

This series is so addicting that I had to ensure that book 3 was downloaded before Scarlet was even over! It’s interesting to see how the original characters interact and grow alongside the newbies. While some things are expected, like people falling in love or disagreeing, other topics are nice surprises. The depth of each character isn’t sacrificed to ensure that each has their story told individually. I think it helps that they are all around the same general age, have experienced hardships and disappointments, and have a desire to see a better Earth free from the Lunar Queen.

 

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4 star review

Review – This is All I Ask by Lynn Kurland

This is All I Ask

Set near the Scottish border at a rugged castle on the edge of the sea, this is the story of a courageous lord who lost everything he held dear. Of a strong young woman willing to sacrifice everything for happiness. Two lost souls who find in each other a reason to live again, to laugh again, and to love for the first time…

I am not quite entirely sure how this book ended up on my TBR, particularly with none of the other books in the series read or an my TBR. But I suspect it somehow came to my attention after reading Candle in the Window and becoming interested in how blind protagonists are treated after reading The Arrangement.

It turns out that this is also somewhat a paranormal, and we have witches, I suspect from they way they are presented here they have been meddling along in the series and will continue to meddle. So yep, a historical paranormal with a blind hero.

Fortunately it is only a touch paranormal, the rest is just historical. We have the rough, tough cream puff hero, who protects himself due to prior emotional wounding. He also happens to be blind, and a little self-pitying. So while he will marry the heroine due to a long-standing promise and his honor, he is determined not to love her or care for her (beyond being a proper husband) or like it in any way. We have the kind, but living in fear heroine who initially fears the hero, but learns to first trust and then love, and then learns courage and her own self-worth. And then we have a cast of humorous and sympathetic characters, and of course the heroine’s father-the villain.

Man, oh, man, this book is almost painfully sweet. I don’t mean that in a bad way, just, it is so sweet, but you know the other shoe is about to drop sometime. It is also on occasion, whether intentionally or not, kind of humorous. Not like it is a comedy, but just enough to leaven the topics and make you feel happy reading it instead of entrenched in the doom and gloom of what are some pretty awful situations. And we also have a hero who is in touch with his own emotions on a level that I find delightful but that may leave readers who prefer a more traditional alpha hero feeling a little uncomfortable, YMMV.

And another thing I really enjoyed, we have no miracles here. Things are what they are, our characters have to live through and with the things that have happened to them, but separately and together they grow as individuals and find their way through and together. Which is a mishmash way of saying we have a delightful happily ever after with two characters who are more than happy to depend on one another but aren’t exactly dependent on one another, if you see what I mean. Looking at this objectively, I would probably have given this 3 stars, but , but for me this is one where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and it is an emotional event that I will likely return to. However, the rest of the two series this book is entwined with seem to have a significant number of time travel books, so I doubt it will be a glommable series for me.

This Is All I Ask (de Piaget, #6; de Piaget/MacLeod, #3)

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4 star review

Review – Illusion Town by Jayne Castle

Illusion Town

A new adventure begins on Harmony…

With its opulent casinos and hotels, the desert city of Illusion Town is totally unique—and will take you on a thrill ride you’ll never forget.

Hannah West isn’t the first woman to wake up in Illusion Town married to a man she barely knows, but she has no memory of the ceremony at all. For that matter, neither does Elias Coppersmith, her new husband. All either can remember is that they were on the run…

With Hannah’s dubious background and shaky para-psych profile, she could have done much worse. The cooly competent mining heir arouses her curiosity—as well as other parts of her mind and body. And even her dust bunny likes him.

But a honeymoon spent retracing their footsteps leads Hannah and Elias into the twisting underground catacombs, where secrets from both their pasts will come to light—and where the energy of their clashing auras will grow hot enough to burn…

So long have I been reading this series. SO long. This is book 13 in the Harmony series, or like book 1 bajillion if you consider that the tie-ins from her Amanda Quick and Jayne Anne Krentz’s pen names are part of the series. And I honestly can’t believe I haven’t written about any of those, but then I realized the last Amanda Quick and Jayne Ann Krentz ones were in 2013 (still waiting for her to finish those two out), and time really does fly doesn’t it? But I bring it up because we have TIE IN! Family is a strong theme in these series and it followed the people through the curtain to Harmony.

I adore engineers, know this made me predisposed to love this book. Castle got the abrupt, highly specific and almost hyper literal communication method down pat, it reminds me so much of real life I was able to settle right in.

This was action packed, and plenty twisty, and seemed much longer than the past few books, but in a good way. Needless to say there is a lot going on. We have also branched out significantly from the guilds, so it will be interesting to see where she goes in the series from here.

It is hard to know what to say about this book, except that if you read this series, you know what you are getting. Two off the chart talents, disparate worlds, family ties, albeit often unconventional ones, a mystery or two, and DUST BUNNIES!

This one struck me as a bit more fun and charming than the last couple, but YMMV. I like the pragmatic engineer hero. It is kind of a thing for me. I also enjoyed the ridiculous retracing of steps, kind of abbreviated Hangover type scenario.

I can’t quite explain what it is about this series that brings me back time and time again,. but they make me happy. And really some days that is all one can ask. You can probably read this as a stand alone. But if you haven’t started this series, I’d say start at the beginning and then pace yourself. If you binge I can imagine the similarities might get to you. But, since I am not binging, all I can say is that I’ve enjoyed my annual trip to harmony, and this particular one will likely go back on my reread shelf for a future blah day, it isn’t deep but it is broad, and it left me smiling.

Illusion Town

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4 star review

Review – The Last Hellion by Loretta Chase

The Last Hellion.jpg

She Needed to be Tamed . . .

She was a breathtaking firebrand, and Vere Mallory, the notorious Duke of Ainswood, had never seen anything like her. Although he thought he was rescuing Lydia Grenville from the cluches of a renowned wastrel, he quickly discovers she is angry at his interference! Amused by the sultry hell-cats’s fury, Mallory vows to teach her some humility — in life and in love.

He Was Just the Man to Do It.

Lydia Grenville was fuming. She was determined to savewomankind from disreputable rakes like the infamous Mallory, not to succumb to his scandalous charms. She finds herself overwhelmed by the scintillating sensations he brings to her body, but when she discovers that he has bragged that he’s going to “tame” her, Lydia vows to fight his advances . . . but nothing prepares her for the surrender she finds in his arms.

Ah, how Loretta Chase surprises me. Whereas Lord of Scoundrels enthralled me, Captives of the Night came just shy of boring me, so I didn’t have high hopes but was happy enough to read it, if you see what I mean. Kind of like cold pizza it is still enjoyable enough in its way. That was my expectation, but Chase knocked it back out of the park again, maybe a smidge below  LoS, but close. This one is also available on OpenLibrary with the usual disclaimers.

Lydia Grenville was an Amazon, both in deed and in person. You know who she kind of reminded me of? Helen from Catherine Coulter’s The Courtship. I had to give up on Coulter because you never knew when you would run into a so-called “hero”and “love” story that were absolutely stomach churning, but this one I remember with delight because of its Amazonian heroine, and the current amazing heroine may be prompting a reread of a book I literally wore the spine out of so many years ago.

Vere I simply wasn’t looking forward to though. He made a showing in Lord of Scoundrels that did not endear him to me. But, as seems to be Chase’s way, she turned that initial impression on its head. He was maybe not right, but he did have his reasons for behaving the way he did, and in the end I had empathy.

Rather than being focused on the mystery, this one mainly focused on the relationship as LoS did, and it really, really worked for me. Their courtship was almost as unusual as unusual as Jessica’s and Sebastian’s, though not nearly as violent.

We have some nice twists of mystery, delightful character growth, and most loose ends of the series were tied up. It was also delightful to see Jessica’s brother Bertie grow up some and find some happiness, he wasn’t an interesting enough hero to carry his own book, but the slice of Bertie we got was ridiculously sweet. We also get to see just how she weaved in characters and events from all the books, supporting characters just are never what they seemed, and Francis Beaumont was an interesting if despicable thread throughout. The only complaint I have about the series as a whole is that there seems to be a thread dangling in the form of one Andrew Herriard, and I desperately wish we knew what happened to him (if he popped up anywhere else, some please enlighten me).

This is an altogether lovely series, and this one the delightful cherry on top. I can’t believe I waited so very long to stumble onto Chase, but am glad to have some back list to glom. Especially since she seems to have a delightful feminist flair for her heroines. Each of them have been strong-willed, not in the least mishish, and perfectly willing to either go toe to toe or be devious sneaks as needs must. I find them delightful.

The Last Hellion (Scoundrels, #4)

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4 star review

July TBR Challenge 2016 – Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

TBR Challenge 2016

Topic: Award Nominee or Winner

Lord of Scoundrels

DETERMINED LADY

Tough-minded Jessica Trent’s sole intention is to free her nitwit brother from the destructive influence of Sebastian Ballister, the notorious Marquess of Dain. She never expects to desire the arrogant, amoral cad. And when Dain’s reciprocal passion places them in a scandalously compromising, and public, position, Jessica is left with no choice but to seek satisfaction …

LORD OF SCOUNDRELS

Damn the minx for tempting him, kissing him … and then forcing him to salvage her reputation! Lord Dain can’t wait to put the infuriating bluestocking in her place — and in some amorous position, And if that means marriage, so be it! — though Sebastian is less than certain he can continue to remain aloof … and steel his heart to the sensuous, headstrong lady’s considerable charm.

This particular month’s challenge was RITA Award Winners and Finalists, and it turns out I actually had several to choose from on my TBR.

This particular book has been on my TBR since I discovered Doc Turtle’s analysis at SBTB. This won’t be my first Loretta Chase, as that honor goes to Mr. Impossible, which was fantastic. I was actually fortunate enough to get this book digitally from the library, so whoohoo for saving money (and it turns out it is available from Open Library), but Lord of Scoundrels is actually the third book in the series, and I do not have time to read the others first, so I am jumping in and hoping for the best. It is a generally well liked book so I’ve got my fingers crossed, and since it is so well and often reviewed, and more than 20 years old, I shan’t apologize for any possible spoilers, you have been warned.

The story starts with a rather unhappy marriage and an even unhappier young Sebastian. Seriously, there ought to be a law against some people procreating. So he grows up hard and crude, and stunted emotionally. He has no faith in women or love and is basically an awful, awful person with a ton of self loathing.

Jessica Trent on the other hand is what turns this book from historical to wallpaper historical in my opinion. She is simply out there. Basically Chase plopped a contemporary (albeit slightly insane) heroine into a historical, AND I JUST DO NOT EVEN CARE! Seriously, Jessica is a trip and makes the story. She’s acerbic and strong willed, devious, and supremely competent. She’s runs circles around her brother Bertie, bowls over the hero, and takes the insults and stupidities of Sebastian’s rakish friends like Vere Mallory in her stride. And she doesn’t belittle herself for being a normal human being. In short, she’s my idea of delightful.

And their “courtship” can best be summed up in their most common phrase to one another “I should like to see you try.” Irresistible force meets unmovable object doesn’t even begin to cover it. It is a series one one ups and misunderstandings that are epic in their proportions. Meanwhile, they are both actually being very upfront and vulnerable to each other, though they each suspect the other’s motives and can’t see that fact.

Their “courtship” culminates with Jessica shooting Sebastian, so naturally enough he HAS to marry her, there is no other way for him to top that. At which point our protagonists finally get some extended time to work through their issues, and Sebastian in particular starts seeing the world and himself through a very different lens, which changes everything. And naturally they fall in love and live happily ever after.

So what if that sounds trite, it isn’t, and it is seriously delightful. My only issue I think comes from jumping into the series at a mid point, because it seemed as though there were characters that I should already know. However, going back and reading the blurb for Captives of the Night (book 2), it looks like that actually happens AFTER Lord of Scoundrels, so I am a little confused. In any event, following completion of LoS, I immediately checked out books 2 & 4, so I should get that all cleared up in my mind fairly shortly.

Lord of Scoundrels (Scoundrels, #3)

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4 star review

Review – A Gift for Guile by Alissa Johnson

Gift for Guile.jpg

Never Trust a Thief
Once a famous officer of Scotland Yard and now a renowned private detective, Sir Samuel Brass has better things to do than shadow a reckless hellion in her misguided quest for atonement. But when the daughter of a notorious criminal-and a former thief herself-returns to London to right an old wrong, Samuel is drawn back into the dangerously exciting world of Esther Walker-Bales.

Beautiful and conniving, maddening and brilliant, Esther is everything he shouldn’t want. She’s a liar. She’s a con. She’s a thief. And God help him, but he’d do anything to keep her safe.

Esther knows she’s put herself in terrible danger, but nothing will stop her from making amends that are long past due-not her family’s enemies, not old fears, and certainly not the domineering, interfering and undeniably handsome Sir Samuel Brass. Yet whenever he’s near, Samuel makes her long for a life that can never be hers…and wish she were worthy of being saved.

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.

I picked up this author following a recommendation from Nalini Singh, and when I saw she had a new series coming out I couldn’t help but snatch it up. Ostensibly this series is about the Thief-Takers, but in my opinion they are really more the women’s stories. The last book was about the an older sister, and this one is about the younger one.

And despite the fact that there is a much darker history with this character, she is literally laugh out loud funny at times. There were places where I laughed until I cried. And there were places were I just wanted to cry for these two characters who had such sadness in their pasts. Johnson writes characters you can just feel if you know what I mean.

The story moved along quickly, the mystery was multi-layered and nuanced, and it kept me entertained so that I could hardly bear to put it down. But it was the characters that really got to me, particularly Esther. She was a delight, and a scamp, and a thief and a liar, and she was also more. I’d actually say that Samuel did more growing, Esther had already done her soul-searching and had set herself on the path of who she would become. And it was lovely to watch her get there. Samuel on the other hand had to adjust quite a bit, not in any unnatural or false ways, but still, I always enjoy when it is the man who has to adjust himself and his life more for the woman than the other way around.

As seems to be Ms. Johnson’s talent, her story and her characters left me feeling happy. I recommend it.

A Gift for Guile (The Thief-takers)

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