Saturday, January 31, 2009

Review: The Bride Finder by Susan Carroll


Title: The Bride Finder
Author: Susan Carroll
Category: Paranormal Romance
Setting: 18th Century Cornwall
Series: Bride Finder Series, Book 1
Challenge: Re-Read Challenge

I read The Bride Finder a couple of years ago. It was the first non vampire related paranormal romance that I read and loved. It has remained one of my favorite's since then and I have been wanting to re-read it for some time. The opportunity for a re-read never really presented itself until Nath's 2009 Re-Read Challenge. When I signed up for the challenge I knew right away that the first book that I was going to re-read would be The Bride Finder, but I was a little scared that I wouldn't like it as much the second time around. Was it possible that my first and most loved paranormal romance was as good as I remembered? I'm happy to say that it was.

Anatole St. Leger has lived a life of solitude on his haunted, gothic cliff-side estate of Castle Leger, which he likes just fine. But it is time for him to take a bride and in St. Leger tradition a Bride Finder is brought in to find the male St. Leger's perfect mate. Anatole calls in Bride Finder, Fitzleger, to make his wishes for a bride clear. Since Anatole has received visions that warn him to beware the woman of flame, he wants to make sure that the woman Fitleger finds for him is not related to the vision. So, his one demand above all is that his bride does not have red hair. All of his other wishes - a woman with sturdy limbs, ample bosom, good horsemanship, a plain face, practical mind and courage - are requested because Anatole is a foreboding man who lives in a formidable castle, and he wants a bride that will not be scared of him or his home.

He sends Fitzleger off to find his bride and waits for her to arrive. When she does, Anatole is outraged by what he sees. Madeline Brent is not the woman he asked for. She is a delicate woman, with a fey-like face, slight build, but above all she has flame red hair. Anatole can not believe that Fitzleger, the man that he trusted to find his perfect bride went against all of his wishes. And Anatole is not alone in his outrage. Madeline is dismayed to find that her husband by proxy is nothing like the man that Fitzleger led her to believe awaited her. Instead of the kind faced scholar that a miniature depicted him as, Anatole is rustic, imposing and brooding. She feels immediately deceived by Fitzleger, as does Anatole. But the Bride Finder is sure that his instincts did not steer him wrong and that Madeline is the perfect bride for Anatole. Both Anatole and Madeline are resigned to this marriage that they do not want and go into it with heavy hearts, neither expecting to find their perfect match or ready for the mischief and mystery coming their way.

The Bride Finder is set upon a dreary backdrop, a lone castle sitting on the bleak edge of cliffs and moors, inhabited by a harsh master, his crew of strange help, and a mischievous ghost that refuses to rest in peace. When Madeline is placed into this group of what she sees as misfits, she has to somehow find her place in a house where she feels she is not wanted. She does her best to be the wife that she thinks she should be and Castle Leger needs. At the same time, Anatole is trying to act as the perfect husband for Madeline and having a hard time at it. He is stretching himself thin trying to be someone he is not in hopes that he will be able to prolong telling Madeline the truth about himself and his past. He is afraid that Madeline will turn away from him if she knows who he really is. Anatole's worries are not unfounded, he has seen what can happen to a woman who is not prepared for what life with a St. Leger means. His own mother was frightened of him and he does not want Madeline to treat him the way his mother did.

One of my favorite things about this book is the prose, which ranges from haunting to beautiful to comical. The story was able to stir many different emotions in me from one page to another. The dialogue is also great. With every exchange between the characters I felt like I was privy to a personal conversation between them. It was easy to forget that I was reading a book and not watching something real life unfold before my eyes. The descriptive voice that Ms. Carroll has does the story great justice, bringing the characters, setting, dress, and actions to life. These three things: prose, dialogue, and description, made reading The Bride Finder a real treat.

Going into reading this book for the second time, I had some reservations. Would I like it as much as I did the first time? Would it be as witty, would the chemistry between Madeline and Anatole be as tender? Would I still be on the edge of my seat as the ending neared? The answer to all those questions was a resounding yes! I absolutely loved The Bride Finder the second time around. It is, without a doubt, my favorite Paranormal Romance to date. Grade A+

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Review: HeartSick by Chelsea Cain


Title: HeartSick
Author: Chelsea Cain
Setting: Present Day Portland, Oregon
Category: Mystery/Suspense
Series: Book 1 of 2 (currently)

Lately I've been in a bit of a reading slump. Nothing that I've come across has been able to keep my attention for very long. Enter HeartSick, and I think I've been cured. This story was able to pull me out of my slump by offering up a dark story with with a truly gritty feel, a tortured protagonist, narcissist serial killer, and plucky, young journalist with a flair for the extreme. With all these things working for it, I was glued to HeartSick - and even though it wasn't as good as I would have liked, it was able to jump start my reading again.

Detective Archie Sheridan spent ten years heading the task force of detectives that tracked the Beauty Killer, a twisted serial killer who tortured her victims within an inch of their life before killing them. Archie is tricked and captured by Gretchen Lowell, the serial killer he had been tracking. After spending days as the subject of her horrific abuse, Archie is on his death bed and is subsequently saved by the woman who killed him. Gretchen saved Archie's life by giving herself up and calling in the police for help. Two years have passed since Gretchen's apprehension and Archie is still a mess due to the torture he suffered at her hands. He's addicted to prescription pain medication, has left his wife and kids and is in regular contact with Gretchen Lowell. It is safe to say that Archie is a headcase.

Now, with a new serial killer stalking the streets of Portland, Oregon, preying on teenage girls, Archie has been called off his extended medical leave to head the task force for the After School Strangler. Acting as Archie's shadow on his first case since Gretchen Lowell, is journalist Susan Ward, who was hand picked by Archie to be the sole inside reporter on the case. Susan, a sassy young journalist with bright pink hair and a string of issues almost as long as Archie's, is pulled from a story she's been secretly working on to follow Archie, a big deal for any Portland journalist. Susan takes advantage of the opportunity to work alongside the infamous Archie Sheridan. She dives into the case, green as a newborn, but Susan is capable and tough. In other words, she has the makings of good journalist. Together, Archie and Susan embark on a case that not only tests their mettle for their respective careers, but opens up past demons that both want to remain buried.

HeartSick is told from a few different point of views. Switching from Archie's third person to alternating chapters of his captivity told in third person present. Susan and Anne, a criminal profiler working on the case, also have a third person point of view. Susan was an interesting character, she's both capable and self destructive. Her father died when she was at a pivotal point in her life and Susan has found a way to act out ever since. Part of this acting out shows in her compulsive need to sleep with married or complicated men. Anne is working on the After School Strangler case almost as a way of making up for her faulty profiling in the Beauty Killer case. She had Gretchen pegged as a man from the start and feels that her mess up is what caused Archie to be taken by Gretchen in the first place.

While there were a few different threads going in this story, by far, the most notable of them was the twisted relationship between Archie and Gretchen. It was at once intriguing and repelling. Reading about them was the equivalent to watching a train wreck: I wanted to look away but the twisted, macabre of it all kept my eyes glued to the oncoming disaster. It is obvious that Archie is suffering from some form of Post Traumatic Stress syndrome, and as Gretchen so aptly points out: Stockholm Syndrome, and probably a few other syndromes. He's a functioning junkie and only finds true solace in Gretchen, the woman who pretty much killed the man he once was.

Gretchen is smart, and continues to be able to manipulate Archie from behind bars. She plays her hand wisely, giving Archie just enough information on her past unsolved killings to keep Archie coming back to her. But Gretchen lacks the appeal that made her predecessors, like Hannibal Lecter, immensely likeable in their craziness. At the end of Silence of the Lambs one was torn as to whether they should root for Hannibal or Clarice, at the end of HeartSick, I wanted Gretchen dead and for Archie to be the one to kill her. Though Archie was the books saving grace - his struggle with right and wrong, and the man he was vs the man he'd become made him the most compelling character - there were points where I wanted him to suck it up and show Gretchen who was boss. He did sort of, but I have a feeling that it won't last for long.

If I could sum up HeartSick in one word, it would be 'interesting.' I found all of the working threads to be just that, but even though my interest was held, the story lacked the punch that I was waiting/hoping for. The After School serial killer case was a bit predictable, and I felt it drug along in places. There was, at times, too much description and then at other times, too little. The eventual tie up of the mystery was unremarkable and most of the characters were blah. But even with all these things working against the story, I found it very readable, and finished the book in two sittings. Then, upon closing the it, I was ready to read the sequel. So HeartSick had that certain something that worked for me, even though I had problems with it.

That said, I do plan on continuing with the followup Sweetheart. I'm interested in seeing where the story that Susan was working on prior to being assigned to Archie, goes. I also hope to see Archie with a stronger backbone where Gretchen is concerned, and I wouldn't mind seeing Gretchen fry. Archie was bordering a little too close to sad sack in this book and sad sack's are not that interesting to read about. And Gretchen was a little too ingenious, too perfect, too unreal for me to feel anything for her other than dislike. Grade B-.

Visit Chelsea Cain's website. Read an excerpt here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

TBR Wednesday: The McKettrick Way


Book: The McKettrick Way
Author: Linda Lael Miller
Category: Contemporary Romance
Setting: Northern Arizona
Series: McKettrick Women, Book 2
Challenge: TBR Challenge

When I found out that this month's TBR Challenge theme was Category, I knew that I wanted to give one of the many Linda Lael Miller's McKettrick books in my TBR pile a try. I jumped right into the series with The McKettrick Way, and while I ended up liking the ranch theme, I found the romance to be less than satisfying. Warning! This review contains spoilers.

Brad O'Ballivan, having gained success as a country music singer, is tired of the fast life and has retired from the business. He returns to Stone Creek Arizona after years of being away, in hopes of picking up his old life as a rancher and rekindling the love between him and his years ago sweetheart, Meg McKettrick. Meg is shocked to hear the news that her old flame is back in town for good. She loved Brad more than anything and he broke her heart by leaving town to become a famous singer. The last thing that Meg expects is for Brad to not only be able to sweep back into town and pick up where he left off, but for him to be able to sweep back into her heart.

I had quite a few problems with this story. I think the biggest of them was that Meg was baby obsessed. She wanted a baby more than anything, which would have been fine had she not propositioned Brad, upon his arrival, with a request to impregnate her and then let her be a single mother. I have serious problems with stories that involve women wanting babies with men and then requesting that they not be present in the child's life.

Next up is Brad and his reasons for leaving Meg to begin with. He wanted to save his family's ranch and needed the money from singing to do that, but instead of going on to become a singer and staying with Meg, he leaves her behind and marries his manager's daughter, who was pregnant with another man's child, so that her dad wouldn't be mad at her. How noble of him, only not.

Then there is Meg's absentee father. Meg never knew her father, he left before she was born and all she's been able to learn about him over the years is that he wasn't welcome in her family. Of course, he shows back up, and he's dying, and he has a mouthy twelve year old daughter that he wants Meg to raise.

To be fair, I should mention that the though the problems were many, they were resolved in a believable way. But not even a well handled problem was enough to win me over. The McKettrick Way was more of a family melodrama than a romance. There was a lot of reference to past McKettrick characters, and their relationships, and how they were related to Meg, and how many children they had, and their children's names - so on and so forth. I know that some authors like to use their past characters and events to tie their stories together, but for a book so short, the inclusion of everyone was unneeded.

So what did I like? The relationship between Meg and her centuries old great grandfather, Angus. Angus shows up to Meg as a ghost and he's full of insight and quips. The banter between the two was fun, and up until the point where Meg's long lost sister was able to see him as well, I was enjoying that part of the story. I found Brad's sister, Olivia intriguing. Her love of animals struck a chord with me. I was glad to see that she was featured in a recent story and I'll probably check that out.

Though I'm glad that I made a slight dent in my TBR pile, The McKettrick Way was not as good as I would have liked. I do think the story could have done without a few of the many issues that were placed in Meg and Brad's way and focused more on their relationship, so that their reconnection was more viable. The way it was, Meg and Brad spent more time apart than working through the problems of their past and coming to a resolution that fit their experiences with each other. Had the story stuck to the romance between the two and not strayed so much into the big reveals, I'm sure I would have liked it better. Grade C+.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sugar Daddy Winner

And the winner is...


Unhinged! Unhinged, please email me at brie AT bibliophilemusings DOT com with your snail mail addy. Thanks to everyone who entered. :-)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Weekend Wrap-Up

There is a lot going on in Blog Land this weekend.

First up, Anna and Thea of The Book Smugglers have a new and improved home. They have moved from blogger to wordpress and their web address has changed. If you happen to link to their blog, please update your sidebar with their new web address (http://thebooksmugglers.com/) so that they are properly linked to you.

Tia of Fantasy Debut has come up with a great idea for a Book Blogger Convention. If you are interested in participating then stop by her blog for all of the details.

Via Nice Mommy Evil Editor
Haper Collins is offering Lois McMaster Bujold's Beguilement free online for the entire month of January. If you have ever been interested in The Sharing Knife series, this is your chance to read the first book at no cost to you. I should add that I love this series and I think being able to read the first book free is something that every fantasy lover should jump on.

Via SciFiGuy
If you are already a fan of the The Sharing Knife series the first four chapters of Horizon are posted here for your reading pleasure. Horizon will be released on January 27, 2009. It completes the four book series.

Via Renee's Book Addiction
I've seen it everywhere by now, but I really like this cover so I will go ahead and post it here. The cover art for Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs is out. The second book in the Alpha and Omega series that follows Anna and Charles releases on July 28, 2009.
I'm convinced that Ms. Briggs has been blessed by the cover fairies because her Mercy Thompson covers and the Alpha and Omega covers are fantastic.

Speaking of Mercy Thompson, Fantasy Book Critic is running a giveaway for Bone Crossed, the fourth book in the Mercy Thompson series that will be released on February 3,2009. They are giving away four copies of the highly anticipated book, so go sign up now.

Finally, reviews for the Contemporary Romance Challenge are beginning to pop up. If you are interested, go ahead and check them out.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Gathering Blue: Review


Book: Gathering Blue
Author: Lois Lowry
Category: Young Adult
Setting: Earth, Post-Apocalyptic
Series: Companion to The Giver
Challenge: 2009 Young Adult Challenge

I've never read Lois Lowry's much acclaimed and often criticised The Giver, but knew that it wasn't necessary to do so before reading Gathering Blue. Now, after finishing Gathering Blue, I wonder if it would have been a better book for me had I read its predecessor first.

In a post-apocalyptic world there lives a girl named Kira. Having been born with a twisted leg, Kira is not much use to her people and would have been killed at birth like all children born with deformities if not for her mother. But the mother who protected her all her life has now died and Kira is left orphaned in a harsh society where only the strong survive. Considered useless because of her leg, Kira is sure that she will be taken to the field and killed, like every other useless person before her. But Kira has a gift that saves her from certain death: She can weave thread beautifully.

Her skill gets her noticed by high ranking members of the of the Council of Guardians who need Kira's talent for the special purpose of weaving the future of their society into the ornate singers robe. Kira is taken in by the Council to do just that. In the Council's Edifice, with a room of her own, a bath to wash in and hot food to eat, Kira feels as though she has found a new and rewarding life. But there is something very wrong happening within the walls of the Council. Dangerous secrets are unfolding before Kira's very eyes and mysteries are lurking, waiting to be solved. Kira soon realizes that she must uncover these mysteries; for the future of her world depends on it.

Gathering Blue was an easy, straight forward read on the surface, but when a deeper level of meaning is explored, the story raises some scary questions. In a lot of ways this book reminded me of Lord of the Flies. Both stories explore a society of people that have been isolated from any human contact other than themselves. Because of this they are forced to make their own laws, and because laws must be enforced, a hierarchy is formed. Both books also share a similar dark undertone that depicts humanity in its rawest form.

At times I was appalled by the rawness of this society. The people treat each other horribly. Children are slapped, hit and beaten by their mothers, men turn on each other at the drop of a dime, mothers fight their own children over a scrap of food, they live in squalid, vile conditions and harbor unrepentant hatred toward those that are different. But when I took into consideration that this way of life was all these people knew. That even a little show of weakness would mean their death, I became less appalled and more intrigued by the lack of civilization.

As Kira settled into life in the Edifice and more secrets were revealed the story became less simple and more intricate. I wanted her to find out what was going on, because I, too, wanted to know. But the knowledge is revealed slowly, sometimes too slowly because I found myself figuring the important things out before Kira did instead of at the same time, which became a little annoying. This brings me to Kira's character. For the most part I connected with Kira, she had a quiet strength that made her character easy to root for. But there were times when I thought that to have lived in this society all of her life, Kira was too trusting of those around her. She knew that after her mother died no one had her best interest in mind and that they would want her dead. She even went to great lengths to outwit those who were after her in self-perseverance, so, that she turned around and blindly believed in a different group of people in her society just rang false for me.

Overall, Gathering Blue was a good story. It was a short read that I breezed through in two sittings and gave me plenty of food for thought. I did get the sense that that if I had read the books in order I would have enjoyed this one better. I will go back and read The Giver in hopes for a greater sense of understanding of the world that has been created here, then follow that up with Messenger, the final book in this trilogy. For this thought provoking book, grade B-.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

2009 Young Adult Book Challenge


Another day another challenge. I just signed up for what will be the last challenge I'm joining this year. I'm up to five and adding anymore would be crazy.

The 2009 Young Adult Challenge is being hosted by J.Kaye of J. Kaye's Book Blog. The goal of this challenge is to read 12 young adult novels between January 2009 and December 2009.

This is the challenge that I'm most excited about because, for me, it is the most challenging. I haven't read YA faithfully since I was a young adult, and even though I still go out and buy YA novels, I rarely ever give them a second look once I get them home. This was just the push I needed to help me whittle down my stack of Young Adult books.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sea Fever: Review


Book: Sea Fever
Author: Virginia Kantra
Category: Paranormal Romance
Setting: World's End, Main
Series: Children of the Sea, Book 2

Last year I read and enjoyed Virginia Kantra's Sea Witch, the first book in her Children of the Sea trilogy. Having enjoyed a new take on the paranormal and wanting more, I dived right in the the second book, Sea Fever, and hit an instant road block. My dislike of the hero, Dylan made it impossible for me to enjoy the story up to the point that I had read it. After sitting the book aside and returning to it at a later date, I can say that things do get better further along in the book, but not enough for me to get over the first half.

Regina is a single mother who spends her days working an unfulfilled job as a cook in her mother's restaurant on the island of World's End and her nights with her young son. She doesn't hold out much hope for marriage especially when Caleb, the last eligible bachelor on their tiny island, marries another woman. While at Caleb's wedding, a drunk Regina stumbles upon Caleb's brother, Dylan.

Dylan has returned to World's End after disappearing from the island years ago with his mother. The reason behind his disappearance is a mystery to the island, as well as his reappearance, but Dylan knows that he left because he found out the truth about his mother being a selkie and that he was one too. He came back to help Caleb and Margred (the selkie who Caleb had fallen in love with) battle a demon, and stuck around for their wedding where he runs into Regina. There is an instant lustful attraction between Regina and Dylan and they consummate right there on the beach in what's supposed to be nothing more than a fling. But they both have a surprise in store for them that threatens to shift the balance of good and evil forever.

Like I stated previously, I had a few problems with the story in the beginning, namely Dylan. He's lived most of his life in the world of the selkies, they are known for being loners and not needing or wanting the trappings of any emotional relationship. Because of this, Dylan is insensitive, making it hard to connect with his character for a least one half of the book. The second half reads a bit better and Dylan shows some redeeming qualities, but not enough for me to really like him. He is standoffish to his younger sister, Lucy, not even taking the time to get to know her. In Sea Witch he was a jerk to Caleb, and by the end of Sea Fever he hasn't made amends there. I do wonder if his non-action with his siblings is working toward something greater? There is one more book in this trilogy so maybe things come full circle by then.

I did like Regina. Her trust issues with men play a part in this story and rightly so. Her father abandoned her as a child and the father of her son, has never accepted responsibility for him. She's not sure that Dylan, with him being called to the sea and the life of an immortal, could be what she really needs in a man. Though I liked Regina, I can't say that I liked every aspect of her story. First, the father of her son is a big time chef, the fact that he's not taking financial responsibility for their son is ludicrous. Second, Regina's mother makes a big revelation to her and Regina's reaction seemed out of place considering what she finds out. Not only that, but the revelation seems as though it is put there to help Regina make a decision as to whether or not go with Dylan to the Sanctuary, and in the end that part of the story is never touched on again. On top of everything else there is also the issue of Regina's career as a chef. She isn't happy working for her mother, she wants to do her own thing, but besides a gig she takes here and there, she's stuck in the kitchen of her mother's restaurant.

So, I had some problems with this one. Sea Fever was not the story I had hoped for after reading Sea Witch. I never got Dylan and I didn't like the way that Regina's past issues were never dealt with along with a few other questions that were raised and never answered concerning Caleb and Margred. I do hope that these issues are worked out - it seems very wrong to leave things where they stand - and there is resolution in the final book of this trilogy, Sea Lord. For this one, Grade C-.

Excerpt

Monday, January 5, 2009

January CRC Link-Up


The Contemporary Romance Challenge has officially started! This post will serve as the place for all participants to post a link to their January contemporary romance review(s). Just leave a link to your review in the comment section. I'm anxious to see what you've read.

Edit: My lovely friend, Tigg was nice enough to make a better button for this challenge. Snag it if you like or email me for the code and I'll send it your way.

Edited again. The wonderful, Holly made a great suggestion about using Mr. Linky as a place to store all the reviews. I went ahead and signed up and now we have one place to post all reviews for the whole year. Here is the link, it will also be posted on the sidebar under Reading Challenges for your convienience.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sugar Daddy: Review + Giveaway


Book: Sugar Daddy
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Category: Contemporary
Setting: Texas
Series: Stand Alone
Sensuality: Hot

*Scroll down for giveaway*

Looking over a lot of readers "best of" lists, I noticed that one author's name continually appeared. Whether it was for her first contemporary romance, Sugar Daddy or her second one, Blue Eyed Devil, or her historical romances, Lisa Kleypas was definitely a favorite of many this year. With that in mind I tried my first Lisa Kleypas contemporary, and soon knew why it topped the lists of so many. Warning: This review contains a few minor spoilers.

As an young girl, Liberty Jones moves with her mother to a trailer park in rural Welcome Texas and loses her heart to a handsome boy in the process. Liberty's mother works hard to make ends meet and though they aren't rich in fortune they have love to keep them afloat. Hardy Cates is a boy that has always been there for Liberty when she needed someone, he's also the guy that she wants but can't have. She's loved him since she met him and as she grew up from an awkward girl to a pretty teenager, Hardy fell for Liberty too. But he refuses to act on their attraction, making Liberty the reason why he wouldn't be able to leave a town he wants to get far away from if he did.

When Liberty's mother gets pregnant, Liberty is there to help her through the difficult time and when her baby sister Carrington is born, Liberty steps in for her mother who doesn't take to the baby. Because of this, Liberty has to grow up fast, and when she needs a shoulder to cry on, Hardy is always there. But then Hardy leaves Welcome Texas to seek his fortune, leaving Liberty broken hearted over a love that never was. She does what she can to move on, but then tragedy strikes and seventeen year old Liberty is left alone to care for her sister. This turn of events takes Liberty from Welcome Texas to Houston where she works in an upscale hair salon and eventually meets Churchill Travis, a wealthy older man.

Liberty and Churchill form a bond that to the outside world appears to be that of a sugar daddy and sugar baby, but in reality is paternal. With Churchill's persuasion Liberty leaves the salon to apprentice under him, moving into the Travis home. The move puts her in direct contact with Churchill's son Gage, a thirty year old man who works for his father and dislikes Liberty on sight, thinking her to be his fathers sugar baby. As "chance" would have it, a romance blooms between Liberty and Gage. But then Hardy shows back up, ready for the relationship that he wouldn't let happen as a young man. Liberty must decide if she wants to move forward with Gage or grab her chance with Hardy, the man who's held her heart forever.

Told in first person, from her perspective, Sugar Daddy is very much Liberty's story. I almost hesitate to call it a contemporary romance since it is more of a coming of age story with romance. It focuses on Liberty's relationships with the people around her. Her mother, her sister who she loves like her own, her first love, Hardy, her reliable neighbor, Marva, Churchill, her only father figure, and Gage, the man she falls for as an adult. It also pays special attention to Liberty's life, growing pains, successes, heartbreaks, and happiness.

I went into this book not knowing how it would turn out, I didn't even read the back cover, so I had no idea that there would be a triangle. I simply went with the flow and hoped that Liberty would find happiness with the right man. In the end, she did. Sugar Daddy is my first real leap into the world of contemporary romance and it won't be my last. Having read only one Lisa Kleypas in the past, I had no expectations for this book and only hoped that it would be worthy of all of the online praise. Luckily for me it was. Liberty charmed her way into my heart and when the story ended I was completely happy for her. Grade A.

***Giveaway***

If you haven't read Sugar Daddy yet and want to, here's your chance.


I'm hosting a giveaway for Sugar Daddy. All you have to do is leave a comment recommending a contemporary romance that you have read and loved to me and you're entered. The giveaway runs through January 15. The winner will go up on the 16th. Good Luck!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Mine to Possess: Review


Book: Mine to Possess
Author: Nalini Singh
Category: Paranormal Romance
Series: Psy/Changelings, Book 4
Sensuality: Hot

After my Nalini Singh reread binge I was hoping to connect with Mine to Possess in a way that I hadn't been able to the first time I tried to read it. In some ways I did, but in many ways the love story didn't work for me.

Clay Bennett is a DarkRiver sentinel with a haunted past. After losing himself to his leopard side as a youth and killing a man in a murderous rage over the violation of his young friend Talin, Clay has been left with internal scars. He was lead to believe that Talin died soon after the incident and he's been dealing with her death ever since. But when he finds out that Talin was never dead and now needs his help, it is hard for Clay to reconcile the new Talin with the one he loved as a kid.

Talin McKade is damaged from childhood abuse and the only thing she finds solace in is helping troubled youths find a better path. With the increase in disappearances and deaths of children once in her care, Talin finds she needs help finding the killer. After years of letting her best friend Clay think that she had died, Talin now seeks the sentinel out--in hopes that he will be able to help her solve the kidnapping of one of her charges and the murders of the other's.

Clay and Talin will have to face their past demons and deal with a burning mutual attraction while they set out on a mission to uncover the truth behind the dead children and save one child before it is too late.

I wanted to love Mine to Possess, but I didn't. The reason why I didn't has everything to do with Talin, she bothered me like no other Nalini Singh heroine ever has. In fact, I've liked all of Singh's heroines up until Talin. I tried to cut her some slack because of her horrible childhood, but as the story progressed I liked her less and less. I've never said this about a heroine before, but I think that Talin's character would have fared better has she warmed up to Clay a little sooner in the story. Her being so cold to him, and blaming him for a past that was beyond his control made her unlikable.

There was also the fact that she led Clay to believe that she was dead for years and acted like she was justified in doing so when he called her out on it. Maybe if her reasoning for it were more palatable, I could have bought it. But as it was, it just made me like her even less. By the time Talin finally came around, I was of the mind that Clay deserved better than her, and no longer cared about their love story.

However, I was interested in the mystery of the disappearing kids, and liked the way it unfolded. Though, it is revealed early on who is behind the crimes, I enjoyed reading it all play out. I do have to wonder if the Psy will continue to be portrayed as the villains in this series? The humans and changeling's have some bad seeds, too, right? Anyway, the strong point in the series is the world that Ms. Singh has created. I've said it before (forgive me while I say it again) the world building is superb, and not found so seamlessly done in most paranormal romances. That alone would be an A+, but for the story as a whole, grade C+.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Looking Forward to in 2009

With the new year comes a slew of books to look forward to. January has quite a few releases that I've been wanting to get my hands on.

Kiss of a Demon King by Kresley Cole - January 20

After Sabine, the Queen of Illusions, lures and traps Rydstrom Woede in her lair, the ruthless warrior fights to resist her seduction.But his fierce demon nature lusts for her delicate body and won’t be denied. Even as Rydstrom plots to escape, he still intends to claim Sabine as his own—on his terms.

When Rydstrom breaks free, her abducts Sabine, turning the tables. Now she’s the one struggling to resist his delicious torment. With each relentless encounter, Sabine hungers more for her merciless adversary.

If they can defeat the sinister enemy that stands between them, will Sabine make the ultimate sacrifice to save her demon? Or will the proud king lay down his crown and arms to keep his sorceress?
After reading and loving Dark Desires after Dusk, I'm looking forward to reading about Rydstrom. The Immortals After Dark series is one of the few paranormal series that I'm actively following.

The Sins of Lord Easterbrook by Madeline Hunter - January 27

Seven years ago, Leona Montgomery's sensuality was awoken by a mysterious young adventurer full of dark chaos and sinful inclinations.

When she meets him again, their attraction reignites immediately, but he is much changed. Arrogant, masterful, and determined to seduce her, he now appears to have leashed the chaos and tamed the darkness.

Or has he?
Madeline Hunter is an author that I always fall back on. Very rarely am I disappointed with anything she puts out. I've been anxious to read Christian's story since I devoured The Rules of Seduction. The fact that this book comes out the day before my birthday is just an added bonus.

The Sharing Knife: Horizon by Lois McMaster Bujold - January 27

As Dag's maker abilities have grown, so has his concern about who—or what—he is becoming. At the end of a great river journey, Dag is offered an apprenticeship to a master groundsetter in a southern Lakewalker camp. But as his understanding of his powers deepens, so does his frustration with the camp's rigid mores with respect to farmers. At last, he and Fawn decide to travel a very different road—and find that along it, their disparate but hopeful company increases.

Fawn and Dag see that their world is changing, and the traditional Lakewalker practices cannot hold every malice at bay forever. Yet for all the customs that the couple has challenged thus far, they will soon be confronted by a crisis exceeding their worst imaginings, one that threatens their Lakewalker and farmer followers alike. Now the pair must answer in earnest the question they've grappled with since they killed their first malice together: When the old traditions fail disastrously, can their untried new ways stand against their world's deadliest foe?
I fell in love with The Sharing Knife series this year. Horizon is the final installment in the four book series. I'm so anxious to get my hands on this book that I'll be doing something I rarely do with books, and that's buying it in hardback.

And there are still more books to come this year that I can't wait to read. Here are a few being released in the coming months.

City Without End by Kay Kenyon - February 24
Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn - March 1
Angels' Blood by Nalini Singh - March 3
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan - March 10
The Treasure Keeper by Shana Abe - March 24
Queen of Song and Souls by C.L. Wilson - June 2
Branded by Fire by Nalini Singh - July 7

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Contemporary Romance Challenge

Anyone who visits my blog regularly knows that I rarely review Contemporary Romance. Why, you ask, don't I read/review contemporaries? I really don't have a definite answer for that, and could probably go on all day about all of the reasons I prefer to not read contemporaries. I won't bore you with my gripes, Instead I'll say that it is a new year and high time that I gave Contemporary Romance a fighting chance.

During 2008 I read some really good reviews on quite a few contemporaries and I've compiled a list of books that I want try. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I find some gems and can make contemporary one of my go to genre's of choice in the future.

I've decided to put my goal of reading more contemporaries in challenge form, hoping that if it's out there for all to see, I'll have a better chance of sticking with it. I'm inviting anyone who wants to join me in the Contemporary Romance Challenge to please do so!

Rules are as follows:

1. Any contemporary romance of your choice is eligible. By contemporary I mean any book placed in a contemporary setting with no paranormal elements.

2. Read at least one contemporary romance a month and post a review for that book within the month. I haven't set a unified date because I'm not good at sticking to dates, and having no monthly time limit should ensure that everyone in the challenge is able to read at least one contemporary a month.

3. After posting your review leave a link to it here. This will make it easier for me, and anyone else interested, to find your review.

That's it. Please leave a comment letting me know if you want to join in so that I have a complete list of participants to link to each month. Happy reading!

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Participants:

1. Rowena
2. Nath
3. Jace
4. Christina
5. Wonderings
6. Christine
7. Ann-Kat
8. Barbara
9. MsMoonlight
10. Jan
11. Leslie
12. Keishon
13. Randi
14. Margot

It is not too late to join, leave a comment if you'd like to participate!